Give Up

Two years ago today, I gave up. I looked down at my swollen toes pinched into my black patent leather shoes—shoes I wore only because they looked and felt better, more grown up, than I did that day—and I stopped promising myself I would never drink again.

I said, only today, girl. Only the next few breaths.

I watched my feet take me to work and I did my thing, at my fancy job that made no sense anymore, if it ever did. I’d been trying for over a year to stop. Days here and weeks there, but it never stuck. I couldn’t, or I wouldn’t; I just didn’t know anymore.

It’s hard to want a thing you don’t actually want.

After work, I picked up my girl from school and went home to do the evening things. I didn’t promise myself anything about who I’d be the next day. I cut the cucumbers, wiped the sticky hair from the bathroom floor, dug some pajamas from the pile of clean clothes that never gets folded, and fought about a bath.

I didn’t try to be grateful or bold. I gave up on stopping my anger. Disappointment and sorrow, too. 

I made no grand proclamations and I didn’t ask for more help. I climbed into bed and didn’t sleep, but still woke before dawn and wrote from the empty place.

I kept writing.

I kept going.

I kept answering a call I didn’t understand.

Today the mess is still there. Hairs all over the floor and the laundry is never, ever done. But there’s a diamond in my heart full of grace and peace. I found it when I stopped looking everywhere else. I found it in the empty place.

Give up.

Give up the thing you cannot give up. Unclench your hands; you don’t have control anyway. Let life live you. Let yourself be breathed. The conditions will never be perfect.

Only everything is on the other side.


Laura McKowen

Laura McKowen, PO Box 315 , Swampscott, MA, 01907