Beautifully Broken

How did we know that our lives would be so full of beautifully broken things?

broken-heart-on-cross– Dave Matthews Band

It is cold and dismal out today. I checked the calendar and realized that as of December 21, it has been 90 days. Isn’t that a typical jail sentence for minor but serious offenses? I feel like by now I should have made bail and been released. But this broken relationship continues to feel like iron bars across my heart. It is still lacerating, and knowing it was the right thing to do to escape it while I still had my sanity does not seem to be assuaging my grief at all at the moment.

What helps: work, movies, friends, writing, reading, hiking, children, music, binge-watching Orange is the New Black on Netflix.

What hurts: Just about every other blessed thing

At my family’s Christmas brunch, I felt the ghost of him by my side. How could it be possible that he was not there? I missed his smile, his hand in mine. But more than anything, the knowledge that after all the festivities and gifts and food, we would be leaving together to enjoy each other’s company, talk, drink a little, maybe make love or just cuddle and watch a movie. I miss his touch, the back of his hand curving against my cheek, his hand patting my knee.

I am trying to counteract this image in my mind by putting it next to the other one with which I had also recently become familiar: scowling face, derisive tone, sarcasm, ultimately his dismissal of me and my ideas and conversation as not worthy of his time for one more second.

When I saw his simple text, “Merry Christmas, Holly,” I felt gutted with sadness and stupidly excited, like when we first met and had just started trading flirty texts. Like the last year marred by dysfunction and drifting away of affection had never happened. Like maybe he had that revelation that we had something so amazing it deserved an iota of effort to save it. Like he had changed his heart overnight, like Scrooge in a Christmas Carol; had an epiphany and turned into a person who realized my abundant love was of value to him after all. Nope, just a crazy dream.

One of the hardest things for me to do has been to let the dream die; to realize I was just another woman who came in and out of his life. He may have loved me, but I wasn’t really special to him after all. And for whatever reason, that just crushes me. We all want to feel beloved and when we are and then it is yanked away, it seems like the most malevolent of tricks.

I know I am lucky he is not more interested in stringing me along, because I don’t know if I could resist a few more rounds with him. This time I imagine I am drawing a line in the sand much sooner. I am defending myself. I am walking away the first time he is shitty to me and hits below the belt.

I find it ironic that one of the things that pains me the most is feeling like he lost respect for me because I would not fight back more, when it was he himself who put me in the position to have to defend myself. I am blaming myself for not being more of a bitch willing to take him on, so essentially beating myself up for being a lover, not a fighter. Really, that is sick logic.

There is a great song from the show Nashville, How You Learn to Live Alone. This passage really captures the slow process of resignation as I am working so hard to let it go.

It don’t feel right, but it’s not wrong, It’s just hard to start again this far along
Brick by brick you’ll let it go, as you walk away from everything you know

Bit by bit you slip away, lose yourself in pieces in the things that you don’t say
And you sit there in the rubble, until the rubble feels like home

When I think of that rubble, it reminds me of a phrase I have often heard in spiritual circles – beautifully broken. We all are; we all need to be, it is our brokenness that ironically bonds and bounds us to one another because God and each other are all we got. Actually, not sure if there is a difference between the two. It is my friends who are loving emissaries for God and his unwavering devotion to me. God is a fan, thank God. Learning to trust that walk in the darkness is a bitch, sometimes, though.

I am seeing a therapist, and sometimes I feel stuck in limbo land between dwelling too much on the past but at the same time trying to make an honest assessment. I am working to discover who I am and what I really want so I can somehow stop sabotaging my life with self-defeating relationships that are not worthy of me. Can I get an Amen?

Since it is close to New Year’s Day, I decided to revisit my goals from 2014. A couple years ago, I decided instead of resolutions, I would set goals in every area of my life: spiritual, physical, professional, personal, financial, etc. When I reflected on 2014; as usual I realized some were a little too ambitious but overall I was pleased with progress I had made. I made a list of accomplishments and realized very quickly that most of what I marked as successes were relationship-driven. This is me all over, and maybe I need to stop fighting my own heart. After all, a broken heart is an open heart, is it not? Beautifully broken.

I can’t stand the look most people give me when they hear I have been married – and divorced – three times. I am probably over-sensitive about it but it just seems pitying. I imagine they are wondering, “Gee, she must be hell to live with,” or “she’s looking for a man with money,” or more charitably, “she must fall in love easily.” I guess what I want them to understand it is about that I liked belonging to someone. My joy is in giving and being part of a partnership –but to paraphrase a quote from one of my favorite movies, the odds were not ever in my favor. In fact, each man was quite lovable but in a very easy- to- discern pattern (in hindsight) was simply not there for me, and not capable of growing together in a future with me.

Lately, I have felt increasingly angry and resentful towards men in general. I never had a brother and I won’t even get in to the complicated feelings I have about my dad – I think I just never understood males. With rare exceptions, I hate sports, and most of the recreations many men like to engage in -drinking, hunting, fishing, video games, strip clubs … I guess maybe I want them to be too much like women – open-hearted and real, for example.

I know I am over-generalizing a little here but I hate the way as men get older, they stop appreciating women for who they are (if they ever did) because we are no longer as aesthetically pleasing – they continue in a pervy way to lust after young flighty girls the age of their daughters. You can say it’s their genetic makeup if you want, or because they are more visual, but whatever, I just resent it.

Wow, I sound bitter. I didn’t use to be that way. But I feel like with each failed relationship, I am learning something. But sometimes I think the biggest thing I am learning is to just give the fuck up. I’ve been watching this show called Orange is the New Black about the life of women in prison. To me, it is an intriguing look at what happens when you are thrust in situations that require total surrender. Sometimes you just have to fly the white flag and lie on the ground until your world stops spinning a little. It reminds me that we have this one big and beautiful and painful life full of pitfalls and pleasures that it sometimes takes courage to recognize in the haze of our self-centeredness.

Beautifully broken. Our ability as compassionate people to help each other hobble through to the next “pool of light,” as author Anne Lamott puts it, is still extraordinary.

This last busted romance has hit me so very hard – and made me wonder if it is even worth trying anymore. When my ex and I got together, we had already been friends for years. I was post-divorce, but finally starting to come into my own; working again in my field, reconnecting with friends and just starting to dabble in a feeling of contentment with my life. I love to smile, laugh, talk, connect with others. I am positive and perky, always everyone’s cheerleader and right now I just feel like saying oh, fuck it all.

I’m tired of putting a positive spin on everything – sometimes things just suck. I have found myself hermit-ing away and blowing off social or other obligations – licking my wounds I suppose, but maybe that’s OK.

But while I am grieving, I am trying to listen. To appreciate the everyday and ordinary joys of simply being on this planet. Nature, music, prayer, community, friends, writing, motherhood.

And being. Just being. A beautifully broken being. But I suspect everything I need to continue to repair the pieces is already inside me. If I can just be quiet enough to hear that still small voice.

2 thoughts on “Beautifully Broken”

  1. I love reading your blog although I usually feel sad after doing so, reflecting on my own crappy relationship. The good news for you is you just got through the roughest period of a breakup, the holidays including your birthday. The new year should slowly bring brighter days. I sincerely hope so:)

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