I am fascinated with natural disasters of all kinds. Most are destructive beyond measure and nothing good comes from them. They shake, whirl, soak, and topple buildings and lives to the point of death. But volcanoes seem to have an ulterior motive and almost a human character. They create destruction and death by taunting humanity for months, but they also birth beauty and life. If it weren’t for volcanoes we wouldn’t have the mountain chains in the Cascades of the Northwest or the Sierra Nevada’s; some of the most beautiful country there is. But of course that is years after eruptions have occurred. As the Bible says, beauty does come from ashes. Life from death.
Some say, there is no greater pain than to lose love. Some say you can die of a broken heart. And there is this time period when it feels like that is true. It hurts so much. I can certainly attest to that. But I’m starting to see my way through this pain. And part of what I’m learning in this journey into being single is that there is something very odd that happens when two people become a couple. It’s this mind/heart shift that melds the two of you into one.
And that can be very good because you take care of yourself. You love yourself. You can’t possibly hurt yourself. It is magical because it is inherently selfless to invite another person into your own being.
So when something does happen, as it often does, to cause a couple to separate, it is an excruciating process.
I’m 42 years old and I’ve been lonely for most of my life. I was lonely during my entire marriage. But for two years I was not. I’ve never known the feeling of being wrapped within the envelope of love so much that I felt at home whenever I was with him. I felt completely at ease and comfortable in my own skin with him. I was completely and utterly me with him. And I don’t know if that had something to do with not feeling lonely. But put the two together and I was the happiest I have ever been in my entire life.
Separating myself from him has been excruciating to say the least. I have had more very strong moments than weak ones. But after the explosion of a volcano, the mountain doesn’t just all of a sudden grow quiet. It still rumbles and spurts, and has the occasional smaller eruption. The people who live around the mountain live in fear of what it will do next. They’ve already gone through the pain of seeing total destruction. Now they are only trying to pick up the pieces of what’s left and carry on and it keeps growling in the background, threatening their peace with smoke, fire, and ash.
I am not a perfect person. I’m not the strongest person I know. I’m truly a big softy. And his emails got to me last night and I asked him if he would like to talk for a while. It had been over two months. My New Years Resolution lasted about two weeks. And I was doing so well. But I missed him terribly and while I had been grieving for him as if he had died, I realized I could relieve some of the pain and pressure in talking to him. Classic rationalization move on my part.
But what I saw when we said hello was shocking to me. He looked miserable. He hadn’t slept well, it was about 4 in the morning. He was heavier, unshaven, puffy and red in the face from crying and had tears all over his face. He looked broken. It hurt to see him that way.
He didn’t lash out, he didn’t try to weasel out of anything. I think he was just grateful to see me and get a chance to talk. And we did. For a couple of hours. It helped me to clear up some misunderstandings that are inevitable over email. It helped him I hope. He told me a dozen times how sorry he was. He practically begged for forgiveness again. But I held my ground.
I practically begged him to talk to someone other than me. To let them know what is going on in his head. He hasn’t explained anything to any of his family, including his daughters. They just know we broke up. He pleads with me about the pressure he was under to make it all work from all sides. His family, his job, financially; it was all so big and so much of it was up in the air as to how things would be when it all landed that he got scared. Living in rented rooms, or his car, constantly trying to move and get work and being rejected, feeling pressure from his own boss about him wanting to leave, fearing his livelihood with layoffs, wondering how he would make up for my alimony when we got married and the extra he was being asked to pay to his wife, trying to live.
I admitted to him that it was all a lot. That through most of our relationship I was amazed at his resolve. But what he needed to do was talk to me about it instead of letting the pressure build to the point of an eruption. Because eruptions bring on major damage. And he damaged us to the point of oblivion because he did not include me. He gets that now. He’s kicking himself for it. He’s physically ill over it. But I can’t change the fact that it happened.
This time it was very good for me to see him and to talk to him. It was like coming home. I know that is awful to admit after how badly he treated me. But it was soo good to see him. As horrible as he appeared. I told him I wanted to be friends if we could. But that is all I could ever be with him again.
I meant it. I have never loved as completely as I loved this man. I have never felt so connected. And to be burned as I was burned from the very thing I loved so much. It’s like looking up at that mountain that used to inspire you with its beauty and adventure, but now all you see is fear. It’s guts are spilled out everywhere and anything it touched is destroyed. It will take time and lots of it for me to see the benefit of this particular explosion. I know that he will never be the same.
As I deal with the rumblings and ash clouds – I am also dealing with the pain. Unlike him who is trying to hide away the pain, I’m looking that pain in the face and letting it work its way through me so I can move on and be stronger for it. I want that for me. I want to be whole again. Survivors are changed by tragedy. But it doesn’t have to ruin them. I’ve said that I feel ruined. And I do. Last night though, I saw someone who is more ruined than me. And I realized how far I have come and how much stronger I really am.