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Thoughts on Being No One’s Number One

Being alone and feeling loved in matters of the heart. Becky writes regularly over at From Where I Sit. For more pieces like this one about matters of the heart, sign up to receive Thoughtful Thursdays via email. 

Divorced, But Not Alone

I love it when someone jumps inside my mind, pokes around in there, and then distills my mode of living down into a couple of sentences. Mark Nepo, author, poet, and one of the deepest thinkers I know of has done it again. From “Meeting the World,” in The Book of Awakening, he writes:

“The heart is very much like a miraculous balloon. Its lightness comes from staying full.”

I recently needed that reminder.

I’m divorced with no love interest at the moment. My kids are grown and have their own lives and loves.

Don’t get me wrong, though. People love me. It’s just that currently I’m no one’s number one.

February [when this piece was first written] is a particularly tender month. For me it is filled with many matters of the heart. My divorce was final in February. My elder son, who died at age fifteen, was born in February. And it also holds the anniversary of my bout with transverse myelitis, that malicious inflammation of the spinal cord that began with a mild case of the flu and then left me paralyzed for the last eighteen years.

And yet, I am happy. My heart is full—a testament to Nepo’s words—because my life is full.

Happy Despite My Circumstances

But why?

Nepo offers this:

You must meet the outer world with your inner world or existence will crush you… Meeting the days with our hearts prevents collapse. This is why ninety-year-old widows remain committed to tending small flowers in the spring, why ten-year-olds with very little to eat care for stray kittens, why painters going blind paint more… This is why when we think we can’t possibly try again, we let out a sigh that goes back through the centuries, and then, despite all our experience, we inhale and try again.

Wow.

I’ll admit it. When my youngest child left for college, I mourned the loss, really mourned that loss. I guess I felt that outer world of change pressing in on me and my empty heart.

Yet, it was a joyful emptiness. We want to see our children grow up and out, right? That’s. Our. Job.

But that barren feeling wouldn’t go away on its own; I had to fill it up. As I looked around at those empty bedrooms and the blank spaces on my calendar I realized I now had room for other interests that had been lying dormant underneath all those parenting years. New routines, friends, and hobbies slowly filled my world and lightened my heart.

I may be no one’s number one, but I’m pretty sure I’m ranked in the top ten, maybe even top five, in many of my loved ones’ lives. But the truth is, that choice isn’t mine. My choice is to keep my heart focused and filled with the things that bring me joy.

How about you? How do you lighten your heart? Tell me about it. I’d love to know.

 

Rebecca Faye Smith Galli

Rebecca Faye Smith Galli (Becky) is a reluctant-but-obsessed columnist who writes about love, loss, and healing. Surviving significant losses—her seventeen-year-old brother’s death; her son’s degenerative disease and subsequent death; her daughter’s autism; her divorce; and nine days later, her paralysis from transverse myelitis, a rare spinal cord inflammation that began as the flu—has fostered an unexpected but prolific writing career. In 2000, The Baltimore Sun published her first column about playing soccer with her son—from the wheelchair. Fifteen years later, with 400 published columns and a completed memoir, she launched, Thoughtful Thursdays—Lessons from a Resilient Heart.

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