The moment I saw her, I was done.
Her hair was dark, dark brown, smooth and plain. Parted down the middle. Contrasted with her alabaster skin, I didn't think her appearance could get more striking. And then I saw her eyes. Those deep blue eyes were an exclamation point, like the brilliant star at the top of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. She descended the stairs as if from a tall escalator, wearing a black tank top, a pair of jean shorts and flip flops. I stood at the bottom of the stairs, a worshipper.
Transfixed, I was unable to move and not even aware I was staring. Those eyes … penetrated me.
"Hi, I'm Libby." The gentleness and unassuming nature of her smile snapped the spell and I introduced myself.
Libby would be my wife: Without any explanation, that revelation was seared into my soul, even before she seemed to gracefully float down the stairs. For two and a half years I was forced to withhold my affections: I was older than she was, and although we had a real connection, it seemed wise to wait until the gap between our ages didn't seem so big.
For two and a half years I didn't date another girl, didn't kiss another girl, didn't sleep with another girl. All I could think about was Libby. And
finally, after all the waiting, I was given the green light to begin courting her. Seven and a half months later, I proposed to her at the top of the Empire State Building, on the 102nd floor, 16 floors above the observation floor (A big thank you to the Director of Security and the Nighttime Security Manager at the Empire State Building for that). She said yes, And on March 8, 2003 we were married in front of over 400 members of our friends and family.
364 days later, on March 7, 2004, I was driving us to Maryland to celebrate our one-year anniversary when we were involved in a car accident. When I awoke in the hospital, they told me only one body came back alive from the accident.
Libby was seven and a half months pregnant with our first child.
That is my story. You have your own. If we were sitting together over coffee, you could tell me about the disappointments and the heartaches you've suffered. My heart would break for you, as yours does for me. The question is: What would you say next?
If you don't know, or if you might struggle to find the words to express the agony of recovering from emotional trauma and loss, I know the feeling. If you feel lost and hopeless, or if you feel there's no way out of your emotional labyrinth, follow me. I'll get you there.
In times of difficulty, it can seem as if a dark cloud looms on the horizon on its way to destroy us: A sense of foreboding lingers. In those dark moments, it seems as if there is no escape, or that there never will be. And for those of us who are particularly emotional (creative types, hopeless romantics, artists) we can feel as if we're doomed forever.
But you're not. No one is.
Here's what I did to move forward: (The following list is not recommended, however).
- Started a company that made me a lot of money (OK, that IS recommended)
- Went to a party at the playboy mansion
- Drove my company into the ground and was homeless
- Slept in a friend’s repossessed car for a while
- Moved across the country with a beautiful girl I loved to "start over"
- Refused love from said beautiful girl and destroyed the happiness we could have had together
- Got drunk every day for about four years
- Gave up on that and got high every day for two years
- Had sex with every woman I could
- Broke the trust of my best friend
- And on and on …
I tried everything I could to find my way out during those years: yoga, meditation, telling myself affirmations, seminars, books. The funny thing is, getting drunk was the same as yoga, the same as having sex with a random girl, the same as getting high. Before I tried the "answer" of the week, I was sure it was finally the way out. Every hobby, vice and virtue was a hope of finding "me" again. Will I be the Drunk Guy, The Yoga Guy, The Ladies Man, The Stoner Guy?
Everything was a sincere attempt to get out of the ennui that enveloped me. To feel alive again. It felt like I had suffered a mortal wound and I clung to everything I saw, anything that offered any relief, thinking, "Is THIS it? Is THIS what will heal me?" Spoiler Alert: It wasn't. It didn't.
One day, though, this thought snuck up on me: What if life had a built-in helping mechanism? What if the answer to my healing wasn't something I had to go out and find? What if it would come to me? My thoughts turned to the black cloud that had been chasing me for years. All the while, I had imagined it as an evil shade come to haunt, taunt or torment me. But in fact, that dark cloud brought rain to wash me, and the darkness was a place to hide. It was a shelter. I started to consider things in a different way: that it could bring healing, not threats. It could wash away my guilt, shame, and hopelessness. And you know what came after that dark cloud? The sun, warm and comforting, shining brightly
How is your heart? Has it been broken? Are you tempest-tossed with what to do with your life? Do you wonder if you'll ever get to put away your umbrella? Instead of trying to shield yourself from it, let that dark cloud wash over you. Let her come and do her good work in you. She means you no harm. In fact, she comforts you as she heals you. You can rest. And on the other side of your cloud, the sun shines down and warms your face. And you find yourself, unafraid.
Maybe, separated by the distance of these printed words, what I'm saying seems like a consolation prize: Your heart is broken, you've lost your love, your business … but, you get whatever's behind door number two! You get to "know yourself" and that seems unsatisfying.
But proud misunderstanding is behind that idea. Our greatest desire in this life is not money. It's not even love. At the root of all our desires is to know ourselves. To feel like we are on our own side. That we are whole. That is why difficulties threaten us so. Our sorrows isolate us from others and we hear all our internal critiques and feel divorced from ourselves, That dark cloud comes to bring us back to ourselves. To heal that olde ache and remind us that we are whole we are on our own side.
To learn more about healing a broken and shattered heart, click here.
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