I’ve been a lifelong Joni Mitchell fan. For those who know me, it’s easy to see why. She appeals to my inner hippie. One song in particular—Both Sides Now—has always been a favorite but I’ll admit younger Kiersten didn’t quite get the full meaning of the song.
I truly get it now. Or, at least, why the lyrics burrowed deep into my soul for eternity.
As I watched Sara Barielles' beautiful rendition of Both Sides Now during the Oscar’s ‘In Memoriam’ last night, tears welled but not for obvious reasons.
As a child and a young adult, I looked at life as Joni did:
Rows and floes of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I've looked at clouds that way
I had no idea that life could look so different. What I once thought was black and white wasn’t really that way at all. The more I lived, the more I would come to understand that I don’t fully understand.
I recently wrote to my abuser. I told him I know what he did and how it shaped my entire life. It took three years, from the time I first started having flashbacks, to feel ready to put pen to paper. Much to my surprise, writing the letter was easy. Taking direction from my soul, my fingers tapped away furiously on the keyboard. I felt strong. I knew it was time. But there was a moment I realized that both sides of me—little Kiersten and adult Kiersten—aren’t fully integrated.
As I was sealing the envelope to put in the mail, tears welled in my eyes. The thing is, I didn’t realize I was crying. It was as if it wasn’t me. I was surprised by the trail of salty tears down my cheeks. I quickly realized it was Little Kiersten who was crying—a release after all these years. Maybe now, I’ll start to fully connect with her again. Maybe she feels vindicated. I don’t really know yet.
Looking at life from this side now, I am truly grateful for the healing and growth I’ve experienced over the past three years. And I’m proud that I didn’t let the revelations of my life break me. I feel now, they are just part of the tapestry of who I am.
But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I've changed
Well something's lost, but something's gained
In living every day
I've looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all
I really don’t know life at all, or the reasons we endure what we do in our human experiences. What I do know is I am grateful to feel open to not knowing or understanding everything. Just carrying on one day at a time without all of the answers and most importantly, becoming whole for the first time in my life.
I’m living both sides, now.