Thursday, 30 January 2014

I write of love again...


It is getting easier. My heart is lightening in the smallest of increments. My thoughts scatter still, in the darkest hours, but they scatter less wildly. Less and less madly.

It is true, then, that the nights retract. That the breath comes back like the ocean, like the moon. It is true that time is the only way through, that the only gentling is in the  accumulation of the moments, the minutes, the hours. 

Did I write, before, that we work in the same office? That five days a week, I sit and hurt in his line of sight? I loved him, I think. And, He is no longer mine. I also think, He lies, and, I know this is right. But of course it still hurts. His pressed white shirts, his voice, his smile – fistfuls of salt rubbed into a hundred cuts.  

I wore the grief like a hairshirt at first. I smiled and smiled but underneath, the self-flagellation itched and burned. I looked at photos, I returned to the same memories over and over, a tongue poking at a bad tooth. Worse, I let myself imagine. I gave weight to rumours, shaped ghosts from the air. A woman, gold-skinned, swimming in his sheets. Another hanging like a jewel from his arm. Pin-thin heels. Elaborate hair.

There is truth in the gossip, I think. Regardless, it matters less now. It was my decision to end things; I hold tightly to that. It is a stone rolled smooth by the sea, made warm in m y palms. It comforts me. To know that I have that kind of strength. To end something I knew wasn’t working, wasn’t healthy, even though I loved him, even though I knew I would miss so much. There is a lot to be said for that. 

Love songs still bruise. I still look away from lovers in the street, knotted at the hand, their smiles strung between them like a ribbon on a gift. But the lump in my throat is dissolving. My mouth no longer tastes of salt and regret.  

There is a reason things happen. A rhythm beneath each experience. And it's not always clear. Not in the aftermath of something, the churn in the wake of a failed love affair, a death,  some other kind of grief. But there is always something we can learn. There is always a lesson. It’s up to us whether we choose to take it, or whether we shut ourselves off from the hurt, close like a hedgehog over our softness, our terrible tenderness.

I’ve had my hibernation. My tiny sleep. I'm ready to be open again. I'm ready to creep back into the fray. The wonderful, horrible, usual, sensual, marvellous, awful, magical fray.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Plumbing the depths

I have been listless these last weeks. Love, or lack of it, the culprit. It came out of nowhere, like a Summer storm, and I was caught up in the wild, sudden loveliness of it; it left just as quickly, and I was bereft. Where was the man who was holding me a moment ago, filling my ears with words as sweet as roses, where was the chest where my head so sweetly fit?

The truth is that I was grasping at ghosts the whole time. The man I fell for was smoke and shadow, a trick of the light. A man like that can't be kept. The tighter I held on, the less was left. I found myself with handfuls of ashes, fistfuls of only air.

And yet, and yet. Would I take back the last four months? The education of the body, the handling of the bones, the falling, the freedom, the fear? I wouldn't, not for anything. I needed to know that I was capable. I needed to know that I could break open like that. I needed to wear those strings of particular words like pearls, touch them, feel their cool weight against my skin, gleam with their soft spots of reflected light.

I feared, I think, that love might kill me. I thought if it ended I would bend and break, like a switch of willow in a high wind. I thought I would seal myself shut again,  cordon off the body and corral the heart, live the quiet, dusty life of an Immaculate.

Instead, I am sitting with my grief, knowing already that it will pass. We fall for the wrong ones, sometimes, the ones whose edges never really fit with ours, and that's ok, that's part of the human experience. People change. Hearts change. We change, and that is necessary, and right.

Growth hurts. I remember when I was fifteen, sixteen, my hormones gone suddenly wild; my bones creaked in the night like ships as they stretched, the new nubs of my breasts were two bruises that ached and ached. I shot up like a hothouse flower, and I hated it; I was a stranger in my own body for months as it quite literally changed and rebuilt itself around me, like living in a house where the rooms switched every day, where windows were suddenly doors, and ceilings were underfoot one minute and overhead the next.

But growth is crucial to development, even if we might not like it at the time, even if we feel that it's cruel, even if it's unwanted, even if it hurts. Maybe even especially if it hurts. Even as I tell myself this, my heart feels like a stone, heavy and hard, clunking dully in the space behind my ribs. Knowing that pain will pass doesn't lessen the immediate experience of it. Nor does it mean that I can sleep easily at night  again instead of charting the acres of ceiling like an astronomer mapping the stars.

It does mean that I can take how I'm feeling a day at a time (or an hour at a time, or a minute). It does mean that I'm certain that, given enough time, the space between clock-ticks will expand and relax again, and the pillow won't only be something to wrestle with in the deepest hours of the night. It does mean that I will be ready to love again when it happens for me, and it will, because I am open, and I have much to give.

The heart is an ocean. It isn't always safe. The salt stings, and its wrecks are countless. But oh my goodness, are there treasures untold in its depths.