My mom, sister and I all drive the same way. Our right hand resting on the bottom right corner of the steering wheel gently wrapping our pinkies around the outside of the wheel like we are at some fancy tea party, cause manners are important I guess. I don’t know if it’s some strange genetic coding yet to be discovered or years of monkey see monkey do. But us three all drive holding on to five o’clock while our left arm is perched against the window, twisting our fingers around our hair, like we are trying to manually untangle the thoughts that rattle around our brains.
Thoughts vary and I won’t assume to know what lies beneath their naturally curly hair. Hair that I wished for my whole life and only get after a few burns from a curling wand. But this isn’t about that, it’s about the wandering thoughts that echo under my straight hair. Thoughts that love to tell me that I’m unwanted. Memories revisited through the distorted lens of mental illness. Words that get caught between my fingers as I struggle to type out the thoughts and labels that could either empower others through my story or be used as ammo against my once cracked heart.
It’s those moments where my skull can feel the brain waves echoing, calling for less sleep, more doing, constant going, that I feel like I could conquering the world with a single breathe. Only to be pushed back down in sudden exhaustion and anger. The kind of anger that rings in your ears and smashes your brain into a tiny little space where all you can do is lay there and wait for it to pass. It always passes. It passes with a sudden jolt, like fire works being shot in a closet. Blinding, brilliant and breathtaking, yet terrifying with out any place to turn. The terrifying, exhilarating, exhausting and constant cycle of bi polar.
So I turn the wheel again to yet another trip down the cycle. Hoping that this time, the turns are less sever and there’s a little more help on the path ahead. I just drive. I know that stopping isn’t an option and falling in a pothole of pain isn’t going to help. I’ve tried that option before and it’s not the freedom it claims to be. When you drive down this twisty turny path its easy to think that turning off the headlights and running off the road is going to be easier.
It’s never easy.
There isn’t an “easy”.
There’s only, drive. Drive to slow down. Drive to keep fighting. The drive of others when they have to take the wheel for me. The drive to share what I go through so that no one feels like they are alone on this path. Because when you are in the dark turns, knowing others have made it back to the bright stretches of freeway keeps you moving forward. So I must keep moving forward for my family, for others, for those I don’t know, for myself.
I don’t always know where the next turn is going to be or where the road leads but I know if I let Jesus take the wheel and roll deep with a community of family, friends, and therapist all who love me and watch my back, I’ll get to where ever I’m going. Where ever that might be.