I have learned that when the words are ready, they will come. Whether you are sitting at your keyboard or sitting in traffic, the words will come and they will claw their way out of you until you let them be heard.
Tonight, my words are ready.
They are not pretty or decorated with sugar or wrapped up in a polka dot bow.
They are not peaceful and clear, they are violent and aching.
They are not a Sunday drive in the mountains, these words are a swim through the rapids.
I am learning that these words are my raft, and, without them, I will drown.
These are my words. They are ready.
When everything first happened, I became a newborn calf. My knees were knocked, my eyes glazed over; I relied on those around me for food and shelter and life.
I relied on those around me for survival.
Those days looked like gasping for air, staring at the clock, and removing all words from my vocabulary other than “why?”
Those nights looked like prayers that tomorrow would bring a new day and a new hope and a sighed relief that this was all a dream.
Those nights looked like begging to wake up anywhere but here.
After the shock wore off, the survival instincts began to kick in.
There were things to do. Vendors to cancel. People to call. Picture frames to be put away.
Go, go, go. Do, do, do.
Anything to keep the thoughts from coming.
Anything to keep the feelings from knocking on my door.
Anything to push the hurt away.
So I did.
I did and I did until all of the things were done.
And I woke up one morning right in the middle of a life I didn’t sign up for.
A life of sleeping with my head squished between two pillows, because neither side of the bed felt like home anymore.
A life that looked a lot like cereal for dinner and avoiding the white dress in the purple bag.
It looked like any excuse to avoid barbecues and lawn mowers, afraid of putting my hands where his once were.
It looked like running without taking a step.
It looked like hiding in plain sight.
It looked like surviving in the best way that I knew how, all the while knowing that someday I would have to be brave enough to stop surviving and start living…a life without him.
In the midst of the survival storm, anger came knocking at my door.
This anger isn’t a kind I’m familiar with.
No, this anger is a new breed.
Prickly and unforgiving. Bitter with charred edges and a blue flamed center.
It’s suffocating and numbing, clawing and bleeding; this kind of anger will do almost anything so it doesn’t have to bleed alone.
I’m not proud of the anger, but I’ve had days where it was the anger that carried me through the night.
The days where my curious fingers scroll back to happier times and “I love [you]” texts, the days where cleaning out the junk drawer turns into tears on the floor because another card or another poem or another post-it note love letter decides to show up in my shaking hands.
The anger saves me on the days I’m reminded that love failed me.
The anger doesn’t leave me for someone else. The anger doesn’t break every single promise he made. The anger stays even when he has left. The anger is always there to hold my hand at night. It talks me out of showing up on his doorstep to try to make sense of something that will never make sense. It shields me from going down the dangerous road of maybe this was all my fault. The anger has served me as much as it’s damaged me, much like he did. I am learning to find peace in being thankful for the anger, while still letting it go.
I am learning to find peace in being thankful for him while still letting him go.
He is the anger and I don’t want him in my bed anymore.
Once the dust settles, the real hurt comes. I thought “real hurt” was the falling to the floor while gasping for air and waking up every morning only to re-remember everything that happened the night before.
But I was wrong.
The real hurt comes when you wake up already knowing this is the way life is now.
The real hurt comes when life has to learn how to navigate this new kind of normal. The kind of normal that can’t count on him anymore. The kind of normal that has to delete the list of baby names you two had been working on for so long.
The kind of normal that mourns the babies that you never even had.
The normal that looks a lot like a beautiful picture of a fairytale being burned at the stake.
A normal that must find hope in the flames, a future in the ashes.
This hurt feels worse than a hailstorm at the top of a cold mountain.
This hurt is the windburn that still lingers long after you make it down the hill.
The sting that comes unannounced and always over stays its welcome.
This hurt is relentless. Taunting. Seeking vengeance for a crime you didn’t even commit.
This is the worst kind of hurt,
because it usually comes on the days you’ve made it too long without thinking of his name.
It hits you in the kneecaps on the days that walking starts to feel easy again.
This hurt doesn’t feel fair and my first instinct is always to feel angry, but not at him anymore, my first instinct when this hurt comes is to feel angry at myself.
How could I still care so much for someone who clearly stopped caring for me a long time ago? Why can’t I turn it off the way he did so easily? How could I have been so stupid to even be here right now?
I am learning to give myself grace in these moments.
It hurts because it meant something.
It hurts because you really, truly, deeply loved him.
It hurts because you gave more to him than you ever gave to anyone else.
It hurts because you gave someone access to your open heart and they poured salt on it.
Over. And over. And over again.
Salty tears and a salty heart makes an ocean of healing.
So, heal I must and heal, I will.
This is where I am. Part healing, part slaughter. Mostly salt water.
I smile when people tell me it seems like I’m “doing better.”
I smile when my insides are screaming so loudly that I can’t hear anything else.
Most days, I do feel happy.
Some days, I feel sad for feeling so happy.
Every day, I am thankful for a second chance that most people never get.
I’ve learned that you can’t make sense of insensible, and the only thing I can trust is that he is a liar.
I am learning that information doesn’t change people and most things aren’t meant to last forever.
I am learning that the biggest lessons are wrapped in the most painful packages and I am learning that I can do a lot more alone than I ever gave myself credit for.
Most days, I still feel like I’m living a life I didn’t sign up for.
But I’m learning in patience that it’s a life that signed up for me.
A life that still has a lot of blank pages and a life that is ready for me to stop surviving and start living it again.
I am learning that mowing the lawn is really therapeutic and that it’s usually best to use an anchor in the drywall even if you’re hanging something that isn’t very heavy. I’m learning that healing happens in quiet moments you’d least expect it and that forgiveness comes knocking at your door even on the nights that anger is curled up beside you in bed.
I am learning that if you allow the tears to come, they will eventually stop.
But if you try to hold them in, they will haunt you until you let them out.
Let them out. Let the tears fall, let the memories fade, let yourself let him go.
Let yourself let him go.
Sometimes healing can’t find you until you let yourself break.
So, break, sweet soul.
Let yourself break.
Shatter and sift, sort and rebuild.
Sometimes peace doesn’t come until we can find the strength to rid ourselves of the ghosts we’ve been inviting to the dinner table.
But above all, I am learning this: It was real.
It was ALL real.
Trying to convince myself of anything else denies all of the love, happiness, raw vulnerability, and hope that I held so tightly over the last two years.
My deepest exhale sounds like this: It was all real.
I will not discount or discredit that for my own healing.
I will not void that because of his careless mistakes.
I will heal in knowing that we shared a love that made the storybooks jealous.
I will heal in knowing that we shared a love that couldn’t last, no matter how badly I wanted to give it everything I had.
I will heal knowing I gave it everything I had.
I will find hope in knowing this love failed so a future love can thrive.
A love that will stay. A love I can trust.
These days, the crazy wheel still spins fast. But I am learning to pause on all of the stops and observe the feelings I am encountering. I am learning that each and every feeling serves a purpose. I am also learning that each and every feeling can teach me a lesson. I will no longer deny myself of those lessons in an attempt to protect my broken heart
Even when the lessons look like tears on the hardwood floor.
Even when the lessons look like a knock-kneed newborn calf all over again.
Even when the lessons look like taking steps backward.
Because I know that sometimes healing must revisit the past before it can flow into the future. Sometimes healing looks like a trip down memory lane just to be reminded of how good it once was, and how incredible it will someday be.
This is where I am.
Part healing, part broken, words flowing, hope coming.
Making peace with the past so my future can stand a chance.
Finding grace for myself when the hurt comes, and making room for the laughter and smiles when they show up unexpectedly.
Finding wisdom in learning that both offer me a gift.
I’ve reclaimed my side of the bed.
I’ve found clarity in unanswered prayers.
I’ve found strength in being shattered into a million tiny pieces.
I am not entirely sure where I am headed, but I feel hopeful that it will end up being even better than I could have imagined.
Because that’s how life usually ends up if you let it.