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Processing the Space Between

After our wedding day, I'm processing the grief interwoven with my happiness.

photo by Nicole Javorsky from her wedding day

Dearest Doodle Soupsters,


My heart is balled up in my chest.


What does that mean? Well, I guess that's point of writing. This is me trying to take my complicated web of feelings and untangle them. So that instead of seeing a glob, clump, a giant ball of who-knows-what clogging some important opening inside of me, I see each part for what it is.


So I'll start somewhere. Anywhere.


Because this is the process. It's not about staying in some fixed state of peacefulness, or even of openness, of unclogged-ness.


I get "clogged" because I'm willing to travel outside of my comfort zone. Because I'm willing to take leaps of faith before I've dissected each and every microscopic area of my psyche. And because I never will "finish." I never will finish with learning, understanding myself, or healing.


Within every feeling, every thought, every layer of who I am, who we are as humans, there is an infinite number of layers to explore: within, underneath, above. Because no matter our measurements (a day, a year, a lifetime, an inch, a mile, a second), you can always splice it up into a smaller measurement (approaching zero) OR zoom out toward infinity.


In other words, there's always a space between. And a space between the space between. And a space between a space-between between a space-between.


AND when you zoom out, there's no fixed maximum. How can a human being wrap her head around the concept of infinity? The concept of a universe without bounds? What is a black hole? What lies beyond what we know? What lies beyond what lies beyond what we know?


So, what does any of this have to do with my heart balled up in my chest?


On Monday, I got married. I feel so supported, loved, and just plain happy that I don't know how to hold it. I feel overwhelmed with joy.


We met at the courthouse and it's the moment I saw him walking toward me.


And the look in his eyes when he said, "I do."


Also with the celebration we had afterward, the way people in our lives showed up for us.


I don't have poetry for what I feel right now. Because I'm struggling to make sense of how beautiful the day was. How lucky I feel. I'm having trouble making sense of the hope I feel. The joy. The love.


I feel a sense of disbelief. I don't know how to metabolize this love and support. And yet, I know I will learn. I am learning. I am metabolizing, even as I say I don't know how.


It's hard to put into words how much grief is interwoven with my happiness. Because the more supported and happy I feel, the more I can get in touch with my grief.


It's not that the happiness causes the grief. It's that my younger self wanted this and was scared that she was bad for wanting this. Bad for seeing the difference between control and love. Bad for believing in true love because it meant that I couldn't help but notice what wasn't true love.


True love isn't perfection.


True love is messiness. And loving the messiness. Sharing in the messiness.


True love isn't fear.


True love is safety.


True love is acknowledging mistakes and saying sorry. Not as a placeholder to end an argument but rather because you care so much about the other person that you genuinely regret hurting them and want to be held accountable.


True love is delighting in each other's quirks and differences ...


I wrestled with the decision on whether or not to invite my parents to our wedding. It was an extremely hard and brave choice I made to get married without them.


I wanted to forgive them. I wanted to believe in clean slates. I wanted to believe in second chances.


Yet, the truth is this isn't about forgiveness or clean slates or second chances. It's about the heartbreaking truth that I believed in my parents over and over and over throughout my life. I tried so hard to communicate my pain and what I needed from them. To explain in a way I thought maybe they could understand.


And regardless of what they feel or say or acknowledge today, being around them or even just in communication with them - that's when I feel this distancing happening inside of me, distancing from parts of me I treasure and want to get closer to. And that's not about today or tomorrow or any point in the future. That's about all the yesterdays I cannot and will not forget. The impact on me, the consequences remain.


Why "will not forget"? Why not just "cannot"?


I really wanted to forget too. Remembering is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Harder in some ways than survival.


Without my memories, without remembering what I've been through, I feel hollow. I've been through such consistent trauma throughout my childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood - it's my story. And without the beginning of a story, there's this vast disconnection and misunderstanding. The story becomes fragmented, harder to grasp. And then, that's me living with a fragmented identity, a fragmented sense of time. Living with a brain and body that gets confused about when it is. When.


Taking a shower becomes more than a simple daily hygiene ritual. It becomes a challenge to stay in the present. I space out. I lose chunks of time. Where am I? Where am I? Tell yourself you're safe. It's not happening now.


It's hard. Sometimes, I feel so alone because it's hard to simply imagine what that's like. To lose track of the present moment. To feel like my body and brain keeps playing these memories and sensations on loop. Not my choice. Again. Another time I don't get to choose. Heavy. Heavy, knowing my powerlessness. Re-experiencing that powerlessness.


As painful as it is, I need to allow myself to remember freely. For myself. For my heart. For my soul. For my brain and body that gets more flashbacks and nightmares when I try to forget. So I get to choose. So I get to choose when and how to remember.


Because I am not afraid of my pain. I am not ashamed of the fact that I cry when I experience such immense happiness. And it does not lessen my happiness. If anything, I feel this great depth to go along with the joy. Instead of experiencing a floaty, excited, light kind of happiness, I feel a deep, grounded, complex, messy, still gorgeous, stunning happiness. It's still happiness.


I think I felt scared to admit this. I'm afraid that people will misunderstand my complicated truth. I'm afraid they'll say, "I'm living in the past" or overemphasize the benefits of light and overlook the wisdom that can only be found through swimming in the depths, feeling your way through the darkness.


I'm afraid they won't believe me or be able to wrap their heads or hearts around the fact that I feel happy and sad at once and it's so beautiful.


And it is. Beautiful. Strange. Still beautiful.


Of course, I have lots of moments when I feel angry and sad about having to remember, about c-PTSD, about the pain, about every single aching memory. Yet, they're also memories.


I exist here. Right now. I exist as a full person with a painful past that I carry with me because I'm most me when I do. Not because the pain is my identity. No.


Because I'm not creating walls within my brain, body, and heart. I'm creating space. Forming connective tissue between them with my words, with my voice, with swooping brushstrokes and intricate overlapping textures.


I have a lot more to write about this. I'm still processing. Yet, I think it's worth sharing the in-between.


The in-between is where we often feel most vulnerable, scared, and alone. It feels like no one or hardly anyone can relate because the experience feels so particular to us. In those moments, we are most in touch with the details, the dividing lines, the space we occupy seems tiny and expansive at once, so specific, so hard to put into words, into the communication that fosters connection.


It's this wordless space.


Not because the space necessarily lacks words, but rather because there are infinite words. So many words that putting it into words feels endlessly daunting.


At the same time, we all experience the in-betweens. And I want to write about what that is and what it feels like.


I want to share this. I'm choosing to share this.


With courage,


Nicole Sylvia Javorsky

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