Paper Roses

It had been a while since I had seen my children. A few months. It had been about 2 weeks since we even talked on the phone. Every time I called I would get rejected all over again and it was taking it’s toll on me emotionally and mentally. The only reason I had kept calling, knowing that I would get rejected was simply so that my boys would know that I was still here and still loved them and cared and wanted a relationship with them. But even the strongest person can only take so much rejection until you finally have to make a choice. That choice being that when respect is no longer being served that you must find the courage to get up from the table. As difficult as that is.

I told my ex to tell the boys that I loved them and that I’m here if they need anything but that I wouldn’t be calling for a little while. I gave it two weeks. No phone calls. No communication. (Not that there was any to begin with anyways.) It gave my heart and my emotions time to cool down and breathe. Then on my day off I decided to try again.

I called my ex to see if I could speak with the boys. (His phone is the only way I am able to communicate with them, if at all.) He didn’t answer his phone but he did text me not long afterwards. I asked him if he could get the boys to call me. He said he would and a few minutes later texted back that the boys said that they didn’t want to talk to me. Something I have grown accustomed to hearing. After so much rejection you grow almost numb to it after awhile. But then a couple minutes later he texted with “Is it important? Like, is someone in the hospital?”

At this point, nothing that comes out of my ex husbands mouth surprises me anymore. I’ve heard it all. But I remember looking at that response/question and being somewhat taken aback by it. I texted him back asking exactly what I started thinking, “Is that what it takes for my children to want to talk to me? I have to be dying?”

He didn’t respond. He did however suggest that I come over to their house to speak to the boys in person. I asked if I did come over would they even want to see me and he said yes. So, I swallowed my pride, got in my van and drove over to the house. I remember thinking and praying on the way over asking God ‘please don’t let me cry’ over and over again. I’ve never been a fan of showing huge amounts of emotion in public. Especially crying. I can probably safely say that only a handful of people have ever seen me cry. I don’t like letting other people see me vulnerable like that. I’ve had to be strong for a really long time so I don’t really know how to fall apart in front of someone else. Unless it’s family or a really close friend.

I got to the house and knocked on the door. My ex answered the door and said hello. I ignored it and simply asked to speak to my children. He called my oldest out first. I hadn’t seen him since March, for his birthday. He’s almost as tall as me now. It kinda threw me for a second. But as soon as I saw him I grabbed him and hugged him as tight as I could and that’s when the floodgates opened and I started to cry. I kissed his face, told him I loved him and that if he needed anything to let me know. We talked about our relationship and certain specifics that I won’t get into here but as I spoke with tears in my eyes the entire time, even he started to well up. He said he loved me and missed me too. All in all it was a positive conversation when he finally had to go back inside.

My youngest came out to see me next. The waterworks came out all over again. I hugged him and kissed him. I said the same things to him that I said to his brother. That I missed him. I missed spending time with him. And, again, I spoke with tears in my eyes the entire time, watching him tear up as well. I told him that if he needed anything to let me know. (He has started growing facial hair already (!!) so a couple of months ago I had bought him his very own grown up man razor with the disposable cartridges etc.) We talked about our relationship which, again, I won’t go into here for privacy sake but it was a positive conversation.

I left there feeling more hopeful than when I arrived. The next day I even got to spend the evening with my youngest and he was himself again. We had a great time. (His brother wasn’t feeling very well so he stayed home.) And afterwards, I’m glad that I broke down and cried. I’m glad that I allowed myself to be vulnerable. I’m glad that I showed my children how much I cared and how much it hurt being away from them. I think it was very healing for all of us to be able to be vulnerable and be honest about how we were feeling. It might have gone very differently if I had stuck to my original plan and remained “strong” but that would have kept us distant and cold and nothing would have improved. I think it was actually strong of me to break down and show how much I cared because that doesn’t happen very often, as I’ve stated previously.

All of this brings me to this point that I’ve been thinking about ever since for the last couple of days:

why do we wait until things get desperate to show people that we care?

When my ex husband texted me that message when I asked to speak to the boys saying “Is it important? Is someone in the hospital?” I thought to myself, why does it have to reach that point for them to want to speak to me? Do I have to throw myself down a flight of stairs just to get someone to want to spend time with me or have a conversation? Do I have to end up in the hospital for someone to admit they care about me or to actually show it! God forbid!! Why do we do that?

I’ve attended a few funerals over the years and it’s always the same. Huge displays of fresh, beautiful flowers. Long, heartfelt words filled with emotion and affirming how amazing they were. Which is usually followed with the longing to be given just one more chance to say it to them just one more time or the regret that they didn’t show they cared enough while they were still alive. Why do dead people seem to get more attention and shown more love than those of us still among the living? Why does it usually take us being by somebody’s “death bed” to admit that we care? What are we so afraid of?

I know I’ve had my own share of rejection and heart break over the years which of course can make anybody cold and distant when it comes to how we interact with other people. Sometimes it feels safer to build those walls up so that we don’t ever feel that kind of hurt again. I’ve definitely been guilty of that. A.Lot. The mindset usually goes something like this, “Hey, I like you, but I’m going to assume you’re going to hurt me and reject me eventually like everybody else so before you go and do that I’m gonna make sure you want nothing to do with me first and then act like I don’t care.” Or even if we do admit that we care about someone else we’re afraid to go all in and go deeper because we don’t know how to be that vulnerable with someone. Perhaps because that same vulnerability was taken advantage of before. But something that I’ve realized is that while those walls definitely keep the bad stuff out, at the same time it can keep you from the potentially great stuff too. That’s a pretty big gamble. I’m 37 years young and life is way too short to play that game.

It’s almost like we’ve become proud of how independent we can be. We brag about getting to the point of not needing anything from anybody. And it’s all rooted in fear and fear is not from God.

One of my favourite quotes on this subject is from C.S. Lewis, taken from his book “The Four Loves”:

“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglement; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket-safe, dark, motionless, airless-it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable ,irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”

We’ve all heard it said, “desperate times call for desperate measures.” How about we don’t wait for those desperate times to go over and above for someone or a situation. Or to say something that needs to be said. To mend something that needs mending. Let’s use up those desperate measures now, in the present, while we’re still here to hear them, to see them, to feel them. Don’t wait for someones funeral to shower someone with affection, to forgive or to simply say what’s on your heart. No matter what we’ve been through in the past, we all deserve to be loved. We all deserve a second chance at it. We all deserve something whole. We all deserve something good. That can only come from vulnerability. Not only that but the people in our lives deserve our vulnerability as well, the real thing. Not some synthetic knock off called fear masquerading as “strength”.

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