I remember being a wide-eyed child mesmerized by the magic of life. I’d spend days running around wild places, climbing trees and befriending snails. I’d hide in bushes and if I managed to make my way through weeds and grass, then I’d pretend I had landed on the moon. Escaping to the moon made me feel safe. If I could reach for the moon, then I could reach for everything. I no longer had to be afraid.
As I grew into a teenager, I’d hide in my ridiculously long hair and daydream most of the time. Reality had become too ugly, and I had become too fragile. It felt like I could never possibly belong. After dropping out of medical school, I escaped to the mountains and searched for the moon again. I started writing in a journal, meditating about life and love, and what it all meant. I had fallen in love once, and it felt intensely beautiful. I’d write letters to the person I genuinely believed would become the love of my life. Letters crossing oceans, feelings so strong I could feel my whole body shivering. We had a unique connection that I thought would last forever. I still can’t fathom why our love let us down.
Years later, I fell in love again but this time I got to experience life as two. I was so passionate I wholeheartedly poured myself into this love. I was so sure I had everything figured out. I was loved, finally, so how could I be anything but happy? The unrealistic fear of being unhappy has never left me. As a child, I watched my parents grow a little more miserable each day. As a nurse, I soak up human misery and I fight it, relentlessly.
I remember waking up one night, finding my lover beside me, yet feeling so empty and alone. It made no sense but I just felt the urge to burst into tears. I went downstairs and cried for hours. In the morning, I woke up to my love’s fingers running gently through my hair and everything was good again. Still, love is not as easy as I thought it would be. We get selfish, we hurt, we make mistakes. But we also thrive to be better.
There once was a homeless man on the bus. I’d get home from school and see him, a little more drunk each day, a little more alone. He would hit on young girls and I could tell everyone was looking down on him. Maybe I was too. I think he was seeking closeness and a sense of belonging but I couldn’t perceive it then. Today, I saw that same homeless man cross the street. He was wearing a nice jacket, holding groceries in one hand and flowers in the other. He looked so genuinely happy and healthy. I like to imagine these flowers are destined for the person he loves. The person who inspired him to get better. Who looked past his flaws and loved him nonetheless.
It’s taken me all this time to accept I am a flawed human being, too. As much as I want to be kind and do the right thing, I can’t always do so. Sometimes I act recklessly and look for a candid soul to shine with in the darkness. Other times, I fall into silence and feel like a horrible friend. Whipping myself with guilt and remorse is unnecessary and I realize that now.
I yearn to embrace my flawed self. It might be broken and ugly at times, but it is who I am. I’m choosing the scary path of self-acceptance now so that I can live in truth, which is something I haven’t done in a long time. Only when I find truth within myself will I reach for the moon.