In my news feed, I came across The Blacklight Candelabra’s post asking writers to respond with a story of simultaneous creation and deconstruction.
I am a strong, level-headed realist. I wasn’t always that way, but for good reason, I sure became one. I have seen and have personally experienced a lot. One of my family members had a horrible first marriage, changing her own life and the lives of her children forever. I have seen my friends fall head over heels for men not worth the heartache that would follow. I have seen some of my friends stay in the wrong relationships, not leaving when they should, giving someone a 100th second chance. There’s so much heartache in this world, that it makes it hard to see the light. I certainly have had my own share of turmoil, despair, and so I chose quite some time ago that I wanted to be single. I see nothing wrong with it. In fact, I have far too many plans. I want to do so much with my life, why would I want anything holding me back? And besides, a family? Lord have mercy, I was far from thinking that that was in the realms of my future. If I even got married, I didn’t think a nice guy would ever find me. All hope for that was lost somewhere around sophomore year in high school. True love in marriage is a myth (besides with my own parents). This world has gotten lost; people don’t believe in love anymore. People believe in convenience, quick remedies, easy pleasure, and guilt-free pleasure at that. Families? Families are broken; children are mistakes that happened unexpectedly. Yes, this was my mindset for about 6 years. And just two years ago, I sunk further into those beliefs.
I walk into his room, and something still doesn’t seem right. Did I forget to bring him something, was my hair askew, my outfit all wrong– did he just not see the same woman anymore? I sit at his bed. I let my fingers trail his back, trying to smooth over whatever remnants remained. My fingers move to his hair as I try to smooth out whatever is being brought back to surface in there.
Am I still his darling? Have I ever been his or was this just a mirage seen by a lone, lost soul aimlessly looking for love?
My. I certainly had put a fair amount of trust in him. Though he had never given reason for me to do otherwise. Why, he wanted me with him everywhere. He wouldn’t go anyplace without me, wouldn’t want to spend a single day without me. Certainly, we had our share of fights as does any couple. And they were getting a little less common…
We don’t talk much that night, but I lay by him. I promise my presence, when he needs it. This could be the greatest gift he’s ever received, a dream come true. Turning to face me and smile, he acknowledges the silent promise I have given. I would come to the know the days I wouldn’t see him at all or even hear from him. I would come to know the days when I would see him and absolutely dread it.
“Why do you ridicule me in front of everyone?”
“Babe, I’m not trying to make fun of you. We’re laughing with you! It’s cute when you don’t know something!”
I look around at my teammates all seated at the dinner table, laughing and looking at me, waiting for me to laugh too.
“You don’t practice with me anymore or throw with me. Is something wrong?”
“Can’t you understand I don’t have the time?!”
I sigh angrily, “You never tell me anything; I have no idea what goes on with you!”
He sighs, staring directly ahead, not for once meeting my eyes, “You wouldn’t understand. None of this.”
Oh just the age gap argument again, is it?
“You said you knew the way back!”
I am about ready to lose it, “We were both talking and distracted. You and I are both in the wrong here. We weren’t paying attention to how we got here! And I told you, ‘let’s try that direction’. We should have just used the GPS!” I brace myself for his response.
“You know what, this is ridiculous. You should have known this didn’t look right. None of this looks like what we saw on the way up, I was trusting you,” he spits the words out like venom, hoping each word leaves an impact.
“Why is it only me?! Just why? Why am I the one at fault here?”
“Because you told me to go this way!”
“You could have double-checked! I even said that I didn’t know!!”
The remaining twenty minutes were spent in silence broken by his single question, “So you’re just done talking now?”
My friend asks me, “So are you two doing better?”
“Oh much so,” I say with as much enthusiasm as I can manage.
She smiles at her phone, “Gosh, Aiden just told me that I looked gorgeous last night. I didn’t really try that hard, but I mean, when he takes us out, I kind of try–”
“Wait. You guys just went out.”
“No, that was like a week ago. It’s been a little while.”
I stare at her confused, “A week ago? Only a week ago?”
“What do you mean ‘only’? When was the last time you guys went out?”
I bite down hard on my lip and pinch my wrist to stop any tears. Valentine’s Day, which was nearly two months ago.
Instead, I ask something else, “You said he called you ‘gorgeous’?”
“Well yeah, and I mean he told me last night too, but he likes to tell me again. Kind of a thing with him; he always compliments me on the dumbest things,” she laughs as if it’s so absurd, but anyone can tell it lights up her whole world.
I smile and nod and decide to confess about my own boyfriend, “He’s never called me beautiful.”
I ask him to meet me that night, that we have a lot to talk about, and it just can’t wait. I settle into the passenger seat of his car as I’ve done so many times, usually for stolen kisses, long talks before his shift, a chance to warm up in the middle of the day between classes. I imagine how many times our hands were held just there by the clutch. I also see us singing ridiculously to the radio, but not him singing to me. I see his eyes fixed on the road, but not because he’s being a cautious driver. I see his gaze and that face–that face I’ll never understand–that mind I know is never fully here.
“I’m leaving,” I said.
“I’m transferring, and we’re breaking up.”
Liberation, sometimes, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Much more had happened between May 2013 and February 2014, but most importantly, nothing got any better. I had imagined leaving would solve everything. But running from situations tends to only leave you in the same mindset, just in a new location. Hiding out tends to make the person you’re hiding from seem gone forever, but it doesn’t actually make that person go away. Hiding does not stop communication, and a new location does not promise all you’ve ever wanted.
When I returned to Illinois and Olivet in December, I made a promise for the Lent season. This is a season of the Catholic church, but I as a Nazarene still choose to take part in it. And this past spring, I chose God, not men. I prayed for renewal and healing. I prayed for a security like no other. Most of all, I prayed for forgiveness.
My ice castle I had created had started to melt that spring. The fortress surrounding my cold heart was starting to crumble, pillars of marble bitterness and towers of frozen fear began to crack and break. My fortress that I had worked so hard to preserve was coming down slowly. Though my ice castle was being destroyed, a soft heart of gold was taking its place.
Ezekiel 36:26- “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
This was not easy for me by any means. But to relinquish yourself– well who ever said that feels easy? We are creatures of control, we like to have control and order of our own lives. But this is not what Christianity is about. If you cannot give up your old ways, then you cannot accept the new life being given so freely. I realized that I didn’t want the path that I was creating for myself. It looked bleak and miserable, a tightly-wound, vicious cycle.
I am still a realist today, and I am by no means completely transformed. But I no longer hold a heart of ice, but now hold a heart of flesh. Because there are traits of me that will never go away, which I am perfectly okay with. However, the shattering of the ice in my heart, the disassembling of old, bitter memories, and the eradication of old fears have allowed the creation of this new heart.
I am now hopeful again.
I don’t see the world through pessimistic lens anymore. I have regained the vivid, optimistic, and brighter version of myself in my younger years. Though I am so uncertain of what lies ahead, I am open-minded, trusting in God every step of the way. It’s a much better way to live. Do not stay in the darkness, but seek renewal of mind and spirit. It takes time, but I think our generation needs to learn to have a little more perseverance and patience anyway.
“Light overcomes all darkness, for where there is light, the darkness cannot live there.”