survivor’s guilt.

Sophomore year of college, I had the pleasure of living with one of the sweetest, brightest people I have ever met.   Christine was a force to be reckoned with.  A phenomenal singer with a bubbling personality and a lust for life.

Christine and I were basically the Odd Couple. I would encourage her to go to class, eat vegetables and study for exams.  She would encourage me to party more, stay out later and enjoy life.  Neither of us took the other’s advice.

Christine ended up dropping out of school, later that year, due to medical issues.  Around that time, we ended up having a falling out – a situation too lengthy to recant here.

And then a few years ago, Christine died of a heroin overdose.  I didn’t know she was using heroin.  I didn’t know she was struggling.  I hadn’t seen her in a long time, so I wasn’t sure what she had been up to.  But for whatever reason, I felt nothing but guilt when I found out.  Somehow, I was responsible.  This voice in the back of my head would say “If you were a better friend, she wouldn’t be dead”.

Life milestones would come and go.  A promotion here.  An apartment there.  A new beau.  A trip to a new city.  And the guilt would set in.  I’m getting to enjoy things she never got to.  “You could have saved her.  You failed”.

It took years for me to finally realize that her death wasn’t my fault.

Thankfully, that survivor’s guilt that has been weighing on my neck like a millstone, has started to fall away.  Instead of guilt, I have decided to live a life of love.  Spreading joy, positivity, baked goods and happiness whenever and wherever I can.  While I hope and pray that my friends know they can come to me anytime, day or night, 24/7 if they need help, I know now that is also their right not to.

The one thing Christine taught me while she was alive was to live in the moment and not dwell on the past.  While this is certainly a struggle for me, I view every day as an opportunity to live a good life, in her memory.

For you, Christine,
-C

resurrection.

This weekend, I have the pleasure of taking a short vacation to our nation’s capital with my family for Easter.  Going to Washington DC for Easter has been a tradition for my family for several years.  When my mother asked me a few weeks back if I would like to come to DC again this year for the holiday, I jumped at the opportunity.

Whatever your personal feelings are on Easter, it’s hard to escape the overt symbolism of the holiday.  Renewal, rebirth and resurrection are woven throughout the Christian Easter story, but I like to think that these themes are also woven throughout our lives as well.

For me, my resurrection came not long ago in an extremely profound way.  Recently, I finally found a doctor who was able to properly diagnose and treat a chronic illness that has been plaguing me for a very long time.  Being able to breathe again (literally but, of course, figuratively as well) has felt nothing short of miraculous.

Exercising is easier.  Meditating is simpler.  Even walking is better.  My insomnia has started slipping away.  My body has been feeling better every day.  This transformation has been so powerful that I cried for three days straight out of sheer gratitude and relief.

Most of the time, change is incremental, at best.  But every once in awhile we are fortunate enough to experience a rebirth so sudden and unexpected that it propels us forward in an extremely powerful and meaningful way.

Yesterday there was darkness.  Today there is light.  Sometimes the path between those two is long and winding and sometimes it happens in the blink of an eye.  How have you been resurrected?

darkness.

As you may have read in yesterday’s guest post, the theme I picked for this weekend is renewal, rebirth and resurrection.

Although I’m not a Christian, I spent a considerable portion of my adult life studying Christian theology, the Bible, comparative religions and Eastern philosophies.  I’m a theology nerd, amongst other things.

It hit me when I woke up this morning that in the Christian liturgical calendar, today is Holy Saturday – the day that Jesus lay in the tomb after the crucifixion.  For Christians across the globe, this is essentially a day of anticipation of the joy of Resurrection Day (Easter).

I find it fitting, in a way, that in this story, there is a period of darkness that comes right before the miracle.  Darkness, not only for Jesus in the tomb, but a period of emotional darkness for all of those who followed him.

It can be so easy, when we look back through the chapters of our lives, to forget the sadness, grief, angst or suffering that came before our biggest moments of joy, growth or healing.

Today, I invite you to reflect on a period of darkness in your life.  Instead of mourning that time, I ask that you think about how that time gave way to something greater and, just for a brief moment, express a little gratitude for that time of sorrow.

The light is coming,
-C

guest post: A Long and Winding Road

Recently, I asked a few of my fellow writer friends to contribute guest posts for this holiday weekend with the theme of renewal, rebirth and resurrectionAs you read the entries this Easter weekend, I invite you to think of a time in your life when you had to start over or make a significant change.  Was it a long time coming?  Or was it unexpected and sudden?  Was this many years ago?  Or is it happening right now?

Today’s post comes from a good friend and colleague who has asked to remain anonymous.  Please enjoy their entry “A Long and Winding Road”.

-C

A Long and Winding Road

road

 

One of the beautiful and scary things about life is how many possibilities we have each day. It is beautiful, because each moment we literally have an infinite amount of decisions we can make. The terrifying part? We literally have an infinite number of roads we can take.

I was recently reminded of this due to my living situation needing to change in the next couple of months. It has awakened the inner reminder of how important it is to examine my life, and reexamine, similar to a hiker and their relationship with a compass. Am I living a life I feel called to, or just one I am able to. What brings me joy? Do I spend time doing the things that bring me joy? Who am I helping day-to-day? How did I pack into the stream of life? These are just some of the questions I use for those inner surveys.

The life I want to live, is not always the life I am currently living. My path has definitely been a long and winding one. The last year has been full of sadness and grief, and as I have started to come out of this place, it has given me a new perspective. With the gift of time, I am grateful for how the last calendar year has played out.

As a past contributor to CYLFriday.com I feel called to carry on a tradition this Good Friday. We always had a call to action, and this week, who are you becoming? Take some time today, and take an inventory of your life, good, bad, and indifferent. What area of your life do you want to change? Share some of your thoughts and ideas in the comment section.