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Tag Archives: Heartbreak
Heartbreak. It’s hard work getting past it but hard work never scared me. It’s lack of hope that terrifies me. Yet, my automatic reaction has been to freeze up into a wall of silence, stoicism, concrete hardness. There is no hope beyond a wall of that nature.
I decided to start the year approaching this differently. Who could I be, if I was not that wall-builder? It felt difficult, so difficult. I told myself difficult never scared me. Coupled with that determination, comes an idea. What if wall-building is simply a habit, and not my most ‘natural’ reaction to things? It’s a thought, one that I am willing to hook onto. Habits, I can make or break.
So, what if all the heartache I feel is just that and not some indication of the horribleness of the world, society and men? What if it’s just that – feelings? I am not invalidating emotion. I live by my emotions. But they are just that, what I feel. They do not have to have anything to do with other people’s motivations. Realistically, most other people are just like me, bumbling along through life, accidentally knocking into each other, not having the ability to recognise their own emotions, let alone other people’s.
There is a large myth that it is easy for each of us to buy into of the Grand Villain. We turn old lovers, friends who’ve let us down, family members who have disappointed us, colleagues who have crossed us and pretty much everything that goes against what we want, into the Grand Villain. The Grand Villain must sit in his/her lair, doing nothing but scheming about how to make our lives utterly miserable. Do you do that? Do you even spend that much time thinking about your own life, let alone someone else’s?
I guess it’s easier for us to believe in that than to stop and consider that stuff happens to us that is bad, unjust, scary and otherwise unpleasant. It means acknowledging that life is totally random. It means accepting that there’s no such thing as safety or security. It means taking responsibility to do what one can. It means letting go and trusting that things will be okay and if not, well, they won’t. It means saying, I can’t even tell how many more things that means. It’s really, really difficult.
But you know what? It carries hope, which is something my concrete wall doesn’t. The concrete wall keeps the Grand Villain inside with me. And frankly, I’m done with that guy. So goodbye and let’s open those gates and let some life in.
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This is a slightly improved version of an old post. But the sentiment remains.
What do you do when you see the person who broke your heart, sitting at the table next to yours in a restaurant? Cool as ever over cheese fondue.
- Walk over ultra-cool and strike up a conversation.
- Pretend that they don’t exist (and hope they do the same).
Frantic thinking. You can’t do a. since they’ve spotted you already and are trying to figure out if you really are who they think. Hence b. is ruled out as well…besides you’d have to pass them when you walked out, thus giving them a perfect opportunity to confirm what they’re thinking.
You wonder if you could pull off c. but your feet refuse to move and you desist out of fear of doing something incredibly unpardonable like stammering, blushing furiously – or worst of all – starting to cry, right into that silly cheese fondue.
And you suddenly know that you can never meet their eyes because just locking gazes with them will make the tears start. All the years of discipline, behind defense mechanisms will crumble the minute they look at you. Why is it that you’re the one being embarrassed over what happened and unable to meet the gaze of the person who performed the heinous crime of breaking your heart?
In an instant the years fall away. The person you’ve built yourself to be, vaporizes before your eyes. And you’re back to where you were years ago, feeling small, unloveable, weak and helpless.
Some scars continue to itch, long after the wounds heal. Distance may prove to be some balm but when that’s gone, you’re back to bleeding. Back to bewildered, hurt, confused, scared. Back to wondering whether the years in between were just a figment of your own imagination and learning to live and laugh and love again was just a dream. Back to the horrific moment, breath stuck in your throat, forgetting how to be happy, forgetting about anything mattering at all, forgetting how to live a half-life like you’re still you but with some vital organs missing.
Then somehow, slowly, you remember how to breathe. Exhale. Out with all the bad stuff in your head. Inhale. A new world. A new life. A new you. Life, one breath at a time. Love, one memory at a time. Cheese fondue in time too. And when you get up to leave, you notice the table next to you is empty.
I’ve done this so many times,
I know how it goes
And while it never stops hurting
The acrid taste starts to seem familiar,
even pleasurable for its warmth
It tastes just like wine.
Heartbreak doesn’t sting like it used to,
I know this time,
I’ll live through it, like all those others
It’s odd to get used to being alive
through a death of a kind,
But I did.
And now I just think
The drama of love only entertains me
As an absorbing game would
And I think, this is a game I could play
I could win and take a trophy or two
Or lose and prove I’m still capable of feeling
But I probably won’t.
Tell me what it’s like.
Does it get better with time?
I pause and wonder what to say.
Can I give her an honest answer?
That it won’t..in some ways.
That heartbreak hurts as much at 30 as it does at 20.
That you never quite get used to the pain of letting go, no matter how often you’ve done it….though you might learn the lesson of numbness.
That love and cheating and tenderness and passion will continue to turn up unanticipated…and unwelcome, no matter how clear your vision stays.
That eventually dreams will become the last survival tactic for those who don’t have God or Family or FairyTales anymore.
No, I decide, I can’t tell her all of that. I can’t paint the next decade in a pall of gloom before it’s even arrived.
So I take a deep breath and say instead…
What does change is all the things in your head.
With the pain, there will be the aspirin of reality,
a little snapshot of the last time that grows clearer with time,
the knowledge that you survived that and so this you will too.
With time, other people’s opinions
will start to matter less than your own
or at least you’ll be able to pick and choose what you want to believe.
And if you’re smart…and I know you are,
you’ll have a Plan B or at the very least…an exit route.
So I end without lies, telling her the truth…but perhaps not all of it.
And I wish there were some lessons one didn’t need to learn.
*Dedicated to a very young and wonderful friend who asked the question. I hope she’s reading…or perhaps I hope she isn’t.