I’ll never forget the day I had to pack that bag. My husband needed to “figure things out” with his lover and I wasn’t about to stick around while he figured them out in our apartment.
“Tell me not to post this,” I said, as I showed him what I had written explaining to all our friends and family that I was no longer a married man. A public announcement means it’s real. No turning back. It took only seconds before I was bombarded from every medium with calls and concerns. No one could believe it, least of all me.
I threw my bag in the car and by the time I put the key in the ignition, I still had no idea where I was going to go when my foot touched the gas pedal, nor did I have any idea where I would sleep that night or any night after it. I did know that for the first time in nine years I would be going to sleep alone and my husband would not.
The pain of that thought and far too many others was almost indescribable, even for a man who loves words. I was 32 at the time, but suddenly, as if time had reversed, I was the frightened, lonely, and sad 23-year-old boy I had been before I met the man who became my husband.
My marriage, my dreams, and my old self slowly died as I drove the long lonely road to Lake Tahoe, a place I’d always associated with healing. It was not then, nor had it ever been my nature to be an optimist but I was struck by a profound feeling that this was much more than an ending. Something magical was being born. Just as there can be no resurrection without crucifixion, this death surely meant that I would be reborn. My heart still felt unbearable pain but my soul was feeling a calm…a contentment…a knowing that this life of mine was about to be turned on its head in a miraculous way.
How could I hurt so much and be so content at the same time? How could I lose the one thing and the one person that meant the most to me, and still feel like I was winning? I look at it as being “hurt” with a small “h” and “Happy” with a capital “H” and we often must hold both at the same time.
Small “h” hurt is what happens when life blows up in our face. The lover leaves, the parent dies, the business fails. It can hurt relentlessly, but it is always temporary.
Capital “H” happy is the power we feel and the strength we find when we overcome small “h” hurt. Capital “H” happy knows that we have failed but we are not the failure. It’s when we feel shame but we know we are not shameful. It’s when we know that who we are and where we’re going is far greater than what we’re currently going through. Happy with a capital “H” is unconditional love for ourselves, and sometimes we can only learn it through pain.
Small “h” hurt shows us what we’re made of and capital “H” happy is the embodiment of all that we are. Capital “H” happy isn’t something we think, it’s something we feel, and it will not entertain any stories about how we’re not good enough or undeserving. It doesn’t have time for pity or victimhood, and it doesn’t want you looking to other people to find it.
My worst pain taught me how to be happy. It taught me I was never meant to sit safely in the shadows of a small “h” happy life, bouncing from one friend, or substance, or lover, or thrill to the next for fleeting happiness that would soon be forgotten or become boring.
My pain showed me who I am and my love for myself gave me the strength to become him. I didn’t come here to travel down someone else’s road, I came here to pave my own. I didn’t come here to look at pictures of pretty places, I came here to see them with my own two eyes. I didn’t come here to search for love I came here to be love. I didn’t come here for shallow friendships, I came here for soul connections. I didn’t come here to read the secrets of the universe, I came here to help write them.
I didn’t come here to wander through the darkness.
I came to be the light.
I didn’t know where I was going when I got in that car, but I know I’ll never go back. I still hurt sometimes, of course I do, but this journey has been worth every scar. My life looks nothing like I thought it would and I am so Happy.