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.

 

 

finding Marrakech (2013)

“Life is either a daring adventure …… or nothing” (Helen Keller)

Their paths crossed, and she knew her world would never be the same again. Right from the start, he’d told her they would have no future together – her means would never stretch to the far-flung corners of the world where his imagination took him … and yet, nearly a year on, his hand wrapped protectively around hers, they weaved their way together through the bustling alleyways of the Marrakech souks.

Just ahead of them, two elders walked in earnest conversation. Dressed in hooded robes, with something of a Jedi knight about them, they might well have talked of the sports results of the night before, but their rapid Berber dialect hinted of mysterious and foreign lands. They strolled the dusty, winding paths of the souks with a familiarity that paid scant regard to the haphazard passing traffic his protective hand sought to shield her from. A sun-wizened market trader sitting lazily side saddle on his trusty donkey. Some two dozen trays of freshly laid eggs balanced precariously on the rack of a rusting push bike, destined for the food stalls in the Kasbah. A spluttering moped, it’s trailer laden with vegetation wilting in the midday sun. A family of four astride another, the youngest, no more than a toddler, secured only by his father’s arms on the handlebars .

The souks opened before them like an Aladdin’s cave. Away from the perpetually busy, tourist saturated Jemaa El Fna. From the hypnotic rhythm of the snake charmers, cajoling the cobra to perform their dance, soporific in the intensity of the heat. Away from the menagerie of tricksters, pick-pockets, herbalists and story-tellers. Away from the water sellers, and the lines of caleches, their horses waiting patiently for their next fare.

Away to the dappled shade, where the true Marrakech artisans plied their wares in cool, darkened inlets built into the ancient ochre walls of the Medina. A soft hammering filled the air as intricate patterns emerged on the delicate lanterns. The heady aroma of pyramids of exotic spices, bubbling tagines, and rows of figs and dates attracting more flies than passing trade. Rows of soft leather babouches, lined up like an untarnished paint pallet with their pointy toes and colourful hues. And rugs hanging from every beam, their weaves steeped in tribal history and tradition.  The souks – all that is Marrakech in their every breath – lulled into an afternoon calm as the call for prayer echoed from the Koutoubia mosque.

The elders paused, looked back. A momentary meeting of eyes, of East meets West. Then they took another path, and were gone.

His protective hand shielded her still, as they emerged into the light of the bustling metropolis. And she wondered if he, like the elders, would one day take another path and leave her to find her own, or if they would follow a path together.

Inshallah …….