Thursday, November 20, 2014


Collectors Quest

Love is transformative. It's beautiful and perfect. Like sunlight. It powers life. It brightens everything. It warms everything. It makes everything sparkle.

Just like sunlight, too much love can burn you.

When do you love someone too much? When you love them more than your needs, your need for friends and connections other than them, your need for emotional or financial stability, your need for safety and freedom from fear, your need for physical health. You love your kids too much when your life feels not worth living when they leave you. You love your spouse too much when you can't bear that they think anything bad about you, and you have to make them stop. You love your parents too much when you put their needs before your own or your kids'.

You love someone too much when you can't let them hurt, when you need to save them from everything, even if that means hurting and losing yourself.

You love someone too much when you can't think of anything but them. Birthdays remind you. Sundays reminds you. Grocery store aisles remind you. Movies, songs, books, pictures, colors, food, cups, necklaces, pants, carpet, sunlight, rain, snow, your calendar, what your boss said this morning, your neighbor's dog, your best friend's mom, the facebook newsfeed, the flower in the corner of the ad for return address mailing labels, everything, everywhere, always reminds you. Even when you close your eyes and all you hear is the sound of your own breath in the dark, even that reminds you.

You love someone too much when you can't forgive them for anything, because they hurt you that deeply, because you wanted that much for them to fill you up with themselves and their irreplaceable love, and they didn't. You love someone too much when you constantly expect them to change and refuse to except them and their behavior, for the same reason.

When you love someone too much, you use them, you depend on them, you need them. You can't and won't live without them, even if you wish you could and would.

That's loving someone too much.

And when you've loved someone too much so much that now your life is shriveled or even the briefest exposure burns and yet you'll stand there and soak them in, thinking, this is love, that's when you cannot love them. That's when you have to live without your light, your love, until the burn fades.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The grief of letting go

Image courtesy of Anna Destephano,

Sometimes it doesn't work out. Sometimes people don't fit. Like mismatched puzzle pieces too bent and chewed by the family dog. Our edges are soggy, tattered, jagged.

We try "making it work," refusing to give up. We mash ourselves together into an ungainly unhinged scramble of a Thomas Kinkaid Disney castle and Guernica. We pull hard into each other's incompatibilities while they jab helplessly at our faces like Pickup Sticks in the eyes, splayed points gouging everywhere the harder we hold on. We break off each other's teeth, punch new holes in each other, and break ourselves in two, trying to make it work.

And we try to ignore this, sometimes. Even after all the damage, the self-mutilation, the shaming, the self-hatred and scourging blame of everyone including God, still we try to make this dysfunctional clash cling into a consoling whole. We see others hang together in pictures of fulfillment. They have familial love and warmth. Everything we want. And we ache.

Something like a yawning emptiness, a vacuum sucking sinkhole drops out in our heart. We hunger. It burns. It flickers with despair. And we panic. We claw and scramble away. We can't accept it. We refuse to even consider it. Surrender, "giving up," that would be a failure, loss. That would mean we're damaged, that we can't make everything right. It would be falling over the edge of that pit. If we do, we'll never get out. Nothing will ever be right again. We'll never be able to put the pieces back together.

And we'll be alone. Starving. In the dark. Forever.

Maybe it'll be our fault.

So we hate ourselves. And them, the ones we can't make fit. We try blaming ourselves. And them. We try running at them, and running away. We bargain. We do inventories. We do therapy. We plead. We pray. We do anything and everything as we scratch up and chew over and kick around every stage between ourselves and acceptance, between us and grief, that black shadow into which we cannot slip.

This does nobody any good, this aggressive denial, this refusal to accept what we cannot change. This obstinate denial that we, and they, fall into that category too. All it does is create misery. Scar us. Keep us tortured and trapped. Hating ourselves. Hating them. Blaming ourselves and bending ourselves until we break or feel half-labotomized with the pretend. We wear our spirits down, erode our souls, denying them, crushing them, until maybe they'll never fit anything ever again.

Sometimes, when you get here, to this desperate edge, all you can do -- the best you can do -- for everyone, is let go. Give in. Surrender. Fall. Sink into the black. Let grief swallow you, and trust that someday, somehow you will come up for air. After you cry and cry and cry and cry, you will land on a sunny seashore at the other side of the tunnel. You'll breathe. You'll feel warmth again. You will find love, real love. The love of acceptance, where finally, finally, you fit.

You'll fit with yourself. You'll just be you, complete.

But sometimes, you can't do this, you can't get to that free shore of self-love and self-fulfillment and health and peace, until you say goodbye.