Brave At Heart

 Image Credit: Dylan Spitz

Image Credit: Dylan Spitz

By the time I counted the third train skip my stop I was too deep in my thoughts to really care that I was an hour late to my usual work start time.

It takes a while to get to where you’re going sometimes, but I’m finding time isn’t as much an enemy as it is a helpful accomplice. It navigates hard days with you and when you walk into battle it gives you a second to breathe and notice your surroundings. Mine are full of the brave at heart, people who love me well and I love back. 

Their strength gave me permission to break because they promised to carry me through the storm. I saw rains and tides and winds wipe out sandcastles and in their place all that was left was a clear view of the sunrise. Then, when I decided I was ready to rebuild, they helped me up from the sand, dusted me off, and handed me a construction hat — behind me a cleared foundation and a stack of bricks.

The next castle, it’s of my doing. It’s built with intention and on self-love. Engraved on the first brick is “established 2018” the year of my own rebirth. I have trust in myself as the cement that holds the bricks together. One by one I’ve piled them. One by one I propped up walls and carved out a doorway, one that let in love and let out toxicity and hurt. 

The fourth train is mine and I walk in and slide into a seat between two people. They look like they’ve been through their own versions of hell and I fixate on that idea. How is it possible for hell to look one way for one person and completely different for another? How is it possible for your own personal hell to morph? 

For me, then, it was too much weighted silence, not enough easy laughs over dinner, an overwhelming sense of knowing hell is not where I belonged. For me, now, it’s a battle in trusting myself and others, in surrendering to the inexplicable nature of love, to anchoring myself in myself and letting cards, chips, all the freaking Monopoly pieces, fall as they may. 

I get off on my stop and walk the four blocks to work, my mind sits on yesterday, 4 texts all with the same message and all with the same reminder of how I too am brave at heart. 

When you go through hell, the only silver-lining is that you don’t have to go through it alone. On your worst days you’re held up by those who love you. You sit on their couches, you eat their food, you talk into their phones and come out on the other side, a small side at least, of that particular hell. 

I made this same walk in reverse yesterday afternoon. I feel the ring on my middle finger, also in reverse. There’s a bit of beauty in that. In knowing that reverse isn’t wrong, it’s just a different kind of normal. The ring will eventually go back to its rightful way, not now though, not yet. The walk to the train on my way home will be different, but that’s later, this is now. 

I’m on a path to healing and have been for months. It’s the healing that helped me stand tall in my own heart. It’s the healing that helped me take a leap of faith. It’s the healing that chastised me for saying I wanted guarantees when it knew that all I wanted was love. And sometimes, most times, love and guarantees just don’t go hand in hand. Instead, next to love, you find forgiveness, grace, and commitments to show up and try our best, every single day. 

I read a book a few months ago and this quote is one I’ve carried with me since I read the sentences: 

“You have to keep melting into each other until you become something entirely new. The only constant family rule is that everyone has to keep showing up.” 

Of all that is asked in friendships and relationships the notion of showing up has to be the hardest thing. Because to show up as you are sometimes isn’t pretty, it’s mascara running in a Starbucks and hands shaking as you apologize. 

But, the brave at heart do it anyway. 

But, the brave at heart are only brave because they acknowledge how nervous they are. 

But, the brave at heart are brave because they know that hell is a place that is of our own making and only we know the emergency exits.