part iv: what words can / cannot do.

by Michael King

user's manual

Words are, for many, a means of injecting meaning into the world. They are a tool of human connection, of building understanding and empathy. Properly utilized, a person can use words as a tool for constructing, deconstructing, and reconstructing the surrounding world. You are, as it turns out, one such person.

Whenever you fall in love, words swell from a spring deep within you, passionate and limitless, and you embark to build a world –– unique to you and your lover –– so beautiful that neither of you will ever want to leave it.

But we are here because you are holding a broken heart, because love has failed, and that world around you has crumbled. Throughout these times, you will find that words can bring you peace. Picking up a pen, making meaning from the mess, will empower you to suture the wounds within. Long after, you will search and find that they have dissolved, leaving behind stronger tissue.

You will, for example, endeavor one day to write him a letter. You’ll sit there for a moment, iced coffee bleeding water onto the tabletop, and stare at the empty document, and then you’ll begin: You’ll tell him where you are, why you’re writing, how you’re feeling, and the magic will overtake you.

Four pages later, eyes flooded with tears and heart thundering within you, you’ll finish, having written something honest and heartbreaking. You’ll send it to him, not certain you need, or even want, a response. Because you wrote it, you put all this pain into words, for you.

It is incumbent upon us, however, to let you know you will find that words have limitations. Try as you may, you will not be able to infuse beauty into every break in the road. Put simply, your grief can’t always be repurposed.

Remember the night he left? The way you lingered on the phone, fumbled for words, did your best to say something meaningful? The moment you realized you should hang up, if you don’t recall, is the moment you realized words weren’t tying any of you back together.

He will not respond to your letter. The disappointment you will find, the way it blends with the strength you’ve found in your own limbs, cannot be mistaken for beautiful.

The path to normalcy, you will find, will be marked by very few unblemished successes.

Limited though they may be to repair the broken world around you, you will employ words in every direction. Though words cannot transform your grief into joy, they will resonate with the grieving. When you write it your pain into existence, when you unfurl it and let it writhe, raw and honest, you will discover you are not alone.

As we’ve stated, words are a tool of human connection. When we are hurting, holding our broken hearts in our hands and working our way forward, we rarely seek to believe our hearts have never been broken; we simply want to know that we are not alone.

So it is that, whether you intended it or not, a by-product of your pain will be reminding the grieving that they do not ache by themselves. There are many of us out here, sitting beneath the moon and waiting out the night.

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