I woke up in the middle of the night with fire burning my throat. I tried to swallow and felt the old ache of infection making it unbearable. Hours later when I finally crawled out of bed, I just knew.
So I dragged myself to the doctor and after a negative strep test, he figured out I had a double ear infection, sinus infection, and throat infection. One probably caused the other with my throat being the last casualty to the crud ravaging my body.
But you know what? I wasn’t entirely surprised by this. I was actually surprised I didn’t go down sooner. My body reacts to intense amounts of stress by shutting down and you could say this summer has been full of it. Since the break-up I haven’t wanted to be alone much. The silence magnifies the emptiness and my head plays tricks on me. To keep myself from being alone I’ve found ways to fill every evening and every weekend and lots of tiny spaces in between.
Last week I felt my heart wrapping this whole experience up in a little bubble. It was trying to find this ground between love and hate. A neutral territory if you will. It hasn’t known how to do that or where to look. And I must admit that I’m not good at neutral territory. Love and hate and anger and sadness and raw emotion are things I can put words to. I can identify them and process them. But neutrality? Neutrality feels like a betrayal of the past 7 months. Like saying it didn’t matter.
I’ve had alot of time the past 48 hours to be alone. In fact, that’s all I’ve been. Alone. And it was much less scary than I thought it would be. Memories would surface and I wouldn’t block them out with noise or coffee dates or happy hour or dinner or hiking or runs or anything else that might distract me. I let them breathe. I let them come to the surface and exist and then like bubbles in the air, I let them pop.
But here’s where I’ve still been struggling.
As a Believer, I don’t get to hold a grudge. I don’t get to be angry and upset and wounded forever. I don’t get to become a victim or make someone a villain. I don’t get those things because those things are left at the Cross. And if I hang on to those things I tell the Cross it wasn’t enough.
So I know I must forgive, and forgiveness has come only through Strength not my own, but what about the rest of the pieces? What about the memories and the moments and the jokes and the stolen glances and the hopes and dreams? Where do those fit in this messy story I am part of?
The truth is — breaking up is hard.
There’s another person out there who is the only other person who shared life with me. He’s the only one who was with me when we got stranded in a parking garage or let me vent on the phone about my terrible day. He’s the one who danced with me in the kitchen after refusing to let me throw myself the pity party of the year. He’s the one who stroked my hair as we watched fireworks light up the sky and the one who made me laugh with his stories of growing up antics.
He’s that person.
But he’s also the person who shattered my heart and left the pieces on my bedroom floor as he walked out of my life. He’s the one who caused unspeakable pain and enormous amounts of tears. He’s this person who came into my life and painted it different colors only to decide he wasn’t a fan of painting anymore.
So I swing back and forth between love and hate. I’ve been desperately trying to find the place in the middle. The place where he is someone who left an impact and made me happy. The place where I can maybe tell a funny story about him or us without the fear of longing creeping back into my spirit. The place where I can untangle myself from the life I wrapped around my heart.
The place where I breathe and laugh and smile and hope.
That’s the place I’m trying to find.
I’m no good at breaking-up. I hope I never become good at it. But what I do hope I become good at is looking back through a filter of grace. I hope I become good at choosing to see the moments I needed and the way Papa changed my life and the woman I am today because of it all.
So a double ear infection, sinus infection, and throat infection made me finally face my fears. They made me learn to be alone with my thoughts and my memories and they forced me to find neutral ground. They forced me to brush off the dirt, stand back up, and start over again.
They forced me to look forward with hope and vulnerability and love.
And maybe that’s why my body needed to shut down, so my heart had the capacity to let go. And letting go feels really really good. Even if my throat aches and my ears throb and my nose is stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey. I feel more like myself again. I feel like the better version of who I am and who I was made to be.