Once Upon a Time in a Seasonless Land with Soggy Air, There Lived a Girl Who Thought Too Much.
Two matters of business before we proceed.
One, the subject in the featured image is not our protagonist. Her hair is far too smallish and unaffected to be native to the humid southland of our tale. Unsplash has no collection of stunning photographs of girls with frizzy, misbehaving, drenched, matted hair. Photog friends, I have found a niche.
Two, many of you clicked this link because you thought, “This could be about me.” I knew I could count on the Sisterhood of Southern Over-Analyzers. Thanks for playing along.
Once upon a time in a seasonless land with soggy air, there lived a girl who thought too much. Her mind was populated by a dense forest of trees that reached skyward and spread to the horizon from every angle. She stood at its center and tried to run in all directions at once, liquifying into thinness and leaking as tiny rivulets down the wandering paths between the pines. Only her bushy, messy bun retained its volume.
She drank too much coffee to help her overthink faster. She packed the boxcars of her time like a fiendish hoarder so her legs might outpace her concerns. And then she flapped in the wind behind her runaway train.
Because busyness was a celebrated self-medication.
Some called it hustle. Some called it magnanimous. She deemed it necessary. Because stillness gobbled her up. A good day swallowed all the margin where fear lived.
An indentured servant to “Yes.”
A hostage to the secret things buried beneath the forest floor.
Abused by doubt and uncertainty.
She plucked the silky curtain of her cheek with her teeth to divert the sensory attention her body lent the angry tigers wrestling in her belly. They bit and clawed and roared and twisted leaving her insides raw. A feverish hole where anxiety nested.
She presumed upon the future, forfeit the present, and obsessed about the past. She was beset by worry, bullied by lies, paralyzed by the opinions of others, and half-convinced she might be certifiably crazy. She was choked by guilt, hounded by shame, waterboarded by unhealed hurt, and drawn and quartered by her own unmet expectations.
And she was solitarily confined.
Regardless of how many people inhabited her existence; they knew nothing of the forest where she leaked like rivulets down the wandering paths between the pines.
So she ate chocolate.
And stayed locked away. Running and escaping without progress. She lived in exile in the circular province of her thinking.
There is passage through the pines.
It’s a scary course, and no part of you will want to cooperate. You’ll have to manhandle your very own self, which we do terribly.
But we don’t have to suffer the overwhelming oppression of our brains.
Are you ready?
Here it is.
Lean in closer.
Stand on the edge of the thicket with a brilliant torch and lead someone in. Invite someone in. Into the jungle of your mind and feelings and hurts and fears and insecurities. Not the landscaped perimeter. The wooly, overgrown center.
Because the forest isn’t a dangerous place to be; it’s just a dangerous place to be alone.
Twice I have asphyxiated on the stale air of my entombed hurt. And twice I experienced a cool, resuscitating breeze through the pines as I led someone in. My lungs struggled to accommodate this new wind, burning in a cleansing, difficult way.
But there was passage through the pines.
And it led to a spacious place whose topography was peace. Whose climate was restorative.
Invite someone in.
Storytelling is a harrowing journey to mending. There is a measure of instant healing that occurs when we push the hard words from our mouths; they relinquish their role as jailer. The work of healing just begins there, but in a realm where the labor takes so much time and effort, I was slack-jawed at the now liberation that follows hurt dressed in words.
During the month of March, we want to encourage you in your story set in a dense forest of trees that reach skyward and spread to the horizon from every angle. We will be sharing the voices of seven different women between the blog and the Tenacious Grace Facebook page, and you don’t want to miss a one.
These brave ladies have agreed to stand at the edge of the thicket with a brilliant torch to lead you in. To their stories. So that you might be strengthened in your own.
We’re inviting you in.