Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Acquainted With the Night

Valentine's Day.
It is my nemesis, my bull in the china closet.  It comes bashing in once a year, plowing through the careful contents of my brain, and then it leaves as loudly as it came.
I'm left sifting through the, "what just happened?" emotion.

A few years ago, I "took the bull by the horns," so to speak, and I felt sure I was strong enough to tame the beast into docility.

My first Valentine's with Danny was really, really painful.  Each following year, I tried to make up for the first one.  I wanted ONE good Valentine's Day with my husband, but each passing year seemed marked by the first.  There were so many expectations, some realistic, some not -most all went unmet.
And to tell the truth, I didn't want him to really love me the way Juliet died over Romeo.  I only wanted him to see me -maybe notice how much thought I put into the day.
Did he see the clean house?
Did he see me with the kids?
Did he see the way my tangled, wild hair fell around my face?
Did he notice how happy I am in the kitchen, singing with Doris Day and Loretta Lynn while my long, wild hair slipped strands of herself into the pasta sauce?

It's all I want still.  To this day.
To be seen apart from my parts.  To be seen for the present version of who I am and what I'm doing -even if that's just breathing in and out while turning over a page of "David Copperfield."
And not to be seen for what I have to offer.
Sexually and otherwise.
That's earned, isn't it?  I'm guilty of only loving myself when I've earned it, and that mess of a therapy party has been enough to last me a lifetime.  Feeling that I'm only worth what I have to offer to SOMEONE ELSE?
I don't have room for that anymore.

A few years ago, I landed myself on the back of that crazed Valentine's Bull.  My lanky legs were a fair match for the breadth of the beast, and I made sure that I WOULD HAVE VALENTINE'S DAY and NOT THE OTHER WAY 'ROUND.
I made Valentines and sent them out.
I took the whole Romeo nonsense out of the day.
I planned an annual feast with just my own kids and husband, and I celebrated love in it's pure form.

It worked really well.  For years.
But guess what happened this year?

Last week, I got really sick. I was down in bed for 3 days, and the 4th day was a pretty funny joke of a day where I think I washed three dishes and went to bed at 8:30.
No time to prepare Valentines.
Usually for our feast, I spend a bit more money and make the day a bit more fancy that your regular Tuesday.
But this year, I had no money having so lately become a stay at home mom again.

To sum up: there wasn't lots of distractions from the pain.  Because that's what I've been doing all these years on top of that docile bull: distracting myself from the hurt and calling it healing.

It isn't healing.
And as it turns out, under all the busy distractions of sending out cards and setting a fancy table, I'm still really hurting.

Isn't the time for hurting over?
Haven't I been here for too long?
Does this mean I'm stuck? Over six years in and still hurting!
What's more: it truly feels as if the pain will never leave.  Does that mean I don't understand the Atonement?  That I discount it?  That my faith in God is weak?

I've heard it said that you can forgive without forgetting, and maybe for some the pain still stays with the memory, even when forgiveness is in place.
Maybe for some forgiveness feels as impossible as sobriety does for others.

Last night, I rolled into bed with ominous anticipation of today.  I thought about putting boundaries in place, boundaries like, "stay off facebook."
I flicked on my phone and scrolled through my feed to distract myself (because that's apparently my go-to when the going gets uncomfy), and I ran straight into Robert Frost's words.  My heart thumped in my chest, the way it does when words strike me so deeply that the only response to them is utter silence.
His poem, "Acquainted with the Night" begins:

I have been one acquainted with the night. 
I have walked out in rainand back in rain. 
I have outwalked the furthest city light. 

I have looked down the saddest city lane. 
I have passed by the watchman on his beat 
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain. 

Yes, that's me.  Walking through the darkness and dropping my eyes, unwilling to explain to my bishops and any other watchmen why.  Outwalking the city's lights, walking beyond the reach of man.  Chasing and also running from the rising sun/Son.  I know this feeling well.  It's finding me today, after years of running from it.

I'll get quiet now and let Frost finish:

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet 
When far away an interrupted cry 
Came over houses from another street, 

But not to call me back or say good-bye; 
And further still at an unearthly height, 
One luminary clock against the sky 

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right. 
I have been one acquainted with the night.


  1. "I'm guilty of only loving myself when I've earned it, and that mess of a therapy party has been enough to last me a lifetime. Feeling that I'm only worth what I have to offer to SOMEONE ELSE?
    I don't have room for that anymore."

    YES!!!!!!!!! Yes a thousand times to this. Oh I'm so glad I came and read this post today. It is just what I needed to hear. Thank you for being YOU and being REAL. This is a beautiful post.

    1. I admire you so much. Keep fighting the good fight.

  2. Miss 'Licia... My lovely friend... kindred friend,

    Your "distractions" were beautiful and (you know this) a mark of you doing exactly what you needed to do for being exactly where you needed to be at exactly that time in your life. I still have my Valentine from you... it is one of my treasures... because, as another acquainted with the night, I received the light that came through you as you bravely became one of the conduits through which the Savior was able to reach me. Maybe you didn't know it but I knew it... I recognized the messages He was trying to send me. For a time many of them came through you and your beautiful soul and your brand of exquisite obedience, eloquence, and growth.

    I love to check back in and "hear" your voice.. because sometimes through you I hear the voice of my Savior. We are all conduits (let your [His] light so shine before men)... thank you for being one of mine. Thank you for my cherished Valentine, gorgeous girl. - HuggingAStranger

    1. I keep returning to this comment -it has meant so much to me. Thank you for taking the time to jot it down. It has been very grounding.
      It's got me pondering on the thought of the individual brands we all carry -something for me to meditate on. Thank you for your inspired words.

  3. Thank you Alicia , you said it for me , again . And beautifully spoken ! I'm sorry it still hurts you . This special , sad , individual pain seems divided a bit when I hear someone who " gets it " as well as you . How can this hurt rear up so loudly just when I think I'm " doing so good ...." ??
    Your a great writer , LOVE
    "To be seen apart from my parts. To be seen for the present version of who I am and what I'm doing -even if that's just breathing in and out"
    Absolutely perfect .
    Bless your day . Thank you :)

    1. Thank you, Hope.
      Whenever the pain comes around again, I know there's more for me to learn. Even though pain is not fun, it has been one of my greatest teachers.
      Sending love your way!

  4. I too admire you! Thank you for sharing so openly. Kelly. www.thefaithseed.blogspot.com