It’s the heaviness of insignificance that sets in first–the realization that everything you once thought about this person or people was misguided. This is when you realize that you were painting the factual black, white and many gray areas with your brush, heavy with all of the colors you saw in them. In truth, there were glimpses of these colors, but never the full on expression of them—outside of the ones only you saw with rose-colored glasses.
The pain hurts deep. The depth of this agony you struggle to give words to, but all you wish to do is be quiet and hope it just goes away quickly. You admonish yourself for doing it again—for ignoring all of the signs that were as plain as the ones on the street you live on. They were there, but you allowed those stop signs to morph into yield signs, and then turn into green lights as you compromised everything you held dear just to shelter the tiny light of what might be possible.
You remember well the days that you fell from high places, over and over again. You explained away situations that you never would’ve tolerated from family, should they ever try to attempt them. And why is this? Is it nature or nurture that spurs you onward? Is it the small thought that grows in the silence that says you are insignificant without someone to call you the best, the prettiest and the loveliest of all? Be it friend or lover, we tell ourselves these lies to have just one more time, one more party, one more hit of this drug called love.
But is it truly love that we are experiencing? Are we experiencing the fullness and selflessness of love when we find ourselves waiting beneath someone else’s table for scraps that happen to fall? Is it the wanting to craft a life that looks like the ones you have been told to have? Is it love when we thirst while offering all of ourselves in a goblet to be consumed—with nary a drop left to sustain us? Is it love, when it is more important for the object of your affection to be satisfied and for you always to be in want?
I used to think that this was love. I was deluded enough to give enough of my air until I was left gasping for breath. I was deluded enough to change and to compromise when there was a part of me that said it was wrong. I was deluded enough to think that enough of this sacrifice, would eventually be reciprocated in such an overwhelming display, that I would not be able to contain my gratefulness. I was wrong.
My first reaction was to blame and stomp my feet in such a display of inner toddlerhood, that I would be noticed and the other party would have to feel sorry for what they had done to me. But I soon realized that your tears and pain will never move anyone who wasn’t even moved enough to reciprocate your joy. I realized, even though I continued to make these mistakes that you cannot project the heart you have onto other people. That heart does not live within them. They are not moved by the things you are moved by. Lucky are you to find someone whose heart matches yours, for I believe it is a rare thing indeed.
Friends and lovers alike must be seen as they are. They will show you the extent of their compassion in those sentences you choose to ignore. They will show you their commitment during days of suffering and lack. They will show you who they are when moments come to knock their feet out from under them. Do they attempt to get out of the way and grab your hand in the process? Do they shift blame upon your shoulders in an attempt to not dirty their perceived image of themselves? Do they leave you when it matters most that they stay? If so, now is not the time to wonder why. They’ve shown their colors or lack thereof and you chose not to believe them. So instead of needlessly wondering why, crying and wishing to get them back, take this time to get you back.
Do you know who you are? Besides your name and what you tend to eat for breakfast, do you really know who you are? Do you recognize that part of you that is willing to settle for much less than what you deserve? Do you strive to make someone’s life so good that you leave yourself last? Are you craving years of attention that you did not get? Are you a fixer or a helper? Are you in some self-imposed or media-inspired imaginary race against time to have the whirlwind romance, marry and have children?
Whatever it is, recognize it, thank it for the lessons that it has taught you and send it on its way. There is no blueprint that is to be followed that guarantees you a good life until you die, and getting caught up in social media highlight reels leaves out so much reality. People fight, people suffer, people die, people are shaken to their core, but all of the happy smiling pictures do not show these things. All of the vacation snaps show the beautiful things and not the hiccups that happen. Reality is far messier than this.
For example, I leave my wedding pictures up on my page because it was a time in my life. That time is gone, never to return, but I am not regretting it because it was what it was. It is a part of my story that taught me lessons that I needed to learn. When I was going through the grinding down of my marriage, I volleyed the idea back and forth that I should take them down. I thought about what others would think, and how I would feel after years had gone by and they still graced my page. I soon realized that I was falling into the trap of trying to create an experience for the follower and not for myself. So, they remain.
Everyone will have their own reasons for doing this or that, but my reasoning was solid. I wasn’t pissed off on the day. I wasn’t feeling, on that late June day, like I felt going through my divorce. For instance, I never picked a bridal party, because I never wanted to. So in one of my pictures, my ex-husband, child and I are sitting with all of the attendees behind us. This, I declared, was my bridal party. It is my favorite picture out of all of them. There are faces that were in my life at the time and are no longer, faces of people who have passed away, and it is a moment in time I will never get back. I cherish this picture the most because it is the most real. It probably best signifies how I feel about people. This has to be one of the most unique bridal parties I have ever seen, and that is how I wanted it. Unfortunately, there are people who could not be there due to circumstances at that moment in time, but in my heart I include them since they were there in spirit.
In conclusion, love is not without pain. Love in its purest form stands tall and perseveres. It is not on the take during the sunshine of life and absent through the struggle. It stands firm like the forest in a rainstorm—while some trees succumb to the force of nature in their lives, life begins again, takes root, and will grow stronger if you surrender to all that love is, and understand what it is not. Allow love to begin again with you, for there is no rush. In the pruning season what does not serve us, leaves, in order for us to grow stronger and sure of our footing in the Earth. Place your heart in good soil, water it with the joy of all that you believe and hold dear, and care for it as you should. Anyone worthy of time in your garden will be patient during all seasons of your growth and not just impatient for harvest time.