That sick feeling, the butterfly stomach, the rubbery legs, the diminished mental capacity. What’s my middle name? Uh…? And yes, a feeling of being paralyzed, like some kind of speared fish, floating helplessly after a powerful sedative (wait, could this be what Cupid’s arrow is like?).
They say that falling in love is wonderful…
A girlfriend recently told me over breakfast that she just told the man she loved that she couldn’t do it anymore and needed to break it off with him. “Oka-ay,” he crinkled his brow, “you love me, but you’re afraid of getting hurt, so you’re breaking up with me now before it happens??”
All those paralyzing sensations – it’s called FEAR. Cause when you fall in love – you realize how just how far you’ll fall if things go terrible wrong. And it’s a terrifyingly long way. Suddenly, you’re Wile E. Coyote in the old Road Runner cartoons, the one who runs off the edge of a cliff into thin air, and everything is fine – that is, until he looks down, at which point, he plummets to the earth, and hits in an annihilating plump of dust.
The first time my now-fiancé, Albert, and I parted (as we lived on two separate coasts) after a wonderful, but intense (for me) time, I spent the next two mornings sobbing inconsolably for hours in private. My behavior was so crazy. But it had only been a few years since my husband had died, it was later that I realized that the separation had triggered all my fears, my emotions, the pain of, once again, having someone taken away from me.
So, why would I embark on falling in love again after having been brought to my knees, pummeled into gritty bits and left for dead already by love? Where in holy hell do I find that courage? To even date, let only fall in love?
I mean, people think I’m brave because I work with horses, fly an airplane, and other things. Phooey! Bravery is daring to fall in love. It’s far more dangerous.
And yet, here I find myself again, loving, caring. It’s scary to walk on air. It takes . . . trust.
But…why can’t I just stay up there, out in the ether forever? Build little bridges; hang emergency ropes to hold on to when I find myself fearful and looking down? Alas, there’s no safety once you’ve surrendered to love. Love is disarming. And even it there was a rope to save you, you could not reach out and grab it.
I’m not even in control of my own life. I truly saw that with my husband’s illness – his, and my life on this planet, was/is something that happens outside our rule. Love, too, is outside my rule (Although I can try to shove it away with force, and close the door).
A widow friend said to me as I sobbed that day, “Just know, if you could survive losing Patrick, you can survive anything.”
Hmm… An unusual a pep talk. I think she was trying to bolter me up by the thought that I couldn’t go through worse. But could I survive even 80% of what I went through now? 50%? Hmm..
But I have to say, as devastating as the loss of my husband has been, would I go back and start all over again with him, even knowing the tragedy that lay ahead?
Yes. I would. A thousand times over.
So, instead of walking away, or trying to find a way to be safe in a situation that threatens to annihilate me if, and when, I fall, why don’t I just continue to be brave, really brave, stay out there in this rarified air, and embrace happiness, even for the fleeting time that I have it. Embrace ALL of it, without holding back, without looking for a quick-exit rope.
I will survive. Somehow. I think. I’m pretty sure.
And if I’m lucky, later on, I will get to rejoice in how powerful love is, and it will lift me up, once again.
No (silly me), not later. Now. Now, while I have my love in my arms.