If you scroll to the bottom of this page and look at my archives, you’ll notice I published 16 posts in December, 2012; 13 posts in January, 2013; and nothing in February. In March I posted twice. “Life is a dance and I misstepped,” I wrote in the first. “The good thing about any dance is that, so long as the song keeps playing, it doesn’t matter how many steps you miss, you can still jump back in and pick up where you left off.”
Except I never said what that misstep was.
I’ve made a few allusions here and there, I’ve told a very select few people in person, and a select fewer in my communities online. But I’ve never shared it here. Of all the places on the internet, it has been nearly impossible for me to be most honest in the one place fueled by and founded upon my honesty.
So this week that changes. This week I share everything.
The plan, should I have the emotional integrity to stomach the memories and feelings that have already once more filled my days and nights with tears, is to take a look back to exactly what was happening one year ago–a map from Monday, February 10, 2014, to Sunday, February 10, 2013, when it all began, continuing until February 15. If I can keep it together, I’ll recall in nearly its entirety the week that changed my life forever.
I am afraid of judgment.
I am afraid of falling apart.
I am afraid to relieve what killed me inside.
I took a walk last night. As I started writing the first few words of this post, it all came back to me. “I’m done,” I said, already sobbing, “I can’t do this. I’m done.” And as I shoved in my headphones and made my way through the door, I kept chanting, “I’m done, I’m done, I’m done.” To the words of Anna Nalick, Lisa Loeb, and Sara Bareilles, I walked across campus to a safe and secret place I went to many times last year. In the cold winter air I lay down in the middle of the walkway, my head to the ground, my earbuds fallen out, and I listened. I listened to the creek flowing beneath me. To the gurgling, choked waters whose voice soothed so me many times when I was inconsolable.
I let my lips part and this time I did not sing, through broken sobs, my favorite songs, but I affirmed myself: “I am okay. I’m okay. I am okay.” And I repeated these words until I believed them. Tears welled up between my eyelids, breaking past them and dripping like little gurgling, choking streams down the sides of my face, some to my ears, other past them where they dripped onto the black interior of my hooded sweatshirt.
A while passed, my own words striving to comfort me, and I sat up into half lotus and then doubled over into butterfly as the tears continued to fall. I looked up a while later and I saw a man down the path where it intersected a trail running perpendicular to my line of sight. He was looking away, checking his phone, clearly taking a break from running. I wondered if he had seen me. I wondered if he had heard me sobbing. I wondered if he had considered reaching out to help or if he had intentionally turned away so that, having seen me once, he wouldn’t have to see me again.
So much like a child, to believe what cannot be seen disappears, yet not very different from the state of mind that has colored this past year.
The man stuffed away his phone and began running again, but I remained, listening. For a year I have carried this darkness inside me. I have faced it and I have overcome the pitfalls that brought me there, but in keeping it to myself, I made it a chain that continues to bind me. More importantly, I have turned myself away from those left crying in my path who could be helped, and perhaps even saved, through hearing my story.
It begins where another story ends: the moment my heart was broken and the moment I decided the fastest way to recovery was to close my eyes and let my broken heart disappear. Ignorant to the decay of my soul, I spent months slipping deeper and deeper into a darkness broken only by the neon glow of specters, so much like angler fish, whose bobbing antenna I mistook for the sun.
I thought I was happy, but I had only shut my eyes to the suffering inside.
The other day, when I realized what week this was, I grabbed a pen and immediately let my blood upon paper, and when my professor began to lecture, I turned to a new page and shut my mind once again. I had planned to post this poem as an introduction to the week, but it seemed too weak on its own to be sufficient. However, intending to meld art with experience–the two so indistinguishable already–and to trick myself into sustaining this project to preserve the symmetry of the piece that will end this story, I have shared this poem today, its name too fitting to be ignored: Almost a Year to the Day.
As you’ll see tomorrow, I finally hit rock bottom one year ago, but as J.K. Rowling has said, “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” This week is a tribute to that moment when my foundation solidified. What of these revelations, I know not, and though they may yet bring unanswered questions and leave my readers asking why, I shall give no justification for what I’ve done, for what I’ll say.
I need no vindication. I will be unapologetic.
This is me. Every word, every action, every misstep. But it’s no longer me today.