My friend Melissa has a little boy, not quite two, who learned early on to say the word “heartbroken.” It was cute, obviously, listening to a small person say words he couldn’t possibly understand. Almost like watching him walk with a full glass of water, liquid spilling over the brim. A child that small cannot possibly carry the entire meaning of the word, but is sure was sweet to watch him try.
I don’t think I understood the word much until today. A day after we spent the night weighing the risks of two serious and life-threatening options. A day where my financial future seems bleak. A day where everything feels so incredibly stacked against us. I suddenly realize I could lose everything. And I mean everything.
My feet kind of can’t touch the ground. I’m floating. I’m falling. Part of me is trying to turn it off and not feel it. That’s the strongest pull, the fiercest current. The smaller, wiser part of me is insisting I go into it, lay out the fears and the sadness and see them like light through a prism- broken, disrupted, but beautiful. I almost want the pain to be tangible, something I can put my hands on and feel and grieve over. I want something that pulls the suffering down from the ether and into the real world so maybe I could wrestle it down and do something, anything, to take it back and calm it into submission. But instead it floats everywhere around me and creeps into my every cell. My body physically hurts and my heart aches with the thoughts of the things I might lose and the ways this is going to hurt.
And at the core of it all, I worry I’ve let my family down. I’ve promised to keep them safe, to give them what they need. For the past several months I’ve been stumbling with that, unavailable in time and energy to truly be with them. And now I might fall completely flat. I might not survive. I might be a financial failure. It’s a spectacular, unintentional, disaster.
But maybe that’s the point. Maybe I’m not done being broken down. Suffering can feel so punitive and awful and unnecessary. It is suffocating and exhausting. But it isn’t pointless. Perhaps if I can make the suffering purposeful, I can survive it. If I can come to understand that my purpose is to learn and teach from the suffering and the pain, to expand my empathy and sharpen my ability to connect- I can live with that. And in that is a tiny sliver of hope and another small push to keep going.
So here I am, with a broken heart and heartbroken. I don’t know what the point of all this suffering is yet. I don’t know what there is to gain. But I know I can live without the house and the car and the job and the titles if I have my people. And maybe that’s where I’m headed. Maybe once I’ve scooped the very bottom of the barrel I will be able to rebuild anew. I can’t control this crazy cart anyway, so I may as well let it take me where it’s going and pull down whatever purpose and beauty I can while I’m given the chance.
So thank you once again for being my family, for joining me here and for lifting me up. I so love it when you share my message. It helps me each time I bump into another soul who is floating, falling, and a little bit heartbroken. It connects us, like two sky divers grasping at arms while plummeting from the sky. It feels safer when we’re connected, holding on for dear life as we descend. It strengthens my purpose and keeps the door open on that hope.
Give ‘Em Hell.