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September Surrender: Day Fifteen

What I’m Letting Go

I don’t feel well today. I woke up just wanting to go right back to sleep. My head started hurting last night, with the pain building up right between my eyes, then traveling back to the rest of my head. I was completely run down when I went into work, feeling cold in all the wrong places, needing a restroom more often than not. I felt even sicker as I put a piece of leftover steak in my mouth, not enjoying it, happy I was unable to smell the eggs. Eating was a miserable experience today. But nothing hurt as much as my heart.

“What does it mean if you wake up with heart pain?” I asked one of my co-workers as I pawed at my breastbone. “You have heartburn?” she asked. And then it all made sense. I don’t normally experience pain like this. It stings just to touch. I keep feeling like this is what it’ll be like to have a heart attack. Or myocarditis, though that’s not as likely for someone like me, sorry to say.

I’m not sure what is going on with me, but it’s been a long while since my heart has experienced something like this. No, I’ve rarely, if ever, felt physical pain. I’m talking about emotional pain. Spiritual pain. There’s been times I’ve felt like my chest has completely caved in. Like a hole had been punched right through me. I’d be so hollow and alone there’d be no carving my way out. But there were also times my heart would feel so overwhelmed and full I could almost float away on my happiness. There’s something satisfying about being able to feel that. And it’s been a long time since either of those feelings have entered my system.

Today’s pain hasn’t gone away no matter how many Tums I eat. I assume it’s culture shock from beginning this new restrictive diet. So it’s no cause for alarm quite yet. But I can’t say there isn’t a part of me that’s glad to be feeling this pain. Having an affliction justifies a bad mood. I think back to my fencing days, where I’d limit myself on certain exercises because “my knees hurt.” While I still have arthritis in both my knees, when I do work out, I push myself. I go as far as I can without seriously injuring myself. It’s become an acquired skill, just as carrying around my emotional pain has been.

But now, I think it’s time to let go of the pain. Whatever is in my heart may not be satisfied right now, but that doesn’t mean I have to project the hurt out to everyone else. If I can let it all go and work through it, I’ll feel stronger for it. Letting the pain win serves no one, even if I can’t always ignore it. Maybe one day I’ll be lucky enough to actually feel the fulfillment that always seemed to circle around it, but never found the chance for the other shoe to drop.

What I’ve Discovered

I’ve expressed plenty of feelings about work here. While I promise never to shittalk the company, no matter if I’m there or not, I can’t help but get the sense that my heart is calling me elsewhere. I’ve spoken about this countless times that all I want to do for the rest of my life is go to places and write. However, my dad has hammered into my head over and over again that my company is paying me to be there. They’re paying for my talent, and while I’m there, they deserve my all. Outside the newsroom is a different story.

I’ve been having trouble with line producing lately. It’s not that I don’t like what I do, the pieces just don’t seem to want to fit anymore. I can’t force them into place, but I can find a way to work around it. So when news broke in my hour about migrant buses arriving in D.C., I put aside all my fears and ego, listened to the directions given to me, and took the reins in making sure we were getting the right things on air. I did a good job today, a better job than I’ve done in the past month or so. I’m honestly not sure what’s come over me, but I my performance showed me my heart is in fact in the right place.

I’m not going to leave co-workers hanging, I’m not going to leave my host hanging. I’ll do what is asked, and not feel like I’m romanticizing this new concept of “quiet quitting.” That’s where you show up to work but your heart’s not in it. I’m not about to do that, especially when the only ‘backup’ I have wouldn’t net me the salary I’m making now. Not yet, at least. A lot more work has to be done. I’ve got a lot of repairs left to make until it’s officially time for me to move on. I don’t know when that is and I don’t know what that looks like. But I can set my heart upon it and make sure I’m doing what I’m paid to do in the meantime.

What I Hope to Find

Maybe I’m paranoid, but I worry about people’s hearts all the time. You hear horror stories about people simply dropping dead, at least over the last year. While none of us never know how long we have, I don’t want to think something may have exacerbated the problem. So I pray every night to keep everyone I know, love, and care about safe, especially when it comes to their hearts.

I feel like I only associate with those who have good hearts. Perhaps I’ve been deceived in the past, but I like to think I’m a better judge of character than that. Still, I don’t open up to just anyone, and not everyone has seen the darker side of my personality. The real cruel, cold, heartless bitch side. But it’s there. It’s real. It exists. Like the pain, it can’t be ignored. However, it can be tempered and channeled elsewhere, and need not rear its ugly head when I’m simply having a bad day.

I just hope that there’s that one out there who gets to see it all, the good and the bad. There’s more good in there, but I wouldn’t be who I am without the dark as well. The one who sees everything and can’t help but love it all is the one I hope to hitch my wagon to. Even if there’s bumps and bruises along the way. Time heals all. And maybe if I’m lucky, can take my heart into account too.

1, 138 words written
Artwork by Melissa Pape

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