I am often moved, even overwhelmed by all that I’ve been blessed with in this life, as well as that which has been taken from me. When I stop to consider this, I feel neither deserving of what I have, nor ultimately wronged by what has been taken. After all, nothing is ever ‘ours’ to begin with, and sometimes our most painful scars leave us changed in a way no good thing ever could have done.
It has not always been so simple, of course.
I have lived through seasons in which quite the contrary was true, where all I wished was that I might somehow erase my story from the earth itself, feeling more jaded and alone than I could express, aware only that my wounds were deeper than anyone could possibly see or know…..so I buried them. My heart was known by no one and I worked hard to keep it that way, lest the truth of my story and the pain it held be seen. To disappear from everything and everyone became my standard mode of life, and the smaller and more obscure I became, the safer I felt. The world was better off without me and the pain I carried into it.
I did not feel moved by what I had or what I’d lost. I felt nothing, for survival required it. My walls served me well for the time I needed them, surely one of the given graces bestowed upon us when endurance alone is not enough to keep us alive.
The only trouble with this sort of thing is coming back out of it once the danger has passed, back into a world of joy and pain.
After years of perfecting the art of solitude, independence and camouflaging oneself from the world, it is most unnatural and even painful to begin to feel again, even the good. To open oneself to joy and hope means to open oneself to pain and loss, and coming from a place of self-preservation, doing so makes absolutely no sense. At the time it seemed that nothing was worth feeling those sorts of wounds again, or anything at all for that matter. The dark solitude of impenetrable silence had become my home, and I had learned to live there without most people even knowing it.
But I knew. Some little spark of life inside me still existed and wouldn’t let me forget it. It haunted me. There remained, after all those years, my heart; surrounded by a hundred walls a mile wide, but beating on inside nevertheless. And unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you see it) my heart was always the most dangerous part of me, for when I chose to love it was deep and forever. Though careful and infrequent in it’s choosing, there was never any halfway about it. All or nothing seemed to be it’s motto, and it was a non-negotiable as far back as I could recall.
Perhaps that is why I have guarded it so fiercely, and why I felt such drastic measures were necessary to hide it away at the time. Any connection to the world and my heart was in danger of putting the whole of me at risk.
And I was done with risk. I knew the cost of letting it out again and feeling beauty and looking into the souls of human beings. I knew I could ‘live’ without any of it. But did I want to?
For a while I convinced myself I did, but ultimately it was my heart that won. For somewhere in the deepest part of me I really did not believe in that dark place and knew that there was something beautiful yet to be found beneath the scars I carried. It was, perhaps, the most difficult and most brilliant decision of my life. I had to battle for it, and I had to battle hard. It took time, patience, and the the humility of asking for help because I knew I could not do it on my own.
But it was so worth it.
Why have I told you all of this? I’m not actually sure, I did not intend to go there when I began………I suppose I didn’t know where I was going. My writing often seems to find it’s own way, I simply write down the words as they pass by. I suppose I have to wonder if there is another soul out there reading this who been where I’ve been, or somewhere close to it. Somewhere in that dark place, wondering if it’s worth it out where life breathes and lives and dies. Coming from a tender heart who’s lived fully in both worlds, I must tell you the truth.
As difficult as it is to come back out of that place, it’s all worth it no matter how much you ‘lose’ in the end. You see, somewhere along the way I realized its not about keeping hold of what you cherish, avoiding whatever pain you might encounter, or living in such a way that you sacrifice life truly lived for a heart left unscarred. For nothing good we ever encounter is ours for the keeping but a joy to be loved as it crosses our path. No wound is ever inflicted without also leaving the opportunity for that heart to shine brighter and warmer and softer than before. And no heart beats as it was truly meant to beat if it remains in the confines of safety. Hearts were not made to be safe, they were made to be free.
I stopped living in safety and became ok with laughing again, grieving and living in danger of love. Because my heart needed to be free, and so did I. Life, I found, is too short and precious to waste in a safe dark place where we forget what it is to be alive. I don’t regret my past or my story any longer, for it’s part of whats made me who I am, and I’m grateful for all of it.
“It is by scars I love”