We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us is something valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch.e.e cummings
I sent C the e.e. cummings quote I posted above and this image a very, very, very long time ago.
I then added the note below.
I will just set this here for you: whether you know it or it or not, you are valuable, you are worthy. Even when you fail. Even when I fail.A Love Letter to C
I gave this to her right after I realized what she meant to my life and the sacredness of her touch. I gave this to her when I heard what happened in her marriage and how dismissive her sisters and ex-huband are of her work and vision as an artist.
It was a vow I made from my heart to hers: remember, no matter the failure we will be here for each other. Even when no one else will be.
I gave it to her after years of feeling unheard, unfelt, unappreciated in my own marriage. It was a vow I made because it was the vow I needed.
We then posted it on the wall of her business blog as a reminder to each other and a announcement to others. As of this writing it is still up along with some other stories we wrote together which I’m recycling here and elsewhere at the encouragement of my Good Doctor.
It reflects how I felt about her a few months after we met when I realized she was the one.
We also wrote notes to each other and would hide them in places they would be found when we were apart. She even worked me into her paintings.
When I was telling my Good Doctor about this recently, she asked, “Has anyone else ever demonstrated their love for you so openly, unconditionally, and passionately? Have you ever been loved by someone that seemed proud of you and not simply proud of what you might do for them?”
The answer is no one.
She responded, “No one, or not in a way you recognize?”
Up to that point in my life, no one ever connected in a way that made me feel as significant, seen, or important as C. I never felt so accepted. C pushed all the right buttons emotionally, creatively, and sexually.
It felt sacred.
“No wonder you threw yourself so completely into that relationship and burnt up what was left of your marriage instead of working on it,” the Good Doctor replied.
She added, “It is little wonder you tried so hard to hide your shames from C. You wanted her to always feel loved, wanted, cared for, and protected from hard things because you believed it was your role when you love someone. She let you feel like a man, even if it was a toxic caricature bound to collapse under the weight of expectations.”
She then asked, “What does that teach you about yourself, your and C’s relationship patterns, and your relationship with C?”
This opened the door to a long chat about what the relationship with C meant to me and how everyone tries to protect what is important to them. We discussed how too often humans look to the the ends to justify the means.
We discuss why, despite C’s actions, I still think of her lovingly. It is why even when good, loving people remind me truthfully of her abuse and what she took, I nod in agreement while internally I shrug C’s actions off and minimize my feelings of loss, anger, and sadness.
The Doc and I discuss why I still defend C despite the abuse, what I know she has done, where she and her friends have lied to and about me, and how I see her at this moment.
It’s not that I don’t know what she has done and am in denial. I acknowledge it and try to move on to my part. I know what I did and won’t judge her for what she has choosen to do even when I don’t understand.
Some people will never understand my choices. I’ll never completely understand myself. As therapy reminds me, I can only imagine to understand other people’s choices by filtering them though my own experiences.
C has wounded me deeply and I still hurt. I am deeply injured, scarred as a result of her and other people’s rumor mongering. I’m left unsure of what is and isn’t true about our life together as I trudge therapy and confront the mythology found in my choices and her silence.
I’m left frustrated as she and others continue to gaslight our history together. As a result, when I think on her and our history I can swing between feeling isolated and unworthy of love and feeling a hot angry bile rising in my throat.
In other moments I find myself trudging through an inconsolable loneliness and sense of abandonment.
These swings aren’t there like they were, but on snowy and smooth jazz filled days like this Easter Sunday, it sneaks up creating an emotional melancholiness. Grief and gratefulness exist side by side on days like this, and saudade and mono no aware converse in subdued voices.
Gratefully, how I have approaced this experience has shown me all pain is my friend, and that pain and sorrow are as impermanant as contentment and joy. I’ve gotten better at letting the waves wash over me instead of aggressively turning and running for the nearest distraction.
Tragically, part of the damage from this experience is I will at times still isolate when I hurt. Caught off guard by the suddeniness of the feelings I will in moments rumminate on the pain.
As a result, I have not always made it easy for people to be there for me through this experience. I struggle with trusting people with my pain or vulnerability.
I trusted C more than anyone else in my life and I still didn’t trust her enough to ask for help when I made my mistake. Which is one reason I still feel the pain so accutely: I know some of the places where I failed to live up to my heart’s intentions.
Although I always believed “no matter the failure we will be here for each other. Even when no one else will be” I treated it as a one way street. I was offering only my strengths and hiding me weaknesses and needs. I reflect back, I realize that is all our relationship could handle.
I tried to make it safe for her to come to me but I wouldn’t (couldn’t?) go to her.
I didn’t want to appear weak because I couldn’t abandon my ex-wife’s tears and as a result I slowly became hardened and brittle as I tried to protect the status quo. In the end, it wasn’t simply the relationship or our life together that shattered, I was shattered.
One of the first paintings C made for me was a raven. It represented how I gave a safe place for her to spread her wings. It had a romantic inscription on the back talking about how I made her feel safe and important. It was the most beautiful and meaningful gift I have ever been given.
In this way the culture of our relationship was set. Safety and Protection became central gods in the mythology of our relationship.
However, to move on and heal has required burning up the Hero and Heroine mythology and embracing the reality: I am.
It’s not that I am excusing C’s venging and immaturity. What she did was hurtful. Her acting victim and ongoing silence continues to be hurtful. However, I now know this is who she is and those actions aren’t about me.
Her behavior isn’t a new pattern.
For years, I watched her behave the same way towards her ex-husband as she tried to delete her story with him too. During one of her twin’s hockey games, as she death stared across the ice at her ex-husband, she turned to me suddenly and said, “I wish he would just die.”
I’m sure she said it our of hidden pain.
Considering the convoluted history with my ex-wife, I never understood C’s sentiment. I’ve never hated anyone enough to want them dead. I still don’t, but my understanding is not required. I was furious and said hateful things to my ex-wife after she called C but after I calmed down I knew I never want bad things for my ex-wife.
Seeing the occasional image of C and her new Hero come across the social media feed I still want good things for both of them even when it pains me. I am wired in a way that I can hate what someone does without hating them. I also know that what is true for me isn’t true for everyone.
In reality, I know C didn’t do these things to me, she simply did them. She did them because it is what she knows how to do. Just like me, if she knew how to do something else she would.
I’m old enough to know she was coming off her marriage and into our relationship a wounded kitten. She told me as much. And doing what I knew, I tried to tend her injuries based on what I knew how to do and what she revealed about herself because my role in our pattern was to be the Hero.
…but kittens got claws.
And as a result, I’ve learned, much of what C told me may not have been True but simply convienently truthful.
Granting her this generous interpertation and gracious compassion isn’t about her. It certainly doesn’t excuse her behavior or make her actions less hurtful. What it does do is provide clemency and a doorway to compassion, and eventually forgiveness, so that I can move on and still treat her with love if our paths do ever cross, even if it is momentarily.
And in this way, I am honoring my vow to be there for her. In this way I am chosing not to reject or demonize her for her failures…or because of mine.
I failed. C failed. Just at different times and in different ways. That doesn’t make either of us less worthy of a happy, joyous, and free life.
As I’ve said elsewhere, “C was the one. She was always the one.”
…but we’ve both moved.
For me, I’ve moved on to relationships that will foster growth and practice the lessons my relations with C taught me. And for this reason at my core, despite all my appearances and bravado, I remain deeply grateful to C for the joy and the pain.
She touched my heart and that warmth will always remain a sacred experience for me.