Pieces of Heart

Explosion of planet or star

I think about a heart breaking. Where do the pieces go? Are they absorbed into the bloodstream? Fall to the soles of my feet? Turn to dust and get carried away on the wind?

I think a broken heart – really broken and crushed – shatters and is flung into the world. That is why we feel so lost, abandoned, displaced from the earth. We carry a star in our chests, and when it goes supernova there is no way to recapture it all.

But then time passes. Some things change. We cobble together the remnants that we can find and press them together so we can go on. Yet, pieces are missing. They are too far away to reach, to even be seen. And we think they are lost.

My gift recently was rediscovering a friend – a significant piece of my heart that I thought was gone forever. Turns out, it had just gone to California. She’s been around the world, changed her name, dyed her hair, pierced her face, gone back to school, had a kid, and lived 20 years away from me. And she is just the same. Just as dear and intelligent and thoughtful and kind. Actually, no. She is more so.

I had gotten used to the vacancy in my heart, the missing piece. It’s certainly not the only one. But it felt so good to have it back again. It blended seamlessly with the heart I have now, even spreading to some of the more brittle parts and strengthening them. We had one day to catch up on 20 years. But balm is like that. You put it on once and it keeps working long after.

A phoenix rising from the ashes of its old life is beautiful and inspiring. But I am no phoenix. I am old and new, cracked and mended, gathering the pieces of heart that I have missed. I am not the phoenix. I am the one who watches the phoenix rise, and I smile from my place on the ground. The phoenix flies for me.

Detox for Friends

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She is not your friend,

But she knows which one of you

Makes her look thinner.

We’ve all dealt with that toxic friend who we mistakenly believe feels the same way about us as we do about them. The one who smiles and shares and seems to have all the qualities of a caring companion, but who is rotten on the inside, jealous of our achievements and using our vulnerable spots to their advantage.

Hopefully, you’ve successfully detoxed these people out of your life. (If not, do it now. It’s going to happen one way or another, and you might as well be hurt less now than more later.) But it can be even more helpful to express your experience through words or art. Betrayal is an interesting theme, and one which just popped out in this haiku (above) while I was thinking of something else.

Have you written or drawn or composed anything that represented a friend’s betrayal? Did it help you to move on, or to solidify your decision to step away from a toxic relationship?

Somebody That I Used To Know

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“It’s no use going back, because I was a different person then.”

So says Alice in Wonderland. And after the nightmare fuel she went through, who can blame her?

Surviving a traumatic episode in life is a lot like falling down the rabbit hole, without the tea parties and funny drunken mice. Everything is upside-down. Nothing is in the place you expect it to be. One minute you are the frightened white rabbit, the next you’re the Queen of Hearts roaring, “Off with his head!”

Loss is a little word with endless meanings. You lose a loved one. (Not really. You know where they are, don’t you? It would be more accurate to say that they left you.) You might lose your mind. Or your keys. Sometimes it’s the same thing. But when you’ve lost a part of yourself it is a very strange feeling indeed.

When my marriage ended and my connection to the only person on the planet who shared my memories of our children, I hit a dead end. We had traveled this road together, however bumpy, and it suddenly ended in a brick wall. Or a cliff. I had to back track and pick up a part of the trail I was familiar with and go off in a new direction.

The problem is, there aren’t any road signs and I have no idea where the road leads.

But it comes with a surprise. The person that I thought I was is gone. And while I’m becoming a different person, I’m also more of the person I used to be, or should have been. It’s very Alice.

I’m picking up old hobbies. Revisiting books I haven’t thought about in years. Rearranging my iPod with playlists only I want to hear. I don’t go places I don’t want to go. I don’t listen to people I don’t like. I can always find the remote because it’s right where I left it…by my chair. And I watch whatever I want to on TV, whenever I want to. And no one can stop me.

Now I’m just somebody that I used to know.

Admittedly, not everyone cares for the new me. I’ve lost all my previous close friends, except one. And she’s had a close death, too, so we kind of get each other. But nobody else seems able to handle the new/old me. I’ve made all new friends. All damaged by life, or with an extraordinary capacity for empathy. They make no demands. We none of us have patience for frivolous people. It’s marvelous.

I may be traveling this new road alone, but I sure like the company.