It’s been 995 days since I left a life I thought would be forever, a life I gave my full self to, a life I lived wholeheartedly. A life that, in the end, only lasted 2,407 days. It wasn’t perfect, it was painfully brutiful, but for 2,407 days it was mine. And then, suddenly, it wasn’t.
I’ve been rumbling with so many of the emotions that come with this truth. But since I’m being honest finally, I’ll say that for 995 days I have been in active denial and purposeful repression.
You see, my heart broke the day I knew I had to leave, and split into a thousand fractured pieces the last day I closed that door behind me. And while my heart is put together again, more beautiful for having been broken, there are now missing pieces to the puzzle. There is space once filled by a woman and three children I loved with everything I had and believed would be my story until my very last page. Space that cannot be filled with new love and life. A gaping hole, a forever wound.
And while I’ve shared the grief around missing the three precious souls I had the honor and privilege to parent for nearly 7 years, the rest has been my secret. What I pushed down, what I refused to allow myself to admit, was the missing of that love that had the scent of always from the start. And because I am one of the infinitely lucky ones who has found my soul’s match after these devastating losses, it has felt like there could not possibly be any room for this missing. So I ignored it, pretended it wasn’t there, and hid it from everyone – myself included.
And in the last few months, the dam holding back these truths started to crack, the yearning and sadness leaking out. Slowly at first, until suddenly, the dam broke and out came all that I had been desperately trying to hide and hold.
Because the story I told myself was that it was not ok to feel these painful feelings around my past, and fully love my Pack in the present.
But how silly am I, the biggest proponent of holding both, to forget that such a story is in fact, a farce.
Because I do. I do have these feelings, they are quite certainly real, and so am I.
I have a deep, soulful sadness over giving the best parts of myself to a life that was stopped short. I have an immense fear that I will never be able to be whole and complete again, because a piece of me disappeared when those dreams died. I have a yearning for the woman I once loved with my whole heart to still be someone in my life today.
When you share a deep love with someone, you are never the same. And sometimes that change is a forever state of connection, but sometimes it just can’t last. Either way, we are never the same. Before her, I had never experienced anything like it and I never will again, it was ours and it will always be. It was real and raw even if, in the end, it wasn’t right. The love between us was a powerful force, and it will forever reside in the depths of my heart.
These are my truths, and I can’t hide them any longer.
Recently a wise woman reminded me that the heart has memory, and that feels like such important wisdom today. I viscerally feel the love I had for that woman and those children in my bones still, like an ache that shows up only when it rains. But sometimes, when it rains, it pours.
And lately, as I’ve stood neck-deep in the flood, I’ve realized how much I yearn for things to be different than they are today. Impossibilities next to likely irrational hopes.
It’s never been a desire to go back or ever undo the unfolding that has led us all here. I don’t wish to be back in my old life, married to that woman, parenting those kids instead of in the wildly beautiful life I have today, married to my dream wife, parenting our Cubs. This isn’t a confession of making a wrong choice or not loving my people in this chapter enough. In fact, most days it feels quite the opposite. Everything that has led me here has allowed me to love my precious Pack in a new, more purposeful and peaceful way. My third love* is the one I never saw coming and is everything I never knew I always needed. But as my heart holds all the memories of the past, I pray that one day, if it’s right, if we’re meant to, we might just be able to be a part of each other’s lives again.
I was afraid to say these words to myself and even more so out loud, but they were falling out of me without my permission, so I knew it was time to own them. And so I do.
The rumbling has stopped. I feel more steady and calm today. I know what stirs in me and I no longer feel at war with my own emotions. And as I let these feelings see the light of day, I began to feel like myself again. The fully present, emotionally honest, heart-centered human I’ve evolved into after all these years. And for that I am beyond grateful.
Today I’m here, right where I’m meant to be, and I’ll keep showing up just the same. Maybe you can’t possibly understand what I’ve shared here, maybe it scares you or makes you uncomfortable, but I know that for some of you these are your truths, too. And if I can offer anything from this lived experience, let it be this – let it out, let it fly, and let go. Of what you wanted, what you thought would be, what you hope could still be. Free yourself from the shackles that chain you to the pain, give yourself permission to feel it all, and go about your days unarmored. Vow to stop re-reading the last chapter or worrying about chapters yet unwritten. Let the words unfold in this chapter exactly as they are intended to, and be present in your own life here and now.
These are my promises to myself and for the first time in a long time, I am fully embracing myself as I am and this life as it is. So here in this moment you are seeing me – carrying a lighter load, holding onto happiness in each treasured moment with the ones I have given my heart to in this chapter, and inviting you to join me on this ever-evolving, most brutiful journey.