Thursday, June 1, 2017

From Ugh to Ah: The Soundtrack of a Broken Heart



It’s been a year since my heart broke.

And it didn’t shattered all at once, like a wine glass crashing on a tile floor, the way I imagined it would. 

It crumbled, slowly, over a few months, or maybe longer, it’s hard to tell.

It started with a crack that crept its way across, as little bits began to fall away. And as the crack grew and splintered across my heart, the symptoms of a broken heart began to set in. 

My insides turned to liquid. My intestines, large and small, my stomach, they just turned to liquid. I couldn’t eat, on account of my insides no longer existing in a solid form. I yo-yoed between thinking I was going to vomit up my digestive system or shit it out, at any moment. 

Eating went out the window and so did sleep. Of course I’d be exhausted all day, from crying, from lack of nutrition, but then night would come, but never sleep. It was like I was possessed. The dark thoughts came with the darkness and that little voice inside your head that loves to remind you about your flaws, your faults, every inadequacy that you’ve ever feared is true, that little voice would take over. The voice would tell me how I wasn’t good enough, that’s why he cheated, how he probably did it more than once, how he never loved me, and why would he? Of course he had cheated, of course this happened, why did you think you deserved anything better?

As the broken, possessed record of negative thoughts ran through my mind, I would search for justifications to prove the voice right. This turned out to be difficult, pointless, and fruitless, but all that did was convince me of yet another thing I wasn’t good enough to do right. 

The first few days and weeks were the worst, but once my body adapted to living without food or sleep, I entered a new phase. This is known as The Drinking and Numbing Yourself Because It’s Easier Than Being Sad Phase. 

Night after night I sat with a bottle of wine and my laptop, video chatting with my best girlfriends from back home, “processing” what had happened. Telling the story, hearing the words, reliving the nightmare, over and over. This was me “moving on”. And if it wasn’t me at home with a bottle of wine and a friend on screen, it was me at the bar, with a beer or a vodka soda, numbing, numbing, numbing. Who needs food when you have wine and Facebook video chat? A vodka soda is basically a salad…..vodka….is like potatoes which IS a vegetable….and I put a lot of lime……

And when I was alone, no friend to chat with, no bar to sit at, just in my house, alone, I spent a lot of time on the floor. I remember going down there on one of the first days after he moved out and I really thought I’d never get back up. I decided I would simply live on the floor from that moment on. It was easier than standing up. Plus, if you don’t eat or sleep anymore, and you are sure you’ll never find love or happiness again, what’s so bad about living on the floor? 

The floor felt good, like I couldn’t possibly get any lower. And I couldn’t get up, it was just too much work. So there I lay, skinny, but not in a good way, on the floor, but not because I was stretching or doing yoga or something healthy, permanently slightly intoxicated because let’s face it, alcohol was the only thing my liquid intestines could process, and the only sound I could make was Ugh. 

Sometimes it came out just like that, Ugh. Other times it was much more exaggerated, Uuuuuugggggghhhhhhh, followed by heavy sobs and crying. Sometimes there were no tears, and I would think, thank god, I’ve cried them all out. But then they would come again with a force that proved, without a doubt that we are definitely 70% water. 

But life continues and as much as I wanted to stay on the floor, I began to “heal”.
I would attempt “normal” things, like going grocery shopping. This proved to be more difficult than I had anticipated and the trips would be cut short due to uncontrollable sobbing in the chip aisle (because let’s face it, I’d decided that if I had to eat, I would consume nothing but Salsa con Queso and Goldfish). 

Slowly, I started to feel a bit better and convinced myself that the “real healing” was beginning.
This phase looked something like this:

            -Lay in bed. Watch episode after episode of Sex In The City because my life relates more             closely to their lives than anyone that I know in real life.

            -Lay in bed. Watch movies like 500 Days of Summer and The Bridges of Madison                                County and cry uncontrollably because that’s how you get it out.    

            -Manage to call a girlfriend and go for gelato. Eat gelato and talk about how much better                      you’re feeling while admitting  that you’ve watch the entire Sex In The City series three             times and you’re starting on your forth go round. 

            -Go for gelato again. Be greeted as a regular because you’ve been so many times recently                    that  the gelato man knows what flavor you want before you open your mouth. 

            -Decide that you will now buy ice cream to eat in bed while watching Sex In The City.

This phase went on for months. Throughout it there were these bursts of self improvement that would involve these manic episodes of “getting my shit together”. I’d go running every day for 2 weeks, go to yoga, buy veggies instead of ice cream, do ab work outs of all ungodly things, only to return to Uuuuggghhhhh, in bed with Carrie and Miranda as my only true loves. (I will also admit that at times I put on episodes of SATC and got on the floor, listening more so than watching because I had each episode memorized, and the floor was often more "comforting" than my bed.)

Certain songs were completely and utterly OFF LIMITS. Basically anything by Ed Sheeran, and of course “our songs”. Songs we had both loved, songs he had loved that I had teased him for, songs that I had loved that he had teased me for. So many songs became auditory bombs while other songs became anthems, battle songs that pumped me up, got me going, convinced me that I wasn’t in this alone, that I was going to make it. Like Rhianna and Bruno Mars were singing just to me and that was all I needed to put the pieces of my heart back together, to go out and find new love, and to become this better, stronger, more resilient person. 

And there were distractions, attempts at flirting, attempts at getting back out there, moving on, and that was the worst. It didn’t seem like it at the time because it’s just that same numbing, numbing, numbing, but it was the worst kind of numbing because when it ended, when they left or stopped talking to me, it broke a little bit more of my heart, which was barely holding together at this point anyways. 

Because I was still sad. Because I still missed him. Because I didn’t want to be alone. Because you can only numb yourself for so long. 

So a year has passed and I think I finally have swept up the crumbs, the bits and pieces and they are starting to stick together. Sure, there’s some dirt and dog hair mixed in there, some sand, some lint, some toe nail clippings, but all the pieces are there. 

I don’t cry at every love song anymore, although a couple still set me off. I drink a lot more tea than vodka. The manic episodes of yoga and running have become more stable routines and I’ve limited my gelato intact drastically. I’ve banned myself from watching Sex In The City (mainly because my laptop crashed, but I take that as a sign). I still end up crying on the floor sometimes, but I let it happen, I feel it, I let it in, and then when it passes, I pick myself up and I carry on, and I find myself on the floor less and less these days. 

And now instead of saying Ugh, on repeat, all day, every day, I say Aaahhhhh. I sigh out, sometimes in sadness, often times in joy, sometimes in wonder of where I am in life, in awe of my friends who brought me ice cream, and wine, and French fries, and beer, and cooked me dinner, and sat with me while I bawled my eyes out. I sigh Aaaahhh for the friends who had 5 hour video calls with me and listened to me tell my saga over and over again as if I was the only one who’d ever had a broken heart. I sigh Aaahhhh for the great things in my life that I can see again, that I can feel again.

I sigh Aaaahhhh for myself, for making it through this, for finding all the pieces, for putting them back together carefully and slowly, as slowly as they crumbled, for trusting that while it may have some cracks, and it may be a bit dirtier than it was a year ago, my heart is still worth loving and it still has love to give.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Whatifs, The Who'sits and Coulduves

A day will come where you'll find yourself, seemingly, in the
                                                                
                                                                  middle
                                                                      of
                                                                 nowhere

You'll look to the left......................................................................................and you'll look to the right

You'll look straight ahead.........................................................................and you'll look straight behind

But for the life of you, you'll have no idea where you are or how you got there.

This, as it turns out, will not be important.

You'll spend far more time than you should wondering.......

You'll wonder about
         The Whatifs........
                 The Who'sits........
                        The Coulduves.........

         The Maybes..........
                The Howcomes.........
                        The Shoulduves..........

         The Almosts............
                The Socloses...........
                       The Whynots...........

You'll wonder and wonder but it simply won't matter because still, just simply, you won't know
What lies to the left.................................................................................................What lies to the right
What lies just ahead................................................................................................What lies just behind

After you've spent time wondering and wondering you'll realize the time has come to stop wondering and start wandering

You'll wander towards
          The Hopeso's........
                  The Iwishes..........
                         The Let'ssees............

You'll wander towards
          The Heregoesnothings............
                  The We'llfindouts..............
                         The Dreamsobigs............

You'll wonder why it took you so long to wander and leave behind The Whatifs, The Who'sits and Coulduves.

You'll wonder why it took you so long to wander from that place you didn't recognize, that place that you don't remember getting to.

It won't matter how long you stayed.

It doesn't matter which way you wander when you finally leave.

All that matters is that you stop wondering, pick a direction,
                                                                                            anyone will do just fine,
                                                                                                                 And Start Wandering.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Anything But Nice

Be bold, be brave. Be loud and obnoxious. Be fearful and timid. Make waves, start fires, cause a commotion.

Be anything but nice.

Be compassionate and have passion. Be cunning and charismatic. Be sarcastic. Be rude. Say things that make people uncomfortable. Start awkward conversations. Laugh loudly. Tell jokes and stories. Laugh at your own jokes.

Shake hands firmly with those you meet. Talk to strangers at parties. Memorize random facts to tell others.

Be reliable and dependable or be flaky and flighty. Be punctual or always be late. Say yes to invitations. Show up with presents.

Be outspoken or soft spoken, but be heard. Make your point and leave it at that. Listen closely and attentively to others.

Be anything but nice.

Be blunt and direct. Be romantic. Recite poetry. Sing loudly and off-key. Be caring and kind. Give people homemade gifts. Be flirtatious and funky. Wear costumes as often as possible and speak with fake accents and give fake names at parties.

Be rowdy and reckless or be predictable and cautious. Fall in love often and without abandon. Kiss babies and pet dogs. Feed the birds. Sigh loudly and emphatically. Read classic literature and romance novels. Go to the theater and to museums and drink beers out of brown paper bags on the street. Take road trips without maps and get lost. Drink strong whiskey, neat, in the diviest bars you can find.

Be anything but nice.

Play in the dirt, the mud, the sand. Lay in the grass. Go for pick-nicks. Stargaze, often. Be thoughtful and mindful and perceptive. Say things that make you blush and turn bright red. Keep secrets. Cuddle with those you love. Hug friends. Dance.

Be anything but nice.

For in the end, when your bones turn to dust and your eyes become stars, the worst thing that anyone can say about you is, "Well, she was nice."

She Was Like The Moon

She was difficult to describe.

Not because she was plain or unremarkable. In fact, quite the opposite.

The fact that she stood out so much, that she was unique, that was what made her almost indefinable.

She was tall. Taller than most women and even most men. She had a long neck, broad shoulders, a strong back, with wide-set hips and legs that could have strangled someone, if she wanted to. Her hair was an odd color, somewhere between dirty blond, rusted orange, light brown or auburn and depending on the light, depending on the time of year or time of day or night, the way she wore it, or her mood, it could change color. Her eyes were the same. One moment they appeared blue, the next green, and the next a cold grey, and at a times a storm gathered in them, filling with dark clouds and streaked with lighting.

These were the features that made her difficult to define.

While her stature could not be ignored, her personality could at times be so reserved and almost meek that one could spend an entire evening in the same room as her, even be introduced to her, and at the end of the evening forget that she was ever there, ever part of it.

In other instances, and for reasons that were difficult to determine, some men and women would become taken by her and could think of nothing but her for hours, days, or weeks after meeting her, or sometimes just seeing her.

On some occasions when she felt particularly spirited, her laugh could fill an entire room and her voice, loud and somewhat raspy, made what she had to say seem more powerful, more interesting, than it really was.

She was not outgoing, nor was she shy. She seemed to encompass both personalities simultaneously while adjusting her level of confidence at each turn depending on her audience.

She liked to sit in the corner of rooms, at the end of bars, with her back against a wall, watching people for long periods of time, deciding who to talk to, what to say and when to say it. At times she said nothing at all. Her silence carried more weight, more meaning, than most people's words and she could convey with her chameleon eyes what others needed thousands of words to express.

She would listen to other people, hear their thoughts, opinions, hopes and fears and use this information to play on people's emotions. She could craft an entire perceived version of herself to match the wants and needs of whoever she was with, and this was what made her dangerous.

Dangerous, and difficult to describe.

Like the moon, she was always changing. Always controlling the tides of those around her, even when she didn't mean to.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Dear Alcohol: A Break Up Letter

Dear Alcohol,

It's hard to find the right words to say to you. I'm not even sure where to begin. We've been together for so long now and we know each other so well, and that's what makes this so difficult.

I know it sounds cliche' but I want you to know that this isn't about you, it's about me. I think you're great. I think you're amazing and believe me, I do love you. It's just right now, I feel like I need to take some time for myself and figure out what I really want and I can't seem to do that with you around.

We've had so many great times together over the years. When I look back on all the memories we've made together, it makes me that much more upset to say goodbye, but I have to do it. You see, I find myself putting you first all the time, and neglecting myself in the end. Even when it comes to other relationships and friendships I always end up putting you ahead of everyone else and while I usually don't regret it, I'm just not sure it's healthy.

I do know that  I love you and so maybe this won't be forever, just until I can get a handle on things. There have been countless late nights where we've spent the whole night laughing and talking, dancing and doing silly things, and I have loved all of those times we've spent together. We've been so free and uninhibited and you've opened me up to experiences I would never have tried otherwise, but sometimes you leave me in the middle of the night and I wake up in the morning alone, lonely, and sad.

I have to remember those bad nights as well as the great ones because let's face it, sometimes when we spend the night together, it ends up in disaster and we both say and do things that we regret in the morning. Now, don't get me wrong, we've had some great days too, and that's part of why I love you so much. You bring out the unpredictable side of me, the wild side that gets me to bail on my responsibilities and just have fun, and for that I will always be grateful, because I do have a tendency to take myself too seriously sometimes. You've helped me relax and just enjoy life as it comes. Thanks to your carefree attitude I've said yes to things that were out of my comfort zone and I've definitely pushed myself thanks to the confidence you've given me.

I hope that you and I can stay friends, and who knows, maybe after some time apart we might even be able to be together again. In some ways, I know we're perfect for each other. No matter what mood I'm in, you always know the right thing to say and do, you're just so dynamic like that. And my friends all love you, too, which is also going to make this difficult. I know you're going to be around and I'm OK with that. I wouldn't want to make anyone choose between the two of us and I don't plan on asking anyone to. Plus, I think some of them would choose you over me anyways. I hope that it won't be awkward when we run into each other at bars or parties or get-togethers. I really do think you're wonderful and I hope that we can stay in each other lives, but for now I hope that you love and respect me enough to give me this space and time to work on myself.

I know you're hurting and believe me, I'm hurting, too. I'm not doing this to be cruel or because I don't care about you, but I can't be with you until I take care of myself and am the best version of myself, and I don't think I can become that while I'm with you. You're so strong, I know you'll get over me and find someone new, I have no doubt about that. And I want you to be happy, so if you can't wait for me while I figure myself out, I understand and I won't hold it against you, but if at the end of this, you'll have me back, know that I will love you forever.

Love always,

Liz

Thursday, February 18, 2016

You Can Take It With You, But Here's Why You Shouldn't

Each moment is like a grain of sand. Broken glass and sea shells, coral and pieces of life lived. It sits
on the shore, just waiting to be touched, waiting for us to touch it.

Each moment of our lives is just a piece of sand, coming together to make up the shore of our whole existence. And if we let it, it can start to bury us, to consume us. It can make us rough, covered from the warmth of the sun, hidden under the mass amounts of experiences we have to live.

I'm working on letting go. I'm working on walking away from things that no longer serve me. I'm working on letting memories be memories, letting them be what they were, but leaving them in the past. Good memories and bad memories, and horrible ones, and wonderful ones, because if we carry all of them with us, if we try to hold on to each piece of sand, we won't have any room left for new ones.

If you allow each grain of sand to cling to you, eventually you'll become heavy, weighed down. because whether it was a beautiful or horrific grain of sand, it still weighs the same. The more you try to hold on to each grain of sand, the more you live in the past, unable to keep walking on your own personal beach, that was made just for you.

Eventually, your skin will become rough, like sand paper. You'll be grainy and course.

Eventually, your lungs will fill with sand, like an hourglass, and you'll find it hard to breath. You'll find it hard to take in new air and exhale the old, to move on.

Eventually, your legs will be weighted down, like sand bags. Each step forward will become more difficult, more tiring. 

When your stomach fills with sand, you won't be able to taste the new, rich flavors that are coming your way. You won't be able to savor each new moment that the universe is cooking up, just for you.

When you head fills with sand, you won't think clearly anymore. Everything will be beige, instead of brilliant and light and majestic and fantastic. 

Your eyes will fill with sand and you won't be able to see all the beach that is ahead of you. You won't be able to see the beauty that is unfolding in front of you, just for you.

And when you heart fills with sand, all those grains that you've picked up along the way, your heart will cease to beat. Filled with so much sand, it won't be able to pump blood through your body, you won't feel the warmth of all the new love that is awaiting you.

So brush it off. Let it go. Rinse yourself in the waters of your ocean and clean yourself again. Continue walking down that beach of life. Sure, some will stick to your toes and the soles of your feet, and that's OK, the recent past is always with us, even when we try to stay ahead of it.

And know that if you ever need to call upon one of those moments, if you ever need to revisit some part of your past that you really can't seem to let go of, that grain of sand will be waiting for you. It'll be on your beach, just where you left it, making up the shore of your lifetime, and you can always go back and pick it up again.

Just don't take it everywhere you go from here. 

You have a lot of walking left to do, and the beach is long and beautiful. 

And the sun is shining. 


Desiderata

A dear friend of mine recently shared this poem with me. It was written in 1927 by the poet and philosopher Max Ehrmann, although he did not receive credit nor acclaim for it until much later. My friend gave me the poem and said she uses it in times when she needs to be reminded of certain ideals and ways to live life.

Max Ehrmann wrote it for himself "because it counsels those virtues I felt myself most in need of."

Funny how almost 100 years later this poem is still aptly fitting to life.

I can't stop reading it myself, so I thought I would share it with you.

Desiderata

Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible and without surrender be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become bitter or vain, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection.

Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

        - Max Ehrmann