Warning: if anyone reading this post considers a certain level of emotional honesty to be unbearable oversharing, then you'd better leave now.
Okay. Here's a picture I painted a day or so ago. It reflects much of who I am right now.
And here's a snapshot of a plant I was given a day or so earlier. The sweet little poinsettia suffered a rude shock leaving the store and being carried to the car on a frightfully cold day. It barely survived those few moments of transition. This picture also reflects how I feel right now.
Over the past few years, I have found tremendous healing in acknowledging painful feelings. It's taken much hard work to find a balance between standing calmly in the feelings and allowing them light and air, versus wallowing in them and sometimes coming near to drowning.
I'm gonna see right now if I can move forward in one particular area of my life by bearing witness to some deep pain I'm feeling. This is not at all easy for me to do. Much shame attaches itself to these feelings. I hope that by being open here I can banish some of that shame.
My father dominated the first portion of my life. My husband put his mark on the next three and one-half decades. Another man affected the few years since the divorce.
My father was a pedophile and I was his six-year-old victim. There's no erasing what he did. But oh, how I wish he had chosen to repent of his actions and apologize to me before he died.
My husband and I each brought serious emotional baggage to our union, and then faced some sharp and painful experiences during the marriage. I used every resource at my disposal to save our marriage. I wish my husband had done the same. Maybe he would have still chosen to end our marriage, but maybe it would have been easier to live with. Easier to get over. Easier to move past. I wish he had not turned to other women during our marriage. I wish I had not been so easily replaced.
I met a man at the time of the divorce who was part of my life for the next three-plus years. He said often that he valued my faith, my sense of humor, my loyalty, my spirituality, my sensuality. Then one day, without warning, he dropped me. No contact at all. No explanation. Just silence. After several letters from me, he finally left a phone message saying he'd "met someone and was moving on with his life."
I am grateful beyond words for so many ways in which I have grown and matured over these past few years. I love my friends, my faith, my family, my home. And yet there remains a raw, ragged hole in my heart, created not just by the fact of these three failed relationships, but by how each of the three men chose to treat me.
I have had to be the one to end some relationships. In so doing, I summoned all the kindness and courage I could and tried to tell the person, gently, why I was doing what I was doing.
Breakups happen. I get that. And even though my particular faith experience fills me with confidence that "with God all things are possible," I also realize that some people do feel as if they have to give up. That the emotional mountain before them is just higher than they can climb.
But can't even giving up be done with some measure of grace? When you have tied yourself to another human being, and your giving up directly affects their life and stability, wouldn't it just be plain ordinary kindness to cushion the breaking up in any way possible?
For my dear friends who are reading this, please know that I am okay. Truly. I've made it this far and I sure as heck am not giving up now. My intimacy with my heavenly Father has grown deeper than I ever thought possible. My home is, bit by slow bit, experiencing a fresh and joyful transformation. Daily I ask God to show me ways I can reach out to others with compassion and kindness.
But my heart is healing far more slowly than I would wish for. I realize that the three men I have mentioned are only three--just a mere trio out of how many millions of men on the planet. But those three men have overshadowed every single year I've been alive on this earth. It isn't being single that is difficult. I'm adjusting to that. It's being left. Dumped. Cut off. Abandoned. Ignored. Forgotten. Unwanted. Replaced. Erased.
I know that each of these three men fought their own demons. They made bad choices. I just wish that even one of them had had the courage to take some measure of responsibility for how their choices affected other people, like me. I wish even one of them had cared enough to bandage the wounds they inflicted on me.
I'll close this post by sharing another floral friend. These geraniums lived outside one summer a few years ago until a hard frost threatened. I didn't mean to be rough, but I had to speed to get them out of the ground and inside, safe and warm. They responded by hanging on.
They are gangly and not terribly attractive, but oh, they bloom with a fierce persistence. Look at them, and you see me.