Maxie McCoy

“Over it” is overrated. Lessons in revival from my Jesus year

Around the age of 28, I accidentally attended a stranger’s hyper-intimate birthday party. Accident, because I thought I was attending a public event with a dear friend, not a sacred baptism of birthday wishes. The vibe was not so much Funfetti and streamers but rather rose petals and intentions. My Texas roots were in for an oh, so Brooklyn surprise as I sat amongst a small gathering of strangers, most who were donning the flower crowns that we’d all woven prior to taking our seats. One by one, the majority of these guests would walk to the front of the room to deliver impromptu performances as their gift to the birthday woman – poems, songs, artwork. The final gift was an invitation to put your hand on the heart of your neighbor’s chest and hold direct eye contact with them for two minutes. This precise moment was of course too obvious of a time to use the restroom, so I dove in. It never stopped feeling weird but also at one point felt nice? Although around the 45 second mark I definitely wished that I had been high. The experience was capped off, predictably, with a reference to the coming Jesus year – 33, the age Jesus of Nazareth died.

I haven’t thought about that night until I was trying to pinpoint where I first heard the reference to a Jesus year. And while I don’t actually believe in this template for the year your age clocks 33, it is an interesting lens with which to view all we need to let die in order to live…which I suck at unless we’re talking about my house plants that I seem to have a sick interest in sending to the brink only to revive.

I’m not a huge fan of letting things go – dreams, people, places. Whereas some people can snip a tether to something they once loved, I prefer to let it slowly wear away until one day the thing that was disappearing all along is no longer there. But the whole time it was disintegrating, I was working at repairing it, convinced that if I just try harder, it’ll get better.

I don’t remember what I was thinking this time last year as I crossed the chasm into my Jesus year – about who I was or what I wanted to create. Which is odd, because birthdays are always a hot time for reflection in the cycles of my life. I can tell you though…I didn’t see it coming. This last year didn’t exist on a list of a thousand possibilities. My nervous system might have known, perhaps, as I desperately tried to reconcile the destabilization I felt internally with what had yet to happen around me. But I couldn’t have known everything I’d be asked to let go of, and that I’d be the one making the requests.

I can tell you that on the other side of the last year, of delivering on those asks to change and let go and move forward, emotionally unraveled and all…the renewal is real. I traveled a beautiful year through the shadows. My spirit returned from hibernation, ready to create, stronger than ever and more willing to sit still. And while I put one foot in front of the other these last 12 months, trusting myself, I occasionally noticed a glimmering gemstone along my path that I’d like to pass to you. In the chance you’re in need of the reminder to keep winding through the dusty alleyway of your own darkness.

Stand for your heart. Your needs will not get you what you think you want, but honoring them will get you something way better: self love. You’ll lose people you don’t want to lose. You’ll exit situations you don’t want to exit. You’ll let go of pieces of yourself you’re not fully ready to walk away from. But what will be waiting for you is a deep sense of being OK. With yourself. Owning your needs is standing for your heart. Not just in the times you know you’ll be met at the table, but especially in the times you know the person that you’re expressing your needs to just…can’t. I promise, no matter the fall out, you’ll feel confident and gain a renewed sense of trust in anything you do next. Because every time you stand for your heart, you’re telling your future self you’ll do it for her, too. There’s no way to lose yourself or let yourself down when you’re flexing the muscle of “I’ll be ok, because I’ve got me.” Don’t sweep your needs under the rug. Stand with them. You’ll strengthen a piece of yourself every time you do.

“Over it” is overrated.
When something or someone matters to you, it doesn’t just stop mattering. You don’t stop loving someone just because you’ve both chosen to stop acting on that love. You don’t stop thinking about a situation because that situation is in the past. It all comes in waves. There will be days you’ll ask yourself, “How are there any tears left?” There will be moments you beg for the charge to just fucking go away. You’ll will yourself to be over it by now. But in my year-long pursuit to move forward, I’ve learned to honor the glowing corners of my heart that still care, that still have puddles of love I walk right through, and finding peace in the corners that still aren’t “over it”. And gratitude. Because what a wonder to have your heart so expanded it doesn’t want to return to before and act like it never happened. Whatever, whomever, is still knocking on the drum of your moments, let it. Hear it. It’s ok to stop to listen and recognize beauty for what it was, as long as you pick back up and keep on.

Make the most of impermanence.
There’s a lot we cannot undo. But there’s plenty, plentyyyy that’s reversible. I didn’t intend for “everything’s reversible” to be a stabilizing mantra for my year, like a cane I leaned on while my legs still felt weak. But it kept me upright. It kept me moving. And before I knew it, I was standing in front of my window looking at a view I’d relished in thousands of times, my movements echoing through my now empty apartment. I bottled that view I’d never forget, that kept me company in some of the wildest moments of my life, and then handed over the keys. I never thought I’d leave the love affair with a town that gave me everything: friends who are family. Great love. Dreams realized. Dazzling experiences. And I had no idea what was waiting on the other side of the country, but I knew there was creative energy I needed to pursue. Plus, it could all be undone. When life throws you questions that pique your heart, lean in. Ask around. Try them out like a table of appetizers when you’re starving. I can guarantee the biggest regrets we’ll have when we’re 90-years old are the adventures we chose not to pursue. The experiences we go for, whether they pan out or not, don’t wound our soul like the bullets wielded from avoiding our own potential.

These three were important lessons for me. Yet, there were so many more gems from life lived as 33. As I walk into another birthday, another year, I’m celebrating the shit out of myself because I made some magic with the mud I found at the bottom of my barrel.

AND, where and if any of these are resonating, and where any of your situations or days feel impossible or confusing or challenging, just know that your load will lighten. I cried more tears this last year than I knew one face could generate, but each time I did the heaviness spoke to me, promising that if I stayed open hearted it would release… eventually. And it did. It gave way to a year of great possibility, of new experiences, of gusts of creativity that became winds of change, and of the greatest gift of all, of a heart-wide-open.

Your days of lightness will come. You’re there. If I could travel in time back to that birthday party, I’d say place your hand over your own heart. That’s where you’ll feel the shift.

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