Ghosts of the Present


I sit back and watch a certain scene play out over and over. The names and people are interchangeable. But the scene remains the same. One person is clinging, grappling, and doing everything humanly possible to hold onto another person who has been gone for longer than the first person cares to admit. Their reasoning is always the same:

You could never possibly understand. 

But I love him.

They always pull me back in…

I listen and nod my head along to the sound of their worn out choruses. But internally, I am biting back a stream of words. Actually, I want to scream.

Because I understand the rock bottom of heartbreak. How it can tear you from the inside out, and you know you will never be quite the same. I remember the daydreams of all the broken pieces somehow melding back together.

But I also understand the importance of valuing yourself and knowing when to hold your head high while those tears are still falling, deleting that person’s damn phone number, and blocking their every social media. Maybe you think this sounds a little harsh. You’re thinking you can handle seeing them on occasion. Stay casual. Wake up and leave before the coffee is even brewing. And sure, there are always people who are the exception. But tell me, do you really think you are the exception? Or, are you just avoiding the heartbreak waiting for you on the other side of cutting someone out for good?

We are lonely creatures. Lonely fearful creatures that are afraid there couldn’t possibly be something better out there. We don’t trust in the goodness of our paths to provide healing or wholeness, much less a new love. A better love. And so we cling and dig our claws into our fading love’s ghost and don’t even realize when there’s not even anything there anymore to hold onto. That the loves we held are dead. The person we fell in love with doesn’t exist. But there we are waking up in their bed and falling asleep to dreams of our past pretending it could be the future.

Eat, Pray, Love isn’t possible for all of us. (Hell if you can you go on that trip though, you go girl!) But we can muster up the strength to flick through old contacts and delete names long over due. We can ask our best friends to look us in the eyes and be honest and true, when they see us about to slip out the back door and travel old trails. We can look in the mirror and decide to set a new pattern.

Because god. You deserve to let yourself watch old flames die out so that you can light a new one. You deserve to muddle and crawl through the heartbreak to come out stronger and braver than before. You deserve people in your life who can see all the goodness radiating out of you and treat you as such. And I really hope you can believe this too friend. I really do.


From This Chair

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She stared up at the ceiling and glanced his way. Dark hair perfectly mussed and chest falling in even sleep filled breaths. Exhaling she wondered how many times she could lie there in the dark hoping he would miss her just enough to break down at her feet like some overdramatic lead role. Cry for all the heartwrenching divisions that now made up her insides and plead temporary insanity between jagged breaths as he apologized.

She turned from the thought and crept out from under his blankets and curled up in his favorite overstuffed reading chair. The old worn out brown leather one that she could remember them both falling into in a fit of laughter and tangled limbs. Legs all balled up underneath her, she let herself think of this as him just going through a phase. I mean come on everyone has at least one friend who dated the guy who just needed some “time” and then came back like some brand new spiffy version of himself. Sorry baby, I just got lost. 

Or maybe he meant it when he said our places were at different ends of the earth, and to go find someone who could follow the same winding path as her own. Either way, the heartbreak had ripped and tore at her heart until the threads that were left pulled her back to this place.

The familiar ding of her phone broke her out of her nostalgic reverie, and the sound left her with mixed excitement and heaviness as optimism and reality crashed head on over a text message. Never mind that he was one room over, her automatic response to the ding was to expect his name lit up across her screen.

Welcome to twentysomething heartbreak, where your phone can take you as high as it can low.

Swiping the text away, she lamented how the nights seemed filled with too much time and how afraid she was to call friends she had ignored for so long. Not to mention she was half convinced they would think she was crazy to carry on waiting and wishing for a person who oh so detachedly and politely set her free. But then the other waning voice offered the hollow comfort she longed for that yes, this really was just a phase of his.

Thoughts drifting as the night shifted in its darkness she wondered if every potential new person in her life would just be a poor pale comparison to the man sighing in his sleep across the hall. A cardboard cut out of the real flesh and life she had loved. If dates would be filled with feigned interest and mental comparisons of all the ways he is not him. An odd threesome of a date that would be. A ghost in the empty chair. A shadow of a voice whispering all the old things…

Why should she chase the unraveling strands of attachment, when the other end is quite possibly frayed to bits or even at worst, already cut to the quick as if there isn’t even a shred of hope dangling. Maybe false hope was better than none. In the truest spots of herself though, she knew only the hardest of truths could let her move forward.

Or maybe, maybe breakups are one of the worst experiences we as humans can face.

A death where everyone else can still love, touch, and hear the voice of the one we have lost. The oddest form of torture. To love what we feel is so fully and truly only to have this pulled out from underneath us with a quick note of, “This never could have worked forever… you know that right, baby? ” A quick punch to the gut, that’s what those words are.

All of us running around with hearts full of edges and scars never knowing when the next crack might set in. But sitting there in the chair of a man who had shattered all notions of their forever she knew that one day she would accept the pain and the heartbreak in all its gory notoriety. Let the dark garb of love’s death be her wardrobe and allow it to change her from the inside out.

But she pictured herself, a year, two years, from now looking back to this same overstuffed chair and wondered what she would see. Would she see a girl who turned back again and again to the source of her pain? A girl who never left this chair. A girl running to the edges of the earth to avoid the ache of it all? Or one brave enough to take the hands of whoever else was beside her and just sit with the ache day after day until it slowly fell off in bits and pieces leaving a sparkling trail of hope in her wake. Hope for every other brave soul who must face this dark night tucked into a ball in the armchair of someone they can’t let go.

Around the Bend

Do you remember the first day you looked up and the sky seemed to open up all around you instead of closing in? When your light pink Toms practically flitted across the broken pavement, and your first waking thought wasn’t to wonder if this was all real? Maybe you haven’t felt that weightless in ages and wonder if that day will ever really come. That’s okay too. As for me, I don’t remember the exact day or time, but I can tell you it was a good one. That I took an extra second in bed that morning to stretch tightly and then fall back into the delightfully cozy warmth of an early morning.

Sometimes you can literally feel the extra bit of welded on ache fall from your heart and for some it’s like the slow erosion and pressure of turning a hunk of coal to Tiffany’s. It’s not always a clean break, but when the sorrow seems to fade, and you feel all light like a ballerina on those pretty pink toes, don’t you go back lookin’ for the pieces. I don’t wanna find you on your knees in the dirt, hands full of scrounged up leftover heartache and eyes down, sayin’, “It’s okay.. This is just me now, but it’s fine. Really.” We’ve all done it, trudged back to that dirt lookin’ for something that’s already gone.

Lovely, you are not the only person to sit in that dark corner without even a light above trying to figure out how heartbreak and moving on fit in the same suitcase. But, the problem with carrying fistfuls of bitter and pain is that your heart wants to watch them float like the lilies down the stream. Light and death all in one beautiful bloom. But that’s the tension isn’t it? For so long, they both had to be in that suitcase. They really truly did and they loaded it down like a bunch of rocks. But now it’s dragging and you just gotta let go love. The pain was never meant to stitch itself up and along the very edges of your outlines so that when you let it drop you look up, face shocked, because the ache seems to be part of your very being.

There is a point where you hear a whisper softly telling you somewhere deep, that you don’t need the bitter, the pain, and the wrenching heaviness of replaying every last word. Hands all balled up because you can’t see what will fill them once you let grief slip out. Grief may have wrapped itself up and around & nestled into the softest parts of your heart, but now look at it. Yes you, look at your heart. Look because what you’ll see past the calloused over grief is something new that is brimming over with compassion and grace. Let those newfound strengths seep out in heaping handfuls into the broken hearts that will now speak to you as if they were your own.  Let your fists fall and wrap your beautiful fingers around the handle of that brown patched up suitcase. I think if you were to open up that old carrying case and take out the damn rocks, you would find all the goodness that comes gushing in when you finally, let the pieces fall.

I am the first to tell you, that you can’t force the lightness that comes with healing. But if you are in the space where you can feel it and are still clinging to old hurts, afraid of the twinkling lights and laughter that just maybe could be tucked around the bend, then please let your fists fall and wander on. It’s worth it, I promise.