I try to stay away from anything political or negative, there is enough of that in the world. But the conversation in the United States yesterday upset me so much I couldn’t help posting an article on Facebook with a quote from Bill Gates saying we can’t ignore the stack of bodies in the corner to restart our economy.
With my post, I said this: I do not in any way diminish the cost of this pandemic to families, but I don't think we can put a dollar amount on lives. This isn't about old or young, every life is precious and this virus is killing people of all ages. The sooner we take it seriously, the sooner we can overcome and build a new normal. I am sickened by the politicians suggesting people willingly sacrifice their lives to save the economy and the stories of pharma companies poised to exploit loopholes to profit from death. Times like these reveal character. Theirs and ours, for better or for worse.
One person in particular posted multiple comments disagreeing with me, saying his father lived through the Great Depression and we definitely don’t want that. He sited riots in the streets in other countries over the hit their economy is taking with the virus and said this isn’t the time for hating Trump. To vote in November and respect the results. There was an air of condescension in his posts - the impression that I just didn’t understand what it was to do without, so my suggestion that people matter was done in ignorance.
I typed up a response. A long one. But the reality is, my sister spoke to each of his points better than I could have, so I decided to take my response and use it as a basis for a post here. I’m sure some of my readers will walk away from me after this, and while that makes me sad because I treasure each of you, what’s the point of having a voice if you don’t use it?
This is the time for people to speak up - loudly - for what is right. It is a time for us to band together to get through this. To set aside differences and remember that we are stronger together, and whatever storms come our way, we will weather them if we cling to hope and love.
I may not have lived through the Great Depression, but my children and I have known incredible hardship. We’ve lost every single thing we’ve owned. Been homeless. Been hungry. Lived in places so cold we would freeze to death if I fell asleep and didn’t stoke the fire on time. We are in a very brief period of comfort in our lives. The only one that’s been truly peaceful because there is no abuse to navigate. I do not take the crash of our economy lightly.
And yes, I hate Trump, but his words weren’t the one that sparked my post. It was the Lt Gov of Texas, actually. And yes, now is absolutely the time to call out the complete leadership vacuum at the federal level. We need to remember this moment when we vote in November - those who are left alive to vote, that is.
We do not get an easy choice here. If we are flip with human lives to save our economy, enough people will die that it will most assuredly still impact our economy.
In my county, the largest number of cases are 20 - 30 year olds. This disease will not just wipe out seniors. It will take our workforce, too. Think of the expense of a million or more insurance policies being paid out. Family breadwinners gone. Our workforce depleted.
I am a single mother. If I don’t put a roof over my children’s head, they don’t have one. If I don’t feed them, they don’t eat. If restrictions are lifted, my employer will absolutely want me back in the office even though my job can easily be done from home.
I am immune compromised. I will catch it if that’s not what I’m already dealing with at the moment. I catch everything these days. My fear is not for myself but for my 20-year-old asthmatic son. Is my 16-year-old with the blood disorder also high risk? Probably.
I am all for people returning to work as soon as is safely possible, but nothing I’ve heard from our federal government gives me any reassurance our safety is at all on his mind.
We need testing. We need to understand how widespread this is and who has immunity before we can have the conversation about returning to work. We need to be gearing up for what is about to hit our hospitals.
We had the gift of knowing what was coming and we squandered it. It’s time for our leadership to step up and be leaders. Since I am lucky enough to be working from home, as long as I have income, I will do my part to help those around me who need it. We will have to band together to survive this. But we can survive it if we don’t start acting like inhumane fools at the very start of this crisis. We are better than this, or we can be if we choose to be.
COVID-19 will cost this world much and in many ways. We can’t let it take our humanity, too.
I love old Bibles. There is something very intimate about reading them and seeing what’s been highlighted, the notes in the margin. When I read a Bible from those who came before me, I feel I know them better.
Last week, I was reading a King James Bible from 1964, and one passage in particular struck me. They’d changed one word. One simple word, and the effect was so powerful that it weighs heavy on my heart even now, a week after I’ve read the passage.
Dear readers, whether you are a christian or not, whatever your faith, please read on with an open heart.
It’s a common passage, a favorite at weddings. Here it is in the NIV version:
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13 (NIV)
Now here it is, King James style.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
1 Corinthians 13 (KJV)
Don’t get me wrong - the passage is beautiful as it’s commonly known. But I think the use of the word charity is pivotal to understanding love. The definition of charity in this context is “kindness and tolerance in judging others.”
It doesn’t matter what we do, what wisdom we think we hold, the acts of “charity” we perform, if we do not show kindness and tolerance in judging others, we are a sounding brass, a resounding gong, a clanging cymbal.
Imagine the chaos of a middle school brass band. That’s a pretty good visual for modern day Christianity on Facebook.
For some reason, I felt compelled to read the book of Amos last week. I couldn’t fathom why. I tried to ignore the urge as I sat down, intending to re-read the book of Romans. But I literally opened my Bible directly to Amos chapter 1. It felt like God really wanted me to read Amos, so I did.
And when I got to Amos 5:23-24, I knew why: Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!
As I thumbed through my Bible some more, I came to James 1:27: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
And then I thought of Micah 6:8: He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
There are nuances in the Bible, things that we could spend our entire lives searching out and not know the answer to on this side of eternity. But in some things, God is abundantly clear.
In Matthew 28:19, we’re given what is known as the great commission. We’re not told to elect a particular candidate or further a cause on Facebook, we’re told, “Go and make disciples of all nations…”
When asked what the greatest commandment is, Jesus was incredibly clear: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (Matthew 22:37-40)
I’ve had these words bumping around my brain for the past week, intending to write them and never quite getting around to it because I was sidetracked with life and pandemics and such. But then, this morning, my sister posted a well-reasoned article. She even said she rarely talked politics on Facebook because it never went well, but thought the article was worth the read. Her commentary was reasonable. Two non-Christians debated with her on a political level, one with more intellect than the other, but still civil.
And then came the woman wrapped in piousness, spewing hate and vitriol as she viciously attacked my sister, repeatedly. It reminded me of a viper from a horror film, striking again and again without remorse or mercy. There was such hate and ignorance spilling from this woman’s mouth that I was literally shaking with rage. This woman said these things in the name of Jesus.
Just because someone invokes the name of Jesus in their argument does not mean they do so with his approval.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV)
To my non-Christian friends who see this kind of behavior running rampant, please hear me: the hate these people spew is not of God. It is not of Christ. I love God. I follow Christ, but I do not condone the actions of others who claim to do the same. I have read the Bible in its entirety multiple times and nowhere in it do I see words that condone this type of behavior.
For my christian friends: it is vitally important that we remember we are what people see of Christ. If we choose to bear his name, we must also bear his witness. The words from our mouths and from our fingertips will draw people to his light and love or they will turn them away.
If we do not embrace love, mercy, justice - charity, we will not only fail in the great commission, we will keep others from seeking God, let alone ever finding him. If we believe what we say we do - that sentence should hold serious weight.
And for every Christian out there who is saddened by the vitriol spewed by the modern Western church, speak up. Speak truth. Speak love. The world so desperately needs both.
I don’t know why, but football has always felt a bit metaphoric to me. So many times, I’ve rooted for a team and watched them play valiantly only to be be knocked down and it felt a lot like life. Somewhere in my weird brain, it started to feel like if - just once - the team I was rooting for could win, maybe I could to.
Last year was difficult, to say the least. It had some amazing moments and I know without a doubt it was the beginning of something new and wonderful for me and my family, but it wasn’t an easy beginning. And for something new to begin, it means something else must end. It was a year of pain and growth and trials and so many things besides. But I believe in my heart the seeds planted in 2019 will grow into something beautiful.
I ended the year with a cancer scare, amongst other things. The tumor they found is benign, but the wait for the verdict felt long. There were a few things conspiring to make December a really difficult month for me. It very nearly won. By time people were dressing up for their New Year celebrations, I was the lowest I’ve been in a long time. The people closest to me were genuinely concerned for me, and they weren’t wrong to be.
And then I woke up on January 1, 2020, and it felt like a weight had been lifted. I don’t usually put much stock in the changing of the years. I don’t do resolutions. Midnight doesn’t feel magical to me. But this year felt somehow different. I knew in my heart it was time to move forward, to leave behind toxic relationships and habits. To stop expecting bad and keep reaching for good.
A friend of a friend commented on Facebook that after a turning point in her life, she started living as if the odds were stacked in her favor and it changed everything. It felt so profound to me. I hadn’t even realized how much I had come to expect life to suck. Sure, I kept looking for the good in all things, but I’d begun to accept that the team I was rooting for would lose.
I’m right there with all of the memes about January being a long year. By the end of it, my rekindled sense of optimism was already being sorely tested. But the reality is that a lot of good happened in the offset of 2020, too. I’ve taken better care of myself. Focused on the healthy relationships in my life. Written more than I have in years. Painted. Slept through the night.
My youngest son said he could see a difference in me, that I seem happier, lighter. He’s right. I am happier, and I have a pretty good idea of what I want - in life, in my career, and in a partner. And I’m no longer willing to settle for less. I’m ready to reach for the good, believing the odds are stacked in my favor.
So when the Chiefs won last night, I celebrated not only because I’m a huge fan, but because it felt like an affirmation that this is the year the team I’m rooting for can, in fact, win. And it’s spectacular.
When you tackle someone in football, you’re supposed to keep your head up. Tackling with your head down, also known as spearing, is a good way to injure people--yourself and your opponent. It’s so dangerous, in fact, that it was banned at all levels of the sport in 1976. Despite the ban, it’s a practice that persists, in large part because coaches fear that teaching their players the correct way to tackle will curb their aggressiveness. It seems a startlingly large number of coaches actually go the other way, teaching their players to use their helmet as a weapon, despite the fact that it dramatically increases the risk of serious injury on both sides of the tackle--like, permanent, crippling injury. It’s such a big deal that the NFL addressed it again in 2018, making a rule that spearing can lead to a 15 yard penalty or even ejection from the game.
We’ll set aside for a moment that there are grown men teaching children to permanently injure other children just to increase the number of wins under their belt and secure their jobs. Because if I go down that path, it’ll just turn into a tirade. A blinding rage, mama bear tirade.
My youngest is nursing his second concussion of the season. Second. Both are the result of the other team intentionally playing dirty and intentionally inflicting a head injury. I’m struggling to wrap my brain around this on so many levels. How one human could harm another just because, how a grown man could teach children to harm each other, how a grown man could knowingly endanger a child’s entire future just to pad his own ego… again, mama bear tirade. There are a couple of football coaches in the St Louis area who should probably walk the other way if they see me coming. But I digress.
What I really want to talk about today is not about the entitled sleazeballs, but about my son’s football team. About the coaches who put the kids first and go out of their way to teach them how to play the sport safely. About the programs out there that care about the kind of humans they’re shaping these young men to be. About the men who stepped in as father figures to my son and how very lost and angry he was before he found football.
I want to talk about the fact that my son’s team held their heads high even when things got rough. They played with courage and grace and heart no matter how dirty it got out on that field. The fact that there are still teams like that, still young men like that, gives me hope for our future as a society.
Because life sucks. People don’t fight fair. They pay unfair wages even when they have the means to do the right thing. They step on each other for the sake of greed, pride, and pure meanness. The playing field of life is not level. And while I am killing myself to give my children a boost up because I hope their road is easier than my own has been, I’d much rather they learn to keep their heads high no matter what life throws at them. Someone else fighting dirty isn’t an invitation to get down in the mud with them, it’s a call to rise above.
There are a few reasons my blog and books have been largely silent the past couple of years. In part, it’s just been the reality of life. I’m a single mom working multiple jobs and shuttling teenagers. There’s not a lot of time or brain power left at the end of all that to be creative.
But I’ve also been struggling with a bit of an identity crisis. As my friend Jesse puts it, “We’re not talking to Happy Heather right now…” It's hard to write about hope and love when my faith in both has been shaken to its core.
After years of silence, the words inside me are starting to shake loose again. The book they’re producing is different. It’s not part of Throwaway’s world. Jesse also told me to stop worrying about how it fit into the platform and just to write it for me, so that’s what I’m doing. And, as usual, the words are helping me process, to find healing. I’m not sure where they’re taking me, but I believe it’s somewhere better.
And I’m realizing that like my son’s football team, I want to keep my head high, even if those around me don’t. Because it’s not about winning a game, it’s about who I am as a person. And I don’t want to be the person who doesn’t believe in love, the person who’s lost hope.
It feels like the entire last year has been one dirty tackle after another, but there’s been a lot of good in it, too. So I’m gonna spit the mud out of my mouth, pick myself up, and keep playing the game with my head high.
I’ll also be figuring out what to do about dirty high school football programs and my platform (and books) might be a bit cheekier than my long-time readers are used to, but my head’ll be high...
The coffee table in my basement is a destroyer of children. When my oldest, Dylan, was hardly more than a toddler, he was picking up his toys and cracked the corner of his eye on it, earning his first stitches.
But I was the table’s first victim. When I was four, racing through the house to get my shoes so I could go to Scotty’s Hardware with my dad, I wiped out and gave myself a helluva black eye. Instead of going to the store--and getting an ice cream cone--I was left behind to sob inconsolably on my mother’s lap.
I recently ventured back into the dating world. It’s the first I’ve really opened myself up to the idea that I could find someone else since The One Who Makes Me Smile broke my heart. And I did meet someone I thought seemed nice. We had a lot in common and he told me how beautiful I was, something I sorely needed to hear after the six-month torturous death of my last relationship. That first foray into the dating world ended as abruptly as it began, though. I bounced back pretty quickly, but there was a day I was pretty down about it.
I was talking to my sister on that particular day and she brought up the Scotty’s incident from all those years ago. She said she often wondered what that did my psyche, the fact that I was racing through the house so I wouldn’t be left behind. And when I fell, he didn’t scoop me up to tend my wounds. He left me behind. She said I’d spent my life chasing perfection to earn love. That all I’d ever wanted was to belong, to find where I fit. Apparently both of my sisters had been discussing it the other day, that men took advantage of that in me and they worried about me now that I was dating again. I think the last two years were hard on the people who loved me because they worried all along he’d break my heart.
Sometimes I feel like my family doesn’t really see me. Not who I truly am. In that moment, though, I felt like both of my sisters saw right through to the most vulnerable parts of my soul.
I stayed with a publisher who was bad for my career because of the sense of family it gave me. I stayed in a bad marriage more than a decade after I knew it was dead because I didn’t want to lose his family. I could point to a lot of times I stayed longer than I should have in jobs, relationships, or situations because of that sense of belonging.
My whole life, I have craved family. Not just flesh and blood, but the tribe of people you belong to. I think raising my boys helped with that, but as my time with them rapidly draws to a close--or at least, with them as we are now--I think it’s bothering me more and more than I haven’t found my person yet. I want a family. I want somewhere to go on holidays, people to gather at the lake with or coming and going from my house at gatherings. But I’d be truly thrilled to find my person. The one I can tell anything to. The one who has my back no matter what. The one who won’t leave me behind.
It’s hard to admit this. I sometimes feel a bit like the only place I do belong is on the Island of Misfit Toys because I haven’t found that person. A friend tells me it’s because I live life full speed ahead and I keep picking boys who can’t keep up. He’s not wrong.
Maybe that’s the problem. I’ve spent my life trying to be perfect for someone who was never going to be perfect for me. I’ve given myself black eyes for people who didn’t deserve my time, let alone my heart.
This year has been one of immense pain but also immense growth. Of letting go and new beginnings. I’m learning to lean in to my feelings. To trust them. To not be so hard on myself. To give myself credit for things I’ve done right and let myself off the hook for the missteps.
I can feel this terrible, wonderful year leading me to something better. To being someone better. Or, at very least, to being okay with the someone I am. While there are times I question his judgment, God made me who I am for a reason. The world must have needed one of me. I’m not just a spare part.
This past weekend was spent at a music festival with my boys. We had an amazing time and I met all kinds of wonderful people. Something about the weekend brought all of this full circle for me. I realized I’ve found a place I belong, a job that’s as much a family as a career move. Friends who love me. And my boys aren’t leaving. Our family will only grow as they do.
I also realized I’ve led an amazing life. I mean, it’s occurred to me before, but it really washed over me again this weekend. My life has been truly phenomenal. It’s full to the brim with people from all over the world who I love and who love me, even if I haven’t found that one person to do the day-to-day stuff with.
And I have to believe my person is still out there. Maybe I’ve already met him. Maybe not. But until I do, I’m determined to do a better job of guarding my heart. No more black eyes for me. At least, not the self-inflicted kind.
A couple of weeks ago, I posted something on my personal Facebook wall about anger. At the time, anger was sweeping through me with such ferocity I was a little afraid I would lose myself to it.
The post was a quote encouraging people to use their anger to fuel action. For the most part, it was met with encouraging words from friends who know me well enough to be concerned for me. But it was also met with a few well-intentioned but anger-inducing words that basically said anger is never appropriate.
In no frame of mind to discuss it—because I was clinging to my sanity for dear life—I deleted the comments, something I don’t typically do. But I’ve spent a lot of time since then not only trying to regain peace but wondering why it is that we as humans have such an odd relationship with anger, and why it’s particularly frowned on in women.
Because while the Bible cautions us to not sin in our anger, and it speaks against outbursts of wrath, and in the book of James, we learn that the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God, I would argue that there is a place for anger in our lives and not acknowledging is much more harmful than seeing it, owning it, and channeling it.
Ignoring anger is what allows it to turn into bitterness, and bitterness is a cancer that eats away at our souls and our relationships.
I have built a brand on the image of Happy Heather, but I am angry.
I am angry at the CEOs who used me for my mind without acknowledging me or paying me a living wage, leaving my family to struggle.
I am angry at my ex-husband and the choices he made and continues to make, at the hurt he has caused me and our children.
I am angry that every time I lift my head up, there is an avalanche waiting to bury me.
I am angry at the men who assaulted and raped me.
I am angry at the childhood wounds inflicted by those who should have protected my heart.
I am angry that I spent so much time healing from those wounds, only to have everything stripped away by alcoholism and dementia.
I am angry that I have to watch my father die a horrible death.
I am angry that the VA would leave him to die under a bridge. That there are no resources available to our veterans, and we are left with the option of my mother being left penniless or my father being shipped to whatever facility they can happen to find—assuming he survives the wait.
I am angry at the old coots sitting at “The V” in Republic, Missouri who snuck him booze when we tried to dry him out two years ago and then left us to deal with the disaster they created.
I am angry that it ripped my family apart. That where there was once cookouts and laughter and love, there is now silence echoing throughout the emptiness of our world.
I am angry that the man I love doesn’t want to build a world with me. That he gave me hope and made me long for something he had no intention of giving. That he hurt my children in the process.
I am angry at how incredibly alone I feel.
I am angry at the powerlessness I feel.
I am angry at the church for turning from Jesus and to politics.
I am angry at the number of people who have been turned away from God by those who purport to follow him.
I am angry about the human beings in concentration camps in our country.
I am angry that instead of looking for real solutions to the question of abortion, women’s health is being legislated in dangerous ways.
I am angry for the children forgotten in foster homes and abject poverty in our own backyard.
I am angry that after a decade of crying out against human trafficking, we haven’t even made a dent because people do not care. Bargain deals matter more than human lives.
I am angry that I’m stacking people into my house like cordwood because young people cannot earn a living wage in this country. Jobs are aplenty, but none of them offer a salary someone can live on.
The problem is not with my anger. Yes, it is a secondary emotion—in every instance above, I can point to the pain, injustice, and a sense of powerlessness that are fueling it. But the anger is real and shoving it down will do nothing beyond allowing it to fester.
I shoved it down for 41 years, and when my father’s crash-and-burn ripped back the scabs covering that anger, the power of it nearly consumed me.
I don’t want to keep this anger. My point is not to hold on to it. It has to be acknowledged, investigated, channeled and then released. I must move forward and leave it behind, and that’s a continual process.
But in that process, I use my anger to fuel me. To guide my decisions. To draw boundaries. To fix what I can and fight for others.
Because we have much to be angry about. But there is also love, and beauty and joy to be had. To deny the anger gives it power over us instead of using its power to move us beyond, to something better.
I have no idea why, but today I had the compelling urge to listen to Chicago—something I did often as a preteen but haven’t done in years. For some reason, as I sit here nursing a shattered heart and navigating adulting minefields and intense family drama, I decided I needed to listen to Chicago. Because that’s just what I need right now, more feels.
The first song to come through my earbuds, I realized it’s all their fault. Maybe not the minefields and family drama, but the broken heart is on that danged sappy group.
Couldn't stand to be kept away, just for the day, from your body. Wouldn't want to be swept away, far away, from the one that I love.
That. I want someone who feels that. I grew up listening to music like that, writing books about it. My heart yearns for something that feels impossible right now. I’m not sure if he ever felt that, the one who made me smile, the guy who brought me back to life. Maybe he did and just didn’t let himself show it. Or maybe he just didn’t. As much as my romantic heart rebels at the notion, it happens.
I know he loved me. There was a time when anyone in the room with us could see how much we adored each other, but somewhere along the way, he stopped enjoying me. Our relationship became more work than not. Not because I was a diva or he was a jerk. It was life, mostly. Life and outside influences. People with their own selfish interests putting up roadblocks. Neither of us handled it as well as we could have, but we tried. I genuinely believe we both did.
After we broke up, I reposted sage words of internet wisdom on my Facebook wall. He wasn’t speaking to me and part of me wished—naively, I know—that he’d see it and some sort of light bulb would go off in his head. (Which would give me the added bonus of being the first person ever to change someone’s mind via a Facebook post.)
Instead, what I got was a comment from an old colleague: All you need is love.
I think it would have hurt less if he’d physically punched me in the gut. I know I’m a romance novelist who has built her entire platform on hope and love and all kinds of sunshiney stuff, but I firmly believe that statement is absolute crap. Like it was my fault for not loving him enough.
I’ve seen people who were loved dearly drink themselves to death. I’ve seen women love their husbands but leave because they couldn’t take the emotional or physical abuse anymore. And sometimes you can love someone, immensely, and still say “no more” because their actions hurt you and keep hurting you and at some point, your heart (and sanity) just can’t take anymore.
I loved that man, deeply, and I believe he loved me. But here I sit, alone. Listening to Chicago and wishing things were somehow different. Because it takes more than love. It takes work, and a choice. Maybe even a daily choice.
I believe that relationships (of all kinds) are not static; they’re fluid and ever-evolving. Either we move toward people or away from them, but we never run completely parallel to them.
When you first learn to drive, you realize that it’s not as simple of a process as it seems—there’s a lot of counter-correcting involved. If your wheels are aligned and the driver is good, you don’t notice it, but it’s still happening. I think maybe relationships are kind of like that. And somewhere along the way, the counter-correcting happening in mine was reminiscent of a 15-year-old behind the wheel for the first time. We meant well, but we were giving each other whiplash.
There is so much in my life that is good right now. I love my new town. My children have turned into ah-mazing men and are flourishing. My dogs are at me feet. I am safe; I am comfortable.
I am sad.
I mourn my family, tattered and torn remnants are all that remains of what was once a big, bustling family full of love and laughter (and craziness, but there was a lot that was good). Childhood wounds lie gaping at the surface, the scars that covered them ripped open by alcohol and dementia and so much brokenness.
I worry about money, cars, work, and my irritating landlord.
And I grieve the loss of the man I love.
The Facebook gods have been serving me all kinds of self-help ads. Recently, they showed me a TED Talk on grief. I felt guilty, identifying with that widow. It feels wrong to compare a breakup to death. But what she said resonated with me: that person you loved is always a part of you. You don’t move on from that. But you do have to move forward.
And so I will continue to put one foot in front of the other and move forward.
Maybe someday he’ll show up on my doorstep and leave no room for doubt in my mind and we’ll have that life together we’d been building.
Or maybe I will cry a little less each day. I’ll grow a little stronger each week. I’ll find my feet again. Learn to hope and love again.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll even write.