When someone sets you on fire, you learn very quickly who your real friends are.
From the second the flame touches your skin, there will be those that turn their backs. There will be those that stay to watch you burn but the moment you crumble into ash they will be gone. When someone sets you on fire, it is easy for some people to forget you. They will cremate the memories you made together on the pyre of your destruction. They will use false apologies to fan the flames. Others will bear witness to your destruction, and stand by you until your ashes cool. They will look through them, and pick up your tiny, fledgling body. They will see you, shivering, naked and broken, but they won’t abandon you. They will help you grow again.
It will be hard, at first, like all things. When you are used to soaring, learning to fly again can be frustrating. You will fall, over and over, and some days it will feel as though you will never feel the wind beneath your wings ever again. These days will be the hardest. You will sit, sobbing, grieving over the sensations that you thought would last forever. You will be angry at yourself for not trying to remember everything perfectly, so you could fall back into your imagination and feel better again. You will blame yourself, for being so naive to think that things could last forever. You will want to give up, because there’s no use even trying. Those who found you will never let you give up. Though you cannot always see it, you are growing stronger and stronger every single day. The day when you leap and begin to fly again will show you that it was all worth it. All the pain, all the disappointment, all the anger and sorrow will start to melt away from you, softly and slowly, like a second skin peeling away. Those who stood by you all this time will hold you, and remind you what they have been telling you all this time – you were reborn for a reason, and you deserve to live.
When you are used to soaring, learning to fly again can be frustrating
One day, you’ll be a beautiful, glowing phoenix again. It may take months, or years, but you will be complete once more. You will never be the same; you are resurrected, but at the cost of the person you once were. There is no going back – fire is cleansing but destructive. The only remainder of who you were before the blaze is the ashes you laid in, and the wind has blown them away now. Let it take them. You have no need to be that person anymore – they were destroyed and though it hurt, you will realise that the destruction is what has allowed you to become stronger. In the heat of the flames, your heart has been tempered. Your old self could not carry this new heart, you had to grow into it and get used to how heavy it is. Now that you have, you will not be able to imagine what having a heart that wasn’t forged in fire was like.
When you come back, people will notice that you’ve changed. Some will think for the better, some will think for the worse. Others will not recognise anything more than a change in the flick of your hair, the lilt of your voice. As for those who set you on fire, they will never forget what you have done. Let them see the flames in your eyes and remind them that you won’t, either.
As for those who set you on fire, they will never forget what you have done
This may happen again, maybe once, maybe twice, maybe scores of times. Those who helped you before will help you again. When you are set on fire, you find out very quickly who your real friends are. Each time will be just as painful as before, but each time will make your heart stronger and stronger until one day when you are set on fire, all anyone will be able to see is the white-hot shine of it. Every time you leave another slice of you behind, remind yourself that it is okay – whilst you may be losing part of yourself, it means that those who set you on fire will never possess a part of you, because it will be burned and any trace taken away by the wind. When you come back, look those people in the eye and smile. They were prepared for your death. They weren’t prepared for your resurrection.