Let It Burn: Reclaiming the Phoenix
No more looking back. I have battled blockage after blockage. I have broken myself down to learn how to drag myself up. I have seen and held space for the burdens of others, all the while carrying my own, silently. But, my silence is no longer needed. Golden is the flame that burns inside of the darkest parts of us all, and it screams to be heard. It dares me to look it in the eye without flinching. This small booklet holds the thoughts of someone who is depressed. She is drowning in sound yet hearing nothing. She is surrounded, but isolates herself. She wants help, but doesn’t know how to ask. She wishes she didn’t exist. She wishes her friends and coworkers didn’t have to put up with her. She feels as if she is betraying herself with every step she takes. A drowsy wolf in sheep’s clothing, among the sheep in wolf’s clothing.
Scribbled in these pages are the lists of a rememberer, remembering her true path through grief attacks, salt-sore sight, and a closed-fist throat. ‘I called off this day, too… remember that, don’t get in trouble.’ ‘You are replaceable. How dare you take up space.’ ‘How many times do I have to tell you this? How do I get it through your thick skull?’ ‘Call me ASAP. What? You’re mourning your father on Christmas? Look, if keeps you from crying more, you can work 24/7. But, either way we need you right now. So, wipe your face off and come in.’ Stretched across every page; the glass ceiling and the shards that would stick within my skull. I'd pick them out occasionally, looking at the reflections that did not match my own. They told me how to matter, how to be successful. They told me I could do better; they told me I could help. They told me that I wasn’t really trying. They told me to smile more. Make more. Do more. But sit down and shut up until they’re done. And I believed them. I believed them until it hurt, and then I believed them even more,
out of a sort of desperation to belong.
I had spent so much time doing this. As this. Being here. Why start over? I was so tired… of everything, especially myself. But I am not that reflection. I am not broken. I am not seen and unheard unless I refuse to speak. I am not their shattered, dimming star… the last light to be picked for their golden crown. And I am allowed to be ungrateful for a crown that I found I did not want in the first place. Heavy is the head. Heavy is the soul. Heavy is the person who mourns it all. My father wasn’t the only death that year. I mourned, and still do mourn, him. But, I never took the time to mourn myself; or rather... to mourn the ideal of who I was before I realized how little time I had.
So every day, for as long as it takes… I will sit at my altar, I will hold yew in my hand, and I will burn a page from this book; not out of spite, but out of a need for closure. I will baptize these words in flame, and as they take on phoenix form, I will shift those energies into a new future for myself. A new ideal. A new direction that reflects me within it’s glass shards. For if I must bleed, if I must mourn, if I must be golden… then let it be on my terms, with my own fire. I will carry my own torch, thank you. If I must be a voice, then let my throat burn.
Protect your passion. Guard your heart. This is not a battle cry; it is a cry of a scorching flame and the breath that’s finally howling it into being. I am done. I am undone. And I am singing.
- Cris Ashburn -