Sunday, May 23, 2010

Everything Worth Learning Leaves Bruises

My seven-year-old is determined to do a headstand.
Her tiny body toppled, over and over. Each time I would watch her get up, face fierce with determination, and try again. And I would wince, wishing, for the zillionth time in her so-far life, that I could protect her from failure. From disappointment. And wondering, abstractedly, how bruised and battered her little body felt.
Finally she caught ran to me, buried her face in my lap and crumpled. She listened as I offered up platitudes. How she'll learn if she keeps trying. How everyone else in her class was just like her until they learned. She shook her head. No. Back and forth. No. Then she wiped her tears and I watched her frustration be replaced with composure. And out she went onto the gym floor. To try again.
After an hour, she could do a headstand. Almost. If you allow for bent, crooked legs. Which I do.
She was delighted, the early frustration replaced by a sense of accomplishment. She's no fool, my seven-year-old daughter. She absolutely knows that her headstand was a far cry from perfect. Or even good. But she knows she's moving in the right direction.

Watching her reminded me to be gentle with myself. To remember that the days I just can't seem to get it right are the days when I'm learning the most. And that anything worth learning leaves bruises on your heart. The challenge, of course, is not letting your heart become brittle but absorbing the lesson with the pain. Not easy. But as my seven-year-old is teaching me, nothing worth learning ever is.


  1. Elle, between this and the "good things happen slowly and the bad things happen fast" post, and the speaking our truth even if it causes tension post..I am buoyed!

    My last two weeks, reading what seems to be endless posts a day here when I can, has seemed to bring on a still slower than I would like but faster period of healing (punctuated by moments of momentary setbacks, of course) as we approach the 6 month anniversary of d day.

    We have both been working on honesty, kindness, quality time together, better communication skills.... and I have to give him credit for his patience when I still, out of nowhere, bring up the lingering questions. But a real breakthrough for me came a few days ago, when I got angry at him for some stupid laundry situation...and that was ALL it was about. Nothing to do with the affair, never crossed my mind. I was pissed that he left laundry to mildew in the dryer for two days. In days past I would have sighed deeply and shook my head and grunted that I would do it.. But this time when I asked "what the hell were you thinking" I really ONLY meant the laundry. sounds stupid but it was huge.

    I have also come to realize, (I can be slow) that so so much of your blog is not about bashing our betrayer, as we seem to know how to do that by instinct! But it's about helping us heal and helping us grow and even flourish in the long run. And despite my growth spurt, I know this will be a long run. Thanks again.

    1. That IS huge. Getting to a place where your frustration is just about A thing instead of THE thing is big, especially at only six months.
      And yes, I'm not big on bashing the betrayer as a long-term strategy. It's about healing ourselves so that we come to a place where we're not only stronger but wiser.




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