A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about unpacking life and love and loss, here. The jist was the fact that I had, once again, come to a place where I had to let go of expectation and desire, and let my life, just as it was, be enough for me.
I had to let go of wishing that I had a partner, a dad for my kids, a playmate for me, someone to laugh with and train with, someone to share space with. I had to stop looking at the space that I was living in as space that would someday be complete when it included someone else. My home had been reminding me of a home built in anticipation of one day having kids, with all hope pinned on the future.
Letting go of that want, of that wish, was hard. I scrambled around looking to see if I might fill that space, if I might meet someone who could spark my heart, and what I realized was that, once again, I needed to be alone.
I spent a few days breathing, actively finding those threads of desire and longing and letting them go like balloons one at a time. At first i t was scary, it almost felt like giving up. And then, over time, it became exhilarating. To let go of this need or that, this want or wish or that, and just be.
And then, in the middle of this process, Michael showed up again. Now, he has this habit. He haunts me rather cruelly with his music, I hear it everywhere, this obscure bluegrass that was never in my world before he played it to me on his guitar, and suddenly, I'm at a party, and someone is singing one of his songs under their breath, or its playing on someone's iPod in the coffee shop.
Letting go of Michael was hard. Our story is tough, and I didn't write about all of it, because I wasn't really sure how much sharing what was going on with us was helping or hurting.
We broke up five times in ten months. This great love, this huge, encompassing happiness, had the propensity to bleed out and kill itself tragically due to fear. Fear from both of us. And the last time it happened, it felt like a chasm in my heart, it flattened me completely, and I knew it was the end. And that it was probably a good thing that it was the end.
And Michael went to Africa, and I got on with my life, waking up in the middle of the night with his name on my tongue, finding him, or the ghost of his love, standing in cold water, grinning at me from the slackline, I found him in the music I heard and in the giddy glee of my kids, who would climb all over everyone they could find, searching for Michael's playful, willing strength.
While he was there, working as a paramedic for two months in Equitorial Guinnea, Michael underwent one of those incredible, deep, life changing epiphanies.
A month and a half ago, he called me to tell me about it. And I listened. I was skeptical... wishing that things were a certain way and being able to actually make change that carries over into your life are two very different things. I was guarding my heart carefully. I was looking to find a way to keep myself from wanting to believe him. I was so afraid of falling in love with him again.
I realized at some point during our conversations that there have been times in my life when I have needed grace. And not just a little, but a lot. All the grace that a person could give. And lots of times, I need it over, and over, and over again. Not just a second chance, but a twenty fifth chance. And I thought about how frustrated I get when people won't believe me that I have done the hard work, that I'm still working, that there is more work to come, but that I am dedicated to becoming a better person.
I remember that I made a lot of tough, bad decisions when I was 13, or 16, and that, years later, I still wasn't trusted, even though I had grown. Michael flew to Denver from Africa, and I met him there.
He had, truly, gone through a difficult, soul exposing experience, and had come out with his hands and heart open. He showed up in my life again, asking for nothing, and saying thank you. He said this through all the brick walls and barbed wire that I could put up against him.
Its been over a month now, since we saw each other. Michael came down with his three kids about nine days ago, to visit, and see what kind of life we might have.
Turns out, we needed those breaks, we needed those challenges, we were right where we needed to be to learn the lesson that we needed to learn. I wasn't done learning to let go and stand on my own, and Michael wasn't done learning the lessons he needed to learn. We both needed to learn that we can put down all our fear and just flow at each other with out control, or ownership, just with an open conduit, and that can be the foundation for a life together.
We have both changed so much, and now, we are here, in Aspen, together. Michael is moving here. His kids have all been invited to come and live with us. I don't know what the future will hold, but I do know that when the seven of us are together, we are all healthier, happier, stronger, bolder, more creative, imaginative. He makes me a better parent, a better friend, I have more patience, I have more joy to share. He makes me better at my job, I have more compassion to put in my hands for my massage clients, and more patience with the horses.
He inspires me to swim in the cold water and to play with the kids all the time. We have five between us, from 6 to 13 years old, in a house with no television. There are four guitars and a drum, a couple of slack lines, a pond and a campfire. Its the most fun I've ever had in my life, and it feels like the beginning of the most amazing adventure.
When we started this journey a year ago, we threw a couple of obstacles at it right away. We didn't know each other at all, we didn't know each other's friends, we had no history to fall back on, no way to feel safe except for to trust our feelings. We hauled all our baggage from previous relationships and even though we tried so hard not to, we heaped that baggage on each other. When we were together, we could swim toward each other, sputtering under the load, and try to explain, to speak each other's language. But we were only together for six days at a stretch every other months or so. And the time apart made the little things seem like big things.
But there was something there that just wouldn't let go. Even when we were apart, even when we'd had it completely with each other, there was something in there that said, yes, but when it is good... it is like nothing I've ever felt, or my kids have ever felt before.
And then Michael went through this deep soul scrubbing while he was overseas, and I found out what it meant not to have his laughter in my life, and what it was to stand up again and keep walking anyway, and somehow, this time, we've been able to walk gently towards each other, and each of us open softly, and there seems to be no fear at all. In fact, we find ourselves wondering how we could have both been so afraid of something that was so good.
And so I'm home again, our nest is full here on the ponds. Bodhi calls it his peaceful place. And it is.