Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Resilient Heart


After going through the pain of divorce, I was prepared to shut my heart away for awhile, to withdraw from the world of relationships that at that time seemed so murky and full of subterfuge.  

I had not seen divorce coming.  I felt pretty stupid.  Could I ever trust my judgment again?  

However, soon I found myself writing to and talking to a certain man who managed to open that closed door just enough to let me see that I could maybe, just maybe, risk it and take small steps in the direction of love again. 

I was lucky.  Brian was the friend of friends.  He and I had met over the years at parties where we had various conversations.  It was clear from the start that we both had a love of language.  We also had our own quirky ways of looking at life.  Our short conversations were always snappy, quick, and fun.  

He told me later that when he walked away from these encounters, his one thought was that my husband was the luckiest man on earth to have me as a mate. 

He is a decent man who understands the journey of healing is not a fast one.  He was patient with me and never pushed our relationship too quickly.  Divorce plays with your heart and your head.  It takes your self-esteem and throws it around like a Frisbee. He always gave me the room I needed to feel what I needed to feel.  He still does.

Best of all, he viewed me through a clear lens. 

So often in long-term, complicated relationships, one person sees the other through a lens scratched from the past, scarred by childhood, damaged from past injuries, so that even when one acts in an honest and true way, her motivations are questioned. 

I soon discovered that I had, in fact, lost touch with the person I wanted to be. I had started to view myself through the scratched lens of my spouse, and had started to believe that view. How refreshing it was to have all my actions unhampered by the past, by old hurts of which I had no part. I was free to be me—the real me.

And I had nothing to lose by being the real me. 

Divorce pretty much strips you down to nothing and you figure what the hell, I might as well be the person I want to be, the person I am supposed to be. I was tired of someone taking the play dough of my actions and pushing it through an extruder, contorting it into some shape that would justify a preconceived notion.  I knew if I stayed true to myself that would never happen again.

I read about a study done on people who regularly went to movies and ate popcorn.  Researchers gave them stale popcorn just before they went into the show.  After the movie, they asked the audience about the popcorn and the participants said it was fine, no different from the usual. 

They had become so accustomed to the same experience of eating popcorn at the movies, they did not even recognize when the popcorn was stale.

When Brian and I started dating, I started to taste fresh popcorn. Yowza!  Amazing! It had been a very long time since I had felt truly loved and appreciated just for being myself.  He reminded me that I was pretty, funny, and creative.  This is what I had been missing and I didn’t even know I had been missing it.  

I had been eating stale popcorn, accepting it, and thinking that was normal.

Perhaps it happens in all long-term relationships: appreciation is replaced by expectation; adventure is replaced by monotony.  (In fairness, I was serving up some major portions of stale popcorn as well.)  I know I won’t let it happen again.

My sister Kathleen once referred to me as someone who had a resilient heart.   At the time she said it, I didn’t see myself that way, but now I do. I am proud of the fact that I trusted the universe enough to try again and I recognize how extraordinarily fortunate I am to have found love again.

I realize what a wonderful life I have had, the great adventure I am living, and the incredible things that await.  I am so appreciative of it all.  I have a lot of happy memories of my marriage.  No matter how it ended, I know without a doubt that my husband loved me very much for the vast majority of those thirty years.  I have two incredible sons from that marriage who have blessed my life in so many ways.

And now, I have this new love, this new beginning.  

I have found a man who sees me for who I am and loves this big sparkling, mixed-up, sometimes confusing, happy Bundle of Betty. 

How lucky can a girl get?



36 comments:

Leah J. Utas said...

Beautiful, and well-expressed. Fresh popcorn is the best. Good for you for tossing the stale stuff.

Shelly said...

What a wise piece. I can't help but think how happy I am for you. I think both of you were meant for each other!

The Chicken's Consigliere said...

Betty, so happy for you. And hungry for popcorn, as well.

Deanna said...

I am so very happy for you. :)

ellen abbott said...

hard to keep love out when it's knocking at your door.

Alison said...

Years ago, I introduced Miss Chef--a child of the 80s--to popcorn cooked on the stovetop instead of the microwave. It blew her mind. So I think your analogy is very apt!

But now I want to make allusions to buttering your popcorn...

jenny_o said...

Betty, I can tell you that long-term relationships can be that fresh popcorn, too, and it sounds like you are in one that will prove it. Yay for Brian and yay for you!

Olga said...

This was so beautifully expressed. I am happy for you.

Ms. A said...

Well said! You go, girl!

Nat said...

That's beautiful, Betty... so pleased you have found new love :-)

Linda said...

So happy for you!!! Hugs from me! Linda

Out on the prairie said...

Very nice, they say to deposit happiness in your love bank daily. this can be a simple compliment, but we forget sometimes why we are really together.

Madi and Mom said...

BB
Madi and I are jumping almost as high as popping popcorn..this is such a beautiful post and we are so very very happy for you and Brian.
LOTS OF HUGS TO YOU BOTH AND MAY
EVERY DAY BE FILLED WITH FRESH, HOT POPCORN.
HUGS MADI AND CECILIA

TexWisGirl said...

lucky and resilient you - more power to you every day of your life. :)

Green Monkey said...

so happy for you Betty!

I'm giving myself a big "time out" to heal but what I fear most is dying alone and I don't know how much time I have left.

annie said...

This is wonderful to hear. I am glad you have discovered that Betty is a pretty cool lady.

christine said...

I'm so pleased for you, and proud of you for opening that door a chink:) Maybe sometime soon we'll learn Betty's real name!

Brian said...

Well, you deserve a happy! Plus, with a name like Brian you know her is a good one!

Gigi said...

Betty + Brian. That's just too cute.

Betty, you have come a long way. And I am so happy that you have found a fresh batch of "popcorn." xo

Lin said...

Aw...our gal Betty is happy again!! HOORAY! I'll bet you never thought you would have love again. I'm sooo glad you did! And that you are happy and having fun again!

I'm really, really happy for you, Betty.

CS Severe said...

Much love and happiness Betty! Thank you for sharing your story. I was recently hurt by someone and also thought about guarding my heart for a while, but then new people come along and let you know things do get better and that you can love again. Wow, what a mouthful. ;)

Daisy said...

I'm so glad to hear how well you are doing, Betty. You deserve every bit of happiness. :)

mama .bonnie said...

Beautiful piece for a beautiful person. Nice perspective of life with finding the beauty even when all that stands out is the ugly. Good going Betty!

Brian Miller said...

smiles...sounds like a wonderful fresh start for you...smiles.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I was so sad for not so long ago. Now your happiness makes me happy.

Ami said...

I'm glad you're feeling this way. And happy you shared it with everyone so well.

Here's to a lot more happiness in your future. :)

BECKY said...

Betty used the "L" word....LOVE!! Yay for Betty! Happy, happy, joy, joy!! Big hugs from me... :)

Pat said...

I am thrilled to read this, Betty! You've come a long way and I am so, so happy for you!

Retired English Teacher said...

Pretty darn lucky. No, really it is more than that. You do have a resilient heart, and you gave yourself time to experience the heartbreak and walk through healing before you opened your heart again. I think that is important.

I love the place you are in. I love that you have someone that lets you be you, and that you realize how important it is to have that gift of self again.

Thanks for sharing. You have taught us all much on your journey.

Empty Nester said...

I simply could not be happier for you!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Betty - that is just wonderful news ... you sound exceedingly happy and chirpy and I'm sure Brian is too - what absolutely fabulous news for you both ... happy days ahead - big hugs Hilary

Alexandra said...

OH BETTY!

I always have thought you beautiful, amazing, smart, kind, compassionate, intelligent..

It is sad and heart breaking to see someone thinking someone else has to change.

No, it's not their job to change you.

Have you ever read this? VIral on the internet, I love it: "Marriage Advice I Wish I Would Have Had." written by a man recently divorced. It's heart breaking. http://www.viralnova.com/20-marriage-tips/

Hilary said...

We who have been reading you for a number of years knew the fun, creative and interesting you. It's no great mystery that Brian saw that in you. I'm glad you recognize that in yourself now. May it always be so.

Joyful said...

Brian sounds like a very special man. You are so blessed. Your first husband too I'm sure loved you and as you say you have two very special young men as a result.

Pat Tillett said...

Happy Happy Happy!
I'm so glad that you are feeling the sunshine again.

Baby Sister said...

I'm SO happy for you, Betty. So happy that you found someone that sees you for you.