Ghosts of the Present

beautiful

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.

Finally Clean

old coffee shop

photo credit: Corey Templeton via photopin cc

 

Jamming a hat over untamed curls in a late attempt to maintain some semblance of warmth, she moved through the crowded street to finally enter an old wooden door into a place her boots used to frequent all too often.

She was greeted with a steaming cup of coffee, no frills just black. She held the cup up in thanks with a small smile to the old waitress and slid into her favorite booth. Glancing out the already fogged window, her thoughts flitted to how this place had felt like home not so long ago.

Uncapping a thin marker, and settling back into the booth, she planted herself firmly in that moment and began to write.

Dear … Well hello I guess,

I ended up here after all. The corner booth’s still cracked, and I bet the scuffs won’t ever come off the wall from these old boots. Not that you were wondering.

Pausing with the marker mid air, she decided to keep writing.

I needed to sit in the place where we always traced ourselves back to the start. And sure enough, between the smells drifting past and the warmth of the coffee between my fingers it’s as if I’m pulled right back into the deep of us.

Back to when coffee wasn’t just some morning drink made for all of us sleep deprived ones. It was you. And it was me. Sitting all wrapped up in words and dreams about all of the tomorrows we thought were already on their way.

If life has been good, you’ll have had no reason to open this letter from a girl whose name never falls from your lips. But I had to ask. Where did you go? No, I know your address for that new place five hundred miles away from here and me. But really, where did you go? The night the light disappeared from those eyes made of all the fractals of the bluest ice. I always swore they could go right through me.

I mean I’m good now. You know that right? Surely someone told you. But I’ve still gotta know. It’s the question etched into all my sleepless nights. Out of all our nights tucked away in this old black booth with coffees filled to the brim and hearts bleeding, why that night?

I saw you, you know. I was already here. Two coffees and a brownie, just waiting. I saw you walk up to the door hands shoved deep into dark pockets, and then a slight pause as your fingers hovered over the brassy knob. In that moment, the light turned black and your footsteps fell away.

I sat completely still, hoping you just forgot something, but I already knew. The deep sinking feeling moving from my throat down into my gut said what my mind couldn’t yet spell out. You were gone.

No amount of tears or carefully crafted win you back kind of words could fix this. There was a permanence in the air my heart didn’t want to breathe.

The coffee shop noise morphed into a dull buzz of wordless voices and I felt all my limbs grow hot as I fumbled in shock. It was my fault, all of it. I heard every insecurity resound with a chorus of you’re too much child, don’t you know you’ll always be too much? And start over? Girl, you couldn’t get it right this time, what makes you think next will be any different? Without any response to my own self, I numbly made my feet shuffle up and out the door. That was months ago.

But today, I’m sitting here, drinking my coffee in peace and I honestly hope to find you well. I hope whatever stole the glaringly beautiful ice from your eyes and turned them to shadows brought you where you were meant to be. That maybe you aren’t still running. We both know that’s what you did.

When you took off, I stayed still. I sat and listened to the sound of my own self shattering only to watch roots grow deep as the fragments fell underground and came up to life. And let me tell you, it’s pretty damn spectacular what grew up out of this.

No one could have known something that started so beautiful, even if it was just beautiful lies, could end so swiftly. Wordlessly even. The remnants of what was scattered throughout my life. Tell me, did you find them in yours too? Perhaps not, you always could remove yourself so easily from all the entanglements of people. Still, I can’t help but hope one day you find a love you can’t so easily slip away from. That shocks you out of the lie, which says you’re better off alone.

That one day you’ll look up to find yourself spending all your Sundays reading books across from her like this is all you’ve ever known.

If you find this, it means you’re here. I don’t know why your worn out soles carried you back, but stay awhile. After all, we both know how good this coffee is. Me? Well, this is my last time sitting here in this old booth. Tomorrow I’m gone and I just stopped to say goodbye.

Wherever you went, I hope you found yourself there.

Me.

Folding the pages up and into the envelope, she shoved the letter deep into the crack of the old booth knowing if he ever came he’d find it. Swallowing the last dregs of her coffee, she stood and slapped down a five dollar bill. Glancing around, she grinned beneath her curls, she was finally clean.

Moments of Gold

moment

People talk about moments. Moments where they just change.

But what about the days & months & years of sitting in a fire as you hope to god you are slowly turning to gold? That ain’t no moment, it’s your life and it IS hard. The days are feeling longer, the dissonance of whom you thought you were supposed to be and who you are swells inside you, and you wake up wishing you were in a different skin. You’re tired. The bone soul deep ache of a struggle too long without any signs of a full healing.

I forget to write down and capture the silvers of beauty along this path. The tiny internal shifts reminding me that I am not truly in the same place. Or the people who happen to speak words that startle me with their relevance to where I am.

I become restless in my own skin and feel like I’m Alice asking the Cheshire cat which way I must go. The restlessness can push you to explore the farthest and deepest parts of your desire and this is so good, but my friend, don’t let the restlessness rule you. Tired and worn, the restlessness can be your fuel and shift just as easily into a vice.

On those days, when I wake up wishing I was in a different skin, I sometimes am really wishing that I had the warm fluffy faith I see plastered across my facebook. Wishing my purpose didn’t so heavily intertwine with the fact that I am a highly sensitive person who got trampled on by fundamental religion, and some days I’m not really sure what the next step is.

Because embracing my purpose means embracing the heartbreak, depression, & anxiety that brought me to where I am, and you know what? Some days I don’t want to admit to those parts of me. But then I wouldn’t be here with these words for you.

Making peace with systems and places that have hurt you is really the task that won’t die. I make peace again and again, and sometimes something shifts, and I feel the sweet relief of fully embracing something I thought could no longer be mine to hold.

So what do you do when you know very well in your bones the places you must go are so much bigger than your self? I’ll be honest sometimes I just try to ignore what I know is a part of me: the call to sit in hard places and write words that will go where I cannot, to learn how to communicate and recognize privilege & injustice, and how to sew these into the already busy tapestry that is my life.

But then comes someone like my friend Ashley, who is the boss lady of Firework People, a group for creatives. Ashley has a beautiful gift of speaking truth over people, and she reminded me that there is a purpose over my life; and you know what? It IS too big for me and it IS uncomfortable, but it is MINE. The relief in her seeing and putting words to the restlessness of my self over how to go from A to B was such a sweet sigh. Yes, your dreams are too big, but they are all yours so own that shit. Embrace the bigness and settle in for the adventure. Remind yourself to continually make decisions from your whole self and your desires. This may mean ignoring your oh so type A logical mind, but you know where to go even when your mind doesn’t.

Which prompts me to actually share with you all a bit about what on earth it is I am doing on your screens and in you inboxes. I’ve never really sat down with you, cup of coffee in hand and told you all who I am and why on earth I’m writing to you. But like I said there’s this group, Firework People, we’re comprised of movers, shakers, and a whole lotta love for each other and creating amazing content. As a part of the Firework People Blog Tour, I am finally cozying up with that cup of coffee to tell you why we are sitting here with each other.

10.28

So hello friend.

I’m Caitlyn, or Caity if you’d prefer. I am the whirlwind of coffee and syllables making up this corner of the interwebs. I dream of pages chock full of overly romantic language and one day filling books with words that will wrap themselves in ribbons around your heart. I love the potential found within words. Words can mirror our shadow selves and create a moment in which the light can break them a part.

This may sound odd, but at the heart of my writing is a desire to sit with people. When my own life unraveled and frayed until all I held were some discolored threads it wasn’t my friends or family who truly sat with me or spoke words, which echoed within me. No, the people who calmed my tumultuous being were bloggers. Sounds a bit lame right? Hearing the word “blog” makes me think of Barney Stinson trying to convince everyone to read his super sketch blog. And if you don’t get that reference then I guess maybe I’ll still love you. But you know what, it’s the truth. Authors were the ones who chose to bare their souls and pain and uncertainties on a blank page. They painted pictures made of words I would carry around with me until I knew the stories by heart. I waited for these friends to show up in my inbox just like you would sit and wait for someone at Starbucks.

So yes, I desire to settle in and sit with people in the hardest of places where no one seems to meet your eyes. To create a place where the outlines and edges of us are laid bare. A place, which takes hold of us by our heart strings, and loudly declares the depth of emotions tossing us in all directions and captures the inner turmoil of a heart ill at ease. Painting a portrait of syllables reflecting back to you all of which you cannot express. Every stroke colored in authenticity and passion.

A place in which I can hold your heartbreak and grief until I can find a way to give them back to you as the precious beautiful gifts they can be.

Grateful to share this place with you,

CMH

Coffee with my Sister

Looking back, I can still see you sitting there. Hands wrapped around a mug, fingers touching lightly. The milky coffee had probably cooled by then, but you held onto it anyways. When I looked at your face, I saw my own and it unnerved me. The way you held yourself carried a new uncertainty that I prayed you would never know. Your head slightly bowed, hair floating all around. The ache spilling from the inside out across your features.

And don’t think I can’t see that heavy cloak you’re wearing, the one you can’t seem to undo.  Awkward and cumbersome, tripping you with every tip toe forward. I heard the words of devastation and shock, an almost cyclical speech floating in the air around us. But the words just hang there because all I can do is feel your pain.  The giant waves of it as they crash and roll over you. The ebbs and flows that trickle in and through your heart with out ceasing.  But grief is like that you know. She crashes and roars and then calmly settles around you as if she could build a home there. Hello, how are you. I’ll be staying.  Don’t worry, I’ve unpacked.

I sneak a glance over my own folded hands and know that I have nothing to give you. Not anything you’d want anyway. There is no pretty answer wrapped in a glitter bow. I have no itinerary that says heart break starts here move five spaces left to begin healing. I’ve learned that all I can do is sit with you. Right out there in the thick of it because we all so desperately need someone to look us right straight in the eyes and tell us who we are when are lost in ourselves and the roll tides of grief.

I want you to know

that these crashing waves will slowly turn to low tides and how they’ll carry you somewhere new. That as this pain utterly rocks you to your core to not hold tightly to the pieces of your heart or try to mash them back into what they once were. But to let those waves break all around you until in a moment of stillness you know you are holding something new and that it is good. That your heart that will emerge from this watery grave and will always bear the map of what you have seen and felt. But the lines will no longer be puckered and angry, but instead faded and smooth.  You’ll look and trace the edges of those paths and marvel at just how far you have come and how change can only be seen in backward glances.

To know whether you sit in the roll tides for weeks, months, or years, I will stay with you as long as you need me. No matter the tears, the moments of broken bitterness that masks your pain, or even the despair.  You need to know that these give birth to a deeply rooted quiet kind of hope and an all out wild encompassing kind of compassion for the broken hearted that will never leave your bones.

In time you will remember and relearn all the little bits and pieces of yourself – and you’ll love them more than ever. Your laugh will tinkle like bells and roll deep in your belly. When these things happen, that heavy cloak you’re wearing will begin to fit rather snugly and it won’t bring the comfort it once did. So hang it up in your tiny front closet, but keep it close at hand because there will be days that the rains come again, sometimes in the middle of a blue sky. Eventually, these days will be far and few in between and the rains merely mist upon your skin.

I remember to sit with you my friend, to not offer you a map, or empty words, but to remind you to wear your grief and let her stay her course – she leaves in her own time and no one else’s. When the heartbreak crashes and roars and then seeps into your bones – I will sit with you.