My adopted brother asked me if I ever get scared of being broken again. He came to us as a foster and my mom adopted him and some of his siblings a few years ago. He’s been broken. My throat kind of constricted. And I said, “Like I was last year? I’ve been broken a few times. Last year was another. But I know by now that being broken isn’t the end. It’s the BEGINNING. But if my life has shown you anything, it’s that we all get broken no matter how hard we try to make everything perfect and make the right decisions. That’s inevitable. There’s no way to avoid it. Every one, even me, will let you down at some point. But being stronger inside and willing to let yourself lie down for a few before you pick yourselves back up is what counts.” He asked…is it worth it? A year and a half into losing my joy and I had a hard time answering right away. But I finally said “Twenty years ahead of you …yes. It’s worth it. There’s people you can go see and talk to that spent years learning how to show you how to be less broken. It always gets better. It always turns around. The real trick is finding the people and resources who can help you find a new normal. I’m your circle. We are your family. I promise we will get you through anything.”
She asked me, tears in her eyes, how I got over that first heartbreak. Years later from what happened, I still choke back the dryness in my throat as I thought about that.
There was no answer I could give to soothe. No immediate relief. Every cliché had only made me angrier, every Bible verse though I knew it was true was a slap in the face, and every step I took into the world as who I was at that time made me weep. I didn’t feel whole…I knew she didn’t feel whole. I slept on that feeling of knowing there was nothing I could do to ease this suffering. Thinking about that pain again and remembering feeling as if it would never end. And then I realized there was something I could offer.
I understand. The things you are afraid to say, the horrible things you are thinking about yourself, and the guilt you feel over still wanting something that you know won’t work. The humiliation and the fear. The fear at what you are supposed to do now. Let me give you hope in the truth.
Over this journey I learned there was a huge difference between getting over something and just moving on. There are some things you don’t just get over. You can’t. It’s almost a genetic code that’s part of your blood…you could as soon bleed yourself dry as you could rid yourself of the pain of their absence. But that’s exactly how you feel. Hollow. A husk. Trying to live half alive. As if they are the light, blood and breath that make your life more than just putting one foot in front of the other. More than just getting through another day.
In the beginning, you think you will never feel right again. You even forget what it was to be happy, to not wake up to your heart clenching because they aren’t there, and to the absence of that pain. That blinding, overwhelming pain that now defines your waking and nightmares. Logic only makes it worse. For those of us who think through everything, we crave the opportunity to just be emotional. Cry, scream, pour our heart out and let it out of our blood. And no matter which end you are on…logical or emotional…you come to the same place eventually. You know nothing will ever make it right again. You cannot…cannot…go back. No matter how big of a fool you make of yourself, no matter how tightly you hang on to those memories, and no matter how you cling to that last part of yourself that is slipping away with what was…you can’t go back to that moment. Because everything is different now. Your previous happiness would be fear now. Your hope of the future would be a frantic decline to resignation of the inevitable. Nothing has changed. Everything has changed. There is simply nothing you can do.
So you get angry. Bitter for a while if you are still dealing with it emotionally. Good and angry if you are ready to be logical. Did you deserve this? No. Is there something wrong with you? No! How could anyone be so cavalier with something so precious…did you cause their actions? NO! Instead of the timid and wept “yes” you had answered before, each resounding “no” becomes louder than the last. As if they have any right to continue to dictate your life after they ripped your heart out. As if you would continue to crawl after them, satisfied with their leftovers they knowingly leave for you because they need your tears and broken heart to feel wanted. As if you would live your life waiting for someone who didn’t have the class to treat you like a human being.
And somewhere in this anger is where you are ready for truth. Ready for hope. Finally embracing a change you did not want. You begin to realize that very few things will hurt you the way this did. Why be so afraid of change now? Maybe it is time to put away the person who is still clinging to the past…and become someone who is ready for the future. Because let’s face it, that broken person is no more. She was destroyed in her innocence with the loss of what made up her being.
Like a butterfly abandoning its cocoon, you might be afraid of that first flight if you hadn’t left all your fear and pain in that empty husk behind you. How could anything compare to that? How could anything not be better compared to that? You leave behind the weak side that couldn’t have known how to fly…because all you were content knowing was the ground.
How do you get over the loss of someone who defined your life? A parent? A child? Your first love? A spouse? Why are we expected to pretend we are ok with the loss of something we cared about? Pretend as if it never happened? But here is where there is hope in the truth. People want to box you into how you should deal with this because your pain inconveniences them. Close your ears to match your heart for a moment and hear this. The truth, my love, the truth is you don’t have to forget about this, but you do have to move forward. Truth is you don’t have to pretend to be ok, but you do have to let yourself grieve. Cry. Why should you be expected to flip a switch inside and just stop caring? You poured yourself into this. This meant something to you and it is gone now. Cry. Letting go of anything precious deserves grief. Losing anything that you put passion into deserves to be marked with grief. Grieve that loss. Truth is you don’t have to be angry at yourself, but you must learn from this if you want to be alright. Truth is you won’t feel this way forever. Truth is even if you went back to that moment, somehow, that nothing has changed. You will just be waiting for the same thing to happen again…and you both know it. Truth is you were given a gift. It doesn’t feel like one. It may not feel like one for years. You can’t change the truth though.
The truth is you are about to blossom. Put your hope in the fact that everything that made you who you were comfortable to be has been stripped away. This is you. This is the beginning. Anything is a possibility. You can chase after the most impossible dream you ever dared to dream; because even if you fall short anywhere between here and there, no fall will come close to this one. Wipe the tears from your eyes my love…because this is where it truly gets beautiful.
I know you don’t believe yet, but I promise it’s possible to live with the past. Not forget it. Not pretend it ever happened. Truly LIVE. You just have to figure out how to accept change you didn’t want. Don’t let it numb you. Let it ignite the real you.