Do It On Purpose

To my younger self,

You don’t understand, little one. When you grow up emotionally abused, you don’t see things (and the things that are emotions) as an incredible, many-sided D20-type die, with a million separate, equally valid options.

Depending on the type, age of onset, and length of the abuse, your die has been weighted in a few specific places, always opposite of each other, as diametrically opposed as possible.

For you, there are no in-betweens. No maybes, or sortas. No matter what. But sometimes, as you grow, you bump up against someone so gently that you feel the slightest hint of peace, and suddenly you collapse there for a time, too exhausted to care that it still hurts. And the contact, however brief, helps sand away a little of what weighs you down, to reveal a smaller, more in-between place, and so you learn there are more options, more feelings.

And eventually, along your journey, you realize it’s happening, and so you start to interact with people on purpose. Until, one day, you realize that you find true joy in discovering each new emotion, new experience. In diving deep, exploring and wallowing in it until it becomes something you can feel with your entire self. And then, for the first time, you think maybe this life will be worth living, after all.

And then you realize, each new bump against another die, each new experience with a new person – or perhaps with an old comrade, even yourself – will teach you something else to love about yourself, and it’ll all be worth it, in the end. To know another way of loving yourself and those around you. To know they are capable of loving others that way, if they’ll but open themselves to something new.

But the knowledge is exhausting, and it keeps slipping from our hands. So sometimes the pain is so brutally raw that we forget the joy that will come after. The fact that we have made sure that that happened for us: that we felt joy afterwards – every time, no matter how we were abandoned by others, how black-and-white, good-vs-evil the world felt – it means we’ll always be there. We’ve always come to rescue you in time. We’ve never failed before. And I promise, child, we don’t plan to start now. So hold on for me.


Northern Lights

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