LOVE AFTER LOVE (Derek Walcott)
“The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life. (emphasis added)“
Hello again my dear friends. I wanted to introduce you to one of my favorite poems, “Love After Love”, by Derek Walcott. It has been a long time since we last communicated and in the last 4 years, I have been busy greeting myself at my own front door, over and over again.
Truly greeting yourself, and deciding to love the deeps depths of your physical being and all the colors of your soul, is not easy. If it were, there wouldn’t be so many self-help books and Instagram quotes about it. A few years ago I was dealing with a lot of personal struggles and when I came across this poem, it inspired me to really love myself, really love my life and somehow obtain a level of happiness that I wasn’t sure even existed. I didn’t know how to even start. I saw this poem as an internal goal that I would probably never come close to achieving but something I still hoped for.
The timing was never “the right time” to fully feast on my life. I thought I needed to grow professionally, build on my life goals, strengthen my close relationships, work on a healthier body, and learn to forgive past pains. Don’t make the same mistake I did, as I have spent years waiting for the right time to fully embrace myself, my life, my love, and my happiness. It took me creating life and finally experiencing unconditional love for another being to realize that it was possible to have that same unconditional love for myself. Me, loving myself unconditionally, is still a project I am working on but the time has come where I can finally greet myself with elation. I feel more beautiful, more vibrant, more alive, more significant than I have ever felt before. After years of always hungering for more, today I am feasting on my life.
If you are waiting for the right time, I challenge you to greet yourself every morning, as sometimes the minutes in-between each sunrise can minimize your strengths, make you question your values, re-examine your relationships…still feast on your life. Know that you can continue to grow professionally, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally while loving yourself without any conditions and limits. Welcome both the changes and constants in your life. Praise yourself like you would your best friend. Forgive yourself like you would a close family member, who would never apologize for any wrongdoing, but you forgive anyways. Little by little, time after time, take back the pieces of your heart, whether you had given them to an unappreciating lover, unapologetic relationship, unfulfilling job, materialism, or a higher presence that left you empty. Return the pieces of your heart to yourself, for you are most deserving of your unconditional love. And one day, I hope you greet yourself with elation and feast on your life until your heart is full.
For some people “will you marry me”
Is not a virgin term that escapes from their lips.
It serves to be only the tip
Of the matter that leads to disaster
And they wonder why, you wonder if
“I love you” is just a script
That seems so easily to drip from their lips.
For some people there is no “one and only”
Forever only you will hold me
Forever and always is just a trick tease
That speeds up your heartbeat
And then passes by
Just like a quick breeze.
And they wonder why, you wonder if
This love for you will also soon cease.
There is that reality that before you
There was her.
There was laughing and kissing
That had his toes curling
And ears ringing
And it was her name he was singing
With praises so high.
Her shadow follows your every move
From the way you cook to the way you clean
To the words you say and
How your actions may seem
To be like hers
Or maybe nothing like hers
If it suits his mood.
This may be a good or bad thing
Depending on memories it may allude
Like the times he missed her so much
He could have cried
Or the way her hair fell in waves
Before it dried into
The strands of joy that would caress his face
In the same bed
That he invites you to share with him.
And in the quiet moments
I get to thinking
And all the ways he used to love her, sinks in
To my brain, my heart
And I can’t stop, once I start.
He used to kiss her lips with a fever
Erased all doubt from her mind
And made her a believer
Of his words, his touches…
And the ring on her finger
A memory that still lingers
In the box that I found near the bed
Leftovers from two people unwed.
And he wonders why, I wonder if
An ending between us could occur
When I don’t have to look far to see
That before me, there was her.
Facebook is like all the headlines of the day’s news…except it’s of people that you actually know. You find out who just had a baby, who got a job promotion, who lost a loved one, who bought a new house, and who is getting married. Well it’s official…he’s engaged…to someone other than me. Although I knew that fact was coming soon, I still felt unprepared for the news.
Our love was before the time of cell phones and txt messages and Facebook and MySpace. Our love blossomed between the lines of notebook papers written after rushed class assignments and passed in between hallways. I still have every letter he wrote me in our 2 and half years…and I still have every email and message he has written me since. Even after our relationship ended, we built a friendship that spanned past college graduations and law school struggles. Yes ironically, he ended up being a lawyer too…a passion he never discovered until after our break up, but one I would like to think that I influenced. I used to call him on holidays and every birthday. I’ve never forgotten his birthday and I wonder if I ever will…February 7th. He will be 29 this year.
I am happy for him…really I am. I am happy for her, since he is probably twice the man that I used to know and the man that I knew was pretty fucking amazing. If our future depends on the foundation of our pasts, then because of him, my foundation has strength, friendship, values, and worth. I am no longer that 16 year old girl but my current 27 year old woman status still adheres to the worth that he saw in me. It is probably for that reason that I have remained single for as long as I have. I know my value and I will not settle for less.
I am numb. Even though we haven’t spoken in a while, it just now hit me that he is no longer mine. I will always be remembered as his high school sweetheart and we will hug and speak pleasantries if we should ever meet again…but he is now officially hers. I wonder if this is how he felt when he heard about my engagement and was he secretly happy when he found out that there would be no marriage for me. I knew this day would come…when we would finally part ways and the memory of our young love quickly fades away…even more so then they already have. I knew from the moment I saw their picture that she would replace me completely and from that day forth, I would linger only on old photos that he no longer looks at. He has finally found “the one” worthy enough to replace me. As for me…I am still searching.
Ok…hopefully no one intentionally aspires to be cling wrap. It’s just one of those things that happens when sometimes the paths in life that we take…lead us to the wrong people. Instead of running the other way once we realize that they are not good for anything but lies, cheap thrills, and wasting our time…we somehow get “caught” or “stuck”…and just like cling wrap, it may take a few tries before we can finally peel ourselves off. If any of these pics apply to you and your “relationship”…then it may be a sign that you need to walk the other way… unless you aspire to be cling wrap.
NOTE TO ANY MAN I DATE IN THE FUTURE: You must be willing to leave your uneaten food at the table, walk to the car parked a few blocks away, to go get your phone charger, so that you can take pictures of me, if that is my desire. Yes…my pedestal for what I expect out of my future man has risen even higher! But don’t blame me…blame him.
The him that causes me to smile that comfortable, easy smile, shared between friends and past lovers. The him that can pull off a hot pink dress shirt, brown slacks, and brown and pink matching socks to complete the outfit. He looked good.
We argued on the way to the restaurant because he was late, had no idea where he was going, and I was hungry. After 7 years, some things never change. We talked, we laughed, we took pictures and teased each other about who was the more conceited one out of the two of us. After looking through the pics on his phone, the evidence was clear that it was him.
We don’t always get along and barely agree on anything, but for some reason we have remained in each other’s lives, despite a short-lived romance that was more down than up. We don’t have much in common, don’t share the same circle of friends, and haven’t even made time to see each other, yet for some reason I know his number will never be deleted from my phone. My friends sometimes wonder why I put up with his snarky remarks and uncensored comments. It’s for the same reason I still am close with my high school friends, still keep in touch with folks from college…I like having someone in my life who can appreciate the woman I have become, because they once knew the girl I was. He is one of the few guys out there, who knows how I voted during the presidential election of 2004, who knows what I looked like in pictures that I have long since deleted from Facebook, and who will proudly acknowledge my success because he once helped me complete homework assignments.
He has a good head on his shoulder and a good heart. Someday he will learn to love a woman who will put up with his weird disdain for water, Michael Jackson obsession, and conceited mirror loving ways. If they are blessed enough to have children, he will be the most devoted and loving father. That wife and mother won’t be me…but it was nice to know, that at one time it could have been.
We haven’t spoken since that dinner and he is moving to Atlanta, Georgia…this time for the right reasons. If our history is any indication, it will be months, maybe years before we speak or ever see each other again. But the last text he sent me said, “If my wife doesn’t mind, you will be invited to my wedding.” I will take that, as an early invitation. Until then, good-bye for now and take care.
The following words were forwarded to me by one of my best friends. Unfortunately, I don’t know who the original author is, so I can’t give credit where credit is due, but it seems like someone read my mind and decided to write out my thoughts for me. Everyone goes through a period in their lives, where they hold on to things…whether it’s a past love, past pain, past memories, past happiness… And everyone goes through another period in their lives, where they are trying to let go. Some people succeed and some people never really do… So this is for everyone out there still learning to let go and I hope it gives you that extra strength. Speaking from personal experience…letting go, really is the best gift you can give yourself. I haven’t looked back since and I can honestly say, this is the happiest I have been in a very long time!
Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of fear.
She let go of judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
… She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.
Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice.
She didn’t read a book on how to let go.
She just let go.
She let go of all the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations
about how to do it just right.
She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.
She made no public announcement.
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.
She just let go.
She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t utter one word.
She just let go.
No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort.
There was no struggle. It wasn’t good. It wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.
Here’s to giving ourselves the gift of letting go…
I used to be engaged once
To a man with the sweetest heart, the softest lips,
And the kindest eyes.
He made me feel complete,
My heart stood still
And my stomach carried butterflies.
Oh how I loved him so…
He had this laugh that rose from his belly
And filled the house with its sound.
He smelled of a natural freshness and lotion
I could breath in his scent forever
And happily drown.
He told me I was beautiful
With every moment he could spare.
There was never a doubt in my mind
How much, for me, he truly cared
But something held me back
From saying “I Do”.
I gave up all his love and more
To chase dreams of “what ifs” with you.
(TOO BE CONTINUED…)