I’ve been used and I’ve been the user.

I’ve been lied to; I’ve been the liar.

I have felt fear and I’ve been the cause of fear in others.

I have been hurt. I’ve lashed out, intent on giving hurt.

My body has been a canvas showing my stories of violence.  I know I have tarnished other’s bodies with violence.

I have donned the cloak of shame more than once just as I have shared it with others.

Like a layer of filth I could not wash off, self-loathing has clung to me. It’s slick coat still shocking yet familiar when I see it on others.

I have danced intimately with both grief and despair just as I’ve watched, cried and held others during their own dance with the pair.

I am damaged. I am broken. I am scarred.

I am human.

I have loved this life that I’ve hated too. I have given up. I have risen up. I have wanted to let it all go. I have begged for death with such intensity my soul ached itself in to numbness.

But I have also felt the caress of sunshine on my  cheek after a long, dark winter. For those few minutes outside of a lifetime, I felt within that unexpected warmth the power of hope and its renewal. I knew in that moment what pure, unadulterated joy felt like. I wanted to be alive.

We cannot have light without darkness. We cannot acknowledge compassion without accepting our cruelty.

Bliss does not exist without sorrow.

How do we learn what one is if we do not have its other to show us a difference? How can you paint beauty if you’ve never seen ugliness within the shadows? Where can gratitude be without humility to feel it? Knowledge is powerful but the real magic is the balance.

We all carry darkness. It’s right beside the light.

We are kind and we are cruel.

We are unique even when we are the same.

We are complicated in our simplicity.

We are human.