On Monday past, I received some stressful news which came with a jpeg. In defense of my incredible friend who sent me the message, they thought I would find the information, along with the image, merely interesting, a ‘hmm! fyi, thank God!‘ of sorts.
Only, it was not, and I did not.
What I did was fall into little bits of pieces which bobbed along the surface of her email and the photo.
Later heightened when on my way home, I came face to face with a man who ruled nearly half of my 2012 to extreme-and-until-then unmatched trauma.
Further impossibly made even worse by the fact that unbeknownst to me, my 3G network had stopped working for a few hours and so my texts to my friends went into some 3G black-hole, only I thought they were ignoring my messages (because I am certified) and reached the only possible and rational conclusions: No one loves me. I am not loveable.
Luckily, my not ailing wi-fi meant that my bbm was functioning and a gentle friend took pity on me and eased my bruising.
Also, thank God for Skype and a long distance BFF.
The news, by the way, was that the man to whom I would no longer be engaged had married this past summer. And the sadness which swallowed me whole, it had not a thing to do with him. The sadness was not a reflection on his no longer being any sort of available, but rather it came as a demolition to my self-worth for that entire afternoon, well into the night and for the next morning. By afternoon of Tuesday, with my previous night’s puffed-crying-face finally back to normal, my head was equally straight and I was happy that he had found a love. He and I, we had not ever been ‘meant to be’ and our break-up, no matter how devastating it was then, it was absolutely the best thing which could have happened to the both of us.
Having slipped into bed shortly after 8 that night, I lay crushed, my mind spinning after a maddeningly incoherent Skype. Blessedly, around midnight and after hours of thought, I was able to speak to a friend and share coherently with them the reason for my debilitation: I feel like I lost, and I didn’t even know that I had been competing. He found someone to love him and to love. And I have not. How is this making me so sad? Why does this feel so unfair?, and then I sobbed into my blackberry and rubbed at my eyes while my friend listened quietly and said they understood. Which was the only thing I needed to hear – that the ugliness pouring from my lips was normal, that I was normal, that I was not alone, that I was not insane for feeling sad, hurt, and bewildered. That I was not some ugly creature for not wanting him to be love-happy, while I was not. (Like I wrote – ugliness.)
This man was not merely an ex-boyfriend, but rather he was someone with whom I had built a future and named our children. And now, though I never ever not ever would have engaged him again, he was suddenly building that future with another and in the moment of finding out, I became ugly.
Luckily, it was id ugly and id pain (thanks Freud; I still think you’re an ass). It was not the true loss of a love, nor an actual death of a beloved. It was my id doing what it does best – giving into my most base, irrational, and unwelcome ugliness. Upon a week’s worth of reflection, I believe that the only reason I was able to recover so quickly is because I did not battle it or deny it or pretend it wasn’t happening. Instead, I let the ugliness wash over and through me and I gave into its every corner with a massive and bleeding open heart. Like how one is supposed to go limp while falling and that results in the most minimal physical hurt, I believe this is that principle reflected emotionally.
Which is to say that for those of you who will experience this – and so many of you will – be gentle on yourselves. Be kind and patient with the toxic nature of your reaction to such news. Strip off your clothes, take off your mask and swim through it. Drink it, feast it, turn it into your lover. Without reservation, let shameful thoughts serve as your way out. And then by whatever most pointed means necessary, purify yourself from such ugliness – carefully and methodically wash from your skin this lover’s poison, because if you do not…
Then every lover who comes after will feel the weight of that pain and loss. Every lover who comes after will not understand the roughness on your skin which you will try to hide in shame. Each and every new love you pull into your arms will need to scrape away at the residue before they can find the glow and the softness of your warm skin.
Because without this softness of new-born skin, though we may be able to stand naked before a next lover, we can not possibly stand exposed. And it is only through our willing and active choice to stand exposed that we might truly find our ideal love.