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 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.

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.

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.

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?

All the Tiny Little Pieces

The moment I return to most often, is the moment he told me “it’s too late.” The finality that exists in those words is numbing.  Mostly, I remember how the bottom half of my body felt.  My legs went 3 shades of numb…first the tingle, then the burn, finally the numbness.  I remember looking down…staring at the concrete floor my feet rested upon.  I don’t think I realized I couldn’t feel them.

When I looked up, he wasn’t looking at me…he was staring where he always stared…out in the distance I humorously refer to as “Kellyland.” I believed somewhere out in that cold distance, she waited for him. He wanted to go there, but I wasn’t ready to let him.

Just like now, he couldn’t admit how deeply he wanted to leave, and i was OK with letting him lie.  I asked 3 times what I could do to make him love me again. When he said it was too late, I didn’t believe him. If Steve taught me anything in the last 10 years, its how to walk away with the realization that some things just cannot be fixed.  Preparing my relationship with his family was my first lesson, and sweeping my marriage under the proverbial carpet, was my second. I was a slow learner both times.

It was January when I realized just how long it had been since he loved me.  It was February when I realized how much he loved her. It was April when I realized the life I lead was not my own. And it was May when I realized how much I loved myself. I grabbed ahold of that carpet, and I let her fly.

Walking away breaks my heart a tiny piece at a time.  When the screenplay of my existence over the past year rolls slowly through my mind, I feel a calmness that finally can let me cry. I mourn the person I used to be even as I don’t want to be her anymore. I mourn the moment I fell in love with him, even as I fall in love with someone new.  I can be both places at once…learning that with each piece I let go, I create a new one to take its place.  And I can’t help but wonder, how long will these pieces encompass me…when will I let them go…and start all over once again.

It was June when I asked him to fight for us, July by the time I realized he couldn’t.  Even as I turn my back to him, I cannot help but glance back.  One last look into the clearest eyes I’ve ever seen.  Searching for that piece of him I’ve never seen…searching for the truth.  He still can’t say it…denial is the bed he sleeps in each night. I long for him to trust me enough to let me see what he did, what he felt. But he cannot do it. And this is my fault.

It’s November now and I keep forgetting to check the calendar.  Like the sunlight, the days are leaving too quickly and the end is growing painfully close. My body tells me it’s getting cold, and I’m mesmerized by the flocks of birds heading south. I read a few weeks back that birds do not migrate south for warmth, but instead for the ease of finding food. I can’t help thinking of my own migration…that which i need versus that which I want.  As I search for nourishment, I cannot help but seek the warmth as well.  My fear trips on excitement when I realize this life is now my own.

I know I’ll keep looking back, and sometimes I’ll stare longer than others.  And I’m OK with knowing that all these pieces will not fall away.  Some I’ll keep tucked away, reminding me that deep inside, I know how to love someone enough to stay no matter what they do to hurt me. And while I look at him, I’ll imagine my hands touching his face one last time, my eyes telling him that one day, I’ll forgive him.

But not today. I think I’ll save forgiveness for January.