finding Barcelona

“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” (Henry David Thorea)

A determination to show him, and herself, that she was brave enough travel without him, took her to Barcelona in late 2014.

Always top of her “to do” list, it seemed the obvious place to start. So, accompanied by a well-travelled girlfriend, she dipped an intrepid toe into the “city break” experience.

Enticed by Gaudi, she knew Barcelona would feed her appetite for a culturally rich life, but of course, it was more than that, much more.

The food … still warm enough at the beginning of December to eat seafood paella al fresco at the water’s edge! And delicious tapas accompanied by a full bodied Spanish red, an eating experience at it’s very best in a tiny bar just off The Ramblas, where they put themselves at the mercy of the owner and feasted on what was put in front of them.

The dance …. ah, the dance. An impromptu evening under the breathtaking glass mosaic roof of the Palau de la Musica Catalana … an unexpected chance to see raw, passionate, spine-tingling romany flamenco.

The music …. a candlelit Spanish guitar recital in Iglesia Santa Anna, a 12th century cloistered church, the audience of no more than 30. Such a privilege. Unforgettable.

And the art, of course, courtesy of Gaudi, and his fellow Catalan, Miro. Sagrada Familia remains a dusty building site, and the fact that it will seemingly never be finished is apparently the appeal, though its grotesque facade did little for her. His Park Guell was nevertheless a “must see”, with its crazy mosaic landscaping and breathtaking panoramic views of the city.  Then an nspiring afternoon at Fundacio Joan Miro.  Both artists were self-absorbed, determined visionaries, and both of them were, it would seen, mad – completely and utterly mad!

Barcelona – crazy, elegant, beautiful Barcelona -was everything she imagined it would be, and gave her  a tantalizing glimpse of a life she’d imagined, in all its soul-enriching, thirst-quenching, heart-stopping colours.

finding Life Goes On

There’s
a whole extraordinary world
out there

happening anyway
whether

I chose to be in it

or not.

I chose

to open the window

breathe out my darkest fears
breathe in my bravest hopes
feel the breeze ….

… and let it in

 

finding Hope

“Patience means knowing it will happen . . . and giving it time to happen.”
(Susan Jeffers, “Feel The Fear & Do It Anyway”)

Hope comes in all forms. Those who love us, truly love us, are there no matter what. To listen, even when they’ve heard it all before and they knew, truth be told, that this was how things would end. It’s the knowing that they are there, no matter what, that forms the foundation for the journey forward. The knowing that their support will never change. Those kind of friendships are the precious ones, the ones we should never take for granted, the ones we should treasure.

What surprised her however, was the hope that came from the most unexpected places, the most unexpected people, those unexpected drops of hope that ripple out, and change the course of things forever. Hers came from a wonderful colleague, someone she saw every day, who, unbeknown to her, had observed her from afar, and felt troubled by what she saw. It is extraordinary how our emotional state manifests itself in our physical being. She’d seen it herself in another friend, an elegant, beautiful woman, full of exuberance and sparkle, who seemed to have faded away, had lost her very essence of being. She recognised the signs right away. A woman does. “He was so beautiful” she’d sighed. And he had broken her heart.

She felt it too, but did not realise how it showed, until that colleague gently stopped her one day at work, and offered her a book about facing up to fear. The generosity of the gesture overwhelmed her. So humbling to receive such kindness, such care from someone she hardly knew.

Little did she realise then, but that simple gesture, that tiny fragile drop of hope, changed everything. It had never before occurred to her, that, at the very time when she felt so very afraid, that her life was so out of control, that her heart would never mend …… she had the power within herself, to control it all. It was nothing short of a revelation.

She saw, as if for the first time,  the incredible love that surrounded her, and started to accept the things she could not change. And she finally released those tears she had held back for long, and breathed out his betrayal like a black soot from her lungs. She was beginning to mend.

We are all the sum of our journey, and the person she was with him, created, for better or worse, the person she was now. Hope was not lost, it was just that hope with him was lost.

Letting go took a year, almost to the day, but she was still here, still loved, and still had before her a whole extraordinary life to live.

There is always hope …

finding Her Inner Resolve

He took my fragile heart
so starved of love that, with his slightest touch
I flourished and grew,
radiant in the joy of our most contented days.

He took my fragile heart
and threw it down,
then stood aside, and watched me writhe
in the exhausting agony of my tears.

He took my fragile heart
and threatened to engulf my light
in the shadows of his wearisome self-pity
and cool indifference to my pain.

He took my fragile heart
but it did not break,

for I saw that, all along, it was strong
that I was worthy, I was enough
that I was loved.

He took my fragile heart
but I crawled out
from my dark and loneliest hours,
spread out my arms and felt the warmth on my face
of the astonishing light

…. of my own being.

finding Acceptance

“Es tan corto el amor, y es tan largo el olvido” (Pablo Neruda)

More than anything else, the acceptance of change, the letting go, was the hardest thing. To leave the hurt behind, to treasure the present and look forward to the future … it seemed so simple. But the hurt was all she had left of him, and she wasn’t ready to give him up, not yet.

They say that it takes one hundred days to break a habit. No contact for one hundred days. The first day was so hard. And then not contacting him on the second day, then the third. And just when she began to feel she was getting somewhere, a momentarily lapse, a longing, a sadness … so she messaged him. He did not respond of course. Did he even read her heartfelt words, or just press delete? Did he think of her at all, or was it really that easy for some people to just move on? She felt frustrated, ashamed, angry with herself for being so weak. And so, she deleted his number, and went back to day one. And the cycle would begin again. A resolve to move on. Then an overwhelming sadness. A demented search for his number which she had hidden away, but couldn’t quite destroy. An unanswered message. The hurt.

She did all the right things. Eat, sleep, repair. Life goes on. Eventually, after more day one’s than she could remember, she gave up. He was gone. The days became weeks, then months, and the moments they shared felt like they had happened to someone else, someone she didn’t know.

She could not see it then, but it is true what they say that time heals. Hope is like a drop of morning dew, slowly tumbling from a fragile leaf into a deep, dark pond. A broken heart slowly, slowly mends while life goes on around it. The sun rises, the day happens, the sun sets, time to sleep and forget … and so it goes on. And all the while, those drops, the light catching them as they fall, those tiny drops of hope, land and ripple, until the surface of the pond changes for ever, bringing light into the darkness. Drip, drip, drip …

 

finding A Broken Heart

“The hottest love has the coldest end” (Socrates) 

Whether we realise it or not, when life throws us into the darkened depths of emotional trauma, the journey forward follows the same path for us all. 

Years before, on the day her husband had called her at work with news of redundancy, as she sat in the staff room, numb with shock, a friend took a sheet of paper and drew what she called “the trough of despair”.  The journey from loss to hope. It is always the same. The initial shock, numbness and denial, anger even, trying to make sense of it all.  Then the fear and loneliness set in, those long days and nights, when it feels like there is no way out.  And then, finally, an acceptance of what has happened, starting to mend and finding hope.  That’s just how it is.

What makes the journey different for us all, is the depth the trauma and how long it takes us to move from the loss to the hope.  For some, while the journey is still hard, with love and support, they will find a way forward.  Others may never climb out of the darkness.

While the end of her marriage would always leave a sadness in her heart, the grief had crept up over many years.   What had never occurred to her, not for one second, was that her journey forward could bring with it such desperate depths of emotional despair, in the form of a broken heart. 

Surely that was the kind of thing that teenagers went through, when they struggled with the onset of puberty, rampaging hormones and low self-esteem. Surely, this woman who had been brave enough to leave a 30-year marriage that was no longer fulfilling her, surely that mature, confident woman, would have the benefit of life experience to avoid those pitfalls? What hadn’t occurred to her, was that she was probably the most vulnerable she had ever been in her life.

She had seen it coming, of course.  Truth be told, we can always see it coming, if we are brave enough to look.  It is there, just sitting, waiting, waiting.

With him, she always felt it in her stomach. An ache that she chose to ignore, because the desperate realisation of what it meant was too awful to bear.  Ignoring it meant she could hold on to hope, and, in those early days, hope was all she had.  

He was so self-assured, not arrogant exactly, but with a nonchalance that made him all the more attractive to the opposite sex.  It never really felt like she would grow old with him, but their emotional highs were so life-changing for her, and the physical attraction so strong, that the relationship became like a drug, always coming back for more. 

It was always going to end this way. but she, in all her vulnerability, had fallen in love.  She heard his hesitation, the intake of breath at the other end of the line, and those four words.  “I’ve met someone else”. And she broke.