29 September 2016
Love, Accidentally and Open
My wedding day was planned for a hot Saturday in August of this year. I went to work that day instead, then to a friend's house. She is a healer and soap-maker and I spent the evening watching her make spa bars, her home filled with the scent of peppermint and tea tree folded into beautiful midnight black wisps of charcoal and salt. When I told my counselor what I had done instead of getting married, she pointed out to me the wonderful symbolism of this, that after about a year of separation from my groom-to-be, who was at this point the groom-not-to-be, I spent the evening in this cleansing act of soap making, washing out the old plans and opening up to the new and very changed reality I've been in now for months. This struck me, and I realized I have come a long way within a year and, while everything is very much still murky, still unknown and in a "process" or a revision, I am not who I was a year ago, and the idea of washing that old self away was refreshing and beautiful and rewarding.
Of course no one intends to have kids with someone, buy a home together, and then fall apart during the major home remodel, and a year later be in this realm of "moving on" of "making a new life plan..." And all while attempting (fairly successfully, all things considered) to parent two children we both can't imagine being away from or devoting any less to. I won't go into specifics, but it's right to say that this separation was a surprise, a heartbreak, a very real cataclysmic kind of life event that took me months to come to terms with and also admit to the world. This news will still surprise some who may read this. I myself have had almost a year to adjust to the non-wedding date and yet when it came up on me, I was surprisingly moved, emotional, and sad. I was no longer in a place of wanting to marry the person I had planned to, I had come to a new place one finds after the heartache, the anger, the rage and pooling life at your feet emotional mess that is a break up of a ten year life together. I was over that hump of daily coping. But on the day in August, I realized I wasn't missing a person, rather I was mourning the idea of my wedding, the marriage that could unfold, and that sense of having a partner for the duration of this trip of life.
I sat in my friends space, reggae on the stereo, a cold rum and soda in my hand, enveloped in this aroma of pampering and healing. Cleansing indeed.
Once this date in time had passed and was survived, I felt things shift ever so slightly, compared to the massively groundbreaking shifts that I had rode within the previous year, like a portion of my life was holding it's breath enough for the day to pass on the calendar before allowing the exhale and then inhale again. And that's when I began to reimagine the "Accidental Heart Project" my son and I had been curating since his infancy, really since before he was born, before I met the not-groom-to-be...and this was an important fact to remember suddenly, how the project was a lot larger than my relationship.
I'll explain about the project.
Do you see hearts out in the world, those spots on the sidewalk, a tree knot, an unintentional splash in your coffee, a river rock?...I do too. I've noticed them for years, made note and mentally collected these little Valentine's from the ether, considered them momentary mementos of the collective Love that is indeed around us and potential in all that we are and do. When my son was a toddler, we started taking photos of the hearts when we stumbled on them in our day, and as the digital file of snapshots grew, we talked about what to do with the hearts. We had a lot of ideas, but when the wedding date was decided and on the horizon, I knew the hearts would be a part of the day in some way, maybe a collage, maybe printed table decor, the ideas were flowing as the plans started to unfold for the big event.
Despite the heartbreak of my failed relationship, my son and I continued to collect the hearts. We banked them whenever we saw them. And each time I had a thought of not knowing what will become of this now that things had changed so. It was a couple of weeks after the wedding date that I started thinking about this project and what it might mean in the new light of my life. What do these hearts now symbolize that they might not have before? Were they always more manifestations of Love from all around, from our internal selves, accidental reminders in our daily routine that we are capable of love, that we have this superpower, all of us, this capability to love and be loved? I wasn't sure of any answers, but it certainly helped my mental state, my heart state, to know that this project had a larger purpose and reason for being, that this was about more, that it could keep going and have a destination that encompassed more than a big party under a tent.
We've called it "Accidental Hearts" because the rules are that the heart must be unintentional, not fabricated to be a heart. We've had to make some tough calls, those hearts that are almost-hearts, but not close enough to the heart shape to qualify. We've had discussions about this, debates and negotiations to decide whether a heart belonged in the collection. Sometimes my son won, sometimes I did. And we keep going. This is an unending journey together.
The idea to share this, came to me on a day when I was feeling lame about not writing more, and also knowing I had to boost this blog into a regular habit, for the tenth time, and also with the incentive that my son starts kindergarten as a homeschooler this Fall and wants desperately to learn to read and write and we need daily little assignments or projects of the creative kind to fuel this. He wants to contribute some poems, I will contribute some poems and writings, along with the posted photos from our heart database.
This is where we have come with this. I think of "heart on your sleeve", "open heart", "broken heart"... How we imagine love to be in our lives, how then life teaches us love in all its broken and imperfect and ravaged and glorious forms. How love comes from outside and from within almost as if accidentally and unintentionally and the surprise when we actually notice it, when we feed it, when we allow it to grow and become...How does your Love become? How have you reimagined Love? How have you survived Love? How have you begun to Love yourself or another after not loving for a long long time? How has Love swept you off balance and made you reexamine every corner of your self? This has been the work of the last year for me, not an ending, but rather a waking up to what Love means and the power of the kind of love I want in my life, the kind I already have around me, and the intentional life I am living now that I wasn't quite living before the shakeup. And I am deeply inside it all still, within the confusion and change still, but also very much more aware than I thought I could be.
I am so astoundingly grateful for my life and the support I have received in various forms in my life, and for the self-awareness and gradual evolution that has taken place and continues every day to move forward and upward.
Here are our hearts and words...