Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Last year, on this day, I was making a gift for my partner at the time. I made a dough out of flour and water and some other things, and rolled out the letters L-O-N-G H-A-U-L, and a heart, and a flat piece that served as a stand to stick all of these letters into. I delighted in the process. I baked it all together, 'til it was hard, and added glue to make it all stay in place. I painted it, then glittered it, then sealed it with ModPodge. It was pretty.
It sat on our mantle, amidst our family photos. Photos of us together, photos of us with our families of origin. I was in it for the long haul.
Some months later, during our breakup, the one act of outward aggression and rage I allowed myself* was this:
I went to pick up some things a few days after being quickly and unceremoniously dumped over paper cups of herbal tea at Colonial Donuts on Lakeshore Ave. I didn't have the wherewithal to pull all of my things out of that home we once shared, but I needed a suit, and a few other things, because I was about to officiate the wedding of a couple of friends of mine. My friends Debby & Nathan, a mother-son team extraordinaire, who happened to be in town from LA for the wedding, accompanied me.
When we arrived at that large one-bedroom apartment, I quickly pulled out what I needed and stuck it all in the car. Then I grabbed that little token of love and devotion off of the mantle, grabbed a hammer, and took it into the side yard. Right there, by the planter boxes we bought off of craigslist, then sanded and painted together before planting an assortment of vegetables, I set the words "LONG HAUL" (with a glittery heart right between them) down on the concrete and went to town. I smashed that fucking thing into a million pieces. I vaguely remember Debby cheering me on, though I may have made that part up. I do remember that she was there, that her there-ness felt so important and supportive. Feeling spent, I switched out the hammer for a broom and dustpan, and cleaned up all of the pieces, dumping them into the kitchen trash can. I then locked the door and got into Debby's car and bawled as she drove us to a mediocre lunch at Cactus Taqueria.
Is this how healing works? The memories just come up in moments like this, when I'm flu-ridden, bed-bound, logically not at all affected by Valentine's Day but emotionally can't help but to mourn the time and energy wasted on a relationship that was not what I thought it was? Is it possible that I still feel I have healing to do, given that on most days, I simply walk and talk and work and play and dance and laugh and eat and drink and spend time with friends as though everything is fine? Because it really is mostly just fine. And yet, these memories come up, beckon to be written down.
So I do, I write it down. With a feverish head and a scabby heart and a cup of echinacea tea, I celebrate Valentine's Day by admitting to a shitty thing I've done, and hope that someone is reading and feels my humanity a bit in this. Feels this work I'm doing to keep loving myself, despite the harm I've caused, despite the harm that others have caused me.
Happy Valentine's Day. May you love yourself, despite the harm you have caused, and despite the harm others have caused you.
*this means that I mindfully chose to display my aggression outwardly, as opposed to times I acted angrily or harmfully in response to situations that triggered me.