They say that time heals all wounds.
Maybe in some parallel universe, the gashes heal in the blink of an eye, the scars easily fade from chalky white to nonexistent, and the memories disappear, too. But in this moment, here, right now, I know that it isn’t that easy. Sometimes you need much more than that.
Guilt is an emotion I feel pulsing through my veins. It doesn’t let me sleep most nights. The words “I’m sorry” always roll around in my mouth like marbles, and after a while they begin to feel like blood, the metallic taste coating my tongue but never breaking through my lips.
Trying to let go of my past was like just waking up from a deep sleep and not knowing where I was or what I was doing. I was constantly disorientated and nothing felt real–I didn’t even feel real. Breathless and empty, I started to disappear.
I felt like I was cheating God when I tried to pretend that I was content with the life I was living. I could feel my heart pounding out of my chest, day after day, and all of my dreams and visions for the future were piling up, trying to burst out and into the world around me. Happiness seemed like an illusion, a sick joke that everyone understood but me.
I never knew what I could do until I started doing it.
Realizing that you’re made of more than your mistakes kick-starts your whole world. The rusted gears start turning, the cobwebs fall and the spiders scurry away to invade some other mind, the charcoal begins to brightly glow after months of preservation and self-doubt. I finally had the guts to admit that I’d done some stupid things, that I’d hurt people I cared about, that I’d slowly internalized a dangerous mindset–I didn’t even deserve to take up space. This is the most dangerous one of all, as it numbs you to your core and builds walls that need dynamite to be broken down. It dangles hope in front of you, and then rips it away the next time you dare to look in a mirror.
Breaking through the barrier isn’t easy; it’ll be the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do. I haven’t even completely done it myself. But brick by brick, the armor surrounding me is coming apart, and I know that one day I’ll feel whole again.
I woke up, shaking the remnants of troubled sleep off me, and my eyes have finally opened to the reality of what my life is: a work in progress, but art nonetheless. Explosions of pigments that have changed from shades of grey to the brightest blues. I will be okay.
You are not your past. You are bold hues of color that haven’t even been invented yet. You are reborn every second, every hour, every breath you exhale; as your eyes flutter open to reveal a new waking day, I hope you remember that self-care will never be selfish. It ultimately push you to set your past on fire–the parts you no longer need.
Scorch what’s not good for your mental health, what makes you want to crawl inside yourself and never come out; the heat won’t hurt, it’ll make you feel like you’ve never felt before.
Let it engulf you. Carefully carve a path through the flames and allow them to guide you. When the ashes fill your lungs and you feel like you can’t go on, stop and rest. Your body craves it. Sometimes you need a break from the smoke, and someone will be waiting, hand extended, heart heavy, ready to weather the rest of the wildfire with you.