Once You Have Run Enough, You Will Know When to Stay.
Could I leave even though every fiber in my being was telling me to stay? My intuition was tugging at me, something stronger than my own cells.
As I left, I imagined double helixes unraveling, my hair split in follicles, and my bones broken and scattered over the ground. Why did I have this urge to tempt the abyss and go where I hadn’t been when I already knew there was no one in the world I could love more?
There is an urge to flee when you aren’t sure what is your truth. When you are rooted in who you are, you can correct and adapt without losing ground. If not, there is always a need to think in absolutes, to reject everything and see in black and white. But it is always possible for you to find your way back home. Then the earth will pull you towards it like burning honey.
Once you have done enough running, you will be able to distinguish what is true and what is worth fighting for, and you will understand when to stay. You will learn to trust yourself, which means you must forgive yourself, because likely you will have wanted to stay and fight for people who not only don’t love you, but can’t.
You must forgive yourself for wasting years, maybe even decades, on smiles that were ripped off at the source. And you must distinguish that even where pain lies, there can be real love struggling through the cracks. So you must go, if you are doubting, but more importantly, you must learn when to not doubt.
There is a pain the ones who love you will bring up that has its source in you, and to attempt to find an easier path will not benefit you. Certain pieces of you will require a love and commitment that run-of-the mill selflessness would wither before, but that may be what you are both worth.
There is a false fear that arises when they dive with you into the heart of not only your blackness, but also their own; then, you suddenly decide that this battle isn’t for you. You don’t want you, in all your complexity and glory. You, in fact, want simpler things.
Your life mission may be a little perpendicular to the direct and narrow path you think winds in front of you. Our most significant relationships pick up on nuances and values that are important to us deep down. They might hold us to standards that seem crazy but could actually have a legitimate basis. Stay flexible, stay soft, stay intuitive, stay open.
When you think that you are doing everything right and that your partner is causing you too much pain, sometimes there is something about you that you value more than common sense that you aren’t fully honoring. Even if you’re not technically doing anything wrong, you may be violating a part of your life mission or your most quiet needs.
I believe there comes a point in any true relationship in which the time to doubt has passed. There is a point from which the unspoken bond cannot break, regardless of your quick comings and goings on this physical, temporal planet. You’ve been through too much. You’re wound together tightly, conjoined snakes, roots burned into each other and growing through rocks.
You’ve stood by each other again and again. The power of the bond of the soulmate cannot be dismissed, though it can require sacrifice and necessitate sorrow. To let go of it is to attempt to let go of and devalue yourself.
We must be able to recognize the difference between a reciprocated journey between two people and its potential to engender periods of dark night — periods that look like death, that feel like destruction, and that can leave you totally lost — and the destructive process of emotionally stunted predators using your willingness to sacrifice for their agenda because they can only take what they do not have.
When you love someone, you honor yourself by honoring them, and you honor them by honoring yourself. Their growth is intertwined with yours and enables you to be the best version of yourselves. It’s very dualistic. The urge to flee and devalue each other engenders karma that reverberates throughout our cosmos.
The people that love you the most matter more than the outside world, so think carefully when you decide that the pain they are bringing up does not have its source in you as well.
You must know yourself, each kaleidoscopic fragment, the beautiful and the ugly. The soul is a kaleidoscope, but the heart is clear. Stay in any context you can, and be sane. Stay when it’s inconvenient. Stay because you’re worth it, if you are sure of them down to your bones. Stay because this world is full of ego and false gods, and they are meant to help all of that fall away from you.
But if you cannot stay, hold yourself in the bright light of the good gods, hold yourself for a moment in a feeling of unrelenting union, and know that if that love is real, wherever you go, the ones who love you will be there because some bonds do not break.
It is not so important to figure out whether you should stay or you should go. You should figure out who you truly are, however you have to, and then you will know. Find your own soul and drive a nail into it. Hold on to your soul like it’s the only thing you have, because it is. Go wherever you must to find that answer, and come back as soon as you can.
I came back, and I carry this stone with me. I found it from what they call in Mexico the river beneath the river. I found it after I loved like my life depended on it, on ghosts in human form, walking and talking empty souls that knew me better than I knew myself yet didn’t know how to love anyone. Their promises never came. Their garden never grew.
I return to bonds not of emotion or logic but of ether and fire, whether or not they always make sense, whether or not they’re exactly what you think they will be. I found it when I wasn’t looking for it, washed in my own forgiveness — the stone that, they say, belongs only to the river which bled it smooth.
Melissa Slayton is from Summerville, South Carolina, and has a degree in creative writing from Warren Wilson College. Her poems and stories can be found in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, San Pedro River Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, Apalachee Review, Pinesong, South Carolina Yearbook, Rebelle Society, and the Artist Unleashed, among others. She is an assistant editor with Vine Leaves Press, and has attended the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, and the Hub City Writing-In-Place Conference as the recipient of the Poetry Society of South Carolina’s Summer Scholarship. You could contact her via her website.