Originally published September 27, 2013
I took you with me everywhere I went. I needed the memory of you with me so that I wouldn’t forget what to avoid the next time. I wasn’t hanging on to you because it felt good I needed to be cautious.
I couldn’t be burned.
I wanted to avoid meeting anyone like you ever again. If I carried you in my heart I would never forget how I ended up here. I hated who you made me become. More weak than I could ever imagine, more wounded than I knew possible.
Since those days I’ve had one goal: avoid the pain that made me that person. I carry you with me everywhere I go. A monument in my heart. An inescapable reminder of the dangers that come when you give yourself away. Now, before I hand the world a piece of me I make sure that I’m not giving it to someone like you. Perhaps I miss out on a few good things, but it’s worth it to avoid the bad.
I know others like me and they’ve carried someone similar to you in their heart for most of their lives. Like them, I live with you secretly by my side. The fragrance of an agonizing past is in every breath I take. I exhale and breathe my regret on everyone I encounter. I pretend to not notice I’m scaring them away. I call the walls around my heart security.
Regardless of what the world thinks I’m not bitter. I’m safe.
I met a teacher once. He changed the way I viewed the numbers on a page. The hardest arithmetic was made plain. I tried to read ahead in class, but I always got confused. The next day the teacher took the words that confused me the day before and it all became clear.
The semester was over though and the class had to come to an end. I wanted to take my teacher with me. If each time I advanced to the next level he was there, I never had to be confused again. My teacher gave me two options: take the lesson and move on or keep the teacher and never learn again.
I carry you with me so I never have to taste the saltiness of those tears again. I never realized that I wasn’t really taking you anywhere, I was letting you hold me back. The walls I built to keep the pain away kept me from producing purpose. If I ever wanted to become better I would have to risk becoming bitter.
I’d have to be willing to meet a new teacher and receive a new lesson. The lesson may come through struggle, but after the struggle comes strength. Every person in your life carries with them a lesson that will teach you more about yourself. Your resiliency will be tested, but don’t let it make you rigid. Those who want to grow understand the necessity and discomfort that comes with being stretched.
Each disaster that threatened to rip you apart, but didn’t succeed stretched you. If you’re focused on the strain the pain brought know that you’re ignoring the lesson that came with it too.
You stretched my love. Thank you. Now I have more to give than before. You stretched my strength. I’m grateful. Today I’m stronger than before. You stretched my will now I’m more determined than I was.
You stretched me, but you didn’t tear me. I’m better because of this aching.
It felt like you were trying to break me, but you showed me that I’m capable of enduring. I want to take you with me. I want to carry you with me everywhere I go, but I can’t take you and grow. I’ll take my lessons and undeniable growth and head to the next level. I’m leaving you, my teacher, because I want to develop more than I want to remain safe.
And if I have to taste the salt of tears again, I’ll cry knowing that when the stream slows and finishes its dance from my eyes and down my cheeks, I survived once, and with God’s grace I’ll survive again.