Today I cried over a recipe.
It was a random memory that just overcame me, making me tear up then get angry. A friend of mine is hosting a Pampered Chef show and I decided to browse her website. I clicked through a cookbook link and there was a thumbnail of a cookbook I used to own. Immediately I teared up. It took me a moment to realize why, to connect the image with purchasing that cookbook at a spouse function shortly after The Hubs and I moved to Japan, with making one of those recipes for him as a surprise, with how it became one of his favorites.
It wasn’t the memory in itself that was frustrating. Actually, I’m glad that I even had the recollection since my memory has been pretty terrible for the past several years. It was the timing that fueled me.
I haven’t had this kind of reaction to much of anything about The Hubs since the beginning. I’ve never been one to cry over memories, over anything really. I didn’t cry at his funeral. I don’t cry in public, I always hold it in. See, moments after notification I went into ‘business mode’. Maybe subconsciously I didn’t think I would be able to handle it, so I swallowed my emotions and tackled the tasks at hand. Unfortunately that approach to life stuck with me, and in many ways I’ve done that ever since. Only in the last year or so have I allowed my heart to thaw enough to really let out the things I’ve locked away. I’ve slowly chipped away at the wall I formed around my heart but still hadn’t really allowed myself to just BE…just be whatever, without an expectation of how I should feel or how I should act or who I should please or what I should work on or what I should fix… all of the those damn ‘should’s’.
Not too long ago, I realized I was in love with someone who didn’t love me back. It was a lot to handle and I reacted much the same way, numbing myself to it and thinking if I ignored it it would go away. I moved seamlessly into ‘friend mode’ and got on about my business. Well, I was in another relationship recently that did not work out and through that experience it became clear how much I haven’t let go of either man who claims the two halves of my heart. I’ve felt the Lord tugging at me, quietly nudging me with that still small voice. This time I was ready to listen and what He was telling me was huge.
I finally realized that this the way I cope with hurt. I shut it off, I lock it away, I push it into a corner and ignore it hoping if I starve it, it will die. I did it with The Hubs death, I did with another love, I’ve done it with other more minor disappointments. Instead of facing them head on and giving them to God, allowing myself to hurt and just be alone, my defense mechanism is to put it aside and ‘get to work’… As if staying busy enough will somehow fix or change things. But while giving of yourself can be helpful during a valley, it absolutely will not help you climb to a hill. You will just exhaust yourself. Because those feelings will not just fade away. Instead the hurt will fester, grow in strength, and become a more devastating force when it emerges down the road.
The past few weeks I’ve been focusing more on healing those sporadic holes in my heart, allowing myself to feel any random emotions that may emerge as I stop denying myself my emotions. It has been incredibly painful at times, as the full weight of my loss of The Hubs has hit me hard some moments and the reality that the love of the other half of my heart is unrequited has crushed me at other times. But it has also been an amazing experience. I have immersed myself in prayer and self-reflection and honest scrutiny. I’ve consciously tried to retrain my thoughts. And I can feel myself growing and changing, healing over in small ways that no one else would notice or might find insignificant but are crucial for my future.
But as good for me as this is, I can’t deny that moments like today kind of piss me off. I want to move faster. And this feels backwards. This reaction is something I would have expected to happen four months out, not four years out. I know I am trying not to have expectations, but damn. I cried over a recipe.