I forgot. I forgot what it felt like to not be pinned under the weight of a thousand things. What it feels like to breath clean fresh air without fear that the exhale will break me. What it feels like to let my shoulders hang down and away, instead of curled up hiding beneath my ears.
I forgot what it feels like to sweat. Sweet salty liquid of life on the tip of my tongue as I squint my eyes into the sun and wipe my brow. I forgot those muscles. Bundles of tiny fibers waiting for me to pull the trigger. Just wanting to dance, run, lift, sprint, sway, steady, balance my way forward. It’s as though someone has said,
“Rise! Wake up, you sleeping giant, you wounded lamb, you waiting tigress. Meet the day and the sun with your own new face and look boldly into who you may still become, not what you have left behind.”
I cannot move forward by looking back. I know this now. I was so wanting to understand the root of the poisonous tree that I made myself sick clearing its branches. Digging through dirt searching for answers that never came. Thinking that perhaps if I could understand, I could prevent pain from coming ’round again. If I could only solve it, I would outsmart Suffering and hold him off forever.
I believed I had to wear the scars because I had done something wrong. I had made a bad move. I had failed to see the whole picture. A smarter me wouldn’t have made those mistakes, I told myself. A wiser me would have avoided catastrophe. A better me wouldn’t have failed. I burned and raged at all the ways I had let myself down. At the ways I had let down the people who need me. Who love me. Who expected me to rise gracefully.
But I was left with a mess. A mess I couldn’t sort out and couldn’t sort through and whose pain paralyzed my progress. All that I have been through, all that I have sacrificed and worked around and waited patiently through seemed for nought. I vacillated from hopelessness to rage, from wanting to lay down and let it bury me to wanting to smash the glass into a thousand pieces. I sat motionless on the edge of the empty tub, head in my hands feet on the cool tile, tears falling unrestrained as I worked through hating myself and feeling sorry for myself and through wondering when on earth this pain would ever release me.
I was broken. Ground up and sent scattered into the wind. My mind was broken, my heart was broken, my spirit and my pride in pieces. I didn’t trust my instincts. I hated the lesson. I wanted to stop fighting so much to only end up losing so hard anyway.
I didn’t want to admit it. I didn’t want to end up here, after all this, and still have so little to show. I wanted- I expected– life to be easy, joyful, exciting and fruitful now that disease was behind me. But that is not this season. Disease is not behind me. It is a debt deferred, and now payment is due with interest.
But then came horses. And the mountains. And some time by the river. And the breeze in the tall grass. Those things, those problems, those painful lessons are still waiting for me, but I left them behind for now. They are sitting in an alternate universe where I am still not confident in taking the reins on my own life. But here, here I galloped on the back of animal. I guided him and we worked hard to make sense of each other. I was clumsy and scared. I failed but I tried again. And again. And again. And finally, we ran.
From here I can see snow capped mountains far far away in the distance. I can also see the girl I left behind. I can see her pain, her sorrow, her fear, her insecurity. Her lost faith and her hopeless eyes. I can see the dominoes as they have fallen, one by one, gaining speed and momentum as they form a giant wave of pain and hurt and trouble. I’m not surprised she is so burdened. I am not surprised she is so sad. I am not surpised she has lost hope, that she has lost her way, that the dream feels out of reach.
So I tell her, “For now, it is out of reach, my darling. For now, the dream will have to wait. I don’t know how to save you. I don’t know how to mend the broken pieces. I just know you will never go back, my sweet. So you must stop trying. You do not get to go back to your old life. It is a closed chapter, a sealed tomb. Grieve if you must, but you have to create a new life. You have to plant new seeds. You have to start again.”
“Perhaps it is time to turn away from the casualty now. Perhaps you can give yourself permission to be lost and bewildered in this new life. Perhaps it is time to stop looking back, and let your eyes focus ahead. Perhaps all you need to do is remember the reins in your hands. Have the courage to try even when it all feels too much. Have the courage to fail. Have the courage to get up again. And again. And again. And eventually you will run.”
Give ‘Em Hell