|Winding Home (M.A. Reilly, South Dakota, 2010)|
Yesterday, I posted about being undone by the loss of Rob and how I walked across the street to a neighbor for comfort. I was such an emotional mess. I am reminded here of my Aunt Alice who aways kept a tissue or two up the sleeve of her cardigan. I was a box-deep-in-tissues-messy. Feeling this way, especially in public, is uncomfortable.
What I want you to know, what I feel compelled to say is that the walk across the street, allowing myself to be so vulnerable publicly, was an action propelled by being well-loved. Yes, well-loved. This is a gift my husband gave to me. It is truly a gift that keeps giving.
During the 28 years we were together I learned with Rob how being vulnerable is a bridge to love. Rob is the first person I let in emotionally. Being vulnerable meant that I would love him and I knew he would hurt me. Vulnerability meant that even though I would and did hurt him, he would also continue to love me. Vulnerability was being my imperfect self, my very flawed self with Rob. During those 28 years, I learned that I did not have to be good to be loved. My husband did not have to be strong to be loved. Love did not have such requisites. Our love, like ourselves, was so very imperfect. Our wounds were doors we could and did walk through, for our wounds revealed more about ourselves than those who might have wounded.
I am reminded here of teaching Louise Glück's book of poems, Ararat to graduate students at Teachers College in Manhattan some years ago. I opened the study of literature course by distributing pages from Ararat. Students had time in class to read the poem they were given and determine how to read it aloud to the group. Then we performed the poems in the order the poet arranged the book. I wanted the students to hear the arc of the book--to understand that the arrangement of poems is itself a poem. Tonight though, I am thinking of the closing poem, "First Memory." It reads:
Long ago, I was wounded. I livedAll this practice at love with Rob (and marriage is often a lot of practice) helps me now when when my place in the world feels less certain, when possibilities feel foreign, when wounds from such immense loss fester. The ways in which I have learned to love and be loved help me now when I am emotionally messy, when my need for others is so very high, when I am not 'getting better', when I am so publicly imperfect. Rob's love for me, our practice at love for so long, my understanding of how love alters, deepens, becomes less complicated, simpler--allows me now to take the steps I choose to take to heal.
to revenge myself
against my father, not
for what he was--
for what I was: from the beginning of time,
in childhood, I thought
that pain meant
I was not loved.
It meant I loved.