The other night Grey’s Anatomy premiered and that god forsaken show ruined me. i spent my evening fighting with demons that i thought i had conquered and gotten rid of. i spent the night battling and confronting and vying for victory against ghosts from my past. Ghosts of him. In the episode there was a patient who had tried to kill herself because her parents couldn’t accept that she was a lesbian and were going to send her away. As the show progressed the father realized what damage he had done and how all he really cares about is that his daughter is loved and is happy. The mother continued to abuse and bully everyone that tried to protect her daughter. And at the end of the show, the dad fought for her. He fought for his daughter. And because that is such a foreign concept, i just need to repeat it again. The father fought for his daughter. Because that’s what love is, fighting and protecting and standing up for each other. And dad’s are supposed to be the first shining knight that a little girl meets. And i don’t know about you, but that is just the most beautiful idea that i have ever entertained, that a little girl can be born into this world with a man who’s sole purpose is to protect her from all heartache and harm. But for me, my dad…he was the first villain i met. my first heartbreak. my first demon. But i forget that he was also my biggest teacher, my father with all his letdowns and disappointments, has taught me so much about life and love and fairytales.
What I learned about the world when he stopped loving me
i learned to finally let go of my Sanctuary. i learned that not all dads are hero’s when i was in the third grade, and by the time i was a sophomore in high school i started finding other boys to take my fathers place, putting down benches and hanging stained glass windows and calling them Sanctuary. And when that burned to the ground, i thought it would just get better if i took my pews and my stained glass and found somewhere else to put them. i ran from my house of hay to my house of twigs like a scared little pig, and convinced myself that they could stand. But my Sanctuary is not a place for pews or stained glass. my Sanctuary is filled with tears that have been pushed aside and neglected, ignored on the pretense of me being strong enough. It’s decorated with angry reds, blood red, the shades of red that cover my skin in goose bumps and sends chills down my spine. The shade of red that colors the memories of childhood. my Sanctuary is broken. It is glittered with broken glass, and hearts, and colored the red of lonely.
i learned how to live despite being broken . And there was a time when i swore that i would buy cheap plates from Walmart just so i could go out into the silence somewhere to hear their tiny, shattered pieces let out loud echoes that would validate the loneliness i so easily feel. Maybe part of me wanted to feel the control pulse through my hands and into my fingers as they slid off the plates as i threw them only when i was ready to throw them; to hear the loud clash of breaking glass only to feel the anger and the hurt and the insecurity break with them. Or maybe i needed to know that, if i so wanted to, i could go over and pick the pieces up just to put them back together; to see that all of the broken slivers still formed shapes that so perfectly complimented each other as to make a whole. i wanted to show myself that the broken parts of me had a chance of finding each other one day and making me whole. Whole. Such a deceiving and broken word. For years i wasn’t ready to start over and pretend that there weren’t pieces of us, of them left over. i wanted to take the broken pieces and make us whole, even in spite of ourselves. i wanted to rebuild my Sanctuary and i wanted to put him, put them, in the middle. To make my foundation full of family and forevers.
i learned the curves of the letters that make up the word frustrated because i cannot even begin to make him understand. Someone once said that if you fall in love with a writer, you can never die. All i know is that there’s already this burning in my chest to form words around him in order to trap him in this pain of mine just so that he can finally recognize the things i’ve been trying to say. And so much of me wants to clean up all of these words i’ve already bled out across this page, because i hate the thought of them being wasted. But i’ve also heard it said that we are all afraid to say the things worth saying. We’re all first in line when it comes to saying syllables coated in sugar and sweets but cower and hide when it comes time to spit out the secrets that hide deep down. The secrets that matter. We run when it comes time to talk about the disasters and those things that we cry about at night when our phone screens are black and our friends have gone home. And we say the dirty things like they mean nothing, when in that very moment they mean absolutely everything. But i want to be bold and i want to call him out, and i want him to know. He is not allowed to live in oblivion and bliss. Not when i am trudging through the tremors of his mistakes. i want him to know how he sucked at being a hero. How badly he failed me. And how everyday i was a second choice; how everyday i tried to better myself so that he would come back around, so that he would choose me. How often i tried to paint a picture with my words so that he knew how much it hurt, so that he wouldn’t look at my apparently empty hands and fading bruises and leave me to just “deal with it.” But this isn’t about him, and it’s not about supposed to be and it is not about the demons that he built with his own hands and choices to leave me behind.
This is about what I learned about the world when he stopped loving me
i learned that not many things are worth turning yourself around and going back for, and i used to think myself included. But people are always worth stopping and going back for, even if you can barely see the parts of them that you used to love. Even when you can not recognize them because their features are covered with the disappointment of letdowns and heartache. Turn around anyways. Because one day you’ll be the one, standing on the corner full of regret wishing you hadn’t broken that heart that meant so much to you. Dying to go back in time and tell him that it was him all along and that you never meant to break him, you were just scared. One day you’ll be the one that did the breaking, that did the leaving, you’ll be the one you hate and you’ll be struggling to swallow your pride long enough to ask your loved ones to turn back around, to come back for you.
i used to spend my days awake but not living. And i did not think of god, or the aching in my stomach, or the beautiful creature laying next to me. No. i woke up every morning and thought, “Does he love me at all today? Is he thinking about me right now?” i would sink my head back into my pillow, dreading facing the day because the only certain thing i knew, the only fact that i could grasp sturdily in my trembling hands is that when the day was done and i would lay back down, i will have spent my whole day loving him. And i will have changed myself and shaped myself to be more like her, more like the girl that somehow has the privilege to dance in his palm and capture his heart. i will have wasted those miserable minutes ticking by worrying and wondering and wishing useless wishes. And tomorrow, well tomorrow would just be me playing in this same sad game of his, a game that he forgot he was even playing once upon a time, a game that i got lost in, trapped, speeding past go with out getting my $200, dizzy from my scrambling to find a way out.
But then things changed, and someone started loving me. Hard.
And since He started loving me i have learned about second chances. And i have learned about true love, the kind of love that isn’t in halves. A love that shows no partiality. i have learned that i am worth more than a love that loves me in halves. And i have been forced to slow down and pay attention and to see all the mini fairytales that have been sparkling in my life this whole time. i learned how to laugh again and how to smile and i learned how to appreciate those glimmers of happiness. And i learned to live for the moments – to spend my days leaving one joy just to jump on to another. Moments that make me stop and that make my soul warm, warm like that old sweater that fits me like an old lovers hug. Like moments after the day dies down when I am wrapped in my favorite blanket, tucked inside of my favorite arms, feeling His heart and my heart beat together in our own version of a love song. And the world melts away and its Him and it’s me and it’s magic. Moments when i am piled on the couch in sweats with the people who have made a place for themselves in this hardened heart of mine and in that moment i know that i will never know a home like them ever again. And these moments, these beautiful and bright and magical moments, have started taking me over, and they live in the parts of me that used to be haunted and terrified and they have showed me that despite what i had been made to believe, i am not alone. i do not deserve to be alone. i have worth. And this world is such a charming and delightful place. And even though he does not love me anymore, i have found that love in other places and i have built a Sanctuary that i can finally find solitude in.