I had an epiphany today talking to a good friend about what adults fear & how we learn those fears. I suppose the greatest adult fear, for single people (divorced or otherwise) is being hurt again.
There is nothing pleasant about an adult break up. Whether you were married five years or living together ten, enough of your life & identity are entwined with another person that the act of separating actually destroys some part of you. Even if it’s just a change of address & no assets or custody need to be split, you are not breaking up to be fancy free & joyful. You are rebuilding.
The house has crumbled (sometimes because both of you were crappy builders, sometimes because one of you took a wrecking ball to a load bearing wall, sometimes because you got the black mould), & it has to come down.
Some people immediately move into a tiny house or a mobile home. “Only room for me & my dog/cat in here! I’m good!” they say, meeting their friends for dinner out, but never inviting anyone in, never making room for another. “I like my space,” they say, in the tiniest space they could cram their broken heart into.
“I’ve already moved on!” says another, whose life becomes a veritable motel…many rooms, nothing permanent. Shameful breakfasts. Always with people but perpetually alone.
Then there’s me. I don’t know what I am. I have zero aversion to being in love again, I know what it is when I see it, & I have no desire to force it. I’ve always been like that. I could easily be hurt again & I know that. But I don’t care. The worst thing that will ever happen to me already has. I therefore willingly wait for & then allow what will come. It’s like being homeless & in no particular rush to find a home. Would I like a home? Of course! Do I want to get locked into a 30 year mortgage I can’t afford with someone who can’t love every key part of me? No. Not at all.
I guess you’d call me a renter.
And it’s not just me. One of the most fearless children I know is a foster kid. I won’t get into the details, but this little one’s life would make you burst into tears. And this child is the friendliest, most outgoing child on the planet, always making sure other kids feel welcome, always putting herself out there to make friends, never afraid of rejection despite her life’s experience.
The truth is, she’s probably horrified by the idea of rejection, but plows on anyhow.
True, the consequences of childhood heartache are not the same as adult heartache. Divorce leaves financial & emotional scars children can’t conceive of. But children’s brains are actually shaped by trauma, & their lives are often directed by trauma for years, sometimes decades after. It’s not always pretty.
But somehow, those kids always try hardest to show love (unless they’re the ones that go super dark, which would be an entirely other post & unrelated to today’s conversation).
I then had a bit of a revelation that I shared with my friend. “I have an advantage I never realized.”
“You do? What’s that?”
“I’ve had longer to heal from my pain. People with idyllic childhoods & youths — they get hurt later & it’s raw for a long time.”
“Yeah, it’s true.”
“But people who were hurt as kids…we have a lot more time to work on it & learn what we need to learn from it.”
“I guess that’s one way of looking at it.”
“You know I’m going to forget this epiphany, right?”
“No, you won’t.”
“Eh, maybe not now that I’ve told you. I usually have these in the shower, then forget them. I’ve probably had this same epiphany 40 times already.”
And now I’m sharing it with all 8 of you that read this blog regularly. Some of you may even comment “Isn’t childhood trauma resilience more like numbing & flattened affect?”
Bitches, have you seen my affect? It ain’t flat. That shit is alive & in colour. It’ll take you to Flavortown, have you meet the mayor & buy you a souvenir foam rubber hand.
Flattened affect my arse. Get out of here with that jive.
But I have another advantage, one that will not make sense to all of you, & that’s okay. It is legit my relationship with Christ, my kvetching to Mary, my ongoing dialogue with God in a language that uses virtually no words & is as crystal clear as light.
Sometimes you can’t see light because it’s so…light, but every now & then — wow.
To live in concert with the Holy Spirit is to pretty much always default to joy, or if not joy, then contentment. I will not lie & tell you people that I am always bloody happy. I am not. I actually took a moment & prayed today for some relief from something, & you know what happened? I ended up carrying a rubbish bin full of water to a random stranger on the street not ten minutes later. WHAT WAS THAT EVEN ABOUT & HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?
I don’t know, but the rest of the day was wonderful after that. Basically the Holy Spirit is weird.
And God has a sense of humour. “Oh, you’re feeling a little put out? Well, Sunshine, here’s a guy who needs a rubbish bin filled with water.”
Did I tell you about the time the Bishop of El Salvador needed a ride to a Dodger game? And back? So I couldn’t swear in a car in LA rush hour traffic for TWO HOURS?
The Holy Spirit, y’all.
Let’s just all agree right now, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, pagan, atheist, whatever — right now that there are Things and Machinations of incomprehensible beauty & the one thing we can agree on is that they will occur whether we think we are ready for them or not.
Our job is to respond with grace.
What is fear keeping you from enjoying? Who is anger stopping you from loving?
I also wrote this, which is specifically geared toward people who have Survived.