Yesterday I was reading a book about how to slam and a tip was
try not to shake.
As if this wasn’t about letting you see me feel.
I am not calm, cool and collected.
I am not wired to be calm, cool and collected.
We all know high school is about being cool.
It’s how we learn to cope
with the things we don’t understand.
How to master the art of hurting with style.
How to keep a smile plastered on your face
and keep it there
after a shitty grade, a shove in the hallway.
How to look pretty with a hangover,
to roam in packs,
how not to cry when you feel like a ghost.
This is how to dip your head down like a wilted flower
when you blush,
how to shut up when you start stuttering,
how to hold your own hand when an earthquake
begins to grow under your skin.
is how to not let them see you feel.
We all know feeling isn’t cool.
This is how you hide every doctor’s appointment,
every psychiatrist and therapy session.
Pretend you’re going shopping
when really you know the only thing you’ll be coming home with
is new pills and some tips on how to handle yourself.
This is how you pretend your armor is stronger
than their insults and remarks.
This is how you let them break you apart
and this is how you pick up the pieces alone.
It’s always easier not to talk.
as if the best way to stop the bomb
is to hide the ticking
as if the explosion won’t happen
if you bury the dynamite deep enough.
The only strength is being tough, right?
And just pray no one sees your cards and calls your bluff.
Pray no one can hear your bones shake,
pray no one can hear the skeletons rattling in your closet.
Denial is pretending you know how to swim
Secrecy is drowning alone
but honesty is learning how to grow gills.
I know that some words are easier than others
it is easier to say tired than depression.
But what I have learned is that the nameless pain is the heaviest.
and to go forth and give words to your wounds
requires a strength that is sometimes hard to reach alone.
Your story is not a cake.
You will not become lesser with every slice you share.
What I know now is that the pain has to ripple before it can fade.
Every time you reach out, every stone you throw out
will echo your hurt until it disappears.
What I know of the darkness is that it does not exist;
the darkness is merely an absence of light
and there is no shame of seeking that light in the hands of others.
There is no shame in asking for help.
There is no shame in feeling like a stray dog begging for scraps of attention in a junkyard
you are strong for doing this.
I am strong for ripping off my muzzle.
What I know is that not everything can be fixed
but pain fades and scars heal and it is never too late or too early to speak.
And this is how to let your friends hold you when you tell them.
it still counts if you speak better with a little alcohol in your blood.
is how to stand in front of 250 people and tell them.
Tell them “I am strong because I let myself feel and that is such a brave thing to do.”
And what I know of my friends
is that in them is a well of strength
deeper than the Marianas Trench in the Pacific Ocean
and what I know is that I will always be able to draw from that well
when I let them hold my battered heart in my palm
until all that remains is a shadow,
until I can barely remember what it was like to fight alone.
This is how to heal.
One word at a time
one ripple at a time.