The Price of Becoming Who You Are?

I thought we were the forever kind of friends.  Family, I called us.  The kind who would be there when days pass dizzy like a maze, or hearts sink as heavy as stones in the salted ocean.

And I tried really hard to be a good friend (although I'm sure I wasn't always) -- by which I meant a not-too-much friend, and maybe that's really where things went wrong, at the beginning instead of at the end, like it feels.  Maybe I shouldn't have made my grief so palatable in person, or drained my soul through a mesh so that it wasn't too murky when you looked close at it.  I didn't know how to do that, or that I was allowed to.

But I always thought that our kind of family, the ones we choose, were the always-there kind.  Until they weren't there.  My husband and I left the institution for the last time not knowing, not planning for it to be, the last time, and maybe everyone thought we were angry, or going through a phase, or something, when really we were (are) trying to live true.

I didn't think that friendship depended on that.  On the institution, I mean.  I didn't think we'd lose everyone along with our certainty, which was (is) grueling enough.  But we did, or most of everyone.  The ones who kept walking with us, or came after us, or asked how we were, and meant it, with no strings attached -- they were few, and not all who I thought they would be, and I cherish them fiercely.

Should we have sent up crimson soul-flares of distress?  I thought we did.
Should we have been more clear that we loved our friends?  Yes, I'm sure. 
Should we have assumed less naively that beliefs and love were not dependent on one another?  To which I reply: do we really have to be identical to the majority before we are loveable?

You're not alone, one or two said.  We're here for you, just come back inside.  I want to, I said, but I can't right now.  Won't you meet me out here in the wilds?  And they said nothing else.

My heart bleeds for all the ways that we tried, imperfectly, to love and be loved, ways that now seem wasted, rejected.  Their silence whispers in the aching hours that I am forgettable, problematic, unwanted.  But my soul cries, louder every moment, thank you for listening to me at last.

from Mandy's Secret Message Society zine

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