There are rules. A lot of rules. These so called rules are often mistaken for “guidelines” or “directions.” Sometimes even, “manuals.” This isn’t such a bad thing. Having access to information is comforting when you have no idea where to go, or no idea whether or not the oven should be smoking from the back, or why there are one too many screws in the desk you need to put together.

In general, finding a “how to,” when attempting to build or create or do something, is relatively easy. We like to know how things work, function and operate, and more so, we like to be the ones to make them work well. I never read instruction manuals. I never look at directions. I never follow the proposed amount. Maybe that’s my perceived supremacy hanging over the weight of the world, a way for my subconscious to outwardly say, “Ha. You think I need you but I don’t, I can do this on my own. I can do this on my own.”

To be clear, I can’t. I cannot do this on my own. I can make brownies without looking at the label on the back. I can run a lawn mower without looking at an instructor’s guide. I can figure out a board game without looking at the directions. But relationally, emotionally, when things shift, when the equilibrium between two people falter, I’m a mess.

Desperately, I begin to throw the mangled pieces back together, with whatever amount of dignity and stability I have left. My grip is too tight, here. In my pathetic attempt to stitch fragments back together to make a whole,  all I’m really doing is begging the universe for directions, a guide, someone or something to tell me what to do.

I’ve come here, to the keyboard, to you, to whoever is reading, whoever is listening, to relentlessly ask you to be brave. I really like giving advice.  I enjoy hearing stories and understanding what makes people tick, move, hurt and heal. I enjoy being part of the curing process, a helping hand, a patient ear, an encouraging voice. It’s much more difficult to be that person for myself. So instead, I’m writing this nagging proposal to you, my reader, my friend, my confidant.

Be a fighter. Be a fighter amidst the confusion you are feeling. Get out of bed, move, read. God, please read. Remember how many people before you and after you have and will experience what you are in mass quantities and at different levels. The magnitude of your hurt is cosmic, I believe you. But the length of it will not be. I’m here to tell you this time is not a test or a trial, but a race. My dad has always told me, “Life isn’t a sprint, Brooke.” Repeat this over and over again. Slow and steady. Slow and steady. Slow and steady. Go through the motions, be a supporter for your own team, cheer yourself on. One foot in front of the other. Looking forwards, always looking forwards.  You’re getting there.

Self-deprecation is a lonely and terrifying place to stay. You can make mistakes. You’re allowed to, sweet soul. You’re allowed to leave your mark on other people and be sorry for the way you did. You can fracture hearts and say words you don’t quite know you even feel until they are out, seeping into someone else’s heart like poison. This doesn’t make you any less worthy. You aren’t a bad person because of this. If anything, you’re more real. This is proof you are human. One foot in front of the other. Slow and steady.

Hearts take their time, they let down walls quickly and put them back up twice as fast. Remember this. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Forgiveness, in whatever way they’re able to give it, will come. Surely, it will come. Be patient.

I cannot tell you when this feeling will end, when these aches will dull. To know that it hurts this bad means whatever you have crumbled, was something good. Something worth your time, something worth your heartache. There is no guarantee when it comes to how the other person will cope, or whether or not they will be willing to mend whatever stands of your relationship. That’s their right.

Now, right this second, all you can do is breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. You’re a fighter. Slow and steady wins the race. One foot in front of the other. Looking forward. Always, looking forward.



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