She is but a ghost, a scattered memory pulled from the deepest parts of my mind. When I look into her eyes, I see a layer of glass that shelters almost a decade of sadness. This girl from my memories spent her days staring into a mirror that shouted insecurities back at her. She yearned to be more in a world that looked at her as less than. She longed to be better in a society that told her she never could be. Everyone thought she would die like that, with a needle in her arm, laying on top of all the bridges she was burning.
But she didn’t. Her body was given a new soul, a soul that has slowly but surely become me; who I am. Every part of who I was supposed to be lives and breathes inside of this body that was once frozen and useless.
I am whole. You can be, too.
The past was terrible. It was lonely and painful. The past filled you with memories that dance around you like shadows. It has made you feel crazy and chaotic, broken and weak. Maybe your family gave up on you because of it, or maybe you gave up on yourself. Maybe you look into the mirror and you hate the body that you live in. You hate your body, all the way down to every vein that twists and turns inside of you, keeping your heart beating. Perhaps it’s because you see the person you used to be in that glass reflection. Perhaps it’s because the person you became is nowhere near your heightened expectations.
We are all full of different perceptions, different perspectives. The ways in which we see the world, the ways we view the people living and breathing around us, is what makes us who we are. Including the way that we see ourselves.
Sometimes, we are our own worst enemies. We build walls around our souls, burn bridges and break our own hearts. We become the monsters that we constantly tell ourselves we are. But that’s not how it always has to be.
We can be strong and brave despite our mistakes and imperfections. We can be great and mighty regardless of the people we were before. We can kill off the old versions of ourselves, make them exist only in places that make us better.
We can be better. We just have to allow ourselves.
There is a girl who lives in the forest. Every morning, she wakes up to the cacophony of birdsong outside her bedroom windows and the rays of sunlight that pour in from behind the canopy of trees. She makes a pot of coffee and stares outside to see the beauty that surrounds her. The trees stand spirit-like, observing the girl’s house that looms above and around them. When she opens her kitchen windows to the wooded air, she can almost smell the coppery scent of the river that lies within the heart of the forest. She closes her eyes and breathes in. Her nose fills with the sweet smell that radiates off the beds of pine needles covering the forest floor.
It smells like home, she thinks.
The man she loves comes up behind her and wraps her up in his embrace, kissing her neck and playing gently with her hair. She spins around and flashes him a smile, digging her head into his shoulder. Her children are still asleep.
This girl has lived here for quite some time, her soul craving serenity and her thoughts seeking retreat. Closing my eyes, I can see her. Freckles mark her face in patterns. Pale skin stretches over bones worn from experience yet blossoming with strength. Eyes filled with the reflections of her memories.
This girl exists only inside the crevices of my mind, just beyond my eyelids, in between thoughts that rage and fly across membranes. She is a part of me, in a way, and she lives a life I’ve never known but always wanted to experience. Her heart beats the same rhythm as mine, and her soul is filled with the same hurt as me. I am like her but, at the same time, I am not. She is better than I am, full of more grace and patience. Full of more strength. Full of all the things I’ve always wanted to be.
I believe that I created her at times when loneliness consumed me and thoughts of a better life would not leave me alone. I think that she began to exist because I could no longer stand myself, because I needed to feel like there was more to me than just bouts of sadness and fits of rage.
In some ways, creating her saved me. In others, it did not. Either way, I am no longer alone.
Stop pretending like you’re fine when you’re not, when it feels like your soul is burning out & your heart is drowning. Talk about it. Cry about it. Listen to the way your heart beats when it’s aching & embrace the pain that you feel inside. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you can’t breathe, like the sadness is holding you underwater, other than those moments when you look around you & everyone else is breathing just fine. You don’t have to be alone. You don’t have to let it destroy you.
Make the choice to allow the gut wrenching pain to push you farther. Let it motivate you to become better. Let it make you stronger. It’s as if you’re on a ship & that ship is guiding you through your life. Let your thoughts, your pain & your fears be the lighthouse that shows you how to get home.
Stop wasting your time on people who couldn’t care less about you. Your days are numbered & valuable. Every second of your life counts. Those people who bring you down, those people who constantly doubt you, they mean nothing compared to the light that shines inside of you. You are worth so much more than the negative things that people might say about you. Things like, “You’re never going anywhere,” or “You’re not good enough,” are lies. You don’t have to listen to them.
You only have this one life & it is extremely precious. Your soul is the only soul that you will have for an eternity. The body that you have is the only body that you were given. Treat it well. Pamper it, if you must. Appreciate the things that you have when you have them, because time tends to take those things away sometimes.
We all have these choices in our lives. We have the choice to let everything destroy us, or we have the choice to let them build us up. What choice are you going to make?
My past is like a garden inside of me, blooming & growing & giving birth to beautiful things. My thoughts are constellations, whirling around inside the depths of my mind. These bones make up the fortress that holds the very thing that I am & my skin, etched deep with scars, is pulled tightly over it. My organs beat & hum inside me, full of life & sometimes even purpose.
I am the same thing that we all are. I am human. I am flawed & full of painful memories. I am imperfect & yet beautiful.
I am a walking storybook,
& I keep on turning the pages.
There is this cloud that hovers over me at times. It comes out of nowhere, a blob of darkness filled with feelings of emptiness and a cacophony of horrible insults aimed directly towards me. It follows me, penetrating my thoughts with lies that I find myself believing. What’s the point, Nicole? You’re not going to get anywhere. You are worthless. Give up.
My body feels weak and heavy as the cloud hangs over me. All I want to do is sleep & cry, cry & sleep. I am filled with hopelessness & pain. I lay there in my bed, begging for it to go away, to leave me alone. Make it stop. But it won’t stop. It won’t go away. I don’t know where it comes from. It comes out of nowhere. I can be feeling extremely excited or happy about something & then boom, just like that, those feelings are replaced with shame and depression.
It makes me not want to move or do anything. It renders me paralyzed, motionless. I no longer want to talk to people or to be touched. I get angry when someone asks me what’s wrong, or those gut wrenching questions like, “Why are you feeling this way?” I don’t know why I am feeling this way! If I knew, I could probably fix it! The thought of eating something is unbearably disgusting to me. I feel trapped, unable to get away. My head aches & pounds. It consumes me. I feel alone, even though I know I am not really alone, that there are thousands of people that experience the same thing on a daily basis. Knowing that doesn’t make me feel any better about it.
I don’t have any advice for you in this post, any words of wisdom to make any of it go away. That cloud, that horrible & ugly cloud just keeps coming back.
That, in itself, terrifies me.
You never loved me. You constantly left me on the verge of collapse, ripping at my soul, tearing out my heart. You were terror in a syringe, masked by the feeling of “escape” that you gave me. You lied to me, that’s all you ever did.
You never cared about me. You made me sick, riddled by cold sweats and constant nausea, paranoia and disgust. In the dead of the night, I clawed at my skin. I wanted to get away from you so badly. There were times when I thought that I had finally gotten rid of you, but the bruises that marked my arms reminded me that you weren’t gone. You were never gone. You were always there.
You took my daughter from me. You took my family away. You made me lie to the people that I loved, you made me steal things from people who trusted me. I looked in the mirror and there was nothing left of me but you; you & your empty promises, your sick game that you make millions of people play.
You stole my happiness, you ripped it away from me. I was nothing anymore, void of compassion, unable to feel guilt or empathy. You consumed me until I was nothing but bones peeking out from underneath cold, pale skin & all I craved was you. I couldn’t eat or sleep. I couldn’t live.
But the best part about all of this, my old friend, is that I won. Now it’s you that is nothing. I am three years free of you & I have never felt better. I am strong. I am alive.
I am more than you will ever be.