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.

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.

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.

The Land of the Living

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time

I thought it best to let the weekend come and go without my usual splendor for anniversaries. I watched the days before it pass quickly, and though most were spent dancing inside and out of my own laughter, I still somehow thought the last weekend in May would leave me reeling for the past. It didn’t.

The way time moves us from one location to the next has always transfixed me. Most of us hold on to the belief that time cures all things. That wounds left air drying amongst the passing seasons will somehow harden and fall away. They don’t.

I filed for divorce one year ago today and I can tell you it feels like yesterday. It was May 27th when he forgot to come home. Officially May 28th when she texted him wondering where he was, and 4:18 am when I was smart enough to check his phone, read her words and 4:19 am when I knew I wasn’t his anymore. I like not being his.

Three hundred and sixty-five days oughta teach you something, and the lessons have nothing to do with time. The first was to understand my strength. The second was to shed the shame. The third was to ask for help. The fourth was to tell the truth. And the fifth was to listen and be still.Amanda Carrier, Silence is the Enemy of My Heart

Time teaches us that things slow down and speed up at their own will. An hour can feel like a hundred years and a whole season can pass in the blink of an eye. I learned not to waste time, and to not question the speed or the slowness of its passing. Because time is simply a canister for life. It harbors the moments that define and destroy us. And it releases the moments that heal. It is a vessel for the people who will leave and a life vest for those that stay.

Sometimes time takes its time, and other times it speeds up…comes and goes, dances in and out of us so feverishly that we forget to check the calendar. Sometimes it carries away the anniversary of the worst day of your life without so much of a glance backward. And other times, it whispers to you the lesson…life rejuvenates itself.  Always and forever more.

Dripping Past

I know loving me is hard. I can feel it sometimes when you look at me. As though you are trying so hard to understand what lies inside. I feel clear as glass when you are in the room. And the more you accept, the more you get.  So please be careful what you wish for.

I know I send you a thousand words, most contradicting the others. I’m always moving and I feel hard to hold on to.  Yet I seem stuck in the same place. Its quicksand really…and I heard I better move slowly.

Lately I’ve been slippery as silk and the past drips from me like water. I can feel myself wet and exposed, and this is all taking entirely too long.  I’m saying prayers that your threshold for love can bare all I’ve lost.     Because with each thing you give me, I whisper goodbye to another thing stolen from me.  I forgot to tell you that you are loving me back to life.  And I know it is taking entirely too long.Don't let go.

What I never showed and you’ve always seen, is just revealing itself to me.  I’m circling it, dancing around it, peeking inside and mostly I’m scared of what I see. With each confusing glance, I look to you to explain it all because you are the only person who has never looked away.

I know the answers are out there, waiting for me.  And I feel you urging me forward.  But the only time I feel strong enough to move, is when I’m lost in you.  Keep calling my name and please don’t let go of my hand.

The First Time

I hated my body until you touched it. And I am sure why. They say that youth is wasted on the young. But I’m starting to think they are wrong.  I used to have dreams about the first time. A first kiss, a first love, a first marriage.  I think firsts are given to the young because they are imperfect, fleeting, and full of lies. I hated my body until you touched it.

I used to think I would never be loved again because I was someone else’s first. I used to think stretch marks from someone else’s baby would revolt the next man to touch them.

It turns out, I was wrong.

He likes to tell me I am sexy, and I spend too much time acting like this idea is crazy.

Because the truth, I’m now learning to tell, is that when I am with him, I feel sexy.

Seconds seem more real to me now, because they are covered in the scars left behind from the damage I did this body and this mind when I was too young to know better.

These scars may lie on the outside, but they offer a tiny glimpse of the wreckage that lies beneath.  Ugly things are more interesting than pretty things. More interesting because they tell a story.  I used to spend a lot of time exaggerating my daily life. Now, I love everything that is simple about it.

The reality is that my past isn’t nearly as pretty as I tried to make it.  And I wasn’t nearly as ok as I told you I was.  The beauty is that you already knew that. Myths have a way of being proven wrong, and the truth it seems, is always revealed.  If your touch brought my body back to life, your vision of me cleared the wreckage from my soul. You dusted off forgotten pieces of me, and you polished it until I shined.

In the morning, hazy eyed from a long nights sleep and an early morning touch, I can’t help but think I like seeing myself through your eyes.  And that my second chance is really about learning to love myself for the very first time.

Wild Things

Today, I’ve been stuck on the absence of things. Emptiness, I suppose, is the realization that things are no longer as they once were. Space unfilled, seems like a void, except it is not.  Funny I’m back to thinking about opposites, and amazed to discover that the opposite of empty… is not full.

What lies deep inside my loneliness, is my ability to heal.  Like a winter perennial quietly waiting for spring, when things are removed, they are not always gone. Amanda Carrier BlogInstead, they lie deep inside me…searching quietly for nourishment.  Weeds feeding on next to nothing, my roots are spreading beneath and inside me all at once.  Extending who I am…reaching out and connecting me to the earth, and to you.

For years, I had six acres of my own land covered in creeping Charlies.  I spent hours pulling them each week. My hands tired and pained from the gripping, and of course from the ripping.  One day, I came home to my husband spraying them with weed killer. Armed with a pump and a hose, he casually sprayed my nemesis and explained that this would be the only way they wouldn’t come back.

Except that I wanted them to come back.  This was my chapel, my ritual, and I tugged and pulled at those creeping, crawling monsters and marveled at their ability to always beat me.  To me, this is not a weed.I marveled more at how confusing it was to pull and rip at a weed who produced delicate purple flowers.

It always took me two hours to remove all the purple and all the green from front yard.  And when I was done, I always knew I would be back.  For down below they were already growing, spreading and reaching.  Making the connections that would sustain their life.  If there is a cycle to this, it always turns on hope, even when we can’t feel it.  It feeds on a smile from a stranger, a door held open by the loss that proceeded it, an idea of a promise, the foundation of a second chance.

Until then, I’m trying to respect the silence, even if it is my enemy.  In my darkest hour, vacant and alone, I am still sifting through the absence of sound. I want to be inside it, to dance amidst the vibrations that remain, even as you no longer speak to me.  I was yours before you loved me, and when you walked away, I am still yours forever more.

Yes, wild things grow on less than a little.

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.

Naivety of Flying

There is a naivety to flying, as though I thought the wind would never change.  I can’t remember how long I’ve been up here, or what I did to find this place, but I just realized how far I have to fall.   It seems it’s been months since I couldn’t find my breath, and now I find myself choking on it. It is both my vessel and my obstacle at the same time.  Flying

I think wind must be like the seasons. It’s tides change with the earth below it.  As though it is urging fall forward, bringing with it crisper nights and mornings that seem newer than the one before.  I watch my hands desperately trying to harbor it.  I want to hold the wind in my hands. I want it to urge me forward. But it keeps tricking me. It comes and goes, dances and waits.  It is teasing me.

There are moments that it urges me upward, tossing me into new atmospheres that tickle pieces of me long forgotten.  Pieces never rounded, still jagged with youth, expectation, and dreams.  Here I want to take a chance, and I forget there is no one left to catch me when I fall.

Other times the wind pushes me downward. Reminding me I have no wings, that I am small but heavy.  The pieces here are more familiar.  Their edges have been worn smooth by my hands.  My fingers and thumbs tensely working to smooth away the broken promises and lies you still won’t admit.  The irony, I suppose, is that the sleek edges of these pieces no longer fit together.  They slip on each other and fall away.

Down below…with my feet on this earth, I dance on the broken pieces and wait for the wind to catch me again.

Yes, there is a naivety to flying…as though the wind will never change.