“You insist on sitting in the wreck even after the earthquake,” she says. “How can the view disappoint you when you look at it through a cracked lens?”
She reminds me of the games I played as a child, where the cracks in the tiles were sin so I’d carefully skip over them and land in the safety of a complete square. She tells me to look up and dare to take strides again, rather than shrinking myself down and hiding in the crevices. “You can’t befriend darkness and then be upset about no light coming in.”
She tells me that fetishizing my sadness is unhealthy, that I need to stop holding hands with my grief. She reminds me that I have plenty to be grateful for so why do I treat the world like an enemy. I don’t need to tie a leash around my grief, for it’ll be following me as it is unintentionally.
Too many people seem worried for me. “You write too dark”, “you’re remembering your brother unfairly”, “you need to take it easy”. As if I am sitting on an empty stoop, rolling little joints out of my pain and shooting up anger like it’s a game because I get off of being insane. But every day I do wake up and choose to hurt again, for it seems I have forgotten that the good and bad can in fact coexist. I even consider leaving it all behind for a day – not sitting in a shrine that used to be his room, not obsessing over regrets, focusing on trying to forget, trying to dance to the beat of a different tune. But all this pretense doesn’t distract me from what is already lost, nor the lingering fear of impending doom.
Dressed in grudges and feasting on my rage, I challenge her to try detangling the suffering from my pain. I can’t climb a rescue rope without burning my palms or emerging unscathed. I can’t seem to walk out of one problem without attracting an entire trail. I can pretend to be as positive as I want, but I can’t seem to look past the scars etched into my name. I’m running out of breath carrying all this dead weight but I’ve been programmed to travel responsibly so I never leave any baggage unclaimed.
Carrying the carcasses of my past has transformed the baggage into bait, for misery loves company so when you insist on continuing to wade, the entire world becomes a swamp for your shame. We’ve all heard the clichés: how there aren’t roses without thorns and that the sheen of glistening ivory comes from a predator’s horns. I tell her how all the literati greats have tied together beauty and pain, but I can’t seem to free my hands for long enough to do the same. As if I am spilling with complaints so I’m trying to make up for the mess by constantly sweeping floors and apologizing for being so morose and hiding broken pieces behind clever tropes –
But today my therapist reminds me that I don’t need to work so hard. That drowning myself will not suddenly validate my broken heart. That I can continue to carry all this load in my tired arms but that wouldn’t instantly fill the internal void. That I can train myself to remain controlled and poised, but I can also allow myself to breathe once in a while. That just because I am scarred doesn’t mean I am no longer allowed to smile. That the pain is real and is here to stay, but I don’t need to host it every day. I hate it when she acts all coy, but she also has a point. That I can’t help being in pain but suffering doesn’t have to be anything more, than a sometimes necessary and cathartic choice.