“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” –Lao Tzu.
There was a time when my soul was buried, silenced, and empty. Physical violations left me in a raw place where I didn’t know if I could make it through each day until I reached a new low where I didn’t want to make it through each day.
With the endless love and support of my friends and family, I find myself here: very much alive, very grateful for it.
And now comes the rest of the work: finding those places that have hairline fractures and mending them.
I notice it in the little things. My boyfriend and I played the ‘trust game’ a few weeks ago, falling backwards into each other’s arms. Predictably, I ended up lying on my back, laughing hysterically as his 6’3 frame crushed me into the mattress. When it was my turn, I was shocked at the actual grip of fear that hit me. I’m a logical person, and tried to quickly separate feelings from reality. He’s way bigger than me, of course he will catch me. The bed is right behind us, if he doesn’t catch me we will just fall onto it. If that doesn’t happen, you can just catch yourself with your elbows. I chuckled, “I can’t believe this actually makes me nervous.” Paused. Ran through the same list of reasons in my head one more time why this fear was uncalled for. He waited. We laughed. I fell backwards and, of course, he caught me.
It sounds simple enough, but, once it has been compromised, it takes years to find all the little pieces that have frayed at the edges. It shows up when someone pins me and tickles me. It shows up when I shut people out abruptly who are getting too close or know me too well. It shows up when I face each empty blog post and wonder how vulnerable to be.
This past summer, I found myself stuck in the place of working through some of these same things. I was in a writing course and kept facing writer’s block over and over again each assignment. I had a breakthrough late one night where I wrote the following poem. It unleashed something and I knocked out five other poems immediately afterwards to submit in the morning:
“Use your pen; wrestle through the night.
Jacob and Gabriel, find the things that
scare you and yell at them to fight you.
Clear a seat for the demons of insecurity
and inferiority to sit across from your
blank notebook. Feel the intensity of
not being enough, not doing enough.
You will be eaten, but not consumed.
You will be naked, but not empty.
Let the fires of intention burn the sheet
music of doubt you’ve been playing your
life to the tune of.
Desolation is freedom.
For amidst the ruins of your being,
beauty will rise.”
It takes patience, insight, and a certain level of teeth-grit tenacity to put yourself through the uncomfortable moments, one by one. It’s the ultimate refinement by fire. It’s taking the hours in your day and using them to develop old demons into allies as a means to say ‘you broke me but you didn’t destroy me’ to the skeletons in your past.
Welcome your brokenness to the table. Sit across from your fear. Stare it in the eyes. Turn late night tears into battle cries. Create chaos for those who try to keep you in the box as a victim, and hell for the voice inside of you that wants to run and not rock the boat and to just leave well enough alone. Let go of the old stories of why you have perfectly good reasons for remaining stagnant. Let go of the image of yourself that is less than or different or weaker.
Invite others to see the naked parts of your soul. Welcome the difficult conversations. As Rumi says, “set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames.”
“Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. I have tried prudent planning long enough. From now on I’ll be mad.” – Rumi.