I finally know — really know with every cell of my body — that I’m okay, that I will be okay, that the pain of falling, crashing and being shattered will dissipate and fade, that I will learn to love myself again… fully… with my whole heart, instead of just the sliver I allowed myself before. I see now that I was defensive, quick to explain and justify, to compromise, to acquiesce… wanting to hide anything I thought you might not approve of. I wanted to be loved, to be included, to be invited, but I didn’t fully love, include, or invite myself. I wasn’t breathing deeply and my feet weren’t connected to the ground. Like a black cloth on a sunny day, I soaked up the fear and anger you projected. I was penetrable. Vulnerable. Unboundaried. I believed the fear and anger were mine, even though they were as foreign to me as a third and fourth arm. I believed that I had forgotten how to be with people, how to be whole, how to hold a friend in the light. And in that state of instability, I wanted your bravado, your energy, your seeming sureness to refresh me, to give me strength and encouragement to be how I wanted to be. I wanted your love to coat me in resolve, in knowledge, in grace. But it didn’t. It brought me down. Brought us both down. Because it wasn’t real. It was a mask you use to cover over your insecurities, a way of hiding from yourself, a way of shifting responsibility for your unhappiness onto others. Rupi Kaur says, “How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you.” And so, I’m learning to love myself fully, unconditionally and with a soft gentleness that both rocks me to sleep and ignites the wildest fires!

— heidi kalyani, 2017 
from the *nothing is black and white* project: illustration created out of meditation with a single unbroken line