Beautiful Words, pt. 11

Torch by Cheryl Strayed is a beautiful exploration grief and its different manifestations.

“She couldn’t see David anymore in the light that she’d seen him before, and she didn’t know whether this new way of seeing him was distorted by grief or unveiled by it. Whether her life with him was fraudulent or the best thing she had. She loved him, and in equal measure, felt sickened and swaddled by his love.”

“She came to see her grief did not have an end, or if it did, she would not be delivered there. Grief was not a river or a sea, but a world, and she would have to live there now.”

“It wasn’t that she was trying to lose weight; it was that she seldom registered hunger anymore. Her sorrow had taken its place, filling her to the gills.”

“Tears came to her eyes from the realization now: how wretched she was, how cruel she was to want Bruce to be in pain, and yet she did, more than anything. If he wasn’t, she would be alone.”

“As a child she’d often wished that Karl had been dead. Not out of any kind of rancor, but instead so that she could have a place for him, a story that explained why things had gone the way they had.”

“Three beers or shots were all he needed, though he often had more, each one a seal, a lid, a cure.”

“He shifted in his chair, wanting to be two people: to be the person who demanded, Tell me what my mother was like…and also to be the person who sat still and hard and calm as a statue in his chair, as if no part of him could be reached or moved or known. He opted, on instinct, to be the latter. It was the easier person to be.”

“Feeling that if she moved too quickly, the false sense of restoration listening to her mother’s show had given her would come crashing down and her mother would be dead again.”

“She’d become adept at this over the past months, learning how to keep things at the same time as letting them go.”

“Since her mother died, that unknowingness had felt to her like a weakness, a hopeless surrender, instead of the glorious question it had been before, back when she was a daughter, a girl.”


How I’ve Grown

I keep thinking about everything that happened in the last year.

Today is not a special day or anything. It’s not my birthday. It’s not New Years. Nothing happened a year ago today that marks it as unique. Nothing is going on today that makes it memorable.

But I’m contemplative.

Oh how I’ve changed. And oh how I haven’t.

This past weekend I had a great realization about all the wonderful things I deserve in a relationship. Of all the things I’m worthy of. It was a momentary glimpse. But they’re coming more often now.

I was talking to my friends about this, when one said “I feel like it’s never helpful to compare a more established relationship to the first six months or so.”

I became angry, defensive, defiant. How dare she?! I thought. And then, for whatever reason, maybe because of my recent mindfulness training, I breathed. I breathed and I focused inward. And I realized that with just that statement, I had fabricated a story. A whole story about how my friend believed that my relationship with Peter was not valid because it was only good during the so-called honeymoon phase.

It didn’t matter in that moment that it was also good after the honeymoon phase. That to my glee and surprise we turned the corner on our first big fight and found ourselves happily in love again. Like the beginning. Only better.

The stories we fabricate rarely care about any disproving evidence. They happily discard those by the wayside, holding on to evidence that proves they are fact, not fiction. They take any ambiguous evidence and twist it. They turn anything else into lies.

A year ago, I would have let this story sweep me away.

I would have felt anger and bitterness towards my friend to cover up the hurt and pain and invalidation I was actually feeling. Because telling someone you feel hurt and invalid is scary and hard.

A year ago, I wouldn’t have even recognized the story. I didn’t recognize it or the many others I was telling myself at the time. I would have thought that I had insight to a real truth, because I consider myself insightful. I would have thought that I had caught a glimpse of something I shouldn’t have seen, and I would have savored that knowledge.

But it wasn’t knowledge, it was a fabrication.

This year, now, I can recognize the story and I can share it as  just a story, not as my truth. I can look at my friends and say, this is what I tell myself, is this what you meant? What is your story?

So I am different, but also the same. I see the stories I told myself a year ago, and I wonder what to do with them. I recognize their fallacies now, but I’m not sure if I can turn to my friend and say “remember, a year ago? Is that what you meant? What was your story?”

I see the upside of doing this, but I also see the pain of opening old wounds. Have they healed? Or are they festering under the surface? What if mine are festering and their are healed? Is it cruel, selfish, to open up old wounds in others?

The Mention of an Otter

The mention of an otter
Can apparently bring me to tears;
Bring me to a place
Where Peter is the one again.
All because he knew
I love otters,
And loved that I love otters,
And didn’t think I was weird,
And bought me an otter birthday card.
That was technically an otter thank you card.
And even when we weren’t together,
He sent me otter-centric videos.
All this
at the mention of an otter.
That otter is the closest thing that came
To sharing my deepest weirdest self.
And he loved the otter-loving me.