It’s been months, at least, if not longer since I sat and wrote this. My step-son Erik is facing a divorce, starting with a ‘we should separate’, and by the time you read this, it will be finished. To respect him and his privacy, I’ll wait to share the story.
I sit with this bright, motivated, funny, intelligent, insightful 28-year-old young man, and my heart breaks inside my chest. Ten years ago, he fell in love, hard, and never fell back out – even now. He’s losing his love to someone else. That someone is the person his wife became without warning, at least to him. They’ve been married for five years, the witching hour for many young couples as statically, this is the first high divorce rate time in marriage. He married his best friend, his confidant, the person who shared his vision, his dreams, his love. Until she didn’t.
It occurs to me in this time, watching him begin this journey of letting go of something he desperately wants to keep and yet still knows he has no ability to take hold and contain it, the emotional heart is always breaking. His heart broke open to this love as a boy, barely 18, over time it continued to widen the gap further and further until there was no containing the love that flowed forth. Now, his heart breaks open again, grieving the loss, the why, the “what do I do?” and “how do I let go?” questions come to the surface.
Our granddaughter was born with a heart defect, a defective valve that only had two flaps to open and close where there should be three. She was three days old when she had her first heart surgery to create another flap and keep the blood from flowing back into her heart. The doctors never thought she’d survive the birth process. She knew. She knew she was strong, able, driven to be here. Her heart knew how to survive. By the time you read this, she’ll have gone through another surgery at age six. This age is too young, but they originally thought she’d be lucky to make two or three years more without a valve replacement. Her heart knew. They’ll break it again, to put it back together better than before, and in the process give her a new lease on life…until the next time.
My husband, Erik’s dad, Izzy’s grand-dad, and I have been married for two years now. Our hearts break for this incredible young man who’s losing something he’s put his whole self into. We know in our hearts the best for him is yet to come, he just doesn’t know it yet. He hasn’t gotten “there”. His dad and I have both been divorced, we know the pain, but certainly not his pain. We know another day, somewhere in the future, his heart will break open again. Some amazing creature will help him learn to allow his heart to expand again, to leave behind the threads that he is now so diligently trying to bind it back together with. Our hearts know.
Our hearts break for this beautiful little girl whose heart holds the wisdom of someone 10 times her age. But we trust her heart knows the way.
We cling to each other, my love and I, on his son’s pain a dutiful reminder of how it can happen. It brings to our attention how we do not want it to happen to us. Our hearts continue to expand wider and further. It’s funny how what seems so frightening in our youth becomes the deliciousness of life as we age. Our emotional heart is so far from the perfect formation it started as, and in the process of breaking, again and again, in sorrow, grief, loss, joy, glee, love, it is nothing of what it started as. It’s so much better now. Where the pieces came together once are no longer even recognizable. This eclectic form is so much better serving of a life thoroughly lived. So much more well suited to resilience, perseverance, and acceptance. It would look weird to depicted on a Valentine’s Day card, all crazy quilt-looking with pieces here and there, tattered, yet perfect.
Our hearts are forever breaking, and they are so much more beautiful this way. It’s sad Hallmark doesn’t put this stuff on greetings cards, “Hey, its gonna suck, and you’ll make it, and you’ll be so glad you went through the crappy stuff, because the good stuff is on the other side”. Clearly, I don’t write for Hallmark, but it is sad to me how we so often disregard the broken heart as well. Broken is less than a damaged good.
I wrote the beginning part of this blog two years ago. Since then, that amazing young man has met and lives with an amazing young woman. They’re adorable together. He now understands the comfortable journey is not always the most rewarding, and there is indeed wonderment beyond the hurt.
Our granddaughter flew through surgery and looking at this taller than her peers. She’s a smart, funny, sassy little girl you’d never know what she’s been through. It’s nothing to her, it just is. Except, however, when she wants to freak someone out with a “they cut my chest open!” story, or to motivate someone she perceives as being a wimp with a “seriously, they cut my chest open. If I can do that, you can do this”. She’s a natural motivator!
My son, my one and only, came to me on Thanksgiving Day last year and announced right before I walked out of the house for the weekend at the cabin that he was seriously thinking of joining the Navy. I cried for three days. My heart broke. What will I do without him? He makes me laugh, he sings with me in the kitchen and in the car, he lets me be silly even though he rolls his eyes, he gives me new ways of seeing things, keeps me from becoming another old lady totally out of touch with the modern world. In many ways, he is my rock. When his dad and I first separated there were so many days he was the only real reason I got out of bed. He was five then, I had to. He has given me purpose when I had none and spurred me into action when I was scared. What will I do without him? I’ll get up and pray for him, and his safety. Funny, I have never prayed for him to be happy or comfortable. I’ve always believed “happy” is not always the best outcome of a situation.
I’ve held him on the stairs while he cried when his ex-girlfriend made horrible threats and he didn’t know what to do, and again when his next girlfriend told him she had found someone else. His heart has broken, too.
Last year when my dad was almost killed, we held each other on the sofa and sobbed for exactly the 15 minutes it took my Mother to shower, and then pulled it back together, so she never saw us wavier. The heart is strong, even in its breaking.
The heart breaks open. Our ego never knows the wisdom our heart does. The heart allows more space, more light, more freedom, more possibilities – always more, never less. The ego can make us feel rigid, resentful, angry, and afraid, but not the heart.
When we lose our connection to our true heart we don’t just lose our happiness or joy, we lose our center, our focus, our clarity, our ability to forgive, and our ability to move on without pain. Our heart is indeed ever breaking. Life happens.
Keep your heart soft. Certainly, it takes time to heal, but healing is all the heart knows. It only knows to find a new way, a new perspective so it can love what is. The heart is always looking for a way to return to love. Love is our original state, and the heart knows it.
There will be more – life that is. These Picasso-like paintings that live inside of each of us will continue to grow and learn, to expand and reach new limits, and to break, so that we can add another patch of color, another piece to the quilt to reach new capacities of what we can hold space for inside of ourselves, and our lives.
Life wasn’t meant to always be comfortable or easy, that’s why Spirit sent us with a heart. Put that on a Hallmark card.
Blessings Galore, Anne