May 25, 2018

How I Learned the Difference Between Love & Pain.

A new page. Ink spilled. Tears, freshly squeezed.

Tears that give softness and spike the poison of what was with the love—the overarching blooms—of what is.


Of all that unfurls into delicate possibility in the palms of your hands when you put the past to rest finally—when you begin to choose yourself.

How sweet it is, like a tiny rose—small, but certain, full of life. The floral fragrance fills your mouth and begins a cascade like a perfume, with bottom, middle, and top notes. First the deep Persian rose, then sun, basil, hope, and the faint, tingly thing you thought you might never feel again—happiness—that is pure and true. It cuts through everything.

The brittle bitterness from before gives way, like a flame melting down a thick candle.

Wax drips and moist warmth returns to the badlands of your heart. Rain waters the buds and soothes the sting of the cruel words that once had sway.

They don’t.

Not anymore.

Change is ushered in.

For we cannot delete the past—our pain, mistakes, and worst experiences. But we can integrate them, accept them, and move on, infinitely more whole—more interesting for the scars, textures, and colors we acquired along the way.

Perhaps in the end, it gives us this subtle sheen, a deep wisdom we didn’t have before.

Sometimes, the beauty starts with the wound—and the wound is deep, yes.

It’s what abuse does to us.

“Sorry” can never penetrate those deep rivers of sorrow, the aches that we feared would be everlasting. The withering within us that seemed permanent at one point. All that is felt when we see what we once thought was love crumple and turn into a nightmare.

It’s hard to forget what it is to feel utterly fragmented and far away from yourself.

And maybe it just feels good to emerge from the fog that once held us suspended in confusion, call it out, and call it what it is—abuse.

It makes you doubt everything you are, and think, and do, and want, and feel.

It drips into the crevices of everywhere—thick darkness falls.

But little did they know—you bloom at night.

You are lush and resilient, like the moonflower.

And so, the darkness it seems is rich and enticing, seductive, and entrapping in its own strange way.

But it is not your home.

You found a way to bloom there—and that is goddamn amazing.

And when you’re ready, the time will come when your worth will grow and return—and it won’t be night anymore.

Day will break, the sun will rise and spill over the mountains in shades of apricot and tangerine

No angry words will swallow you, or sting you, or blame you.

You will not live in fear or vigilance, your body shaking because you’re scared for the violent storms to return again.

Instead, there will be—



Open space.

Sun and air.




Freedom is yours—in the way you hand it to yourself, even through the tears.

Because you will choose yourself.

And that old pain, it will be a chapter, yes—but not your story, not a book that defines you.

A mere chapter, words and strings of sentences that moisten your spirit and beckon for something new to begin. It will be the thing that cracked you open and made you even more enchanting.

And you will get braver. It will be a process. A delicate unfurling, a slow gradient of hues over time—as healing always is.

And you will take off the chains, one by one, the beliefs and criticisms that were never true.

Joy will return and fill you up like liquid gold.

Your spirit shall once again spark and roar—taking up all the space it is meant to.

And you will choose different people. New people.

You will tend to your needs and care about yourself in a completely new way. A way that is impenetrable. Everlasting. Solid.

Your entire life will take on a glow—a delicate, rose-tinted radiance that is breathtakingly beautiful because you desired it to be. And you held that desire close, day after day— you believed. You allowed yourself to want something better, something brighter, something that feels more like the resonant song that echoed like footsteps in your soul.

And that lit the fire of who you are to rise up again.

The goodness will be so ripe, so fierce, so wildly pure in how it dances—it might hurt at first, because it is unfamiliar. But you will learn to trust it, because it is truth.

And your life will take on this new quality—it will feel like you.

And one fine day, when you’re feeling particularly lush in the soul skin of who you are, perhaps you will meet someone—a lover. And they will adore you. And it will be different. It will be incredible.

And you will wonder why you ever accepted pain in the place of love.

Yes, it was a potent chapter.

But your life begins anew. A wish granted by the grit and grace of your soul, and all that you were willing to do to heal.

And you will appreciate the sweet, enveloping arms of love all the more, because you once knew pain so intimately.

Because you’ve become an alchemist.

You know that place where the inhale becomes the exhale—

Where the wound becomes beauty—

Where pain is transformed into love.

You know how to be a phoenix, burn yourself down and come back even better, from the charred remains of what once trapped you.

And now that you know how to do it—your alchemy becomes a sacred gift, something you can share with the world.

With the hearts who bleed and need it—like yours once did.

And this is how you will make the worst pain of your life into power—

Into truth—

Into art and joy and meaning—

Into all that feels pure and wonderful again.

And you can share it with the hearts who bleed and need it—like yours once did.




The Pain you Carry is not a Burden.

I Rose from the Dirt, Stronger than Ever.


Author: Sarah Harvey
Image: Unsplash/Giulia Bertelli
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Molly Murphy

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