Ugly Bits

This one’s gonna hurt.

I’ve written some pretty tough blogs about the agony of waiting, the bottomless pit of breakup grief, even about the rage we sometimes feel towards God. But this is the toughest one yet.

The story of Cowboy and I has been the central theme of this blog for the last few months. You’ve all walked with me through our first meeting, falling for each over thousands of miles, our unexpected destruction, and my resulting devastation. Months later, I’ve learned a lot – SO MUCH – as I’ve wrestled with it, and I wouldn’t take those lessons back. But now I’m just spinning my wheels, and for weeks I haven’t been able to figure out why I’ve been stalled, still so attached and in love. I’ve prayed relentlessly, thrown myself into new personal journeys, and even dated other people. There have been countless commutes (probably not appreciated by the surrounding drivers) where I wept and asked God why I was still in such agony over it all, but only recently did I realize it’s because I haven’t surrendered one last piece, the piece that seems so innocent – being friends. I’ve been so focused on releasing our romantic connection that I failed to see I’ve been trying to hide our friendship over in the corner where maybe God wouldn’t notice I’d kept my needy yet well-intentioned fingers wrapped tightly around it. I have to give up ALL of Cowboy, even my dedication to our Little-Engine-That-Could friendship that has defied logic. That friendship has been a seemingly admirable pursuit actually used secretly (even to me) to stay connected to him.

Having admitted that, but still not being able to fully surrender, I pushed a little harder and came up against some ugly fears about finally, fully letting go:

1. “If I let go of this feeling, it may never come again.

Whoa. Damn. Does that hurt you as much to read as it does for me to write? *Cry break.* I’ve lived a third of my hypothetical life, and it took me that long to find one man that lit me up. Loving someone, even at its worst, is a BIG, ALIVE feeling and I am just so totally saddened to think I need to let go of it. What will take it’s place? Will things go back to gray instead of color? My heart just can’t grasp it yet, but I know with surety that God wants to give me extraordinary things, not keep me brokenhearted forever. I don’t want to end up Miss Havisham, after all.

2. “Then we really can never go back.”

Well honey, that’s true anyway. If, in some unimaginable twist of fate, Cowboy and I do ever get a second chance, it won’t be in the past, and it won’t be as who we were. It would be new. We would each be new, and we’d be new together. And the only way to create the possibility of new is to let go of the old. 

3. “Letting go is like saying it isn’t worth fighting for.” 

No. Ohhhh no. That’s a tough one for sure. It’s hard to insulate your memories. To keep them away from the acid of doubt and criticism that makes you look back and say, “Maybe it wasn’t special. Maybe when he said/did that, it didn’t mean anything to him. Maybe all those moments I thought I was learning what love could really be were just my imagination.” But no. I have a montage of all our best memories that I carry inside me, and I know without doubt that they were real and powerful and authentic. It’s hard not to cling to experiences like that when you’ve only had them once and only with one person, a person who exceeded all your expectations. So what’s my responsibilty? Name it. Call it what it was and never doubt it, but don’t think you have to live there forever for it to stay true.

4. “What will keep me vulnerable and soft so I can keep growing?”

My journey has been full of many story lines, but this is the biggest one by far. It has given me the highest highs and the lowest lows, all of which have resulted in me sprinting down the path of personal growth. I’ve taken one body blow after another in the fight to understand why Cowboy came into my life only to leave it, but every one of them has pushed me forward.* I don’t want that progress to stop, but staying in one stage of renovation never gets the house finished.

*Don’t let that fool you into thinking I feel as though I’ve “arrived” somewhere beautiful, full of peace and insight and rainbows. This shit is still ruthless.

5. “I’ll be a failure.”

For someone who spent so many years not trying things for fear that I would fail at them, this might be the hardest one to swallow. I trusted God, took the leap, gave it my all, and it crumbled. Right now it only looks like failure, like I got my one chance and somehow fucked it up. My mean mind:  “What did you expect? It’s YOU, after all and you are just the WORST. As if it ever stood a chance. No one would ever want to stay with you once they got to know the real you, obviously.” But God: “You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart.”

6. “I won’t have anything to write about!”

No, seriously. I thought that. *face palm*

The only way to create the possibility of something new is to first let go of the old

So, there it is. I scratched and crawled my way down and found that the fears I couldn’t bear to face are now refuted. Loving Cowboy makes it hard to let him go, for sure. But my self-criticism, doubts about being loved, and mainly, a lack of faith in God’s promises of His best are what have actually kept me locked up. This isn’t about making some dramatic gesture. It’s a quiet, internal shift. You see, God is sly. He doesn’t just want me to give up Cowboy, He’s using that to dig below and get to WHY I struggled to surrender. He’s after all the ugly bits I laid out for you, so He can fix the foundation, not just slap some new paint on. I’ve been asking for painkillers while He’s been waiting to do surgery. He’s not only asking for the pieces of my heart I’m capable of breaking off and handing over, even if they were drastically hard to part with. He says, “Thank you. Well done, darling. Now, let’s talk about that bit over there…”

As my ever present muse and someday best friend Anne Lamott wrote in light of our prayers for relief and release, God says, “I won’t take anything from you. You have to give it to Me.”  I can’t think of a single thing more that needs to be said after that.

My gratitude goes out to every one of you who has talked with me, cried with me, comforted me, and kept my head above water through these months with your grace and patience and love. I am far too blessed.

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