The Boys & Girls Who Lived.
This work of opening my heart means a lot of things.
It means that now nothing is forbidden. Everything I’ve ever felt or thought or believed or wished, all the desires I’ve denied, or the questions I’ve cut off before they passed through my throat — they’re allowed now.
I’ve draped a banner across the front porch of my heart and it says Please Come In, but the reality is that these parts of me are not just passively welcomed home, they are actively asked to please parade themselves before my awareness in complete undress.
And parade they have, sometimes one by one, other times tumbling over each other 17 at a time. They’re all familiar, I know them, we’ve been together before. And as they emerge, I remember why I cut them off. They’re scary and unforgiving and real fucking powerful.
But I promised that I would welcome them, and so I take a shaky breath in, peel back my shoulders, and find words.
To breathless grief: Hello there, I’ve been expecting you.
Thick sticky shame: Please, won’t you come in?
Overwhelming joy: Hey you, it’s been a while.
Dull aching loneliness, judgment, fear, pride, desire: Join me. There’s room for all of us in here.
Have they been easy? No. Surprising? Also No.
Except for one. The one I’d forgotten about.
She would not be left behind though, and so last night, I awoke from my sleep at 2:00 a.m. and was reminded of the evil in my own heart.
There she was, natural as breath, in all her bright and spiny relentlessness. There she was, heaving exhales behind snarled lips.
That’s right, I remembered: there, clasping hands with my desire to love, is my potential for hate.
There, leaning casually back-to-back with my longing to create, is my ability to annihilate.
One path is nurturing, holding, caressing — two hands cupping a fresh, tender blossom. Another path is torn flesh, flashing teeth, and malice — fingers curled around a dripping dagger.
These are not two paths that diverge in a woods. These are two paths that hug each other tightly for the entire length of their journey, at times even dissolving into one another altogether.
It’s true that sometimes their boundaries are crisp, but it’s also true that sometimes they are blurry. Other times, the line of separation simply does not exist at all.
I could wrap my arms around you, stroke your hair and transport you to the stars, or I could wrap my arms around you, stroke your hair and snap your neck. Nothing and no one stands guard between the two except me.
So here we are, in the dark of the night, swimming in the moon rays. Here we all are — you, me, the Boys and Girls Who Lived, carrying, always, the last living fragments of our own attempted murderers, and remembering, if we can, that it is not our abilities that make us who we are, but our choices.
No matter what, my poison is me, and I am her. And so, just like all the others, I say to her: Hello Darkness, My Old Friend.