Wearing White

I used to disappear on purpose. I’d lag back behind a crowd and wait to see how long it would take before he’d noticed I was gone. A few times I even ducked behind trees—and tried to blend into a landscape that was larger and more colorful than me.

When he’d make his way to the car, without hesitation, and without ever reaching for my hand, I’d pretend I lost him and act like nothing happened. Erasure is supposed to be subtle, but I watched myself disappear from his eyes piece by piece. My hands came first, my body last. I can’t remember when he no longer saw my tears, but I vividly recall the first day I no longer knew how to cry.

#99miles

#99miles

No one prepares you for the second time. It is always the first that holds our imaginations. Pure and magnificent, we are all masterminds of the dreams we pass on to our children.  We are the leading actors of an ideal we will mourn when they too, cannot capture it. And finally, we will scorn them for it.

But there is no road map for the return to love. Redefining happiness takes a million miles and it is certainly messy business. In the beginning you spend all your time trying to pretend you aren’t scarred, beaten, and exhausted. And the day after, you spend all your time trying to explain why.

But then he loves you anyway. And it is in this place where the confusion comes. And you stay here a very very long time.

And then he loves you anyway.

The place where it no longer matters who you once were is lonely, scary, and freeing. Even your friends can’t exist here with you because they’ll pull you back, remind you of the poison you consumed every day, and when they aren’t looking, they’ll remind you of the poison you gave out. And they’ll validate it.  It is for this reason most of us twitch, struggle, wiggle, and squirm ourselves into staying the same. It is for this reason we hide the wrinkles, camouflage the scars, and wipe away the blood until we are perfect again. And we are never told about how pure and magnificent we will be when the suffering stops.

I ordered my wedding dress yesterday without ever trying it on. I am uncertain how my thrice pregnant belly will look cloaked in off-white and beads, but I can’t bring myself to care, because it is too late for perfect. I no longer stay one place for long. There’s a million miles to travel now, and more suffering will surely begin tomorrow. But I no longer blend well into trees.

Instincts

You say I spend too much time dancing with ghosts…too far away to reach and too close to leave.If that is true, it is more a waltz then a tango…gentle, but shameless all same.

As I slide across a life I am beginning to love, I can’t help but feel his breath upon my skin. Mostly, I feel the breath glide past the tiny hairs on the back of my neck, and I can’t help but wonder if there is a difference between my instincts and this ghost. Instincts It seems to have a spirit all its own, and I think sometimes, I am too quick to name him.

He latches not onto me, but instead onto the circumstances that come with moving on. Some people call this doubt I suppose. I try not to be quick to name it and am thankful for the moments that are entirely mine when I trust what my heart is telling me.

The truth is that I carry him as a comfort because it is the only thing that is entirely mine. A reality born from the gasps I never let out and sealed in my own perception. There is comfort in knowing what happens next and so I am at risk of fulfilling my greatest expectations. Again. Always again.

The irony is that I have deep gratitude for this provocative dancing partner…for the love he gave me and for the love he stole back. For pushing me to my edge and for teaching me that even loyalty needs limits. But mostly, I am grateful for the dancing.

I used to think I was the kind of broken that was never going to heal. And there are sometimes that I still do. But I care less about the consequences because it seems to me that broken things let more light in. Sunlight can permeate my entire body, and it offers me a warmth that puts me to rest at night.

All along you’ve known my whole story. You are just now beginning to understand it. It’s all written here, and the words make far more sense than my voice. I could say to you, “if you’d only known me then,” and spend a million minutes painting the portraits of my past. But I smiled less and I am smarter now and if you listen closely, I’m inviting you to dance with me. In the sunlight, where everyone can see.

I’m moving closer everyday and I know that the ghost can’t hurt me anymore. The problem, my friend, is that you still can.

Culture of Me

Slowly, I am forgetting what it is like to hate and somehow, at the same time, realizing how closely connected to the pain I will somehow always remain.  My days come easily now, and it takes me less than 2 minutes to lay my head on my pillow, and fall instantly asleep. I seldom work to fill my time, but rather seek out the moments of stillness and comfortable silence.I haven’t stared out a window looking for a car to come home for over a year and a half. And even though I’ve always loved my children, I learned to love parenthood from a man who literally bounces off the giggles of the tiny people he calls his kids.

I have a man who cups my face in his hands at least 6 times a day and tells me he loves me. And when his hands fall from my face, he shows me he is telling the truth.His love is a generous dose of raw connectivity and tireless devotion. He’ll seek me out 24 times a day if he could, but he’ll fold my laundry and feed me in between.

And he loves my children as though they are his own.

He speaks in droves without saying a word, and when I grow confused, he hugs me the riddles. I understand his mind as clearly as his body, and I have yet to hide a feeling from him, even though I am finally quiet.

I haven’t seen my therapist in months, mostly because I know what he would say. These are the moments I worked for, and I no longer hold my breath in my mouth. There is an easiness to my life that I never imagined. In fact, I don’t think I even knew to want it.

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The Culture of Me

But somehow, I feel deep sadness and there are times I miss not knowing better. My sadness has its own culture, and it runs so deep, it lies in my genes, not in my memory–for that knows far better. I have so much to miss that my mind settles on nothing. Nothing at all. But I feel it, from a place I can’t touch.

There are the facts and there are the feelings, and I’m shocked at the lack of connectivity between the two. I should hate them all for leaving. Instead, I am sad for myself…I am scared for them…and I thankful for the ones who took their place.

The Code

I was born with two first names and one last, and this always confused me. Mandy was a child’s name, and my mother explained to me that one day…I could call myself Amanda. I never thought I would call myself Amanda.

My birth right was settled long before I came to bare it.  A destiny set forth by people I would barely know and some I would love long after they left me.  So it is with genes…the ones we inherit, the ones we spend a lifetime trying to squeeze out of.  Mandy came with a personality produced of steel.  I was made of energy, a vision of fire and ice; I could only be touched for a moment.

Except I was born for staying.  Just another girl in a long line of women who would love…be lied to…and stay.  Unknowingly, I spent my days wearing that badge proudly. I spent my nights screaming at him for it. My therapist says being stuck is usually about one of two things…love or loyalty. I am what happens when you love the wrong thing and are loyal to the pain.

I suppose my rhythm has a code to it. A code both predetermined and set in place each day of my life. There were certain rules that were not to be broken. So it is with life, each day we reinforce in ourselves that which we never chose in the first place.

Except I find myself now, with two first names and no last.  And I can’t help but remember the moment, just seconds before my wedding, when sheer panic filled my body at the thought of changing my last name.  I was a Hill…and too much like my father to know better. My new last name came with a family who hated me before they met me. I wasn’t ready to give up the only name that ever felt like home. It felt like me…Mandy, Amanda…it made no difference. 

My divorce was final in July, and I’m now left with a name that never really felt right. I belong to people who never cared to know me. And my old last name belongs to people who knew me and left. And so I have two first names and no last.  I spend my life trying to find words to describe how that feels. And I know that by doing that, I’m half living and half dying. Because life is lived forwards and understood backwards. I’m caught trying to do both and am barely moving.

Renaming the past means you leave something out…a forgotten detail, a lie that becomes the truth. A story retold is but fragments of what really happened. Of what was really felt. Its laughter without the pain it covers.  Mandy was good at laughing, and too many people made me pay for it.

Renaming the present means changing the code. It means I squirm inside each time you describe me with the old script. Please forgive me for changing. Amanda is good at crying and too many people make me pay for it.

So for now, I guess I have two first names and no last.

Speed of Light

Silence is the enemy of my heart by Amanda CarrierThis is the vision I return to most often, when thinking of my daughter.  It used to make me so happy. Hair blown back, not from the wind, but from her movement…her energy dispersed into a world willing to harbor it.

My middle daughter lives most often on the outside of things. Boundaries, for her, exist only as speed bumps…things skidded across, without the slightest realization that they were there to slow her down.

I spend my time balancing the difference between protecting her from this world…pushing her back inside that proverbial box, and turning my mind’s eye from the inevitable wreckage that comes from the realization that this world doesn’t tend well to those that ignore the limits. It’s a process of course, and I am standing witness to the heartbreak of a girl who keeps being left aside. The world is pushing back, and she doesn’t even know it yet.

I can’t stop the lessons, and I can’t seem to find a comfortable place between the men who leave and the ones who want to stay.  I’m too busy letting everyone down, standing confused inside that box that she hasn’t even noticed.  I’ve spent a lot of time lately standing still, convinced that taking my time meant making the right choices.  I hear lots of voices, and they are all asking different questions. When I finally answer, it is seldom with the right voice.

And yet here is my daughter, skipping through this life and tasting all of it.  Moving at the speed of light, because the wind isn’t fast enough. Tears of loneliness erased quickly by the laughter of a well placed joke.  She can scream in pain and dance in the rain within seconds of each other. She is here and there all at once.  She is everywhere always.

I should follow her lead.

Falling From It

I heard once that wisdom always comes in silence. And So I’ve spent the last year of my life trying desperately to keep my mouth shut, waiting patiently for the moment this would all make sense. I’m beginning to hear the silence deliver messages to me, and for the first time, I’m starting to hear them clearly.

What is most ironic about this journey is that it keeps unfolding before me. Each lesson learned unravels a new piece of me previously unknown to myself. It turns out my soul lasts forever and runs deep inside itself. I keep traveling into it, cautiously discovering pieces of me unique and unseen.

As I travel, the whispers of my past get lost in the melody of my future, and sometimes I can’t determine which direction to turn my ear.  Silence is tricky like this, a deafening stillness that begs for concentration.  It is everywhere and no where all at once.

And now, the words fall from me mostly…pour from my skin and this brain with utter indifference to the lies I told myself for years.  This must be the wisdom and I’ve come to understand that if I am going to forgive him, I must tell the truth about what really happened. The words can’t just be inside me anymore, they must fall from me so that I can fall from it.  It’s buried so deep, even I can’t always find it.  Buried beneath a treasure of smiles where laughter erased the pain.  Now I fall silent, and catch a glimpse of how scared I really was.

He used to spend a lot of time hitting walls. And i spent a lot of time thankful that it wasn’t my face.  Except with each falling piece of drywall, fell my trust.  Shattered to the core, I knew there was no boundary he wouldn’t cross.  Nothing he wouldn’t say, nothing he wouldn’t do. He destroyed the trusting part of me–bent it till it broke and named me responsible for each piece that laid in the wreckage.

Where is the silence in that?

Where is the wisdom?

Gravity is a Pebble on a Beach

There must be a moment, right before death, that you relax and give in to the inevitable.  I imagine this most with drowning.  The body, immersed in that which gives life, violently opposes it. Your legs must kick desperately, and your toes must point toward the ground, searching fruitlessly for something to stand upon.  Your arms, reach upward, grasping for air it cannot harbor.  And then the calm must come.

Lately, I’ve been tripped up with gravity and my need for it. The weight of it is only opposed by water.  There is something magnificent about the pressure that pulls us to shore, that unopposable force that ties us to who we are and what we need.  But what if the truth floats more within the water than it does amidst the pebbles on the beach?

Is gravity the devils advocate, the noose around my neck…or my safety, my oxygen.  Does my body search for the ground beneath me out of habit, necessity, or trickery. I don’t think I know yet.

Saying goodbye feels  a little like the water.  Perhaps not leaving the shore.  The violent opposal of the inevitable is exhausting.  Kicking, screaming, aching…I tried everything to find a ground to stand upon. Staying felt more like seeking gravity…leaving felt alive.  No one understands this and I feel tricked.