by Michael King
I don’t know what to write today. I’m tired of writing about you, working to find ways of reinventing your leaving into something beautiful, something learned. When I work to push my mind in a different direction, however, I still see you in the margins. ‘I’m living a good 2017,’ I start to write. My mind whispers, ‘See? Happiness exists outside of his arms.’
At some point, I know I’ll no longer be living in the context of you. I’ll stop organizing my story into two chapters: before and after you left. Joy, opportunity, and believing in myself won’t be such conscious decisions. I won’t wonder, then, how it can be so simple for you to live outside the context of me.
The context of me. Ultimately, this is the one promised constant in my life. No matter what happens, who shows up or leaves, who sees me or doesn’t. I will always live here, in this body with this heart, the depth of these feelings and complexity of this compassion. And perhaps this is the purpose of all these days on my own, to become acquainted with my lifelong company. To pull at threads, finding absolutes, unraveling the great riddle of myself.
Let’s start with the bad parts, the pieces of my being nobody applauds for. I tell too many stories, for one, and I have a tendency of repeating them. When I’m sharing them, I’m working to connect, but I’m also reliving. Immersing myself in the different chapters I’ve seen. Twenty-seven years of life haven’t given me a solid grip on time, so I’m always running late. I don’t put my things in the place they should go, and I don’t reorganize the mess until it bothers me. I’m not very good at conversations that stay above the emotional surface, which makes me a strange presence at the party. Sometimes I cry, so overwhelmed by how much I’m feeling, but I don’t really know how to let somebody take care of me. My attention span isn’t long, and I don’t always know how to make myself tune in, which can hurt the people I love. I’m stubborn, and I generally think the way I see things is right. I talk too much; I can’t always figure out how to let the silence breathe. I sort through my pain by myself, but then I need to share what I find, again and again, with the people around me. I’m not always at home in my body. I don’t separate my heart from matters, ever, and so I don’t know what it means not to take things personally. Sometimes I don’t know how to show up, so I freeze. I am pulled, always, between loving myself fully and wondering how I’ve ever been loved. I’m afraid I’m not the person people tell me I am.
But the bright side. If I’ve learned anything in the aftermath, it’s that I am capable of loving even when it’s difficult. I don’t know how to do harm without remorse. My strength comes from sitting with my pain, looking at the pieces of myself and figuring out how to fashion myself back together. I see people, beyond the versions of themselves they present to the world, and I feel compelled to inspire them to be more of themselves. I’m not afraid of myself, not really, the ugly and difficult parts, the parts that aren’t easy to love or appreciate. I think I remember them when I set out to love somebody else, when I discover the parts of them that aren’t easy to love, and I work to love them anyway. It is in my nature to search for the good, to look beyond the difficult, maybe because I’m so hopeful someone will do the same for me. I write with honesty and with courage, even if I tend to cycle through the same ideas. I forgive freely, and I work to understand, even if I don’t know how to put my walls back down around the ones who’ve hurt me. I’m not always brave, but I always want to be. I get up and run, despite not having the body of an athlete, despite the times that I fall. I show up, each day, and work to write a good story. I love people, no matter what context I’m in, and they know I love them.
And that’s the context I’m probably always going to live in. I’m not always sure that loving me and knowing me is easy or simple, but I’ve got to hope it’s worthwhile. The people around me, the ones who’ve stayed despite my scars, give me the courage to believe it.
So that’s what I’ll focus on writing today. Coffee in hand, headphones in. There are a thousand stories ahead, and –– at your choosing –– they won’t be in the context of you. But this chapter, maybe these next few, will have you in the margins. So I’ll welcome you, here, to the days before the letting go. I’ll hope you are warm and loved and figuring out how to thrive in the context of you.
Because I’m working to do just that.