This exercise is part of a continued process I began through being a part of The Story Workshop at the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology in the summer of 2009. I continued to Write My Hard Thing(s) when I returned with writing partners and then last summer as a part of Story 101 in The Story Unfolding. Now I’m helping to coach others how to do the same.
I am afraid that you will die before we get to talk about what happened. That you will die and I will hear secondhand and not be allowed to grieve or attend a memorial.
I hate feeling the lack of closure. I wanted to connect the dots with you. I wanted to talk about what happened. About what I see. I wanted to talk about giving you up and how sad I am that the reason I did seems to not even matter in your current life.
I wanted to talk about how I wish we hadn’t loved with the brakes on, but that it probably couldn’t have been any other way.
It hurt so much to be shut out as if I was dangerous–if felt like it shut me out of so much.
I did not want our deep connection to break permanently. I wanted to be able to hold the story of who we were. But when I made my mistakes, it felt like you took our story, stood defiantly and angrily in front of me, ripped it up and threw it on the fire. I wanted to keep it safe.
And I got very, very scared.
I still find it difficult to drive in the area I know you are or have been.
I wanted to be fought for. When there is conflict or I fail you and you pull away, my heart can barely beat under the pain.
I am 45 years old. And my thirst for mercy feels stronger than ever. I long for it; to marinate in it, to know the depth of love and acceptance over and over again. I cannot get enough of it.
Love is on my side. But today, the pain of shame is ravaging my body and I am crying out for the healing in the now and not yet.
I seek the redemptive thread. To know it has meaning, a reason, a purpose. I have asked if this is what ages us–to have to live with unresolved heartache as the years add on to a heart that just can’t live with perpetual ache being the end of the story.
The silver lining in this shattering has involved needing to dig deeply and unearth my true self apart from your judgment and violence. To decide what I truly believe about myself. I can’t let you be my mirror. To turn from your reflection to my own, look myself in the eyes, and see more than the heartache.
I see a strong leader. I see a woman that intersects people and places wherever she goes with generosity and brilliance. I am a good mother. I am proud of the family Todd and I have built. I am a woman of great depth and capacity to fight for others freedom, to speak truth that can restore and heal. I am passionately loyal and believe the best about others, even you.
It makes me sad that my conscience is not completely clear. I wish I could erase my fumbles and failures, my flailing attempts to use scotch tape to piece together the broken. But in my own reflection, I now also see a woman deeply compassionate towards others’ fumbles. To be acquainted with deep grief means I can better love others who grieve, even act out as a result. I do not see them as moral failings, but failings of love. To know how to love oneself and others is what I ask to mark my second half of life. Even if it doesn’t come from you. Lines of tears stain my face. Unresolved pain wracks my upper back. Today I cannot climb the mountain by myself. Thankfully, I don’t have to.
May the depth of love’s healing power mark my days, my body, and my face and yours.