Reputation Is Delicate

Years of building a reputation I could be proud of gone in a blink of an eye. Mistakes were made, trust placed in the wrong hands. My life went up in flames. I stood frozen as I watched the world around me burn. The pen is mightier than the sword, but the tongue demolishes them both. What a powerful weapon we all hold, yet we wield it so carelessly. My good name, now tarnished by their gossip and lies.

Smoke filled my lungs, scorching my airways as it went. I had made a mess for myself. I trusted too much, too quickly and I got hurt. I told myself never would I trust again.

I had unknowingly given them fuel for the fire. The flames grew exponentially. It burned so hot, hurting those closest to me. I sat in the silence and felt the flames lick at my skin. Life would never be the same. 

I had never felt so unlovable as I did sitting on the ash laden ground. Anxiety built up inside of me as I wondered how I could change the fate of those in the path of destruction. I had hurt so many on accident. 

Ashamed I ran and hid among the rubble. Soot covered me, it was a constant reminder of the consequences of my actions. No one would love me. No one would trust me again. I cried, hopeless. Whatever trust I had left in people was gone. There was nothing left. 

I looked out from my hiding place at the mass destruction. This place was once filled with laughter, joy, and hope. Now it stood desolate. 

I left my hideaway and explored the rubble. Each place held a memory, some made me smile, some left a stabbing pain in my heart. 

Only remnants of the poor excuse of a wall I had built remained. 

I knew I needed to rebuild this town. It needed to be bigger and better. And this time I wouldn’t let anyone touch it. With a new determination I gathered my supplies and began rebuilding the wall. I wiped my tears with my singed sleeve and continued laying brick on top of brick. This wall would be thicker, higher, sturdier than the one before. I worked tirelessly for months. 

Exhausted, I stood back and looked at my work. The walls now taller than the trees and thicker than a 4 lane highway. I could hear their voices, those on the other side, slandering my name. Trying to get through. Beating their tools against the wall. They had disappeared after the fire, they had gotten what they wanted, only to return to cause more damage. I ignored them and went back to rebuilding this once beautiful city. 

As I worked long hours their chants became background noise that no longer phased me. I happily worked rebuilding structures and watching as new life began to spring up from the thick layer of ash; greener and more vibrant than before. I could picture a simple life here. I held onto that dream as I worked.

I stopped in my tracks. A voice was close, it wasn’t muffled by the bricks….it was inside the walls. How is that possible? How did they get through the wall? I ran to the nearest pile of debris and hid. I scanned the fence line. Heart racing. Flashbacks of the terrible fire replaying in my mind. I spotted it, a gap in the wall. But no person was insight. The voice repeated “Hello?” 

I heard a sound, footsteps walking amongst the rubble nearby. I peaked out of the shadows to see a tall figure walking towards me. He caught sight of me peering over the charred remains of what once was a house. 

His piercing brown eyes held me captive as he made his way over to me. 

Kneeling down to my level he asked if I was alright, he mustn’t know I was the cause of this disaster, for surely he would not want to get too close. I did not respond. He helped me up, and a surprising calm washed over me. This stranger brought a sense of comfort to me. I felt safe in his presence. He brushed the ash off my face. I did not know what came over me, but something deep inside wanted to tell this man everything, the mistakes I had made, the fact that I was the reason we stood in a path of ash and embers. This stranger had taken the time and energy to break through my walls. But why?

His eyes stared into my soul, yet I was not frightened. I held his intense gaze with my own, willing him to read my soul like a book. I wanted him to see everything, even the secrets I’ve had locked up for years, I unlocked them and welcomed him to explore. I bared my soul to this man I barely knew. He did not flinch. Instead he wrapped me up in his arms and held me close to his chest. The world outside his arms no longer existed. It was just us. He held me quietly as my broken pieces slowly fit back together. He didn’t see the mess of a person that everyone else saw, he saw me for everything I was and wasn’t…..And he loved me more for it.   

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.” ~ Brene Brown

“My reputation’s never been worse, so you must like me for me.” ~ Taylor Swift

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