Cold Little Heart

8 years ago I swopped half a century of city life for a new start in the country. I had grown disenchanted with the life I was living and when Alex left home to go to university in the Cape, I decided it was time for me to make a move too. I was fortunate to have the smallholding near Nottingham Road as a place to escape to as I began the process of “finding myself” again.

What I had not seen coming was how much the empty nest syndrome would affect me and the year that followed my move to the farm (as we somewhat pretentiously call our smallholding) was a rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows. I started writing about my experiences as a means to make sense of it all and eventually this turned into my blog.

When I first started my blog, a long and close friendship had just ended. I felt manipulated and hurt by this person and was tempted to give vent to my feelings via my blog. Not a good idea – not long after voicing these feelings I deleted some of what I had written because it had been written while I was still reeling from the betrayal and wasn’t yet able to be objective. I resolved then to rather stick to the Thumperian principle of “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.” But, as we all know, life is messy and people are not always nice. I would like to write about such things but I’ve discovered that it’s not so easy to do without coming across all bitter and twisted, especially when it involves someone close to you. Emotions get in the way and it’s hard to remain detached. It’s a lot easier to keep quiet and pretend that life is all hurrah and jolly hockey sticks.

I’ve always enjoyed reading a well-written memoir; we can learn so much from other people’s lives. I’ve just read actor Alan Cumming’s memoir Not My Fathers Son in which he exposes his fraught relationship with his father. I think he writes about it beautifully, no sense of anger or vindictiveness, just a need to make sense of it. As A Peek at Life has evolved, it has become a kind of serialised memoir of my own. But I’m aware that I’ve left out huge chunks of my life, the messy bits that I’m not ready to go public with and that includes family dynamics.

I’ve mentioned before that writing is my breathing space. “I write to understand as much as to be understood” (Elie Wiesel).  So recently, when I felt utterly let down by someone, I decided to write about it, not for publishing but for my own edification. And as I wrote a wonderful thing happened, I had an epiphany. I realised that it’s not about what other people do to you, it’s about how you respond and the choices you make. In fact, what caused the problem in the first place is that someone got hurt, blamed someone else for it and let the resentment fester. The resulting bitterness has clouded judgement, destroyed family relationships and broken hearts, irretrievably. And who benefits in the end? No-one. Bitterness can make a heart cold and small, leaving no warmth for any one but yourself.

People let us down, we let others down; sometimes intentionally but mostly through miscommunication. Sometimes our expectations are unrealistic and we just want people to be something they are not. So I’ve come to believe that best course of action in cases like these is to let it go. If there is nothing left holding you together, if you know beyond doubt that you are better off without this person in your life, take a deep breath and let it go.

let it go – the
smashed word broken
open vow or
the oath cracked length
wise – let it go it
was sworn to
go

let them go – the
truthful liars and
the false fair friends
and the boths and
neithers – you must let them go they
were born
to go

let all go – the
big small middling
tall bigger really
the biggest and all
things – let all go
dear

so comes love

~ e. e. cummings ~

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2 Responses to Cold Little Heart

  1. Ashleywz says:

    Sending you big love & hugs Cathy. As you said, so often hardest to let it go – but hopefully best in the long term.

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