There's no legend
on the map to healing.

You simply
fumble your way
through its winding corridors
until you learn to recognize
landmarks: when your lover holds you
and you realize it's been years
since you last flinched;
when your name sounds
less like a curse
and more like a caress;
when your silence thaws
and crystalline words
drip from your very pores.

But healing takes time.

This is not the race
against time.
This is not the race
against others' expectations
of where you "should" be.

After all, cycles were never meant
to be linear.
Like rain to runoff
to river to ocean
to thundercloud and back,
grief can reasonably
repeat itself.

Denial and anger
and bargain
and depression
often sing rounds
before acceptance brings
an end to the requiem,
allowing the birth
of a new song.

So when they ask you
why you haven't managed
to move past it yet,
remember you're an apprentice
learning to move with it;
and when they say
your past should not define you,
remember while it's true
that where you've been
isn't where you're going,
you're still the veteran
of your experiences,
a kaleidoscope
of trial and triumph—
or some days, trial and error—
and you need not leave behind
those parts of yourself
in order to remain
valid.

You will prevail.

But until then,
when you feel lost,
plot your landmarks
in cartographer's pen
so you can see
how truly far you've come.