Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Chasing Vulnerability

On the contrary, his abrupt departure has only emboldened my heart. Right there, when I said on the contrary just now at the beginning of that first sentence, I was responding to the voices in my head. On the contrary is when you're fixin' to respond to someone telling you some shit you ain't buying and I opened with that to hush the voices in my head telling me I shouldn't have been so welcoming to his knock on my door. Ignoring the peephole I went right for the deadbolt, cranked it like I was escaping a home intruder, flung the door wide and invited him in. "YOU. Come in! Come in! Sit down! Stay awhile. It's like I've been waiting for you and I didn't even know it until just this second. Here you are! Finally."

I'm so glad I answered his knock. Even now.

Because as hurt as I am by the ending - depriving me of his personality feels like the worst punishment - I am better for knowing him. This is a truth I keep returning to when my mind spins out. I had it bad. The rate at which I melted is almost amusing. It will be amusing, eventually. Dude rolled up out of nowhere, lit my fire faster than a boy scout earning a camping merit badge and fanned the flames until they threatened to burn down my house while I stood, starry-eyed, reveling in the delicious heat licking my skin.

I was On. Fire.

I still feel fiery just knowing he's out there existing and thinking those excellent thoughts he thinks and being all him and shit. Told you I had it bad.

"Guard your heart," someone warned in response to my disorienting heartbreak. A mental Rubik's Cube, I keep turning the phrase round and round in my head, studying it from all angles: guard your heart. It sounds sensible, doesn't it? Seems like sage advice to offer one suffering heart sickness. Thing is, I've spent years guarding my heart. My body is an overstuffed dresser of emotions I've hidden away in my effort to remain vigilant against pain and heartbreak; you can't close the top drawer for all the fucking underwear and socks crammed in there. Old sweatpants peep stealthily from the bottom drawer as if trying to make a break for it but I just keep jamming shit in like an overzealous prison warden.

The voices, they are loud and they speak often. But they aren't jagged, masochistic shouters anymore. They are softening as they age with me. Conversational, curious, friendly, they hash over the things that happen to me Algonquin round table-style. They crack jokes, pour another drink, talk shit, comfort each other, light a cigarette and wax poetic. They have their own personalities. This voice is reasonable, that one is confused, this one is scared as hell and, yeah, that other one can be kind of a dick - calls me stupid sometimes - but another voice almost always chimes in to comfort me and tell the agitator to get lost.

My mind borrows trouble. It incites anxiety riots. It sparks unnecessary worry. It informs me that I'm stupid. It tells me to feel embarrassed that I opened the door and let him in. But my response isn't going to be to chain up my heart because it might happen again.

We all have a belief system about the future; about whether good things are going to happen or bad things are going to happen. There is no proof one belief is more accurate than the other belief. But if I believe I need to guard my heart because I'm afraid of heartbreak I'm going to see a lot of evidence that I am correct and my personality will meander down that path until I'm an old, bitter woman who collects heartbreak as proof positive of my belief.

But what if I believe that maintaining an open heart will set me free? That all the painful heartbreak waiting for me in this lifetime will only enhance who I am and who I'm becoming? Joyfully collecting heartbreak as proof positive that I lived the fuck out of this life and let myself fall... Hard. Over and over and over again. As many times as I possibly can. Because that? That's where it's at.