There’s a thrill to the blank page, if I can stomach it. Where a cursor blinks, on and off, I’m staring at no small infinity of directions things can go. Each time, my fingertips start off clumsy at the keyboard, dancing in hesitant mistrust of my mind’s wandering whims. But, oh, the chord that ripples through my spine when I unearth something true.
I’ve started over before. Making my story home is a matter of leaning into my absolutes, my constants. The hard part, I find each time, is figuring out how to let go of the variables. How do I wrench my palms apart long enough to set free the beautiful edges of my yesterdays?
Part of that is being honest about the edges that weren’t beautiful. The isolation, the emptiness, the cold. The morning I woke up so panicked and broken I wanted to beat my ribcage with my fists, punishment for bringing myself here. The eerie familiarity of waiting in line to be remembered. Not recognizing myself in the mirror. Not wanting to.
It’s not the story I wanted to tell, and – to be honest – I still don’t care to tell it. It’s not that interesting. Nobody, myself included, surprised anyone. Everybody met expectations.
Turning the page, beginning again, takes courageous abandon. It requires us to let go of things and people we loved, honest-to-God loved, and allowing them to belong to past chapters.
At one such juncture in my life, I found my mind to be deeply impatient with the stubbornness of my heart. I envisioned them, separate entities, arguing at a train station. The tracks were rusted, overgrown with ivy, and still the heart sat on the bench. “Come on, Heart,” the mind pleaded, voice gentle, “he won’t be coming back.”
This time feels familiar and different. My heart and mind are on the same page, grieving and looking forward alike. I suppose I have these days to thank for a few realizations: My mind is just as ruminative and stubborn as my heart. I have trouble believing the beautiful stories belong to yesterday. I can take my time to find my voice again.
Perhaps I’m more acquainted with the hard parts of myself. The bitterness and fury I feel in the face of rejection. The way my spirit houses warmth and grace right alongside sharp insights and expectations. I see you and I love you and I hoped for so much more from you. All the linguistic magic I use to paint beautiful worlds around somebody, now at my disposal to indict them, final speech delivered to some jury.
I have to love these parts of me, too. To acquaint with them is to understand them, and to love them is to talk them out of their cruelest inclinations. I am willing to stay with me; I have my own back.
Whatever comes next, I am relieved the story will not be the same. If I encounter loneliness, at least it will be new loneliness. These are thoughts that ring through me on the hollowest evenings.
A person I love is staring down his own blank page. Right now, all he can see is the loss of everything, grief rinsing everything away. I hate to know he is aching; I love to know he is beginning again.
A few years ago, I texted an ex’s friend to let her know I understood she needed to be there for him. That, to some degree, the knowledge she’d be there for him gave me permission to detach. She answered with words that I’ve carried since: Anybody who knows you knows you’re about to show us what it is to blossom through pain.
Blossoming is, in my experience, painful. Healing is an acknowledgment of wounds, a letting go of the things that wound us. But there’s beauty in every step.
I am writing and I am building and I am bruised and I am furious and I am regretful and I am wanting and I am letting everything go.