When I told her I was going to dye my hair blue and call myself Chrysanthemum, the flower of death, She sent me the link to that instruction manual, and reminded me that I'd written it. I read it. A few times. I cried and wondered how a nineteen year old me had provided such a fitting manual to cope with the present pain that felt like it was searing through my chest. I wondered how she was so wise and how I was so clueless. Then for some reason, Elephant Journal shared the article once more, and I received a new flood of sweet, beautiful people reaching out across the void and telling me they found solace in my words. Me, this ruptured pile of emotions, had somehow provided some comfort to people on the worst day of my fucking life. I thought about reaching out to people and felt too weak to do so. Within three days, each person I'd longed to tell but feared to burden, had somehow known to reach out. My friends filled my ears and my heart and my inbox with words they'd diminish as cliched and obvious. But they were saving me. They were healing me. Over and over and over again. With words.
This morning, I received an email from Notes From the Universe (I'm sure many of you did as well) that said this:
Just remember, the gate keeper who will give it to you is the same gate keeper who has kept it from you, gorgeous.
I was riding the bus to work for the first time in a long time and feeling profoundly small. I felt people looking at me as I tried to make it seem like I wasn't crying when I was obviously crying. I felt my phone vibrate and while searching for something else, I read this and realized, better yet, remembered once more, that there is something vibrating inside of me. There is something strong, profound, ever-expanding, and incandescent that is growing within me. For a long time, I turned that thought off, I shut that hope down, and I willed myself to take up less space, to be less of what I was, what I still am.
I told my sweet Sara this morning, that instead of increasing, my anxiety was shrinking. I walked down the street yesterday and looked at beautiful people for what they were, remarkable. I felt untethered to the emotions that had sunken my shoulders and left shadows beneath my eyes. I was floating. And also falling. Ebbing and flowing between what feels like all-consuming emptiness and freedom. I am shaken up and shaken out. I don't know what I'm stepping forward into, only that it has felt like stepping off a cliff and that I am now suspended in a glorious and excruciating free fall.
There will be moments in time throughout this life where our deepest certainties abandon us. When we woke up seeing things one way and must go to sleep seeing them anew. It will feel like swimming through concrete and pulling off your fingernails one by one. It will feel reckless, wild, and sad, over and over again. No one will say the right thing and you will be sure that the feeling in your chest will end you. Pockets of clarity will come. Unconditional love will save you. And that has to come from inside of you. You have to believe that the person you are is worth climbing this mountain of grief, to get to the other side, to continue to be and love and live and grow.
I will resist the urge to be reckless. I will resist the urge to believe I am lacking. I will take deep breaths when it consumes me and trust that I'll make it out to the other side. I will understand the impermanence of everything. I read this now and know that the hard work of becoming is slated in front of me.
It's time to put myself back together.