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Take these sunken eyes and learn to see.

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I catapulted into the passenger seat of the car wearing the most convincing grin I could find before leaving the house.

I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t wanted her to accuse me. I didn’t want the argument. I wanted to ramble about the things I was sure of: the weather. My shoe size. My craving for the evening entree: Mexican. Definitely Mexican. 

“So, how…” she started to speak.

“We had a really great day,” I cut her off quickly. “We spent it hiking. And we didn’t fight at all. It was like we were starting all over again. It was great.”

We sat in silence for a tiny eternity before she pressed her hand to the gear and pushed it into reverse. “Hannah,” she whispered.

Don’t say it. Don’t say it. Don’t say it.

“One day does not change the last year of your life.” 

 

Hi, my name is Hannah Brencher and I am a retired member of the “I Tried to Fix You” Club. I’ve resigned from my position as secretary of the “Please, Just Change” Club. I’ve stopped knocking my gavel at the “Tomorrow Things Will Be Different” Club.

I’ve been there, floating on the dang door in the icy ocean, holding tight to someone who is dying right in front of me. I’ve been the one to say, “I’ll never let go.” And I’ve learned the pain that comes in loosening the grip simply because we don’t always stumble into the people who ask us to hold on. Some people have never wanted that of us.

Sometimes we stumble, crash, collide, and even fall in love with people that walk away. It happens. That’s life. Cue Frank Sinatra.

But that story of mine goes back to a bad year. A year full of fighting. A year full of tumult & tears. A year spent wondering what it would cost to walk away. How would things turn? How would they tumble? And could we stand on our own anymore? And where, oh, where was the guidebook– the handbook, the dictionary, the Wikipedia site– for all of us who got so tangled in Another Soul that we forgot who we were apart from another pair of hands. Another pair of arms. Two eyes that always saw us through?

 

I used to put my whole body into relationships.

I used to turn to a speck, a glitter, beside someone else.

I’d be sucked dry of self esteem and left hanging on the every word of boys who should have never needed to validate me like a Taylor Swift ballad. I cried at night after parties, my tiny body on the floor wondering how vodka brought so much honesty & heartbreak through my bloodstream, imagining the day in which I would take the concrete shoes off. The day I would walk away finally. The day I would finally face the mirror and ask, “And who are you, girl?” Who. Are. You?

I never wanted my fingerprints on that question. I never wanted to dance with the Ugly I found inside of me. I’d rather pour my energy into fixing someone. And healing someone else. And be a big ol’ bandage to anyone who ever came to me with their heart in their hands. And staying in relationships as flimsy as scotch tape houses if it meant I could focus on holding up anything other than me.

 

It was nearing 2am.

Her words kept rubbing against me as I crossed and uncrossed my legs on the floor.

“One day does not change the last year of your life.” 

“One day does not change the last year of your life.” 

I was alone now.

And I’d stayed up to plow through India and learn to love in Bali.

I was reaching the edge of “Eat, Pray, Love.” In a quiet house that held the snores of my parents somewhere within it, I was reaching the point in the journey where Elizabeth Gilbert would dot her last sentence. Leave me there. To start my own path towards fixing whatever was broken. Replacing whatever was lost.

I was alone now. The texts weren’t coming any longer. There were no goodnight kisses or someone to battle with over who loved who more. And I felt aloneness for the first time. It was the first sense of knowing that I was on my own. It would stay that way.

And it was strange but lovely to feel like, for the first time, it was time for my own repairs. The fog was clearing and it was just fine to learn the art of putting myself back together again. Without all the king’s horsemen. Or all the king’s men. 

I felt more worth it in that moment than ever before.

I sucked the last line in deep. I closed the book and folded my legs up around me. I whispered to the spaces that always hold God at night, “I don’t know what I was made for.”

I didn’t know what God was scratching his chin about on the day He decided that there’d be a little girl with freckled limbs & wild red hair. I didn’t know if He sang. If He danced. If He wrote a poem and sat in a cloud of a canopy for the rest of the afternoon.

But He had gone through the trouble & the tumble to make me. And I was a being who cried separately, who dreamed apart, who could walk away. It might take a few steps, a few falls, a few mistakes, but I could walk away. And stand alone. And learn to fix the wings so stitched for flight.

And, in that moment, knowing just that was enough.

It was enough to start over. It was enough to stay walking on the path towards Away.

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