A year ago I was being admitted into the acute unit at Silver Hill, with deep scratches on my arms and some combination of anger and fear ruling my life.
I watched the leaves change last year in Connecticut, which would have been more beautiful if I wasn't in a wire cage with no top, turning around and around while the smells of cigarette break wafting around me. I woke up each morning to the sun striking at just the right angle, turning everything to gold. And it was beautiful, even though I was waking up in a prison designed for my safety. Even though I was trapped.
I moved to the big house across the street and learned about radical acceptance and riding the wave and all these other esoteric names of techniques for getting myself to calm down enough to keep living. And there was such frustration, and so many trips to the psychiatrist to be rediagnosed and rediagnosed again. And the leaves changed and they fell off the trees into the rushing brook behind the house and I imagined my thoughts rushing away like that, rushing away to plunge over the little dam and disappear. And I read Rilke, and Henri Nouwen, and I prayed and I prayed and I prayed.
I'm sitting in the cafeteria at Princeton now, and the leaves are starting to change here in the middle of New Jersey, and they are beautiful. And it is so good to be able to watch them in freedom. But there's sickness in my bones, and that sickness wants to be back in a hospital, back in an environment where everything is controlled and everything is provided to you. And where I prayed. I prayed all the time. I prayed when I woke up and when I went to bed. And now I'm learning how to pray again, learning how to pray when it doesn't seem like the only thing holding me together, even though I know that it still is, it still is, it still is.
I had this clever, really insightful blog saved up for a long time that I haven't finished or posted. And then this came along and I had to say something. A year ago I wrote letters to the outside world and wrote songs about a troubled young person I met in the hospital and walked along the pond and prayed. And I am so, so thankful to not be there, to be here in Princeton visiting Sarah instead.
The leaves will still change this year. Somebody is watching them from a wire cage in Connecticut with cigarette smoke drifting around them. Say a prayer for that person. Say a prayer for me.