I remember a day in my teens when I cried. I cried beyond the skin of my body and the cell walls of every atom. I cried beyond feeling sad and beyond understanding the sadness. I cried and somehow the tears kept coming, washing down my face and body, saturating countless tissues and two soggy sleeves.
I wept and, as I wept, I crawled into the darkness and shut the door. I put on sad music that sealed my soul up from the world and silently built the brick walls up just that little bit higher. As I built and sealed, I looked as though I was processing. But I wasn’t. I was protecting.
Years on and the tears still fall sometimes. And the urge to climb back inside that comfortable darkness still beckons. The stillness and the solitude is comforting, for I know all that is in there. Where to look and what to avoid. It was home for so long and I’ve never lost the key to the door. But years on, I can also see something else. I can see that what makes it so comfortable also makes it stagnant. What makes it comfortable is also restrictive, poisonous and lonely. It doesn’t hold life, and it doesn’t protect me anymore. Whilst it served me well, it can’t be more than a hotel room to me now. A room where the furnishings are familiar enough in shape and size to give me respite but a room in which I have no long term stake anymore.
And the only way I know how to keep that space only as a temporary base is to keep my eye on what makes me reach for the key in the first place.
I remember days in my teens and years really not that long ago when I would flow with things that every part of my being didn’t want to be near. Not because they were evil, but because they didn’t serve me at that time for who I was. I remember days when I used to test people to see what I meant to them and what they meant to me. And as with any test when you don’t reveal the questions, we all failed admirably time after time after time. True happiness was rare and there was a heaviness to the days.
I have only come to see recently how that beautifully dark retirement home is more than just a home. It has paths leading to it from all around. Paths with gates, paved ways or cobbled. Paths that are manicured to simulate beauty and paths you can’t even see. And it’s the paths that I need to avoid. If I don’t take responsibility for my ability to respond to everything, then I end back up, step upon step, treading familiar grounds to a familiar door to a homely darkness in which to nestle for too long. If I don’t set myself and others up for success, I send myself towards a home I no longer love and, chances are, the others onto the same trajectory. A resting place in which life flits by.
I can only call that darkness respite, a hotel room in which to acknowledge what had been before transitioning on, if I am on a different road. A new road. If I am travelling in all senses of the word. If I am no longer doing laps of the same emotional and energetic neighbourhood, only then can I be sure that when I peer into shadows, I will not see the same keyhole. It is my responsibility then to stay on my journey, to look around at all that is, to embrace the new as it comes and to keep stepping audaciously into the unknown, heart open, eyes wide.
I am so lucky that I believe that the more I travel outward and inward, beauty is abundant. I am so lucky that I am fuelled by a desire to celebrate life. I am so lucky that I believe the true nature of everyone is happy and loving. I’m so lucky that I believe I can grow exponentially and still never lose the core of me. I’m lucky that I see that there are plenty of keys on our key rings and that each new step shows me keys to happier abodes.