It was spring on the East End of Long Island. Joe, Niki and I lived just on the edge of the Hampton's in a small condo on Moriches Bay. Niki was 2 years old, so I regret that she does not have much memory of it. It truly was a magical place. Contrary to popular belief, not all of New York is a Concrete Jungle.
I feel the East End of Long Island is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen, filled with mansions on the beach, an abundance of flowers and foliage in the spring and gorgeous leaves in the fall. The winters are a Wonderland with everything decked out for the holiday. There are farmers markets and places to get trinkets in little boutiques, ice cream, coffee shops and little mom and pop bakeries line the sidewalks with tons of upscale shopping that I could never afford! The bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches on a Kaiser roll, with a little ketchup, salt and pepper were to die for! The condo we lived in had a dock that jutted far out into the Moriches Bay. My husband and I would walk to the edge and watch the sunsets or just gaze at the beautiful landscape and reflect on the water. I spent many a time on that dock contemplating everything. That condo was one of my very favorite places we ever lived.
One spring was setting in and my girlfriend and I were on our morning jog. Yes, I used to jog. The lilacs were in bloom everywhere. The smell was intoxicating and it had just rained making everything even more of a sensory delight. Our sneakers left water spraying in their wake, but we didn't care as spring was here and we were young!
I exclaimed to my friend, “Let’s grab some lilacs before we leave!” Understand that they lined the street everywhere in abundance. We ran off in different directions to gather our blooms. When we met up, I could barely hold on to my flowers my bunch was so big. My girlfriend had one sprig in her hand. She looked at me and began laughing hysterically. I joined in with her, seeing the difference in our gather. I'll never forget what she said that day. She exclaimed. “That’s the difference between you and I Alice. You grab all life has to offer, I just took a twig”. Up until that point, it was something I never had realized about myself.
Over the years that have passed since then, they are many, I often reflect back on that experience. I can still see the shock on my girlfriend's face when we met up and looked at the differences in the flowers we had gathered. I realize now that I have always lived my life that way. A true New Yorker, loud and proud, go big or go home is the saying. There have been many challenges in my life. If you have followed my blogs, you know that I suffer from 5 mental disorders and I have had a pretty rocky road in life. What I have come to realize, is I have never accepted that about myself. In spite of my obvious handicaps, I've always reached for the Golden Ring. In younger years, I always felt it within my reach. Maturity has set in and I have realized my limitations. That does not stop me however. I still believe in, go big or go home.
Living out loud with my mental illness and finishing up my soon-to-be-published book, I realize that I still believe in that Golden Ring. Now, it manifests to me as having stability in my psychiatric medication, balance in my mood swings and facing life versus spending weeks and months in bed hiding in deep depression. It means facing who I am as a whole person. I no longer segment myself into different pieces of my mental disorders, saying I am Borderline Personality Disorder or I am Bipolar and Panic Anxiety Disorder. I am Alice. Take it or leave it, I am a whole being and the parts of me that I have despised my whole life are a part of that package. I am not ashamed to introduce them to people any longer. I believe that even in my silence during my early years, they knew anyway and it was only myself I fooled into thinking that others didn't notice.
Monday morning I am having my second major surgery in 6 months. The first was a breast cancer scare, which thank you Lord turned out to be all clear. Now this surgery is the rectification of a huge hiatal hernia that has wreaked havoc on my digestive system and health for over 10 years. The surgeons have told me it must be dealt with now, so I prepare and will deal with it Monday morning. These things happen to all of us in life in varying forms and degrees. Some of us have the gift of handling it better than others do. Due to my mental disorders, I do not handle them well. I manifest in many forms of anxiety, depression, denial, and fear of the unknown. God is my anchor, yet I allow myself to run from him during these times instead of running towards him as my Safe Haven. I'm guilty of not trusting the one who has taken me through it all. I ask his forgiveness in this human frailty I possess. Trust has not always been an easy task for me during my life riddled with various forms of distrust.
The time does come however, when I buckle it up and face the journey, come what may. That is where I find my Savior steps in to help me and walks me through it. He gives me things like humor, empathy towards others going through similar challenges, acknowledgement of my family's support and a robust personality that lets people know I am there to play. Go big or go home. It will kick in. It has not yet and I'm kind of frustrated about it because usually it kicks in sooner. Yet I do not doubt that it will be there when I need it.
For instance, during my breast episode, I was able to help and reach out to one of the nurses who was having a very difficult time with her teenage daughter. Forgetting the fact that I was in the awkward position of lying face down on the table with my breast dangling down a hole in the table, being squeezed by two pieces of apparatus that held a needle steady to get a biopsy, while I ministered to her. I forgot where I was and immersed myself in her tears of frustration over her daughter. The wisdom and maturity I have acquired through dealing with my daughter, I dispensed to her. God gave me the ability to give her hope and a plan to move forward toward healing the relationship. It is times like this that I describe, that I know He is there, stepping in and giving me the courage to forget myself, and my trial to reach out to others in pain.
My challenge to you, the next time you have the opportunity to grab the lilacs, gather in all you can take. Those are the good times. Live them fully and courageously in spite of your challenges. During the hard times, remember those experiences and if you have faith as I do, know that He will be there for you. He is always ready to deliver just on time. He will give you the strength and courage you need, sprinkle in a little laughter and humility. He will dispense to you the ability to notice others in spite of your struggle and then he will be there on the other side to walk you out of the furnace of tribulation.
No matter what you are going through today, or tomorrow, I want you to be a New Yorker with me. I want you to go big or go home! Please know that you are being supported and cheered on by the biggest source of strength possible. He will give you that New York attitude you will need. I can't wait to share the marvelous things that God will do during this journey tomorrow.
With you on the journey and so is He, Alice