The Absurd and Amazing Adventures of Cafe Girl: Things You Learn The Second Time Around

May 3, 2009

Things You Learn The Second Time Around

The last time this happened, you bemoaned the fact that "you didn't end well." The first time, you were hurt, angry, blindsided and confused. You felt small, weak, and less than who you were. The second time around you learn that even "ending well" -- with good things to say about each other, with remembering the good times, with encouragement for the future --doesn't guarantee your heart isn't breaking the whole time.

The second time around, you learn that you can't control the crying. You're pretty much going to cry anytime and anywhere. A lot of time it will be in your car. Perhaps the second time around, you'll avoid The Absurdity of Grief.

The second time around, you learn that you still can't eat in great moments of stress. Only this time you'll be in the middle of training for a marathon, so not eating really isn't an option.

The second time around, you'll have less items to put away -- fewer pictures, fewer gifts. However, you'll still have to resist the urge to go through the items, read the cards, wonder how you got from there to here.

The second time around you get back into the swing of life a little faster. You plan weekend activities, you smile and laugh as if the whole time your chest isn't tight and you don't have an impending sense of panic you're trying to suppress. You know this feeling is normal. You're still not sure how long it will last, but you know you just have to push through.

People will still have their cliches, this time around. There will be statements such as, "Now you're released to find someone better" or "God is working for your best" or some other statement that you know to be generally true, but specifically cruel. Because the second time around, you know that you don't want platitudes. You want to hear that this is indeed as mind numbingly confusing and painful as how you feel. You want to know that how you feel is valid.

This time around, you'll question God a little more. It's not that your faith is shaken, it's just that you wonder if your listening skills were all that good to start with. This time around the question, "What did I miss?" won't be about searching for clues in the past. It'll be a genuine question to Your Maker. And the question will be followed by, "Where are You in all of this?" and, your personal favorite, "I thought You said..." God will be surprisingly silent this time around which will make you feel like you didn't pray hard enough, or read your Bible well enough. For some reason, this time around, you've been reduced to an infant-like understanding of your faith. This will make you wonder what the foundations of your faith have been in the twenty-three years you have been a Believer.

This time around, you won't have the luxury of distance. You can't imagine this other person no longer exists when you still share the same friends and the same small community. You'll have to co-exist. You'll have to do so with no ulterior motive. You'll have to understand that at some point, you'll inevitably have to watch them move on, even if you don't get to. And then you'll wonder -- do you want to be the fool that wallows and doesn't move on? Then the healing process becomes a competition. And one day you'll wake up and realize that your heart is pretty dark, and you'll be stunned that at the root of it all, you're still just that little bit petty, that little bit mean-spirited. Then the healing process will start all over again, and you'll wonder why you're still stuck.

In the meantime, this time around, you sit with the pain. Because you learn that pain is part of this process. That it will happen in this lifetime more than once. That the only thing you can do is hold on, breathe deeply, and feel.

The second time around isn't any easier.

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