“When the bones are good, the rest don't matter
Yeah, the paint could peel, the glass could shatter
Let it rain 'cause you and I remain the same
When there ain't a crack in the foundation
Baby, I know any storm we're facing
Will blow right over while we stay put
The house don't fall when the bones are good.” - Bones by Maren Morris
I’ve started turning every love song into a song to myself. Mostly, it makes me tear up a little bit. But this song? Whew, it broke the floodgates.
My house growing up was not a good house. There was mold and sometimes mushrooms growing in the corners and definitely a questionable cellar. There were rodents; I joked that I had a pet chipmunk because they lived in the walls. There was water damage, ceilings fell from it. There was depression and cancer. There was faith, both toxic and good. There was love, both conditional and unconditional.
It was what I knew. And when it was taken from me, home became a word that I didn’t know how to assign meaning to anymore. Where was I from? Where was home? The house I grew up in? Dallas, Pennsylvania? My adopted family? My brother’s place? College? Was is a place or a person or an idea? WHAT WAS IT?
I worked that out. It took seven years, but I worked it out. My home was in my chest.
But what happens when you are not a good home?
My mind is not often a safe place to land. It is angry and criticizing.
My foundation has shifted and crumbled and cracked.
My body is running on low battery.
My heart is, well, often broken and on my sleeve.
2019 has been an extremely rough year. If I’m honest, it’s been more difficult than the year that contained both of my parents dying.
I started doing healing practices in 2016 and the more I dig, the more I need to heal and the more I add to the healing practices.
At the end of 2018, I was excited for what was coming. I felt like I was in a good space, that the trajectory of 2019 was going to follow suit. It didn’t. This year has put everything that I’ve learned to the test. It’s like I’m in a boss level of a video game that I just can’t get past. (I’ve been playing a lot of Spyro with my nephew, gimme a break on the metaphor here).
I felt like I was starting over again, and not the good kind that feels challenging and invigorating. The kind where you’re defeated and singed from the flames.
So, I signed up for therapy back in May. And every week I show up on that couch to clean up the aftermath.
I showed up with a list the first day, a list of all the shit, both past and present.
I started talking, and in typical Marilyn fashion, the tears just started flowing.
I finished and my therapist just said “That’s a lot. I’m sorry”
And also in typical Marilyn fashion, I replied with “it’s ok”.
MARILYN, NO IT’S NOT.
I was ready to work on boundaries and trauma recovery and anxiety.
She told me we were going to work on self-worth.
Um, excuse me, WHAT?
I’m a fantastic student, so obviously, I dug right in and started doing all the assignments she told me to do… and extra ones too (except therapy doesn’t give extra credit, AND THAT’S NOT COOL).
Over the past several months, I’ve done a lot of work:
- Wrote a giant list of things that I enjoy (122 things and counting)
- Wrote about things I’m de-weeding from my life (things we’re throwing out that other people have ascribed to me)
- Ranked how satisfied I was in different sections of my life
- Created a body check in list
- Created boundary game-plans
- Took selfies of me doing things that I enjoy
- Did career assessments
- Listed out why I am lovable
- Stopped the record when negative thoughts are on repeat
- Stopped apologizing
- Stopped saying “it’s ok” to apologies
- Started saying “NO” as a full sentence
Taking love songs as letters to myself has become one of the simple extra tasks that makes me feel good. It started from listening to the Sleeping at Last podcast about his song “Two”. He wrote it as a letter from the Enneagram two to other people, and because they struggle with taking care of themselves, also as a letter to themselves. OH, OK.
When the chorus of “Bones” started, I realized that had been the important healing work that I had been doing: making the structure of my life secure.
Doing this work has been less about creating something new but unearthing the structure of who I have always been.
The only unchanging factor in my life is that it is MY life.
This is my home.
So, we have looked at the foundation. We found the cracks, where it was falsely leaning on something else. Like my parents. And then my faith. What happens when external sources die? What happens when faith shifts? What happens, if in the future, another external source leaves or I decide to walk away from faith all together?
I’m still standing, still left with myself.
And as I clean up shattered glass and peeled paint and demolished walls and rotting floorboards… I discover that who I am, the bones of this home, is GOOD.
These bones are mine. These bones are still good.
I often think that if I didn’t go through trauma and if I wasn’t sick, I wouldn’t be who I am.
But then my therapist takes me back to a time before trauma, before I knew I was sick, and shows me the same person that I am now. Someone geared towards justice, good things, celebration, joy, vulnerability, love and all the other things I hold at my core.
My traumatized mind, my chronically ill body, and my tender heart. They are also good.
But they are not my structure. Who I am is not dependent on my trauma or my resilience. Who I am is not dependent on my sickness or my health. Who I am is not dependent on how well I can give or receive.
I am my own. My bones are good.
Paint has peeled. Paint will peel again. (Or maybe I’ll just redecorate)
Glass has shattered. Glass will shatter again.
Storms have come. Storms will come again.
I will not fall. I remain the same. I will stay put.
I will not fall when my bones are good.
Other good songs that have been in the healing playlist:
- Kai’s Song by Overcoats
- Wanted by OneRepublic
- Losing Me by Gabrielle Apin
- Kintsugi by Gabrielle Apin
- Light On by Maggie Rogers