Death to Should

It has taken me 8,395 days to shake off the cage. Some days, I still wake up choking, with “should” lodged in my throat like the most poetic death. My arms and legs grew through the plated bars, but I folded them neatly back inside to avoid the stares… I always said I didn’t care.

I’ve been awake for a long time, but the sun is only now breaching the horizon. I’ve been sitting on thorns in the dark, wondering how to peel myself apart, and as the light creeps in ever brighter, I realize they are horns. The pain comes not from being wrong, but from believing there is only one right.

I still hold my breath through dark alleyways where “should” was the cold blade against my neck, and even though I was afraid, I never knew how to say “the trickle of blood running down my flesh is the realest thing I’ve tasted in ages.” You learn to love a darkness that you believe won’t leave.

It’s taken me a lifetime to forget the rage. The pressing weight of “should” on my chest is a weapon, and I’ve rapidly become the nuclear sort of dangerous, desperate to escape the kind of pristine existence I could never have survived. I “should” have been alright.

I’m standing now; standing on two feet and covered in ashes from the “shoulds” I’ve sacrificed to my own God. I am not blank, but renewed, living from the imbibed ruin of “should” and I’m on fire in the most beautiful way. I’m impressed by the beauty of the world, even on the ugliest days.

My war with “should” is over.
The battles ended today.

I never counted myself courageous.
I’ve come out whole.
If only I’d known who I could have been if “should” had been removed.

Ashley Wylde
April 27th, 2015

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