Tag Archive | healing

The Long Way Home

She felt unbearably fragile.

The words hung in the air between them, and she couldn’t bear to look up and see him. Or let him see her.

They were true, she knew, the words she had spoken. And so it shouldn’t have mattered what he replied, because that truth came with a numbness, a protection of its own. She waited longingly for that numbness to come, but it didn’t. For the first time, it didn’t. She couldn’t escape what that meant.

He could hurt her. Even now, by just leaving, he could hurt her. Because she needed him. And she had rejected him with her words that were true.

“I can’t. I know you want me to be brave again, but I can’t.”

She had to make him understand. Before he gave her more than she could ever return. Before it became more unfair to him than it already was. She owed him the truth.

It must have been only a few seconds, but his silence seemed to stretch through the night. She turned her head, away from him, towards the empty street and the sidewalk she would have to walk alone later. The city lights glowed on the pavement. She felt cold.

Then his hands were on her face, turning her back to him. Gently.

“Hey,” he said, his tone as tender as his touch. One fingertip traced the trail of moisture from the teardrop she had tried to hide from him. Slowly, hesitantly, she met his gaze.

His eyes were direct, intense. His voice was low, but clear and compelling in the cold air. “You don’t have to be anything you don’t want to be. Not for me.”

The words slammed into her heart, pounded on the walls that had been necessary for so long. She couldn’t say anything past the tightness in her throat.

“Come on,” he said after a few moments. He was smiling. “I’ll walk you home.”

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A Small Step at Sunset

She sat on the grass under the huge acacia tree, watching the sky change color from a clear blue to the glowing hues of sunset through the lacy patterns made by the branches and leaves. It had been a good day. She had gone out with her friend Jake, wandered around town with him for a bit, until they both ended up in this peaceful place where the traffic sounds faded away. It was just the two of them, the sunset, and their thoughts.

It was the first time he’d done this with anyone, Jake said — just sitting on the grass watching the sunlight fade into dusk. Smiling, she told him she’d never been to this spot before, either. She usually watched the sunset somewhere else, with — no. She would not think of him tonight. She would not ruin this moment with memories that were beautiful once but were tainted now, because he left.

Restless, she absent-mindedly picked at the grass, feeling the soothing coolness of their leaves against her fingers. She plucked and pulled until she found a particularly long blade. Automatically, her hands moved to start weaving a grass ring, like she always did with…. Sigh. The memories would not leave her alone tonight.

Helplessly, her mind flooded with images of the first time they watched a sunset together. The first time she made him a grass ring. The many times he promised he would never let her go. The last time she believed him. She took a deep breath, willing herself to shake off the painful questions that she knew might never be answered.

Jake looked at her in concern, but she just smiled and shook her head. He was a good friend, but she knew he had his own ghosts, too. They were both haunted. They  both needed to forget. She needed to let go of what she never thought she’d lose, and he needed to give up on what he knew he couldn’t have.  The difference was that he could talk about it, and she couldn’t. Not yet. Maybe someday. She looked forward  to someday.

In the fading light, she looked at the half-finished ring in her hands. She took another deep breath, preparing herself to break yet another link to him. Despite a sentimental hesitation, she knew there was no point in preserving what was no longer real. He was lost to her, permanently. It was time to make new memories. Slowly, she started weaving again, knowing this one was for Jake, but also for herself. She was letting herself let him go.

A Different Ever-after

It’s always been your favorite part of the fairytale — the happy ending. You waited for it in every book and hoped for your own version all your life. Then some time ago, you thought you found it, with him. And maybe to others he’s a pretty average guy, but you saw something different, something that made you believe he’s the one.  So you gave your heart.

But things went wrong, as they sometimes will. Life isn’t a storybook. And the one you thought was there to rescue you instead rode off into the sunset and left you behind. He’s gone. And just like that, it’s over.

Knowing that, you push yourself to let go, and to a certain degree you think you’ve succeeded. Yet there’s still that tempting fantasy, that dangerous hope — that somehow, after all these twists and turns, you can still be with him. You can still have your happy ending. So maybe you’re unaware of it, maybe you say otherwise, but deep inside, you’re still holding on.

However, there’s another kind of happy ending, one that doesn’t ask you to live your life always looking backwards. It’s when you finally learn that even without this person, you have a right to be okay. You have a right to make new memories to replace the ones tainted by disillusionment. You have a right to feel that your heart is whole again — not twisted with the pain that’s been your constant reality since he left. But you have to make a choice.

You have to choose that road, the one that leads to healing. You have to stop waiting on that spot where you were together for the last time, that spot where you hope he’ll return. Because that’s where he broke your heart, and no matter how difficult it is to accept that he’s not coming back, there’s no longer any reason for you to stay. It’s time to move on.

And once you do, it won’t be easy. It won’t be instant. Sometimes you might feel like you’re going nowhere. But take your time, and celebrate the little things. Maybe it’s something as simple as not noticing it’s his favorite song on the radio. Or perhaps it’s being able to go to a special place with someone else and not him. Or it could be the first time you hear his name without flinching inside. It starts with those little steps. And soon, after every hard-earned inch, you’ll look behind you and realize that you’re walking away from that place of heartbreak. Slowly, and not always without steps backward, little by little you’re moving on.

At the end of that road is something better than what you left behind. And once you get there, you’ll know that every step, every stumble, was worth it. And that journey that you took, all the way from brokenness to being whole again — that’s your story. And the best part of it is that it doesn’t have to end.

(written as requested by summerlight) 🙂

And so the healing begins.

He no longer fills up my life.

He’s no longer my first thought when I wake up, no longer the last thing on my mind before I fall asleep. I no longer judge whether a day is good or bad by whether I see him or not. My world is full again, even without him.

I realized it today when I felt surprised when I saw him. I knew he was gonna be there, but it completely slipped my mind. It slipped my mind! For once, I didn’t get dressed wondering if he’d like how I looked; for once I didn’t enter a room automatically checking to see if he was already there, eagerly anticipating that first smile of greeting. When he arrived, my pulse no longer leapt in response.

I had truly let him go, at last. After the aching loss and soul-deep loneliness, I welcomed the relief.

It’s really over now, and it’s okay. I’m going to be okay. I’m choosing to be okay.

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Catharsis

Sometimes it happens like this.

You get to know someone, and you come to love him, with all the courage and patience and compassion that knowing and loving require. And you’ve never been that scared, or that brave, or that happy. Because he knows and loves you back, or at least you trust that he does. It’s a risk, but it’s worth it.

But people change, or at least they change their minds. And suddenly the knowing and loving is no longer mutual, and everything you think you know about yourself changes. You used to think your limits were non-negotiable, that you’d never let yourself get shortchanged. That you’d be smart enough to get out when it’s no longer good for you.

But hope is intoxicating. It’s addictive and far more tenacious than you’d expected. You still remember the promises and it’s harder than you thought it would be to just stop believing them. You’ve changed, you suddenly realize. Knowing and loving someone so deeply and unreservedly has changed you. You understand now what it means when you read the verse saying love bears all things, and never loses faith, and perseveres. There is suddenly more poignancy and truth in those words than you’ve seen before.

So you try. You honest-to-goodness try. Again and again, you give all that you can possibly give to save what can be saved, to hold on to what is left and to recapture what was lost. But it doesn’t work, and that’s because when all is said and done, it’s just you. You’re alone in trying. There is nothing more devastating than that, but also nothing more undeniable. You cannot escape the painful truth anymore.

Because sometimes it just happens like that.

When it does, you owe it to yourself to let go. Just as you did your best in holding on, now do your best in walking away. Stop putting your life on hold just because he might come to his senses and turn to you, and really see you, once again. It’s over. Recognize the breaking of your heart, and allow for its healing. No, you cannot see that now, but you will. You will, eventually.

And maybe something different, something good, will happen next time.


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Coke Floats and Letting Go

My mind drifts as I watch my plastic straw chasing the chocolate syrup around the bottom of my coke float. It’s four o’clock in the morning, and nobody else is on the second floor of the 24-hour McDonald’s. It is my first time to be here alone.

For two years now I’ve been trying to say goodbye to him. I’ve been trying to escape the memories, trying to accept that the dreams we had would never be more than dreams. He is gone. Forever. The finality of it chills me, and I am starting to discover that there are some hurts that even time cannot erase.

I scoop up some of the sundae floating on top of the cola and I can’t help but reminisce about our long,easy conversations over this same table. For hours we would talk about anything that caught our fancy. We quoted movie lines and discussed books, we laughed about other people and about ourselves. But mostly we talked about dreams. And life. One night the mood turned philosophical and he told me that there are certain times when life itself resembles a coke float: soft and sweet on the surface but dark and acidic underneath. I looked at him for a long time after that remark, then he winked and tried to steal some of my sundae with a french fry. I laughed, but what I really wanted to do was to hold him and try to heal the brief flicker of painful memories I had glimpsed in his eyes.

Looking back, I wish I did. Because looking back, I know that I would never get another chance.

One week later, a split-second misjudgment of a taxi driver robbed me of the chance to hold him again. In one brief, life-changing moment, I lost the man who held my dreams and my heart in the palm of his hand. Suddenly, I was left with a wound that nobody’s embrace could heal. Suddenly, I had to learn how to say goodbye.

For two years now I’ve been trying to say goodbye to him. Tonight, in the place where he had taught me so much, I realize that I don’t have to. Because just now, as I remember the pain I once saw in his eyes, I suddenly recall the intense, irrepressible hope that also shone in them. No matter what bitterness lay in his past, he was determined to dream again. In that fleeting, unforgettable moment, even when he had no idea what it would mean, he had given me permission to move on. He had given me courage to take the pleasure along with the pain, and to see our memories not as a reminder of a future that we can never have, but as souvenirs of a past that is too precious to be forgotten.

He will always be a part of me. When love comes again, he will be that inner voice urging me to settle for nothing less than what we had: tender, spectacular, and real. And I will listen to him. He has, after all, taught me all I need to know about forever.

It is almost morning. I raise my empty glass to him in a silent salute. Then finally, after a long night, I smile and walk out to welcome the dawn.

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