It’s probably safe to say that everyone has had their heart broken at some time or another. Sometimes you’re the breaker and sometimes you’re the breakee. Personally, I think neither is such a great, fun walk in the park.
If you have not read my “About” section then you may not know that I was married before I married JJ. So was he for that matter. I won’t divulge his juicy dirt because I blog with integrity and that’s his story. But I am going to share a little bit about my experience because, well, it’s mine and I can.
For the sake of this story and to keep my first husband’s name confidential, let’s call him Steve. Steve and I met when I was a sixth grader at a small town middle school in the midwest. He was a big eighth grader and the heart-throb of the school at that. One day a seventh grader appeared before me and gave me a note folded into one of those origami-like folds that had the little flap you had to pull to be able to read it (this is very heavy stuff, I know).
I couldn’t believe it and thought it was a joke for about a week. THE STEVE of the eighth grade thought I was cute and wanted to “go” with me? (Of course, I remember my mother saying “Go where?” I just want to know if this response is in some mothering handbook for parents of preteens and teens? I heard it more than once during my formative years.) It simply couldn’t be true. I had just left elementary school. The thought of a boy wanting to “go” with me, one that was popular and handsome at that, was unfathomable to my 12 year old brain.
But alas, it was true. I knew it to be so when I saw him in the alley by my home on his moped (it was 1986, people) hoping to chat with me when I walked home after school. I was smitten and tongue-tied.
I did “go” with him as far as “going” with someone meant in the sixth grade. We talked on the phone at night and listened to bad eighties rock love songs. He scared me to death. I didn’t speak much as I had no idea what to say to him but I knew he made my heart beat faster than I had ever remembered it beating before.
I was diagnosed with a severe case of mononucleosis and missed about a month of school. During this month, a new, cute eighth grade girl moved in. I was out. My heart was in pieces.
My family moved to a much larger midwestern city and I loved it. My heart broke a few more times and I had the unpleasant experience of sometimes being the one to break a heart. Not fun.
During the first month as a college student at a Big Ten university, I received a call after a football game. It was Steve. He had heard through the grapevine that I was attending the very same college in which he was attending as well. He was about two blocks away when he made that call. Did I want to get together sometime for dinner?
After six years in which I had matured a bit and grown-up a little (I said a little), his voice made my heart start pounding yet again. I accepted.
The rest, as they say, is history. Steve and I were college sweethearts. Some called us the “All American” couple – I was president of my sorority, he had been president of his fraternity pledge class. We were a golden couple. It was assumed that the next step for us was marriage. Everyone assumed correctly.
We were married two years out of college.
Our marriage was great for a while – we bought a darling new house in an area of a northern suburb that was just developing as an art’s district. We settled into a newlywed life and had fun. Somewhere along the line, we had too much fun and while I started to pull back a little and stop desiring the party life, my partner did not.
What happened next was enough to curl the hair on the back of your neck. Since I do blog with integrity, I will not share the messy details but let’s just say I watched my life spiral out of control and was left to see the bloody pieces of it every where I looked. I had been deceived. I had been lied to. I had been made to feel that I was less than dirt.
Did I mention that my father was dying? Or that I had a cancer scare that year? Good times. Especially at the very-mature age of 27.
During this pitiful time of my life, I was teaching second and third graders in a multiage class. Quite frankly, their sweet innocence and joy pulled me through and I still, to this day, remember each member of the class from that year. They were precious gifts.
One day I was at the overhead teaching about fractions. Thirty seconds in, I had to leave. I couldn’t stop crying.
The pain was endless. Each day I relished the 20 seconds I experienced first thing in the morning when I was just waking up and was not coherent enough to remember the drama that had become my daily existence. 20 seconds of each day was not enough to keep me going.
I was stripped raw. I was in a panic. I didn’t know what to do.
So like Forrest Gump, I just started running. When I laced up my shoes and tied my hair into a ponytail, I was free. It was January and it was cold. I could sob and cry my eyes out and no one knew because it was so cold that it looked like it was the arctic temperatures, not my heartache, that was causing the tears.
Ironically enough, the running group I joined to help me run my first mini-marathon met at a church. A beautiful one. One with a large sanctuary that drew me in after running class with its quiet, beautiful cross. It seemed to simply say to me “I’m here” every time I passed by. Some days I quietly acknowledged its presence and somedays I stopped and leaned my head against the glass and cried.
The prayer chapel of this church continues to be one my most favorite places in the world. Candles glowing, quietness abound, a cross amongst stones and a journal for prayers should you choose to use it. It helped me to survive.
Accident that my running class met in this church? I think not.
God has been chasing me and pursuing me my entire life. But never in a more profound and obvious way than at that horrid time when I lived minute by minute and didn’t think I could go on.
My dad did pass away. I did not have cancer. I started to pick myself up.
The story does have a happy ending. I began to rebuild. I learned a lot about myself. I started an earnest walk with God. I slowly started to sort myself out of the rubble and carnage that had become my life.
I met another boy. I risked again and fell in love. He is my prince charming. He was who I was meant to be with from the very beginning. We have three beautiful babies to prove how good God really is.
I love the song “The Glory of Love” sung by Bette Midler in the movie “Beaches”. You’ve got to give a little. Take a little. And let your poor heart break a little. That’s the story of, that’s the glory of, love.
I gave. I took. My heart broke. The glory of love prevailed.
I made it. I. Am. A. Survivor.