I’m Searching For a Real Love

I fucking love being human. I love the feeling when you’re trying not to cry, and your heart expands so much it hurts, and your whole face burns, and then the tears flow and everything is blotchy and so much better. I love caring about people, even when it is messy or confusing. I want all of my feelings, rage and terror and longing, to wash over me and fill me, as the alternative is the dull anxiety of every day living.

I want human reality, with imperfectly symmetrical faces rather than CGI-inspired features. I want the Charlie Brown Christmas tree. I want the half-falling-apart sandwich my husband made me with a child clinging to his knee, rather than the photo-worthy panini I could get down the street.

I want to love all these little flaws in myself the way I love them in the external world. I have created space for all the parts of myself that make me uncomfortable with their pedestrian imperfections, but I want more than space. I want to love those pieces of myself, as they are not just pieces. They are me.

I castigate myself for my failures in friendship. I often wish I could be a million places at once, showing up for my friends in the ways they perfectly need. But that would leave no place for longing in their lives, no place for other people to meet those needs in them. I mess up communication, miss a coffee date, leave people out of plans, overschedule a Saturday night.

However, if your dog dies I’ll be the one there with the shovel, helping you bury him in the backyard. I can’t always handle the group interaction of a party, and feel bad for declining, but if one of my friends wants a heart-to-heart, I’m that person in a flash. I’ve got to start having grace for myself for my every day failings. Nobody wants me to be a saint, and without failure there is never space for forgiveness, which is a beautiful thing.

My husband and I in the glow of Thanksgiving, after having bickered on and off that morning over something inexplicable.

When I’m feeling really tender and like I’ve let everyone down, when I’ve nagged my husband about something he already did, or growled at my child when she just wanted my attention, I take to prayer.  I ask for mercy, mercy, mercy. Sometimes those are the only words to the prayer.

Whatever you believe about prayer, mercy is a wonderful ingredient to add to any situation. I think of mercy as those little ways the world shows you that the nature of life is love. It’s when you’re frantically explaining what you need to someone, asking for their help, and instead of matching your panic, they calmly explain what you need to try next. It’s when you think you can’t hold the baby for one more second, and they fall off to sleep or someone comes to do the holding for a while. You can find it even in the midst of terrible tragedy. It’s there, dimly glowing, probably in the one relationship you’ve written off for being the most flawed, or the most mundane experience, like taking a chest-expanding breath.

I named my blog after those moments. Mercy is my central philosophy. I may not understand it, but it always returns. Tiny mercies come, when you least deserve them, when you see no way out. All we have to do is pay attention, and say, “Thank you.”

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24 thoughts on “I’m Searching For a Real Love

  1. I am a little different frim you in that I tend to hold those messy human emotions inside, in some misguided effort to keep things level. And my prayer life has taken a sad turn from what it used to be, but “have mercy on me” is my mantra, longingly (I love the word longing) repeated in a whisper over and over until I feel it. Beautiful post, Rhea.

    • Kim, balance is important, to be sure, so perhaps you’re not as misguided as you believe. My love for my messy emotions was hard-won, painfully procured. I used to hate, hate, hate them. I’m glad I don’t feel that way so often anymore, but I can relate to wanting to hold them in. Sounds like your prayer life is just right — I love your whispery longing.

  2. I love this post. Feel and resonate with this post. Mercy mercy mercy. Sometimes i forget that is the first tattoo i got. Thanks for the sweet reminder.xo

  3. Thank you for this. I had to learn to love the imperfection in life, but once I did, it was hard not to see the beauty in them.

  4. That is beautiful, Rhea. I don’t know you much, but it’s clear this is who you are. Mercy is not a common word or one that comes to mind almost ever for me, but what a difference it would make in my life were it to become part of my inner dialogue.

    Happy Thanksgiving! xoxo

  5. Rhea, you’re writing so often touches on what I need to hear and pay attention to, almost prophetically. The words, and feeling in them, cause me to slow down, take breath, listen and hear again. I am thankful for you and for your blog and I am thankful for the time you gave me, practically a stranger, not so long ago.
    xxxxx

    • Georgie, This one just HAD to be written exactly that day. I felt this cosmic pull to write it, this feeling that it was needed. It felt sort of silly at the time to think that, but since posting it so many people have said, “I needed it just then; did you read my mind?” that I am thinking it is true. Thank you for the kind words in response, and I loved spending time with you a few months ago! I am so happy when internet friends become real-life friends.

      • Rhea, I only just checked this reply! Just wanted to add how much i too enjoyed becoming your ‘real-life friend’ and i look forward to when our paths might cross again in the future. For now, be blessed and loved this 2013. Thank you for your blog which continues to inspire me Xx

  6. How do you always read my mind? I’m now such a changed person, I don’t put on a happy face very well anymore, but I need to give others space to be themselves, imperfections and all, and just call for mercy when I’m needing it. Thank you for being a real love in my life.

  7. That is a beautiful post! Yet I am also just so drawn to that image of you and Joel—it is almost magical. It looks like the poster for a foreign film or like one of those photos your your great-great grandkids would be looking at and framing years from now.

    Also Rhea thank you for your well-timed and reassuring response to my emotional FB message. You continue to remind me that imperfections and bumps in the road are just part of the whole picture.

  8. Pingback: life: happy first weekend of hanukkah | Girl Seeks Place

  9. Pingback: Being Two (The Blog, Not the Kid) | thirty threadbare mercies

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