The Soft Goodbye

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 6.22.04 PMYou know how people talk about that “once in a lifetime” kind of love? The kind most of us believe only happens in movies, until it actually happens to us? The kind where the spark is instantaneous, the chemistry is undeniable and, when you’re with that person, everything else fades into the background?

It’s the kind of love that feels like a soul-deep connection; where, after five minutes of meeting, you both feel as though you’ve been life-long friends. It’s indescribable and other-worldly, and although I’ve experienced it three times now, every time truly feels like a once in a lifetime love.

The first time I experienced it was nearly five years ago, in March of 2011. My company sent me to a week-long training program the week of my birthday, and on the very first day, I ended up seated next to a handsome Louisiana boy named James. The class was heavily discussion-based, so within five minutes of sitting down, James and I were asked to partner up to discuss our life milestones, which was a pretty weighty discussion topic for two colleagues who’d just met. But – both authentic, deep thinkers – James and I hit it off instantly.

We discovered that we had the same birthday one year apart, we’d been through similar difficult life experiences and we had a shared faith integral to our identities. James had a zeal for life that I found contagious. As an ENFJ, James had a larger-than-life magnetism about him. He loved to laugh and push boundaries and have adventures. He kept me giggling constantly, and we were inseparable the entire week.

We went out to dinners together after our full day conference sessions, and we played parlor games in the hotel lobby with other colleagues. One evening after a particularly hard-won foosball victory, James picked me up and twirled me around in the air as I threw my head back with laughter. Our coworkers just smiled and shook their heads at us. Our attraction was undeniable.

On Thursday night – the last evening of the conference session – James walked me back to my hotel room. He’d been somewhat reserved during our evening stroll outside, and I soon found out why. Just days before meeting me, James had proposed to his girlfriend, and she’d said yes.

He’d never experienced chemistry like we had; he acknowledged that there was outrageous attraction and compatibility. His soft brown eyes – intelligent and kind -pleaded with me to understand.

Standing outside of my hotel room, James leaned against my doorframe, face inches from mine. “I think we can both acknowledge we’ve had intense chemistry this week,” he said softly.

I nodded.

“And I think we agree that we could be really great together.”

I nodded again, a lump forming in my throat.

“But I think we both also understand the situation.”

Nothing more needed to be said. He was a man of honor, and I was a woman of integrity. Eyes filling with tears, we hugged each other and said goodbye. This week, James and his wife welcomed their second child into the world.

I had a Celtic Woman CD in my car at the time, and as I drove home, I played track number eight on repeat.

When the light begins to fade,
And shadows fall across the sea,
One bright star in the evening sky,
Your love’s light leads me on my way.

There’s a dream that will not sleep,
A burning hope that will not die.
So I must go now with the wind,
And leave you waiting on the tide.

Rain comes over the grey hills,
And on the air, a soft goodbye.
Hear the song that I sing to you,
When the time has come to fly.

When I leave and take the wing,
And find the land that fate will bring,
The brightest star in the evening sky,
Is your love waiting far for me.

Authentically Aurora

One Year Blogiversary

One year CupcakeDear Blogging Community,

Today I celebrate my One Year Anniversary of Blogging. It has been a long and arduous journey, but we have survived together – me, filtering every life experience to deem whether or not it is blog-worthy, and you, suffering through my bitter humor and bleeding-heart introspections.

Thanks for being a part of this journey with me – for oftentimes helping to carry my burdens with your loving words of encouragement… and also occasionally adding to my burdens with well-intended but unwelcome commentary (I’m looking at you, peanut gallery).

I am so grateful for the community I have found here in the blogosphere. You have collectively endured my emotional roller coaster ride of upbeat inspirations one day and bitter rants the next. You have lived life with me, and I with you. We are family. [cue Sister Sledge]

I’m a different woman now than I was a year ago. On August 21, 2014, I was a broken woman, having been rejected and abandoned just weeks earlier by the man who had promised me forever. In the wake of my broken engagement, I oscillated between despondency and anger; listlessness and panic. And I ultimately found solace in the pouring out of my emotions on the page: the bright, pixelated page of my computer screen.

Since then, I have been on 356284.1 dates – some humorous and some heartbreaking. I have learned a lot about men, and I have learned a lot about myself. And I have also learned a lot about you, dear readers.

I have discovered that your favorite posts to read are ones on controversial current events, be they political in nature or more aligned with pop culture. My most Viewed posts are about gay marriage, The Bachelor and the Christianity/Science debate. You also apparently really like it when the intensity of my emotions come out in my posts, like when I am most deeply wounded, unfathomably giddy, or absolutely infuriated.

You most Like when I share my creativity with you, either through my photography or poetry. You like when I express myself in short, humorous outtakes from life. Especially if those outtakes involve chocolate.  You also like to hear my personal reflections, most notably when I speak about my internal struggles and subsequent revelations as I continue the journey toward healing.

But I hear the most from you when I allow myself to be completely vulnerable and reveal the depths of my occasional depression. You are good encouragers when I feel misunderstood, and I am thankful for that. I also tend to get a lot of Comments from my fellow introverts when I post about introversion (don’t worry, I won’t ask you to raise your hands and draw attention to yourselves. You know who you are). And you like to comment on my bitterest of rants, like when I am confounded by the perkiest of girls and the most oblivious of men.

Altogether, it has been a lovely year of writing and reading, of loving and leaving, of grieving and growing; of receiving restoring. Here’s to another year together.

Authentically Aurora

TBT: Vulnerable & Strong

HSPI wrote this post last fall and never published it, although my feelings haven’t changed much since then. That said, I am slowly learning to be happy for people who haven’t yet experienced heartache… and thankful for those who have. #HSPproblems


I might be a petite, 5’4″, twenty-something woman, but I have the heart of a leader and the desire to impact change. I frequently find myself in situations where I sense that something needs to be communicated, and I end up “influencing up” – discretely influencing those senior to me (in age or rank) using something of an innocent’s Socratic method.

On a monthly basis, I attend a bible study luncheon in which guest speakers, usually very senior in their respective organizations, come and share their life experiences and what they have learned through those experiences. This week, the topic was “Listening to God: How Obstacles Can be Signs from God.” The guest speaker, a fifty-four year old CEO named Randy, detailed his entire career, which involved six layoffs over the course of thirty years (one of which involved the Enron fiasco). I kept waiting for Randy to get to the part where he talked about what he learned about himself or about God through all of the ups and downs of his tumultuous career, but in the end, all he really said was that he knows now that God was with him all along.

I was a bit disappointed that this elderly CEO spent 25 of his 30 minutes telling his “woe is me” story and, even in the last five minutes, didn’t say much other than, “God is faithful” (without any concrete, specific examples of God’s faithfulness), so I raised my hand to ask a question during the closing Q&A portion of the luncheon.

I already knew the answer I expected (and believed to be true), but for the sake of everyone else, I stood and projected, “Randy, this morning you gave us a lot of insight into God’s faithfulness even through the ups and downs of life. I recently experienced a broken engagement, so I can relate to the turmoil that comes with the unexpected. How would you advise us to navigate seasons of life where we know in our heads that God is good and sovereign, but our feelings don’t align with what our heads know to be true?

head heart

I was giving Randy the opportunity for a teaching moment; to close the gap in his speech; to get to the point of why he spent half an hour telling us all his sob story about six layoffs over thirty years. But instead of answering with any of the various appropriate responses, Randy – like so many before him – zeroed in on the phrase “broken engagement” and started publicly offering me cliches, like, “You’re going to get through this. God has better out there for you,” and “You just have to decide to stop feeling the sadness.”

Randy, I was not looking for condolences. I was trying to lead you to state things like, “Read the Bible. Know the Truths of Scripture. Use what you know to be true to battle the lies of your heart. It’s a tough dichotomy, but in Mark 9:24, we see that it is possible to believe but still in the midst of that, struggle with unbelief.”

Instead, he just trained another generation of bright-eyes kids that the appropriate response to depression, conflict between our heads & hearts, or really to any hardship in life is to tell people to just decide to stop feeling whatever it is that they feel.

Good thing I decided to be vulnerable and sacrifice myself for the sake of a teaching moment – a teaching moment that epically backfired. Next time I’ll go back to listening to my head and ignoring my heart.

“We are only asked to love, to offer hope to the many hopeless. We don’t get to choose all the endings, but we are asked to play the rescuers. We won’t solve all mysteries and our hearts will certainly break in such a vulnerable life, but it is the best way. We were made to be lovers bold in broken places, pouring ourselves out again and again until we’re called home.” -TWLOHA

Authentically Aurora

Wallowing

This was me yesterday:

Crying_icecream_eating

My poison of choice was Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream – always an excellent coping mechanism.

Ain’t no party like an Aurora party cuz an Aurora party involves eating an entire pint of ice cream while binge watching Netflix alone in my apartment while wearing a Grumpy Cat T-shirt.

7-ways-bollywood-taught-us-to-deal-with-a-heartbreak-1

I know, I know; you’re jealous you weren’t invited. It’s understandable. But don’t take it too personally. These Aurora parties happen in isolation, so no one was invited. Except Ben & Jerry.

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AA

Moving On

Ah, social media… the fun games you allow us to play.

I removed Bryan as Facebook friend within minutes of hanging up with him after his angry verbal lashing. I still miss him. I still want to view his updates on Facebook. I want to be a part of his life and know what’s going on with him. But I know myself. And so I know that to heal means stepping away completely.

Unfortunately, he and I still have mutual friends on Facebook, which means that I occasionally have visibility to his updates when a mutual friend likes or comments on one of his posts. Which is how, today, I got to see that Bryan just updated his profile picture:

KB PP

He would never allow for photos of us together on Facebook. But this photo – with whoever this girl is – he not only posted on Facebook himself but actually chose to make his profile picture. And of course he has a ton of Likes from friends of his who didn’t even know we were dating after six months (and an international trip) together. WTF.

How am I supposed to move on when it’s not enough for me to drop out of our joint bible study, remove him on social media, block his number, and exercise self control in not reaching out to him? WHY IS THIS ALWAYS SO FREAKING HARD?!?!

AA

UPDATE: I’m glad someone finally asked… We’ll see what he says (if anything)…

KB GF

Leavetaking – Part II

Walking Away with Suitcase“You won’t leave until you can’t stay.”


“Hello,” Bryan answered his phone. The anger in his voice was impossible to miss.

“Hi. Are you still at work, or can you talk now?” I asked him.

His response was brusque. “I’m at home.”

“Okay,” I began. “You seem to be upset with me.”

Without preamble, the floodgates opened, and Bryan burst out, “I trusted you! I trusted you, and you broke my trust!

Taken aback, mind reeling, I tried to stay calm. “I’m sorry you feel that way–”

He cut me off. “You keep saying that word – ‘sorry’ – but I don’t think you know what it means. You keep saying you’re sorry, but then you keep doing the same things over and over. How many times have we had this conversation, Aurora?!”

I wasn’t sure exactly what conversation he meant, but based on his texts, it had to be the variations on our conversation about not sharing anything about our relationship with other people. “Bryan, if you’ll just give me a chance to explain–”

“I feel violated by you.” He shot the word at me, wounding me.

I took a deep breath. “Bryan, I hear your hurt.” I tried to acknowledge him; let him know I was hearing him. Then I went on, “When I spoke with Marcia and Andie, it was like girls at a slumber party talking about their crushes–”

“I can’t believe you went behind my back. I trusted you.”

He wasn’t going to let me get a word in edgewise to defend myself. “Bryan, if you’re ever going to be in a relationship with a woman, you need to realize that girls talk–”

“There you go deflecting again,” he interjected with a steely edge to his voice.

I paused, trying to gather my thoughts. In the meantime, Bryan spouted accusations at me, telling me about my lack of character and integrity. “I’m just now finding out about your conversation with Russ months after the fact. How many more betrayals am I going to find out about in the months to come?!”

I care deeply for Bryan, and every conversation I had was because of that care for him. He was private, and I wanted to know him more. He was closed off emotionally, and I longed to know how he really felt about me. Bryan struggled to communicate where we stood even after six months, although I now think he wasn’t trying to communicate it because he wasn’t even trying to ascertain it for himself. And he certainly didn’t communicate it to his friends or evidently want anything about our relationship shared with them.

When Bryan eventually paused for breath, I said quietly, “Bryan, I don’t feel like I’m being heard by you. I’m trying to explain myself–”

You don’t feel heard my me?! I don’t feel heard by you! How many times have we had this conversation?! First, you went to my sister; then you talked about me to Toby; then Russ…”

He continued to give full vent to his anger, and my body went into fight or flight response. I felt my hands start to shake, my face getting hot, and tears started streaming down my cheeks as I tried not to sob. I loved this man, and he was attacking me.

“Bryan, you’re making me cry,” I choked out. “You’re hurting me.”

“Like the way you hurt me when you went behind my back to all of my friends?” There was no softness; no kindness; only rage in his tone.

Something broke in me, and the tears subsided. Now there was only a deathly calm; a painfully still deadness settled into my chest.

Bryan had started another impassioned tirade, “I trusted you, and you broke my trust. I’ll never trust you again!” I noted absently that this was the first time I’d ever really heard Bryan truly passionate about anything.

It was my turn to interrupt him, and I did so with an even, formal tone. “For the sake of closure, I need to hear you say that you’ll never pursue anything here with me again. I really care about you, and I’ve been hoping you would start to pursue me again. I had hoped -” I redirected mid-sentence. “I need to hear you say that you’ll never pursue me again.”

“No,” he declared with vehemence. “I’m done. After this, I’m done,” he spat at me.

I flinched involuntarily. “Okay,” I continued with as much external calm as ever. “Well is there anything else you wanted to get out of this conversation before we hang up?”

“I never had anything I wanted to get out of this conversation to begin with,” he snarled at me, voice full of bitterness.

“Okay, then. Have a good rest of your week.”

The click I heard on the other end resounded with finality. I’m done.

Authentically Aurora

Leavetaking – Part I

Walking Away with Luggage“You won’t leave until you can’t stay.”

My counselor used to say this to me while I was going through my broken engagement. I never realized it until last summer, but it’s true that I will not leave a situation until I am absolutely broken and beaten down enough that I cannot bear up under the circumstances any longer.

“You won’t leave until you can’t stay.”

I may have finally gotten to that place with Bryan.
(And there was much cheering from the peanut gallery.)

It takes a lot for someone to spark my attention, gain my trust and earn my respect. But once they do, I’m all in. Even when my ex-fiance told me I was so “Type A” I would likely drive to him to have an affair, I continued to love him and progress toward our marriage. I have found that I am faithful and loyal, almost to a fault.

“You won’t leave until you can’t stay.”

Bryan and I have stayed in touch in the months since our breakup. He called me when he broke his arm mountain biking in Utah, sent me beautiful photos from a hynotherapy course in Sedona, Arizona, and he kept up with me during my London trip, even going so far as to talk about how he’d like to take me back to London someday; show me his old neighborhood and what his life was like there.

I hadn’t physically seen him in three weeks or had a real conversation with him in two weeks when I sent Bryan a “Good morning!” text message last Wednesday. He just bought a new property in a nearby town and had mentioned wanting to take me to see it. I’d felt like we were headed toward rekindling our romance and reached out Wednesday morning with the intent of asking if he’d like to road trip there during the long holiday weekend. But I didn’t hear back from him all day. And when he did finally reply, it wasn’t at all the conversation I expected to have.

Hi there

Hey Bryan! Life is good, I presume?

Always.
Had an interesting talk with my buddy Russ last night…

Really?
Want to talk about your talk?

You tell me

…?
I would be interested to hear if you want to share

I think you know more than I.
It was about a talk that you had with him

Ah that. How’d it go?

A bit upsetting

I’m sorry

You keep saying that
…and then doing things to reinforce it

I had that conversation with Russ in March or April

After the one with Toby
& Chris
& Marcia
& my sister
& before Andie

Bryan’s texts came in such rapid succession that his anger was unmistakable. I had only seen Bryan this angry one other time – when he confronted me about sending a Facebook message to his sister; an event I thought we had already addressed. Even over text messaging, I felt my blood pressure rising in response to the hatred I read in his words. “You tell me.”

I have known for a while that Bryan is a private person. When he took me to Cirque du Soleil for Valentine’s Day, I posted a photo of us together on Facebook. He promptly untagged himself. Hurt, I’d asked why. He explained that a coworker had asked him to go, and he’d turned them down to take me. Bryan said he didn’t want to upset his coworker, so he didn’t want me posting photos of us at the event. Considering I was his Valentine’s date, and we’d been dating for three months by that time, this didn’t make sense to me, but I didn’t push it.

Similarly, Bryan asked me not to post any photos from our sailing trip together, stating that he didn’t want to make his friends jealous of all his travel adventures. But that same logic apparently didn’t apply to his trips to Argentina, Colombia or Canada with friends over the same time period. It would seem his requirement for privacy is specific to matters of the heart.

None of Bryan’s friends knew we were dating until the eve of our sailing trip in March – four months into the relationship – and, even then, I was the one who Toby approached to probe deeper. Toby walked me to my car one evening after bible study when Bryan was out of town. Once at my car, he asked, “So what’s the deal with you and Bryan? Are you guys dating or what?” I remember laughing and replying, “Great question! I wish I knew the answer!”

Chris was a friend who’d stopped by Bryan’s house once early in our relationship. I was still getting to know Bryan and hadn’t met many of his friends at that point, so – like I think many women would do – I’d tilted my head to the side and asked with a wink and a smile, “So how long have you known Bryan? Is he a good guy?” Apparently Chris had told him about it later and thought it was weird that I’d asked. I thought it was weird that he thought it was weird.

I’m an open book. I always have been. In high school, my choir director said to me, “You’re the real deal. With you, what you see is what you get.” Bryan knew this about me from day one. On our very first date, I told Bryan that I’m still a virgin. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I have nothing to hide. I am who I am.

So when Marcia and Andie – two female friends of Bryan’s – asked me what was going on with us, I was happy to tell them. We were like little girls at a slumber party, talking about the boys we have crushes on. It was a compliment to Bryan that we talked about him. But he obviously didn’t see it that way.

So what I am hearing is you saying all my friends are calling and asking you for all this...?

Toby asked. He approached me.

Just like Russ did

He’s the one who suggested I talk to Russ.
Marcia asked me.
Andie asked me.
I was the one to reach out to your sister, but I owned that.

Uhhh ok

I sensed the downward spiral starting. Bryan was irate and not accepting or even absorbing anything I was saying, so I asked:

Would you rather talk about this on the phone?
Or are you too upset to talk?

I received no response.

Or are you finished talking?

His reply was immediate:

I would hate for that to be a topic of future conversations behind my back.

Shaking my head – heart in my throat – I dialed his number and waited for the phone to ring.

A Tale of Two Sides

One PoundThere are two sides to every story like there are two sides to every coin.
I would love to hear your version, and I’d love to tell you mine.
You’ve decided not to trust me, so yours I may never hear,
But if you have the time and are willing to lend your ears,
I’m keen to let you in and give you a look around
My tarnished, scratched-up side of our shared, once-shiny Pound.

I’ve loved you for some time now, but I never could discern
If my affections were reciprocated, so I aimed to learn
If you could ever love me; if you knew how to let me in.
But you mistook my caring for over-sharing, and that’s where we met our end.
If only you had shown me where I really stood with you;
If you’d held my hand, I’d understand you were invested, too.

I was unsure of your affection, and that’s why I acted out.
My heart just longed to better know what your heart was all about.
The conversations that I had, supposedly behind your back,
I only had with friends to learn where your thoughts were at.
They love you well; they want your best; their heart is for your good.
And my aim was just the same as theirs: to better know you if I could.

For months and months, I prayed that you would woo me to yourself.
I prayed you would pursue me and not keep your emotions quelled.
I longed to really know you, but I always sensed you had repressed
Your true self; it seems locked deep within, and no one gains access.
I wish you’d let me love you and that you’d loved me in return.
Is letting someone love you something a closed-off heart can learn?

I’d hoped that you would trust me, but we’ve gone the other way,
To broken shards and broken hearts and broken games we play.
But now the game has ended, and the pieces have returned
To their former lives; their former selves with maybe nothing learned,
Except that love is hard and requires both parties to fight
To fan the flame, to trust, forgive and choose the harder right.

Love is a commitment and a choice we have to make.
People are messy. Life is hard. And we all make mistakes.
Christ loved even the unlovely, and we are called to do the same.
All of us, from time to time, “unlovely” status claim.
I may never fully know how you truly felt about me,
But, if nothing else, I hope you look back and remember me fondly.

I think of you, now and again, and pray for you joy and peace,
With faith we’ll say hello again when this journey is complete.

Authentically Aurora

Simple Joys

Young Old HandsI was sad yesterday. So I called my grandmother.

She lives within ten minutes of my apartment, just on the other side of the freeway. I don’t make the effort to see her often enough.

I said that I just called to check in and say hi, but she wasn’t fooled. After a few minutes of small talk, she asked in her gentle voice, “What can I do for you, sweetheart?”

I started crying. “…will you pray for me?”

“Would you like to come over?” she asked me in her knowing way.

“Yes, please.” I was five years old again, and I just wanted someone to hug me and tell me they love me.

I was at her house in just a few minutes, wearing sweatpants and no makeup. I kicked off my flip flops and settled onto her old, familiar couch. As she poured me some water in the kitchen, I heard her say with delight, “Oh, the cardinal is back!” I walked over to the window, where she eagerly showed me her bird feeder, full of color from the reds and blues of visiting cardinals and blue jays.

“Oh, and look at those squirrels!” Two squirrels chased each other around a tree. Grandma was genuinely delighted, childlike in her enthusiasm.

There is a sweetness to her – a gentleness and simplicity that comes with age. She truly finds joy in the little delights of every day. It was healing for me to see her – a graceful woman in her 80s who has weathered life well. Her life was not without seasons of pain and difficulty, but she speaks with fondness over the years of her life; even the trying times.

She reminds me that I can do this. She is a testament to the fact that there are survivors of the life’s heartaches and that it is possible to suffer well; to come out stronger, kinder, gentler and more loving. I don’t want to be selfish, heart-hearted and bitter. I want to be humble and selfless, looking to the needs of others and not drowning in my own self-interestedness.

Grandma is a portrait of how to walk this out. She has fought the good fight; she has finished the race; she has kept the faith. She is leaving a legacy of love and faithfulness and, Lord willing, someday I hope to be able to inspire a granddaughter of my own in the way she inspires me.

Authentically Aurora