I believe this. I believe every broken, razored piece of shrapnel we are given in life goes into a giant kaleidoscope, and people can choose to look through your soul and see those pieces dancing or tear you open and see the garbage of your life in its least magical form. Let the pieces of your life create something beautiful. ♡
Some blogs come. Sometimes I wake up with them already written in my head. There is an easy satisfaction with giving these stories away having sheltered them for so long in my own mind. But sometimes they get torn out of me, like I’m painfully giving birth to them. I always eagerly await the other side of these blogs. The sweet sorrow flooding with relief for having somewhere else to put them. This is one of those blogs.
People often track their lives like in the bible – “before christ’ and “after christ”. I do that too. Before the divorce and after. I’m surely not the first person who recognizes this fragment in their timeline for this exact reason. There are plenty of groups, meetings, books and TV shows devoted entirely to this subject. I don’t believe I am any less or more impacted by it than anyone else but from my own eyes, it matters. It changed me. Deeply.
When I first started to imagine writing this blog, I was overwhelmed with how badly I wanted to write about the bad stuff. I’ve erased it about three times because they keep sneaking in, disguised as harmless explanations but really they want recognition. Look what’s been done to me. Broken hearts always seem to want retribution. I have been seeking refuge from this desire for the better part of three years. I am haunted by the idea of forgiveness. It feels impossible some days to just let by gones be by gones. But I keep rolling Buddha’s words around in my head: Not forgiving is like poisoning yourself and waiting for the other person to die. Dammit Buddha. That is some solid logic.
I want to list for you all the reasons I should not forgive him. I want you to read them and recognize how terribly I suffered. I want someone to write him a strongly worded letter of admonishment. What I do not want is for you to look behind the heavy curtain and investigate my side of it, my contribution to the end. Of course, there is that. And perhaps this sense of denying forgiveness has a lot to do with forgiving myself. For my sins during the relationship, and there was many, and the way I short circuited my grief of rejection to include every living being on the planet so as to save myself from getting hurt again. Of course, this required me to in turn reject people who loved me in the process. Oh what a tangled web we weave…
But here’s my first best go at it. I have spent most of this day trying to remember the good things about him, the things that made me fall in love with him in the first place since you cannot grieve what you don’t love. I will admit, I have tantrumed several times as the lovely memories got mixed up with the hard ones. I can hear myself thinking “what the …” in response to some of his incredible kindness to me in the beginning. I still feel tricked. I have to stuff the idea down that he did some of those things intentionally to hide a whole bunch of other things. I’ll never know. I can only tell you what I remember and how it made me feel then. And in handling them all day, I have found some genuine space for them separate from the rest of it. It’s not quite forgiveness all the way, it’s demi-forgiveness. And it’s all I have today.
I feel compelled to tell you about the time he carried me through a lake to a floating dock in the middle of the night and we lied on our backs talking to each other and the stars. It was one of our first dates. I remember thinking right then, “I could love this man”.
His friends were the originators of BrandiLand..saying he was lost in it. We talked on the phone for hours. I couldn’t even tell you about what, but it was endless. One time he even talked to me almost the entire time while he was at a party and he passed me off to everyone there and said, “Tell this girl how much I like her” and I was regaled with tales from virtual strangers about how impacted he had been by my presence.
I remember the first time he went away to go visit his mom for 2 weeks. It felt like an eternity even though we talked every day. He shared very intimate things about his early life with his family – some sweet things, some disappointments, things he was struggling with being home. Without any forethought, I blurted out, “I want you to come live with me when you come home”. I surprised myself having been a cautious woman for many years. He said he knew I was going to say that for some reason and he was quick to say, “Dear god, yes”. I picked him up from the airport, he looked so handsome in his dress pants and baby blue button down shirt, all wrinkled and buttons askew from the long flight. He smiled at me from way far off as he caught sight of me coming down the escalator. And I stupidly stood and smiled at him. It seemed like an hour before he got to the bottom and we couldn’t get to each other fast enough. It was happening. Our beginning. He asked me to marry him with a baby blue stone because he knows I hate diamonds. Baby blue memories. Baby, baby blues…
I can still see him walking, barefoot, down the middle of our street, while our house burned behind us. I was just standing there watching the fireman struggle with the fire in the roof. I knew the house was going to be lost. I didn’t know one other tangible thing at that moment. I couldn’t grasp onto anything and it felt like I was just floating there. When I turned and saw him, I was utterly entranced by the sight of him, so self-assured, smiling at me with his head cocked to the side and that “Come here baby” look he gave me. He wrapped me up in a blanket and hugged me and said everything was going to be ok. And I believed him.
I have been trying, trying, trying to burn those memories into my mind over the smouldering, putrid aroma of our break up. It is the most insane thing, to love someone and then not know them at all, never see them again, never have the chance to reminisce of these things. It has always felt like the right way to break up was to have a moment where we shared those things that we would remember, those things that made a difference and say “Thank You” for all the good that came. People think I’m crazy when I say that but I’ve done it. And I picture all the people I’ve ever met who had terrible, bitter separations and how different it would look if it was mandatory on the way out to say a few nice things you’ll remember.
But something funny happens to people when they get caught in the face of their bad decisions. There is no last few nice memories to share. It is just a heart tearing open trying to stem the blood with paltry excuses and denial. And you are left sputtering and gasping for air, viciously clawing your way out, trying to save yourself.
There is someone back in my life who has been graciously sharing his love stories with me, assuring me that love does come despite my cynical and protective denial of this for the last 3 years. I am so grateful for this light at the end of the tunnel, the signalling of a certainty that it exists. I am trying to find a way back to love by practising with the ones I already love. By being mindful of myself in close contact with others. By being mindful of the times we hurt each other and rally back any ways. There are examples of it all around me. Relationships I have nurtured and nourished for years that prove my theory wrong…Fairy tales are NOT just for suckas. Given a look into my life, you would be astonished at the calibre of women who have stood by me and raised me from the dead when I had all but given up. It’s not the same thing, humbly I accept that having someone love you as their partner, as their muse is different than your lady friends but it doesn’t overshadow it. On paper, my love life is a disaster but in the bigger picture, it is extraordinary. And if I died tomorrow, no one could say I wasn’t completely wrapped in some serious love. And save for the empty space left by him, I would never have realized by comparison how full the rest of my life really is. That is the way life works, it is in the absence that we appreciate what is present. A gift if you will, when you’re ready to open it.
There are some great things about being broken. For one, people stop inviting you to baby and wedding showers because they are afraid you will:
a) break out weeping
b) make cold, sarcastic comments about the impending event.
They are not wrong. I’ve done both. You really only have to do it once before word spreads that you are not the right guest to be seated next to Aunt Nancy.
Being broken means you can be an asshole and people will offer you get out of jail free cards. Not all the time, but a lot of the time. The expectations change. And you let them. Because if you have to explain to one more person why watching a father and daughter dance at a wedding makes you want to slam your head into a wall, you think you will die. So you drink your body weight instead and pass out in the lovely garden behind the reception. And nobody thinks twice about it. Not even you.
But here’s the thing, being broken means you are…broken. Like for real. It means every time some one tells you they love you, you screw your face up like there’s a bad smell in the room. It means that you stop answering your home phone because you would actually rather not know than answer an emergency call ever again.
This may strike some of you as a fairly pessimistic view. Granted, it has its downer moments but there is also something very liberating about looking in someone’s eyes and just admitting how fucked up your puzzle pieces are. Somehow, owning the broken means it owns me just a a little less.
The bigger problem about being broken is that people think they can heal your broken. Flowers, nice words, remembering your favourite wine. I love these things. It would be untrue if I said they didn’t impact me. But deep wounds are not fools. They have not forgotten the kind words that precipitated their making. And they cannot differentiate between then and now. You have roomed with them for so long that you no longer believe you are worthy of being treated well. Fucked up side effect of being fucked up. Ask any child who has ever lived in care. We think if we place them somewhere warm and lovely, with people who are warm and lovely they will become…warm and lovely. But they will fight you, test you, wreck every last thing you offer them because it feel foreign. It feels too, too risky. And then you will finally agree too that they are not worthy of your love. And at least you know something for sure then. Stability in the chaos. Broken logic.
I have often said that it is the broken people in my life that make me feel whole. Like our pieces fit together somehow in a strange abstract portrait. What I am missing, you lend me. Hiding the bodies of our experiences in each other’s back yards. It is the only love I believe. And the picture above becomes the mantra we speak to each other: You are broken and I love your pieces.