To live this life. To live it with wholeness and gratitude and trust. In the pain and the glory. In the mess and the grace. In the sacred and the desperation. This is the stuff of which real superheros are born. ~Jeanette LeBlanc
We are here to love hard and true. Here to give ourselves over to the rush and bliss of it all. Here to offer our patchwork hearts over and over again. Here to feel and fall and hurt and bleed. Here to say yes and to choose wholeness and to break anyway and to do it all again. ~Jeanette LeBlanc
Here you are.
Still standing. Fierce with the reality of love and loss. Wearing the truth of our hearts on your tattered sleeves. And yes, this one very nearly took you out. And yes, there were days when the darkness was heavy and the climb out of that rabbit hole required you to mine your depths for strength you didn’t even know you had.
But here you are.
Broken open by hope. Cracked wide by loss. Full of longing and grief and the burn of that phoenix fire. Warrior painted with ashes. Embers from the blaze still clinging to your newborn skin, leaving you forever marked with scars of rebirth.
And just look at you. Heart broken but still beating. Arms empty but still open. Face raised to the sky and giving thanks for the light, even when it hurts your eyes.
My god, you are beautiful. ~ Jeanette LeBlanc
In preparing, I ran upon an old ACT UP handbook. It reminded me of the ways the “masters tools” are used break movements. Using power over to suppress us.
To shame us
To make us invisible
To mute our voices and our message
To kill our trust
These tools of the master are used to break one’s spirit, to disempower, to confuse, to divide, to immobilize. These tactics are another assault on our humanity.
They will not work.
We must love our people more than they hate us.
Movement work is about healing, building engaging and transforming. ~Desiree Lynn Adaway
Love. Relating. Having hope, even in and after devastating heartbreak.
I’ve been writing a lot over on IG the last couple weeks. It has been in part processing some grief around a specific relationship. It has been in part confirming my truth in how we need to relate to each other, in all our relationships.
The other day I watched this IGTV by Jeanette LeBlanc. I sobbed. And sobbed. And sobbed some more.
When my marriage was crumbling, and even shortly after it ended, I didn’t believe I would ever love again. I didn’t believe I could ever open myself to that kind of heartbreak again. I didn’t even know if I was capable of loving again, not in the ways that I had loved my ex-husband.
I kept my walls up. My armor was on secure and tight. Once I decided I wanted to have sex with another person, I had partnered sex, but there was no intimacy. I wouldn’t allow it. There was no sleeping over. There was no sharing of my life and there was no listening to them talk about their’s.
I wasn’t ready for and frankly, I didn’t want to have, a Relationship (with a Capital R). I didn’t want to “catch feelings.” I didn’t want to be vulnerable. I didn’t want to risk having my heart shattered again.
And I didn’t meet anyone who changed my mind.
Until I did.
It is ironic to look back at the very beginning of this relationship. We texted for a week and I wasn’t overly interested, though in text we seemed like a good match. I almost canceled our first date. But then I wanted to get out and we had plans, so I went.
And I met him.
As soon as I laid my eyes on him I knew, I knew, that he would break my heart. I knew, from that first night, he would break me open in ways I didn’t want to be broken open, in ways I wasn’t ready to be broken open.
But are we ever really ready to be broken open? I don’t think so.
I knew he and I were probably not going to last forever. I had (and still have) lost all faith in happily ever after and ’til death do us part. I didn’t want a white picket fence anymore (ironically, he actually has a white picket fence at his house). I didn’t want to be tied down with expectations and promises, mine or anyone else’s. So I knew, at some point we would come to an end, because all things come to an end at some point, and when that day came, my heart would shatter.
I wrote this the other day on IG ::
Sometimes we meet people who have profound impacts on our lives and our Self. Just by being them they create space for us to unearth some lost pieces of who we are. They show us what it is to be loved and adored. They teach us what freedom is. We may want these people to be in our lives forever but that may not be how it works out. They may only be with us for a short while & yet their impact is massive & our hearts shatter when they leave.
Hearts are meant to shatter I believe. And then to be put back together. We are meant to love & lose that love. Nothing is forever.
And sometimes relationships come back & start again. There are those in my life who I can literally go a decade without talking to & when we see each other it is as if no time has passed.
There are people who light us up regardless of time or distance.
We can’t “keep” these people though. People are not for keeping. People are for loving, for caring for, for experiencing life with. In whatever time allows us to have with them.
“All we have to see, is I don’t belong to you and you don’t belong to me.” ~George Michael
I am in a time of grief. It is true. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I left the door open for the future, and who knows what will happen in a week, a month, a year, a decade. And also, in these moments now I need to accept the ending of what was.
This hurts like hell. My chest literally aches. I cry at the drop of a hat.
I’m not miserable though. I wouldn’t change any of this, because knowing him allowed me the space to get so much of myself back, including my knowing that I am meant to love, and to love deep and hard, without apologies or fear. I am more me for having known him, even if it was for the briefest moment of time.
I will eventually move through this grief. It is true. While time alone doesn’t heal all (or any) wounds, it does help to dull the pain, and in addition I am processing the hell out of this year and our time together and what it has all meant to and for me.
Here’s a thing though, our love, our wide open hearts, our vulnerability, our authenticity, aren’t only meant for romantic love. They are meant for friends. For (chosen) family. For colleagues. For comrades. For our grocery clerk. For total strangers.
We need to bring love, our whole broken open selves, into all our spaces. Most especially into those spaces that are about bringing systemic change, about tearing down the status quo, about ending oppression and authoritarianism and marginalization.
The world needs our wide open hearts. The world needs us to be willing to risk having our hearts shattered, over and over. By lovers, friends, family, and strangers. With every shattering, the world needs us to choose to put our hearts back together and then to enter the world with them wide open once again.
This doesn’t mean walking through the world without boundaries (we all desperately need those). It doesn’t mean being a martyr or allowing people to cause us harm in the name of Love. It doesn’t mean we are passive.
We can be warriors with open hearts. I would argue the only way to be a warrior is with an open heart. With the strength and bravery and willingness to move through the fear and let people in and to hold space for others to let us in too.
In order to be in the world with our hearts open, and able to hold space for others with open hearts, we have to do our own work. Our own internal work. Of healing old wounds. Of processing old traumas. Of becoming self aware, self reflective. Of creating the pause before we react to situations out of anger or frustration or hurt. Of getting to the roots of the ways we have internalized oppressive and authoritarian behaviors and attitudes. Of getting to the roots of our own black holes of abandonment, neglect, not feeling worthy or deserving or wanted.
We need to do this work so we are not only able to allow ourselves to be broken open, but also so we can be in the spaces with others who are breaking open themselves. We need to do this so we don’t continue to carry and utilize the master’s tools. We need to do this so we can break harmful inter-generational patterns and cycles. We need to do this so we can create a world where love, not fear, is abundant and the motivation for all our actions.
We need to do this work for the sake of our most intimate relationships, for the sake of our least intimate relationships, for the sake of our Self, our humanity, our real purpose in life.
Which is to love. Each other. Our Self. Our world.
This essay was originally written for my weekly(ish) newsletter on November 17, 2019. It has been edited and revised for publication here. To receive my most recent essays along with stream of conscious writing prompts, self-regulation exercises, and more, you can subscribe right here.