Hands

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I saw hands and I froze.

They looked like his hands. Big. Bigger than normal hands. The hands of a giant really. I couldn’t see the face from across the room but I could see his hands and my heart nearly short circuited.

It’s been two years since A and I officially ended things, two years since my heart was broken. But it’s only been a few months since I last saw him. Last kissed him. Last laid my head on his chest, breathing him in, feeling safe and warm and loved.

And at the same time … not safe. Not warm. Not loved.

I’ve glimpsed him only once in the past couple of months. While walking past his bar, I glanced inside and he looked right back at me and our eyes locked for just a second. No expressions. Just … a moment. We caught eyes and then I was gone, walking down the street littered with memories I’d shared with him. The ghosts of our affair.

To be honest, I don’t ache like I used to. I don’t think about him non-stop. Most days I don’t think about him at all. I’m focused on moving my life forward and it feels good. I feel really good. I have a great job I’m starting to really get the hang of. I have an incredible network of friends who I love. I don’t have a lot of anger like I used to. I don’t replay the moments and beat myself up like before. I don’t sit for hours on end and recount every good moment, every electric kiss and every time we’d stare into each others eyes and feel the weight of our connection. I don’t cry all the time this time. (It helps his social media accounts are private.) I accept where our story ended.

But still … still … my heart froze when I thought I saw his hands from across the room.

Why? Was it because I looked like a hot mess? (I did.) Was it because I’ve gained weight and don’t want him to see? (I have and I don’t.)

Am I terrified he’ll ignore me? Or am I more afraid that he won’t? And I wonder .. is this for always? Or just for now?

I wonder this because the year and a half we spent apart I had many moments like these. I’d see a tall guy with a full beard who resembled him from a distance and my stomach would flip like the way it does when you’re rounding the top of a hill on a rollercoaster and speeding down to the bottom. A mix of excitement, panic, fear and hope.

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Here’s to the cry babies

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The other day I was in the bathroom at work and I heard someone crying. A kind of hushed sob I know all too well. It wasn’t a loud cry but it wasn’t a little one either. It was weeping in a whisper. Soft, heartwrenching sobs.

It was clear she was trying hard to contain the sound for fear someone might walk in. I don’t think she knew I was there. My heart … ached. I wondered … what is this woman going through? A heartbreak? Loss of a parent? Bad health news? Or was her heart broken at her job? Was she feeling purposeless and lost?

Hearing her cries reminded me of my own dark season I only just now feel like I’m really getting out of. It is bizarre to me how windy and long the path to healing sometimes is … and how unique but also similar the journey is for all of us.

Last year, when I was going through my first and really only heartbreak, the tears and emotions took me by surprise. I expected tears, of course. I’m a cryer. I cry at a lot of things. (My third grade teacher even called me a cry baby at one point … rude.)

But what I didn’t expect was how often or how randomly I would cry as I did in those first few months after losing A.

Oh I cried in the expected places – bars (damn you sweet alcohol), places where we’d been that were romantic to me, the privacy of my home when I’d remember moments that seemed so special. But it was the weird emotional gut punches that came out of nowhere that I wasn’t prepared for that would have me crying in the most unexpected of places. Like on the elevator having a flash of a memory with his hand in mine and my heart racing. Or during a meeting, when I was supposed to be paying attention and suddenly I’d remember the way he’d hold my face in his hands, so tenderly.

The mind is so strange when it’s trying to heal. At least my mind is. It fails to compartmentalize. So the worst moments were when I’d be at work talking to someone about a project I was working on, totally engrossed in the details but somehow my mind would dart to a forgotten moment, like the first time he kissed me and all of a sudden tears would start to well up. In that instant I would remember everything so … fresh. The smell, the feel, how my heart leapt for joy. My mind would replay it clearly and so quickly, before I had a chance to put a guard up, and then I’m having to explain that no, no I’m not crying because I have small changes to this email I’m working on, I’m just tired or someone I vaguely knew passed away.

There were days I had to go to the bathroom nonstop to try and weep in private. It was my only solace. And it was terrible, because I’d go there, weep quietly, sometimes not quietly, then return to my desk assuming all the tears had been cried. Only to find out I was wrong, get back up a few minutes later and return to the bathroom to cry again.

I felt dumb. Hopeless. Here I was hurting over someone who .. didn’t choose me. Who abandoned me in a sense. I felt like a fool. It was embarrassing.

Some people might see this … display of emotion as weakness. And I did too. For a long time.

I don’t anymore.

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Welcome to the shit show

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“I thought you were a shit show the first night we hung out,” he laughed.

‘He’ was a guy I’d met while out drinking with friends probably three years ago. ‘He’ (let’s call him Baxter) was also someone I hadn’t seen in well over a year and had ran into while out listening to a band recently.

Not going to lie, it stung to hear him say that. But then … I reflected.

Last year I was in an affair and had my heart very publicly broken. I was also banned from a bar, along with my friends. I gave my friend a black eye (self defense .. have I told that story?). I lost all my belongings to bed bugs. And then found out my dog was dying. Shit. Show.

The night ‘Baxter’ first met me I was out with a group of my girlfriends. We met him on lower Greenville then drug him to our next bar to keep chatting him up and during the midst of that, I decided to sneak away to see the guy I was falling for … THE guy who later broke my heart and banned me from his bar. The guy I’ve written more than a few blog posts about. The guy who I was later in an affair with. Ugh. However, that fateful night, three years ago, we were only just … talking really. I was dumbly and naively crushing on him, thinking it was all very harmless.

While talking to this tall, bearded total RED FLAG, my friends came in to drag me out.  One friend in particular … the one who I later had the *cough* altercation with … was being incredibly bossy and in my drunk state I got upset with her and decided to just go home. I’m sure it looked like I was being a brat (I was). I’m sure it also looked like I was being a terrible woman talking to this guy in general and I’m definitely sure it looked like I was a total shit show.

So… fair statement, Baxter.

I have been/can be/might continue to be a bit of a shit show. But I don’t see that as a bad thing.

 

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Good right now: Or how I found my bench in the sun

It is amazing what can happen in a month.

At the end of March, I moved to a new home, started a new job and embarked on a new chapter in my life. I saw these moves as really positive … and a way to start cultivating better habits. Out with the old, in with the new, right?

What I didn’t take into account was how much the change would actually have on my emotional state. Though the new place was bigger and in a better neighborhood, though my new job is exactly like something I would’ve killed to have been in for the past few years, all this change was draining on my heart. My routine was different, my patterns all off. Most of this was for my good. But even though I might know that on a head level, it didn’t stop my heart from silently panicking and getting overwhelmed. I forget that change … even good change … is really hard for me to handle.

Recently all this change came to a head while I was on a trip in Mexico. I had one of those ‘dark nights of the soul’. Are you familiar? Maybe you’ve had them too. It was, of course, spurred on by alcohol. But every fearful, anxious thought I’ve been trying to squash with talk of positivity and how great and promising this new chapter in my life would be, finally came rushing to the surface. And it brought me to my knees in anguish and tears and a feeling of utter hopelessness.

Memories of my ex, guilt over every loss that was my fault, deep feelings of loneliness and unworthiness, fears that every new good thing will also be taken because so much has, heart ache over unrequited love. A deep pervasive sadness in my soul that seemed too unbearable to overcome. A weight in my chest so heavy it was hard to breathe.

When these dark nights happen (and they don’t happen all that often), they are quite terrifying. I know it’s an emotional response. I know it’s likely sheer emotional exhaustion. It’s temporary. I know this truth on a deep level and yet when I’m in the middle of it it feels as if there is a wall between my heart and this truth. And all there is is swirling darkness and an abyss so deep I can’t fathom ever being able to climb out. And nothing I can do or say seems to soothe me. My only choice is to survive it.

And I did.

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March is for ‘Moving Forward’: Or how I learned to let go in my way

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I’ve always struggled with letting go. It’s a really strange and difficult concept for me. I think partly because it seems like … so sad in a way to me. Rose should’ve NEVER let go of Jack, just saying.

My struggle with this concept of letting go (which incidentally means I also struggle with acceptance, but that’s another post for another day) keeps me holding on to the past well past it’s expiration date. This makes it really hard to live in the present. I end up spending the bulk of my time either reliving the past or trying to envision a brighter future versus just being right where I am in that exact moment. My friends have all noticed this, counselors too. The advice? Let go. Let go of the past. Stay in the present.

But … how?

Seriously.

No one really has an answer for that. It’s unique to everyone I suppose.

Letting go of the emotions attached to a previous experience is especially difficult for me as I am a deeply feeling personality type. This means when I do relive the past, I relive every emotion associated with an experience. If it’s a pleasant one, then that’s great! If it’s a painful one (which, let’s be honest … the painful ones are the ones most people struggle to let go of), I am basically recreating the exact same awful emotions I felt the first time. It’s a cycle of repeated suffering and torture and it’s mostly self-inflicted.

There’s the ick part. The good part is I may have found a way to stop the cycle.

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Flying Solo (Part 2): Facing fears in Bali

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I felt like I was in a movie.

I was racing with my taxi driver, Wyan, to see the sunset at the Uluwatu Temple. This temple is built at the edge of a 70 meter high cliff jutting into the sea and the views of the sunset were said to be spectacular. Not to be missed.

This was the third day of my solo trip to Bali and I most definitely did NOT want to miss this view, nor did I want to spend another day fighting traffic to try and reach the temple a second time. We were stuck in a massive traffic jam up a windy two lane road. We weren’t going to make it by car, that much was becoming clear … so we made a split second decision. A guy on a motorbike passed us (he was the motorbike equivalent of a taxi), we flagged him down, I hopped out of my taxi and onto the back of the bike, put on my helmet and he raced me to the temple, weaving in and out of cars with mere inches to spare.

He was a pro. I had nothing to worry about and yet I clung to him like a spider monkey. In short, I was TERRIFIED.

The motorbikes were the fastest way to travel in Bali as the roads are narrow and windy and there are very few street lights or stop signs … which mean traffic jams galore. A motorbike allows you the freedom to get around an major blockages quickly, but I was too afraid to drive one and had been (up till then) too afraid to hop on the back of one.

But I wasn’t gonna miss the temple. And now we were racing up up up up the cliff and the sun was just starting to set. It was absurdly breathtaking even on the back of his bike. I had a moment. Another one of those beautiful moments of supreme gratitude. And supreme pride. And supreme wonder.

I made it.

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And I did make it. Not just to the top of the cliff to watch the gorgeous sunset but also to this glorious time in my life where I was taking risks and saying yes and living the adventurous life I’d always wanted, but never believed I was capable of.

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Flying Solo (Part 1): Bali, bedbugs and break-ups

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If it weren’t for the bedbugs, I would’ve never gone to Bali.

I thought about that as I stood in the immigration line after a grueling, fairly inebriated 33 hour flight. I was tired but I had made it and I had a ‘holy shit’ moment. Me? I’m here? How did I get here? How did this small town girl wind up solo in Bali? 

Well, it all started with a song and a book (of course). 

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