Monday, December 20, 2010

At the Heart of It....

This year has felt different to me. I'm just not in the spirit of things. There's a melancholy dwelling in my heart and I can't find my Joy.

I've decorated, wrapped presents (all but what I wrap Christmas Eve night), sent out Christmas cards and today and the rest of this week I'll be tackling treats for family and friends.

I feel like I'm running behind (though I feel like that all the time anymore), but Christmas will be upon us in five days. Count 'em- 5 days!

I'm still not in the mood for it and in all honesty, will be glad when it's over. How sad is that? Normally I enjoy the holiday, but this year, I'm far from filled with Whoville'm feeling a little Grinchy- like before his heart grew three sizes that day...

Last night, as I lay down to sleep, I started thinking about what this time of year means to me, especially since I'm feeling down and wanted to give myself things to renew my hope and happiness. I thought about this year's lack of joy in my heart, but also all the years past...

And my conclusion is LOVE.

At the heart of December is Love.

Love for our families, our friends, and sometimes even strangers.

December, for the most part, can be summed up to that.

It's at the heart of the matter, regardless of what holiday you celebrate in this last month of the year.

It's about all the things that mean love to us. For me, it's my family, my friends, my cat.

It's the bite of cold in the air that sinks into your bones as the snow falls and the warmth of hearth and home, a welcoming escape from the blustery winds. It's the hush that falls over the world when snow blankets the ground and coats the trees. It's hot cocoa and sugar cookies. It's the glow and twinkle of the tree and ornaments and sparkly garland. It's the light in your kids' eyes when they see the tree fully decorated the first time, or when they sight a house decked out like Snoopy's doghouse with lights.

It's doing things to bring a smile to another person's face, to fill their hearts with some gladness. It's good food and treats, it's time spent with those we care about. It's missing those who can't be with us, but remembering them just the same.

And that made me wonder why December is the only time of year when we show this kind of love for our fellow man, woman, child, etc. Why do we only extend a helping hand or a kind word NOW?

I suspect that we do this because the year is coming to a close and all the rest of the year has been consumed with worrying about the things that go on in our own little circles.

This year has been rather shoddy for my family- we've had car troubles and had to fix the one car we had and ended up buying another one, too. My husband has had health issues that we're still dealing with, including his recent knee surgery a little over a week ago. I've not been myself this year (turning 35 did something to me psychologically LOL) and so I've been struggling with personal emotional issues that aren't resolved- just buried at the moment. I'm still having a hard time getting my head back into my writing, which only leaves me feeling void, unable to fill the emptiness with something that brings me joy.

But that brings me back to why December seems to be the time to show compassion and love and care for those outside the boundaries of our routine lifestyles.

Why does December seem to be the ONLY month where we give ourselves permission to slow down, to visit with others, to care about them? Why is it the time of year we shrug off that cloak we use to isolate ourselves? But more importantly, why is this kindness and consideration only dragged out with the decorations, as though we pack it in after the holidays and save it up for next December?

The icy fingers of winter creep in and in their own way, they force warmth into us- encourage us to warm toward others in a way no other time of the year does. I guess that's why. As cold as December can be, it fills us with a warmth that emanates outward in our behavior and our lives. It works as a magnet, drawing us all together. It draws us together in love, and that's truly at the heart of it...

Sunday, December 12, 2010


This time of year is always a time of reflection. We cannot help ourselves but to think about the year behind us because we can't possibly know what's up the road ahead. A lot of times it isn't simply the year we've just been through, but other years, as well, because I think we all need to look back from time to time to see the chapters of our lives thus far—so we can appreciate who we were, who we are and where our journey might take us from here.

It's just natural to revisit our history in our memories at this time of year when it seems family and friends are nearest as the year draws to its close. The winter season and the holidays fill us with the warmth of all the times we've had before with loved ones who are with us and those who've gone before us. I think that's also why this time of year is sometimes the HARDEST time to get through for those who've lost so many loved ones in their lives or have little that makes them truly happy to be alive. It makes it hard to be cheerful when you feel alone in this world, when times are hard, when things just aren't going smoothly, etc.

I guess when we are forced indoors by cold weather, we're also made more aware of ourselves and our thoughts turn inward as well, to times long gone, people who've come into our lives and those who have departed, either by their own choosing or by death.

Today has been spent in quiet contemplation about that very thing- the past, that is and mostly on one person in particular. Much as I've been hurt in past relationships, I've always believed it would be my folly to ever take pleasure or laugh over their troubles or mistakes.

I never ended any of my relationships- unfortunately I was always the dumped, not the dumper & I got my heart broken enough times that I stopped keeping track because it just hurt too much, but I would never wish them harm or heartache or sadness. I like to believe I'm a more compassionate person than that. At least, I like to hope so.

But then today I got a text. Random coincidence or what have you- an ex of mine talked to someone who knows someone close to me and told that person he should have stayed with me and he cried over losing me. He showed remorse.

And I laughed out loud.

I LAUGHED- just long enough for a twinge of guilt to shoot through me and make me clamp my lips tightly over my teeth to bite back another round of laughter. I felt so awful- so downright vile and EVIL, that it has gnawed at me all day.

There was no reason for me to laugh at his sadness or tears. I cried plenty over him because I loved him with all my heart, whether anyone else understood my reasons or not, even him. Most thought I was a fool and maybe I was, but I loved him and he knew it. I had a small inkling of how he felt toward me, but he never said it back.

So....Maybe he really does realize, after nearly 10 years, what a mistake it was to let me go, but even before I met the man who is my husband now, it had been over between me and this other man for over a year. Before I left I even told him I was sorry when he tried to convince me to stay and be with him. It was too little too late and I told him so- I had loved him for 7 years and dated him off and on during that time, but I had felt like I had NEVER been enough for him and I finally reasoned I never would be, so I made a decision and moved on with my life.

He tried very hard to prove he had changed and knew he wanted to be with me- he even had some of his friends try to plead with me on his behalf that things were different— that he was different. And I was moved by the effort, but not enough to run back into his arms, not after all the times he had hurt me and broken my heart. He was significant in my life and I loved him, still do- but not that way.

I've worried about him these past years. I worried that he would end up alone and unhappy and I'm afraid that IS what's become of his life, but I used to tell him that he'd regret it someday- treating me like I meant so little, acting like I'd always be around for him to come back "home" to when he had the notion, when he was run out everywhere else.

His parting words to me when I got ready to move here, to make my new life, the life I'm living now, were "You'll be back in 3 months and I'll get what I want."

It didn't happen that way and now he finds himself, nearly 10 years later, crying on the shoulder of a stranger about me.

I didn't mean to laugh, really I didn't. I really AM more compassionate than that, and I believe that it's better for me not to carry the anger, hatred and hurt from the past around like an ugly badge of survival as though I'm some victim. Sure I got involved and I got my heart broken, but everyone has or will at some point in their lives.

Relationships happen and most have a beginning, a middle and an end, we just don't know the time frame when we start the relationship. Some feel like they're doomed from start, but last for decades while others feel like they'll last forever and then they end so abruptly you can't breath because the loss feels like a fatal gunshot wound through the heart.

This was a relationship doomed from the start, but I get it now that I'm older....

And yet, for a brief moment it was as if I got some sort of justification, some sort of clarity that I wasn't SO wrong after all about how he felt about me. Perhaps I wasn't some young blubbering idiot when I believed he DID love me in his own way and that he just didn't know how to say it OR show it. Or maybe he didn't know it back then...

No matter the case, I look back, I see the reflection, the ripple he was on the pond of my youth, and I'm thankful that he was there. Even though we went our separate ways, even though he's figured it out much too late.

I can't change the heartache he caused me all those years ago, no more than I can change the heartache he feels now. I feel bad that he has regrets in regard to me and I feel awful that I laughed to know he cried, but all I can do now is pray for him to find peace in his heart, for things that cannot be changed. Our feet cannot travel those roads anymore, we cannot retrace our steps except in our mind's eye and even then, it's not always wise to journey backward, for it gets us nowhere.

After all, they are only just reflections....