Okay, “Just Breathe” by Pearl Jam keeps playing over and over in my head, and tugging at my heart, and I just kept trying to figure out exactly why, what is it I apparently need to see here. And I finally figured it out … or rather, the answer finally formed in my heart. It is for my husband.
When you have been hurt deeply by love, it is the most natural thing in the world to withdraw from it. Now there are certain types of love it is just impossible to withdraw from, like the love of a mother for a child. But the optional ones you tend to push away. That is why it is so common for parents who have lost a child to end up divorcing. It happened to me, after Michaela was kidnapped. I’ve had so many reporters in this last year wanting me to explain to them why that happened, and I just can’t. Who can unravel her own heart and figure out why it does what it does? Not me. But it happened.
Even though Michaela was not kidnapped in this last year, the events of the year really, truly made it feel like it had just happened. And I will admit, I have really, truly been a basket case — maybe even more so than the first time, because now I have so much practice at being a basket case I am really good at it! Or perhaps it is just because I when Jaycee was found, I really, truly believed that Michaela would be found with her. I woke up at 5:00 in the morning to the news that Jaycee had been found, and had been found here in the Bay Area,and I just knew that Michaela would be with her. There had always been a link between the cases in my mind, from the time Jaycee was kidnapped. And it has happened on several occasions that when one missing child is found, another is found with him or her. So when those hopes crashed, they crashed hard. Meanwhile, every feeling was dredged up, fresh and raw. Honestly, I sometimes didn’t think I could just keep getting up every day and doing what I had to do. If I’d had a choice, I probably wouldn’t have. Sometimes in the worst of times, responsibility is what saves us.
But my heart … well, you know, if you have been reading my blog … it felt like a soggy mess clumped in the middle of my chest. And it wasn’t working properly. In some areas, it worked overtime, and in some areas, it just drew back. I know that one of those areas was my marriage. I was aware of it. I thought to myself, if I keep behaving this way, I am going to end up divorced. But it was compulsive, automatic, and I just could not change my patterns of behavior.
My husband is not Michaela’s father. He never knew her. He can imagine how I feel, but only from that necessary distance of people who haven’t experienced it and don’t want to experience it. Like everybody! There was one program that aired this past year about Michaela, can’t remember which, that my husband watched, and he told me that it was the first time he’d really been able to feel the reality of Michaela’s kidnapping. I could tell him, “I’m having a really hard time now,” but he couldn’t possibly know the depth of it. He’s been very good throughout it. He’s been as understanding as he could be. But it has impacted him, and even he has recently noted that things really could not go on the way they have been, and I just sat mute. I thought, I know that, but I feel powerless to change.
Then this verse from the Pearl Jam song started playing over and over and over and over and over again in my head, and finally I understood it.
Yes I understand that every life must end, aw huh.
As we sit alone, I know someday we must go, aw huh.
I’m a lucky man to count on both hands
The ones I love.
Some folks just have one,
Others they got none, aw huh.
Stay with me…
Let’s just breathe.
Practiced are my sins,
Never gonna let me win, aw huh.
Under everything, just another human being, aw huh.
Yeah, I don’t wanna hurt, there’s so much in this world
To make me bleed.
Stay with me…
You’re all I see.
Did I say that I need you?
Did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn’t I’m a fool you see.
No one knows this more than me.
As I come clean,
I wonder everyday
as I look upon your face, aw huh.
Everything you gave
And nothing you would take, aw huh.
Nothing you would take,
Everything you gave,
Hold me till I die,
Meet you on the other side.
So I’ve written about this song several times now, but it just captures the whole of choosing to love even though you know you/they will die, leave, whatever. I feel that line, “Oh I don’t want to hurt. There’s so much in this world to make me bleed.” And yet what if I don’t open up to love, what if I don’t tell you that I need you, I want you, I love you? Then I am a fool.
There are so many people who suffer from this syndrome. Anybody who has had their heart broken, by a parent, a child, a boyfriend or girlfriend, is a little reluctant to lay it on the line again. But you’ve just gotta do it!
So I crawled out of my shell, and I told my husband that I want him, that I need him, and that I love him. I talked about some of the things I have been going through. You know, when you hold your love back from someone, they tend to feel it is because there is something wrong with them, that they are somehow not good enough, and I don’t want him to feel that way. He is no more perfect than I am, but he is a good husband, and I do love him. And talking, reaching out, emerging from my shell a little bit, helped to open up some of those places that have been sealed off by the pain of these last few months.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I know that I can’t allow myself to behave destructively in my relationships. If you are not willing to put your heart out there, then one day you just might wake up and realize that you have lost something that you really, actually loved, and it will be too late to do anything about it. If love hurts you through no fault of your own, that’s one thing. If it hurts you because you have been a fool, that’s another. Don’t make yourself live with regrets.