I promised I was going to start telling y’all stuff like this again.
We were hanging out, talking about everything and nothing, as we so often do, and I began to shake with tiny tremors.
I guess he’s gotten used to it by now. His patient, tender heart understands so much better than mine what’s going on. He does not even hesitate to pull me close, to hold me tight, to whisper beyond the noise in my head, “I’m here. I’m right here. I love you. I’m here.”
Eventually I start crying. We’re just hanging out, cuddled up, and I begin to, out of nowhere, shake and cry.
“How is your heart, love? How does it feel?”
“Sad and mad,” I reply in what, even to me, comes out as a pathetic attempt at angry.
He laughs a little. A sweet, understanding, with-you-and-for-you laugh. “Yeah, why is that?”
I’ve grown comfortable enough with this man, my friend, the one I’m dating, the one with whom I’ve picked fights and for whom I’ve gotten to cook, the one who keeps asking permission to be close to my heart. I’ve stepped forward into what I do not know, but know I want. And so I answer freely.
“My heart is sad because I’m remembering things. It’s so strange to remember them. Things I had no idea I’d tucked away. Things I never gave myself permission to be sad about. And why am I remembering them now? My heart is mad because I’m crying at you and I don’t want you to have to deal with that.”
“No. No, love,” he says with the heart of a brother, a friend. “This is not a burden. This is not something I deal with. This is me getting to be close to your heart. This is me getting to be with you and for you. This is beautiful.”
“Why is this happening? I’ve never been sad about it before.”
“Because here, things are peaceful. Things are safe. And you are letting your heart open to deeper parts than you have in a long time. But when it opens up, there are other things already stored there. Some good, and some bad.”
I’m remembering all the most ridiculous things. Some that I had genuinely, completely forgotten. Where the hell is my Donald Duck stuffed animal? Why, even as a child, was I so completely determined to be detached? Whatever happened to the guitar my dad got me? The one my cousin broke when I was too tired to care? How many things did I get over or not mourn because I just didn’t have, for years, any emotional capacity to realize the pain in my heart?
Am I a liar for being okay all these years? Am I a liar if I feel not okay about these things now?
My “story,” as we are fond of calling things around here, has always shocked people. I say things, things that I now see as awful, amazing, unbelievable (truly, I know many have doubted the veracity of the wonderful mess God has weaved into my life). But I say them with a straight face. With no fear or pain or lingering signs of trauma. I say them, have said them, with perhaps no concept of what they really mean. It has always just been life.
But I’m beginning to open up this deeper part of my heart. A place I am not sure I have ever been to before. A place where I remember the smallest things. A place where I stored pain for years and years, thinking I’d let it go. It reminds me of lessons I learned in anatomy, where one ingests a toxin, and it passes through the body, and causes some temporary pathology, but is then passed out of the body, rendering it’s effects over. Or a malady the effects of which seem minuscule, so much so that you never take the time to see what it was, and the system is now left to heal…
except, sometimes, there is this lingering part, this part you don’t notice for a long time. Then a test shows you that even though you just felt tired, really you had a stroke. That the random piercing pain was really a broken bone, poorly healed due to inattention. Or that the poison left most of your body, but parts of it stayed, tucked away, in your thyroid, and have been slowly leaking out, in ways you couldn’t notice, in ways that were maybe killing you, or maybe just slowing you down.
Is there a standard dormancy period for maladies of the heart?
The research I’ve been reading lately talks about childhood trauma as something that has to be re-negotiated at each developmental stage. Paiget’s theory says I’m done cooking. In some ways, I agree. My working memory is a thing to behold. My processing capacity at relative maturity. But my heart’s ability to go here, to plumb the depths of the majority of my life left accepted, but largely emotionally unevaluated, is in it’s infancy.
I’m a grown, educated, up-to-speed woman.
Crying over a lost stuffed animal that I haven’t seen or wondered about in 20 years.
Being held by a man who shows care to me
Seeing the Greater Love by which we’ve been called
Healing in an awful, painful, beautiful, breath-taking way.
I am His. I am always and first His. I have to remember this, when I begin to remember all that.