The Point Of No Return

 Image credit:  Dylan Spitz

Image credit: Dylan Spitz

“Half a tank to get me there, half a tank to get me back” - Caitlyn Smith, “St. Paul”

Feet propped up by the window, planes pulling into gates, and a quiet that felt like it encompassed me but was really only in my head. The people, they were shifting in seats, buying breakfast, throwing bags on second chairs as they let their full weight fall with thumps I felt at the base of my heart. The world, it kept spinning, it kept doing, it kept trying.

I sat.

Feet propped up, fingers typing away at words that were in my head, tears that were in my eyes asking to be named. My mom’s birthday is in three weeks, I know what I’m going to get her — flowers that won’t stay up straight when I drop them into the cement vase at the base of her tombstone. I think about this time last year, how much younger I was. The pain in my left breast is radiating and on my mind is a heavy truth — I’ve been able to give myself what my mother was never able to give herself — freedom. It costs as much as she said it would.

It tastes like tears, feels like heavy breathing, sounds like silence. Looks like goddamn beauty.

For weeks I’ve practiced sitting with myself, doing nothing but feeding myself. I’ve had blinders on to what the world is doing. I went through a self-imposed boot camp and out came the adult I’m starting to see in the mirror. I took my time. The only person I was trying to be better than was the person I was yesterday. Everyone else was playing games, trying to outrun their demons. I was facing mine head-on. I was reminding myself I’m in a league of my own. 

****

This past winter, I started praying to God out loud in the middle of the night. Ceilings were my only company as I stared up and simply spoke. Most nights my asks were trivial — help me sleep, don’t let me get sick before my speech, stop the rain.

Other nights, the lists were longer, more complex. They talked of ways I was being failed, ways I wish He would show up, ways I felt unsafe in spaces that were once mine.

The season found me doing a lot of talking and then suddenly there was just silence. I sat in it uncomfortably. I invested in it reluctantly. I let it remind me of my own self-worth. How I was rooted in real and if the world around me decided to throw all their values out the window, it told stories about them, not about me.

The weight of my life piled on me until it moved past being dead weight and simply felt like a comfort blanket. Isn’t it funny how the point of no return isn’t always a bad one? There’s healing at the end of a growing pain, and, also, growth. I take for granted how mature I am, how much of life I’ve come out the other side of. 

Listen, at 25, my list is stacked. 

I’m not talking about the Instagram-worthy moments, you know, the ones with the attractive boyfriend, or the nicely framed latte shots. I’m talking about those moments, the ones no one sees, when I’m on the laundry room table, or the bathroom floor, or the hospital floor, or the floor with a puppy crawling over me. Those moments that speak to the woman I am, through thick and thin. The quiet can tell you stories of how I’ve shown up, I let it speak for me nowadays.

There’s nothing that I need add to its monologue that I’m not already showing by the way I carry myself. My presence is right there. You see it. I leave a lasting impact. 

The Sharpie pen leaves its mark. 

****

I sat.

In beds. On airplanes. In the middle of the woods. In the middle of cities. On 25th floors. In church basements. In low lit restaurants. With my people. By myself.

I sat by myself. I learned what rallying for myself meant. I navigated my way through adult decisions that I wanted to make with my own friend group of board of directors, but I couldn’t, not this time. So instead, I wrote. Word count at time of saving the final doc — 25,000. Word after word tells stories that people would probably rather not be told, but, guess what? I own them.

I am mine. That’s what the silence told me. In whispers, at first. In screams, by the end of the month. When the laughs were louder than the tears. When the quick wit response on text reminded me why I’m easy to love. When the motivational messages on coasters straight from Austin blurred together, when getting high off the smell of overly priced candles turned into my drug of choice. When he started fires, when I burned things down.

When I let myself be loved in ways that I deserved. And it was unconditional from the get, and the fingers intertwined felt like nothing else ever had. And I gave to myself. And I gave to myself. And I gave to myself. 

The silence…God…the fucking universe…they all told me I was exactly where I needed to be.

Isn’t it funny how the point of no return isn’t always a bad one?