The first time your heart shatters, you become one woman or another.
The first can only ever love the broken after that. She sees damage as her canvas, and she spends the rest of her life trying to make it beautiful. Cobbling together the lost and fragmented, soothing their sadness and their grief. She creates a mosaic from their stories and their sorrow, mends the pieces into something whole again. Because if she can love something back together, it means nothing, no one is too far gone for saving.
The other starts to sees damage as inevitable. So she strikes first, destroys anything that comes too close. This kind of woman will sabotage her own happiness, snap it clean in two, rather than let someone or some thing surprise her again. Her heart inured, she will be the one to lay siege from now on. For her, it is obvious people were never meant to stay whole. And to survive this world, we must learn to live with what we have left.
What We Have Left (A Novel)
never could resist a landscape metaphor …
You know what else is funny? How the ache is so strong, you think it will never go away, that something set so deep couldn’t possibly fade. Then later comes along. At some point – later – you no longer feel what you used to feel. And when you think about what you came through, you can’t remember just when that ache went away. It didn’t feel gradual; it certainly didn’t get easier one specific day or time. Two months in, you were just as likely to be sobbing on a Friday night as you were when your heart was first split open. Still. At some point it wasn’t there anymore. At some unidentifiable moment, it all slid off you. You were no longer sad. It … he .. was gone. What was the formula? What was the exact equation of distance and time to take you where he wasn’t?
I need to know this. Because I’ve carried this bright, new sadness across the ocean with me. I’ve put the distance between us, once again. So how long before time meets that distance? When? How long before I stop feeling like there are strings playing under my skin, a mournful dirge that pulls me down?
Back when it ended, I listened to that music on repeat, it was my constant refrain.
Am I really back there now?
~ El, What We Have Left
Sorry? Am I really here again? Standing on a dark street, lip bit, trying not to cry? Am I really here, in heels too high for the slippery streets and the shaking?
Why’s it always raining when my heart gets broken? (there’s no denying – half a year got me half way there.)
And now you’ve gone and left me here?
Hell no! You knew. You know.
And I thought with that we might take care. I thought perhaps you cared. Enough to be a better man when it comes to invitation.
See, I know where you’re wounded too (dark spirits will pull that from a conversation). I kept my touch gentlest there. And when I turned out my palms … I understood your right to refuse them.
But it’s been a long time since someone left me so small. Off to take their better call. Leaving me an unspoken message. Alone to hear, loud and clear.
Sorry for taking so long to accept.
I thought you were a different kind. And that – you motherfucker – was a ‘big deal’ to me.
Rejection might be mandatory – humiliation, never.
I’ll still know your birthday.
I’ll still know the date you said yes, still see the girl with her hand to her mouth and her back to the wall, surrounded by love and alcohol – these midwives who birthed her grief, and carried her, carefully, back into the world.
I’ll still know those next years by your door and its swinging. The calendar of words and reaching from either side, and the times we didn’t speak at all. How I left a trail of breadcrumbs all over the silence – and how you didn’t follow them home.
And I’ll know the times you did.
I’ll still know the last time I saw you, love. The last, last time, and I’ll count away from this day, as if it is my midnight, the end and the beginning of everything. Wondering still, in the dark of this hour, if the way you couldn’t love me – meant I couldn’t be loved at all.
~ Elliott, Into the After
Banksy ~ Love Sick
So many people die protecting their heart, instead of exposing it. They never once say – Fuck it! I’m in. It wouldn’t work? Who cares! Let’s try! They never take the leap, and risk the fall. The knowing, finally, that you are on your way now. Or free to leave, once and for all. It might break their heart to find out. It should break their heart. That’s how you’re meant to use it.
That’s how the light gets in.
You cannot be tentative with love. You have to crash into it, you have to crack through it. Your heart can take it. That resilient little organ, every time it breaks, it cobbles back together somehow. It recalibrates around the ache, into something stronger.
You have to break your own heart. I hope you break your heart. Use it, while it is still drumming away, under the skin. Tell that person. Ask that person. Turn out your palms and say I’m here. I’m in. Don’t bequeath them your questions. Risk your heart – break it! – to find the answers. Maybe that person will help you put your heart back together. Maybe you’ll have to do it alone. It doesn’t matter. It recalibrates around the ache, into something stronger.
And the only way to really let go – is to know.
Image by Joanne Piechota
(So now you now. Time to let go)
Excerpt from I hope you break your heart. Tell your truths. Tell your stories. Every time.