Hello, Goodbye | Ashley Kellem
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Hello, Goodbye

Hello, Goodbye

Today is exactly 6 years, to the day, that I first tried committing suicide.

I remember feeling so hurt that day, but having reached a kind of finality. A peace. I remember hiding the pills I would take and going for a run in my neighborhood, listening to music and crying. Resolved, but still aching. I remember struggling to swallow the pills, trying to force myself to take these huge pain pills I had left from surgery, with no water, and upset with myself for forgetting water and fucking up yet another thing in my life.

I remember feeling so lost, so hurt, so overwhelmed.

I remember the frustration I felt and the fear of discarding my pill bottle, scraping off my information from it and ripping up the pieces of the label and scattering them, throwing the empty bottle in a bush somewhere.

I remember going back home after my run as though nothing had happened, not feeling any affects from the pills I was able to take, but hoping that after showering I would nap, and never wake up.

That following year had been hard. And it never got easier after that. Not in any of the years that followed. It got worse, and I suffered more heartache, more physical pain, more exhaustion.

Has my life gotten better since then?

My therapist, when we spoke about this, brought up that I don’t sound like someone who regrets or is thankful that none of my past attempts failed. It’s difficult to regret something like that, when you are sane and logical about it. Where you know much of it is rooted in fear and hurt, but that much of it, too, is rooted in reality. I did not ask to be born into a world in which I must suffer, why shouldn’t I get the chance, at last, to decide on my own, how much suffering I should continue to endure?

I have made so many strides this year, accomplished so much. But I know that there is still so much work for me to take on, so much suffering and pain I must endure—and that is terribly exhausting.

How do you move forward? One moment at a time, that is all I can ask of myself, when I find myself dreaming of walking into the ocean, or romanticize swaying from a towering tree, or when I hear that seductive voice of ease telling me, “pull the wheel just a little to the right—just a little more.” Do those thoughts go away with love or success? With children, or a happy home? I know enough to know they don’t go away when you beg them, when you are lying naked on a cool tile floor with pills spread out around you, crying out to a god, in time, you will accept, does not answer because he does not listen, because he never existed.

I have created meaning for myself. I have told myself, “there are seeds in my belly, and when I die they will take root and something good will come from their blooms.” I tell myself, “we will leave a legacy,” I say, “this new year, will be the year the Universe returns back to you your writing.” But then I ask about my heart, “what about my heart?”

Today I ache to be held. Today I ache for someone to take my hand into theirs, and lay it on their chest, and to hear and feel the steady beat of their heart, rebelling defiantly against death—and to feel and know my own heartbeat and honor its own steady drum.

How do we move forward, how do we stop dragging the pain of the past? You tell it you understand, that you know—but that you won’t continue spending a lifetime being sad, carrying a burden you never asked for nor wanted. How do we heal from all the loss and heartbreak we have felt this year? We remind ourselves of Charlie, the man we sat with, and Kathryn, who are both gone away now, and we think about how death doesn’t have to be scary—loss doesn’t have to make us fearful—and we think on the peace we made then, and on the peace we are still trying to make now.

This year has taught me so much. I have asked so much of it, but today my heart fails me and I don’t know what to ask, truly, of next year. To return back to me everything and everyone I lost in 2018? To give me love? To leave me alone and let me be reckless? To give me Death?

I think about the time when I sat on the Beach, and I felt one with the entirety of the Universe around me. Where I inhaled the Ocean, and it released me back on shore. Where I saw Time as a loop, a circle, that doubles back on itself over and over again. How it is a memory of itself, repeating over and over again. A lullaby, resonating and reverberating off the walls of the womb of the Universe. I remember seeing the entirety of humankind. Seeing our rise, and our downfall, and offering a small salvation, an intimate reprieve, to those who suffered and yearned as achingly as I do. I remember being shown the power of food, of being being nurtured. And of laughter. I remember asking how to raise a male child—and forgetting to ask about myself. I remember bring told, that it hurts to be and become, but that we have the power—to change the music, to tell another story. And I am telling another story. Are you listening?

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, there lived a young girl who had the world stripped from her hands, and her true name pulled from the depths of her heart, and she grew weary, and her hands turned to stone and everything she touched about herself, hurt, and she thought that pain meant love and love meant never going away, and she tried to be everything but the earth swallowed her up and tore away all the strength she once had. How did she learn to grow, how did she learn to stand and walk again, did her hands ever uncurl, did everything eventually stop hurting?

One day the earth opened up, just a tiny bit. It hadn’t really been holding her anymore, but years of her being bound and buried stuck in her mind and made her heart weak. But this day, the earth opened up, and just a tiny bit of fruit from the earth was presented before her. Abandoned and discarded and underestimated just like her, and it spoke to her, “Eat me, and let me give you new life, Child.” And she knew it was the old gods who had been forgotten and unknown, speaking to her. And she said, “I will eat you and I will listen to everything that you ask to show me, reveal all your secrets, for I am hungry and wish to be fed.”

So she consumed them, and they brought her to the edge of the world and she saw that she was Death, and Life. That she was beginning and end, and that she was both powerful and weak and that this was the nature of being. And she cried when she saw her younger self, suffering before her, and she knew that her self-inflicted pain was a lingering ache to ease that pain, to carry it with her, still. And the old gods began to speak to her, and tell her to only hold what she could carry—so she opened up her hands and felt the stones fall from her. And the old gods told her, “you need to Breathe, in order to be,” and so she looked at the waves to remind her. And the old gods said to her, “this sand around you, is like Time, it is endless, it is forever, it goes on and on, repeating. Do not be afraid of Time.” And they continued to show her many things, and it rained and she listened harder, and she saw that they had been speaking to her long before this moment and she cried, feeling the warmth of love. And when the gods began to fade away, she asked one final question, “What about love?” And she felt ashamed, to be asking one last question when she had already been given so much. And she felt the gods beginning to slip away from her faster and herself awakening from the vision dreaming she was in, “please tell me about love.” And they said to her faintly, “yes, yes you felt right, yes you felt true, two years and two.” And she thanked them, gave one final prayer and thanked them, and she pulled herself from the earth, hiding seeds in her pocket, and she breathed and she thought, “this is what it means to be,” and she hummed a new song to herself, and she said, “this is what it means to become.” And she dropped everything that she could not carry, and she spoke lovingly to her heart and it began to carry a bit more love and compassion than before. And she breathed again, and she spoke aloud, “this is what it means to invite Stillness.” And she swallowed the seeds she carried, and walked forward and when she began to feel the earth wrap around her legs and try and coax her back into its womb, she reminded herself of the old gods and she spoke aloud to the earth and all that lay around her, both hidden and seen, “I have seeds in my belly, when I die they will take root, and I know something beautiful will come from their blooms. This will be my legacy, my offering to the old gods, to honor their wisdom, to honor my struggle, and to pass along the story of being and becoming, to all those who follow after.”

This is my story. Are you listening, are you ready? I have been buried for so long, embracing nothing but the Death I had become. I am ready to embrace Life. To dwell in the wholeness of myself. 2019, what do you have in store for me? Equal measures pain and pleasure? Hope and satisfaction? Growth, healing? What will I suffer through, who or what will I mourn? As long as I move closer to who I mean and am meant to be—as long as I continue Becoming. Do you hear me 2019? Let me continue being, and becoming.

Hello 2019, Goodbye 2018.

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