A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon this post by Kyran over at Notes to Self on marriage.  At the time that I first read it I was stunned by the beauty of her writing and the honesty with which she told her story.  I appreciated it for the literature it is. 

Today I went back to it.  I had meant to send it on to a couple of friends who themselves are struggling with their less than perfect partnership.  I thought the empathy in her piece would be good for them, that the happy ending would give them hope.  Just to be sure, I read the piece again, along with the long string of comments from readers who agreed that Kyran had just captured the beautiful essence of marriage. 

Again, this piece of writing moved me, but in a way that surprised the hell out of me.

I wanted to throw up.  For what I felt was not hopefulness, empathy or joy.  No, what bubbled up inside of me today was raw, unadulterated, spitting envy, cynicism and derision. 

Unlike Kyran and so many of those who left comments there at Notes to Self, my experience was not one of finding my way back to each other–I did not have that if you sit down and work hard and focus and negotiate it will all be beautiful fairy tale ending.  Like them we worked hard at saving our marriage but ours was a journey of great pain, heartache and profound disappointment with no sunrise on the other end.  A love that didn’t exactly die but just in a fit of desperation gave up. 

And I realized a few things about myself.  I am completely comfortable in the company of couples that have healthy strong relationships, who dwell in a place of love and respect for each other.  They give me great hope.  I also have tremendous empathy for those whose true loves fell apart or who are struggling and not sure where it will all end up.  But those people–the ones who were terribly unhappy but then figure out how to make it work and find their love again–the ones who are able to say they went to the edge of breakup and made it back–sometimes multiple times over–those  couples make me want to spit with envy and call them things like smug.  They make me a bit uncomfortable not because of anything else other than that they succeed where I failed.  Because they have what I wanted.  Because they won and I lost.

When you catch a glimpse of your wounded self in the mirror of your soul it is never pretty. 

Every once in awhile something happens that causes me to shine a spotlight around the dark corners of my heart.  The places where the air is stale and the cobwebs are thick.   Today Kyran’s piece surfaced in me the small jealous ugly self, the part of myself I rarely see anymore but who hasn’t (much to my chagrin) disappeared completely.

More upsetting that the discomfort of the envy was actually realizing that this ugly part of myself still exists.  Between my recent brush with insecurity and now this I am having some real quality time with the parts of myself I had hoped I’d outgrown.

Now the question is what to do with them now that they show up.

There was a time, not too too long ago when I would have given voice to my ugly self–when I would have given her permission to just go to town.  I would have ranted and raved about the stupid smug people who actually believe in love and who think that kind of struggle is beautiful.  I would have thought unkind thoughts.  I might have even spoken them aloud. 

Over the last few years, however,  when the uglies have shown up I have been on a mission to lock them out.  Their kind are just not accepted here in MY heart.  I give them a good talking to and tell them why they are not welcome here anymore.  I tell them exactly what I think about them and smack ’em around a bit too.  I remind them that they are no longer part of me–thank you very much.

But tonight, driving home in my car, (the place where this drama all played out) I was too damn tired.   I didn’t have it in me to buzz with anger.  I didn’t have the energy to beat myself up either.  So instead, I just stood on the edge of my emotions and put my arm around my ugly self and sat in silence–uncomfortable silence mind you–but silence.  There was nothing else to do but sit with her and listen to Bob Dylan.

I am told that it is here, in moments like these, when we can actually feel grace.  I’d like to say that something, someone came down and touched me and I cried tears of joy for finally loving my hurt and icky self.  Or that my ugly, mean self kissed me goodbye and left. 

None of that happened.  Instead I drove to Target and bought some nylons for a wedding I will attend this weekend.  But by the time I got there, the tears that had welled up in my eyes had dried.  And when I got home, I had room in my heart to greet my ex who was playing with Max.  I also had room in my heart to feel empathy for those who have been to hell and back.  Empathy and envy mixed together in a murky muddy shade of gray. 

And right now, that kind of a shift is enough.  Its really just fine with me.

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