what it means to heal

Melissa’s brave post reminded me of one I wrote a few years ago. I want to revisit it now, because some moments are worth remembering from time to time.

“We know who we are and define what we are by references to the people we love and our reasons for loving them….I’d lost my closest friends and with them I’d lost the mark on the psychic map that says You Are Here.” -Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram

Seven years ago, I lost my husband – or rather, I should say, we lost each other. Everything I thought I knew about love and relationships came crashing down around my ears in that moment, and I was left crying and bleeding on the cold tiled bathroom floor. All I could think was “This is the sound of my heart breaking. This is what heartbreak feels like.” It was then that I learned what strength meant, what it required, and what I had in me to endure.

We parted ways and the damage seemed irrevocable.

It took nearly a year, a long-distance phone call, a few soul-searching letters, and a midnight conversation on a pier overlooking the ink black ocean before we found each other again. Even then, I think our souls recognized each other before our wary minds and jaded hearts did. Because heartbreak changes you. When it happens to you, you are never the same again.

It took two more years before I found a place where I could say I had healed. There are scars still, a few ghost twinges of pain remembered, but I finally felt we had rebuilt something new: something so much stronger, and so much deeper, so solid that I could trust it for a lifetime.

Because forgiveness is not something you easily or automatically have; where you flip a switch and suddenly it’s there. It’s a choice you make every day: a choice between grumbling over the hurts of the past, or dealing with what’s in front of you here and now. It’s not always the big traumas that doom a relationship. Often it’s the little things we do every day that either strengthen or undermine the bond between ourselves and others.

Commitment is not just a promise you make on your wedding day. It’s also a choice you make every day. Sometimes the choice is so easy you never even think of it. It can be as simple as picking up the phone, picking up the kids, or picking up the socks from the floor. Or it can be as difficult and profound as the right words at the right time, an embrace when it’s most needed, or refusing to act in a way the other might “deserve”, and instead acting in the best way you can find to keep your relationship strong. It’s insisting upon sticking through the rough patches to reach the sun on the other side. Even when you’re not entirely convinced the sun is there.

When you lose someone you love, it is like losing the magnetic pull on the compass of who you are. But sometimes being lost for a time is necessary. Becoming truly lost means you finally know who you are when everything else is stripped away. That way, when you begin again, you know what is real. It gives you the strength you need to make a leap, to love someone when all you have is hope, and trust when all you have is a shred of tiny, but nevertheless stubborn, faith.

The second time around you are stronger. Wiser. More thoughtful. And all that was, was worthwhile, to have what you have now. Finding out that the love you thought was lost has actually been with you all the while, and moreover, that the love is better and deeper than you ever believed love could be is like getting a glimpse of the Eternal. It is something too powerful to be felt completely, all at once.

So I do the only thing I can. I celebrate it in little pieces, every day.

Join in sharing a simple, big moment at Melissa’s this week!

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5 thoughts on “what it means to heal

  1. Jade, your honesty, the reflection of this painful time, is profound. Committment is a choice made daily — you're so right. And we have to choose love daily, too. I love that you keep celebrating those little pieces that reflect it all. Also, that picture is so beautiful – so warm.

  2. Your story reminds me of my mom telling me about the short time she and my father had "broken up" around Thanksgiving. She was heartbroken, and it was that break up that made my dad realize how much he loved my mother. She really encouraged me in my own marriage with stories from her own relationship with my dad. Now that she's gone, I try to think about what her advice would be when my husband and I have disagreements. (She would usually tell me not to be so hard on him!) You are so right…marriage is a daily commitment!

  3. I have come across this post before when I've been on your site. It's wonderful honest writing that comes from experience. Besides that photo speaks volumes.