Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I am a Superhero. I am Harry Potter.

Dumbledore's words ring in my mind-- "with great power comes great responsibility." That was D, wasn't it? I can't keep all the epic sages straight (oh my gosh, was that punny!), but I doubt it was my own wise man on the mountain, Andrew. Though I think he would say the same thing. Regardless, it is true.
When I was a wee lass, I made the dreadful mistake of telling my little brother I hated him. Of course I didn't, but you can bet I got into some HEFTY trouble for saying it. Hate was a four-letter word in our family, and its use was strictly verboten. As I've grown older, I've understood why with greater clarity. Though I'm positive I'll feel guilty all my days for accidentally slamming my brother's fingers in the Jeep door, and worse for elbowing him in the face and giving him a massive nosebleed, nothing haunts me more than the few times as a child I lost my temper and said mean things to him. The same with my sister. I regret not letting her play the Babysitters Club board game with a childhood friend who came to see me, but I feel a hundred times worse for sitting by and letting the so-called friend tell Ashley that she hated her.
Likewise, I think of the most painful episodes of my life. I didn't like it when the kids tripped me on the way to the bus because I was a trifle nerdy and carried a briefcase in fifth grade (resulting in my own first broken nose of three), but I hated it all the more when they told me I was stupid or fat or weird or my legs were hairy or whatever it is kids in fifth grade say. The summer before high school, I was in this summer science camp at NAU, and for some reason, one of the older boys told me to "go to hell." It was like getting punched in the stomach, such was my shock. And once when we got separated after a school activity, because I was too busy talking to old chums to remember finding my little sister, she cussed me out. Big time. I totally deserved it, but I wish she would have just given me broken nose number four. You know, sticks and stones and all that, because anyone over the age of six knows that words pack the most devastating punch.
Well, obviously, I'm older now. I've mostly learned to bite my tongue in the heat of the moment... well, if it's an argument, anyway. I still don't have much control when I'm sad-- I'll blubber on and on without an edit button, but I think most of the inner circle has come to accept that as a charming quirk. At least they're kind about the obvious shortcoming. And I still have my less-than-gracious days. In what we'd call a significant fight with someone not too long ago (duh! of course you know who I'm talking about, though I'm trying to wean myself), I think I said some stuff in exasperation that I wish I could take back. I've tried to get the words to come out in the myriad apologies I've sent via various media without any acknowledgement. It worries me to know that words are my own brand of superpower.
I can use my words to destroy-- to rip someone to shreds. I don't do that... at least, I've never done it intentionally. I might craft some barb here or there on the side of the joke, but I try to deliver it with love. I can weave colloquialisms and idioms and cliches into a fresh point of view. I can write and speak to deliver a spiritually powerful message, or I can use the skills for stand-up comedy. And of course, there's my own brand of favorite expression-- channeling my inner angsty-teenager in a diatribe on anything from health care reform to rage on behalf of my oppressed Polish people (at the hands of some of my other ancestors, I might add) to the obvious favorite: my weepy love for the man of the moment (or the man of eternity, as I sometimes foolishly place my beaux on an impossible pedestal). They may be run-on sentences, but they are mine, and for whatever reason, people listen. That's pretty humbling.
And still, it's shocking. How I laugh when I hear someone relate a story I've told (unless it is the truly ridiculous and I end up consoling the likes of Billy Gupton for hours upon hours-- "No, Billy, I would NEVER say that you are a horrible kisser!"). There's a certain satisfaction that comes from people hiring you to write... to think I could once again make money off of all this blows my mind. But that's not as remarkable as knowing that something I've said in jest can change the whole trajectory of a relationship with someone (eg., a boy I jokingly told I was on the rebound now sincerely says he loves me; an impossibly good-looking chap who now has a complex because I laughed at the thought of kissing him; a man who quickly married a woman who is in all likelihood my opposite when I told him I'd never marry him; even my mere vocalizations are enough-- after I screamed in a guy's face three times when he tried to kiss me after a fireside, I didn't hear from him again until six weeks later when he was engaged to someone else).
So that's it. I've discovered it. But I'm also my own kryptonite.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Gallery of Broken Hearts

I think that I'm getting better at existing.

There are great things to be happy about.

For example-- I love kicking through crunchy leaves. I'm driving a super sweet Chrysler 300 C. My life feels slightly aristocratic, mostly due to occasional luxuries like an afternoon of fun (think "The Duchess" [by the way, what is it about TRUE aristocrats that they can't be faithful... I mean, at least not in the movies?], sales at Anthropologie and Dillards, a couple of hours browsing at Borders, buying organic produce at Sunflower Market, etc.). I walk through my life with Ingrid Michaelson for a soundtrack (who Hilary Z. knew about ages ago, thank you very much!) and the cutest little girl imaginable for my niece (and possibly the sole beneficiary in my will someday as it seems I'm cabbaging onto her because a) she's impossibly wonderful and b) I'm currently barren [wait-- can you be a barren virgin?]). Speaking of Zoey-kins, here is a picture of us:

She's definitely worth amassing a small fortune for someday. That is, so long as she continues to love her old spinster aunt the best.

Of course, it's not all that easy. I still have a hard time getting out of my cozy bed in the mornings... though it's worse getting in bed in the first place. So long as I keep myself 100 percent engaged in stuff then I can handle my days. I've moved into an even more productive lifestyle. I'm a little nervous at the moment because I only have a few more things on today's to-do list. I've got to be busy for at least another seven hours before bedtime. I think I've got to pick up crocheting hats for blind Polish orphans again. I could always just read, you say. But reading isn't as comforting as you'd think. I started re-reading "New Moon" (again, Hil, that's a shout-out to you... I decided to reread all the "Twilight" books before the movie comes out because you're reading them) but it bothers me this time. When Bella is catatonic progressing to reckless in Edward's absence, I feel justified and less alone, but knowing how the book ends, I'm afraid it'll give me false hope for my own real-life story. Even the true-life people I know who have weathered heartache (who are basically everyone I know) give me a dangerous sense of hope for eventual love and reconciliation, but I worry that such hope will prevent me from doing that whole "letting go" thing. It's kind of a mess.

Moving on is messy too. I've got a sweet male fan club with members jockeying fruitlessly for my attention, but I just can't really give most of them the time of day. I try to, out of duty and appreciation. But my heart is full and it moved to Las Cruces.

Monday, October 13, 2008


OK. Deep breathing. I had a good weekend. BYU football is still bringing me joy. I hung out with some really close friends. I managed to get my house in presentable order. I bulked up the food storage and bought my bridesmaid dress. I visited with my cousin and I got a little quality time in with my niece. On the whole, it was healthy and productive.
And you know how when you're in soul-searching mode you can get inspiration anywhere? Part of me hates to admit it, and a bigger chunk of me despises myself for pulling the dramatic 7th-grader move I'm about to, but seriously, I heard this song that gave me some good perspective. Ew. I can't believe I'm posting lyrics (nothing like somebody else's words on MY blog, but I just can't not share them, and plagiarism is a no-no), but they're from the musical "Children of Eden." Noah sings about Japheth:

"As a child I found a sparrow that had fallen from its nest/
And I nursed it back to health till it was stronger than the rest/
But when I tried to hold it, then it pecked and scratched my chest till I let it go/
And I watched it fly away from me with its bright and selfish song/
And part of me was cursing I had helped it grow so strong/
And I feared it might go hungry, and I feared it might go wrong/
But I could not close the acorn once the oak began to grow/
And I cannot close my heart to what it fears and needs to know/
That the hardest part of love is letting go."

OK. All cheesiness aside, I realize that letting go may be what's required of me now. I don't want to, though. I feel that pull of unconditional love. Even when I don't like Ray's choices (and the only ones that really hurt me or make me upset are those where he's cutting himself off from other people who love him-- namely our mutual friends), I still ache for his happiness. If letting go will give it to him, I'll do it. But it's a huge leap of faith. It's not like my love for him will someday make him boomerang back to me. There are no guarantees. This type-A pushing personality of mine tempts me every day to buy a load of silverware to drive down and hand deliver to him (it's a long story, but suffice it to say it would be an act of desperate love). But I know that's not what he wants.
This morning I woke up thinking about how it takes three weeks to make or break a habit. Ray cut me off fifteen days ago. If I were just a habit to him, the detox should take full effect in a matter of days. But I still secretly hope that he's hanging by at least a thread to our friendship. It's got me tied up in knots, but I'm not ready to cut the cord. I'm not desperately clinging to it, but I'm still lassoed.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sleep Walking

So on the whole, I'm doing... better. That surge of mid-week energy was wonderful and liberating and empowering. Last night, I surprised myself as I suddenly cried through my evening prayers. So it's a process. Maybe it's because you-know-who (OK, when did Ray turn into Voldemort? I don't know) will be in town this weekend visiting his family. I mean, I think he will. Obviously I don't know much any more. Except that healing certainly doesn't happen overnight.
But hey, onward, right?
I'm still a bit of an insomniac. Last night was the first night in ages I didn't have to be anywhere, so I thought, "Hey, I'm going to bed!" But no such luck. It took three episodes of "My So-Called Life" and reading an entire book before I could manage to turn off my brain enough to rest. There really wasn't any reason for this. The night before was a similar struggle, but that was due to some FANTASTIC tentative news I got that night: Not only am I expecting a visit from my dear Andrew the great (yes, the guy with the erstwhile mustache), but also it is possible our friend Nathan will be coming at the same time!! Nothing is even set in stone, but I was just like the little boy on the Disney commercial scolded by his mom for being awake ("We're too excited to sleep!"). Such a weekend would be a Polish-love extravaganza. I started planning the logistics of who would get each room, and what we'd do while they're here. I danced around my house so much that I'm sure the adrenaline is what kept me awake.
Maybe I've also not been sleeping in anticipation for the weekend. Ta-Da! It's here. Kind of. I still have mountains of paperwork to get through, but I'm all at once excited and ready to throw up. Tonight my friend Adam is taking me to Waffle House and we're going to have a Yahtzee tournament. Tomorrow night I'm hanging out with my friend Judge. We're going with the branch posse to watch a movie in San Lorenzo canyon. I know, I know. These are not big deal things worth getting bent out of shape over. And yet, I just have had such a hard time being socially normal that it all seems scary and weird. It's like my body suddenly sprouted jets and my blood is gurgling. That can't be normal, right?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My Cup Runneth Over

Last night, I had the BEST experience. It wasn't anything most people would find riveting, but I went to this stake Relief Society training meeting. I know! Snooze, right? Well, generally speaking, yes, they are, but this one was different. I don't know what it was. I just left the meeting on fire and excited to launch back into Relief Society stuff. I honestly couldn't stop smiling. With the exception of the last couple of weeks (and the last three posts or so), I typically consider myself a happy person, but I really can't tell you how long it's been since I felt that good. My face literally hurt from smiling so much. Even though I was desperately exhausted (still recovering from Zoey's generous cold), I was so energetic and effervescent that I had to go over to some friends' house to share my news. I think they thought I was crazy. But it's the kind of crazy I'll take any day.
Here's what I'm reminded of (you see, I can't say that I learned it, exactly, because it's something I knew in my head, but my heart had forgotten): the love you give out is really what sustains you and makes you feel good. Sure, everyone wants to receive love, and believe me, I get a lot. I can't tell you how absolutely moved I've been by my friends and family's goodness and concern and loyalty and prayers and generosity (a special shout out to my van-time girls for the world's greatest Halloween package!). I am positively grateful and overwhelmed by the love people willingly give to me. I don't know another girl who has it better than I do in that regard. But again, what brings that purest joy is GIVING love. When I left that meeting last night, I was overcome by the love I have for my Relief Society sisters. I felt this magnificent concern not only for them, but for all the people in my life I've been blessed to know. It was a true answer to prayers. That's another thing I've learned. If you are doubting God is listening to you, pray to bless another person's life. I guarantee you'll get an immediate answer. My prayers of late have been to be blessed with other people to focus on rather than my personal heartache. They have been answered a hundred fold. I'm exhausted, but I'm happy. Again, I'll take it.
So here's what I was thinking-- I might liken this principle of love to filling an ice-cube tray. You can try to fill the spaces individually, but you just get a better result when you over-fill one and it spills into the other. Love is like that. The more you love one person or thing, the greater your capacity to fill all the others. And in my life, I've got this one little compartment that is stubbornly empty and unfillable at the moment. I don't know if it has a leak, or if it's deeper than the other compartments, or if someone else keeps sucking all the water out as fast as I can pour it in. But it doesn't matter. Because it the long-run, my life is 11/12 full of love, and sooner or later that last part of the tray will fill up as well. In the mean time, all the rest of the love sustains me and gives me what Emma Magenta calls "A gorgeous sense of hope."
That's not to say that I'm 100% better, nor that I don't still ache for Ray. I do. I still wake up with a pit in my stomach hoping that he's happy (though word on the street is that he perhaps isn't-- whether that has anything to do with me is neither here nor there). I think that's why I still can't eat normally and that my stomach is on the edge of revolt at all times. But I'm trying to shift the love I have for him into another compartment or two. Perhaps he's best suited for the category of admiration I have for men in my life I've loved platonically like Andrew or Nathan. There was certainly a strong element of that in our relationship. Or maybe I should shift some of that love over to the "part of my history I'd never change" where I keep special love for my childhood ideal, Shawn Parker, or the fax-love Grant and I felt, or the way I loved Reuben for taking me under his wing in college and never treating me like a mere convenience. I still can't move him completely from the maddeningly empty part of the tray, but maybe he'll get a little company after I go on my two dates this weekend with some other fellows. However it turns out, it'll be ok. I'm filling and refilling the rest of the tray. And I think that someday, when someone makes me feel that same kind of complete love and happiness like I felt last night for all the other great loves of my life, then I'll know it's right and I can move on.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Nearly Imperceptible Progress

So this whole piecing my life back together thing is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I mean, I can kind of remember what it felt like a time or two before, but right now I still feel like I've been hit by a truck. On the bright side, if I was able to (mostly) forget the pain associated with previous heartache, logic tells me I'll get over this one too. But it still feels like there's no light at the end of the tunnel.
I hate how dramatic this will sound, but it honestly feels like someone's put a 500-lb weight on my chest. The only way I've been able to sleep for the last few days has been with the help of the aforementioned Tylenol PM. When I wake up, for about 15 seconds I feel refreshed (because 8+ hours of continuous sleep feels so foreign and decadent), but then I remember how sad I am. My arms are restless, like I'd like someone to hold onto, but I keep coming up short. Even if I had someone to hug (besides my niece, who is wonderful), I think they'd still feel empty because nothing felt so right as becoming half of a human pretzel looking for a cozy position whilst cuddling in my over-sized (but too small for two grown-ups) chair and ottoman.
And I'm afraid of everything. Everywhere I walk in my house, I gaze longingly at the last thing he touched. The rumpled hand towel in the guest bathroom nearly started me crying again. I couldn't straighten it. It would erase him. It would diminish him.
There's a movie I wanted to see that opens today. I know he had plans to go with a big group of friends to see it tonight. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to see it, because I associate it so strongly with him.
I threw out the leftover cake I made him, because I couldn't stand the sight of it. There's some leftover cheddar in the fridge from the sandwich I made for him, but I can't eat it. Every time I go outside, I see the hill where we hiked, we talked, we fought, and we made up. At choir practice the other night, I cried in the bathroom with his mother. I didn't go to Texas with my mom and sister this weekend because I couldn't handle driving through his hometown, and I didn't want to deal with buyer's remorse from shopping to numb the pain.
I guess if there's a bright side, it's that I'm really trying to dig out of this. And, because I have no pride left whatsoever, I'm not really ashamed to say that it's taking help. Lots of help. Help from listening and caring friends, help from a wonderful ecclesiastical leader, help from some medication with nasty side-effects, all of it. I guess I just ruined the hook for my Valerie Bertinelli-style autobiography someday. Newsflash! Rachel Sego is a headcase. And maybe a lost cause.
I will say this: getting down so low is really helping me appreciate how truly blessed my life in general is. While I waited at the doctor's office the other day, I listened to a woman tell me about how hard her life is while she takes care of her disabled husband, her 2-year-old daughter, her 5-month-old grandson (her 21-year-old daughter is in jail), her rebellious teenage son, and worrying about her own pregnancy. I can't even imagine what that's like. People I know and love have suffered abuse, infidelity, disease, death, and every imaginable pain. On the whole, I've gotten off pretty easy.
So the fact that my "easy" trial feels insurmountable makes me feel weak, but the fact that I'm working on it makes me tentatively proud. The whole situation has really illuminated those holes that need filling up and the cracks that need fixing. I hope it does for Ray as well. I hope he'll figure out how to be happy with himself and see all the goodness in him that the rest of us do. I pray he'll learn that he's enough and worth loving and worth the effort, even if he doesn't want me to be the one making the effort any more. Every penny I drop in a wishing well now, every star I count, every candle I blow out-- they'll all be wishes that the life-changing friendship we enjoyed and so desperately needed will someday be restored in some fashion or another.
I went home and changed into the shirt I wore on our last date. It's gauzy, but it feels oppressive. Still, I'm trying to sit up straight and get to work. When I get home, I'll go wash the towels in the guest bathroom.