I’m healing a broken heart.
I’ve seen myself as damaged for a long time. I often wonder at it. Like it’s a sweater periodically taken out of storage I hold up to the light looking at the moth holes. What should be whole, warm and cozy has damage, that I can’t quite figure out why is still there. I didn’t realize that the moth holes weren’t really there, just an illusion created from one long intertwined thread that leads all the way back to the day my heart broke in the back seat of a car on a hot summer day. The first time I ever had someone who was supposed to love me show me that I wasn’t worth it.
It’s a common thing, you know, a parent not meeting the needs of their child because they’re busy, or so tired they dismiss what that child is saying… put them in their place. After all, they’re going to have to learn to be in their place if they’re ever going to be a good adult… I was told I was being dramatic, over reacting, to just keep my mouth shut. I sat there feeling the tears on my face wondering why, why they wouldn’t hear me. Feeling impotent and unable to get them to listen. My dad was yelling, or he yelled so often I can’t imagine him doing anything else and my mother was telling me I wasn’t worth hearing. My heart broke right there in that car because I was insignificant to the people who were supposed to love me more than anyone else, ever.
The whole thing would have blown over quickly were it not for the scene in that car playing out over and over in different ways for the next 10 years. My dad’s favorite name for us was “tick turds,” which my mother thought was hilarious because nothing could be that small. Something was, though; us.
My heart stayed broken.
Somehow, being married to a really funny, smart, but deeply unemotional, man kept me pretty even. My love for him filled the broken. The dark spinning rollercoaster I was on slowed and stopped. Chaos stayed in my brain and not in my life. Bad habits, the collateral damage of the broken: compulsive eating, smoking, drinking… sputtered… only to magically reignite when that marriage broke up. Heart broken again.
Echoes of old hurts rub up against the broken, fear flying on the wind whip around it blowing life into the damage turning my mind and body into a fire wildly leaping off into the darkness, my soul impotently starting out with petrified doe eyes as I consume everything possible to fill the broken, so I can’t feel it’s emptiness. Not worth listening to. Not worth friendship. Not worth love. Fill it. Fill it. Fill it with whatever I can grab onto. I find my solace in dangerous things. Standing with my toes over a cliff’s edge. Driving too fast. Eating too much. Drinking too much. Waking up the next morning with no idea what happened in that mad race. The child in me, the one with the broken heart picks me up and tries to show me maternal love in the awkward and touching ways a child interprets that love: food, shiny new things. I take myself to McDonalds or buy myself an ice cream… The reward a child gets when they’ve done something good. Child me tries to mend our heart with it’s tiny hands, knowing what the true cause of the pain is.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
It’s easy to confuse the collateral damage for the cause. The damage presents such drama. It’s such a clear danger. It’s terrifying. It can take over your life. You can’t control it, which is why people think it’s a disease. It’s not a disease, it’s a broken heart that never healed.
Love, of course, is the only thing that will fix it. Walking along the morning after I’d done something so stupid, with my constant companions: spotty memory, shame, regret and recrimination, I had the realization that the man who somehow became enamored with the person in the center of the chaos of that fire the night before did so because I’m a great person. My first impulse in every situation is to try to help. I love suddenly and deeply. I care about everyone and everything. He wanted to know me because I’m worth knowing. None of these things had ever occured to me before someone said them.
I can feel that now. I can be brave enough to the light shine on my broken heart. Let it be seen. Trust. Let their words heal it. Let my own words heal it.
Make sure that I only say the healing words because I am not damaged, I’m healing a broken heart.