They say we either write when we are falling in love, or falling apart. I can not say, without dramatic use, that I am either, but it often times feels like the latter.
I retreated to a watery refuge yesterday. For some reason, when I’m in the water, it’s as if it quiets all the noise and allows the calm to sink in. You can literally drown out the things that are metaphorically drowning you. And as I swam, I listened to the music playing from my speakers. I rested my head on the side of the pool when one song caught my attention.
“When I was free, when I was free
Free to be who I want to be
Free to not care, ahh
When I was free, free and lonely
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, free and lonely.”
I am technically free. I have nothing tying me down. It’s funny how that can also be a sweet serving of loneliness. No matter how busy I’ve been lately, the need for affection and company has been coursing through my veins; a specific type of company. When I’m at school, I’m bombarded with deadlines and kids incessantly asking the same revolving questions, never paying attention, and giving lackluster participation (some, not all). I sat alone today on the gym floor, all the kids stampeding toward the exit doors, and took in the silence with a bittersweet breath. I felt liberated and detangled, a much needed “me” time. . . but also lonely.
I loved being married. I love relationships. I cherish getting to know people, their imperfections and set backs, their passions and purposes, to see their faces light up when talking about their successes of the day. It feeds me, a part of myself I can never turn off. I thought I’d be able to nurture that instinct while keeping things casual, not forcing someone to be confined into a traditional relationship. I wanted someone, but still wanted my space. Isn’t that the dating game today? To have your cake and eat it, too? I wanted to try it out because I’ve been so deathly afraid of being a burden, too much (un)health and heart, too much advocacy and mess and not enough cemented in a career and path. I’m still terrified. But, honestly, all it’s been giving me is a stomach ache. I’m not meant for this type of world. I’m not meant for secrets, and ‘don’t tells’, and ‘they can’t knows’, and multiple lovers, and people concealing me in a cabinet to compartmentalize their life, allowing me out where they see fit. I’m not fond of feeling like a puppet, of questioning motives, of touch and go. It’s beginning to weigh on this heart.
But loneliness. . . she speaks a different language that I’ve never quite mastered. She’s hungry; a deadly reflection to conquer. You know what you deserve but you go back to that delicious body you’ve grown accustomed to because they make you feel so good in that moment. You need to feel good. You fight it, you even verbally say it out loud, but it’s tantalizing and it lures you in. Not strong enough to turn away. Heart not whole enough to reject. Mind not well enough to resist.
And it had been a long while since I’d been in the arms of someone I felt cared about me. For a time it felt amazing. I basked in it for a few months, truly. When you think someone sees you, it makes you feel invincible, even when I knew the clock was ticking. I had accepted our impermanence. Yet, the tough girl in me has a weakness. We all do. I long for kisses on my forehead, talk that isn’t cheap, and support that brings me peace, not pain. We learn a lot about ourselves when we are vulnerable; when we allow the unfettered truth be spoken, even if it breaks our heart. I became so used to the affection I was receiving that I forgot it came with a price. I wasn’t the only focus, and it slowly became apparent. I’d logically lay it out, suffocating my emotions, yet my stomach still turned. My body knew I needed out. It always knows what is best for you.
It’s difficult to keep that integrity intact when you feel so lonely. But you must. You must do that hard thing in order to grow and heal. Healing is a journey. I am still very much on it. We are the guardians of our own heart. We can not expect others to do it for us, especially when they want what you have to offer from it. We are human and we ere. We have selfish notions and, especially in love and war, sometimes they become magnified. We become walking contradictions, fighting off the things we desperately want to do because it feels good, but forcing ourselves to use restraint. It’s a mental and physical battle.
I’ve never been one to shy away from who I am. I’m a walking eye sore, either draped in some crazy-thrown-together outfit with colored hair (on hiatus, but is coming back), self-painted shoes and character socks, or my usual comic themed shirts with my too-short-for-some shorts, frazzled hair, and flip flops. I rarely buy gifts, but make them. I get exponentially nervous when people open gifts in front of me because of the love I put into each one. I am goofy. I’ve had students laugh with me, but also at me. I put together an entire documentary exposing tears streaming down my face, times of struggle, and images of me at my lowest. I have a fire for life that only comes from being ill. It’s made me more aware of everything. I WILL NEVER tire of the mundane, simple things I am able to do. I WILL ALWAYS be in awe of the daily draws that many do easily take for granted just because they’ve never had them stolen. I am not weak in these areas. For some reason, however, I still find it indescribably hard to treat myself fairly when it comes to relationships. Speaking my worth is one thing, and it looks formidable on paper, but when it comes time to execute understanding that worth, I fall short. The loneliness creeps in and snacks on what is before me, even if I know what I’m eating is toxic. I don’t want that for myself. I want to beat my weakness. I want to challenge her and overcome. I know it’s not a linear conquest, but I know what this mind and body are capable of achieving when they have a deed set before them.
Last week I had the privilege of watching the brilliant Bene Brown on Netflix. I replayed her special twice. Her words about courage, vulnerability, and bravery have always been hugged tightly to my chest. My curiosity never faltering, I started looking her up and all the books I’ve missed out on (must get them ALL!!!) because she’s overflowing with research and wisdom. I happened to stumble upon this specific treat. . .
“I’ll leave you with this. There will be times when standing alone feels too hard, too scary, and we’ll doubt our ability to make our way through the uncertainty. Someone, somewhere, will say, ‘Don’t do it. You don’t have what it takes to survive the wilderness.’ This is when you reach deep into your wild heart and remind yourself, ‘I am the wilderness.”
Yes you fucking are.
And I know one day this loneliness I feel will turn into a confidence-exuding energy, and transformation will occur. Battle. There is no easy panacea for all the noise and trauma you may face. You gotta fight for it. You gotta be the wilderness.
Love, B. R. Banos