Tag Archives: longing

L.O.V.E.

I have been having some of the most beautiful and poignant discussions around love lately. What it looks like, what it feels like, how it grows or fades, what it needs to blossom, and what it takes to make it go away.

Because let’s be honest, sometimes we do need to make it go away.

*this post might be super abstract for many of you. I have a very visual mind and will do my best to paint you a good picture with my words*

In my mind, love is a linear spectrum. It is all pink-hued and soft at the beginning; gentle, bubbly and quiet. As it progresses from left to right, the colors subtly shift from pinks to deeper pinks, (I would say mauve, but I abhor that color), to fiery reds, and deep blood-colored burgundies.

After careful consideration and lots of processing with friends, it is my opinion that this love-line, if you will, works something like this:

Everyone has their own love-line for every relationship they enter into (I am really only speaking about romantic love here). You have one whenever your heart finds someone – regardless of whether or not that love is reciprocated. It progresses from left to right and, for some people, it can start off explosive and fast. For others, it might be a slow and steady progression or perhaps a slow and steady surprise. It begins as infatuation, then perhaps a crush, then you might be struck dumb when you realize you have some serious feelings brewing for someone.

But here is the catch; new love can only progress to a certain point. That first tickle of love can only move forward on this continuum of love if it is reciprocated. If it isn’t, then alas, your love will get stuck there and you are essentially left with a heart that feels full to bursting and has no where to go.

Yeah, ouch. We have all been there and it hurts like hell.

Now, let’s say that you have that crush, you are head-over-heels for someone and that love is requited? That is when you have that forward momentum toward the far right end of the spectrum. That is when love can grow and deepen and blossom into a love that can last for years and builds itself a home in your DNA. That love can fade, but the essence of it stays with you forever. That is the love I have for my ex-husband. It will never leave – it is a part of me. And that is okay.

I need to address this aspect of ‘love’ as well: What if your love continues to move toward the right end of the spectrum without being reciprocated? It is my opinion, that perhaps you might have entered into a space of unhealthy stalker-like tendencies. I would venture to say that this is a psychological issue of some kind and you should seek professional help. I am dead serious.

So, how does a person who finds themselves stuck in the bursting, crushing-hard, love stage make it stop when that love is unrequited and has no where to go? Boundaries! Big, fat, hard, scary boundaries. The only way forward, toward letting go and healing, is to wean yourself off of the drug that is love and go cold turkey, right into a stage of zero contact.

Research shows us that falling in love is indeed akin to being on drugs.

This is an excerpt from a post by Shauna H Springer Ph.D.

Dr. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist and relationship researcher, conducted a series of illuminating studies on the brain chemistry of love. Specifically, she found that the same brain chemicals (that is, massive amounts of dopamine and norepinephrine ) are in play, and many of the same brain pathways and structures are active when we are falling in love and enjoying a cocaine-high.***

Consider the specific euphoric effects of smoking crack cocaine. In the short run, according to the website cocaine.org, smoking crack cocaine leads to enhanced mood, heightened sexual interest, a feeling of increased self-confidence, greater conversational prowess and intensified consciousness… “It offers the most wonderful state of consciousness, and the most intense sense of being alive [that] the user will ever enjoy.”****

You need to rid yourself of that drug that is love. Once and for all. Completely. Block a phone number if you have to, delete them from social media, steer clear if they are in your social circles. This advice may seem extreme, but for me, it has worked in the past and gotten me to a space where I was able to let that love fizzle and fade and come back around to a space of a deep and solid friendship with a former crush. But I could not have done that without the no-contact rule. It took a whopping 23 days and now he is one of my closest friends – and I don’t feel anything other than a deep, friend-love for him.

Once again, I am currently stuck on the left side of this love-line; the pink, effervescent side. It is unrequited, and I am in that space of having to back off and untangle my heart and travel backward and let go. Back to myself, alone. I love easily because I walk around with my big, open heart right on my sleeve. It finds connection in the strangest places and I have no choice but to go along for the ride. I have tried casual, I have tried slowing down, and though I did manage those things for a time, it isn’t really a comfortable state of being for me when my heart wants OUT.

But here is the thing – something I am coming to understand and accept about myself, is this:

When my heart gets involved, I don’t do casual. I don’t do half-assed. I don’t do lukewarm. I dive in headfirst, with a fearless and reckless abandon. I may be too much for some people, but the truth is, most people are not enough for me.

I was told once, by a wonderful guy, that he wanted to ‘steer’ the relationship, He told me that if I were the one to take the reins, I would drive us straight off of a cliff.

And he was right.

But I would rather have someone hold my hand and jump off with me, than go in circles, endlessly, forever.

 

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Denial.

No one is immune.

No one gets a free pass.

Every single person in this world hurts, suffers, rages, and cries. Not all of the time, but definitely some of the time; some people more than others. We all ebb and flow through our emotions just as we ebb and flow through our lives.

I am working toward being okay with emotions – all of them. Embracing them like old friends instead of running from them. They feel so scary for me; even happiness. I don’t fully trust them yet and I still have this deep-seated fear that they will take over my being completely.

I think this stems in part from watching my dad die when I was 9. My emotional landscape permanently changed that day. I went from being a happy-go-lucky kid, without a care in the world, to seeing something (him die) to experiencing something (loss of a parent) that no child should ever have to go through. I didn’t have the emotional aptitude or cognitive capability to handle any of it. And after it happened, no one taught me how to process through my terror, confusion, guilt, or hurt. For the rest of my life, when those feelings of grief would pop up, I would shove them away like a plague. I was desperate to avoid them. They felt like they would swallow me whole.

And, at age 41, they did.

For a long time, I pretended that my dad was alive, and living in California with another family. It was easier to pretend that he just didn’t want to live with us anymore. Then I pretended he was a knight on some other plane of existence – another reality – one in which he would slay dragons and protect people.

My dad couldn’t be dead because that meant he was gone. And never coming back.

Denial is something that our brains latch onto for a time when we are navigating something too emotionally difficult to really comprehend. Sometimes we need to ignore certain things until we have the strength to move forward in our grief and on our path toward healing. We need to compartmentalize things that are simply too painful to grasp. Ignore, deny, avoid, and check out. And, for at least a little while, I believe that it is healthy and completely normal to do so.

Not healthy? Living in that space of false reality and clinging to a truth that isn’t real or does not exist, indefinitely.

Denial is something I have watched my kids going through since their dad and I split. My son would say, “but you aren’t divorced, you are separated.” Yes, this is true, on paper, but it’s for health insurance reasons. Our marriage is irrevocably broken. For good.

Denial it is something I did not want to admit I was doing, but fuck, it most certainly is. I like to think that I have been working hard in therapy to tackle my past hurt and childhood trauma and now it is finally time to work through this last year of my marriage breaking, my PTSD, and the fact that my husband is never coming home.

Ever again.

Shit, that hurts to type.

When people ask me if the split was amicable, I say no, it was not. If he were to call me and say, “hey Aim, let’s talk, let’s work this out. I miss you and I miss our family”, I would be lying if I said that isn’t something I have wished for a thousand times. A million times.

But that fantasy gets me literally no where. Every time I entertain thoughts like this, I do more damage. I cannot live or exist in a world where I create false realities anymore than I could have kept living in a very emotionally abusive and unhealthy marriage. It makes no sense.

But still, the thoughts pop up; Unwanted and detrimental.

I am now willing to acknowledge that it is over. I am radically accepting that he is NEVER COMING HOME. It hurts, but I recognize that this is the next step in my journey. With practice, I am gently acknowledging the thoughts as they arise, not giving them the attention they demand, and letting them slip away. I am practicing bringing myself back to the present moment, whether that is writing, doing dishes, watching my son read or my daughter play with her Legos. These thoughts have no power over me unless I allow them to.

And I will not allow them to any longer.

Connection

Connection.

Why is it so important?

Why does something so (seemingly) simple hold so much weight?

I know connection is what is missing from my life. Real, genuine, meaningful connection. I have interactions with other humans throughout my day; the small and the large variety of bipedal creatures. I am blessed with wonderful people that I chat with at work, online, on the phone. But those connections are brief and generally not diving into the deep end of the pool. We, as human beings, absolutely prefer the shallow end of things. We feel safest there.

The connection I am longing for is the one with that person you can bare your soul to and feel safe in doing so. That someone who is on your same wave length, gets you, and whatever crazy you might bring to the table. You can share anything and everything with this person and they not only hear you, they see you, and they validate you.

So, why do I need this? Why do you need this? Why do we all absolutely need this?

I think it is the sharing of ourselves, our emotions, and our stories with other humans that makes us feel seen. Sharing our deepest and most vulnerable selves is gratifying and authenticating. When we have people in our lives who hold space for us, for our most secret selves, we become whole. That connection becomes a mirror in which we can see ourselves more clearly. We feel accepted for who we are. We become more adept at diving into that deep end.

We all have very rich inner lives; busy brains. We feel, we think, we love, we hurt. When we share those most vulnerable pieces of ourselves and the stories and emotions that go with them (in a safe space) our ability to be vulnerable is validated and supported, thereby making room for more vulnerability in the future.

Vulnerability –> Connection/Validation –> Increased Vulnerability

And we know now, that a life lived in a vulnerable and aware state, is the best and only way to live, right? We know that a life lived on the surface of things isn’t living at all. Don’t be a watcher or a surface dweller! Be a participant! Get in and get dirty!

We all have deep insecurities we wrestle with. Shit we may not even admit to ourselves. When we allow vulnerability into our lives as a daily practice, we are making room for those parts of us that feel uncertain; unsafe. When I sit in a meeting with my fourteen 4-yr-olds at work and I cry, I tell them I am okay and that it is okay to cry.

I can cry on the phone with my sister now. It has taken me years to be able to do this. And I’ll tell you something, every time I cry and open up to her, I feel better.

With practice (sadly, I’ve had lots lately), I can bare my soul and my sadness to people and when they see me and hold space for me, it reinforces this fact: I know I will be okay. With every hurt and every gaping wound, I grow stronger and simultaneously more vulnerable. I feel and I share and I learn and I grow. It would seem that we have ourselves another paradox. Being vulnerable creates room for joy, pain, connection, growth, and strength.

I think that the connection I lost when my marriage ended has been the single most devastating part of this shit-show of a divorce. When you live with, and love someone for 16 years, you speak your own language, you have inside jokes that literally no one else would understand. I miss that like an ache in my chest. When that connection is severed, you are left reeling and wondering who the fuck you are without it.

I thought I had found the possibility of that again, just recently, and I opened myself up and allowed love and vulnerability back into my life. And now I am hurting again nearly as badly as I was last fall. And it’s the loss of the connection – the validation – that hurts the most.

This leads me down a path that I don’t want to go down. But trudge on, I must.

Shouldn’t I be okay without that connection? Shouldn’t I feel validated and whole on my own without someone externally reinforcing my sense of self? Yes? No? I don’t know???

I love being alone. I struggle with feeling alone. I love my independence. I struggle with not having anyone at home to talk to.

I shall investigate this further at another time when I am not so utterly exhausted. I will leave you with this little gem:

The other day I had a conversation with some lettuce.

I can’t believe I just admitted that.

The Secret Inner Drive

There is a disconnect within my mind; thoughts buried so deep, they tug at my subconscious. I am trying very hard to acknowledge them though they feel primal and hard to access. I want to pay more attention to my very busy inner mind; the driving force behind some of my behavior. I want to separate my rich inner dialogue from the chatter and busyness that seem to coat the surface of my thoughts.

I think we all have motivations that are so deeply embedded in our psyche that we don’t necessarily know that they are there whispering to us; motivating us to make certain choices. If we stripped away that drive, that push or pull, would we make different choices? Or would we stay on the same path? If my mind was naked, stripped down and bare, what would my behavior look like in this pure ‘me’ state? Or is the steady, mostly silent hum beneath my thoughts, what makes up the essence of ‘me’?

I find this shit fascinating and I am going to start to pay very close attention. Starting now.

Alright, an example, you ask? Sure.

And this shit is embarrassing.

It dawned on me last night that I am still pining over my ex. I am still hoping for the day when he lets me back in. When he ‘sees’ me and how much work I’ve done and that I am not the same person I was last week, last month, or last year. I am changing and evolving and healing so quickly, and fuck, a part of me has been doing it for him.

When the man you loved for 16 years repeatedly calls you crazy and psycho,

YOU WANT TO PROVE HIM WRONG.

You want him to know that he made the biggest mistake of his life when he left you; alone, hurting, and confused as fuck.

Damnit to being so honest with myself. Shit. I don’t like admitting that AT ALL. It’s trite, petty, and just silly. But it’s the truth and maybe a good dose of brutal honesty is what I need to wake me up to the fact that he left. He isn’t coming back. And he has found someone to love more than he ever loved me. Puke.

And this: WHY ON EARTH WOULD I EVER WANT TO BE WITH SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T WANT ME COMPLETELY? I just said no to a great guy for that exact reason. I want to be wanted wholly, completely, totally; for all of me. That includes my goddamn crazy life and my children. They are a part of me and we are a package deal.

I am a mother, a woman, a teacher, a lover, a sister, a friend, and a human being. I feel nearly everything intensely, deeply, and I love with every fucking fiber of my being.

This is who I am; many puzzle pieces make up an entire Amy.

A lifetime of Amy’s all leading to up to now.

(Sorry, went off on a bit of tangent there).

I do believe that we all have secret motivators within us, steering us to some degree. And perhaps, sometimes, these forces can cause us to make choices or drive our behavior in ways that may cause us to step out of integrity with ourselves. I know I feel a bit ill thinking that some of my hard work has been to prove my ex wrong. I know that my choices and my behavior should come from me and be for me. Which is why, no matter how I must wrestle with myself, I am going to start to pay close attention to what is REALLY going on behind the scenes, so-to-speak, within my own busy brain.

Wish me luck!

The ‘Off’ Switch

Where is the ‘off’ switch? Where is it located, dammit? On my heart? Somewhere in the folds of my brain?

I am trying SO HARD to accept that love isn’t something I can just shut off any more than I can stop breathing.

The love I am speaking of is a love that is familiar and comfy; it feels warm and safe – I don’t want to let go of that love. But that loves comes from the past; it is tugs on my heart when I think about the man I fell in love with. It nudges me when nostalgia gently peeks its head around a corner; or slaps me on the face.

When I think about the man who added to my trauma, added to my heap of hurt, that same love feels like a disease and turns into a sickness that I can’t get rid of. That love feels unhealthy, like toxic waste in my system. It breaks my heart wide open and I feel like I am leaking all over the place. I am constantly stitching myself up.

I keep reaching out to him with the love that my heart is harboring. Trying to wave the ‘white flag’ of truce, of peace. I am trying to be my most vulnerable and open self with him – for me, for the kids. How else are he and I supposed to move forward if not from respective places of caring and compassion?

I am just exhausted by the constant conflict, the stress and anxiety. I swear to God I am shaving years off of my life. I have never dealt well with turmoil and friction; my mind latches on to the discomfort they bring and won’t let go until things are resolved. But the problem is, that sometimes, things just cannot be resolved. Ever. I suspect it is a core tenet of my personality construct, and a lot to do with my INFJ-ness.

When I shared my thoughts and my emotions with him last night, my open heart, and my love and longing, I got a long response about all of the stress he has currently in his life and a statement at the end that said, “please, please don’t add to it Aim”.

Wow. Just wow.

I saw so clearly in that moment that my love, my hurt, and my desire to have some sort of amazing, loving relationship with this person was viewed as adding to his mountain of shit. Not a source of comfort or support. SHIT (my word, not his). My love and my caring is simply more stress for him. I guess he has enough of that from all of the new people in his life.

He doesn’t need me. He doesn’t want me. He doesn’t love me.

And yet, I cannot turn this love off. Even though I know it is hurting me to my core. It is leaking out of me and has nowhere to go. I am just sitting here in a pile of love for someone who doesn’t want it, doesn’t need it, and who views it as just another ‘thing’ to deal with.

I have been questioning whether my love – at least to some degree – is the final tendrils of codependency waiting to unravel themselves and the fear of abandonment I still carry around. This is why:

If he were to come home, drop to his knees, beg for forgiveness, and tell me he wants back into my life, this house, this marriage, what would I do? What would I say? If that were to really happen, I believe I would say no.

NO.

Because in moments when I am not hurting and not sitting in my pile of unrequited love, I can honestly say, I don’t want to touch that with a 50 foot pole.

No thank you. Love be damned, I deserve better.

(The Terror of) Opening Up

My fluctuations in mood, my state of being, and my every single moment-to-moment, keep having this disastrous effect on me. Their unpredictability and persistence are really messing with my mind and my confidence that this will some day be OVER. That every day will eventually be an empowered and happy one where I am totally self-reliant, confident, and whole.

I have never been a patient person and this moodiness leaves me with worry and frustration – am I EVER going to just be happy – with smaller bumps in the road? Will life ever reach a place of slow-and-steady minus these fucking pits of despair? Last week was a really good week. I was ecstatic and happy and confident. Today I woke up to gray skies and no children in the house and that achy uncomfortable feeling is back.

And this has happened: I finally admitted/acknowledged that I am still very much in love with my ex.

I had been trying SO HARD to turn that off.

It felt stupid and embarrassing to love someone who hurt me so badly; weak. A person who doesn’t seem to give two shits about me and who I am becoming now. It felt too risky to allow that love into my hurting heart. I know it is not reciprocated any more – if it ever was, to the depth that I seem to be able to feel it. When I made space for that love, it filled up the empty places in my heart (I am really questioning the emotional repercussions of this).

Admitting a love for someone who has hurt me more deeply than anyone in my life ever has, did one really powerful thing – it aligned my two selves. The hurt me, who put up walls so thick and so tall that nothing was getting through them, with the girl standing on the other side. The one standing there, looking up at the wall, waiting patiently, knowing you cannot simply turn love off. No matter how scared or hurt you may be. I was spending so much time trying not to feel, that I was exhausting myself – just as I spent so much of last year trying to be someone I was not ready to be.

Extending myself outward – always stretching myself too thin, still keeping parts of myself in check.

I have a lifetime of trauma to unwind. 32 years of compartmentalized emotions; always making sure they didn’t get too out of control. Don’t love too much – you’ll get hurt. Don’t get too sad, you won’t recover, don’t get too happy, it will end in disaster. Don’t feel anything too much or love anyone too much because life is a lie that cannot be trusted and people die and leave you. They rip out your heart and stomp all over it leaving you broken.

Never feel too much, it won’t hurt as much when people disappoint you.

Now my heart is learning to open up and I AM SCARED. What if someone else leaves me? What if someone breaks my heart into pieces again? What if one of my kids gets hurt or God forbid dies? I know what that emptiness feels like – that horror of not seeing someone you loved with your whole self – ever again. Doesn’t it make more sense to have a life of half-feeling? Walls made of steel?

I’ve finally come to the conclusion that no, it doesn’t. Living in constant fear of being hurt and only exposing half of your heart isn’t living at all. Denying your own children, your spouse, your friends and family, the absolute essence of who you are means you are also denying that piece of yourself to yourself.

This is the only shot we have. There are no repeats, redo’s, or second chances. This is the one life you are given and that means that you need to give it all that you have. I am learning to do this. Learning to trust my own emotions and to trust others. I am allowing feelings to be as intense as they need to be without the fear that they will swallow me whole and never go away.

I think that the deepest hurt for me, in terms of my marriage, is the fact that my husband of 11 years and partner of 16 didn’t think that I was worth the wait.

Emotional Lasagna

I’ve been thinking a lot about loneliness and how layered it is.

My brain keeps calling it ’emotional lasagna’.

When it comes up for me, it ranges from biting and sharp to a dull ache that persists for days. Sometimes loneliness is like a slap in the face laced with a stark emptiness and despair. Then there are the times when it feels like a thick blanket around me – a safe space to sit with my aloneness and my solitude. I think that this emotion is perhaps one of the most complex and varied. From the subtle way it can creep in like an old friend or punch you in the gut when you least expect it to.

Loneliness seems to me like the gateway emotion to other emotions. Sadness (this HURTS). Worry (will I be alone FOREVER). Anger (It wasn’t SUPPOSED to be like this).

Regret – so much regret.

I have come to accept loneliness as a part of my life; at least for now. And, as long as it is in its gentle form, I can manage it. When it hits me hard and unexpectedly, it can leave me crippled for days. Coming home last weekend from California to an empty house hit me hard. I sobbed. I ached for my family and my children. It felt like there were ghosts everywhere. Arms that were supposed to wrap themselves around me when I walked through that door. Shouts of, “Mommy is HOME!”. Not silence.

So much silence.

I expect my loneliness to be there when I wake up in my bed and there is a space next to me that used to be warm with someone else’s body. That ache ceased to surprise me months ago; it is familiar, predictable. I expect it to be there when I am out and about and see other families doing things together. When I am home alone and watching a movie on the couch with my dogs, it’s there beside me.

Holidays, birthdays, all of the special days. I will be alone for some of these.

Ache

Slow

Dull

Gnawing

Maybe someday I won’t feel lonely anymore. Maybe there will be a time when I really am all that I need. But hell, isn’t it nice to have someone to hug and hold onto? Isn’t that all a person really wants at the end of a long day?

Someone to talk to and share with. Someone to parent with and decompress about the day with. Someone there who sees you. Values you. Understands you. And loves you.