When One Door Closes

heart

When I was a little girl—all blonde curls and elbow dirt and sugary smiles—I believed in love. I believed it was possible. I believed it would happen to me. I believed it was the greatest magic the world had ever known.

When I was a teenage girl—all nerves and self-consciousness and anxiety—I found love. A boy with a perfect smile and confident stride and eyes of two different colors. I let him kiss me. I let him claim me. I swung the doors to my soul wide open, and welcomed him inside.

When I was a college girl—all independence and self-discovery and experimentation—I found heartbreak. That boy with the perfect smile and confident stride decided he didn’t want me anymore. But he didn’t know how to let me go. And so he pushed me away with infidelity and secrets and callousness. Until I couldn’t remember what love had ever felt like. Until I closed and locked the doors to my soul. And then boarded them shut for good.

When I was just 23—all newfound freedom and confidence and charisma—I searched for love again. I found a new boy with olive skin and deep feelings and dark corners in his past. I found safety in how he adored me. And when all I wanted was to not be lied to anymore, I found honesty in his eyes. I hoped it would be enough—that he would be enough—to take down the locks and chains and boards and bolts that guarded the doors to my soul.

When I turned 29—all fire and ferocity and fabulousness—I realized that despite his efforts, the boy with the olive skin and the deep feelings never did find a way into my soul. Without meaning to, I’d kept it just out of his reach. And somewhere along the way, he stopped striving for it. He stopped caring about it. And though our hearts would beat side by side on the same bed in the same room of the same house, I felt only alone. An anchor sinking slowly to the bottom of the sea.

When I let go of him—all tears and apologies and words left too long unsaid—I found you. A man with kind eyes and a gentle spirit and a touch that sends quivers down my spine. I found the love I’d believed in as a little girl—just as magical as I’d ever dreamed it could be.

Locked in your arms, I’ve felt the chains around the doors to my soul fall softly away. Caught in your stare, I’ve sensed the boards loosen, bolts tumble to the ground. Frozen by your kiss, I’ve heard the unmistakable sound of those doors creaking slowly open.

And that’s when my heart, peering out hesitantly from inside, found the welcome mat you laid down. And you—standing behind it, flowers in hand—waiting patiently for me to open the doors.

So to you, the man with the kind eyes and gentle spirit, I would like to say, “Won’t you please come in and stay for a while?”

 

Image Source: DelSolFineArt via Etsy

eleven years too late

If I could, I would go back in time. I would go back and seek out the 16-year-old version of me. The one who didn’t quite know herself. Didn’t quite believe in herself. Didn’t quite love herself, but did manage to fall helplessly in love with you.

If I could, I would find her and tell her about you. Warn her about you. Let her know that she can love you with all her heart, but you’re going to break it just the same.

But she would go on and love you anyway. Because some things she’ll just have to learn on her own.

If I could, I’d go back in time and talk to my 18-year-old self. The one who gave you everything she had. Every ounce of intimacy. Then watched as you flirted with other girls at your high school. And felt her heart break for the first, but not the last, time.

If I could, I’d tell her it’s okay to feel broken. And it’s okay to ache. I’d tell her that time does heal, but she’ll never be the same. I’d tell her being lost for a while is the only chance she ever has of being found.

But she’d ignore me anyway. And she’d cling to you. Because some mistakes are worth making.

If I could, I would go back in time and seek out my 20-year-old self. The one who looked in the mirror and decided to see beauty. The one who discovered being herself filled her up with infinitely more joy than living up to everyone else’s expectations.

If I could, I’d tell her that you cheating on her had nothing to do with her weight. Or the size of her bra. I’d tell her that the details are even worse than what she’s imagining in her head. I’d tell her that turning her back on you would be the hardest thing she’d ever do, but her future self would be forever grateful.

But she’d stay by your adulterous side. Sweeping up the pieces shattered around her feet. Hoping for the best. Because that sweet little girl’s tragic flaw was always relentlessly following her heart.

If I could, I would go back in time in search of my 22-year-old self. The one who finally saw all she was worth. And all she deserved. The brave girl who stood her ground and said, no more. No more.

If I could, I would wrap my arms around her so tightly. And I’d tell her it’s okay to be sad. And I’d tell her it’s okay to miss you. I’d tell her to let her heart weep. I’d tell her to long and mourn. I’d tell her to dwell on the loss of her first love for as long as she needed.

But she’d shut that out too. And she’d choose to never acknowledge the sadness, to never talk about the fear that maybe she was wrong. And she’d choose to let anger be the only emotion associated with you. Then she’d move on with the heavy burden of a bitter heart. Because there are some things that are worse than saying goodbye.

But this 27-year-old can’t go back. And she got here with only foolish emotions guiding her way. And all those bad decisions took their toll. And you still haunt her dreams. And that time never did come by and heal. Because she never let herself break down. And grieve the loss of a truly great love.

So to her I say, it’s not too late. And it’s still okay to think of you. It’s still okay to be sad. And it’s still okay to wonder. It’s even okay to remember. It doesn’t make her weak or pathetic. It makes her human. It makes her the woman she is. Built on the bones of her reckless 16-year-old, broken 18-year-old, devoted 20-year-old, and valiant 22-year-old selves.

She’s the glorious compilation of all the mistakes she’s ever made.

And if she’s lucky, there’ll be many more to come.

who knows

B: Do you think it would help if you talked to him again?
Me: (sips coffee) . . . I don’t know, really. I mean, if I talked to him and he said what I wanted him to, then it would help.
B: What do you want him to say?
Me: That he knows I did everything, tried everything to make it work. That he knows I was wonderful. I was great. I was the best thing that ever happened him and he screwed it up. That he destroyed it. Pulled it out of the ground with its roots still intact. . . . That I gave everything. And he gave up.
B: But don’t you know that already?
Me: (shrugs) I want to know that he knows.

it gets better

I sat alone in my bedroom. Not under the covers, but on top of them. No lights. Only darkness. And I let the music surround me. A frail, breathy a cappella voice singing a lonely song. I turned it all the way up, as loud as it would go. Too loud. I sat perfectly still. And shut my eyes. Her sweet, gentle voice. So vulnerable and strong at the same time. It glided around me as I breathed it in. Filled myself up with that achy ballad. And I didn’t dare exhale.

It was almost as if she was in the room with me. Singing to me alone. A disillusioned lullaby. A forgotten swan song. And as it ended, I tightened my eyes – forcing them closed. Willing her voice to come back to me. Willing the notes to go on. Just one more verse. One final refrain. Wanting to hear that sound more than I wanted to see or dream or think or be.

That feeling. That forsaken moment. I lived that for days and nights and weeks and months and years.

That feeling.  That’s what it was like to miss you.

the house that love built

Weren’t we supposed to love each other? Weren’t we supposed to rub noses and dance in our underwear?

What happened to us? To forever and ever? To first and always? To brighter skies and better days?

We took turns tearing it down. Ripping apart the house that love built nail by nail. Shingle by shingle.

Maybe we were angry. Or lost. Maybe we were scared. Maybe we were even brave. But before we knew it, we were broken. We were broken beyond repair.

Scars grew around our wounds. Twisted like ivy. Heavy as an anchor. And so we sank together to the bottom of the sea.

At the end, I looked at you and us and yawned. I looked at the past and the future and winced. So I called you up. And I let you go.

Weren’t we supposed to love each other? We did. To rub noses and dance in our underwear? We did that too.

Then we lit our love on fire and watched it burn to the ground.

But from the ashes, something else grew. Not for us. No, no, no. We were long gone.

But among the wreckage and the mess, the smoke and the  glowing embers, I learned a lot about love. I learned how to give. How to fall apart. How to hold back while still letting go. I learned love is neither a battle or a war. It does come easy. But it’s always hard work. I learned that even pain is beautiful. That the good memories are forever worth the bad.

There were six years. Many fights. Endless regrets. But I walked away with my heart in tact. And l have learned to love again.

a girl broke my heart

It was a girl named Katie who first broke my heart.

She wasn’t the one I loved, I guess. Not in the diamond rings and white dresses and ‘till death do us part’ kind of way.

I loved her the way any unassuming 16-year-old loves a friend. With commitment and endlessness and simplicity, I suppose. I loved her in a ‘I hope you’ll hold my bouquet and adjust my train one day’ kind of way.

We celebrated the middle of March each year by buying each other a gift. We laughed at jokes that no one else found funny. We slept on each other’s floors on the weekends. Stayed up until all hours of the morning telling secrets and believing the world was ours.

And I told her things I thought only she could understand – the way I felt about the boy I was seeing. That I adored him. That he was consuming me. That I thought he was the one. That I finally felt ready to have sex with him. That I completely lost myself in the euphoria of him.

I told her those things. All those things. Every last moment. Every detail.

Those were the things I thought only she would understand.

She did understand.

Only later did I realize just how well.

I went away for school and left the two of them together. The boy I loved more than anything and the girl I trusted with everything.

And they found each other.

And they forgot about me.

Time came and did the best it could to heal, but I still cannot think of the gruesome details without wanting to buckle over and vomit.

The two of them fucking in the back of his small green pick-up. Pulled over in Hurt Road Park, judged by only little league fields and empty concession stands. How many times did he pull away there with me as only the faintest reality suffocated in the back of the his head? Or hers?

For a while I was so sure he broke my heart. I thought it was he who shredded me up inside.

But years later, I’ve long forgotten him. Him and his selfishness and his perfection. His opinions and his qualifications. I never quite got a hold of him. He was always just out of reach

But I remember her. That girl, the one whose breasts he groped and kissed – that was my best friend. The brown eyes he stared into once told me I could trust them with all my secrets. The dark curls he wrapped his fingers around, I pinned them in an up-do for her prom. I pulled them out of her face for her own father’s funeral.

What a fool I was to fall for her.

Sure, it hurt that he would do that to me, but boys break hearts. I knew every moment of that relationship that he was going crush me.

But your friends, they’re supposed to be the ones who pick the shattered pieces of you off the ground. Not the ones holding the sledgehammer.

It was my best friend Katie who pulled the trigger and walked away. It was my best friend Katie who dug the knife in my back then twisted it around. It was my best friend Katie who first broke my heart.