(Photo: Nothing to grasp onto here. Move along. Move along.)
Persuant to that list of recent self-discoveries from a previous post, let me also add: sometimes a bad day is not always a bad day. Back in Hogtown to enter into the homestretch of my life here, Monday I spent the day applying my new perspective on life to my adopted hometown. It was a day balanced on the funny line between joyously happy and absolutely not.
As I surmised, my breakup-initiated emotional mea culpa has led me to a new understanding of Chicago. This town feels like home still, but it’s a feeling tinged with finality, for I know that my stay here is ending–and that I’m OK with that. I set out to explore the newly confident me in my still-current surroundings. Knowing it was a time for a change, I did what any self-respecting homosexual would do. I went shopping.
Several hundred dollars, a nifty new computer bag, and an hour-and-a-half in American Apparel later, I realized I was having a blast. Not during the time spent shuttling back-and-forth across the city looking for the perfect threads to help me continue to shed my chrysalis of self-limitation (think: colorful, for a change), was my confidence truly comprehended. But getting home, plotzing, and pondering the bags of booty plopped on my kitchen table, I had a sense of awe. Of me. Because two weeks ago, I couldn’t have set foot alone into half of the places I visited, for fear of, well, life, really. And yet, yesterday afternoon, there wasn’t a hint of hysteria to be found for me.
Knowing how far I’ve come, and continue to travel, along the road of self-discovery inside of me, made me face two things for certain. I was seeing real change in me, a real confidence on the ground in practical situations, that I had never allowed myself to feel before. In other words, I was becoming the man I should have been during my relationship.
And that becoming the man I should have been, no matter how far I go and how fully I find peace and joy in my life, no matter how much I transcend the past inside of my heart and forgive and love my scared little inner child, none of that will bring back the man I loved and lost. And as with all breakups, a good day became less good in the blink of an eye.
There’s a difference between letting go of the past and letting go of love. The human heart only has power to choose the former. The latter doesn’t come willingly. Love comes–and as I have learned, goes–when it wants to. It’s entirely fickle that way. There’s no convenience in its appearance or absence, ever.
Below all of the hurt of my childhood, and the neediness that I perpetuated on Devyn because of it, the emotional sobriety of my life now has led me to see how much I really did love him deep beneath it all. Watching the bad patterns fall away but feeling the love stay right where it is in my heart leads me to the truth of it. The loss that my actions caused, I think, may become my emotional missing tooth–a gap always present to be probed, to remember what used to be. A caution sign on the highway of my life.
I know the only way to love myself, or anyone else including Devyn, is to continue on the road I’ve set out on, put my trust in God and the Universe, and let go everything. I see the miracles around me along the way in my journey–my realizations, my expanding professional relationships. My newfound ability to shop fashion forward. But part of me will always fondly ponder…and for awhile still, cry…over the absence of the one miracle that, in the end, would make me feel the past two years were not spent in vain.
That is: I wish I could have found all of this out without losing Devyn. I wish I could have been this man I’m becoming when these changes still had the chance to matter in the heart of the man I still love. I wish God had a time machine.
I haven’t expected any of the miracles that I’ve encountered, inside of myself and in the world around me, since I took my leap into deep looking and compassion over myself and my life. And, yet, there have been many. And wishing and bargaining didn’t make them happen. They came while I was attending to fix the problems in me.
Time will tell if love lasts. If it’s real, if it ever was, then persist it will. Whether it will always only be a yellow warning sign in my heart or something more, I have to learn to be OK with that. I write these words and feel joy about so many other things. But not this regret.
I wish I could have offered this miracle when it would have made a difference in two hearts instead of one. A cautionary lesson from an otherwise confident soul: sometimes a heart expanded with love can feel like an emptier one.
Even when miracles are abounding.
Michael Thaddeus Doyle
I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.