An Unexpected Birth-Day Gift

New Path

Not that I’m counting the days or anything, but it has been almost two months since I talked to him. It seems surreal, like an eternity. But at the same time it seems like yesterday since we had what I did not know at the time was going to be our last meal together.

I recently celebrated my 49th birthday. He didn’t acknowledge it; not even a text. I don’t know how I could have expected anything different, but it still hurt like hell. But I am discovering that what he did give me will last much longer than an empty birthday wish. At the end, it was the best gift of all with which to start fresh with a new year of my life – a new birth. It was his continuing indifference and cold criticism that finally pushed me to that moment of clarity when I could cut the cord; and it is starting to make all the difference.

The tide of grief is still washing over me and at just about any given moment I still might cry. It might be the trigger of a song or a phrase or a place – or nothing at all but a vivid flash of a memory. Watching the intimacy slide away so slowly was excruciating to feel, and when I miss his cute smile I need to remember how empty my arms felt as he become more and more unavailable to me.

But at the same time, something new seems to be emerging from the rubble – I am feeling this welling of a different kind of strength than I have ever felt before, and it is truly lifting me. Some of the worst soul-pain I have ever known has inspired me to new heights I didn’t know were in my reach to climb.

I am still grieving what I had hoped it would one day be – the enormous potential of us. I am mourning the partner I was to him, the half of a couple that made me feel validated when now I am starting to understand I never needed validation from him – or anyone.

I am grieving the dream of a once and future relationship that is now miraculously morphing into an amazing gift. It is a chance for transformation, an inspiration to invest the enormous energy and huge ocean of love I once bestowed on him on to myself. He couldn’t appreciate it, didn’t know how to handle it, didn’t care long enough to reciprocate it and chose to discard it – but that does not diminish the value of it one iota.

Now I am gathering all that love like a bundle of firewood and I will use it to kindle kindness to all the wonderful people in my life who deserve to feel the warmth. I am learning to relish the notion of discovering who I am – just me – alone but not lonely. How could I be lonely when I have so many great, wise and loving companions for the journey? (Sounds like I’m embarking on a new Hobbit movie – LOL)

It is true that nature abhors a vacuum and the cold draft of air I was feeling from his absence is now being filled with warm and wonderful treasures I had scarcely noticed before. Guess what? I have friends who think I’m really cool! Who knew? I have a writing voice that is strong and unique and irrepressible. Wow!

I have funny, kind and amazing sons who truly care for my happiness (and both called on my birthday – in fact one sang to me on my voicemail message), I have a four-year old grandson who is like a giant cheerleader for my heart whenever he inhabits my world.

I have sisters who are ready with listening ears, and the Hinson sister diner is open 24-7 for comfort food and conversation. I have co-workers who appreciate the enthusiasm and passion I bring to the table at my work. My church family loves me unreservedly and unabashedly, giving me the gifts of God directly through their voices, their kind and loving eyes, their big bear hugs.

I was chatting with a friend not long ago and plowing through another tear-filled, endless scenario of pop psychology trying to understand what happened in my broken relationship with this man, trying to understand his inconsistencies, his anger, etc. Another friend had shared an article about narcissism and so I asked my first friend, who knows him well, to read this article. “What do you think? Is this him?” I asked her in a message.

She responded ever so kindly… “Maybe some traits are like him, but overall I don’t think so. I think honestly he is just f– up. I know you are hurting and you want answers, but you need to just move on, honey.”

What she wrote stopped me in my tracks. I know I over-analyze, over-process things. But in the incomparable words of Taylor Swift, (God Help me, I want to hate her but I just can’t) I realized I do need to “Shake it off, shake it off!”

Instead of focusing on what happened and trying to understand things or people that may simply just be incomprehensible, why not focus on this new wide, wide world of Holly I have yet to explore? It is vast and open to whatever path is calling me. Thank you, God.

I love the k.d. lang song, “This” that has these lines:

With all good intent I come running, to give you a world full of me
and if then you find there is one thing, the one thing you want
this I’ll be

I always identified with this because when I really love someone, I do it with every fiber of my being – a world full of me. I don’t know how not to be that way, but in the song, it is the second and third lines that matter. This time around I want it to be different – it’s not about being what the other person wants you to be, not about sacrificing your desires or needs; it’s about being adored for exactly who you are, flawed and imperfectly wonderful.

I remember the exact moment I decided it was time to end the toxic relationship. I was very torn because my heart was saying “how will I survive without him?” But there was a distinct turning point when my heart just flipped over and it was suddenly all too much – and at the same time not enough.

I don’t know if there will be a turning point for this grief but I am feeling these flashes of joy. The other day I laughed out loud – not just chuckled but guffawed – and I hardly recognized the sound of it. But, boy it felt good.

While there is value in understanding and examining how you function in relationships so you can learn what unhealthy patterns you may be playing out, dwelling endlessly on why the two of you didn’t work out is just futile and painful. In the final analysis, it doesn’t matter what happened to the wonderful and loving relationship you treasured in the beginning. Try to extract the happy moments from it and move on.

Maybe these gifts just are not meant to be ours forever. We just get them for a little while and we may want to cling to them or long for them to come back but that is just exhausting – for God’s sake girl, let it go. I believed in the beginning he was a complement to my pretty happy life, but somewhere along the way I let him define my happiness, and it’s way past time to reclaim it.

I am starting to reconnect with my own heart, my own zest for life. I looked out my back window and saw the hush of the new-fallen snow the other morning and did not immediately go to my unhappy place, thinking of him, ‘I wonder where He is, and if he is enjoying it, and if he is thinking of me, too?’

Instead I thought, ‘Look at the wonder of this winter – the glimpses of grace in these snow-laden trees, this old man humming to himself, walking his dog in frigid temperatures, look at the ruddy faces of the children on the hill, shouting and playing in the snow.’

Instead I thought, ‘Look at the love and gifts all around you – let them be the boat that carries you over the tide of grief to uncharted, peaceful and potentially much happier shores.’

How I keep from repeating my relationship disasters has very little to do with my next potential partner and everything to do with me – my attitude, my confidence and my love for my own kind but imperfect self.

I have to give credit to Christian minister Andy Stanley for this next statement – and proclaim my love for it. Focus on becoming the person that who you are looking for is looking for. Think about it. Think about it some more.

Not that I am looking right this minute; in fact I am taking a year off from anything resembling dating, but hey … in the meantime, what a great concept! And while I am working on that wonderful new “becoming,” I need to exorcise the ghost of that person who was once beside me.

I need to step out on my own knowing that me, and just me, is enough; in fact, more than enough, to fill that void.

I am starting each day with this short mantra that is all I need right now: (thank you, Harry Pickens)

The real secret: Breathe. Pray. Love. Serve. Repeat.



One thought on “An Unexpected Birth-Day Gift”

  1. Brilliant, Holly! In the words of William Wordsworth, “we will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind.” Keep on keeping on. You’ve got this.

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