The inside of my marriage was a void.
It was filled with heavy silence and thoughts not spoken aloud, dreams that had withered and truths never faced. From the outside, it seemed an uneasy pairing, something off-kilter, but never acknowledged.
I disappeared inside its four walls, my skin slowly draining itself of color from never being seen or touched. I began to turn translucent in an environment that did not nurture or encourage my existence, let alone my growth. I was a tree rooted in the wrong place, denied the light of the sun, and twisting around the walls of a home that could not ever contain me.
Sometimes I wonder if having children was the only way the light got in. With them, I could no longer see going day to day and year to year with my heart heavy and broken inside me. When they looked at me or reached their tiny hands to touch me, it was like becoming slowly real and visible again.
They could see me, and I knew that I wasn’t so far gone after all.
I began the slow thaw, the quiet reawakening to myself. I remembered the dreams that had withered and began to nurture them a little in secret.
The words began to repeat themselves in my head like a mantra, only ceasing when I would put pen to page. I would go to sleep with them and wake to them and whisper them to myself during the day. They began to lift me up and to shine light on to all the unacknowledged, uncomfortable truths of the life I was living. I was a tree rooted more strongly in myself, crumbling the foundation of the house I had built around me.
I could not see a future of living inside the silence, never valued or acknowledged. I began to imagine a new life for myself, one that I would root firmly in the earth for my children. I imagined a life of nurturing and joy, laughter and play. I began to form a picture of a life that allowed me to be unapologetically authentic.
In this life, I would stop denying the truths around me. I would stop hiding so much of who I am from the world. I would speak my truth in kindness, wear my heart proudly on my sleeve and do the things I feared from a place of strength and courage. I would begin to nurture only the relationships in which I was valued and cherished. And I would let go of all the stories I had told myself about my life. I would build new ones instead.
Only then, in an atmosphere of truth and love and endless amounts of light, could I begin to grow again, stretching out toward the sky.
There would be a liberal amount of rain in the emotions that would wash over me during the process. The process of growth itself would at times seem unbearably painful. Still, I would keep growing and stretching and creating a new life.
Rooted in a place of peace, stretching toward the sun, I could love my life again.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Image: Steven Depolo/Flickr