finding Heartbreak, Again

“Perhaps this is what the stories meant when they called somebody heartsick. Your heart and your stomach and your whole insides felt empty and hollow and aching.”
(Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

He was gone.

She always knew, of course, that he would leave to follow his dream – he’d told her that right from the start.  He never said he’d stay because of her … and even if he had, she would have told him to go anyway.  This was something he had to do, and though they’d talked of her following him one day, for now he had to do this alone, to find himself, to find his path.  It was a difficult time, an emotional time, when he needed space to prepare for the journey ahead. She found herself caught in the no-mans-land between the life he had and the life he was going to, and as her vulnerability grew, so did the distance between them.

She knew how it would end … yet she loved him anyway. The waiting game moved to a new chapter, one where she did not know if she would ever see him again. His leaving broke her heart.

The difference this time, she reasoned,  was that she knew she would be fine, she had survived this before. She knew how it would play out, the journey from loss to hope.  She was stronger now. She would not let it pull her down to the depths of despair, fear, longing and sadness she had felt before. She would not give it the head space.  She would be kind to her soul, her very essence of being, and laugh again.  She would accept that he had gone, and live her life to the full, without him.  That was her plan.

But her heart did not hear. There is no short cut from loss to hope.  Days of despair and fear cannot be shortened to just one day, sadness and longing do not give in to hope without a fight.  He had taken a piece of her with him, and so, like before, heartbreak wrapped its icy fingers round her soul, and she lived her life as best she knew how, while she waited for the thaw.

 

 

 

finding Love, Again

“Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.”

(D H Lawrence, “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”)

A year since he had broken her heart, almost to the day.

A year of finding her way through an emotional whirlpool of desperation, anger, devastating sadness, fear, loneliness, self-doubt … let no-one say that letting go is easy.  It is not.

Nonetheless, she’d made it through.  Where once the thought of just getting through a day seemed more than she could bare, at last she found herself looking forward instead of wondering what could have been. She no longer needed to wear the mask that told the world she was fine … because she was.   She had chiselled away at the mountain of hurt with a courage and determination that she would no longer let it stand in her way.

They say you have to love yourself, before you can love someone else. She understood that now, and perhaps that had been the problem all along. While she struggled to find out who she really was, she’d looked to him to fill in all the gaps, to show her the way, to prop her up as she dipped those first tentative toes into her new life. May be it had all been too much to ask.

The past cannot be changed, so the only way forward is to accept it, learn from it, and find out a way to mend. She was still finding out, but she’d come a long way  in a year… and it showed.

She could feel the life she’d imagined pulling her forward and she ran to it , arms outstretched, with the hope and belief that it was hers to live, right there, just in front of her grasp.  She had come through, trusted in her journey, and her heart was open. She felt a force coming towards her, so strong that it would change her life.

So when, a few days later,  she saw him for the first time, she knew …

 

Also published in Mantra Mood (September 2017)

 

 

 

finding A Restful Mind

“When we hold on too tightly to our attachments we are trying to keep them just as they are, to make them permanent. But nothing in life is permanent.”
(“The Restful Mind”, Gyalwa Dokhampa)

She always liked to feel it found her, just sitting there, waiting for her to pass by and pick it up.

It happened  one afternoon on one of those days.

When she left her marriage, she had, of necessity, taught herself to embrace solitude, though still the thought of a day on her own had the capacity to leave a dull thud in her stomach and an uneasiness which she couldn’t quite put her finger on.  

Some people have it all worked out, her daughter being one of them.  She embraces her alone time and uses every opportunity to feed her soul, be it reading, creating, walking … an inspiration. 

For some reason, it did not come to her so easily. In those days, after him, and before she knew the life that was waiting for her, she filled the empty hours between work and sleep with a determination to show the world she was getting out and moving on, a determination not to look her solitude in the eye. But there were days when there was nothing, no-one … and nowhere to hide from the panic that squeezed the life from her resolve. Those were the hardest days. The not-knowing-how-it -would-all-turn-out days. The too-much thinking-time days. So, so hard.

On that day, with no plans to speak of, she decided on fresh air and a walk.

The library was less than 10 minutes away …. so not much of a walk …. but something drew her in, perhaps being amongst people but not having to talk or make an effort to pretend.  And there is was, on a table by the door, beckoning to her … a book, “The Restful Mind”.

Later, snugged back home, she read it cover to cover and for the first time in months, it felt like she truly understood how to mend.  It’s all in how we think, she knew that. This book, written she later realised by a Buddhist, really showed her the road to acceptance of change, and how her busy, busy restless mind, so frightened of silence, could become calm, restful …. and truly move on.

Finally, her heart was ready to let happiness back in.

 

 

finding Barcelona (2014)

“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 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.