Fuck if I don’t know that. And at the very same time, I am amazed at how much I have endured, without any visible scars. How much of life that was break worthy that I refused to allow to break me. How much I endured, persevered and moved on, in spite of my wounds, gaping and bloodied and spilling all over my life. I just couldn’t see it. I couldn’t stop long enough to see that which might have been so readily apparent: I was being broken, even as I denied it.
And I have come to see that life is meant to break us. And while relationships seem to be my final frontier, the place I struggle most, it is helpful for me to remember that even when I am all alone, isolated and in retreat from all that scares me most, people, that I am still in relationship with myself and God. And these two relationships are tantamount to my survival and my thriving.
What I think I must own today is how much I have ached to love over the years. Sure, I would like at some point in time, to be loved as I feel I have loved. But more important to me, is to find a proper person to give all this love that I have that rages beneath my surfaces. It roils and boils and leaks out, mostly because I have been so afraid to give it all, lest I be forsaken, made a fool. And then that happened. I gave everything I had to someone and they, reciprocated until their issues took them away, unable to stay and be loved fiercely and completely. Perhaps, maybe, they just felt inadequate in the rush that me loving them provided, perhaps they could only reciprocate for so long, then grew tired of the demands of passionate loving that being with me seemed to required. I do not know, and so I fill in the gaps with stories designed to make me feel better or worse as the case may require.
I have come to accept that I must love broken. Someone who is recovered, unwounded and tightly wrapped in either denial or health does not feel safe to me. Or perhaps too safe might be a better way to describe it. I long for the rush of passions unchained and unbound, a willingness to feel and love and give and hunger for another without the safety of common sense. There is a tortured element of my loving that seems amiss without it. And while I can own that perhaps this shall be my undoing, I cannot love without it. Nor can I seem to find an honest desire to change it.
I think that I conjure up the most broken and sad parts of myself and hold them out, giving of myself in ways that perhaps I would be better situated to not provide. To some this is too much. And to them I say, “no thanks.” I am not interested in the secure, banal loving that passes for love these days. I want the fire, the absolute commanding of love’s incessant calling or I prefer to sit it out.
I want to be consumed and consume. I want to be present and brave enough to stand on my own, loving in spite of all fear, all reason and all objections rightly made. I have only loved like this once, but fuck, it changed me. Fundamentally, forever. And he loved me back in that manner, at least until he could not longer take the heat of a love and passion that burned like that. He too terrified of his own heart, so he took it and left.
And I am the better for it all. The loving, the losing and the grieving. I am not one who can just fall into a quiet existence of societal norms. It makes me feel like I am dying while I am still here. And I cannot bear it. I cannot do it. I would rather run head long into the fires of passionate love, knowing that each time that I do, that I shall be consumed, my heart wrenched again. This seems a worthwhile endeavor though so many others tell me it is not.
What I have today that I did not have when I loved him, was a love for myself that surpassed my willingness to be subjected to his torment. His giving and taking and stingy delivery of love, compliments and good vibes. And it was enough, because I was so starved for anything he might give. But his departure, his leaving, created in me an ability to love myself in all my broken shamefulness, and that grew up in me a feeling that while I fear risking it all again, I will and I do because anything less just isn’t worth it for me.
I want to taste as many apples as I can. And I am sure some of you might make a good case for me to try a little fewer. Or of a more appropriate age, or station or sanity. But the heart desires that which it lacks, it takes it in and alters it and sends it back out into the world, better, even if no one else notices, or cares.
And that is what happened for me, loving is never wasted. Not of myself or any other. Loving is what the world I think attempts to teach us every minute of our life. That we always have a choice: to love or to not. And I want to love. Me. You. Him. Them. I want to be engaged and fired up and ignited, even while I lie prone under an apple tree watching the sweet fruit of life, decay and fall to the ground, untouched. I know that I have done my best to pay attention, to grasp at times, for fruit that is overripe, or too underripe for consumption. I have gotten it wrong more than I have gotten it right. And I am ok with that.
I know not what my path, I do know that the path is one of great evolving love, for self, for other, for man, for children, and pets, and tiny hummingbirds that buzz my head while I lie in my garden watching clouds shift from things I cannot recognize into things that cause me to reflect and fall in love with life more deeply and more really than I ever have before.
I am wiling to be broken and unprotected, as I lie prone underneath life's apple tree, sometimes getting pummeled by the fruit I refused to reach for, and other times richly rewarded by that which lands in my open, extended hand. I have tasted as many as I could, and I, my life, my process, my self is better for the efforts, regardless of how they ended, or continued.
“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and being alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You have to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes too near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself that you tasted as many as you could.”
-Louise Erdrich, The Painted Heart