The plan was to sleep early, leave early, drive to paradise and reignite myself again.
Instead, with tear stained face, I spent the night on a couch cradling pieces of a giant broken heart. It still beat, was alive and full, but as the hours ticked by it literally unraveled in my hands. It spoke of love, connection and passion. It recounted memories and past experiences, danced through time and space, languished in moments of pleasure. Then it erupted in anger, lashed out at uncertainty and throbbed with a piercing ache of criticism, followed by shame. One last breath and it collapsed in my arms, flat and sobbing.
I held the heart and spoke soft comforting words of forgiveness, lessons learned and growth. I questioned why the hardest paths and most painful times seemed to lead to the purest of joys. Strength, love and compassion; all earned through internal struggles and external battles, fear encountered and conquered, highs built out of lows.
Pain swallowed hope and the tears began again even though we both believe that out of ashes come new birth and renewed light. Be it positive or negative, change is never easy because we are creatures of habit and the unknown holds us hostage.
Parting in the wee hours of the morning, I began my drive to paradise. My dearest friend, raccoon eyed, thin and drained, was left wondering how and why she had ended her long term relationship over a petty moment in time. Her lover was packed and gone. It took less than an hour, following sharp words she had spoken that cut so deeply the fatal wounds they left behind were impossible to heal.
Mile after mile, the road racing beneath my tires, I empathized, cried in her pain and at the thought of losing Eric, ending our love over circumstance or saying goodbye because of a misunderstanding, a hiccup in the road or my lack of ability to remain patient. I lived the same emotions that my best friend had shared, as though her relationship ending, signified the fall of my own.
Eric and I had recently been in a rough patch, two days of anxiety over misconceptions on my part regarding the situation and though we had talked our way through, empathy brought it all back to my brain. I reminded myself that during those days of hard conversations, Eric never quit talking, never shutdown, but remained steadfast and assured. He heard my words and answered honestly. He was clear that he was not leaving and that I am truly loved.
I wanted answers about a future unknown, finding new emotions bubbling up with work seemingly taking what little time I have with him, away. Eric asked if we had to decide everything right then. He kissed me passionately, spanked me with his belt, provided a safe space by tightly holding my wrist and promised me we would decide our fate together. Now, on the freeway, the thought of giving up everything we do share because of time we do not share took me over the edge and I pulled off, gut wrenching agony on the side of the road. I vomited.
In the black night of predawn, Eric's voice penetrated my mind. "This is not a dress rehearsal. Keep life in perspective, Sweetheart. Empathy is a beautiful part of who you are but you can't let it consume you."
Back on the road, I reached paradise and began the healing of broken hearts. Texts and phone calls for my friend, running and writing for me.
In my nightmares, Eric and I do not stay together. I wake up drenched in sweat with anxiety and adrenaline pulsing through my body. The pain is insurmountable and I do not believe I can survive it.
However, in my dreams, Eric and I continue to thrive in intellectual equivalence, physical passion and emotional connection. We stretch during a time in our lives when the focus reverts from past responsibilities to personal metamorphosis. Hand in hand, on a path of exploration, we find the sanctity of self discovery, together.