Before I launch into this, I must tell you I have had a good life. Really.
My mother was a drug addict and died in a car accident when I was young, but my family swooped in to rescue me from a life of foster care and group homes. When I was fifteen I was doing back flips off the diving board and hit my nose and fell into the pool, knocked ever so slightly unconscious. Miraculously, I hit the board in just a spot that only gave me a black eye and didn’t break my nose or something worse. Whenever I lose my wallet (which is more often than I’d like to admit) it always comes back. Only once was the money missing, when it flew off my car and I shit you not a co-worker’s husband drove by and noticed a group of kids tossing the wallet to the side of the road and he pulled over. I got my wallet back, minus a few bucks. I make good money doing what I love. It’s good to be me. Really.
A couple of months ago, I was sitting at Magpie drinking a beer with my friend Loretta. We were shooting the shit about life and relationships, and I was explaining how/why/when/where I got back together with my husband of 8 years, whom I’d been separated from for over a year. I was acknowledging the part I had played in the breakup, and was wondering aloud about my subsequent batshit crazy behavior getting involved with a clearly poor choice of partners and the hilarity that ensued. She listened. Then she said, “You know I’ve always liked you. You’re a good person. But it has always seemed like... you had a hole in your heart.”
I am not being dramatic when I say that my immediate reaction was to start bawling. Poor Loretta. She instantly tried to comfort me, but I just looked at her and said it’s alright, and that I wasn’t upset. It is rare when people hit you with the truth.
"It is the hole that has kept me busy, all the time. Even when things were good I would feel dissatisfied, restless, like there was MORE and I didn’t have it."
This hole that she speaks of is an old wound that made me feel like I didn’t have enough. I’ve tried to fill it with stuff, experiences, you name it anything to not feel it, not face it, and not allow for it to close naturally. It is the hole that has kept me busy, all the time. Even when things were good I would feel dissatisfied, restless, like there was MORE and I didn’t have it. Master’s degree? Not enough. Three beautiful kids? Not enough. Great husband who was having a hard time, just like me, raising kids and working and trying to be? Not enough.
It is the hole that made me feel like I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t completely lovable unless I was useful to someone or handing over everything, even when I got nothing in return. It is that same cruel hole that has made me do the opposite: cut people off when I face being hurt, even when they meant me no harm and just wanted to love me. It is the hole where my inner child has resided, waiting for me to take care of her one day.
Over the summer I read this incredible novel, Beautiful Ruins. I won’t bore you with my interpretation of such a glorious read, but I will share the there is a quote that keeps resonating in my heart over and over like a heartbeat:
“Pasquo, the smaller the space between your desire and what is right, the happier you will be.”
In my opinion, this requires three small but key pieces to manifest.
1. you need to be able to discern what it is you desire. Not what you should desire, or what others desire for you. This can be more difficult than it seems. There are so many messages we receive about what we should want. The media, our families ... who knows. They’re there, and it’s so easy to listen to them and ignore the little voice inside that tells us what we really desire.
2. you need to be able to discern what is right for you. And by extension, for others, too. Refer to the 1.
3. you also need to know what happiness really feels like. Again, refer back to 1.
In that moment, there at Magpie crying into my beer, I realized that the space between what I desired and what was right was wide and gaping. In the last couple of years, I had wanted things that were bad for me and had things that were good for me that I didn’t want. I realized that this may have always been the case. In that moment I realized that the hole in my heart was responsible for this. If you’re busy shoveling anything into the hole, it is highly unlikely you have a good filtering system.
In the fairy tale ending of this story, I went out into the wilderness and did a naked dance with wolves and I was healed. Or at the very least walked straight into the therapist’s office. Neither thing happened. Sorry.
What did happen was that I went home and cried some more. I spent the evening inside the hole. I held a minor pity party that involved (more) alcohol and my husband holding me, slightly confused but very supportive. A month later I finally called the therapist, whose number I’d had in my phone for over a year.
It’s been a month since then. Things are good. I can see the hole, feel the hole, and know that the hole is healing. Desire. What is right. Getting closer and closer. I can feel it.