Keep going. Just keep going.
Anchoring into trust to keep forging forward.
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A song I’ve been enjoying (& the song that was playing while my daughter was born):
“Keep going. Just keep going.” I have repeated this phrase to myself an alarming number of times in my life — or maybe it isn’t alarming… maybe what’s alarming is how few of us are willing to admit how many times we have had to tell ourselves to just keep going.
I think back to 16-year-old me sitting on a squeaky thin hospital mattress, hours after attempting suicide, wondering how to keep going — wondering if I could. I remember being in an art therapy session at the residential treatment center I was staying in, crafting and painting, trying to make a little sense of the mess inside. The art therapist said something along the lines of, “sometimes, it isn’t about figuring out the whole path ahead of you. It’s just about knowing what you need to keep going, over and over again, one step in front of the other.”
I think back to 26-year-old me walking into my internship during graduate school, wondering how to keep going — wondering if I could. I remember sitting in group supervision with other interns at the university counseling center I worked at during my second year, each of us looking at one another and questioning if we were fit for the job… if we had anything to offer. My supervisor, Diane Suffridge, said something along the lines of, “you have something to offer just by bringing yourself into the room.”
I think back to 28-year-old me driving into San Francisco to meet my birth mother for the first time, wondering how to keep going — wondering if I could. I contemplated a U-Turn so many times. I remember walking up to the ferry building where we planned to meet, my steps quickening as my heart did, unsure of how I would handle sitting across from the woman who abandoned me at birth. My ex-partner at the time (who is now my husband) said something along the lines of, “you don’t need to know what you’ll get out of meeting, but you can trust you’ll get something.”
I think back to 33-year-old me trying to find the courage to send in my completed manuscript of my first book, wondering how to keep going — wondering if I could. I remember the visceral feeling of both terror and release when I finally sent it, doubting whether or not it would actually be accepted and published, downplaying the accomplishment altogether. My Sister Wendy said something along the lines of, “imagine what you would tell me if I finished thousands and thousands of words and hundreds of pages to complete a whole manuscript — turn that around and say it to yourself.”
These snippets of life don’t necessarily connect to one another in every way, but they do hold a similar thread. They remind me I can trust myself to keep going, even when I don’t know how to… because I always have. They remind me I have met the question of how to keep going countless times and always seemed to somehow find an answer. And they remind me of what is possible, even when I have no idea what’s coming or what is on the other side.
During certain seasons or moments, we might find ourselves wondering how to continue forward — whether with living or showing up to our heart’s work, finishing a hike or making the next move, facing our truth or putting ourselves out there. Especially for those of us with a history of trauma, depression, or (fill in the blank with the wide variety of challenges each of us face), we can be quick to doubt our capacity to forge ahead. Yet when we look to history, we find repeated moments of us continuing to keep going, even when we weren’t sure how to. We find a 100% track record of it. We find proof of ourselves.
And during both painful and joyful moments, we can often recall the things that kept us going — the people who mirrored our own goodness to us — the words shared that reminded us of what could be, what could become, what was possible.
To be transparent, I am in another season of life where I’m not quite sure how to keep going. Not in a literal way, but more of an existential way… like, how do I keep facing the unknown? How do I trust that whatever comes next will make its way to my life in due time? How do I keep letting go of trying to force or control my future? How do I keep walking into a mystery? How do I keep going — just keep going?
It’s my first week after closing my private practice — my first time not having clients in over eight years. I don’t have a plan for what’s on the “other side” of this decision; all I know is that it was the right one. I don’t have anything to replace my income or time spent working; all I know is that it was the decision I needed to make during this season of life. But as I sit here and face an unknown future, the “how do I keep going?” question feels strong. And I think back to all the past versions of myself who faced something hard or joyful or in-between and asked this same question, and I think back to the life that unfolded after the question and somehow always gave me the answers or acceptance I needed.
When I question my own ability to keep going, keep moving, keep growing… I think back to younger versions of me who questioned the same thing and inevitably, somehow, made it happen. I think back to moments in my life where I truly didn’t know how I’d move forward, yet I did. Every time. I think back to experiences I wasn’t sure how to navigate that I eventually figured out. I think back to every single time I’ve felt the question of, “how do I keep going?” ringing in my bones, only to be lead to the answer without having to force it. I think back and remember the capacity I hold within to face these moments of inner reckoning with a kind of trust — with a kind of quiet belief in what is possible, even when I have no idea what lies ahead.
It’s okay to not always know how to keep going.
It’s okay to not always believe in your capacity to keep going.
It’s okay to not be able to predict what’s on the other side.
It’s okay to feel suspended in the question sometimes.
We don’t always need to know how we’ll keep going — we just need to trust we will.
We don’t always need to believe in our capacity to keep going — we just need to remember we’ve kept going every moment up until now and, somehow, we’ll continue.
We don’t always need to predict what’s on the other side — we just need to let ourselves live the life we have, trusting we’ll make something out of whatever is ahead.
We don’t always need to have answer — we just need to let ourselves be open to it when it’s ready to arrive.
If you too find yourself in the question of, “how do I keep going?”, I hope you can think back to all the times you’ve asked that question before and done it anyway. I hope you can also think back to all the people who nudged you along when you needed to not do it alone, knowing you can ask for a nudge or two now. I hope you can honor the journey you’ve already been on as proof of trusting whatever may be next. I hope you can rest when you need to — take breaks when you need to — not try to figure it all out and let mystery be what it is sometimes, trusting you can be with whatever you might find ahead of this time of questioning, wondering, and not knowing.
I am doing all those things alongside you. And I fully trust we’ll find our way.
△ The essay below (linked here) by Anne Helen Petersen
△ This interview with Katherine May and Aja Barber:
△ Fancy toast, cappuccinos, and an already-eaten apricot pastry from Sister
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