An exercise in following paths and retracing steps.

One of the first things I did when I joined Facebook was to reach out to someone I felt was owed an apology from what felt like several lifetimes ago, and offer that apology. The gift was in finally learning that apology was unnecessary, and a weight so long carried was set down. Gently, lovingly. And my back still bore the shape of years walking with that burden.

Years later, that same friend, whose love helped to shape me, shared a songon Facebook by a friend of his. Because of our history of shared musical journeys, I thought his recommendation worth a listen, and this song blew me out of the water.

Immediately I rushed to buy the album, and it took up residence in my heart, mind, and soul quicker than anything had in a very long time. The songs arrived at a time when I needed them, badly. They helped me (among other things) to come to a peace and an acceptance of those times when love exists, but cannot flourish or grow, and how healing it is to move away, to reframe that love in a way that is healthier.

Because the artist was a friend of my friend’s, I went to Facebook to send him a message. Short, but sincere. I wanted in some way for this person I didn’t know to understand how much he had helped me.

The response I received in return was short as well, but it began “You must be in the business of saving lives.”

Our brief exchange concluded that we were on the same team – and that it was a good team to be on.

Later, I heard that song – the first one, the one my friend posted – was used in a movie called Hot Girls Wanted. A documentary on the “amateur” porn industry and the varied paths that lead people to it, and the scars too many of them bear because of it. I didn’t feel prepared to watch the documentary. I wasn’t sure I wanted to associate that song with anything else, and especially not something so difficult.

Today, for the first time in a long time, I listened to that song again – that whole album again, more or less by accident. It was the first time I had listened to that album since I had said goodbye to the love that was hurting my heart when that music had arrived in my life. In the meantime I had found a more true, more deep, and more complete love. And due to paths and times and circumstance and due in fact to the love itself, to honoring the whole person, I am walking the path of moving forward on my own and reframing one kind of love into another.

When I got home I decided perhaps it was time to look up that documentary that I’d never watched. Last weekend I had the great privilege of training to become a facilitator in an important human sexuality education program for middle- and high-school aged youth. It was a wonderful training, an intense experience, and at times a very painful one. The paths we show our young people toward a greater understanding and appreciation of their own sexuality are far too often misleading, disturbing, and harmful. This documentary held some of those paths up, more or less…not without any judgment, but with what I would call a compassionate look at all sides.

The documentary brought me to tears. And once it was over, I cried again, for the paths that led me here. The various loves from various times in my life that conspired to help form me, the weights from all of those loves and scars from other past hurts picked up on so many winding paths – they built up a person. A true, full, loving human person who can trace the paths and still look forward.

Too many times across my paths I have asked “Am I enough?” and been certain the answer is “no.”

Watching the young women in this documentary asking that question over and over – in different ways – and expecting that same “no” hurt me in ways I can barely name.

Of course, I want to say to them, of course you are enough. Not just enough “for” …whatever or whoever you think requires that qualification, you are enough for YOURSELF. For this world, which is lucky to have you. For your own paths, that I wish for you the strength to find.

I picked up threads of my own life that feel almost as though they belong to different people. The young woman who could not believe she was enough for him. The woman who was starting to learn that she was enough and suspect she was more. And the middle aged woman today who says Yes. I am enough. Count my scars, see the paths, and walk them without fear. I live imperfectly, I love too fiercely, and I am more than enough.

Flowers from a different path
Flowers from a different path

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