Choose Bravery: To You, With Love And Strength.
I used to be a fan of whiskey, straight. Straight out of the bottle, I mean.
Maybe decorated with an ice cube or two, but nothing to whittle down the bone-stinging mark it left on my gums and my throat. I needed it to hurt because I needed to feel it. This is how I had grown accustomed to living: I didn’t feel it unless it hurt.
Unless it stung and screeched and left its marks up and down my body.
But I didn’t want to keep needing the pain; I didn’t want to need the fear.
It’s exhausting. The constant need to be saved from a pain that you’ve ultimately caused yourself. Who has time for that? Not us. So I ask, dear one: Have you ever tried to save yourself? Be your own emergency contact. Remove the filter from your life, and just lean in.
Lean in to the fear. Summon the sadness. When you give in to it, it no longer has a hold on you. I romanticized my pain for a long time. Drowned it in wine bottles and anxiety medication and the bed sheets of boys who didn’t love me.
I loved the sticky sweet pain of my dry mouth the next morning. I got so used to asking people to save me, that I forgot about my own two hands. My fists. My tiny, ineffectual fists. I forgot about their strength and what they could do if I let them. They now hoist me up.
They are calloused and scarred, and I wouldn’t change them for anything.
I am so much percent water. My body holds boats upon it and my skin gives me sustenance. I quench my own thirst. I crave my own self. I am unlocked. A house with broken blinds that holds the unlimited potential of everything. I am the laugh track of my own life. My heart has new muscles.
My skin is coated with a new paint called ‘thickness’ and you can hardly see it. It’s more like a top coat, a lacquer to seal in my newfound bravery.
I am all of these things and more. But sometimes I am so much less. And a lot of the time, I wish I had some guiding force. Then I’m reminded that I do — myself.
I wish I could go back to the darker days. Days that I rolled into. Me, all charcoaled lungs and punctured limbs. Me, with my ancient ashes, honeyed lips and wine-colored bruises that came from falling into other people instead of myself.
If I could, I’d make my former self feel so much less lonely. I’d lay in her bed with her, massage her scalp, and feed her chocolate chip cookies.
But I can’t. What I can do, is write down the words for you in hopes that they heal you, if even slightly so. The words are yours as much as they are mine. I’d like for you to take them, swallow them down greedily so that they may settle quickly in your belly.
If some of the words don’t apply, feel free to spit them out. Be picky with the ones that you let in, my love, for they are meant to keep you safe.
“Hey there. I’m so sorry this is happening. I feel for you, deeply and truly. I’m sorry you are in the thick of it right now, trudging through the sludge and falling to your knees. But I need you to know that you will soon crawl out of this. And you’ll be thankful you spent so much time in the darkness.
The darkness will strengthen your bones and you will rise, rise, rise into every shade of light you ever imagined for yourself.
I hope you believe in your innate fragility and how it couples with your astounding bravery. It swirls around inside you and creates the most perfect shade of grace.
And sometimes you don’t feel the least bit brave, but I promise you that you are.
You are your own haunted house. Your own creaky rocking chair. Your dim porch light. You are all the fragile haunts that keep you a little scared and shaken-up in the dead of night.
You are the candlelit room. Ready to lead yourself into hope, away from the grief-stricken stretch of land you live on.
Unclench your fists:
Think of the women
the women born of summer mornings
carefully crafted through mist and grace
the delicate diversions that they live in
and how you will never know their ease
or bask in their light
You create your own light
the sun streaking through your blinds
mistaking your body for an easel
Your light grows within me
theirs turns down with dusk
and they must wait for the next sunrise to feel beautiful and whole again
While you rise from your own flames.
Inhale your fear:
I know that there are robbers in this neighborhood
but you leave the door unlocked and your body unclothed
because the things that can hurt you are not waiting outside your door.
I know that the world is big and blue, and sometimes it strains your eyes to look at it, but you never look away.
You are strange and marvelous, and no one can take their eyes off of you.
You are the endless possibilities tucked between your bedroom blinds.
You are your own red emergency button, and I want you to press as hard as you can.
Explode into yourself.
Summon the sadness.
Summon the sadness, but choose bravery.
Choose. Choose. Choose.”