To be fair, this happened nearly a month ago. It has taken me this long to put it into words.
Today I faced a fear. To exactly define this fear is not easily done, so all I can say in short is that I went to West Seattle.
In my mind, West Seattle is a beautiful hell. A lovely community with friendlier-than-most-Seattleites and beautiful views, this is a place where I had walked trails, dipped my toes in the Puget Sound, eaten delicious pastries, learned how to navigate the bus system, found a family in my church. It is also the place I fled in November 2011. It is where monsters came alive. Also, my ex, his family, his friends live there and I want zero interaction with them and their world.
But today I went. My friend, Tarah, invited me to have a pastry (who can pass that up?) and a walk. On Alki.
When I answered the text last night, my heart was pounding unnaturally. I was momentarily overcome with anxiety but managed to answer that yes, I wanted to hang out.
Anxiety gave way to anger as I realized that despite the days, months, nearly years that seemed to have washed away the significance of a neighborhood, it all came rushing back in an instant. Why should that situation still affect me? How can hE still have such power over me? And anger led to frustration.
In that mood, I fell asleep and awoke this morning with a gritty resolve of traveling over that bridge, into that neighborhood, and holding my head high, all the way to Bakery Nouveau. And I did! Yes, having the exit blocked and following a ridiculous detour through SoDo made me think for a moment, “Maybe God is trying to tell me not to go there today.” But I shook it off. God doesn’t live in my fears. Although my faith is not what it once was, the deity I choose to believe in is much larger than my circumstantial fear.
And for goodness’ sake, everything was just fine! Tarah and I had delicious food, wonderful conversation, plenty of exercise, and basked in the glory of a late summer Seattle sun. For large moments of time I would forget my geographical location and was able to immerse myself in the present instead of looking over my shoulder for the haunts of my past.
Today was good. Tomorrow will be better. I am but a human and I travel a broken road. But I am strong enough.