I wrote this back in October, feeling overwhelmed by having to adjust to a lot of difficult things at once. There was still getting used to not being in college anymore, facing some tough-to-swallow truths about myself, and maintaining motivation while trying to find a job. I desperately wanted to talk about all of it, but struggled nevertheless because all of closest friends seemed so far away, and I didn’t know how to do it without maintaining that I was a strong person. It was one of those things where I knew one thing but didn’t believe it, mainly because of what was ingrained in me for most of my life.
I had a vivid (and somewhat poetic) vision of what it would be like to be face-to-face with someone, my arms outstretched as if to say, “Here I am and this is me; love it or leave it.” Initially I did have a certain person in mind when I wrote it, but it can easily be applied to anyone, or even God.
Regardless of who sees it, I still intend to include it in the book that I’m writing.
I’m sitting here with my head in my hands, wondering how much longer this could go on for. For the sake of needing a change, part of me longs to just disappear into the walls that surround us. Still I see you walking toward me, your footsteps quiet but intentional. I look up at you, transfixed by your eyes rather than my heart thudding against my chest; you look worried, yet determined. Taking your outstretched hand, I want to stand up, but the exhaustion won’t let me. I didn’t realize how much energy it took to hide, to ensure that only certain facets of me were seen and the rest were tucked away, only to be discovered by those who made an effort.
Without hesitation, you kneel down in front of me as a way to let me know that you’re fully present and willing to listen. You’re at my level and I am at yours.
I’ve envisioned this moment for so long, one that is terrifying and yet so desperately needed. Surrounded by a self-imposed desert of isolation, where my thirst can only be quenched by that of connection.
You slowly pull my battered wrists away from my face. Open your eyes! It’s not a question or a command, but reality; self-protection hasn’t kept me all that safe like I thought it would, but actually held me hostage all these years. I let those wrists splay against my knees, wrists that guarded against the heavy blows meant for my face. You gently trace your thumb over the patches of black and blue skin: I am here. You’re safe. You’re not alone.
I grimace at first, and as I start to speak I experience a burning sensation, like pouring peroxide over a bloodied wound. You must hurt first in order to heal. I’ve done this before, but something about it feels genuine and real this time around. I don’t know what language we’re speaking or what you’re seeing. You know my past and are aware of the present. The future is a different story, one more palpable with each passing moment. I giggle when an invisible touch of silk slides down my face and into my lap. Touching my cheeks, they feel raw and yet soft at the same time. I can feel the clouds lift from my soul, which is somehow giving me the strength to stand. It’s OK. I’ve got you.
We’re taking baby steps here, both with caution and one foot in front of the other. We’re holding onto one another, but not so tightly where moving becomes impossible. A mirror is now in front of us and I stop to look at my reflection. I’m laughing and I’m dancing. My sallow skin is replaced with a warm, natural glow. The bruises, faded but left in traces as a reminder that I am not a victim, but not necessarily a survivor either: I’m a warrior.
This is me. Not who I want to be. Not who I wish to be. I see a small smile tugging at the corners of your mouth. This is who I’ve always been. You’ve seen her. You’ve grown to care about her. You’ve always known. It was more a matter of accepting her as myself.
We continue to walk. You’re not saving me, but rather allowing me to save myself.
We’re outside now, the sky a mixture of both rain and sunshine. Time has passed, a number of years that we both lost track of. It’s all right though, because we’re both where we need to be.
Yet before we go on, I have one request. That you let me take care of you too: that you may feel comfortable enough to show me the depths of your heart the way that I’ve shown mine. That you don’t shut me out or brush me off because of what society says is supposedly normal or correct. You’re not less of a person for crying or for getting pissed off at the world. It shows you have passion. It shows you care. It’s what makes you the kind of person I want to know and to keep growing with.
Because like it or not, we have each other now, and we’re in this together.