No Love, you are not broken.
There is nothing to be fixed.
You are just beautiful in a way
most can’t understand.
But you don’t want most, do you.
You don’t need to be understood by someone
who can’t see the beauty in imperfection.
* by Shawna Erback
WARNING: Some of the content below is graphic…and very sad.
I thought it would be a memory by now, a horrific, tragic memory that happened two years ago…two years ago tonight at exactly 7:33 pm.
The accident, when my car collided into theirs…and they all died.
Most days it is a memory. Until I hear a loud crash and my body convulses, or an ambulance goes by and I can’t catch my breath, or at night, when I can’t sleep- trying to piece together how the hell I let everything get this bad- I see their contorted bodies, I see the blood…all of it, every detail.
Those days, it isn’t just a memory. It is what gutted me to the core. It’s what I fear made something snap, something I cannot fix.
I know I should be grateful. I lived. And I am. Of course, I am.
But then this day approaches, and I can’t help going back there, sitting on my knees,
…watching, pulling cold, wet blades of grass out of the ground. I watched the policeman approach the car to access the damage. I watched the fire department arrive and begin to cut them out of the car. I watched them put the boys on the stretchers and push them into the ambulance. I watched the ambulance drive away.
And there I am, here I am, trying to imagine what I could have done to prevent it. And I go there, the place I know I shouldn’t go.
Maybe if I’d just…
Run a little slower, showered a little longer, left the coffee shop a little earlier…faced going home to my empty apartment.
Maybe if I’d never moved to that wretched city, to be with him, someone I loved who did everything he could to destroy me.
Or maybe if I would have had enough strength to leave him the first time he left me, or the second or third…
Maybe if I’d stayed married to my sweet husband in our beautiful house with our precious puppy.
Or I’d stayed in Paris, never gotten married, never hurt my sweet husband or moved to that wretched city…
Where I ran too fast, showered too quickly, left later than I should have…to go back to an empty apartment where I knew he wouldn’t be, the one who almost destroyed me.
Maybe if I’d just…
You would all still be alive.
I know this does no good. I know it wasn’t my fault. They were reckless. They put so many lives at risk. And I know if it wasn’t me, it would have been someone else who might not have walked away. And I know this night won’t always haunt me, just like he can no longer hurt me.
And I know that, maybe, next year will be different, happier, and I’ll have finally put this all behind me.
I resisted posting this one, but it wouldn’t relent. So here goes…vulnerability in all its glory. A writer’s cross to bear, I suppose.
This is my surrender- an offering up of the thoughts that have been lodged in my chest, swirling around in my head and robbing me of sleep.
It’s time to let them go, to let him go.
In essence, this is the final spark, the one you see when the wick of a candle reaches its end, just before the flame is extinguished.
I’ll warn you in advance, there’s nothing revolutionary here. Just a girl, laying down her arms…with the hope of finding peace.
War & Peace
I woke up thinking about you.
Brushed my teeth,
Thought of you.
The cream settles in my coffee…
It never seems to stop,
This thinking of you.
For the light to filter through the blinds.
I wait, for you.
To open your eyes and whisper, boo.
You gravitate toward her, dimmed, craving light
Exposed, you retreat.
Love, truth…she is no place to hide.
That moment she realized,
she felt closer to him when he was 10,000 miles away.
You’re too colorful for those who live in black and white.
She loves more than she’ll ever get back.
…and still, she loves.
I woke up thinking about you.
Brushed my teeth,
Thought of you.
The cream settles in my coffee…
I wonder when this will stop,
This thinking of you.
You wanted a distraction, wild, beautiful,
But not to be kept.
You lost a treasure, rare, extraordinary,
Impossible to forget.
When he doesn’t ask you to stay,
…and you love yourself enough to walk away.
* all illustrations by Rebecca Dautremer
I’m admittedly sad this is my last day to share the words I love most. I want to thank my dear virtual friend, brandewijnwords again for the inspiration he always finds a way to elicit.
I’m of course breaking the rules, again. I couldn’t decide on one..so I picked five. There are just too many. (more of my favorites, visit @summoningmagic)
My response got a bit intense, but I guess I’m a little intense, so…
“There are no half measures in love, only all or nothing. And if it doesn’t make you tremble and go mad at the very thought of its absence, you should move on.”
~ Beau Taplin//Move on
“I understand now that I’m not a mess but a deeply feeling person in a messy world. I explain that now, when someone asks me why I cry so often, “For the same reason I laugh so often- because I’m paying attention.” ~ Glennon Doyle
“She loves deep and fast. With all of herself, or not one bit. She’ll give people all of her light, in turn struggle to understand when they don’t pay that back. She wants you to think she can’t be hurt, but truth is, she gets hurt easier than most. She is fierceness and tenderness, within the same breath. This is her beauty. In her total lack of in betweens.”
~ Carson Patrick Bowie
“I have this terrible urge to be reckless…and I am dreadfully frightened of becoming old and having no memories at all. And I know climbing forbidden fences is wrong, so I’ll stick to falling in love with the wrong people and falling off metaphorical trees. I am just dying to do something worth remembering. I suppose there is no logic, not really…only that if I bleed now, I’ll have a lifetime left to heal.” ~ Sue Zhao
“It is both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so very deeply.”
~ David Jones
I’m not sure where to go with these, other than to address the underlying theme- feeling…to a point that defies logic. It is, in fact, a blessing and a curse.
The blessing-when I feel love or joy or see something beautiful, it fills me up completely, every part of me. You can see it my eyes and hear it in my voice. I’ve been told it’s infectious, affecting, even altering the mood of those around me.
And this is exactly why it’s also a curse. When I’m hurt or sad or angry, I wear it like a cloak. It penetrates every part of me…as it does those around me.
It doesn’t last long. I can usually find ways to avoid getting caught in it…most of the time.
I wish it was something I could manage better. But I’ve always been like this. I’ve always seemed to get hurt easier than most and take on the pain of those around me. But this never stopped me. I risked it every time. I’d feel a connection with someone and immediately love them with everything I had. And I got hurt over and over again.
I get hurt, over and over again.
Except now, it has intensified. I was too reckless. I got hurt to the point that something shattered. And it still feels like there’s a gaping wound in the depths of what is now my foundation. I can’t see it, but I feel it, always.
Now, every time I feel something, good or bad, it grazes that part of me that’s now exposed. It’s become sensitive to the touch, so much so, almost everything brings me to tears.
So it’s not just when something hurts, but also when I see or feel something beautiful…a feeling I never thought I would experience again. But when it’s something painful, it immediately takes me back to that place, that time, when something shattered, and I’m afraid it really will take a lifetime to heal.
But what’s the alternative? I play it safe, detach myself, avoid the risk of getting hurt, even if there’s the chance that it could be something beautiful, that it could be magic?
I can’t. I won’t. I’ll keep trying, risking the fall, feeling everything.
Even if it means getting hurt, over and over again.
I wasn’t feeling it today. It’s grey out. I don’t do well with grey (except to fend off black and white).
So instead of writing, I committed to catching up on reading and stumbled upon Behind the Scenes by Brandewijn Words.
It wasn’t his generous words that got me (although beyond humbled by and grateful for them), it was his message. I realized it plays into the same theme as the two posts I read immediately before, and the book I’m currently reading, What is in the Way is the Way, and a documentary I just saw, Leaning into the Wind.
Apparently, there’s something I need to pay attention to.
The theme/s, more or less:
In BW’s words:
“…the way that the world grabs me sometimes. How it twists my perspective and I see it from a different angle… why it’s important to get on the ground, sometimes, and look at something from a completely different point of view.”
Andy Goldsworthy’s words: (Leaning into the Wind)
“There are two different ways of looking at the world. You can walk on the path, or you can walk through the hedge…step aside off the normal way of walking or looking.”
The Incurable Dreamer’s:
“Each step I took was with intent and an understanding that pain is what paints the sky with breath-taking beauty and ignites your soul in the grasp of darkness…even when your heart loves so deeply it threatens to destroy you, it is possible to feel blessed.”
Tom Being Tom’s:
“But if we can learn the lessons of our past and focus our attention in the present…we can build the tomorrow that we want, instead of the one that we fear.”
In short, it’s about perspective, about paying attention to what’s happening in the moment, being curious, leaning into the questions, and most importantly, the emotions behind them, especially the uncomfortable ones
It’s the very thing we stop doing as we get older. We know all too well the spaces that hurt. We’ve experienced the pain of loss, heartbreak, disappointment, rejection, and failure. And we’ve become masters of avoiding them, no matter the cost.
Yes, we survived it, but it changed us. It scared us. Why risk feeling that way again? Running, numbing, suppressing, avoiding: these all seem like the safer bet. So we stop taking risks, “stay on the path”, chalk it up to life is hard and spend our days either stuck in the past or praying that things will get better in the future. Or, we lose ourselves in trying to control and fix everything that’s wrong.
Life, its unfolding, loses its color…and turns to grey.
“Fear needs time to exist. It needs stories of past and future in order to get a foothold in your mind.” – Mary O’Malley
I see this happening all around me. I see this happening to (or with) me. I’m missing out on so much of the good that still exists, wasting what could be beautiful moments because I’m so focused on fixing the handful of things that are wrong,
But the pain is there to teach us, and the lessons will keep coming back until we learn them, increasing in intensity until running, numbing, and avoiding are no longer options if we’re going to survive.
The fucked up thing is these lessons stem from stories we made up based on beliefs we adopted when were tiny…based on fears we developed when we were tiny.
We run away from them, imagining the pain, shame, or anger will be too much to handle. But by doing so, we give them their power, letting them gain momentum and snowball into something so enormous, when it finally catches up with us, the blow is crushing.
Crushing, but not final.
“If we can learn the lessons of our past and focus our attention in the present…we can build the tomorrow that we want, instead of the one that we fear.” ~ Tom Cummings
The irony is we spend our entire lives trying to find happiness, experience joy and avoid pain. But it’s pain that amplifies our experience of happiness and joy. And neither joy nor happiness needs to be found. We always have access to them. We just get so focused on avoiding pain, we lose sight of them.
So what happens if we stop pushing pain away and invite it to stay instead? What if we just get curious about it, without berating or judging ourselves? Whether it comes from anger, shame, sadness, or fear, we simply ask where it’s coming from and why…and we listen.
What happens is we hear the same story we’ve heard for decades- the one we made up to try to understand the inexplicable when we were tiny…the one we play on repeat, that confirms our deepest fears.
If we’re not vigilant, if we don’t pay attention to our underlying agenda to play it safe and avoid the pain, the cycle continues: we get sucked back into the past, scared the future will hold more of the same…and we lose the moment.
So what if we try something different, change our perspective? Instead of doing whatever we normally do to escape it, we welcome it and give that tiny one the attention and compassion s/he has been screaming for?
I can’t answer that yet. My lesson, the one I thought I’d outrun, it caught me. And yes, the blow was crushing, the pain, excruciating. But there’s no more escaping it, and I’d rather not repeat. So, I’m leaning in.
You have my full attention.
I can say this, though: it isn’t screaming anymore. It still demands my attention, to be sure, but it has loosened its grip. It has also made it clear that I’m not in control. I don’t get to decide when or how, and there is no one clear path out of this. I just get to ask questions…and listen.
Oh, and the sun finally did come out, as it always does. But to be honest, the colors were more vivid before. I was just too focused on the grey to see them.
* Image by Ionus Caras
“When she turned to face it, she transformed it. Her biggest fear became her greatest strength.” ~ b.breazeale
In keeping with the theme this week, I’ll offer up a love story of sorts.
Okay, it’s not really a “love story”, in the traditional sense. But it is a story, and it does involve love.
In the romantic sense, love has proven itself to be a fickle companion. I’ve lost myself in it and also found myself. I’ve sworn it off completely, and then blindly plunged back in. I’ve felt it with a force as powerful as breath, and now find myself wondering if it even exists.
But I’m a romantic and seem to be incapable of giving up on it completely.
So Valentine’s Day. I admittedly get seduced by it all: a day dedicated solely to celebrating the person I love and being spoiled by the person who loves me. It’s a subject I believe worthy of its own holiday.
But I’m also acutely aware that this day can place loneliness and heartbreak at center stage, making the absence of the person we love as consuming as their presence used to be liberating.
That’s the side of it I was on, once again. There was no lover to spoil. And besides the sweet guy at the coffee shop, I wasn’t the object of anyone’s affection.
All to say, I expected to be in the same place I was last year: front and center.
I am, in fact, front and center, but not in the same place.
It feels more like equilibrium.
There was no huge revelation that occurred. I didn’t even realize anything had changed until the sweet boy at the coffee shop gave me a chocolate heart. It made me happy. And I didn’t want it to be from anyone else. And I was completely content with the fact that I had the whole day to myself. And there wasn’t anyone I was missing (not entirely true. I miss perhaps the true love of my life, my Biscuit, terribly but subject at hand.)
It seems I unknowingly declared a truce.
Despite the fact that I desperately wanted to move on, I kept looking back. I’ve recycled everything possible- memories, relationships, behaviors- all of which kept taking me back to the exact same place I was before…which was the last place I wanted to be.
This isn’t to say that my mind has completely stopped revisiting what’s lurking beneath the surface. But I finally understand its tactics. I can catch it now, reel it in and release what has clearly been sustaining my demons all along.
But there is admittedly one last relationship I’m trying to rekindle. It’s risky to be sure. It was extremely messy before and full-on destructive when we parted ways. But I really do believe it will be different this time.
I think she’s finally realized she had something special that she came really close to losing.