Lately, meeting up with someone who is unfamiliar with the recent details of my life provides a moment so ludicrous, it's all I can do not to laugh.
"How have you been? What's new?"
Often I think about the questions that frighten me the most. The thoughts that keep me up at night.
They are ungracious. They are selfish.
What happens if I don't? What happens if I do? What if my heart will never be as full as it once was? What if it will? What if that means I will hurt more? What if I can't? What if I can? What comes next for me?
That last query - that is the most terrifying.
Every day, I work on believing in myself. This is a battle I think we all fight, though I wish it was verbalized more frequently, for the people in the back. Every day, I wake up and I work on self care. I work on looking in the mirror with kindness. I work on trusting my heart to do its duty again : to love, to trust others, to open to caring about someone. I find myself canceling plans, or deleting a draft of a text message. I didn't know what it was like to have the warm, enveloping comfort of unconditional affection ripped away by cruelty. I do now. I am worse for it. I am harder for it. I am more heartbroken for it. I am more scared to deepen friendships because of it. Is it possible, then, that I am also better for it?
What happens if I choose to believe?
What happens if I decide to believe in my dreams? What happens if I decide to believe to be kind to my body, my mind - without allowing the judgments of others to impact that belief? What happens if I decide to open myself up to caring about someone that may, ultimately, leave?
The best thing I learned from the mountains I had to climb in the last year was how to coexist with discomfort. It's a skill not to be taken lightly, and one I think not enough people identify as one they should build. Physically, I learned what it was to accept pain as a part of my daily life. It gave me greater empathy for those who live this way, those who can't check off weeks on a recovery timeline as it lessens and finally dissipates. Every morning, I wake up and say a silent prayer of thanks when my feet hit the floor unaccompanied by a jolt of pain throughout my entire body. I never knew what it was to find pride in the simple function of my body before my accident.
But I've learned to quietly exist with another type of discomfort as well : the discomfort of grief. The discomfort of a life that is less than. I will never be the same as I was before the last year of my life. I know that now, I am comfortable with that now, I am proud of that now.
I moved through a season where it felt as if my body was held together with brittle, dried tape. I moved through a season where the wind would blow when I was walking down the street and I considered collapsing to the ground, too weak to resist. I moved through a season of sadness so deep that I forgot what it was to cry.
I learned to sit with that grief and in that, I learned to let it slowly fade. I learned to sit with that grief, and in that, I learned to find its lessons.
I want more, I learned. I want to travel more, to explore more. I want to learn more. I need to learn more - there is so very much I don't know. I want to write more. I only want to write. I only want to run. I only want to move. I want to chase my dreams, and I want to keep everyone and everything I currently love about my life close to me. I want to create, and I want to sleep!
I want more.
To know that - to know that I want more, that I am unhappy with my current state of less then, to know that I am going to need to stretch and push and leap outside of the level of comfort I've worked myself into - that is sitting with discomfort.
There is no shame in advocating for yourself and your mental health, I remind myself every day.
There is no shame in failing. There is no shame in achieving. There is no shame in loving. In living. In creating. In believing. In crying. In laughing.
Too often, in the past, I made concessions. I quelled dreams. I bit down on my happiness. I didn't rock the boat, I didn't allow discomfort a place at my table, I didn't grab myself by the shoulders and allow myself to feel that all-encompassing yearn for more. For different.
I've moved through my seasons and I am not entirely what I want and I want more. I am sitting with discomfort, laying with unrest, and I am glad for it. It keeps a small fire burning inside of me, one that makes the early mornings worth it, that reminds me to keep picking up the pen, to continue to return to my thoughts, to invite my feelings to find a home in a place where they are honored and acknowledged.
How have I been? What's new?
I have learned to sit with discomfort. I have learned what it is to let that make you stronger. I have learned what it is to want more.