I haven’t written anything for public reading in over a year.
I would be lying if I suggested that this jolting silence was for a good reason. It wasn’t.
The truth is that it’s been a hard year.
I’ve been everywhere within but nowhere without; I’ve changed my mind about things—big things—to the point of misunderstanding myself and my intentions; I’ve doubted everything I’ve ever known, and then what I thought I would learn instead, leaving myself doubled over with questions that I hoped would wring out the dark in me.
They didn’t. And believe me, they tried.
I often found myself wondering if I was a mistake—if my existence was entirely faulted from the start, designed for destruction and disappointment.
I wrote poems to myself drenched in blood red f*ck you’s and I wondered what I ever did to deserve such a cold sentiment.
Maybe it had something to do with the way I couldn’t find my purpose in this world or the way I lacked any sense of direction; maybe it was the embarrassment of failing over and over again, since it didn’t even feel like I tried; maybe I deserved the hatred I stitched into my flesh simply because I felt I had nothing to offer, nothing to give and nothing to show.
Maybe it was a little bit of everything that got the best of me. And maybe it all comes down to the fact that I am (and always have been) uncomfortably huge—in passion, in curiosity, in expression and in heart—and so I feared what I could become regardless of what I did or didn’t do.
Maybe that fear told me to run away, encouraging the vicious habit of becoming small enough to disappear.
But just when I thought I was doing a good job (of becoming nothing, that is), I found my edge and jumped. Every time, without fail, I jumped into the darkness before me, hit the jagged bottom of my own hell and exploded into a mess of everything I had ever wanted to be.
As it turns out, taking that same violent fall enough times taught me a thing or two.
Maybe I haven’t found exactly what makes me happy, but I’ve learned what happens when I try to pursue that which I wish made me happy, but doesn’t. And maybe I haven’t figured out exactly who I am, but I’ve learned exactly who I’m not—and who I should stop trying to be.
I’ve also learned—rather, remembered—that I am not the only person who feels this way. I am not the only person who struggles along a path that doesn’t seem to exist most of the time. I am not the only person who’s ever hated herself for being so blatantly lost and sad.
And that’s precisely why this year(ish) of silence is coming to a close. It served its purpose and in a twisted and painful way, it did what it needed to do. But maybe asking it to stay any longer would undo the strides (okay, ridiculously tiny steps) I’ve made upon hitting that coldly dark bottom.
So here I am. It’s been a hard year.
But once again, I lived. And now, as I find myself begging for (and fortunately finding) gentle hands to guide me in emerging from this thing, I can’t help but think that there must be others out there who know that longing all too well—that desperate plea for someone to reach for them, to see them.
And maybe this will be their sign. Maybe this will be the first hand they grasp. Maybe this will let them know that they are seen, and that the climb is a tough one, but that they are ready to take it—one ridiculously tiny step at a time.
Author: Sara Rodriguez
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Porsche Brousseau/Flickr