I am back at the ugly place I haven't been in so long. Where I am in so much pain, and so heartbroken and feel so much loss, that it is taking everything to just function normally. I am back at the gross place of fearing that my sister is going to announce her pregnancy any minute now. The announcement I was looking forward to just last week, because it would mean we would be expecting babies right around the same time again. I hate when my pain threatens to stamp out my real joy.
I experienced this duality of pain/joy after I had Vincent and was trying (and failing) for Weyland. I discovered that joy does not vanquish sadness like people say. You just learn to live and hopefully function with a divided heart. Your eyes are opened to the fact that many people function this way, and it might in fact be more common than uncommon. And the mysterious human heart becomes even more miraculous. It made me look at every person in the grocery store line differently. Did they have a heavy heart too? Were they dealing with extreme heart break while simultaneously out of milk? It made me look at people who appear genuinely happy too. Were they experiencing real joy while simultaneously mourning loss? It gave me a greater appreciation for the human condition. It helped me internalize those snippets you hear about being kind to everyone because you never know what they are really dealing with. I'm tempted to call pain/joy duality "faking it til you make it" but there is nothing fake or counterfeit about the happiness and good parts of life that continue (thankfully) in tandem with the sorrow.
I have a favorite family photo of me, Lowell and Vincent. It floors me when I remember exactly how truly happy I was in that moment, and in my life at that time. I also marvel at the picture because I remember perfectly what intense pain and sadness I was going through as well. It was my first experience with pain/joy, and I remember that even though it was shocking to learn that joy doesn't eliminate pain, it was equally shocking to discover that the pain could not rob the joy. Not one bit. They were arch enemy superpowers doing their equal and opposite things, side by side in my heart, but not ever squaring off against one another. Like they've known forever that they have to coexist, and it was me who had to quit expecting them to compete.
So many days in the years since that picture was taken, I've glanced at it, and had the flood of thoughts above, and then realized I had in fact passed through those difficult days. I had made it. I was not "faking it" I was simply "making it until I could take it" I'd learned a new lesson about life and came out the other side, not stronger,but feeling like I'd gained insider knowledge about the human heart. I know, and don't want to forget, that joy always has a place in mine.