So… where have I been?

I’ve been away for a while
where have I been?

I’ve been in great pain
and found much of joy
I’ve deprecated and flagellated myself
I’ve improved at giving myself the benefit of the doubt

I’ve been skeptical of my worth
as a person, a spouse, an artist
I’ve doubted the talents I was given and the skills I have honed

I’ve dreaded the day when everyone will realize I’m just a fraud
even though all I am is just a human

I’ve wrestled with guilt
I hate putting my needs first
it feels selfish
I struggle to see myself as worthy

but just because I lack self-love
doesn’t mean I don’t deserve love

where have I been?
I wish I could say it was pretty

I wish I could say I’ve been on a self-care kick
that I’ve hit every target I set, achieved every goal, made every gain –
maybe that’s my problem

there is such a thing as “a perfect plan”
I’ve penned enough for twenty lifetimes
but they’re all forgotten – rusting on the ground of my being
where all my dust settles

they were grand as the apollo missions
but too timid for liftoff
to risk the fall, the crash, or the burn

because “the perfect execution” is a myth – a mix
of equal parts hindsight and Hollywood

so… where have I been?

I’ve been aflame with a controlled burn
that tore through my decrepit foliage
so green shoots could bloom

I’ve been pruning my garden
my heart, my vices, my mind, my habits

dead limbs don’t come back, they only spread infection

I’ve been frigid
hibernating in the mud below an icy surface

stillness was the only cure for my burnout

where have I been?
I’ve been learning that there’s never a “right” time to start
and it’s always wrong to find such terror in imperfection
that I can’t take the first step

so I said “fuck it”
I know who I am; I know what I’m passionate about
I know whom and what I love

I’m done waiting
for the conditions to be right
for the stars to align
for this or that to go my way next time

where have I been?
I’ve been making my own way

crawling, stumbling, stubbing, crumbling
but still moving towards the life I dared not approach –
the mountain I was too scared to scale

where have I been?
I’ve been perfecting the art of correcting myself
of looking kindly at the person I used to be
who knew so much less than I do now

I’ve been keeping a red pen in my back pocket
not so I can judge my errors and typos
but so I can revise each previous draft

the final copy has yet to be written

where have I been?
I’ve been violent, a self-tormenting tyrant
I’ve been quiet, an island of Rylan
I’ve been stopping to smell the violets

I’m not together, but I’m getting there
I’m not quite alright, but I’m vibrant
and I hope you all appreciated the silence
because I’m back

(and I’m loud…)

© Rylan Skelly, March 2020

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