I went to the DMV today to get a new drivers license. My old one still had my married name on it and since it has been a year and a half since my divorce became official I figured it was time to go brave the line of thrilled and anxious sixteen year olds and get the damn thing renewed.
As I waited for my number to be called I stared at my current license. The picture was of a girl i hardly recognize now... long wavy hair, strange half smile... a maroon vest she loved and wore every day for a year. I can clearly remember the afternoon i took that picture four years ago. I was high on vicodin.. fidgety, chatty and made up for what seemed like a very important moment in my life. I looked pretty.. but lost. and i was lost. and miserable. I was so miserable then.
I spent my days pillaging through thrift stores to resell junk as vintage. In between purchases i would swallow pills carefully.. always counting and recounting to make sure i had enough to get through the day without getting sick. I was a disappearing act, reemerging every three hours with a low grade fever and the chills and the desperate need to take more drugs. Drugs that would not only dull the constant ache in my back but more importantly the stabbing pain in my gut that had been screaming at me for years, trying to tell me to wake the fuck up, to start over, to get help, to get clean again ... The pain was trying to tell me that i was living a lie. But I was so deep in that lie that there was no voice inside of me that i understood anymore. I had lost the ability to hear truth from within myself.
This morning I said goodbye to that drivers license. I passed it over the counter to the flirty DMV employee and didn't look back. I took another photo. I was clear eyed and embarrassed. I left the building and stepped out into the thick Texas heat and in ten or so business days I'll have a new drivers license. and on it will be a picture of a girl i know well.. a girl who was given enough grace to survive...
I am learning to listen to pain. Sometimes it is the only message I can hear.