“What is it that you want, Michelle?” A question so innocent in nature, but so terrifying underneath its delicate tone. It was the only question I was unable to address while I spent time away from a draining external reality over the weekend. Reluctant to answer, I stored it away as my pen began to nudge out a sentence or two, but my fire needed to be stoked. “What is it that you want?” Hunger seemed to claw at me, so I fixed a can of soup over the fire I recently stoked. “What is it that you want?” Too tired to reply after a satisfying meal, I closed my notebook. As I zipped myself into my sleeping bag, preparing for a pleasant midday nap, once again, the question presented itself like a persistent next door neighbor looking to borrow a cup of sugar who hadn’t realized that I was hiding behind the peephole all along.
“What is it that you want, Michelle?” I wish I could say that an answer miraculously came to me before I drifted to sleep under that afternoon sun, but I shoved the question down into the forgotten places of my sleeping bag. Now, as I lay here choking on words I left unsaid, my avoidance is manifesting itself into a reflection of me I no longer resonate with.
What unhealthy expectations have I pinned on myself that make me go silent when I should be shouting?
I can’t fathom the answer to that question, because I could never fashion a response clever enough to convey every anxious and ecstatic part of me that screams, I want love.
I want loyalty, devotion, openness, honesty, forgiveness, thoughtfulness, attention, respect, recognition, patience, persistence, happiness, romance, stability, clarity, balance, sacrifices, compromises, and an ear attached to a soul that begs to hear me.
I want simplicity wrapped in subtle complexity. I want honest expression fueled by burning passion. I want a soul who is always present when I am near and if time travel is an option, we do it together. I want a world where the nature of duality is praised and fear of the unknown is shunned, because there is no unknown. I want a world where there is no fear. I want resolution. I want healing. I want effective communication. I want answers to always result in more questions. I want selflessness as a result of selfishness. I want to remember all that I am. I want to see everyone for all that they are. I want a reality as beautiful and as frightening as my dreams.
Have I wanted for too much? Do I want for too much?
I know you may be wondering how you happened to come across this letter in a darkness not of your own. Your eyes scan feverishly across these blank pages as my voice pierces through the air as though you are hearing me for the first time over a dying intercom.
Welcome to your new home. Don’t fear the hellish growling in the distance. Those hounds only bite on my command.
I can sense your anger and confusion, but I just need you to breathe. Otherwise, you risk an early death.
Recently, you left the confines of your home and decided to speak with me directly. Your boldness has always been beautiful. I met you under rupturing stars Friday night, tucked tightly in a tent barely big enough for the both of us. As the temperature dropped, the space between us condensed with raw heat. I needed you to feel me as much as I needed to feel you. The chilling wind whistled through the branches above us, which lulled us both into an entrancing sleep. You have been so tired lately, so as I woke before you, I watched you sleep.
I have loved you patiently, more so even now.
I have fallen for you time and time again, but never have you risen to the occasion for me.
As I caressed your sunken cheeks, it somewhat pained me to know, that upon your rising, you would have to drop to your knees before me. You knew it was inevitable. Your fear was never a match to my knowing. Your pain was never greater than the power of my healing. You have been tucked away into a darkness of your own creation for far too long. How silly of you to get so comfortable.
Morning came and the sun bared its face. With nowhere to hide, you fought as much as you could at the sight of me. I couldn’t bare to see you struggle, but luckily for me, your surrender came faster than I expected. You passed out shortly after.
Now that you are awake, again I say, welcome to a wild unknown.
Settle into my hell and I will grant you heaven.
Rose petals and lavender float above my immersed body in a bath I’ve drawn for us. The smell of grapefruit and citronella travel with the steam escaping into the ethers. Let the angels know I send my well wishes.
There are things aching inside of me besides this tired spine and knees that crack with any given step. Course salt dissolves between my toes and all I can think about is drawing out my pain the way salt draws moisture from damp places. Tonight, I won’t use sticks of honey and sweet melodies to trick you into leaving the darkest parts of me you love the most. Tonight, I simply open myself up to you, deliberately immersing myself in your murkiness.
I know you feel unworthy of love and acceptance. This seems to haunt you, but it’s a ghost you have never asked to leave. Why do you fear the ones you love abandoning you? You spend so much of your time shuffling behind torn curtains and sifting through broken glass wondering why they would ever consider staying. What could they possibly find enchanting about these shadowy ruins? I can feel your resistance; shying away from hearts who see your ugliness and find it wondrous. You swiftly sweep collected dust under matted rugs when they admire the strange art on the walls and shout at them when you feel they have over stayed their welcome.
Rippling teary eyed reflections. I never meant for the salt to burn.
I didn’t bring you to these waters to drown you. I brought you here to show you how to swim.
So tonight I honor you.
Tonight, we will make your pain beautiful.
As I stood there twirling the blackened match between my thumb, I dug my toes deep into the dampened soil kissing the soles of my bare feet. I could feel the earth shifting beneath as I looked up to the smoldering branches before me. The smoke inched higher and higher as the wind slowly carried the ashes of leaves as if it wanted to caress each once more for old times’ sake. My eyes swelled at the sight of what was once the most magnificent tree in the forest and I set it ablaze.
Fear often hides in the most beautiful parts of us. In my case, fear made a home in the lush greenery of my favorite willow. I closed my eyes and remembered vividly the tree which pulled me into warm embraces on every visit, with every climb and with every descent from its burly branches. Like a nurturing mother watching from the shadows as her child stumbles into their identity, this is what my willow meant to me. Like a portion of earth unblemished by the stained hands of man, this is what my willow represented to me. Like a large rock holding steady in the raging waters of time, my willow was set apart from reality. And as much as I loved that tree, I smiled as I watched it burn.
Recently, someone held a mirror to me as I sat next to my willow. Abashedly, I pushed them away. What good would it do to see my reflection? Everything on the other side of that mirror was a world I departed from many moons ago. Adamant about showing me the fire inside my eyes, they returned the mirror to my face. As their face blurred, mine came into clarity. I simpered at the sight of myself and as my glare became fixed on the dancing flame in my eyes, fear peered wickedly through the dense brush under the tree. I gasped as I watched its reflection quickly crawl up into the maze of the willows branches.
The fear of commitment made a home of me and it took a treacherous act of destruction to begin eradicating all that I no longer wanted to identify with. Every crippling doubt about a relationships longevity, every fear fueled thought of inadequacy, and every subconscious moment where I used the same fears of another as my safe haven, was seared away the night I decided to use all one hundred matches on my tree. As darkness fell over the forest, as every beast came out to witness, light pierced through every impenetrable thickened part of my woodland as my willow was engulfed in flames.
Fear often hides in the most beautiful parts of us and those parts are where we need to dauntlessly venture. Only there will we find total healing from every instance where we stand in our own way.
While looking upon the remnants of yesterday, I kicked aside a portion of soil revealing a tiny seed; a fearless me.