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.

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.

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 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 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.

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?

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.

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.