I used to be the bravest person I knew. I didn’t need heroes from books or movies or siblings or parents—all of those had abandoned me, failed me, at points before that I couldn’t trust them, couldn’t believe in them past the expiration of a single breath. No, I was the bravest person I knew. I was my own hero.
And it’s lonely out there.
It gets lonely only relying on what sits in that cavern between your two ears, and the sinewy muscles that stretch from shoulder to elbow to wrist, pectorals that flex and then wrap around your ribs, sinking down into slim hips and clenching gluteals and quadriceps and hamstrings and too thin calves that lay astride a goosey ankle and feet too delicate for running, toes too lithe for dancing all the dances you need to do when someone is shooting at the ground in front of you, behind you, making a pentagram in which to exorcise you.
My early 20s were a lonely, lonely time, but I felt stronger than I’d ever knew I could be. I could, and I did, carry my world on my shoulders, a task even Sisyphus could not do for he only had a rock and a hill; I was Atlas inbound! I had an entire planet to weigh down my shoulders, that sought to press me into the ground, to push-press-bury me past the crust and to the core of this very earth to be victimized and burned alive by the fury of magma and forces greater than me.
I was alone and I was brave and I miss the strength I had in my hands, I miss the mightiness that kept my heart beating, because it’s left me, age has softened me, weakened me, and now some days, some nights, I feel no more resilient, no better, than any gawky-eyed, awkwardly-long-limbed adolescent, slouching and ambling towards a destiny, a fate so terrifying that the words to describe it have not even yet been created.
I miss being my own hero. It was lonely but it was something real, something concrete, when everything else I try to grasp in this life turns to dust in my hands, transforms into air and vapor, is false…
How do I become my own hero again?