Sometimes my heart strains toward you spreading so thin across the expanse between that it quivers like a tightly strung guitar string sending notes of anguish into all that empty space Reverberation of moth eaten memories stirring up stale dust in a long abandoned room as it echoes off the walls of aching lungs until I'm almost sure I should reach out for you The half formed fantom of a future grips my heart so suddenly in some moments that it feels worth risking anything for even certain humiliation and rejection But then the sharp, pinching recoil always returns to snap me out of my pathetic, forlorn reveries my hand is not worthy of even reaching a frenzy of hope can overcast the wretched truth I have no right to continue pining a don't deserve the bittersweet comfort of these carefully enshrined memories let alone the audacity of asking for more My lot now is to keep languishing moving inevitably away from a future that could have once been mine but was long ago forsaken My selfish heart keeps me from even the respite of one day forgetting pouring warm tears over ice cold memories I will be grateful for this aching
My soul will go silent for months at a time but eventually I'll feel it once again begin to writhe There is an unbearably tight tangled knot deep inside that strangles all hope of coming untied The suffocating container of my present circumstance keeps getting smaller until I can barely stand Still there is a small seed of sickness that grows and convinces me this pain is my only true, cozy, safe home
The sweet sadness of loss and long, lonely nights I once viewed as damage chips and cracks to cry over evidence of unworthiness that everyone would see I've learned to understand that old wounds are what weaved me into who I am a wonderful landscape with deep valleys of despair that can be filled up with healing water These dark caverns of past pain create breathtaking contrast and allow me to ascend higher and appreciate the peaceful peaks speckling my span of time here with all consuming beauty I am so grateful for all the tears and the twinges of discomfort that form tight tethers to my past even my small sufferings have been dear friends and teachers to me I've learned how to love my broken pieces
Tea has been a re-occurring theme throughout my tangled life. My mother always preferred drinking tea to coffee. Her nervous nature simply couldn’t handle that much caffeine. Mornings filled with the fragrance of spices and herbs, clinking spoons, and tiny damp disposable bags.
Tea soaked wounds of my first broken heart remind me of moments of reluctant connection. It’s easy to wake up early when you’ve slept for over twenty four hours in the last two days. Dreams can only provide an escape for so long. When even that sanctuary is stolen from you, I learned that peace can be found in the slow ritual of sipping tea before sunrise. The begrudging silence between mother and daughter, the surrender of accepting help from someone you despise. Because you need her, and that hurts in its own strange way.
New love blossoms around a very different tea routine. Evenings after school, every day spent looking forward to this small, private heaven. Boiling water in the microwave and adding too much honey. The laughter we once shared when you finally admitted you couldn’t bear the way my overly sweetened tea made your lips sticky. Flirtatious frustration from the way you used to tease me for blowing on my drink before every sip instead of waiting for it to cool.
The soft haven found beneath the crumbling roof of your mother’s house. Her hovering hospitality of sharing joints with underaged teens, providing refreshments of my first teas made with milk. The strange, yet soothing smoothness of the subtle flavor. Savoring the mouth-watering smells of the best home-cooked dinners I’ve ever had being prepared in the next room.
All these years later, my heart can still rekindle those tender memories involuntarily as I sip my milky matcha. The most delicious ache, a powerful longing for a life that no longer exists. Beautiful lapping waves of private sorrow, never to be seen or shared. How can so much pleasure be found in such pathetic pining? Surely this secret clinging is a sickness, a delusion that corrodes all chance of a future. Even so, even so…
Living lattice of spongey spiderwebs stitches supporting the dark, damp earth connecting networks transmitting information between the trees' deeply buried toes breathing in pulsating energy particles that permeate the thick air above quivering conviction of nature intertwined magical mirror image, veins beneath pale skin Sacred assurance that all is not lost the same sun still rises in the east each morning you reside in the red light beneath my eyelids retinas stained with sweet remembrance Everything fades except for this feeling bitter things only taste better as I age including this patient pain, the prize I protect hopeless happiness harbored in secret Silly dreams pluck breath from lonely lungs pathetic mantra of "maybe one day" vindicated by comparison to other laughably unlikely anecdotes The small, sharp pleasure of planning this impossible future fills my cracked cup enough to keep going Besides, we're still connected by that complicated underground lace linked inextricably through shared sunlight eternally sown together with this earth
Senses sharpened by a shift in reality the surreal sensation of sudden change unstable ground under cautious steps keeps me tethered in the present moment My soul lurches back and forth between ecstatic excitement and utter terror at the prospect of all that's to come should I dare to let myself hope? Surely it's psychotic to leave this safe haven this resting place that's given me such grace the soft embrace of a found family have I formed ties strong enough to last? Still, it's been so long since I've felt this stirring this passionate flutter of energy inside my chest for once I want to let myself follow it to fully embrace my innocent, hopeful heart I've finally felt the hand of fate guiding me I can't bear to ignore the voice of opportunity even as it beckons me beyond my boundaries to new places tinged with fear and uncertainty Perhaps for the first time, I feel ready to be brave making the right choice doesn't mean it's easy left disoriented and dazzled by unknown possibilities it's been the hardest decision I've ever had to make
Crystalline structures of familiar chords take me on nostalgic tours through the old forgotten caverns of my heart's youthful years Fresh citrus drops that sting you with sweetness refurbishing faded memories until I feel transported Through the violent veil of time that contorts and distorts the continuous current of energy that is me What harm is there in having a snack of the sweet, supple story stitched together in my soul To allow myself to believe the fiction that I've chosen to cherish and buried deep beneath the bedrock of my being The bittersweet bite of memory never bothers me hot tears and catching breath can still feel like home Permanent pillars of my past are supports that assure me some things will never change a perfect picture of stillness inside That will not cease to create prickles beneath my ribcage or train me to build up a tolerance to the days that trail behind When I find nothing but fear before me I can always run my fingers over the smooth shape of those experiences that are mine forever to carry A natural resource for me to drink from and subconsciously stitch together into fresh dreams of you at night to fill me again with gratitude and delicate devotion
Crumbling edges of long, winding roads worn tires and no cell service kicking up dust and distant memories of days when I was someone different Complicated pangs between heartbeats it hurts, but I hope it lasts forever the bittersweet flavor of emotion crashing over me the sweet honeysuckle air of early summer saturating every poor with subtle notes of nostalgia a backdrop of rolling fields and familiar forests fading sunlight softly shining through knee-high grass the blooming joy of all that has been mine the bitter grief of knowing it's past the lonely recognition of unique remembrance never to be shared fully by anyone the miracle of time's twisting perspective the power to ferment past pleasure and pain into one deliciously intoxicating wine savoring each sip of yesterday
Pain makes me brave. Pain makes me honest. Pain makes me face the world with everything that I have. Sometimes it takes pain to show me what really matters, what I’ve been missing, what I’ve been taking for granted. When I’m comfortable I get bored. I become afraid to make any change at all. Even when it’s a change that needs to be made. I’m so afraid of shaking up the status quo that I’ve become accustomed to that sometimes “comfort” can be transformed into something worse than pain. Like a frog slowly being cooked alive in a tepid water that gradually begins to boil. I don’t realize how bad I’ve allowed things to get until it’s too late.
When something abruptly smashes into my comfortable complacency, there is fear, there is agony, but there is also opportunity. I am forced to change direction. I am forced to gather up the pieces of my life and create something entirely new. I am forced to be my own ally again. There is a haunting, fierce, indescribable beauty in pain. There is strength and resiliency and the birth of new hope after the fall. There is even a sense of surprise and pride in finding out just how much we are actually able to take without being broken. There is something awe inspiring when we lift our head from our tear-stained hands and realize, “I’m still here. I’m alive. This isn’t the end.”
There is great freedom in the feeling of having nothing to lose. There is a boldness that emerges, a confidence, even an urgency to go after what we truly want. Pain brings clarity and curiosity. Everything feels a little more real, a little more defined. Pain is the springboard for passion and creativity. It is a necessary evil. These are the reasons I find myself having a very complex relationship with pain, grief, and loss. Part of me finds a strange comfort in pain, an odd feeling of safety after losing it all. The burden of trying to hold it all together, the burden of grasping and clinging on to life is lifted for a moment. This brings a twinge of pleasure that blends into the pain. For me, pain is always bittersweet.
I’ve come to realize that the reason communication and confrontation are so hard, is not because I don’t know how to articulate my thoughts and feelings. It’s not that I don’t know what to say or how I feel. I’ve never had any issue explaining myself to a third party. But when I find myself facing the person I really want to talk to, I become so consumed with fear that I can’t focus. My mind becomes clouded with thoughts of what they will think or how they will respond to what I’m saying. Are they going to look at me differently? Are they going to be upset? Will they leave? Will our relationship change? Will they misunderstand me? Will I be able to respond adequately to whatever they say back to me? These concerns are so overwhelming that I tend to stay silent instead of having some of the most important, necessary, and intimate conversations. It is only once I feel as though I’ve already lost someone, that I find the courage to be open and honest with them.
In an instant our most painful experiences can become our greatest sources of strength. I look back on some of the darkest moments in my life with a sense of compassion and a knowing tenderness. It’s only much later that we gain the perspective to see the ways in which the harrowing experiences we go through are the very things that strengthen us, give us courage, and provide the pivot we didn’t even know we needed in life. Yes, pain is hard. Loss is hard. But it’s been said that anything worth doing is hard, and pain is always worth it in the end. Something even more complex and beautiful and real rises from the ashes every time. Be patient.
Today is the last day I will have the pleasure to work with someone I’ve come to consider a dear friend. She is a therapist and leaving to go into private practice. From the moment I began this job, I was excited and inspired by the fact that someone only a few years older than me was already such an impressive figure in the mental health field. She is one of the best therapists (and probably people in general) that I’ve ever known. It is a delight to watch her work with the kids we meet and to learn from her interactions with them and their parents. I am definitely a much better person for having known her.
She lives quite nearby to another friend of mine, on the same street actually. Yet we’ve never really spent time together outside of work. I am desperately hoping that we manage to stay friends after we no longer work together. I’ve had that hope many times in the past. However, it has always been an unsuccessful aspiration. So while I still intend to try to stay close, I am not getting my hopes up. Rather I am just going to focus on enjoying this final day at work with her. I would like to snag a card while I’m out later to write all of these warm sentiments down for her. It’s always embarrassing and uncomfortable for me to be vulnerable and express how much someone means to me, but it’s definitely well worth the discomfort.
As I reflect on the time we’ve had together and how sad I was the day she told us she would be leaving, another thought occurred to me. That was the same day that Nate told me he had gotten the job six hours away from me. Up until that point, I had been having an exceptionally good day. Then I ended up crying all the way home. I felt like I was losing everything, my work family and my new boyfriend.
Reflecting on that day now makes my heart feel so full. I can’t believe how far Nate and I have come from that day I thought would mark the end for us. I am so grateful to have so many amazing people in my life. I am so grateful that Nate cared for me enough even that early on to commit to a long distance relationship with me. I am so grateful that our love has grown and flourished even despite the hundreds of miles between us.
Even though today is a bittersweet one, overall I am still happy. It is useless to despair over the fluctuations and changes that come in life. We can never predict what moments we will look back on and cherish, what small events may end up being pivotal moments in our lives. Today I am going to focus on being grateful for all I have, knowing that it was never owed to me, knowing that it may disappear at any time, and being all the more joyful because of that impermanency. Transitions can be painful, but they are also beautiful. They are opportunities to reflect and take stock of all that we have to be thankful for. And I have so, so much.