Hope from Knowledge

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.”

(Anne Lamott)A Room with a Desk When I was growing up, I used to dream about having an antique writing desk where I would sit and write my soul. It seemed like an impossibility - both the writing and owning some well worn desk. My family doesn’t do antiques and we’ve never really had much. But I couldn’t shake the image.

I am currently sitting at that desk, writing my soul.

Unmerited I did nothing to earn this desk. It was my stepfather’s grandfather’s desk, serendipitously given to me when my parents downsized to move into senior living. I love this desk with my everything. I sit at it and write more days than not. Some of those writings even find their way to actual readers or listeners like you.

The Path In my meditations at this magical desk just now, I started thinking also about what my life was like in 2010. It wasn’t pretty.

I was a single parent with no child support. Two years prior, just as the Recession was hitting, I had been laid off from the “good job” that I had finally found that was supposed to be our stability. I had let most of my private practice clients go when I got the supposedly “good job,” so that I could try to keep my total work week under 60 hours and still be available to my daughter. Nearly all of the clients I had left were sliding scale or pro bono.

I had spent two years struggling to figure out how to do marketing on the ever-changing internet, and to get more clients at a time when people were de-prioritizing counseling in favor of things like food and housing. I had zero budget, so I needed to work it out on my own. I was doing everything I could think of to keep my practice going, all while looking constantly for some other steady job that never manifested.

Snowmaggedon By 2010, I was broker than broke. And so of course, we had back-to-back blizzards that year, eliminating nearly all of the few client sessions I had remaining in those days before telehealth.

My mind constantly raced. If I got evicted, I would lose custody. As if that wasn’t unfathomable enough all by itself, losing custody would have meant that my daughter would live with her father in his very unsafe neighborhood, slated for a truly awful school in a poorly performing county. I had worked with a lot of kid clients in that school. All those kids knew way too many dead people at their age. All the years I had struggled to live in places where she would go to good schools felt like they would have been for nothing.

A Decision I could have lived in a box and made a way, but there was no way I was going to let that be my child’s story.

I vividly remember standing in the shower wishing I could just die. I consciously decided that I wouldn’t kill myself because of the fall out that would have on my daughter and my clients. A friend had recently shared the 12-step adage, “Don’t quit 5 minutes before your miracle.” I consciously chose not to quit.

The Broken Glass Road Crawling out from all of that took so much longer than I ever imagined, and it was harder than I could have fathomed. I am still being held back by some of the financial ramifications from that time. However, from that shower moment forward, I have believed that there is a way forward; If I can’t find it, I will create it.

I’m in tears looking around this room with the magical desk in it. It’s nothing grand, but it is profoundly healing for me as it fills with gentle light, morning after morning. The energy in this place is unspeakably healing. It anchors me.

I fought hard for it. As I move through today’s challenges, I have a well-muscled perseverance that tells me with authority that I can do it.

“Hope begins in the dark.” 99% of 2010 me did not believe this could or would happen. This period of my life is one of the reasons that Anne Lamott’s quote, “Hope begins in the dark,” means so much to me. The one remaining percent that still held hope got traction and I’ve been building on it ever since.

Sayings like “Don’t quit 5 minutes before your miracle” can feel like sandpaper on our souls when we are struggling. They can seem like the sort of empty placations people spew to make themselves feel better instead of sitting with us in our pain.

I think that one of the reasons the phrase had traction for me that day was that the man who shared them with me had been to hell and back several times. It wasn’t empty, and it wasn’t for his comfort.

The Space-Time Continuum When I was growing up, I used to wonder if layers of time didn’t intersect somehow, with all times that had ever been all occurring at the same time. This was before Star Trek introduced me to “The Space-Time Continuum,” but it’s basically the same idea.

I want to poke a hole in those intersections and tell my child self, “Keep writing! The desk, and your dreams are coming!” I want to poke another hole to 2010 as well and tell the woman in the shower, “Trust that fragile 1% of belief! It might be the longest five minutes of your life, but you will do it. You are the miracle that’s coming!”

You are the Miracle When we are in the middle of that seemingly endless five minutes, it’s easy to think that “the miracle” will come from someone else, that it will never arrive, or that this is a story for other people. I’ve worked with enough humans now in 25+ years of practice to believe, with authority, that you are the miracle, and you will

figure it out.

While you are

the miracle, you won’t make it happen alone. That’s not how human healing works. You will find others and others will find you. You and those others will fan the faint ember of your hope, guard it and protect it until it can burn with stability. You will then take your fire and your experience as a fire-tender and help others do the same when all they have left is a flicker.

I’m telling you this from knowledge, not from some ungrounded wish: You are the miracle. Don’t quit.

..................................................................... If you are feeling overwhelmed and hopeless and need to connect with someone immediately, please call or text 988. If you’re looking for more ongoing support, contact Tiffany today. I’m happy to help you fan the embers of hope in your life.