Do you ever think you have become the worst version of yourself? That’s one of the most memorable lines for me from the movie, “You’ve Got Mail.” I ask myself that from time to time when I just don’t get myself, when I am tired of myself. When I know I should be feeling something different, or thinking something other than the chatter filling my brain. When I’m not enough, I’ll never be enough and I’ll never have enough. Enough what, I don’t know, that’s just the operating system running in the background. It’s a new year, and with it is supposed to come the possibility of a new me, right? I’m not feeling very new.
I confess that sometimes I do think I am the worst version of myself. Even in my darkest hour of drug addiction… beaten down, used up, broken, prostituting myself, bankrupt, homeless, an empty shell of a human being, skeletal remains walking about aimlessly in a fog… I still think that was a better version of me simply because I didn’t know any other way to live. Today I can’t hide behind any of that. I walked away from that life and created a new one. With each day I continue to move farther away from that world, writing a new story, which is a good thing. And yet at the same time it becomes increasingly more difficult to remain in the fog trying to ignore my authentic self – the self that is my true nature, my soul, aching to be seen and heard – to be made visible.
So what is the worst version of myself? I look at my life, and from the outside I think it probably looks pretty good. I live in a nice home with my cat Murray who is too weird for words and therefore makes me laugh every day. I am self-employed doing only what I want to do, have fun – well mostly – and get paid for it. I get to sit in the early morning quiet and look out on my 28 acres of heaven and scribble these notes. I get to travel, sometimes to exotic places, and meet my global family, and for the first time I have a fireplace to curl up in front of when I am cold.
So what is the worst version of myself? It’s the me that sits here rolodexing the goodness of her life in her head, and yet can feel none of it. It’s the me that just returned from an all expense paid week in the Caribbean with 20 family members, and has no joy. It’s the me that just published a book – a book damnit! Wouldn’t a normal person feel some measure of excitement and pride?!
It’s the me that isn’t telling a soul what is going on inside her, because she is tired of listening to her ungrateful voice. It’s the me that’s afraid those around her have grown weary of her and will leave. It’s the me that is tired of feeling out of place in her own life, and doesn’t want to awaken to another day like this. It’s the me that knows intellectually she should be joy-filled, content, peaceful and able to see the infinite possibilities in the dawning light – yet simply does not.
Instead, in its place, is a hollow in her heart. An emptiness, a “not enough” that is incomprehensible and equally frustrating. It’s the void she is finding her way through as if by Braille, reaching out into the unknown without eyes to see, stumbling over all the boxes of “not enoughs” searching for the teacher that will tell her what to do to connect herself to life, connect her to joy. This is the worst version of myself I think.
This is also the madness of my depression, thinking I have become the worst version of myself, AND essentially I don’t care. But the impulse of life urges me to follow that thread of apathy, that madness, and it leads me to a crack in my heart where the mystery of life enters and exits moment by moment. Therein lies my teacher. Following that thread means pursuing curiosity and chaos, pain and passion. Like the butterfly to a flower, I am drawn to this madness and mystery that is the sweet soul nectar of my fragrant life.
The teacher comes in the most unexpected times and places – the peaceful solitude in the morning light eating cereal with fresh blueberries bursting in my mouth. It’s in the eyes of a dying loved one who looks at me wanting to be free them from pain, and then looks through me to those waiting to greet him. It’s in a chat on Facebook with an extraordinary woman, and I am completely taken aback to find out she carries the same inadequacies I do causing sudden peals of pure laughter to fill my lonely room – and the sound is coming from me!
You can’t plan for these fleeting moments, they come and go in a flash, which is why I think the cracks in our hearts are so important, for they are the places of possibility. Do I sometimes think I am the worst version of myself? Sure. Yet, it is in these unrepeatable moments that constantly blow through the cracks in my heart that I find the best version of myself. It is in surrendering everything to the holiness of one moment, no matter how brief, that I allow my sweet soul nectar to feed my life, making it visible, breathing it in and out like a fragrant mystery.