My life has always been good. Always been a little bit inside out, sometimes backwards, and often bruised, but always good. I have reorganized often, rearranged the furniture in my heart to house many different kinds of people. Some more grateful than others. Some in search of more hands than I could give to them. But all important, all pulsing and rich with story, all human in the biggest way they could muster up. All of them have left something behind. Many of them I chased as they left, trying to give it back, afraid to be left with their forgotten souvenirs. But they could never hear, always kept walking like the end of the chapter they were supposed to be all along. We are all strange and important chapters in each others stories.

Every mismatched character in my life became a period at the end of some sort of sentence. Some left as exclamation points, others still sit pensively a comma at the end of stories I do not know how to finish. Maybe they are supposed to be that way. I think they are. Others snuck away quietly in the night, without the courage to say goodbye. My heart leaves their rooms messy.

That’s what this year was- Leaving it messy. Setting it all down and living and laughing amongst the mess. It was the learning that none of it could harm me unless I let it become me. It was a year of meeting so many different versions of myself. Greeting them all with utter excitement, congratulating them for waking up, thanking them for the lesson.

This year part of me got excited like an eighth grader gets excited. I relearned the importance of squealing over colored pencils and funny nail polish names. Grinned about clean sheets and the change from afternoon to early evening. I cherished car ride sing alongs and enthusiastically pointed at every patch of flowers on the sides of highways. Yet, while one part of me savored innocent bliss, another part cozied up with despair, set up meetings with really really ugly emotion. I visited my bitter pasts with a dimly lit lantern, holding it up hesitantly to a room full of the very things that have scarred me. Most of the time, I did not look like a hero. I did not look noble or wise. I looked cracked open, peeled raw, still scared of the dark. Most of the time, my heart shaking. But through the earthquakes behind my ribs, I unsubscribed to the issues of my past.

I haven’t read a word since.

I have always had a good life. But this year it became mine. I poured a cup of coffee, sat down, and read my stories. I held them tight to my chest and thanked them for who they’ve made me. I carved room in the shelves of myself and I put them there, out of order, but each of them stacked with importance. I decided not to order the levels of pain anymore. Instead, mix all of it up, hold it up against this page and watch as it tells my story, my odd and beautiful and thrilling story.

I am thankful in a way that birds are thankful when they find their way out of the room they got trapped in. When they emerge, dazed and flailing to the outside, finally. My wings are crooked and I am dazed and flailing, but I am so thankful to have found the way to my outside.