stolen city.

there are patches of this city that will never belong to me again.
a circle of 10 blocks here or there that will never be mine.
it belongs to a former love... or two. two men currently hold this city hostage.
i want it back desperately.

i still have a well of sadness inside of me that erupts whenever i'm in certain areas ..
where he lives..
where we ate...
where we laughed...
where we were "we. "

and years later...

it's still there.
that pit in the stomach and squeeze of the heart.
just being in that vicinity.

i felt it today.
i met a new man in a new place which was in the danger zone.

i thought this would be good- to be in that area with someone new.
new memories, new friend,
you know... a veritable war with my heart...
an overthrow!
taking back the regime!

but the second i turned onto this block, that familiar stomach squeeze-heart race started again.
my eyes started darting for him. he could be just around the corner. he could walk in at any time.
i wanted him to.
but what if he walked in?
would i crumble in front of this new person?

it sent me into such a panic and near tear-splosion that i had to excuse myself early for fear of revealing myself.

another failed attempt.

when i worked in the temple, the sweet women (who were usually in their late 60's-70's) told me that even after years of happy marriage, they still think about that "one who got away."
i think they thought that would comfort me.
it only made me panic.
you mean, i have to LIVE with this infection for the rest of my life?
you mean, i'll have to marry someone else while always wondering what could have been?
you mean, i'll never get my city back?

that sounds like a private hell to me.

i want to build an army of happy so strong that i can storm these neighborhood gates and never again walk down these streets remembering how we kissed on that corner, or walked stella to that park, or bought cheese in that shop, or got an egg sandwich in that deli.

little things, you know.
the littlest things still haunt me.

i'm told i should make peace with that.
that it will always be there. always gnawing at me.
i thought i had...we'll be roomates? grief and me? woof. no thanks.

but if i let go of this sadness, will a large part (maybe the best parts - the part that loves unconditionally) of me go with it?

tonight, after that sweet anxiety attack, i'm ok with that.
i'd like to live with less feelings.

doesn't it go away?
the people who say time heals everything are liars. straight up.

i just want my city back.


Bonnie said...

Those ladies in the temple were really trying to make you feel better, however, their intentions were a little misguided...in my opinion. You will "forget" when you meet "the one" and you'll wonder how you ever had those feelings and they will be a distant memory. Good memories, but distant. Don't close yourself off in fear. You already know it will prevent you from loving again. I am telling you this out of experience. I thought my heart would never open again...it did and it was/is wonderful. Don't give up and keep facing your fears. The reward will be worth it!

mattie said...

I don't have any advice, but this was good. Really good. Life would be easier if we didn't have feelings right? But then we wouldn't know the unspeakable joy. Therein lies the rub...

Mandie said...

My heart hurts so much for you right now, but it's gonna be okay. It really will.

Maybe you could take your girlfriends and go to the stolen neighborhoods and replace those memories. Laugh on the same street corner, walk Stellie to the park, eat an egg sandwich at that shop, etc. Do it all, but with people that love you and mean something to you now. It might hurt while you're doing it, but maybe when you revisit those locations it will hurt a little less.

Just a thought. :)

sarah baldwin said...

natalie, i know how you feel. but, you have it easy babe.

you don't have to watch your kids get into the car with him and his stupid 20 year old girl friend that he cheated on you with, wishing it was you, thinking it should be you, wanting it to be you instead of her.

i know how it feels to want your city back. we used to go to the farmers market downtown (slc) every sat morning, and date nights at the gateway. i've now given all those fun things to him, because i just can't do it. what if he's there with her and i'm there? what if i see them kissing or playing with OUR children?

it is our own little version of hell. thankfully because of our savior, we are not alone. just stay positive and allow yourself these sorrows and then see the sunshine. new streets, new kisses, new sandwiches, and that new man that will make you forget all the others. that's what i'm hoping for...


sarah baldwin said...

and i like mandie's thoughts too... go to those old places and do it up right with your besties. because if he was there and he did see you, you want to be rockin it ;)

and remember... everything is perfect as it is. everything always works out for our highest good!!

Jennifer Bruner said...

I am happily married, and on occasion have a fleeting memory of an old flame. I don't think it is wrong to have good and bad memories. It makes us who we are and better for the experience. (Hopefully) We are blessed to know the feeling of Love and being Loved. Once you are married, you too may have those old "pangs" once in a great while. Just remember they are the past and you are making new memories that will last an eternity.

"Your past history and all of your hurts are no longer here in your physical reality. Don't allow them to be here in your mind, muddying your present moments. Your life is like a play with several acts. Some of the characters who enter have short roles to play, others, much longer. But all are necessary, otherwise they wouldn't be in the play. Embrace them all, and move on to the next act."

- Wayne Dyer

Monica said...

I feel exactly the same way. A guy and I broke up just over two months ago and today was the one year of when it all started for us. Weirdly, reading this post makes me feel a little better, not to rejoice in your pain but to know I'm not the only one that feels that way. Seriously, everything you just said, I feel too. I'm hopeful one day I'll get over it. I'll probably have to move away, but still hopeful :)

aspasm said...

That is EXACTLY how it feels. I still have streets and corners and coffee shops that feel that way but it's getting better -- mainly because I'm tired of giving so much up. I gave up my heart and my dignity. This was my city first and one day, I decided that I refuse to lose MY home to him. Somehow, this has helped with the whole healing process.

christine said...

I love what Mandie said. Choosing to create new happy memories with people you love and who love you back is a way of taking your city.

I lived in London for a while and had some great experiences there and dated a wonderful guy. He wasn't the one for me, and so we parted ways. I loved London so much that I refused to let those memories haunt me and made new ones instead with my girlfriends and roommates in the time I had left there. Because I went back to those places where I shared so much with that man whom I loved and created more memories, there is happiness connected to those places I love. These happy memories over shadows everything else.

I'm still not married, and still finding my way through getting over loves. I love my new city and hangouts, and I just refuse to give the places I love over to painful memories, so I make new ones and take them back. Yes, it takes some doing and it's not easy, but it is doable.

Take your city back. You can. I know it.

LaraMackenzie said...

Amen and amen.

Rachelle said...

Really grateful for this post...and for one a few weeks, maybe months, ago about hope and heartbreak. you've got a knack for putting your feelings into words. I'm feeling some very similar things as you and though I haven't yet figured out how to write it out like you can, your words help me realize I'm not a crazy person (as I sometimes feel) for still thinking of 'the one that got away'. I don't think 'time heals all wounds' is wrong...I think we just have our estimations wrong in how long we think or expect ourselves to heal deep love wounds. :-) day by day, we'll get there!

bechtold clan said...

Well i think when you love someone, REALLY love them...a part of you will ALWAYS love them. Even when you are happily married. At least that has been my experience. I have come to accept that and just not worry about those fleeting moments, memories that come and go-- I just let it be.

Rae said...

Ugh, girl I hear you. So many neighborhoods "belong" to exes. It's inevitable if you live in this city longer than a year. The city is just too small in that regard. I feel like time, and a new love heals those wounds. Yes, when you're heartbroken the pain of more than just the most recent ex comes up, but I feel like when I'm truly happy with a new person I don't have those painful memories of the last one, unless I haven't had time to get over the last one. (Although I personally can't truly connect with a new person if I'm still very hurt over the last.) I'm surprised to hear the sisters in the temple said that. I would think, yes, they might occasionally still think of the ones who got away, but it probably doesn't hurt like it did years and years ago.
Anyway, the point is, I hear you. Reading this reminded me of when Carrie dates the new Yankee and thinks she sees Big everywhere, and then finally actually does and she falls apart. At least we know we're not alone and we can all relate.
And regarding Sarah Baldwin's comment, ouch. I don't think she meant it to hurt, but telling someone else they have it easy doesn't really help. Yes, there is always someone dealing with a much more complex situation. It can always be worse. I'm sure there are women out there dealing with more who'd say she has it easy because, maybe they would LOVE to be able to have children, even if it meant sharing them with an ex. I don't know. The point is you just can't compare your trials to others'. It sounds like her situation is very difficult though, I can't even imagine. Anyway, you are entitled to your feelings, and it's definitely not easy.

Footrina Bella said...

I think those ladies in the temple are silly, or maybe they just settled for the men they are with now. I believe, when you find "the one", all those feelings of past relationships just become sweet little memories, and your eyes open up to the fact that they definitely were NOT meant for you. I can say that speaking from first hand experience. I have never felt so sure of someone than I do of my man. And up until I met him, I pined for someone that I'd dated a long time ago. It's like you are seeing it from different eyes, clearer eyes. It will happen, and when it does, you will look back at this moment and shake your head and have a good little chuckle at yourself.

Amy A. said...

You don't seem like the kind of girl who will settle for someone who will allow any time or space to dwell on any befores. No worries. And didn't one of those ladies tell you... What's for you won't pass ye by? :)

Ang said...

you know, I think you should channel this beautiful writing into a seriously funny and terrific beach read. You are a full of fresh verbiage and quick images that i imagine could turn pages. put that pity party on the pages and cash in.

p.s. - men are always going to make you angry, sad, miserable, and sometimes happy. its just normal.

Ang said...

I think stolen city is your title.

Rae said...

Time doesn't heal all hurts, not the deep ones. Time just teaches you how to better live with them.

It's a really crappy fact, but that is the truth. For me, rather than stolen parts of the city, they're like that piece of clothing that doesn't fit anymore, but I don't know if I can ever throw away- that betrayal of trust, that devastating loss. They're pushed to the back, and sometimes I get a glimpse while pushing through my favorite current pieces of life.

But I can choose if I'm going to pull them out that day to remember why they're still there, or to grab a current favorite, put it on, and feel great.

Meredith said...

I am going to have to bookmark this entry, because it is so beautiful and worded perfectly.

I am going through something similar, although not quite as hard, and knowing I am not alone in those anxious, heart-wrenching moments is strangely comforting.

Kyle said...

True love in a happy marriage dulls the anguish and stabbing feelings of loss. The day will come that you will marry the one you truly love, and despite hard times, you will walk with them every day, kiss them every day, and share the smallest and most wonderful moments with them every day. When that has happened, it is true, there still may be the wonder of past loves; but it will not be a painful illness. It will feel more like that dream you once had. a very deep, and poignant dream, but it will be a past life; a different person. You will become one with your true companion, take on some of his quirkier traits and he will take on some of yours. And the city, or wherever you live, will fill, over the years and years, with newer, fresher, and more true memories of the new you.

Life Is Good said...

You are not alone in those feelings. Been there. I believe @Kyle said it best. Carry on and just try to do your best.

The Belshes said...

Having those feelings for those that have moved on from you will always be there unfortunately, but as time moves on, and as you live life, they slowly diminish in the back of your mind. For me, I had dated someone for 2 years and it was amazing. With time a part from each other though, we slowly lost that spark and i ended up marrying someone else. It was hard letting go of those memories with him and I compared that relationship a lot to my relationship with my husband which was hard and not fair at all on our marriage. I had to learn to let go and focus on my husband and I. Now being married almost 7 years, I have seen "him" here and there and I look at my life now with my husband and kids and am SO blessed for where I am today. Things happen for a reason, that's for sure! Ya, I could strive on the what ifs, but if I just look back and become grateful for what I did get out of that relationship and the things I learned from it, it makes me look on my life now and realize just how much stronger I've become and the better woman I am for it!

bunkbuddies said...

You are spot on. Wow. You have a real talent for expressing dating/relationship experiences perfectly. Thanks!

XOXO said...

I completely understand the worry of letting go, and losing that part of yourself - and its a good part.
But I think (and I'm telling this to myself too) that we have to have a little more faith in ourselves, and what we can handle. You are a strong woman, and yes, scars will always be there. But eventually they won't hurt...... at least thats what I'm told. Sometimes the hardest thing is just deciding to not let it hurt anymore; easier said than done.

Shelby said...

Your post is so true. And so are all these comments. I'm dealing with the same thing. Times are tough right now, but I'm trying to hold onto hope. So thanks for the comments everyone!

Kika + Olivia said...

One of my favorite quotes...

“It has been said, 'time heals all wounds.' I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”
― Rose Kennedy

it will get better. it has to!

Jeannie Shmina Greenwald said...

i truly think that time will soften the gut-wrenching feelings you are having now. that time will enable you to enjoy the parts of the city you love. it's happened for me, and i really thought it never would. but i've been able to look back on certain times and places and think, "Oh, I was so happy there!"

And then I remember, "No, you weren't. Not all the time. Remember when...." and fill in the blank with my abject misery and hopelessness.

But those feelings have faded. I can remember those difficult and painful times but with a detachment that does not interfere with my current enjoyment. I truly think that is possible, and will happen for you.

You are enduring a period of uncertainty in your life now, across all domains. Thus, your pain may be particularly acute at the moment.

Do hang in. Do 'mind the gap'. Do remember that putting one foot in front of the other is the behavior you're adopting and that the positive feelings will follow.

BBB said...

Marriage can be a really wonderful thing. It is also hard work. I would be lying if I didn't admit that there have been times in my marriage, right after a disagreement with my spouse, when I'm in the mopey, self-pity, life-is-hard, and he is so wrong stage when I haven't occasionally thought, 'What if things had worked out with... so-and-so instead.'

When things are tough, it's easy to fall back on 'What Ifs...' It's when we're still in the blaming, instead of moving on and forward and forgiving stage. Maybe those were some of the times the woman in temple was referring to.

I'm so thankful, that I can look back on my decision to marry my husband, and know it was the right one for me and I believe him as well. If I had had doubts or been unsure about things, it would have made life even more difficult when conflicts between us have come up.

In my opinion, it would be better to be single forever, than sealed to the wrong person. I don't know why things haven't worked out with these guys you've dated, but when it's right, you want it to be right for both of you. That will ensure the best chance of success for a happy married life.

As you move on, make new memories in some of the old places with girlfriends, family, and new loves, you will be able to give less and less of your power to those old loves. Sometimes time does help some people forget or dulls the pain of old hurts.

Memories will resurface throughout your whole life, painful ones and happy ones, but that is part of what shapes us as mortals and spiritual beings. It helps us learn and gives us perspective.

SR said...

I just read this article a friend sent me - may be helpful in thinking about moving on and saying "woo-hoo" to your future loves and losses. You'll get it after you read it!

SR said...

Oy, forgot the link: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Martha-Beck-Lovers-Leap/1

)en said...

I feel like pain is pain for a while. Horrible and raw and acute. And like some have said, it lessens over time and may not ever fully "heal." But like to think that as time passes, pain transforms. It transforms us and it transforms into something else-- a memory, a lesson, a tender spot or not, and it is always a part of us. Which is a good thing. I would hope, anyway. I guess it's up to us to manage it. Crazy crazy pain.

Emily said...

Thank you so much for sharing! You expressed the anxiety and emptiness of missing someone so eloquently.

I keep hoping there will come a day when rolls of crescent dough, Bing Crosby and baseball hats won't make me cry.

Here's to hoping :)

Emily said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sara J Low said...

My pain hit 7 years ago. The first two years were hell. I cried EVERY SINGLE DAY! Getting out of bed was a challenge. Being happy was a challenge. I remember praying one day for peace and comfort and hope and for the pain to just go away. I had a distinct impression to look up while praying. I opened my eyes and they were drawn to the book on a shelf, "The Miracle of Forgiveness". I then had the thought, "you need to forgive". Forgive? I wasn't angry at him, I wasn't mad at him, I just missed him and I didn't understand what went wrong. But, after having that thought, my prayers changed, my life changed. I somehow forgave him, forgave myself and THAT is when the peace came. That is when I began to heal. THAT is when those places didn't seem to hit a trigger every time. Now, I look back and realise that I've done a lot of growing over the past 7 years. I have empathy I didn't know I could have for others pain. I have had amazing moments and experiences being single and figuring out who I am. I am happy with my life, and I am happy he has married and moved his life in a positive direction.

Time does heal, but it takes a lot of time. And it has to be on your own terms.

Thank you for being so candid with your thoughts and feelings. You are able to write exactly what a broken heart truly feels like. I hope your day of healing comes soon!