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.

Embracing the Next Step

wander

I don’t like large shifts and changes. I especially don’t like not knowing the next step in front of me. Waiting on the universe to unfold the next stair while my foot already dangles mid air. No thank you, sir. And sometimes. This general resistance toward change can lead to a not so great thought process.

In mid June my contract at my current position is ending and I’ve chosen to not attempt to renew it. I’ve known for awhile this season was passing through, but now that it’s coming to a close I’m wanting to stay on this page instead of turning to a new chapter. I want to write a few more pages into something already ending because choosing to stay means not having to feel stuck, unsure, or afraid the next move won’t present itself. My instinct as of late has been to avoid the uncomfortable nature of being stuck and the following changes.

I became frozen with the indecision of staying where I am or moving forward because not having it all figured out felt unnatural, irresponsible, and a wee bit nerve wracking (read: makes my heart clench cause PLANS ARE THE BEST EVER). I was ready to stay in a season that had passed in order to avoid feeling unsure and afraid of not being able to figure it all out.

But here’s the thing: You do not have to have it all figured out to move forward. You just don’t.

Let’s be honest: Change is hard. Even when it’s good change, it’s hard. Just like stress is a bell curve so is change. It’s good up until you hit your max and then it starts to wear you down.

And dammit. I’m tired of change. Since I began college it has felt constant. However many years later I am in grad school and change still beckons with it’s knobby old finger. People who think spontaneity is sexy are smoking something because consistency is the real head turner if you ask me. I like rhythms and familiar things. Knowing what to do when and where. But that just hasn’t been the road for me. I look to my left and right at friends who went to college and graduated to get normal jobs, and feel envious of the routine they already have in their lives. And then I look back at what’s in front of my own two feet. And I know they’re planted right where they need to be and I’ve been making the hard choices to move forward even when I’m not sure how it’s going to pan out.

Maybe you feel this too. Stuck. Not wanting to move forward for fear of what it will mean to take those next steps. And I really get it. But what scares me more than change and not knowing the next step is staying somewhere I’m not supposed to be anymore. Somewhere where I’ve learned my lessons and left behind my own good things.

All that said… Now I get to choose if I want to keep walking along resisting each tiny step forward. Or if I would like to embrace the new opportunities that I know are silently on their way. As stubborn of a person as I am, I think I would like to let go of the fear and say hello to the new good things on their way. I’m not saying I won’t feel the weight of the change because I know I will. I’m saying that I’m choosing to trust myself that this is for the best and I’ll be happy I didn’t choose to stay.

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

From This Chair

Screen shot 2014-08-28 at 10.29.02 PM

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.

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.