You see, I want a lot.
Maybe I want it all:
The darkness of each endless fall,
The shimmering light of each ascent.
~ Rainer Marie Rilke, The Book of Hours
I am terrified of goodbyes and cowered by conflict.
You see, growing up, I kept losing people. They disappeared promptly about the time I could draw them, as stick figures, in homes with apple trees.
I had to erase my mother, mindful to draw her sometimes sitting with me by the swing at the school playground.
Another day I had to blot out a father, and again and again, the fathers after.
Wipe off a sibling or two, cousins, childhood friends, and tweak the scenery about 20 times. Keep sending off, each exact time I found the pluck to trace a heart around home.
Then, there was the fighting. Things broken. People too. I identified amplified voices, the banging of doors, and the shattering of glass with someone leaving soon. That, or the fighting never ends, and I’m helplessly unarmed, but for a closed door and a muffled cry.
Fighting back inflames them even more, invites retribution that bounces off me, but strikes at those I love. And I don’t want to stand up against rage, as one day I might not be there to lock the doors, or get everyone huddled inside.
The shards of pain take shape into fearful shadows that I tuck away in a corner—the shadowy self will teach me to be stoic. I will never have attachment to things, to places, or to people. It will train me to swiftly run away from loving, because it feels wretched when they run off.
It will teach me every trick so that no one walks out anymore, I will cast them aside instead. It will goad me into imagining I am unfazed by goodbyes.
The years of dulling cries behind doors and huddling numbs me to injustice. I can’t stand to be around piercing sounds, so I keep the peace. I will not want to fight, even for myself. I stay in the shadows of solitude, let someone have the coveted prize, even when it’s mine.
And it kills me to say no, afraid I’ll provoke someone’s ire—and every time my insides flare up, the anger won’t let out, so my heart races, my skin gets cold and clammy, my stomach churns, and all I can do is cry.
But I begin to live and understand I have to wrestle with demons.
Otherwise I will balk at attachments, and so never experience the brunt of joy and pain of loving someone. Otherwise I will never get to unfold my own myth, just unwittingly live off someone else’s.
I revisit the shadows I tucked away. I notice that if I feed them enough light, they are stripped of their prey, if I named them bit by bit, that they answered to me.
The shards that once shaped my shadows could create the cracks where light can enter.
I have yet to tame my shadows. But I reckon, courage means I fear, yet I attempt to be brave anyway—just like how I learn to be bolder in love because I’ve risked abandonment, or how I have confronted negativity and seen that nothing was broken. I will believe that I’ve freed myself up to daringly venture into things, places, or people, because I am unfazed by goodbyes.
I see how I can transmute my detachment into compassion, because I can step into someone else’s shoes without being them.
I consider that maybe I have a skill for conflict, because I can resolve them without amplified voices or shattering glass. And so I find my courage in these dark shadowy places.
I will ease my way into befriending the dark twin that enslaves me. I’d like to own up to it all.
“The darkness of each endless fall,
the shimmering light of each ascent.”
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Assistant Ed: Bronwyn Petry/Ed: Bryonie Wise
Photo Cred: Pixoto