Where once my words were my quiet, hidden solace, I now find myself striving to craft them for your viewing pleasure.
Where once I etched lines into paper in lieu of carving lines into my skin, that notebook gathers dust as calloused fingertips dance over keys and buttons, scroll through feeds and faces.
Where once the musings of my soul never saw the light of day; where once my skill was my best-kept secret; where once I had me all to myself; now I am flayed open again and again, craving adoration while you watch me bleed.
I must have made a promise to myself before I began sharing with the world that I would never let any audience dictate my messages. Yet here I am, carefully choosing what to code so as not to crack the eggshells that litter the earth around me. But did you know that eggshell dust helps things grow? Perhaps if I were to trample on my need to appease, something startlingly real could spring up and bloom and return the sacredness of my craft to me at last. I seem to have forgotten who my words are for.
Beneath the purring creature that basks in your kind words is a caged beast that rails and rants and shouts things like, “I am not wise! I am not kind! I am not special!” because all I want to be is honest. I do not want to regress into the shriveled caricature that once lapped up praise like an eternal newborn. Something absolutely devastating rumbles beneath my skin. When it escapes, I want it to raze the world for the better. But it must be trained.
I remember a knobby-kneed teenage girl huddled under the dim light of a tableside lamp, scrawling relentlessly and raging at the world. I remember that same girl emerging from the depths of her angst, sunlight cast over her face as she penned prose and poetry thrumming with hope. Now I am a wide-hipped, loose-lipped woman that acts as a shelter around that bony, brave girl, because she doesn’t want you to see how scared she really is. I don’t want you to see how scared I really am.
I cannot unring this bell. I was built to tell stories and articulate the melancholia that underwrites all miracles and tragedies. I am not a prophet or a teacher or an alchemist. I am simply a soul in a body in a shelter in a storm. If you’re lost and see the candle burning in my window, I will not turn you away. But if you come around with your nose upturned at the dense ivy that climbs my chimney, the way the sun has faded my panes, the stalwart way in which I protect everyone, not just those who look and think and talk like me, my door will not open for you.
I feel the bite of the eggshells as I disintegrate them beneath my bare feet. I am done treading lightly. I want to scatter this dust and see what grows. This is my garden; these are my words. I know the right people will wander in and help me water my work.