"Tell me everything that happened.
Tell me everything you saw.”
I have never been able to forget the feeling I had the first time I wanted to be somebody else and began to dream of all the possibilities. The reality settled quickly and overwhelmed me. I was young and had just grasped the concept of change, that I would not always be who I was in that moment. It was exciting because I knew it meant dreaming wasn’t pointless. Everything seemed endless in the best kind of way.
"Did you see the closing window?
Did you hear the slamming door?”
Much later I realized the same goes for other people—they would not always be who I thought they were, who I wanted them to be. Unfortunately, I learned this lesson the hard way, and that feeling of infinity was replaced with constriction.
Dead hearts can be something that changes parts inside of you for the worst way or something that reshapes your views and preconceived notions for the better. I know both roads.
"They moved forward, my heart died.
They moved forward, my heart died.”
You’re in fifth grade, and your friends say they no longer want to be friends with you because you don’t wear the same jean size. The definition of friendship and what it looked like changes forever.
You’re sixteen, and your hero packs his suitcases after telling your Mom he’s leaving because he met a woman three weeks ago and no longer wants to stay. And everything you thought you knew is broken.
You’re in a three-year relationship, and you learn the boy you love has been unfaithful to you with his ex-girlfriend. You accept the lie that you aren’t enough and believe staying is the only way to prove your worth.
We always have choices, but along with self-realization I didn’t acknowledge how other people’s decisions could create dead hearts in me.
"It’s hard to know they’re out there.
It’s hard to know that you still care.”
Little by little the world changes. There are the surprises—the people who bring you back to life and help lay current dead hearts to rest.
The guy following you out of the bookstore late at night rather quickly is bringing you your credit card, not getting ready to attack you.
Your hero, the man who said he couldn’t stay, realizes home with your family is the only place he wants to be.
The high school teacher who keeps questioning and pushing you actually thinks you’re smart, so he’s trying to challenge, not antagonize, you.
"Dead hearts are everywhere.
Dead hearts are everywhere.”
I have had my fair share of heartbreaks and disappointments. I know sometimes it can be much easier to focus on everything that’s missing because I do that in my own head. The thing I’ve come to understand is when I do that, it’s my own choice. In those moments, I choose to let the doubt, anxiety, and dead hearts come back to life.
"They make me feel I’m falling down.
They make me feel I’m falling down.”
Contending with the past and the people in it can be a battlefield. It’s haunting to know all the different past versions of myself and others still exist in some space. I look back at photos from only a few years ago, and while I still have the memories from those moments, it looks nothing like my life anymore. The old selves, the dead hearts, the ones who made bad decisions, hurt people, were reckless and harmful to myself are no longer present in my life, but sometimes I see their shadows. I laid the former versions of myself and their dead hearts to rest, but their shadows remind me that I still carry them.
“Was there one you saw too clearly?
Did they seem too real to you?”
There are things we cannot help, but at the core, we have the ability to change—or not change—who we are. Sometimes it feels like the shadows of people I’ve been are staring back at me, and those former selves I knew might still have some life left in them after all. I cannot change the fact that at times I have been a person I am not proud of.
Instead of dwelling on my inability to change the past, I reconcile who I was with who I am and in doing so give myself the power to believe that who I am is a choice. That belief is by no means easy, but the potential for possibility is enough for me.