I cried standing in the grocery store last week. Standing in front of the Entenmann's donuts, I gently wept.
Because life is hard, and loneliness is a force.
And yet, I’m okay.
I cried because hard as things are, I didn’t know where those donuts were until I walked right past them. And once upon a time--not so very long ago--that wouldn’t have been the case.
I cried because I’m well now. And I cried because I wasn’t always.
I wept for the person I was. Wept for the fact that I’ll never again be her. Wept for that loss--strange as that may seem.
I cried because I’m okay.
I cried because in the middle of quite a bit of muck, I was able to stand in front of those donuts and be moved by grace.
This year has been astonishing. Mostly in it’s ability to wound.
It has been the year of tangible what-ifs, of passing ghost ships* and blind curves.
A year in which, just as soon as I think I know where the story is going, the ground shifts beneath my feet.
What if I’d gone to Paris? Or had the wherewithal to say no, when asked? What if, on that quiet day in July, I’d gone into the bar across the street and actually found him sitting there?
What if I’d been given that promotion? Or said hello when we crossed paths this last Monday?
What if I’d been willing to risk looking like a fool, twice?
What if I’d just offered up a damn day the first time he asked?
This was the year of countless moments that could have altered the course. Small forks in the road and unanswered questions.
It’s been a year of small heartbreaks and overwhelming loneliness--and I can’t help but think it feels like a Van Gogh painting in motion. All dark colors and blurred lines and movement.
Very slow movement, but movement.
But this is what I know to be true, that in the worst moments of our lives, good things happen.
That, in fact, the good and bad rush in together, one somersaulting over the other. And you must be alert enough--awake enough--to look for both.
The thing about the eating disorder is that it always felt of me. Like it took root in my ribs and grew and grew and grew until there was nothing left but that.
But everything now...well, I watch as it happens around me. And I can’t help but laugh. Because it’s bad. It’s so very bad. I have a landlord who’s lied to me, a roommate who doesn’t believe me, and I’ve been living out of plastic bags for going on three months. But I am aware that these are things that are happening in my life, which is different thing than happening to me. Does that make sense? They are taking place around me Even the loneliness--it is simply the backdrop for this particular stretch of life, but it’s not mine. It’s just part of the landscape. And that distance--well, that distance means that at any moment it all might change.
And what a blessing that is.
Standing in front of those donuts I wept because things are rough and yet I’ll never again confuse some large cosmic hunger with the need for food.
But I also wept because there is some part of me that mourns for how I was loved during that time. Mourns that I’ll never again be loved in that same way--different ways, better ways--healthier ways, for sure. But what I mean is, while there was nothing more heartbreaking than watching my family see the disease unfold, their terror was both my undoing and my salvation. Their terror is the thing I still can’t reconcile--the thing I still get guilty about in a sort of breathless way. But it is also the thing that sharpened the clarity of their love for me. I’ve never felt so exquisitely loved than in those, the darkest moments of my life. It was a love that was not expressed in words or actions or touch. They simply poured it out toward me because that was all there was to do. It was a love that simply was. And it was a force. We trusted the efficiency and efficacy of the thing itself, which we don’t always do, do we?
It was love in its purest, most uncomplicated form.
I’ve written that this year has been a series of small heartaches. And it has been.
It’s been tremendously difficult. But in different ways than before. And that’s important.
There’s a C.S. Lewis quote that I can’t get enough of:
If God is Love, He is by definition something more than mere kindness. And it appears from all the records that though He has often rebuked us and condemned us, He has never regarded us with contempt. He has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense...it is natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less. | CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Not for more love but for less.
I was always going to choose the life with more love. Always. And if these years of heartbreak have been--are--in service of that, okay. Alright, then.
More love, it is.
Life, for the most part, inevitably becomes routine, the random confluence of timing and fortune that configures its components all but forgotten. But every so often, I catch a glimpse of my life out of the corner of my eye, and am rendered breathless by it. | Jonathan Tropper, Everything Changes
Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness, and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns. | Anne Lamott
The important thing is the obvious thing nobody is saying. | William S. Burroughs
We may think that the person who dies with the fewest cracks wins the game, but the lesson of Easter is this: nothing can emerge from an unbroken shell. | Kathryn Soper
Man has places in his heart which do not yet exist, and into them enters suffering, in order that they may have existence. | Leon Bloy
**I'll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don't choose. We'll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn't carry us. There's nothing to do but salute it from the shore. | Cheryl Strayed **
Everything is hard until it is easy. | Goethe