You know those moments in life ... the ones that you think will kill you?
... Those times when you have to do the hard work of allowing an expectation or a belief or even a close relationship die?
It's super uncomfortable to let something you've loved and trusted fall into ashes.
It's really gut wrenching.
And when you encounter it on your path, it's natural to want to hang on - with your nails and your teeth.
Recently, my mom asked me if I had ever loved my ex-husband. I told her the truth, which is "absolutely." We chatted some more about those sweet, early times, and then I realized that while I couldn't put my finger on the exact moment I fell in love with him, I could unquestioningly pinpoint the moment I stopped loving him.
I remember the hot, sticky Tennessee day, chasing this uniformed man down my driveway and out to his truck.
My then two-year-old was napping inside.
I thought if I could just get to that man in the uniform...
If I could see his face and tell him...
Maybe I could convince him...
I remember him handing me a piece of paper.
And I remember not giving two shits about what the paper said.
He turned his truck around and the gravel made that sound that gravel makes under turning tires. The one that sounds like crunching and squashing, but it's really just pressure and movement and more pressure and things shifting under the weight of it all.
He proceeded out and down the ambling, grey rock, summer sun, driveway; ages old apple branches whacking the top and sides of his truck. Black walnut shells crunched and exploded on the ground beneath his tires.
I don't know if I paused to think. (That's the thing about traumatic moments in life, you can't always remember all of the logistics. Instead, it's a smell, the way the light was, or a very distinct feeling. That's how this day was.)
The house was so quiet ... the hum of all things electric had disappeared. (You don't really ever consciously hear the hum of electric things until they are without electricity ....).
I remember searching for my checkbook, and hoping my wits and strength could be found nearby too.
I remember having no idea. And also a very solid knowing: Not today. Not in my house. Not to me.
Driving in my car, with my baby, along the winding country road.
Down, down, down to the very, very square, very, very brick building where the electrical company offices were.
Some well-meaning woman offered my son a lollipop when we entered the building - I remember that. I didn't want him to have it, but it was a distraction. Maybe he wouldn't hear the words I had to say and the wavering quality of my voice if he was in a sugar coma.
I found myself grateful for the small, lollipop gesture - so generous on a day when it seemed generosity was otherwise engaged.
Like a zombie at the window, I wrote a check - a big rubber check with absolutely NO money behind it. I got through that moment without crying. I was wearing my big girl pants. Those pants that you put on when you realize that your mate doesn't respect you. Those pants that you put on when you realize that this person you share a life with won't show up for the living of the life part of life. The pants you put on when you realize that if anything is ever going to change, it is going to be YOU, not him. Not anyone else. Just you.
Oh, but his potential. You fell in love with the potential. Well, sweet love, Fuck his potential. His potential isn't helping you right now and neither is he.
And so I walked out of the very, very square, very, very brick building. It was also, very, very hot still. I put my baby in his car seat and as I closed the door to walk around to my side, I had my 0.07 seconds of hot, wet, messy, furious tears. Angry, livid, "How the fuck did my life end up like this?" tears. I had my millisecond.
Then I got into the car (because I had those big girl pants on), and I turned on the air conditioning. That was something special, "Thank you car." I reached back and held onto the foot of my beautiful child. And I tried to breathe. He ate his corn-syrup laden lollipop and I practiced my breathing.
It was shallow, but I was trying. The air conditioning helped.
Tears came again.
I made a promise to myself that I was finished living life like this. That I would never do it again. This part was decidedly over.
That still lingering ember, the one I had been endlessly fanning and fawning over ... the one that I was certain had to stay lit in order for me to survive ... you know the one. I finally stepped back and allowed it to extinguish. Not my responsibility anymore. Not my work. Not mine.
This is how I was re-born. This is how I can keep living through a thousand painful deaths. This is how I rise.
I let hope die. And it saved my life.