Looking back, I wish that someone had been there with me. I wish that someone had gently put their hand on my arm as I went to pick up the phone and quietly whispered, “wait…just one more minute…because what’s about to happen will hurt more than anything has before.”
It was the early morning hours of a long summer night and I held the phone in my hand as the words made their way from one end to the other…
“Gen, I need to tell you something…”
There hasn’t been a lot of moments in my life when I’ve actually felt myself change. But this was one of them.
And I remember exactly how it felt.
I remember exactly what time it was and I remember exactly how the rain sounded as it hit the outside of my bedroom windows. And I remember exactly what it was like to feel all of the air leave my lungs.
As I sat silent in my bed. As my fingers struggled to hold the phone in my hand. As I wondered what all of this was about to mean.
Something inside of me began to shift…to alter…to split open.
It’s always hard when relationships break. It hurts. But it hurts even more when it breaks at the hands of dishonesty. And sometimes, you become filled with things that don’t belong inside of you.
Torment. Confusion. Resentment.
This storm builds inside of you as you slowly try to piece together where things suddenly went wrong.
And truth often becomes the missing piece that we are desperately trying to find so we have something to hold onto in the midst of all the pain.
If I’m being entirely honest, I want to be able to tell you that I was completely justified in my hurt and my anger. I want to be able to tell you that I was blindsided by the betrayal of it all. I want to be able to tell you that somewhere between there and here, I was able to recognize that I was simply collateral damage in someone else’s emotional collision.
But I can’t tell you those things.
The only thing that I can truthfully tell you…is that I knew.
I knew when things first started to feel distant. I knew when I sensed that there were things I wasn’t being told. I knew when the tone of their voice didn’t match the words in their mouth.
I knew where all of this was going and I knew how it would end. I knew where I would be left and I knew who I would be. I knew how it would feel and I knew what it would do to me.
We often do.
But our hearts…
Our sweet, vulnerable, tender hearts.
They want to be seen. They want to be chosen. They want to be felt.
And they want to matter.
I wanted to matter.
And so I lied.
I lied about my feelings…I lied about my insecurities…I lied about my needs.
I lied to myself about a truth that was staring me in the face.
I think there are various times in our lives when we don’t always know who it is that we want to be. During those times, instead of running towards who we are…we fight to move away from the person we don’t want to be.
I didn’t want to be the person whose heart wasn’t seen. Whose heart wasn’t chosen.
I didn’t want to be the rejected one…the insignificant one…the disposable one.
I didn’t want to be the person that was left standing alone.
And so, I pushed aside the nagging feeling that comes with ‘knowing’ in exchange for more ‘giving’; more time…more love…more words. All the while hoping that the truth might change.
But it didn’t.
Instead, I was left in the middle of the night with a depleted soul and a brand new truth…
The truth being that you are capable of breaking your own heart in ways that no other human being can.
And that’s what I had done.
I lied to myself. I betrayed myself. I handed myself over to someone else’s story in hopes that I could rewrite the inevitable ending.
I did all of this until I became a hollowed out shell of a person…standing alone…with only one thing left to do…
Even now – nearly twenty years and an entire world later – when I stop to look back…it sometimes feels like the act of forgiving myself is a conscious choice that I have to make all over again.
Because even in the midst of your current light… it’s hard knowing the darkness you once allowed yourself to live through.
But if you are in this place right now…if you willingly got into an emotional vehicle that you knew would crash…if you are suffering from any kind of self-inflicted wounds, please do this one thing for me…
Go to the nearest mirror. Look at yourself in the eyes. And repeat after me…
Stand there and say it over and over and over again until you start to believe even a fragment of it. Say it until the person staring back at you starts to look a little more familiar. Say it until you start to feel a little less hollow and a bit more human.
And know this…
It’s okay that you fought harder for someone else than you did for yourself.
It’s okay that you believed in the potential of who a person could be instead of who they actually were.
It’s okay that you knew a relationship would hurt you but chose to hold on to it anyways.
It’s painful and it’s hard and it’s all encompassing at times…but it’s okay. Because that’s how you’ll end up knowing something even more important…
You’ll know just how much your heart is actually worth. You’ll know just how strong your spirit really is. You’ll know just how loud that voice inside of you can really be.