Adelina + Growing Pains

Most days, I don't know the difference between left and right. I need to know a mile before I must take a turn, and I substitute 80% of my weekly  meals with coffee. This all is to say that I am flawed. There are pieces of me that drive people absolutely nuts, and friends insert their own perspective, thinking if I can change just one or two things, then maybe my shoulders wouldn't be up to my ears, in stress knots. 

There are so many things I do incorrectly.

But I think I do one thing correctly, I love with depth.

I have always been the mother in my friend group. In college, I would leave my apartment unlocked so friends would nap on my couch while I was in class. If you had a bad day, I didn't even ask for permission before bringing you hot tea. My best friend called me in the middle of the night sobbing about her engagement, and I left -- with forty dollars in my bank account, I figured out how to be savvy enough to get to Texas in record time so that I could hold her.

Perhaps that is my other flaw too, I often love people in a box.
I think, if love surrounds them on four sides, then they are safe. They will never feel pain, and I can't hurt them, and maybe they won't ever leave. The love we pour in, would just surround us because the walls of the box would hold it all in. 

And every single time, I forget there are holes. 
Because we are human, so there have to be holes.

When we were in high school, we knew the generations of hurt that sowed together our bones, giving our veins maps. Although optimistic, we knew that no matter how much we meditated and self medicated, and prayed, and went to therapy there were still things so deeply rooted within us, from our families that we would never be able to rid of them, but we hoped to change them. For our daughters. For our sons. 

He hit me, because his dad hit him, but if we loved him hard enough it would change.
She slept with everyone's boyfriends, because her mother chose bad men time and time again but who the hell were we to judge.

We promised we would heal one another.

The thing about promises is, the context doesn't matter.

It didn't matter that I was only fifteen and life still hadn't happened to me yet. 
Now, at twenty-three and after being gutted, people still rely on me to keep that promise.

So the box fills and fills and fills, but the love isn't there anymore.
Because I can't do it anymore.

The people in the box, jump out. They no longer want to be in the box if they aren't the ones receiving the love. What I once thought was a collective love surrounding us within the four walls, was really sourced one way. 

Maybe I was presumptuous because I didn't offer up front my own woes, "I am going to fill you up with so much love, and hope you don't leave. 50% of me is made up of loneliness, because he left before I was born, so please stay. Stay and I will love you." 

Not only was I fifteen and untouched by the world, but I forgot that people change. Their shape changes, and the box no longer fits them. Our love, no longer fits them. And although we thought we would heal one another's wounds and set the course for a happier adulthood, we forgot to realize that growing pains aren't only when we are adolescents. 

We will continue to grow.
Outgrow ourselves.
Outgrowing one another.

Just because your love might be deep,
that doesn't assure it can fill the holes.

Misplaced Responsibility

"You're not responsible for her death," I gripped my cup a little tighter. How desperately I wanted to chug the rest of my coffee, but the lump in my throat wouldn't even allow me to breathe.

I didn't respond.

"Do you believe that?"

At the moment, I didn't know who she was talking about. The truth was, there were potentially three children. I lost three children in the matter of a year and half. The tears in her eyes spoke to the one she was speaking of, I stared out the window.

It was so sunny. How painfully, desperately I wanted to get out of that room.

The only thing I could muster up was, "sometimes."

"Why did you stop living your life?" she inquired.
"I don't know who to be anymore. I can't go back to who I use to be, I must change from this. She died so that I can change."
"Perhaps, but that is a lot of misplaced responsibility. Who do you want to be?"

"Right now? Right now I want to be that eighteen year old girl who jumped on a plane to Africa. I use to dance in the Indian Ocean even though I was terrified of deep waters. We would jump on top of bars and cause a ruckus out of fun, and pretend we were the bartenders. I miss being the girl who brings green tea to her friend after they tell me they had a bad day. On Mondays I would drink champagne for the hell of it, because life should be a continuous celebration. I was never afraid of losing anyone. Ever. Mostly because I was the girl who ran away and people continuously lost me. And now I am terrified all the time." 

"Let me ask you this, where do you want to be?"
"Dancing in the middle of the Indian Ocean."
"Well you better go grab a bottle of champagne."

 

Unhealed Bodies

"You used to dance around, all the time, remember that?" He asked. "That's the Cori I want back." I mustered up the faintest smile as I sat across from him, feeling the weight of disappointment rise up in my stomach.

"Don't you get it?" I wanted to yell. "Don't you think that I want her back too? No one hates this version of me, more than I do. No one. I know I have disappointed you all. I know I don't deserve the few friends I haven't pushed away, I know!"

But instead of coming clean, I sat there with a smile, as if I was remembering the same distant memory he was.

It has been over a year and half since something felt wrong in my body. It wasn't healing as properly and quickly as I anticipated. 48 hours after being in the hospital for the night, I climbed a mountain -- because my body was resilient like that. It drank in all of the sun rays, thirsty for more with each step upwards. Back in 2011, my legs took me on a run for the first time in months. I hadn't been to physical therapy in months and my ability to walk independently was still unreliable after a back injury. All it took was one November night for it to heal. My body has been a very good, forgiving home for me.

This is different though.

Scary different.

My hands began to shake, "If it is a tumor, will you be there?" Nothing is definite yet, and there is a good chance this is a fluke, but I needed to know. I needed to know because the past two months have been lonely. More days than not, I have been bed ridden. I wake up tired, and before bed I throw up from exhaustion. To process it all, my body waits until I am asleep, unaware of the anxieties that reside in the veins that curve and straighten throughout my body; at twenty-three you just don't expect the possibility of your heart failing because of a doctor's mistake. 

 It took a month for my body to feel functional after that mishap. But for the doctor it didn't explain A B C and D that was still happening. It has become a daunting task to drive across town, at times I have to drive with one eye open and one eye closed because I am so dizzy, I can't bare seeing out of both of my eyes. My appetite no longer exists, and while I keep losing weight, my body has struggled to put weight on for the past year. If I get too excited, my chest fills with pain and I begin to lose the ability to breathe properly. She asked me, "has anyone talked to these different diseases," and she began to list them as if she were reading them off of a grocery list. I know my body well enough to have known it wasn't the first several she mentioned. So we began the tests, and as the positive tests and abnormal tests began to come back, I began to feel overwhelmed -- my body is failing.

My body is failing and I am twenty-three.

Was this my fault? Did I become so reckless in my own numbness?

"I'll change, I promise," I have begged God late at night and throughout the days, sobbing. "I'll slow down and I won't push people away. I'll care more. I won't work as much as a way to avoid relationships with people," and with no right to ask I ask anyway, "please just don't let me be alone." "I am scared," I finally admit. 

After Dan died, we began to play this came of, "I'll love you, but won't care for you," because loving was fun and temporary. When you care for someone it is much different. It feels more entangled and permanent. We figured that eventually life would give us the white fence, adoring partner and little kids just as excited about saving the Earth as we were. But while we waited for it to happen, we weren't going to be the suckers who sought out that plan; because we knew there was always the possibility of dying unexpectedly. Why would we leave behind a partner and children? We would prevent heartache if we didn't care and didn't ask for anyone to care in return. As we crawled into beds and tents, and piled into random cars with booze in the backseat with each other we convinced ourselves it was enough.  

I suspect my parents worry with one another at night, that their daughter will never get straight head on her shoulders. They talk about how I'm wild and too independent for my own good. They think I will be the only one that doesn't give them grandchildren to spoil on Christmas morning. 

Now, what if they are right, but not because anything in my control?

We knew the rules began to change, a while ago. Sitting on my front porch, we became silent over the second bottle of wine. I imagined Christmas Eve, with him in the picture and how one of my favorite sides of him is the side he shows when he opens up presents. I could see he and my mom sitting across from each other laughing. "What are you thinking about?" he asked, and I was too embarrassed to tell him the dream I dreamt up, it didn't fit inside of the rules. Instead I told him about our family tradition on Christmas Eve, with a smile he soaked in memories for his own, "I like when you tell me things like that," he whispered. 

"If it is a tumor, will you be there?" I asked him, and he didn't respond. Maybe I already knew the answer because the rules changed last summer. 

Green House Series | Spring 2016

Her Heaven a Love without Betrayal

Knock Knock

We hit the place where we would knock gently on one another’s front door and allow ourselves in. As I twisted the door knob I felt my body pulling me back to the car. Opening the door, I ran past him in the living room, as he walked down the stairs, praying I made it to the bathroom before throwing up.

As I knelt on the cold tile floor, I felt his hand on my back.

“Get away from me. I want to be alone,” I hissed.

My head hung in the toilet, knowing I wasn’t going to throw up anything because I couldn’t stomach to eat anything for the past week.

Collecting myself as much as I could, I mustered up the strength to walk into the same room as he did. He held out a glass of water for me; my arms held one another, and they were not going to break for his easy gesture. It was easy to give anyone water. And I was tired of him doing the easy things, leaving me to do the hard things alone.

Finding a place on the couch, I looked out the window as my feet faced the door, just in case I needed to run.

When I called him earlier he asked if I wanted to come over and talk about it, in between the tears I mumbled yes, and now that I was here, with his full attention no words came to my mind.

“I don’t even know why I am here,” I cried. “I must be the stupidest girl in the entire world.”

---

The wind whipped my paper lantern around as I wrote a prayer for him, “Might the love and light of your spirit always guide you to the highest of places. My heart has taken the shape of your soul, smile and love. Wherever you find yourself, trust that my love is with you. You are my truest North.” Pleased with my work of finding correct form of words that felt meaningful, I took a picture of my lantern and sent it to him, before releasing it into the night sky. I watched it float into the sky, following it, until it was no longer in my sight.

The lantern floated into the silent sky, and nothing more was said between he and I that night.

My heart woke up heavy, the next morning as sadness filled the cracks knowing I didn’t get to experience that encompassing thought of love with him the night before. I felt silly for sending him my prayer of love, hoping he would covet the same for me. As I drove to work, the sun shined a little brighter than the other April days that came before it. Realizing that the sun had distracted me from my turn, I took the next left to the school.

Coming to the four way stop, he stood there. His shirt off, briefs barely showing above his khaki shorts. I told myself, “he is shirtless, because that his how he sleeps.” And for a moment the hot tears I felt swell into my eyes, felt like his hot skin that I have touched so many times as we lied in bed together. He took her into a hug and kissed her on top of her forehead, as he had done so many times with me before.

My car didn’t move, and my hands were steady.  I just stared. And for a brief moment, he stared back at me, looking at me directly in the eyes.

---

Four days later I barged into his house. He was sitting in his chair, reclining back as the TV played in front of him. It was dark and cloudy outside, as rain had gone on and off. The two shots of tequila didn’t seem to make liven things up either.

Instead it flirted with my rage. It was as if my anger guarded my heart, protecting it as a way to say, “Don’t worry, he will not hurt you again. I will show him, he will not hurt you again.”

“Get up!” I yelled, as I walked over to him.

“Go get the fucking story. I want my story back!”

Never have I been good at communicating. Only if my words are written do I ever feel safe. We were at a crossroads months ago where I needed to convey my love for him. But I was afraid. It is always so difficult to realize you may love another human more than you could ever love yourself; especially with the hope they will love you back.

So I wrote him a story.

The night that I gave it to him, we sat on his bed, with wine in between us. While I read him the story out loud, I skipped over the part where I told him I loved him. I was too embarrassed. The story was over, and my face felt flush. Immediately he grabbed me into his arms, and kissed the top of my head.

I felt at home.

My love felt accepted.

Now, I didn’t want him to have the story anymore. He didn’t deserve it. It was easy to accept people’s love, that is what all selfish people do, but to protect someone’s heart – I was naïve enough to think they were one in the same.

The gold ribbon was still attached to the box, it swayed in the air as he walked down the stairs with the story. Snatching it from him, I instinctively pushed him; Anger, protecting me, forced to make sure he would not get near me again.

“I hate you,” I yelled, and stormed out.

---

It had been several more days after getting the story before I could talk to him. We would avoid each other at work, and the few times we were in the same hallway, I would turn around and walk in the other direction.

“How was your day?” he asked, as we were signing out of work.

“Fine.”

“Are you ready to talk?”

“Not yet.”

There was so much I wanted to tell him. I wanted to tell him how I loved him, and how he hurt me so deeply. He needed to know I was humiliated. He needed to know, that now he stood at a new crossroads in our relationship, and that I would never trust him again.

---

As I cried on his couch, he sat on the floor, at my feet. He tried to place his hand on my knee, but I pushed it away. I wanted to scold him, “You don’t get to touch me anymore.” So he settled to rest his fingers on my ankle. It was almost as if he needed to see if there was any kind of connection between us still.

“I don’t know why I keep hurting you,” he said.

For the first time, he looked ashamed of what had happened.

“I don’t know why I hurt you to push you away. I have never cared about someone like this before.”

I shook my head and uncrossed my ankles so he could no longer tough me.

“I trusted you. You were supposed to be the person who I could trust in this entire world, and you broke it,” the same hot tears that filled my eyes the morning I saw him with another woman, finally fell down my cheeks. “And now you want to be the guy who fixes me? You can’t be the guy who hurts me and fixes me. You just can’t!”

We sat in silence for a while, crying. As the silence lingered it dawned on us that we would never be the same. Now, our relationship would only be defined into two times, before Jessica and after Jessica.

Taking both of my hands into his, he began to feel nervous.

“Please, don’t give up on me just yet. Don’t leave me just yet. I need you to stay.”