The argument was hurtful, filled with tears that flowed wet and hot through the phone and into my ears. She called me names while choking on sobs. I pretended not to cry… because at that moment she needed it me to swallow my emotions, my thoughts… her truths. And I did. I was in too much pain to speak anyway… Few things hurt more than knowing that someone you love is falling apart, and you can do nothing to hold her together.
I can’t give you much detail, my Wicked Luvs, for the story is not wholly mine. But I can say that one of my best friends feels like she lost everything. Her marriage of seven years lost its footing and fell to pieces. She called me for support, to scream at someone who wouldn’t hit back, to rage in safety, to do all those things we do when living brings us so much pain that we start wondering if we didn’t die sometime back but failed to notice.
“How did you do it? How did you wake up every day knowing he was gone? How did you get out of bed?” She coughed, and then continued asking the same questions in different ways. “How did you come to work smiling?”
I let her vent. It was a must… After a few seconds of silence, I told her, “There were days when I didn’t. Or when I was smiling to hide tears. This is normal. It’s supposed to hurt. As soon as we agree to love another, we are agreeing to hurt, too, you know? It’s just the way things are. Life is a thread of paradoxes that must be lived forward… and in a case by case basis.”
“Don’t treat me like I’m one of your little blog people. I know you. Nothing hurts you. Nothing. I saw you every day. I watched you with clients, laughing with them. You were fine after Jacob. I saw you. I know I’m weaker than you. I’m okay being weaker. But don’t treat me like I’m stupid.”
Yesterday, as my friend yelled at her ex through my ears, I didn’t try to explain to her that I didn’t think she was stupid. That I don’t befriend stupid people—I can’t; they drive me nuts, and I spend half my day thinking about ways to slap them rational. I gave my friend some time… allowed her some free insults, too… many ugly words. Because that’s what friends do for each other; not kick while the other is down and vulnerable, but soothe.
Then, once the storm has past and the hurt has settled, friends give each other the truth softly… even if the gentle facts hit them like a truck in the ribs. So to my friend, I say:
Like the Water Dancer tells Arya Stark while he’s teaching her how to fight, “Watching is not seeing, dead girl.”
The day I realized Jacob and I were not going to make it as a couple, at least not without taking some radical measures, I thought I was going to die. Smiling was nearly impossible.
A year after that, I had to force myself to focus on me, and not on how I felt without my husband. Remember that half-marathon we ran on heels and wearing make up? That was my Trying to Reclaim Magaly Day. But even then, my smiles were broken.
Then when the divorce was final… I cried until my face was red and hot. I spent many months… perhaps a few years… looking flushed and shiny-eyed as I forced myself to smile at the world.
A lot of time had to go by before I truly smiled… before I was happy with myself… before I decided that my heart was full enough of anything worth sharing with another.
Yes, today I’m extremely happy with Jacob. The only difficult thing is not smiling like a lunatic all day.
But I grinned, laughed, giggled, smiled and was very happy without him, too.
Just because you feel that your life is over, it doesn’t mean that it actually is. Jacob and I are careful to remember all the things that went wrong the first and the second time… we do our best to keep them from happening again. We think and rethink, analyze and reconsider, recall and learn from our falls… Our past is our best weapon. But it took some time before we understood that…
Right now, I’m happy with Jacob and happiest with myself.
But there was a time when, like Daenerys Targaryen, my only thought was: “If I look back I am lost.” Your time for love-grieving, for analyzing the past, and for being ‘happiest’ will come. Often times, we need to give time some time… before Fate will consider giving us another chance…
I’m sorry you are hurting right now. It will pass. If it doesn’t, it will at least change. Oh, and next time I call you, be sure to make an effort to pick yourself up a bit. Or I promise to quote A Game of Thrones until my “annoying habit” drives you berserk. Think I’m kidding? Try me. I’m not above Moby Dick torture. I might even sink low enough to fling a few Leviticus bombs your way. Boom, baby, boom ;-)