And sometimes, it comes as a relief.
When it was all said and done, after some drinks and time spent with the closest friends I’ll ever have, I climbed the stairs and went to bed. I don’t remember that climb, but I’m sure it was slow. I’m sure I was depleted. I’m sure I was exhausted. I don’t think I was fully aware of it, but on a subconscious level, I knew that I’d given everything that I had to the process, the process that had ended earlier that evening. I’d spent everything that I had, figuratively-speaking, and the only thing left to do was sleep it off. I wasn’t thinking about tomorrow, not even a little bit. I simply just wanted to get some rest.
That night, I did something I’d never done before. I cried, but it was more than that. I’d cried before, usually in devastating situations, but sometimes also during baseball games, like the time I swung and the ball struck my hand. I stood there in the batter’s box, momentarily stunned, when my coach reminded me that the play was very much live. I ran down to first with the tears streaming down my face, and was thrown out by a long shot.
I cried when I struck out to lose a game. I think that there were players on base, and I wanted so badly to get a hit, but all I could feel with each swing was incredible futility. The ball could have been the size of a watermelon, and I’m pretty sure I would have been nowhere near it. There was something devastating about the look on the pitcher’s face, or at least that’s what I’m picturing. When I walked up to the plate, he knew that he was going to take me down in three pitches. It was cold and efficient, and it broke my heart.
This time, I cried, but I took it a step further. I cried until I nodded off, as in, I cried myself to sleep. I’d never done that before, at least I don’t think that I have, but it felt earned. I let myself hurt, be vulnerable, and let the pain hit me from all sides. The result we had worked towards, we’d all known that we didn’t want it to come to pass, but we did what we had to do for someone we loved. It wasn’t easy, and I’m not sure that I could ever do it again. It took everything I had, and with that now over, I let myself cry until I had nothing left in my system.
Maybe it was because I was sad. Okay, I was definitely sad, but maybe it was because we had finally done what we set out to do, and it had taken a piece of each of us in the process. Maybe, more than that, I felt relief because I didn’t have to be strong anymore. I didn’t have to prop myself up. I could give into the moment, not put on a brave face, and I could cry, cleanse myself, and let the relief sweep over me in a moment of peace. I could give in. I could have the moment I hadn’t allowed myself to have. I’d been close to breaking several times, but had always pulled myself together. Now, I could let the moment overtake me, and it did.
The buildup had happened over some time.
Each day, we had shown up with bandaged hearts, trying to maintain our defense, hoping that we could pick and choose our moments, but knowing that when we walked through the door, it was all moot. Once we were in that environment, we were at the mercy of whatever unfolded. There was no predicting what would happen each day, or even how long everything would take. So much uncertainty. All we could do was try and be strong, or fake it, like I did. I suppose we all did to some degree. A day is not enough time to mend or repair one’s self. There are experiences in life that we will never be ready for, and so we must throw ourselves into these moments, and hope that we can learn on the fly. We hope that we can learn to cope, and put off breaking down for as long as we can.
I used to say that I never wanted to board a sinking ship. It’s one thing to say it, but when someone you love needs you, you can’t walk away. You know that they want you there, even if they don’t want to say it. You know that they need strength, that they need someone who will help them through this time in their lives. I walked into the situation knowing that I had to be there, knowing that no other place made sense. In doing so, I shut out the world for a while, save for the occasional night out. I knew that the ship would sink before the process started, and I knew that I still had to board. There’s a strange beauty to a decision like that. I knew that it would shatter me, but also that it would change my entire life.
Sometimes, we break down, but it doesn’t have to be a negative thing. Sometimes, you need to clear yourself out before you can move on. It’s a way to rid yourself of all the emotions and pain you might have been holding onto. It can mean a new start, that something better is coming. It can mean that you’re ready to do something different, but maybe you just need to process what you’re feeling right now, and have a good cry. It feels amazing to let it all out. I don’t do it often, but when it happens, I’m usually the better for it. I no longer feel like I’m trying to stop the inevitable.
After that long night, I woke up feeling a little out of it, and unsure of what was next. My friend called and said we should hang out, and so I left. I knew something was different, that it had to be, but I wasn’t ready to face that fact just yet. I wasn’t ready to deal with everything that was coming. The pain didn’t end after that night, but what it did was help me to transition. There was an ending, and also a beginning. Everything was about to change, and after breaking down, it was time to build myself back up again. I’ve learned so much since that night. When I awoke, life was still there, refusing to stop, beckoning me onward to whatever was next. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I’d have the love and support of those that mattered most. Thanks for reading.