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I returned to my house today. I have been fighting sadness since before I walked through the door. I am fighting with it still. As I sat down to write, I was aware of my heart beating faster. There are feelings inside me that I don’t want to have here, and yet, they are with me.

I had the most beautiful trip imaginable. Coming back is hard. I wanted today to hold onto the immense joy and wonder I experienced the past 11 days. I was afraid of the sadness I could feel rolling its way around my body. I was afraid of the meaning behind it.

I am coming back into a life in which I am not entirely happy. I am very happy in parts of it. In others, it has become even more clear to me how unhappy I am. I wish this wasn’t the case. I wish my stomach wasn’t filled with dread to wake up and face my day tomorrow. I want more than anything to have a life that I enjoy stepping away from and feel good stepping back into. That is not entirely the case right now. I am aware that my circumstances are temporary. I know that while I have to wake up and face my day tomorrow, change will come. It will take some work and effort on my part, but I am not afraid of that. I am not even afraid that it won’t happen. I believe with every fiber of my being that my life will continue to get better and that I will continue to expand my experience of joy in it. I just don’t know when or how it will happen. And for now, I am here.

I think my sadness scares me because of what it used to mean and how pervasive it used to become. I am experiencing it differently today, but it scares me anyway. I am sad, yes, but I am not depressed. I am unhappy about some aspects of my life, but I am not miserable. I am not even unhappy. I am aware of all of this as I sit here writing. I am aware of the choice I have in how I walk into my day tomorrow.

I started to feel myself shut down in the early part of the afternoon. It was as though my body was bracing for impact. I was hardening. I was holding my breath. I was preparing to survive.

I realize now that I can carry my softness with me into my day. I can carry my joy. I can wear a smile and walk openly. I can be who I am in the life I am living right now, and I can feel good about it.

When I was a child I remember thinking that 25 would be a good age to die. This may sound strange, but I was so overwhelmed by the idea of living much beyond that because it seemed too big and too scary to contemplate when I felt so incapable. I was reminded of this tonight as I sat beneath the stars. I am not incapable now. I can do this. I can do anything, and I can do it well. Which to me, just means that I can do it as me. I can walk with grace and good humor. I can be sad, scared, or anxious. I can even feel overwhelmed and shut down. Most importantly, I can be Real. I can be true. I can be me.

These truths and the process I have been in the past year has transformed me, and it is transforming the life I lead. How I live is different today. How I am is different too. Not so much in terms of how I feel or think, but in the choices I make in holding space for all of it. I have given myself a truly remarkable gift. I have given myself back to me, with love.