“Every battle worth remembering isn’t one where victory was assured before the combatants even fought. It is instead the one where every small advantage was of the utmost importance, and where heart won out over sheer force.” ~Theodicus
Fragmented. I guess that’s how I feel most of the time, like I’m being dragged one way while heading in the opposite direction. And sometimes I imagine myself exploding into little confetti pieces that float and scatter across the room like a snowstorm in full bloom. I know what I need to do to get things together, to fix myself, but I can’t seem to allow the solution to get through to this thick head of mine long enough to make it a reality, which is funny because I’m apparently a good listener who offers sound advice. Why can’t I advise myself?
But someone once told me that it’s not about how we feel in the moment but how the moments strung together affect us when we look back on them for guidance. That’s the problem with so many people these days, and me included. Taking time to delve back into the decisions we’ve made in the past isn’t a part of our DNA. Instead we spend so much time and energy trying to imagine a better future for ourselves that never comes to pass because we have never adequately dealt with the past.
A few years ago I emailed my first girlfriend, my first fiance, and also my first love. I don’t even know what I was seeking from her, honestly. We hadn’t spoken in nearly 12 years, and when we had last talked I think we said all that needed to be said, but I had this nagging sense that there hadn’t been closure, even all those years later. Perhaps it’s because I modeled one of the major characters in my first novel after her and I wanted her to know. Or maybe it was because I felt the need to model one of my major characters after her in the first place. It just made everything complicated again when it didn’t need to be.
She emailed me back saying how difficult our breakup was for her, and how she felt like she couldn’t talk about it with anyone else, how it had irrevocably changed her, for both good and bad. It made me think about myself and my own history of relationships since that one ended, and my feelings are exactly the same. Something inside of me shifted, or shut down, or something, when we ended, and I had absolutely no idea what it was at the time or for the 12 years afterwards, but when she wrote me back it hit like a sledgehammer. Hope had died.
Sure, I still went on dates, and indeed I even got married, but somehow I felt like there was really no hope for me, no hope that I could be happy again like I thought I had been way back then. And in the process I shut out many people for large periods of time, most notably my wife when I needed her the most, because I felt like she was too good for me, that I didn’t deserve her. It made everything so difficult when it didn’t need to be, when the proper reaction would have been to just accept her love, but I was so broken and I didn’t even realize it. That’s why I really emailed my first love, because I needed an answer to that question, a reason for the distance, and there, in the end, it was staring me in the face.
It’s just so interesting how that happens when we least expect it, and when we maybe need it the most. At the time I wasn’t ready, I wasn’t mature enough to face up to what was right in front of me, but when she sent me that email it all came tumbling back in a rush right when it was necessary for me to own it. And yes, life is still so complicated, and I don’t have even a quarter of the answers to my myriad of questions, but at least I’m still asking them.