|—||John Steinbeck (via andrewryanshepherd)|
I thought it would stop, the wondering and thinking. The loss of a boyfriend is so commonplace that the empathy extended to an unlucky recipient ends after a week, but the heart still feels off kilter. It’s been more than a year and I still think about him daily – I’m embarrassed to say. I thought it would stop since I don’t want us to get back together; since our issues were larger than the future we could have taken on as a pair.
But here I am, wide awake at a quarter to two in the morning on the second day of this new year and I’m thinking about how handsome I thought he was, how I was able to tell him the deepest darkest parts of my heart and how much I loved his kisses.
Women play this game of looking for wedding rings on new gentlemen’s left hands when we meet or imagining the dog we might get together with our alliterated named husband during our first year of marriage, but we sometimes forget about the gap that happens in our heart if it ends. You cannot take back the talks long into the night, the times he held you when you cried or the tender and passionate moments between the sheets.
Where does one go from here? The first few dates with new men are a letdown because they haven’t known you for a year and a half and cannot pick out a restaurant you’d love or order your favorite cocktail while you run to the restroom. All the “theys” out there say old flames fade with time and especially with the entrance of a new man on the scene, but time is just causing me to increasingly wonder if that broken, fractured and dysfunctional thing I called “love” is the last “love” I’ll ever find.
Thus, the miracle of discovering a life partner continues to both amaze and frighten me. 2.10 million people were married in 2010, and while many of them will end in divorce, logic tells me there will be another, a better another, a less dysfunctional another and hopefully a “forever” another. But I still ask – what happens with the other anothers? Does your heart forget?
My mother talking about her high school boyfriend and the breakup that followed 40 years after the fact tells me that a heart never forgets it’s gaps from a love that ended. I think my heart is not made to withstand lots of loves ending. C.S. Lewis says heartbreak is not worth closing off your heart, even if it never wants to experience the maceration of itself again. The light of day accompanied by the feeling of possibility tells me old Lewis is, predictably, correct.
It’s now 2 a.m. and I feel I have no choice but to spend this newest of years restraining bitterness, pursuing peace and forging hopefulness for new love.
For 10 solid years I clung to God out of some mix of anger, desperation, confusion, need and borderline psychosis. When that ended, I didn’t need to cling and I found myself busy with tasks - my melancholy, neurotic thoughts an arms length away. I discovered I don’t know how to relate to God in the mundane. Our long-term manic relationship was replaced with one so ordinary that the daily desperation of “will I make it to work on time” or “does she want to be my friend” were not strong enough to facilitate the erratic push and pull I was used to fueling my connection.
With these missing ques followed a life of minimal prayer and absent of biblical reading. Eyes open at church, I listen to the prayers but do not participate. I sing half the words of the worship songs, but my voice sounds hollow. Need is always present, but if it’s not landed me in a hospital or crying on my bedroom floor I don’t seem to notice it. I seem capable of caring for myself somewhat adequately apart from others, and I forget I have needs at all.
But sometimes in writing or listening to music I connect with this deeper me. Not the one who sips on a gin gimlet and touches strangers’ shoulders at bars- someone different. Someone who feels deeply. Who loves thoroughly. Who gives freely.
I’d like to find her again, and therefore find God again. Hopefully I’ve grown out of our dishes throwing, arms flailing, finger pointing relationship and into one worthy of an adult woman.
(photo via Ignite Light)
My physical therapist looked down at my knee, her fingers ardently placed on my leg just below my knee. “You’re going to have a beautiful scar,” she said. I smiled.
I remembered the girl in the waiting room of my doctor’s office a few weeks earlier, she’d had a “troublesome recovery” and her scar was oddly purple and sunken in along the line where her skin had been cut. She told me that when our doctor went to move her kneecap post surgery she reflexively hit her. Years of pain from dislocations made her protective of her knee, and the surgery did not suddenly shift her learned fears. But she seemed bubbly about her recovery, “8 months out” she told me proudly. No sign of dislocations, but she did not have a beautiful scar.
It wasn’t until a week later as I was walking along the sidewalk headed to catch the subway home late from work that I started saying the phrase over and over again in my head, “You’re going to have a beautiful scar, you’re going to have a beautiful scar, you’re going to have a beautiful scar.” Ashamed at my own emotions, I felt myself tearing up on the sidewalk, umbrella in hand, bags from work methodically hitting my side. Perhaps I’m too literary, too emotional, too deep. I told myself it was silly to cry, remembering what others had recited to me about being overly dramatic, being able to “feel everything.” But the power of that statement cut through me, right there on the sidewalk, whether I wanted privacy with my thoughts or not.
It is immature to think we’ll go through life without scars, but damn, I hope they are all beautiful.
photo via Flickr | Uncommonmuse
by Billy Collins
Once, two spoons in bed,
now tined forks
across a granite table
and the knives they have hired.
My friend is celebrating the 10 year anniversary of her mom’s death on the 15th of this month. In speaking with her about the weird and unpredictable nature of grief and how we each feel it, whether from death of a family member, relationship or dream, we came back to the idea of redemption. My human mind forgets that redemption is even an option in the midst of heartache. I assume loss is just loss, and we struggle to move on well. But redemption is one of God’s many ways of reminding us that our ability to see the good from the bad is so humanly limited. My friend lost her mom, but gained a renewed relationship with her brother and dad, a wonderful stepmom, a new need of support from her girlfriends and the opportunity to experience many things she probably would not have moved forward with if her mom was still alive. Practically, it still does not equate the loss in our minds because the emotions that surround loss are a different kind of cruel pain, but it does remind us that we are so uncreative in our ability to see past our pain.
This past weekend I celebrated my birthday, and in a much less dramatic way when compared to my friends’ experience with the loss of her mom, I experienced redemption. Ironically, we celebrated at a bar called The Dove, a symbol so meaningful to me that I’ve tattooed it on my body. My friend Steve insisted that the entire bar sing to me and I found myself surrounded by friends and family who told me throughout the night how much fun they were having and how loved I am. In such sharp contrast to last year, the redemption God has brought me through culminated in that night. A night where I felt wholly me, accepting of all I had and did not have to offer, and met with a room full of people who love me in a city I am still ecstatic to call home.
And then in another sense of irony, I read this morning that a friend from Dallas is having complications with her pregnancy. And as morbid as this sounds, I found myself excited for the redemption that I knew God would have through this experience. So while I pray for a miracle for them, more than anything I pray that this would be just another opportunity for God to take what looks like a heap of ashes and create something beautiful.
:: photo via Blue Algae Creative ::
ink on dead magnolia leaves.
is this “anthropomorphic fallacy”?
uhh, too much time down here.
I found out today that a co-worker of mine is getting a divorce just shy of the one year mark. He did everything right, the way we’re told to do marriage so it will last - date for a really long time, live together, and then decide to get married. I’ve always thought it made much more sense to rush into things a little. Without some desire to abandon reason, without passion - will you fight when it gets hard? Reason would tell you that two people are inherently selfish and inevitability hurt the one they love the most. Reason tells you few marriages last, and yours is in danger of becoming a statistic the minute you say “I do!” Will you have that initial passion to look back on? Sure, you need some time to see the person through trials and past the you have no flaws stage. Logic tells me the longer you date someone does not increase the chances a marriage will last. If anything, I wonder why a couple didn’t decide sooner.
A marriage lasts because two people face any white flags slowly changing to a shade of pink, in danger of becoming red while they are dating. It lasts because they have others around them who love and support the relationship. Sometimes people don’t support your relationship, either they need to put down their selfish swords of the dreams they had for your husband or wife, or you need to pay attention to them. A marriage lasts because someone cares about you so much, and that care turns into love ignited by passion, that they long to serve you. A marriage lasts because first and foremost, before physical chemistry and attraction, you can sit next to someone for days on end and get only minimally irritated with them. It lasts because when they bind themselves together with the convent of marriage they damn well plan to fight against anything that comes against that promise.
In my opinion, people get divorced because they ignored glaring red flags while they were dating, or they did not sign up for a fight. They signed up for the life they knew as a couple to continue forever, void of unseen trials. It’s not only a couple who signs up to fight for their marriage, it’s also the same people who stood with them on their wedding day. These people vowed to desperately help you sew back together a ripping cloth, not help you throw stones at each other.
A friend asked recently if I would do it again, date someone who was divorced, and I said yes. That it would still be very much a case by case scenario, but that divorce alone would not deter me. But it’s with a heart soaked with sadness, weighted down, that I think about the impact a divorce has on a broken couple. A heaviness I’ve witnessed, and sometimes still physically feel. I’m not the product of a broken family, but I had my own private window into the fallout.
I remember when I was dating my ex-boyfriend the thing I struggled with the most was that I felt like the perfect plan, the one best for everyone, would have been for him and his ex-wife to have worked it out and still be together. That was what I longed for for him as well. And in that scenario, I should have never existed.
It makes me deeply sad, it makes me fist shaking angry, but more than anything it makes me want to fight that much harder for my own when the time comes.
I came across something I wrote three or so years ago. Ironically, these feelings I wrote about are the reason I moved to New York.
I spent the last four days in New York City. I travel there often for work, but for the first time it felt the smallest bit like home. I’ve been there enough that I can navigate my way using the subway and meet a friend for drinks without looking helplessly lost and out of place. And oddly I always seem to run into a long lost friend - this last time was no different. The city radiates this feeling of independence. And I felt more mature and capable walking around there than I do driving in my sedan around the streets and highways of Dallas. The cherry blossoms were blooming, the air was cold enough to barley sting my legs but warm enough to keep a skirt on, and the city was alive as it always is - yet a bit dead as it always is too. But even in newness and action of New York I was confused.