I think somewhere in between lonely ballads and lost-lover anecdotes we constructed a disguise for something so much worse than heartbreak. See, our hearts are built to withstand pain. They are elastic and malleable, powerful enough to pump two thousand gallons of life through our bodies every single day. They hold oceans in their walls, they are so much stronger than we give them credit for.
I’m not convinced our hearts are the ones that need protecting.
But there is an undeniable brand of pain that crawls far beyond the boundaries of our ribcage prisons. It hides behind the mask of a heartache- but it’s time we learn the difference between having a broken heart and harboring a broken spirit.
Caution signs may hover anxiously over your eyes, you may carry yourself a little heavier for a little too long– but fundamentally, you are still there.
But darling when they crush your spirit, you begin to lose the recognition of your own shadow. You stare blankly into mirrors, tracing connect-the-dot freckles until they spell out explanations as to why you weren’t quite good enough.
These are the thoughts that strike before losing yourself.
Even the things that seemed most permanent about you start to appear blurry. Your fingerprints all blend together, calluses forming over to minimize damage the only way they’ve ever known how.
This is the feeling that comes before losing yourself.
You become cognizant of your every move like the world has grown full of high school locker-leaning judgments and hallway whispers. Your name starts to resemble a cluster of desperate letters, only bound together like friendships formed by those picked last in gym class. It is awkward and forced and feels so wrong fumbling from stranger’s lips.
The same eyes that once ignited with passion in casual conversation hollow into an abandoned motel kind of vacancy. The same things that once tasted sweet spilling from your rambling tongue become topics that have you searching for emergency exist before even entering the building.
Your photo albums from this time will mask moments of distorted reality. They will show you smiling ear to ear, pictures of people at parties shaking the hand of a ghost wearing your name. If nothing else, they are permanent proof of how good we get at hiding our hurt the way we hide stretch marks, something the world has senselessly taught us to be embarrassed of.
These are the things that happen until you are no longer you.
But the path that leaves you this kind of lost is avoidable, my dear, so this is my advice for you.
Anything that threatens your spirit will always be a leech clinging to your skin, no matter how thick it’s become. They have an unsatisfying hunger for your soul, they crave all of the parts that you have spent so long learning to love.
For this reason, you cannot let them grow comfortable with your vulnerability. Deny them the opportunity to belittle your wildest dreams, because anything else would be doing yourself the greatest disservice. Ignore the anticipated pain of ripping them off your skin. Quiet the voice in your head convincing you that their presence, though exhausting, is worthy – because the moment you start making excuses for how someone changes the shape of your soul is the moment you need to walk away.
Do not hang on to those who take your demons out to lunch, let go of any who feed your deepest insecurities, fully knowing they will come back for more.
Learn to recognize the warning signs of this difference. Do not let the world convince you to fear having your heart broken. Sign up for that, hold it out as an offering in spite of every risk. In fact, fall in love with the risk, become consumed with the idea that love is about trusting your heart in the fragile hands of someone or something else. Build an army of best friends equipped with weapons of wine and cliché lines like “you deserve better” and learn how to cope with disappointment.
Offer up your time, give away the opportunity to have love run its fingers down your spine, ask it to leave dusty fingerprints all over your thoughts, encourage it to challenge your opinions.
But please, no matter what, do not let them break your spirit. It is free and so full of love and an intricate constellation of every experience that has built you, so no amount of scotch tape or Elmer’s glue will piece it back together quite the same. Your spirit can not be fixed with a good song, a stiff drink or an exciting new city. It is intangibly important and easily the most extraordinary part of you.
Instead, invest yourself in something that will not tamper with your spirit. Recognize the kind of love that will admire who you are from a distance, that will appreciate it without the element of possession.
Understand that the deepest, most wholesome and mature love sees this. It does not demand to hold or mold- but rather it fosters thriving. The purest love adds to the energy; it provides an environment that lets the spirit grow into something more remarkable than imaginable.
Please do not deny the world the chance to get to know your untamed spirit, I swear you both deserve so much more than that.