It would be easy to paint a bright, blue sky with no clouds.
It would also be easy to paint a terrifying storm.
The shame tells her to take the easy way out —
To either show who she was or to pretend none of it ever happened.
She used to play into the all-or-nothing,
But today, courage says, “I need to depict both”.
She needs to face herself.
And so, she bravely paints their storm —
She flashes back to rain pouring down from dark clouds, and lightning striking the places she never felt like she could call “home”.
You’d think this storm was created by Mother Nature, and perhaps the winds that started this were.
But it was self-preservation that once kept these storms at bay,
But like the volcano in Yellowstone,
This eruption was long over-due.
Back then, when the volcano of a storm remain dormant, she was desperate to warn people.
But no one seemed to hear.
The boy who cried wolf had nothing on her.
Nevertheless, she tried to reach out before the storm took away everything she had and knew.
She tried so hard.
And they will say she didn’t try hard enough.
They will say she is a terrible person.
She still wonders why those who speak ill of her do so, because when she was that version of herself, she was, in fact, ill.
Since that day, they’ll see glimpses of truth from newspaper clippings and faded photographs,
But they still don’t know the magnitude of this hurt.
Or maybe they do, but they just don’t care.
Many pity her, but she pities them because she can’t imagine life without her gift of compassion.
Amidst their lack of humanity and her desire for resolution, she’s sentenced as the scapegoat.
They look and look, but her record is clean,
So eventually, they have no choice but to let her go.
And finally, the paintbrush is returned to its rightful owner.
It’s her story now.
She’s in the here and now.
The storm has come and gone.
So much damage has been done.
And they think she’s happy —
As if seeing others hurt amongst the damage was what she wanted.
It’s not what she wanted though.
She’s only happy because despite being thrown into the eye of the storm,
She managed to survive.
She’s happy because guilt and blame tried to kill her spirit,
But she’s found a way to hold accountability and forgiveness for herself in the same hands that are rebuilding her reputation.
Not everyone will hold responsibility as graciously as she does,
And many will continue their demolition projects in other victims’ silence,
But that won’t stop her.
She won’t stop fighting.
With this brand new canvas and reclaimed brush, she paints herself a fresh start.
There are cheerful skies and warm rays of light shining onto buildings she can finally call “home”.
There are also clouds lined with the most reassuring silver.
She paints rainclouds in the distance,
That’s all they are — distant.
They remind her that not every sky will look this hopeful,
However, she knows that after such destruction,
She holds the power to recreate.
Along with this newfound hope,
She takes a moment to reflect on all those times she wished the storm would just happen so she could breathe again.
Memories of J come to mind on this brighter day.
She misses J,
And it’s taken every fibre of her being to not reach out because years ago,
The “hang in there”’s and smiley faces left her life,
And so did her sanity.
She used to blame J,
And then herself,
And then J,
And then herself again.
Today, she no longer holds blame —
All she holds is her own tongue.
She fears any words will be the wrong ones,
So she doesn’t speak any.
But all she wants is to show J her courageous, new world.
She wants to share with J about how she thought she wanted to be rescued from this storm back then,
But all she needed was a lighthouse,
And maybe some “one step at a time” stones leading her up the sandy hills once she reached the shore.
Her wants and needs were muddled then.
Now that brighter days are ahead,
All she wants is what she was always too ashamed to ask for then.
Memories of telling her darkest secrets to S resurface.
S listened, and heard her,
And never looked at her as if this storm was her imagination gone mad.
S saw her as a real person.
J also did,
But she realizes now it must have been scary to get involved with the one everyone thought sabotaged the sinking ship.
Truly, she fought hard to stay afloat.
She also fought to contain all the gaps in the deteriorating walls where water was pouring in.
And at the time, she thought she needed a rescue boat to save her from this.
She was so scared.
She didn’t believe in herself.
And of course, she didn’t overcome this all on her own,
But she eventually found her way to shore.
It was up to her to swim.
She swam and fought and refused to sink.
She’s so grateful for the lighthouse.
She did so much work herself,
But she also got to safety because of those who stood at the water’s edge, casting lights into the darkness, hoping she would return home.
There are other rays of light that shine into her innermost thoughts some days.
She says a prayer of gratitude for each beam of hope.
There are also old regrets that seep into her memory as well some days,
But she forgives herself because she did the best with what she could then.
She knows how to save herself now.
Throughout it all, what’s clung onto her mind are truly the most mundane things —
The simplest things that bring a warm smile to this weary complexion.
She’s learned the calm is what she loves most in life.
She thinks she thinks too much about those first rough drafts,
So opening herself up to blank canvases, ones eagerly waiting to be met with paint strokes of both defeat and glory,
Is her truth now.
Storms may always be forming beyond the horizon,
But still, she chooses courage over shame every day.
The most valuable lesson she’s learned is that life is never going to be picture-perfect.
This canvas may be bright one day, and dark the next.
Despite the unknown, she carries on — no longer fearful, but curious about and open to what’s next.
Without these dismal moments, she would have never known this vibrancy that paints so freely now.
Rain or shine, she will always create masterpieces.