Let go and fly
I really want to write about my imploding life right now. I want to share how devastated I am, how I almost had a slip the other night...17 months sober. I want to tell you all about what a fucking failure I feel like, and how I just want to wake up from this nightmare.
But I can't. Too many cycling emotions surround me now. Too much pain. And since many of the stories I want to share have clearly had years to marinate, my current story...ending unknown...will come out in its own time.
With that, I am going to tell you the story of my almost. As I share these seasons of life, you may notice that they are out of order. There is no real reason for that, other than they call to be written when they are ready. I have been doing a lot of reflecting on relationships from my past recently, not just for the purposes of my current project, but also as a reminder of times of love and kindness and growth. Reflection helps us to see the lessons we were presented during times of change. Hopefully we can take from them and learn something new. I don't see it so much as a living in my past, as a learning from it.
This story reminds me that I survived real heartbreak once, and that I can and will survive again.
To fully understand where I was emotionally when I met H, I need to tell you that at 21 years old I was still reeling from an entire year of drugs. I had been addicted to methaphetamine, and almost died from a drug overdose of meth and GHB. That story isn't ready for the light of day yet, but it is relevant. I abandoned that lifestyle to move to Lizella, Georgia. Although I escaped, I wasn't better. I now know it can take years to fully recover from drugs (and alcohol), and I didn't go straight edge, I just quit drugs. Alcohol soon became my legal replacement, my comforting friend. The first night at my new place in Lizella I would get unabashedly drunk with a bunch of guys I didn't know. My new roommates and their friends. Having not been a heavy drinker previously, I had no idea what my tolerance level was, and I didn't care. I just knew that I needed confidence, so I drank myself to oblivion. H wouldn't enter the scene until I had lived in the apartment above the garage for a few months.
When I first met H I was actually dating anther guy. An unremarkable relationship that ended about as quickly as it began. I won't pretend that meeting H didn't influence that ending, but he wasn't the cause.
H and I didn't actually hit it off initially. Despite his sexy drawl and deep eyes leading to a soul I desperately wanted to see...I couldn't stand him. I found him to be arrogant and an asshole. Apparently I am drawn to assholes. Years later, I can confidently say that arrogance is usually a sign of insecurity, but this was pre-psychology and neuroscience degrees Jessica. I still believed I could love a guy into prince-hood.
That's not really a thing, by the way.
Sitting here typing I can almost hear that drawl...
Anyway, there was more to this white-collar redneck than met the eye (which was not bad either y'all). I wanted to uncover the truth, the depths, the secrets underneath.
Spoiler alert: I wouldn't. But damn if I didn't try my heart out.
What I would do was fall in love, for the first time. This is not to say I had not loved before, I had. And deeply. But I had never fallen in love. Only the universe can tell you why I fell in love with H. We had next to nothing in common. I wound up becoming the exact type of female he actually said he could never be with...PhD and all. The irony does not escape me. Yet when we were together I felt something so deep and pure, something that led me to hold on way too tightly. I felt safe with him. Being held by him was like being home. A feeling I had never had before then. It was an experience like no other. I wanted us to be able to figure out how to be together, how to be the one for each other. It would not be so.
The beginning of the end would come when I took a solo trip to see my family in Virginia that March. We exchanged many phone calls that clearly indicated the end was near for us. I went to visit my late grandfather, Daddy Barney, who lived off the beaten path a ways and had pretty sketchy phone service. This caused me to miss a few days of speaking with H, a reprieve needed and also disastrous. When I returned to phone service I had multiple messages asking for me to call H or my roommate as soon as possible. H's father had died suddenly. Words cannot express the grief I felt over the loss of H's father. He was a man who loved his sons as fiercely as any daddy could, who called me Tattoo the first time he met me, and a father I am fairly certain didn't approve of me - smart man. I am certain he could see my brokenness. My heart shattered for H. I drove back to my grandfather's house to book a flight, which my Daddy Barney paid for. He told me he understood love, and he wanted me to be there with the one I loved so much. I flew home, and proceeded to be the last thing anyone needed by their side. I hung through the funeral, clinging to H, wishing I could be the strength he needed. I was anything but, as he grieved he shut me out more and more, and I began drowning in his loss. I think (the memories fade) that we stayed together for a little while after. I was in a pretty awful car accident, totaling my car, and H wouldn't come be with me because he was drunk and watching Nascar (yes, THAT level of redneck). I erupted, and still wouldn't walk away.
What if I never found love again?!
And then, one day soon after my accident, H let me go. He did what I should have done in March. I spent many months thinking he would change his mind. I begged the universe. I drove aimlessly listening to music that kept me in a state of hurt and loss. I finally realized, after climbing a silo drunk on his family farm one night with friends, that I had to leave Lizella. So I did. I moved away and left all of my new friends without looking back. And oh my god how I hurt. It broke my heart. All logic told me that of course we would never work out, we were as different as night and day, the sun and the moon. Country boy meets city girl. We would have one last fling before I finally let go, and my heart would shatter again when he found love very soon after.
Funny how life happens on life's terms. I would actually go on to fall in love again after H. It took me 14 years to realize what H had really done for me. He let me go, and it was exactly as it needed to be. He also showed me that I could be loved, was deserving of love, and was capable of loving others. Concepts I had lost during the hell that was my 19th-21st years of life. Falling for him opened me up for loving another, even more deeply, and leading me to the life I have now. H once told me that I wasn't first wife material. An odd thing to say to someone who married a sociopath at 19. I asked him what he meant by that, and he said that his first marriage would probably end in divorce and I deserved better. But back then, 21 year old Jessica had stopped believing she deserved anything but pain, let alone better. H showed me otherwise.
As I sit here with these words clawing to get out of my head, I think I know now why this story came first. You see, this past summer I reconnected with H via e-mail. It was time to own my insanity of then, and apologize for being so volatile. He was nothing but kind in his response, as he had always been to me. He said he knew we were both going through our own stuff (HA! If he only knew the half of it!), and he had only fond thoughts of our time together. Maybe he was as drunk as I was during that time? Just kidding, kind of. I sat with his response a long time. All these years later I was still receiving the message from the universe that I was ok. The truth is, I don't know if H fell for me or loved me like I had him. I can't begin to speak to another's experiences. What I do know is that he showed me one of the greatest kindnesses, he showed me what I was capable of, and then he let me go.
I find myself now in a place reminiscent of that time. A place of great love and great pain. I am no longer a 21 year old girl, I no longer hope that someone will save me or rescue me from the shit of life. I am a 36 year old woman with more experience and wisdom than I ever dreamed of having at this stage in life. And I know, I am the one I have been waiting for all along. It is time to fall in love with me. I came across a line from a movie that sums this up perfectly:
You can't live your life for other people. You've got to do what's right for you, even if it hurts some people you love.
I get it. Love is not always enough; or, maybe it is SO much that we let those we love go because we are not meant to rescue them anymore than they are meant to save us.
Sometimes we have to let go so those we love can go on and become the amazing humans they are meant to be, so we can keep growing and evolving.
We let them go not knowing if they will come back. We let them go simply knowing that they need to fly without us attached to them, and we need to trust our own damn wings a bit more.
H taught me that I HAD wings. I didn't even know that until I met him.
Being let go by a great love, that's when you hit a do or die moment of truth.
You're either going to fly or fall.
And while those brilliant wings have been damaged and patched up, weakened and strengthened again...they remain.
My capacity to fly has not left me since.
It will not leave me now, even as I let go of my love, so that another may have their chance to soar.
And so I can keep sailing on my own beautiful wind.
These images are my proof. Proof that emotions aren't forever and pain is fleeting. If we allow ourselves to experience all emotions as they come: sadness, love, joy, happiness, fear, anger, disgust (ALL of them)....we WILL be better for it.
Spread your wings, find your strength, fall in love with yourself. Yes, I dare.