The Broken Thing

I have a beautiful son.  He is not handsome, dominant, or masculine. He is simply, beautiful.  Unlike his younger sisters, who unharness their energy for the whole world to consume, his is an energy that lingers. I sense it around me at all times, but I cannot name it. Like a ghost lurking in the shadows, he is more of this world than in it.

He asks me a million questions, and yet is never tiresome. When he speaks, he finds some part of my body to softly stroke with his fingertips—the inner part of my wrist, or the tips of my hair.  Even though he stands nearly five feet tall, he finds it impossible to discuss his day without climbing onto my lap. In our quietest moments, he still calls me mama. For now.to my son

It seems unfathomable that this lanky little boy already knows so much about loss. Divorce teaches this at an alarming rate. And no one prepares you for the longevity of the pain. He is caught now, in two worlds—the longing for the old, with the ease of the new. He loves two fathers, and he doesn’t want to choose.

I do my best to not make him.  As I understand, better than anyone, the ability to reside firmly in two different places all at once. I catch myself struggling to teach my son the nuances of love, loyalty, fidelity, and marriage, while proving that his parents had none of these things. It is remarkable how quickly we forget, that when we fail ourselves, we have already failed our children. Worse yet, the spoils of divorce go to no one. This small creature does not care who lied versus who left. There are no awards given to those who kept their heads high—I lie in the same ruins as he does. As we all do.

The second time was supposed to mend all the broken promises—a showcase for what should have been.  I can see he is paying attention. He likes to dance in my living room and pretend he has big muscles.  Two opposing parts of him, living in unison. He is developing a sense of who he is, who he wants to be.

And more and more, he is asking more of me. Last night, amidst homework, a basketball game, and those lingering fingers, he mourned the family he no longer has. And as I sat there listening, able, for the first time, to hold back my own tears, I apologized for something I am not sorry for. Someday, I want him to seek happy with the same ferocity as his Monday evening dance moves. I want him to by loyal to himself before anyone else. Sometimes, leaving is the kindest gift you can give yourself.

No one prepares you for the moment you are held accountable for your choices—even if at the time, it didn’t feel like a choice at all.  But it occurs to me now, hours after I watched those tears fall quickly from his face, that I still have choices. Forgiving the past that lead me here, gives my children the opportunity to have their family again—even if it is a whole lot bigger. We control the meaning of the words we use to define ourselves, and remembering where we came from; will make the place we someday reside, all the more fulfilling.

Ties the Bind

www.wellhappypeople.comI spent a lifetime preparing for the moments that waited ahead of me. Years of school predetermined my college graduation and I accepted my diploma with the same smile that cashed my first real paycheck.

Next would come my second true love and my first marriage would precede the birth of my first child by exactly 10 months. Nothing was out of order, everything neatly arranged.

I was so good at following directions; I don’t even remember questioning them.

But I don’t think you can prepare for sudden impact. It usually comes from nowhere. A car sliding towards you at the speed of light. A lie holding so many razor blades, it will take years to pick out the debris.

They say the only way to survive trauma is to roll with it. Let your body succumb to the impact, the punctures, the tears, the blunt force of it all. If this is true, it is because there are always two injuries happening at once—the impact and the way your insides respond. There must be a centripetal force to keep it all moving, ensuring your body will follow the desired path. Sometimes its denial, other times the responsibility you have to everyone around you. Stay the desired course…do not heed the warnings. Oddly, the worse it is, the more drawn your body is to the madness.  Battles raging inside us leave our minds impelled towards disaster. A self-fulfilling prophecy, we seek that which we are running from.

But there is courage in truth. The ability to listen quietly to the assault ravaging you, changing you. I’m not sure we promised God to rot in the debris of their lives. Somewhere inside, I believe he wishes us well. I suppose I need to believe he wishes us well.

For my muscles have memories, and they twitch at the sound of betrayal. And when hers was revealed to you, I mourned the loss of the trusting part of you. For he is gone forever. Lost to choices you never got to make.

But I’ve learned a few things from loss, and I’ve found the beauty in it.  For we didn’t leave because they cheated, and we didn’t leave because they lied. We left because we listened. And we learned without knowing, that it is always the letting go that saves us.

The beauty is that letting go works both ways. It releases and it binds–ties the two of us together so tightly, our muscles carry the same memory.  And even as our bodies stir as those forces keep trying to nudge us back inside the pain. We must remember to be quiet and listen.

So lie still with me awhile and lets let it all settle. Hold me tightly until the vibrations still. And know that when we finally decide to move again, the ripples will be entirely ours.

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 Song of the Lark

There are always two stories to tell, the wreckage and the repair. And the difference between the two can be so small, they are actually told with the same words.

I’ve spent a year searching for the words that describe my journey out, or perhaps my journey in…to a life I could actually call my own. I’d spent a decade of my life so angry and so lost, that I knew I needed to be still and slowly sift through the anger that fed my ability to stay.  When I lost the anger, the path unfolded before me. My walk was slow, and I gathered many treasures along the way. But I listened, learned to love, and was loved, for the very first time.

But searching for the words to define the difference between the pain and the recovery is like peering into a mirror and expecting the image you see there to be somehow more beautiful than the object of its reflection. It isn’t. Because as I keep looking inside, I begin to see the wreckage that lies beneath the surface. And slowly it begins to stir.  That anger…deep inside me. The only thing that kept me alive for 10 years, hungry as hell. Like truth, it wills to be known.

The Song of the LarkI was searching for a box sturdy enough to store all that happened. And when I couldn’t find one, I built one myself–out of my own responsibility. And with each nail I pounded, I kept remembering more. And that anger, that perfect, honest, destroyable anger…it kept stirring.

I was searching for a forgiveness pure enough to harbor the hate even while I remembered to forgive myself. I spent a lot of time taking deep breaths, turning my attention away from the rumors I just couldn’t fight anymore. I kept asking myself the question, “what does it really matter anyway?”

I was searching for a story patient enough to have a happy ending.  Where he could lie, I could leave, and we could remember that there was a day where we loved each other.  But there wasn’t.

And so the journey out is as full of destruction as the journey in.  And when I see them, the wreckage tells the story. The past comes screaming out of me with such fury that it cannot be controlled.  These are words of course, and they are carried by the momentum of his actions. They’d be strong enough to start a war, except the war began the first day he lied away their relationship. I’ve been fighting it so long, I can’t remember if I’ve even won a battle. And so I ask myself the question, “what does it really matter anyway?”

Because just when I thought I’d be fighting this forever, they went and ended it. This entire blog has been about boundaries, about me sitting in the middle of two worlds so paralyzed from past mistakes and future fears that I could only gaze up and out of the valley that became my home. I never would have imagined, it would be them that would release me.

I thought I would hate him forever, but the night he laid his hands on me, pulsating from rage and his own wreckage, released the final story.  They think I need to win. But I am too busy loving the loss. They think they beat me up, they forgot they did that two years ago.

You can step over my bruised body a thousand times. You can hit my face until it bleeds. You can brag in this town until one person finds the stupidity to believe you. But you will not write my story. Not with your fists, your lies and your own pain. It is mine.  All mine.

And so when you said I deserved it, you gave me the words.  There are always two stories to be told, the wreckage and the repair. And the difference between the two can be so small, they are actually told with the same word.

The word I’ve searched for with bed sheets clenched in my fists of rage.

The word I’ve searched for when I chose to be silent instead.

The word I’ve searched for when I couldn’t prove your lies.

The word I’ve searched for when you begged for my return, even as she waited for yours.

The word I’ve searched for each time you told me no one loved me.

The word I’ve searched for each time you called an ex girlfriend or never came home.

The word I’ve searched for each time drywall fell from your fists.

The word I’ve searched for each time you recreated my life in your own vision.

The word I needed the first time you lied, the first time you cheated, the first time you threw me, the first time you loved me, the last time…the last time…the last time.

Goodbye.

The Road

It’s gray outside, and I’ve spent the day watching the sun struggling to give its final adieu to 2010.  Like an old friend you don’t want to watch leave, the sun keeps peeking through the clouds, even as it sets.

This year, unlike any before it, has been a complete story.  A beginning that hinted at its end.  With each passing day, I could no longer ignore the signs that my life, whether I liked it or not, was changing.  I couldn’t tilt the earth off its axis, make him love me as I needed, or say goodbye without the lingering feeling that I just might love him forever.

But 2010 taught me something else as well. The life you save, may be your own.  It was the first week in January that I admitted to my therapist I had but one fear.  What if, while I work to save my marriage, I end up discovering that it isn’t worth saving.  Nodding, he replied with 2 sentences:

1.  First you figure out where you are going.

2. Then you figure out who with.

Each passing month predicted the same outcome.  I was going to leave, and he was going to make me.  Once I made my final decision, he was going to stand in opposition for the first time in months.  Living life in reverse…it is easier to beg forgiveness than it is to ask permission.

But by that time, 7 months after I began paving the road I would some day walk upon, I knew it wouldn’t be his hand I held on my journey.  He had taught me to walk alone, taught me to love myself more than him, taught me to trust my instincts.  With each brick I laid at my feet, it became more and more possible that I wasn’t going to love him forever. And perhaps, if I must really tell the truth…it had been many moons since I had really loved him at all. We teach people how to treat us. And he had taught me that loving him was like mixing a unique batch of poison inside of yourself.  The mixture would both mesmerize and intoxicate you.  If you loved too long, it would kill you.

2011 is here in just a few hours, and I am not dead.  I’m busy picking up all those broken tiny pieces and seeing what I can create from them.  A new me? An old me? A little of both?  This time, I don’t think I will use so much glue.  I think maybe I’ll simply keep them stashed away in a transparent vase filled with water.  Where they can move and dance, swirl and dip with each bump in the road.  I’m still laying bricks…but I have a new hand to hold.  And for the first time it is leading me down the road I’ve already paved.

The Ebb and Flow

What mesmerizes me most about a child, is his unnerving ability to trust the world around him.  The body and the mind, both committed in the same way…urging a spirit towards that which captivates it.  I wonder when this changes? I wonder most what makes us change?

Lately, my body feels like a child and my mind like a sad, beaten up old woman, whose wrinkles stand the test of time, even as they paint her face in ugliness.  There is a fight happening inside of me.  A child’s passion standing guard against a broken heart.

Part of me is waiting for one of them to give in, and the other patient in understanding this battle could last the test of time.  Perhaps it is in my nature to ponder the questions so completely that they become who I am…not the answers, but the puzzle.

Sometimes, while seeking the answers, I find myself searching for maps…my fingers following the routes, roads, and tributaries that lead me to where I am supposed to feel nothing…but instead, I get stuck inside a mural, living this life whose ebb and flow never quite lead me astray.  Instead I float down rivers, my body relaxed…waiting for the next rapid to beat and bruise me.  Silence is the enemy of my heart.

Is it possible that this body is ready to twist and turn along with the tide…unharmed, past the next rapid? Am I now, perhaps, finally equipped to bounce and slide right on past?

To answer this final question, I can’t help but get tripped up on what it means to love and what it means to hate. I am struck by how similar these too emotions are.  Struck more by the variance of subtleties that lie inside them both.  It is a tricky notion to say I love you…and a flippant one to clench your hands in anger.  Both fueled with passion, only one in fear.

I am questioning the difference between love and loving. One merely exists…while the other lives.  The place they occupy confuses me, and I”m searching to articulate the difference.

But one thing is for certain…I love one man, while I’m busy loving another.

Vows

And so I place one foot in front of the other…less deliberately than I did before. The path is finally cleared, and I no longer walk backwards.  It’s coming easier now.

The final words that I ever spoke to him, linger in my head…but they aren’t in my heart anymore.

“I hope she is worth everything you just lost.”

I think I am most surprised by the fact that I don’t care about his answer.  My breaths come easier now…and as I look around at this world. I’m struck by its beauty.  My body feels full of life as my lips have nothing left to say.  I am both empty and full all at once.   As I relinquish the final pieces of anger, I also say goodbye to the poison that I called love.  And I make a promise to myself…I will never confuse the two again.

I’ve come to discover, there is a rhythm to this all.  The passing of time has a melody…and the sorrow and the happiness spin from the same chorus.  This is, in fact, the life I chose. And it is painful and joyful always and forever. 

The lessons that hide behind the circumstances are both fruitful and relentless.  And they will keep coming.  But for just a moment, I will linger on the best lesson of all…That the vows I promised him were never more important than the vows I promised myself.

 

 

The Newest Season

The moment there is nothing more to say is its own season.  It lasts less than a second, but fills my entire body with longing, regret, anger, and remorse. I find it most confusing that I didn’t see it coming. In the way a falling leaf articulates the coming of fall, only the calendar spoke of the end drawing near. And it wasn’t enough.

This moment chokes me, and strangles every piece of strength I have left.  It twists my heart up and sucks on its pulp.  I feel light and heavy all at once.  The lightness just a symptom of the numbness in my body. I float on air, and then have a thought.

This moment…the one I’ve feared, ignored, dismissed…gives way to something entirely different.  Hope.

The dictionary says hope is the belief in a positive outcome. I think it is more than that.  Hope for me, is the air.  I do not need to verify it…it is faith and love, movement and silence. It is the place my future redeems my past. It is honest and the most truthful apology to ever leave his lips. It’s the moment he admits he destroyed me, and the moment he agrees he did so on purpose.  I am closer now to this hope..a new season, a new beginning.

If I am hanging on by threads, then they are made of silk.  My body wraps up in them, tangled to my core.  And though I find myself teetering helplessly, it is enough to sustain my weight, and I will not fall.If I am hanging by threads, than they are made of Silk.

And while I hang here, I offer you my soul.  I beg you to unravel me, to peek inside and see what you find. I can promise things you only have ever heard of, and I can sustain love even while I ponder horror.  I ask you to walk tenderly, to touch softly…I have pieces made of glass, and others as round as the sun. It’s up to you to discover the difference.

The wonderment of pain, I suppose, is its ability to heal.  And so I take a deep breath, watch the moment pass, and revel in the newest season.  Please come with me, I am going to need your help.

Forever Young

May you grow up to be righteous,
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you.

It felt like it would be the last time he held me. And as I focused on how that felt, I was struck by the stiffness in my arms.  They couldn’t find that familiar place~ the place they always rested during an apology.  They would lie lightly at first, afraid to touch too deeply. But as he squeezed tighter, I would latch on again…let out a deep breath, and all would fall away.

That didn’t happen this time.  I didn’t want to touch him. I know how his body can pull things from me, convince me to believe, turn me into dough.  And since I can’t go back, I must find new places on his body to touch…nothing familiar. I found a hip bone…and I rested there awhile.

May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong

But he squeezed tighter still. He knows me and he’s relying upon that knowledge…but I have changed.  Every time he pulled me a little closer, those breaths came out.  And so did the sobs.  Finally. My dreams came feverishly now, the ones I’ve always had and must free.  The ones that confuse me and trick me to stay.  Say goodbye.  The sobs were growing, taking over the silence, and at times I actually gasped for breath. I didn’t want them to stop.  I wanted the tears to fill the bedroom and wash away the lies, the past.  And those dreams…take them too.

May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift

And without a warning, his sobs came last.  Mine and his together, the only thing left to be shared.  The sobs danced with each other, slowly sifting the songs of a dream that never quite came true.

May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung
May you stay forever young



Down comes the rain

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I’m still suspended here, quietly waiting for the sadness to come. It usually comes in small pieces and this confuses me.

Years ago, I would sob violently in moments such as these. Always on my bed, one hand clenching my comforter, and the other in a fist…pounding the bed beneath me. The salty taste of my tears would fill my mouth and my ears, staining the pillow with mascara.  I could have wiped the tears away, but doing so would require releasing that comforter…the only thing left to hold on to. There I lied, all night…drifting in and out sleep. Riding a hazy dream that was never certain if it was beginning or ending. It was always there and never there at the same time.

These moments seem quieter and much shorter. I focus on letting them come.  I am comfortable with the violence of these tears. The pain they wash away. But I can’t seem to cry.  My sobs trip on that breath.  I try to free them, but they can’t seem to come.  They take 2 seconds, and then let me rest.

I don’t know what this means, but I think there is a lie here somewhere. Deep inside me, still haunting this body. Not ready to be released.

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