Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I decided to come to Greece on what seemed like, on the outside, a whim.

I made my choice very fast, without telling anyone about it.

The past few years, to be honest, have been a bitch. Well, especially the past few years. A few health issues that have been present in varying forms of severity since I was six years old really reared their ugly heads about four or five years ago.

It felt like the world was crashing down around me. Perhaps it was because I was older and more cognizant of the various implications of my various maladies; perhaps it was because I did not have the child's ability to create an alternate world in which to escape. Perhaps it was because there was much more that, by being ill, I had to grieve the loss of. Perhaps it was because everything really was worse than it had been before.

Whatever the reason, its been hard. Being me, however, stoic on the outside and seething on the inside, I really tried to carry on as if nothing was wrong. Sure, I took random breaks from school when a doctor ordered to me to, or I felt as if I was going to die; sure, I canceled out on a lot of stuff that I committed to. But the key for me was that, when I was with people, I would be bubbly and happy and engaged, whatever the pain, despair or terror that I was going through. In this way, I felt as if I had some measure of control, in a life that felt uncontrollable, even by my iron will.

For most then, except perhaps the incredibly observant and intuitive, I seemed pretty much fine. This made it hard when I did do things like drop out of school, or cancel on someone; because I shared with no one the depth of my experience, or its seriousness, many of my choices seemed random, irrational, and illogical. To be honest, because I was making my choices from a place of fear and a desired outward "okayness," many of those choices really were bizarre.

I knew this on some level, but I chose that over appearing weak and broken. Which, like most people in their varying degrees, I was and am, on a very fundamental level. It just stings to admit it.

And then, maybe about six months ago, perhaps in a sudden burst of maturity, I snapped. Because truly, it one of the heights of immaturity to not "own" who you are - to pretend to be someone who you are not. I was not healthy, I was not happy, I was not in control. And I started to admit it. It was painful.

But it was also revelatory. In lying to everyone else, I was also lying to myself. And when the smoke cleared and I was able to take a breath, something terrifying, but almost liberating, revealed itself: I have no idea of who I am or what I want. All I have been doing is frantically treading water, trying to keep afloat, trying to pretend everything is perfect, trying to fit into the normal world of liberated, angsty, do it all and have it all womanhood.

It wasn't working for me, and I was at the point where I had to make a change, or have my life, quite literally, bleed away on me.

A travel magazine with Sanotorini on the cover. A Google search to find somewhere to live. An email to check if I could still work abroad. And here I am.

For the first time in last 12 years, I am getting more than 3 or 4 hours of sleep at a time. In fact, I am sleeping at stretches of 9 or 10 hours. And then taking a nap. You have no idea what a mammoth accomplishment this is. For the first time in about 8 years, my tendency to start hyperventilating at the drop of a hat is lessening, and the iron band that seemed to be permanently wrapped around my chest is loosening.

For the first time in my life, I made a choice that did not make me panic, and prevent me from sleeping through the night. I had thought all choices entailed paralyzing terror. For the first time I am experiencing peace with a choice, and that "inner certainty" that everyone always carps about, that is supposed to accompany a good decision.

I think I am getting a taste of that peace that "surpasseth all understanding." Perhaps in taking that leap from seeing myself as I wanted to see myself, to seeing myself as I really am, how God in fact sees me, I am entering into the life He has planned for me.

And maybe, just maybe, it fits, much better than anything I could have cooked up for myself.


  1. I love and respect your honesty, Mary, although I would prefer not to see you with Oprah, baring it all. Your struggle is real and you are. It's a struggle for integrity, to find your way of being in the world. You absolutely ring true, which for me to say about someone, is a rare thing. There's nothing you say, however extreme it may perhaps seem to some ( i.e. talk of feelings of "terror" ) that makes me worry about you. My concern rather would be if you went through your life "faking it", which you have struggled against. You are as fine a young woman as I have ever known and you have my all-out prayers and support on your quest for transfiguration. I would like you to stay with your writing. It's a divine imperative, in my estimate, that you keep writing and writing and writing and writing some more. All my love, Al