The mid-November sky has plagued fatigued humans with pelting rain and I, safe inside the warmth of a Middle Eastern diner, allowed myself to marinate in some late afternoon schadenfreude. The chaos of wet shuddering bodies standing shoulder to shoulder, trying to keep themselves warm as violent droplets of water hammer at every exposed surface has proved to be ripe for my entertainment.

The only sight more delightfully morose is the couple across me — physically together, but mentally elsewhere. Each is more gripped by the glow of their device than of each other’s. It’s a sad thing to be that close and not drink each other up.

In a time where digital connection stretches wide and blurs terrestrial boundaries, the human divide throbs stronger and grows more sinister. We have no one else to blame but ourselves in the inevitable demise of intimacy. The weather outside seems far less gloomy than the weather of this era. Our bodies create a generous home for our cracked reality, yet we let it waste away.

What good is a longer, healthier existence if we only spend it living vicariously through personas behind a screen? For what other purpose do these avatars serve than to escape unfulfilling worlds? Why do we willingly let ourselves spiral into these self-destructive follies? These are questions we allow to linger mid-air, never even bothering to look for the answers.

For L.

I know relationships are nebulous — they can uplift and defy gravy, or they can lead love-drunk sirens into the bog. I have drowned in the quagmire many a time. I have been saved by well-meaning, but tempestuous boys many times, too. But while they got me out, my body and mind didn’t leave.

The body never forgets. Pain creates a hypervigilance that manifests like frozen embers. You can never put a finger on what sensations are there, not really — they are low, hot trills that permeate the crevices of your skull, the valves of your heart. They tingle and then numb. They leave the body through the path carved along your spine and diffuse into the atmosphere — taking every bit of hope with it.

You are then left empty, as if there is no more of yourself to lose. You become a shell yet again. The hollow hums, then vibrates until it becomes unbearable. There is a burning need to fill the void with more bodies, more trinkets, more half-meant promises. I know all this. I feel all this.

It is not your fault. The world can be a ghastly place. And while people can heal you, they can also wound you. The closer you let them, the deeper the cut. You are in survival mode like your ancestors before you; like the ill-fated lovers of a bygone epoch. You have not much choice left except to fight, flee, or freeze — and right now, you are frozen still while the earth violently shifts below your feet. You can stay there and never again feel, or you can drag one foot in front of the other and heal.

You are allowed to feel weak, but you are not obliged to make yourself more palatable for the consumption of others. Allow yourself one more choice. A new way of living requires a painful awakening, releasing, unlearning. Allow yourself to soften and exist in the delicious place of the present. Allow yourself to feel small for a time until you suffocate under the weight of the narrow space, until you tire of the affliction of wasted time, that you force yourself free.

Let go of burdens heavier than your broken heart. Revisit decrepit tombstones to remember what you allowed to die in order to live. Revisit dusty shelves sagging with lessons drawn from all the places you have been.

When you give your weaknesses space to breathe, you allow the right people to see the fabric of your soul and where the threads are damaged or worn thin — to which they, at minimum, will do no further harm. Instead, they will ever so carefully start to weave their own threads in places where you are laid bare and bleeding. Some will depart, some will stay, but each will leave a masterpiece in their wake — a tapestry meant to drape on the shoulders of the willing and the worthy.

There is a magical life ahead of you. I pray that you live it.