The Lioness & The Child.
I have two different sides.
On one side is a lioness. She is the untamed force of the wild who lunges, claws-first, into this experience of life, taking what she deserves and building existence moment-by-moment.
She is fueled by fire — pure, raw flames, the very ones that birthed the Universe.
She is the one who demands that I do not settle, who asks me again and again and again to be brave, and who coaxes me to lift my eyes up when I want so badly to drop them down.
But she is just one side of me.
The other side is a frail child, all clattering bones and saucer eyes and quaking hands. And she is hunched over inside my chest all of the time.
She is the anxious girl, the hungry girl, who has never known the love of a partner.
She’s the one who never understood why she was so scared, or what, exactly, she was even afraid of. And so she tried to wrench the fear out, drive it out, will it out, reason it away. But it remained.
She is the wide-eyed girl who, desirous and uncertain in high school, thought, “Okay, it’s okay. College will be my time.”
And then college came and went, gone by without the touch of a love, without the returned gaze of an interested other, with hardly a flirtation to speak of.
And so it went, and so it continues to go. Each new milestone is the newest opportunity, and then the freshest disappointment.
There have been conversations, there has been sex, there have been scattered, half-hearted chases,
but there has never been love,
there has never been meaning,
there has never been trust,
and there has never, ever been rest.
How I long for rest.
Most of the time, I feel as though I have two steel rods on either side of my spine; the material that holds me up and keeps me functioning, walking, and moving forward is so solid and unyielding that it couldn’t possibly be made merely of muscle.
But then there are the other times.
The times when I’m so exhausted — so weary of trying to continue convincing myself that I am worthwhile, that I deserve to be loved and give love, that I will be found — that those metal bars dissolve away and I am left only with the aching, bottomless reality of my yearning.
These are the times when I am on my knees, head to thighs, fingertips to face, wondering how much longer I will have to carry myself and how much longer I will have to carry the love I have to give with no willing recipient. These are the times that I always wish I could cry, but rarely can.
These are the times when wondering takes over.
I wonder what it would feel like to bury my face in a receptive and trusted chest, breathe in and breathe out, and rest.
I wonder what it would feel like to be held. To be seen. To be told I am beautiful and believe it. To feel hands on my cheeks and see eyes in my eyes and hear words of partnership and togetherness.
And I wonder about the truth of my life. Is it a half-life? Without this love that I crave in the depths of myself, am I living?
I don’t know and I can’t know.
I can only climb back atop my lioness, sink my fingers into fur that is colored like rust and scented like courage, inhale her wildness and continue to ride.