Set Sails for Bluer Skies and Warmer Waters

I *want* to hear you, and listen to you, and tell you all those things that sit on the edge of our tongues waiting for the breath to give them life. Send me your messages. Talk in my ear. Cry on my shoulder. Sit there and listen to me rant about Star Wars so you don't have to think for a few minutes or hours. Come sit in silence with me. Let me go sit with you in silence. I've lost too many people in my life for any and every reason and I don't want to lose anymore because they hurt.

A few friends have heard this from me recently or not so recently, but six months ago I was in a very dark, painful, lonely, empty period of life. I was seriously considering having a friend pick up my firearms because I was losing faith and trust in myself. It wasn't that I wanted to kill myself or really even die. But I wanted it to stop. I wanted the pain to stop. The empty feeling that sank my chest with every breath escaping as a sigh of exhaustion had worn my soul down more than every pair of shoes I had ever owned over my entire 26 years.

While I went to Colorado for a wedding, I used that as the catalyst to leave. I literally felt in my truest heart and knew in my most honest mind that if I stayed in this town I would die. My life had fallen apart in so many ways that I became trapped beneath the rubble. I could no longer see the light or the trees under the forest's darkness that had consumed everything I could see, I could touch, that I could hear.

I felt helpless. I felt my efforts amount to nothing. I felt my decisions caused nothing but regrets and mistakes and poor judgement. I felt weak. I felt empty. I felt tired.

I felt so many things that I became numb and couldn't feel anything. I couldn't think. I felt alone even though I had people around me and in my life.

I thought about reaching out to someone over and over and over and over, but didn't. I didn't know how. I didn't want to feel like I had burdened them with my pain and my struggle and my weakness. I didn't want to ask for help and feel even weaker. I didn't know who to talk to about it that would actually *get* what I was (and in many ways still am) going through at the time.

I didn't want to be "that guy" that needed help. I didn't want to be "that guy" that couldn't cope, couldn't deal, couldn't move on, couldn't keep on going. I didn't want to be "that guy" at all.

I went to Colorado and only told 4-5 people that I was even leaving. I loaded up my car with gear and my dog and left in the middle of the night. I got there in the morning, slept, and missed most of the wedding much to my shame and regret. I had no clue what I was going to do when that evening came to a close.

I returned to a friend's house that I had very nearly just showed up to given the one day notice of needing a place to sleep.

I left their house and had no idea where I was going, no idea what I was doing, no idea who I even was anymore. So I drove and let the road take me where it took me. All I knew was that I had no where to go, no where to be, no one to appease or get an ok from or to make happy.

So I drove and I drove and I drove. I pulled over on the sides of roads and took pictures of gorgeous landscapes. I took pictures of people pulled over on the side of the road to take pictures of a moose. I found myself alone in hotel rooms and just existing, just being, just living. Nothing more. Nothing less.

I drove through places I had dreamed about in exacting detail months beforehand and finding truth in the belief of deja vu meaning life has gone exactly where it should have. So, I drove on and on and on. I took a left here. I took a right there. I drove straight and forward until pavement turned to dirt and then drove some more. I found myself alone on top of some random mountain somewhere in northwestern Colorado with no cell phone service. I set up camp, started a fire, and sat there gazing into the flames losing all connection to the things that had suffocated me at the home that no longer felt like home.

I lost myself somewhere in Colorado and found the road to my peace of mind.

I found the friends in family and family in friends I longed for so desperately. I found people reaching out to offer me kind words, comforting conversations, warm opened-arms, guest rooms and spare beds made up just for me, and offers to move me out of the life I wanted to escape from and put me up until I found my feet again. I found connections in people going through similar struggles with the exact thoughts and feelings that caused me to feel utterly alone and secluded. I found community by opening up the exposed gaping wound of my hollowed chest to people holding needle and thread.

I found the comfort I longed for when I felt too weak to reach out for the help I so desperately needed. I found strength in sharing my pains, my struggles, my weaknesses, my wounds. I found the love I never imagined in the heartbreak I couldn't fathom. I found people willing to Frankenstein my soul back together with broken pieces from their own lives.

I found myself duct taping my shattered mind back together and bungie-corded it to my withering heart and wistful soul. I found myself awakening on a ship long-since left the port headed towards an unknown destination with the self-assurance that while I did and still do not know where the wind will carry my sails, I do know that it matters not. My soul concern lies with the journey of learning every plank, joint, rivet, knot, and crease of the ship and how to control it through rough waters that threaten to pitch and capsize my vessel, stormy waters that stretch on beyond the limits of sight, still waters that endlessly stall momentum without any sense of direction.

I've come to understand that while many will want to come aboard, few will have the courage and fortitude to not jump ship for the nearest harbor. Many will take a walk from port to starboard, from bow to stern only to find the journey too daunting, too intimidating, too controlled by the fates of wind.

And, I too, find the adventure ahead daunting, frightening, terrifying. Though, I look at the waters I have traversed, the people that have jumped ship, the people that I lost along the way, and the people clinging on to sails and the ones that used all the rope they could find to lash their bodies, minds, hearts, and souls to the mast, unafraid of the times to come, and hear these words ringer more true and louder everyday:

“Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.”

Invictus - William Ernest Henley

Nobody can ever tell you what you need to heal. Nobody can ever tell you what you need to do to feel better. Nobody can ever tell you that what you feel doesn't count, doesn't matter. Nobody can ever tell you that what you need to get through today.

Do what you need to do to make it through today. And tomorrow, do what you need to do for tomorrow. It doesn't matter if it doesn't make sense to the people around you. It doesn't matter if they think that they know better or what you should or shouldn't do. It doesn't matter what they think. If they cannot support the ups and downs, the ebbs and flows, the stops and go's, the days you feel like conquering the world and the days when getting out of bed feels overwhelmingly daunting, then you don't need those people. And there's nothing wrong with walking away from people or relationships or jobs or habits that do not contribute to your own individual journey.

People will come. People will go. But you, you have to go to sleep every night with exactly one person: the only person that you must make happy, that you must take care of, that you must nurture and stop at nothing to do what that person needs. Do what you need to do for you. Today. And when tomorrow comes, do what you need to do for you then. And when the next day comes, do what you need to for you then.

And when you find your sails full of wind with you at the helm, look around. You'll see the world with eyes anew guided by the astrolabe of your soul powered by the glow of your own internal light shining eternally. So, draw your anchor and set sail for bluer skies and clearer waters.