When I was a kid, right around the time I started to get really lanky, I started getting these aches that kept me up at night — inexplicable bone-deep pain in my shins and knees that made me feel so delicate and fragile. I was probably 8 years old.
It’s one of my clearest memories of feeling my mother’s real empathy; I remember her sitting with me on my bed, rubbing my legs and hips and feet, telling me about growing pains. It struck me then — and still fills me now — as the marking of a kind of right of passage: proof I was growing into who I’d become someday.
Growing pains never really stop, I’ve realized. It still feels bone-deep, and it still aches in the night, making the dark feel darker and the cold more metallic. It sits in your belly and pushes something big inside you to the surface, and in the process can sorta make you feel like you’re going to vomit. It’s just as raw and vulnerable, but when you’re grown-up, no one’s usually around to rub you where it hurts and empathize with how hard it is to ache from the inside out as you’re becoming who you’re meant to be, taking up the space you’re supposed to take up.
But I believe this is right and good, and if you’re hurting in the core of you, dazed and aching and wondering how exactly it’s possible for a pain to feel like it’s coming so exactly from your middle, I hope you know you’re doing something right. I hope you’ll let yourself stretch into all the uncomfortable awkwardness of your becoming so that you can know yourself truly as a creature resurrecting itself, again and again.