Scattered thoughts on heartbreak, cages, and Glennon Doyle
"Am I the one who’s changed, in the years since?"
I think about this too -- all the time. I think we all do to some degree. What's interesting and often overlooked is that while we do inevitably change, the culture and the politics and the art surrounding us changes simultaneously. This means whatever change we experience is by definition relative. So perhaps a different question is: did our internal change align with our external surroundings? Vice versa? Or somewhere in between?
I don't philosophize too much because I don't pretend to have any answers. But, in biology, there's an adage that equilibrium means death. Change must therefore be life.
Glad to see you back in the saddle.
My first thought: Oh no! Mustard guy?! WTF, dude.
My second thought: Alicia’ prose is always so delightful to read, does it come out like this effortlessly or does she have to edit like crazy to make it sing off the page so beautifully?
My third thought: I’d like to write something witty and hopeful and helpful, but I don’t really have the time and don’t really know her, and anyhow, what would even help, anyway? More Journaling? More Chocolate croissants?
My fourth thought: Do I have time to grab a couple pan au chocolates from Tatte before I drop the twins off at pre-school? I wonder if Alicia likes the pastries at Tatte? Doubtful. She probably cafes at a more literary place with worn couches and dusty paperbacks on the other side of the Potomac.
My fifth thought: Grief isn’t staged as much as it is like a to-do list of recurring appointments, that seems hectic and overwhelming until after awhile becomes routine and easy to multitask through.
My sixth thought: this is too many thoughts.
My seventh: “write through it, girl! Your pain uplifts the rest of us!” (Yes. This is me imagining the kind of advice from a book written by a bizarro Doyle or Gilbert).
My eighth: sincere this time, maybe? Sorry to hear you’re hurting. Heartbreak is the worst pain.
Change is the only constant in the universe and all generalisations are false. And nostrils are always eager. ;)
On a more serious note, Munich is great to visit, as a Bavarian I have to say that. I don't like Venice, sorry. It always rains when I go there. On the transactional nature of all things we do I have come to the conclusion that I am happier if I cease caring about reciprocity. No more quid pro quo's.
Since you mentioned Elizabeth Gilbert, I watched her TED talk on Genius a few weeks ago. Did not read her book.
As for heartaches and hangovers... consider the nostrils. Humour me and the frown turns into a smile.
I'm glad that someone in the younger generation is capable of seeing through platitudinous literature and calling it out. I must have the wrong younger friends - most of mine thrive on such 'deep' thoughts as those you discussed.
As for heartache. It hits all of us, and I'm not sure if accrued wisdom makes it better or worse. There is no logic to it, no theory that explains it.
On later life grief, perhaps intensity parallels learning to try better and awareness evolved. I’ve learned intuitive shift when meeting an open heart is my key. The oddest condition of precognition requiring experience to decipher a presented lesson, warning, or unity has persisted. Outside of specific family, I rarely discuss it. For some of us, to be an open bloom is a hurdle to unlock as it is important to recognize what unlocks it. For a keeper of my heart, I can walk through fire, and defaulting into a looks good on paper is pointless.
I recall that beau in another country you kept, and have no idea how you did it. My heart holds much higher maintenance for physical presence and togetherness, and even the best effort in absence results in friendship. You are handling yourself well, and I love so much that you dashed to Italy. My cultural roots are there, and Venice is my top pick. How I fascinate within the art of masks and glass beads!
Recently I started following the faerymatchmaker on instagram because she is adorably funny and to seek knowledge. For sure, I’ve learned my attachment style is secure, or fearful avoidant if not secure. Swimming in denial, I’m a drenched spaz until I can admit and manage my feelings. This might be a good matchmaker for me! Otherwise, I may need a Salem witch who could scry for my right place right time and coordinate my position.
On forms of grief, I was recently asked to present a monologue for not quite the opportunity I thought. However, I fell in love with a monologue I shortened, then contacted the writer for permission and will do so again to nudge for a screenplay. I want this thing!!! The love and pain beneath, I wrote in a letter, finding repeated insta-tear escalation then a twist for comedy after exhaustedly drying my eyes. For the disappointment in non-opportunity, my grief brought me online. Though I would prefer Italy, if not a better outcome, I have a white sequin jacket and snazzy satin LBD on the way. I’ve also been graced with an opportunity to be a helpful friend to someone who needs it, which is delightful.
May wonderful things find you, Alicia. I’ve yet to finish my next substack.
PS: I really dig Raymond Carver, “ What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”
This was beautifully written, Alicia. I'm sorry about your broken heart. Lately, I've been watching Indian Matchmaker, and while that show is problematic in a lot of ways, I appreciate how the matchmaker, Aunty Sima, believes wholeheartedly in destiny. It's a "we know something meant to happen because it's happening," kind of attitude, which can be either comforting or terrifying. It's something I always think about whenever we go through big life changes. They often come as a result of a mix of events that are both within our control and outside of our control, and maybe, somehow, we end up where we were meant to be.
Dear Alicia, it's so lovely to see you back here again. I don't think it's appropriate for me to try to offer advice (apart from anything else, what Oscar Wilde said is apposite: Whenever I'm offered advice I always pass it on to someone else; it's never any good for oneself.) And I don't have words of wisdom. But as I doubt that you'd want either advice or wisdom I assume that's all ok. But I am thinking of you, and sending you nice thoughts.
Man, this was a good one Alicia. If you find the answers on how to get over heartbreak, write about that, too. I need it. Been trying to get over it myself, and I was the one who left. One of my friends read something during a eulogy for another friend who committed suicide about how it's like you've capsized at see, and you're holding onto this one floating piece of debris. The waves are massive, and the wind and rain are heavy. Over time the storm passes. I forgot the last part of the story. Not sure if you get rescued or die in the end. But the part about weathering through, that the waves subside, at least that was good news. Your writing is gorgeous like you. Cheers to surviving, to being happy, to you. And sometimes Glennon Doyle is just too much for days like today. I feel you, girl. Today is more like Groundhog Day than a day at the zoo with G and her cheetah.
What an open and vulnerable essay -- and, yes, heartaches do get harder with age.
I've been wondering where you've been and have missed you.
I appreciate your acknowledgement that maybe there is more nuance to these things than just “the cheetah wants to be free”. I think there is a pervasive tendency to oversimplify our incredibly complex world/psyches/lives so that we can say, “I just need X to happen then I’ll be happy.” but I feel most of the time things just aren’t that simple... And maybe I’m just reading too far into this piece but that’s what I got out of it.
Either way, it was beautifully written and very thought-provoking.
"I’m not an alcoholic, but I think a lot about the ways I’ve become addicted to the idea of life as a collection of short stories"—oof, I feel that one. Loved reading this (and I dug into the archives a bit, too). Nice to connect with you!
Heartaches get both worse and better with age (with time), I believe. It was helpful to me to read this post, as I have been having one (or more?) of my own. Thank you, and sweet dreams, if possible, to you in Bavaria!!
I had the same reaction to The Wing and the general Wing-type aesthetic. I think I subconsciously took its failing as proof that I was Right and it was Stupid (isn't the human mind so funny?). But I also enjoy an overpriced cookie and free high end shampoo in a shower I don't have to clean. I love the way you pointed out this contradiction and let it exist.
P.S. You're not a donkey.
Beautiful, Alicia, as always.