“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Since I was 18, I have been having moments of pure insanity in an attempt to control my tsunami sized emotional outbursts. It began with the idiotic decision to sneak out of my house at 1:30am to roam around the town in a car with drunk boys, down to my recent meltdown in the arms of a cute boy; I may have left no stone unturned in my pursuit of clarity in the last six years.
While some meltdowns have been overt and loud, most of them have been insidious and quiet. They seep into me slowly, like thick tar running through my veins. It is a mindless, helpless sort of fall, and I feel nothing until the THUD of my face hitting the floor and the shock of the earth through my body. The overt ones though, are like seams of a cloth coming undone. Words that are half hidden, half lodged in the corners of my mouth come spewing out and before I can get a hold of them, they’re on the floor and withering. The more I try to control it, the worse it gets. By the time I’m done, everything I was supposed to have said gets lost in the long strings of forbidden words in a heap on the floor.
The aftermath is always the same.
There is a bed, there are things to smoke and there is stillness. I figure if I don’t move for a while, my pieces will stick together and heal so that I can feel whole again.
I wonder if I will ever stop being like this; freak out after freak out, attempts to fix it, maybe making it worse and then just lying still. Wishing I wasn’t this person. Hoping that things will change. Trying so hard to just stop thinking.
Acceptance does not always come naturally to parts of yourself that are too volatile, too turbulent, sometimes just too much. I wait for catharses and epiphanies, frantically looking for the lesson I’m supposed to learn with every freak out that will make them stop.
I remember what I once told a baby phoenix who was learning lessons along with a grown up girl; both of them working together to fly out into the world and become better. I remember that a little kindness goes a long way. I remember that making a home inside myself for the frightened and hurt person can make healing easier. After all, she is doing what she thinks will protect her from the cruel shrapnels of reality.
The past is the past, but the impact remains. It is an uphill battle, walking against the wind, swimming against the current. On some days, it is the most difficult thing you will face.
But there are other days when you suddenly feel like yourself again and that in itself is such an important thing. Who would have thought that one day I will know what it is like to be me?
Certainly not the 18 year old girl with her breath caught in her throat, holding back tears as she wondered how to close up the gaping black hole inside that took her for everything she had. Certainly not the 19 year old who thought that her troubles could ebb away just like the smoke from her cigarettes, lighting up orange orbs every half an hour. Certainly not the 20 year old as she poured herself her fourth glass of whiskey alone, burying her tears in the amber liquid. Certainly not the 21 year old who thought that to be loved was a privilege, and that one must remain quiet even in the face of blatant suffering. Certainly not the 22 year old who thought that being treated like an afterthought was the only way to be. Most certainly not the 23 year old who broke down at a temple because there was no other place that felt safe anymore.
Here is the 24 year old, telling all the others that she is making a safe place inside for all of them. And every now and then, even she gets frightened. Even she hides under the covers with the others when the storm clouds gather.
In the heavy darkness of the pregnant storm sky, the 24 year old has the lamp of kindness.
I don’t know if I will ever be able to stop my freakouts. I do know however, that within the stillness as I lie down, I can know what it is like to be me in the warm glow of tenderness and the grace of acceptance.
Twenty Four. We have only just begun.