The Storm Before the Calm


Takes a deep breath and exhales. Pauses for a moment. Then begins to type.

It’s been months now. It feels longer, like this has always been my life. If you knew what rages inside me you, too, would see the flat cloud formation at the top of the storm. I rain over myself, pull up all the roots, violently sweep everything out of my heart. Something’s got to give. I’ve always been the kind of girl attracted to darkness like mosquitoes are to light. I like a good fight with life. You can never win, but you can’t get any closer to sharing the reins with God either – even if you know you’re going in the wrong direction and will have to give them back. What can I say? The voice of reason is soft, and my heart is so fucking loud.

I feel everything, everywhere. My intensity is both a blessing and a curse. Not for the faint of heart. I love with both my hands and all of my fingers. When I hurt, I hurt in every colour, from every angle, in any lighting. Other feelings are bland, beige, tasteless. Mine grow into a thick, coarse darkness I have to keep kicking until it bleeds daylight all over again. Fiery, roaring, breath-snatching, red hot soul. Bubbles deep in your stomach and your head spinning and your heart pounding kind of soul. I feel and I feel and I feel, like I am banging at the insides of a cage. There is too much me in me, and all I can do is wait it out until a rage spread thin, like apathy, takes over. I lay down, exhausted at best, empty at worst. I still feel, but at a lower volume. I find comfort in knowing that the opposite of coherent is interesting – just enough to get back on my feet again.

This year has been the hardest one. Days blurred into one another. Pick one, pick every single one and you too can laugh at the pattern. The more I stare into it, the more my field of vision shrinks until I feel I’m looking at a narrow band of light that’s burning my eyes. The pain is real, only it doesn’t take place up there. It’s the pain of possibility, vulnerability, and risk. “Once you stop feeling it, you’ve lost your best chance to make a difference,” said Stephen King. I read those words three times, then turned off the only light in the room and tried to tie new strings together. “What difference?” and “How do I make it stop?” and “Do I want it to stop?”

And “Yes. Yes, I want it to stop. I want it so bad, my heart must be glowing in the dark.”

I find myself up at all hours of the night, tired of dreaming about the past and the future that never arrived. I catch reminders of the woman my 13-year-old self dreamed of becoming, and spend most of my time wishing I could empty my whole self into her through a shoulder, through clasped hands, through an electrical discharge. I wonder if my prayers are valid, when I only come back with emptiness. I pray, nonetheless. What else is there to do? All that can be done has been done.

From the outside I must be damn good at juggling fire torches. Inside I’m burning like a flame on top of the very last bit of melted candle. Maybe it’s just the type of fuel I run best on – myself, to get to the spark I will end up writing for – myself. But times like these I wish I could tie a knot at the end of my rope and swing from it already. I wish I could make myself feel safe and seen and run my own fingers through the knots of my soul. I wish that, when I spread my heart like butter on toast, I didn’t hope for someone else to come along and snatch it off my plate.

Ah, the deep calm is still just a concept. I don’t just sit in the storm. I am the storm, coming at me from all sides.

The last few months really were pages flipped by the wind. I hold no memories dear. I remember them like a single, immeasurably-long paragraph, with a single sentence running across it multiple times: “The air is damp and the sky is pitch black, and I’ve been dreaming every night of warmth and a place to call home, and I’ve been waking up every morning with cold feet in other people’s houses.” Yet dark and wet as they might have been, the texture of my days felt softer than ever. My world was easy to mould. People tugged at it and I let them.

I should have known every road on my map by now, every shortcut and every detour. This was a map with my name for a capital, a map I let others draw over because the capital was on the verge of collapse, and I hoped they’d know better. Ah, this year, I didn’t know how to rule. There, I said it. I had nothing of the magnificent beast of a girl I set out to be, with a fire within enflaming my mind to build myself up; none of that. This year I sat around, fantasising spirits one could hire would come in and give myself a complete cleaning, millions of brushes scrubbing white effervescent foam into every obscure or hiding corner of my soul.

It’s easy to believe in yourself when you’re lying, because you’re talking about someone else. But I still go to sleep quietly, with my own truths in mind. I still won’t write them down. I am always told I am too much, and I don’t want to add any more to that just yet. “I’m sorry for the burden,” I tell the girl who still doesn’t know how to be kind to herself while blooming. I am the only who knows that her silence isn’t detachment; it’s a siren. I wish I could forgive her.

But the clouds are slowly breaking. I can feel it. They’re done with me, their last words drifting slowly across the skies like paper aeroplanes. There is nothing left to fight and nothing left to fight for. I’m becoming bizarrely temperamental. I can’t put my finger on one good thing I was left with, but I know that time will teach me what my ruins mean. I have to keep reminding myself that I can’t fight the universe any longer than it wants to put up with my fight. That I do want to own and honour my dreams and my world again, and even though I don’t yet know how, I’m just as capable as I was before and after every final episode. And that they don’t know any better than I do. I’ll build castles again, as soon as the last raindrop has had its way with me. I’m not in a rush. I’ll let it rain, and I’ll let it shine again.

Smiles like a happy hyena, shaking off water.

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