another lifetime ago, my now-ex-wife handed me a wrapped holiday present, saying, “i don’t know how you feel about the tao, but….” she didn’t finish that statement. i didn’t open the present until days later when i was alone. she gave me a calendar of lao tzu’s sayings. two things struck me about the gift: she didn’t know i’d been studying that tao te ching for a couple years already (how had i failed to share that with her?) and she knew me well enough and trusted herself enough to get me the calendar without knowing how i felt about the tao.
“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”
most of my relationships have ended up where they were heading. a few have surprised me. a few made last-minute hairpin turns or 540 degree spin-outs, abruptly changing course. some friends became lovers. some lovers became friends. some friends and lovers became people i didn’t want to know anymore.
my ex-wife and i ended up where we were heading, we just couldn’t see where we were going. we didn’t know each other anymore because we quit telling each other the important things, the hard-to-talk-about stuff, the scary subjects, the heartbreaking confessions, and because we stopped discussing what matters most, we ended up breaking each other’s hearts.
utilizing 20/20 hindsight to trace where i lost myself, lost my center, lost my heart, and why, i find five convergences that occurred in a short span of time–two heartbreaks and three signs that i ignored rather than heeded. but i spent several more years in self-destructive behavior and addictive relationships before i could change directions.
enough time has passed, enough years have gone by, that the old life, the one that included my ex-wife, seems like a dream. (if you have an ex-wife that you never wanted to leave, you probably know what i mean.) she isn’t my first thought when i wake in the morning. she isn’t the last thought when i go to bed at night. i still miss her, i still ache for her, but not the way i used to. the ache is now a phantom lost limb sort of pain, not a flaming spear piercing the heart.
in the years intervening between losing her and now, i tried loving others. i tried really hard. but the truth is, i left my heart with her and the kids when i left them, and i couldn’t love anyone else well without my heart.
i’ve been tracking my heart for the past year, following at a safe distance, watching where my heart goes and what my heart wants. my heart turned around, leapt towards me, and settled back into my chest last week. my heart is tender and bruised and sore, but it is mine again. my heart came home. i can see where i’m headed. i’ve got a new compass guiding me. i’m getting to where i’m going, slowly. if i don’t change direction, i’ll probably arrive.