Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

It’s Like Money Dropped Out of a Helicopter Into the Sea and I’m on Some Twisted Japanese Game Show Frantically Swimming Around Grasping for Bills and Trying Not to Drown


I have been wrong and I have been wronged.

I have hurt and I have been hurt.

I am my bothness.

A teacher once told me that by learning Spanish you instantly share something with 400 million people around the world. I think having your heart broken does the same thing. Now that I know that language — one I never wanted to learn — I will speak and listen and heal and be healed.

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Do they know they hurt you?

Do they know how much?

Do you know how much?

If they don’t know, why?

If they knew, what would happen?

What would be the worst-case scenario?

What would be the best?

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I woke up with a pain in my ribs and over the next couple days it flared out to my chest and my back and intensified. I could barely walk and barely breathe so I went to the doctor who told me to go to urgent care who told me to go to the emergency room where they tested my heart and my lungs and my kidneys and my bones and asked me the same questions over and over and seemed confused by my answers. After several hours they found nothing wrong and said it must be a strange and intense muscle pull and I was leaving on a trip the next day and the pain got worse and I couldn’t walk or stand or sit or sleep for two days and on that third day I needed to have an important and difficult conversation one I’d prepared for for months and avoided for years with someone about something they had said long ago and probably didn’t remember and definitely didn’t know how much it hurt me and before I could even say anything I burst into tears and eventually told them what they had said and the pain it had caused and why I didn’t tell them sooner and they cried too and told me they had no idea and they were sorry and they love me and we cried some more and two days later the pain was gone.

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They don’t ask me where you are anymore because they know I don’t know.

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You lie on your bed alone, considering the universe.

I am there later — after your tears have dried —

exploring the galaxy that is your skin.

Our worlds collide; celestial bodies.

You say you want to read my birth chart

and I say what’s a birth chart.

You tell me it says

I’m a sex God expressionist icon.

“And also, a mother hen. Adorable.”

I don’t know what that means,

but I’m putting it at the top of my LinkedIn.

I never showed this to you and I don’t regret that but I definitely have regrets and if this feels too late and tacked on it’s because it is. I understand if you don’t endorse me for apologizing.

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Maybe the best thing I ever wrote is a stream-of-consciousness prose poem for the website of a national women’s magazine. I have no idea how it got published.

The ending went: “I’m thinking to myself, if this plane crashed, / I’d go down thinking about her, / not because I love her but because maybe I could have and wouldn’t that be convenient?” It’s about a person whose name I can’t remember.

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Maybe forgiveness isn’t a binary; a yes or a no. Maybe it’s not an arrival but instead a process; a journey. To have to forgive means you’ve been hurt. Experienced a wound, a trauma. Maybe it’s like a breakup or a death — you never fully heal and you never fully forget, but with time and work and compassion you make progress. Maybe forgiveness isn’t a do or a don’t; maybe it’s a constant moving. Maybe the same way we practice gratitude or patience or empathy we too spend our lives practicing forgiveness.

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My memory of you is like money in a glass case in the sea: beautiful, untouchable, distorted, seductive, sinking. Or maybe it’s money dropped out of a helicopter into the sea and I’m on some twisted Japanese game show frantically swimming around grasping for bills and trying not to drown.

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You might also enjoy “Someday You’ll Stop Feeling Sorry for What You Lost” and “Things To Do Instead of Feeling Sad.”