I’m a bit of a mess right now. But I kinda like it. I really do.
And a year ago I was an absolute mess. And I hated it. I really did.
A year ago I was judging myself harshly for being a mess. In fact, I’ve always done that. I’ve always told myself the story that I’m weak and horrible and not a man because I’m so weak.
Really, I hated myself for it. At least a small part of me hated a really large part of me. That made me think I was bad. And I wasn’t worthy of really having anything good in my life.
It’s always been there inside of me. Call it the ego. Call it the inner critic. Call it whatever. It is not a friend of mine. In fact, it acts like the opposite.
It’s been inside of me as far back as I can remember. But I’ve only just discovered it. And, it’s over the past year that’s it’s really risen up and affected my life so greatly.
So, I know I’ve told this story – mostly in pieces – throughout my blog posts. But I’ll summarize it again:
I was in a marriage for almost 10 years that was not healthy. When my ex’s drinking and cheating got to be too much, I left with my 2 kids who were in Kindergarten and 2nd grade at the time. They were very little girls. And they needed their mommy. But their mommy was in and out of rehab and going on drinking binges and disappearing for weeks at a time. So I had to deal with that mess and I also had to realize just how emotionally abusive that marriage was to me. I’m not saying that as a judgement on my ex or even saying that she’s a bad person. I’ve forgiven her for it and moved on. So, this isn’t about blaming her. But it is about stating the fact that I had a lot of shit inside of me when I stepped into a magical relationship with Wildflower a few years later.
And I mean magical.
We both felt it. From the moment we first met. But she was in a relationship so we kept our feelings mostly hidden from each other for years before we finally got together.
But I remember the first time I saw her. I remember the aviator sunglasses on top of her head, I remember the ripped blue jeans and the leather jacket she wore. I remember my entire existence zeroing in on her. And then the first time we ever hugged… I walked out to my car and broke down. I wept. I absolutely balled my eyes out.
And it confused me so much. I had no idea why I cried so hard and for so long.
But now I know.
Everything inside of me caught on fire when we touched. And my heart whispered to my soul: “There she is. Finally.”
It was about 6 years later that we finally started dating. And that was absolutely magical. It was spiritual. It transcended place and time. It really did.
After 7 years of friendship but after just 3 months our romantic relationship, we talked about our future. I told her I loved her and had for years. She told me she loved me. And I knew I was going to marry her. I knew it. I absolutely fucking knew it.
And then 9 short days later, her car was hit by a tractor trailer and she was seriously injured. She suffered a traumatic brain injury. The doctors said it was a miracle she survived. And she recovered enough to come home from the hospital within a couple weeks. But traumatic brain injuries often change people. And Wildflower was changed. I refused to admit that for months. I hate to admit it now. It seems like a betrayal. It feels slimy and gross.
Because she was still the same beautiful woman. Always. But then it was also true that she was herself some of the time – sometimes most of the time. But other times she just wasn’t. And it’s hard to sort out what will last and what is only temporary. But she wasn’t the exact same. And she’d also lost memories of things we did together before the accident. Great memories. Gone. Just gone.
So, eventually she would break-up with me. But before she did, there was a lot of throwing stuff at me that made me hate myself. She would tell me sometimes I was acting like myself but other times I was acting like an asshole. She would tell me I wasn’t showing my true self. She would criticize how I handled things with my kids or how I did certain things around her. And all of it spun me around.
I judged myself harshly for not showing up all the time. I was bad for being an asshole and for not being a better parent or a better partner or a better lover.
I was bad, bad, bad.
The one that really hurt was when she accused me of not having her back – not being there for her. Not protecting her or helping her out. Not having her back.
And I immediately told her I was sorry and that I wished I did have her back. But, I was too beaten down by life and too scared to look at reality and to tell her I absolutely had her back.
Who was the one who showed-up at the hospital and stayed there making medical decisions for her? Me. Who was the one who stayed beside her until she came home? Me. Who was there when she met with a lawyer and when she had to meet with her son’s relatives and whenever else she needed me? Me. And you know what? It took her supposed best friend 5 freaking days to show-up at the hospital because he said he couldn’t bare to see her hurt. Really? Because it ripped my heart out to see her bleeding all over her pillow those first couple hours after she was airlifted to the hospital. It crushed me to see her so confused and scared. But I did it because I loved her. And I do it again. In a heartbeat. Because I still love her. And because I had her back. He didn’t. But I guess he gets a pass. (And yes, I am still very pissed about it.)
But Wildflower was right about a lot of what she said. I was hiding. I was struggling to find myself and be myself. I did feel weak and lost. But it wasn’t because I’m bad. It’s because I was scared. And I’ve only recently gotten to a place where I don’t judge being scared as being bad. It’s not.
I’d seen the love of my life and my best friend injured horribly. I watched her struggle with her recovery. I felt her difference and my difference and our difference and it scared the hell out of me. And I’d watched my oldest child be led away in handcuffs and ankle shackles for refusing to go to school. My child was pulled out of my house for 4 months. And that crushed me. It tore me apart.
It all tore me wide open.
All this happened in a span of 3 and a half months.
And then when Wildflower started pulling away from me and being angry at me for no real reason, that was so tough too. She would refuse to see me for a week or two weeks at a time and then we would talk and she’d tell me everything I was doing wrong and I would try to do better. Of course, trying to better while being hurt and lost and afraid and confused was really difficult. Add in judging myself as bad, and it was truly impossible.
And it’s taken almost a year for me to figure all of this out.
I’m still not okay with it. But now that I’ve figured it out, I know that I’ll be okay.
I still miss Wildflower. I miss her with all that I am. Not only does my heart miss her. My soul misses her too. Not only am I heartbroken. I’m also soul broken. And that’s even worse.
But I’m okay. I am finding happiness and peace.
I don’t know what to do about Wildflower or if there is even anything to be done. A part of me still believes that we will end-up together. A part of me still wants that so badly. But I don’t know if I should want that. I don’t know if wanting it is good for me or if being with her is a good thing. (A part of me sometimes wonders if she fooled me. If maybe all those years of friendship were bullshit. If maybe our entire relationship was just all bullshit. Maybe. But it doesn’t feel like it. And I can’t buy that.) I just don’t know much.
But that’s okay. It doesn’t make me bad or weak or stupid.
And I’m okay with how I hid and ran when we were still together. I’m okay with not defending myself more too. I wouldn’t handle it the same way again. And I like to think I’m stronger now and that I can rely on myself more now. But I have compassion for that person who was so scared.
I was scared. I was hurt too.
I was beaten-up by shit that happened with the most important people in my life. Of course I was scared! Of course I felt weak. Of course I was too tired!
And of course she was too. Of course she was. And she was doing the best she could. I just couldn’t give her what she needed then. And she couldn’t give me what I really needed then. That makes me so sad.
But it’s also beautiful. When I step back and look at all of it – everything that happened and everything that will happen.
All of it is so beautiful. A beautiful mess.
It reminds me of this song that we loved so much:
The song is about love and how messy it can be but how beautiful the war is, if you really step back and look at it.
And it extends to life too.
It extends to each and everyone of us.
It’s all a beautiful war.
So I choose to keep fighting it. And I choose to have compassion for myself. I choose to go easy on myself.
No, I don’t give myself a pass to stay stuck or to not grow and reach so that I won’t do better next time. But I do acknowledge just how shitty life became. And how it was impossible not to get dirty and smelly with all the shit we were swimming in.
I choose to embrace my weakness. I tried. But, at the end of the day, I just wasn’t strong enough. And that’s okay. I choose to love myself for trying. Because God, I did try. I tried so hard to help myself and to help her and to help us. I tried to save us. I just didn’t know how. I hadn’t learned how. And I didn’t have the strength. And I know she tried too. But she just couldn’t help. Not then.
But since then…. I’ve learned a lot and I’ve become much stronger. And I will continue to learn. And I will continue to grow. And I will continue to get stronger.
I now know it all begins and ends with me.That knowledge alone makes me so much stronger and had helped me grow so much. And it will continue to help me reach and move forward.
It really is a beautiful war. It’s a beautiful mess. It may not look like it. It certainly doesn’t always feel like it. But there is beauty there.
God I still miss her.
I wonder: Does she still miss me?
And I really do hope our paths cross again.
But I now know I am the only one I can always count on. And that’s all I need.
And I know that truly loving myself is the key.
We all know that one of the Ten Commandments is: “Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself”.
Most people apply this as a commandment to love thy neighbor. But we forget that it also applies the opposite way. We should love ourselves as we do our loved ones.
Broken down plainly: We’re commanded to love ourselves!
And anyone who’s ever been to a wedding has probably heard 1 Corinthians. It reads (in part):
“Love is patient. Love is kind. …It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
That includes love for myself. It includes love for yourself.
It’s all about me and love and loving myself (and others too). And it’s all about you loving yourself too.
The rest… is just part of the beautiful unknown, the beautiful war, the beautiful mess.