The bomb came just under 3 years ago. I avoided most of the blast as the explosion was spread across two continents, linked only by Skype and a grainy, pixelated image of the bomber who hopefully had an equally grainy image of me as I cried snot and tears over a 2 hour conversation.
So I retreated. I ran down the corridors of normality, skidded around the bends of social interaction and pelted into the panic room that was my shelter from human frailty. I slammed the door, to try and avoid any more fallouts that may occur, double locking the blast proof steel and wearing the key on a chain around my neck that was so heavy it gave me spinal issues.
I had everything a reclusive survivor could want. Books, games and a TV, lots of food. I had access to a gym, to training. I had money. I had big, warm blankets to hide under and wallow in my grief, safe from the dangerous and cold, outside world that could only cause me pain and further heart break.
I worked to support my shelter. I ventured out in all weathers just as far as I needed to, tending those parts of my soul that demanded food and water and the occasional luxury. I froze in winter, I sweated in summer. I returned to my shelter exhausted and tore off my protective clothing, laying down on my blankets of oblivion, exhausted but grateful to be so tired that I temporarily forgot my reason for being in the shelter in the first place.
I lived in this shelter for nearly 3 years. Then one day I awoke, struggling to push the many blankets to one side and saw myself, another version of me, standing looking at me. This version was what I could have been, if I hadn't stayed in the shelter. He was in better shape than me, his skin shone with health and his eyes glowed with a love of life. He looked at me and said:
"This has served its purpose. There is no reason now for you to be here. You don't like to be called a coward but that's exactly what you are being right now. You refuse to risk being hurt again but the price you pay is isolation, loneliness and boredom. Life is happening beyond your shelter. Fallouts are possible, but they only kill you if you let them. You have so much to offer life. Don't keep it back through fear of failure or grief. Give all you can."
The other version of me then vanished slowly, fading away and smiling that lopsided grin I sometimes did when I was feeling super confident.
I tip toed up to the blast door of my shelter and took the key from around my neck. The pain in my back eased some and as I turned the key and the door slowly creaked open I expected to be blinded by flooding rays of daylight. Instead, outside looked exactly as I remembered it. Now though, it wasn't a place of bitterness or fear. It held possibilities.
The fallout that led me to the shelter wasn't life punishing me.
It was life showing me that I needed to learn humility.