I looked onto the beach as the waves swelled and the sun rose and tears formed in my eyes.
Tears of relief; of joy; of letting go.
There's this internal dialogue that has been happening in my head about once every few hours but often every few minutes and it goes something like this:
Healthy Brain (HB): "How are we?"
Unhealthy Brain (UB): "AGHHHHHH!!!!! HELP!!! I mean, uh, whatever. Alright, I guess."
HB: "I don't buy it. Let's do something to help change that."
UB: "Ok. Whatever."
unhealthy brain puts on a sweatband and boxing gloves, for whatever reason.
And that 'something' often varies by the day, but it's typically...
- Phone a friend.
- Do photography.
- Sex stuff (if applicable, but recently NOT SO MUCH).
And so, that conversation occurs in my head, then something happens, and I feel a little better. Sometimes I feel much better, but I never aim for that. Only a marginal improvement.
Stack enough of those up in a day and, suddenly, you go from feeling wildly depressed to, "Eh, this is a fine, I guess."
Which brings me to the beach and the tears: I'm there, this morning, and there are two girls snapping Instagram photos of each other in bikinis before the beach has filled up with people and I do that brain check-in thing, again, but before that happens as they're leaving I see one of them reach down into the sand to grab something white and I realize it's a shell.
It looks pretty.
And then my brain interrupts my train of thought.
HB: "How are we?"
UB: "Fine, actually. I mean, great, even. You can move on with your day."
HB: "What do you mean?"
UB: "I mean, I'm gonna stay here. On the beach."
HB: "Whoa, whoa, wait... wait. You're just gonna chill here for the rest of the day?"
UB: "I mean, for a while, probably. You can go, now."
HB: "I'm just, uh... I'm not quite sure I'm ready for that just yet."
UB: "You are. Trust me."
HB + Me at the Same Time: "FUCK."
And then I turn to my side and start crying into the sand because it's always hard leaving that part of you behind.
The last few months of my life have been shrouded by darkness, and I'm just now starting to appreciate the levity and clarity that those feelings bring.
And things are getting easier, you know?
Waking up is less of a slog. Sleeping is less scary. Interacting with people is fun again. Creativity comes easily, and so on.
I'm engaging with the world, again.
And I never would've known it at the time but the darkness I'd been facing -- the self-doubt, loathing, anger, insecurity, endless crying -- was acting as a sorta guide, and not a barrier.
Guiding me away from a version of myself that I hated, towards one that I genuinely loved and where things came more effortlessly.
One that isn't OK with being used; stepped on; treated like a disposable camera.
And I can't blame myself for not wanting to recognize the importance of those feelings in the moment because they're brutally painful.
And often times we don't think we'll survive them.
But then, if we do, one day we're finally able to recognize the value that those uncomfortable feelings brought to us, and their role in guiding us towards the light.
I used to go to the beach every morning to 'Heal'. It's always been a perfect place to let out emotions in a safe environment.
I'd cry, yell, sigh, moan... whatever I felt, I'd let it out and often nobody was even around to notice it.
Then, about a month ago, I stopped going as much. Something changed.
I don't know what it was, exactly, but I think subconsciously my body knew that I had started to heal to a point in which I felt, well, "normal-ish" again.
So I stopped going to the beach as much, instead opting to dive into writing, editing, creating, or simply trying to plan out the next big move in my life.
All of which have led to a positive feedback loop and an outpouring of positive feelings and emotions.
And yet, I'd be remiss to forget all of the difficult feelings that I've been experiencing over the last few months, and the value they've brought to my life and the meaning that's come from that.
And, today, they led me here, to this beach.
But also: To my family. To my friends. To safety.
And just like that, with a simple conversation in my mind and a flick of the wrist, I decide to leave them here, too.
Not forgotten, mind you.
Just here for me to pick-up whenever I might need them again.
Like a shell in the sand.