Water Attracts Water

by Cris Gladly on November 14, 2011

Photo by: Maggie Lochtenberg

I called TDH crying last night.

It was late.
And he’s sick.
And I’m sick.
And as I dialed I thought: ‘you know everything he’s going to say to you already’.
But I dialed anyway.
Because the space I found myself in felt too vulnerable
and the wound I’d struck upon felt too tender;
I needed someone to stand present with me while I looked at it.
And TDH is my guy for that.

He answered.
“What’s up?”
His voice half-asleep and scratchy sounding.

My own voice was no better,
breaking and cracking
over tears and my own illness thrashed throat.
I asked:

Have you ever had a moment …
where the Universe lets you glimpse back at where you’ve been …
and in looking back, you can now see all of the mistakes you made …
all the dumb things you did without even knowing you were doing them …
and seeing that totally breaks your heart?”

TDH paused, quiet and thoughtful, and then replied:
“Yes. I definitely have.
But, what’s going on for you?
What brought this up for you?”

So I told him:
I had opened up my dormant Skype account
to prep tomorrow’s conference call with my client in Nepal.
I’ve never activated a Skype call on my own before,
so I was just taking a peek in advance to make sure I knew what to do.
And there it was …
sitting there … forgotten …
The transcript of my stupidity.

It was the back and forth message thread
of my communication with LAkh
at the point when our fast and glorious rise to amazing relationship potential
shorted out and rapidly fell apart.

To bring you up to speed:
Lakh was the first good thing to happen to me in the Love Department since I went Solo.

There was one other someone before him
whom I spent far too much time tripping and stumbling over.
Not time wasted; I learned hard but incredibly valuable lessons along the way.

But LAkh is the first and only man I’ve tried to fully open my heart up to.
After a lifetime of holding back, he is also the first person
I really wanted to generously care for and genuinely give to.
And in return, toward me, he was just … so … [swoon!]…
I have a heart full of the sweetest, loveliest memories thanks to him.

Things went awesome for awhile.
And then they didn’t.
And that’s how things go.
At least that’s how they went in this case.

My time with him feels like a gift.
And I am still learning and growing from my experience with him.
But I’ve also carried a sense of lingering hurt and loss there.
Because aspects of our ending brushed roughly up against a deep core wound I have.

And that is what I saw shouting back at me
in the Skype correspondence I stumbled upon.
Though my words to him were very kind, and gracious, and thoughtful.
Looking back at them now,
I can feel the weight of fear and panic behind them.
A self-protective urge to flee battling with a desperate holding on.

image source: pintrest

My words to him said that though I was disappointed,
I was okay with letting go, I respect you, let’s be friends …
blah blah blah
(lots of other articulate, uber mature things) …
But, from where I am now, what I see clearly screaming from behind those words, is:

‘No!!!! Please! Don’t take this away from me yet!’
Please! Not yet!
I love this so much!
I feel sooo excited and hopeful for the very first time.
I want what’s best for you, but please…
I want this for me.
Please … don’t take this away from me yet!’

I told all of this to TDH
with hot tears trailing slowly down my cheek.

I do not cry in front of people easily, not even TDH.
After TheX’s affair, I made myself stop crying so I could focus and deal.
I literally did not cry again for over 4 years.
Now I do, but I still hate the way crying in front of people makes me feel.
TDH knows this about me,
so he doesn’t mention it and just keeps the conversation going.

TDH asked:
“What’s coming up for you right now?”

I replied:

“Grief that I wanted something soooo genuinely,
and truly thought I was in such a good solid place at that time,
thought that I was doing things so differently,
and yet I still made a mess of it.
Everything I said to LAkh was so heavy and just ‘ugh’ …
I re-read it and can hear myself freaking out!’

It’s just hard to look at.
The ways we self-sabotage without even realizing it.”

TDH said:
“You didn’t make a mess of it.
A lot of good came from that experience.
But you’re coming from a really low place to start with.
And one thing I know about you
is that you are not clear about what you want or your boundaries.
You are not clear where you will and will not compromise.’

image source: flickr.com

He continued: ’And here’s the thing:
Water attracts water.
Pour it on a board,
water will always pull toward itself.

Where you were good, you attracted the good in LAkh.
But where you were uncertain, you attracted his uncertainty.
And you will continue to do that until you know what you want.”

“Then, no matter how badly I want it …
No matter how much I want to be ready for it …
I’m just not?
I’m not there yet.”


Well how the hell do I get there then, TDH?!!
I don’t want to repeat this!!!
This Skype thread is ridiculous!
I don’t want to mess things up like this
the next time something good comes around again!”

“And that’s what you’re doing wrong.
That’s what you did wrong with LAkh.
Stop trying to figure it out.
Stop trying to get there.

You won’t figure it out until you let go and stop trying to figure it out.
The water will carry you at the speed it chooses.
You can paddle frantically all you want.
You aren’t going to get there any faster.”

And then I saw it…
this image in my head of me paddling crazy on a river flowing slowly.
And I realized (once again) how exhausting it is
trying to get somewhere that way.
And damn it, haven’t I learned this lesson before already?

Here I am in this place again: resisting what is.
Resisting the in between.
Funny how often we end up revisiting truths we already ‘know’.

“It’s a lazy river, Cris.
Relax. Float. Enjoy the ride.”

Photo by: Maggie Lochtenberg

“Stop trying to figure it out.
Lazy river. Float.
I like that.
That sounds nice.”

“You’ll get there when you get there.
Use this time to relax! … and figure out what you want and what you don’t.
Use the time to love everything in your life that brings you joy.
And get rid of everything in your life that doesn’t.”

“Yes. Good plan.
I’m on it.
I like this.”


“Dude, maybe you should be the one writing my stupid blog.”


“TDH, thanks for answering the phone tonight,
I love you.”

“Of course.
Let’s get some sleep.
I love you, too. Night.”

I curled up in bed feeling cared for.
And less embarrassed about the Skype thread.

I mean, it says something about where I am that the correspondence
strikes me as majorly ‘crazy train’, right?
I mean, if I’d re-read it and thought:
“Well damn, girl, you sure craft a mighty fine email!!”
Then we’d have cause to worry, right?

It’s a gift to look back and see how far we’ve come,
even if it’s slightly painful to do so.
It’s also a gift of self-love to hold the places where we’ve struggled
in a space of  tender compassion for our own vulnerable humanity.

This post was not easy to write,
nor easy to share.
But this is what being real looks like.
There are days when we get it and we soar.
And days when hard moments sneak up on us.

How about YOU? Can you relate?
Have you ever looked back on where you’ve tripped up
and it broke your heart a little bit?

How are you doing on the journey?
Are you paddling like mad or chilling out on the lazy river?



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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Barry November 15, 2011 at 3:16 pm

I have to say I have experienced this more than a few times. I know one thing after a lifetime of covering events around the world and witnessing the best and worst in people. Everything in life is but one moment in the journey and the journey is life, lived. Yes there are things that did go as I would have wished but so many others materialized out of the ether and carried me to other wonderful events and conclusions. I have wondered like everyone else about me part in the journey and I am comfortable to know my part is just to be me. And, live for the moment.
The journey is not scripted and any attempt to do so only robs one of potential wonderful “moments”. How many of us are flying within fences? Be true to yourself without expectations, open the door, step out.


Cris: Gladly November 15, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Agreed, Barry. I think where we stumble often … or at least where I stumble, is wanting to hold on to any little bit of good that comes my way. Not trusting that more joy, or even greater joy, may be on the way. I know better than to hold on. But I still do it from time to time. I’ve done so here. I try to surrender and just “trust” … or “float” as TDH says. I’m a sky mind by default, so I have to wiggle room in my brain to let a water analogy in (hee hee) … but TDH’s comment really worked for me. Life is a lazy river. Sometimes we hit rapids, so we might as well conserve our mental/emotional energy for hard paddling when we need it … not over exerting for no reason.

This is all stuff that I know. I just lose sight of it from time to time. It’s a process.

Appreciate your comment, Barry. Thanks for all of your support of the blog!

Green Skies!!


Stephenie Zamora November 20, 2011 at 2:29 am

I love this one Cris. THANK YOU for sharing it with me. :)


Tanya Malott January 8, 2012 at 9:48 pm

“at least where I stumble, is wanting to hold on to any little bit of good that comes my way. Not trusting that more joy, or even greater joy, may be on the way. I know better than to hold on.” I believe that is called “settling for the crumbs”. Teri Hatcher wrote a whole book on it, “Burnt Toast”. Do you know how many toads I had to kiss after my divorce!? I thought each and every one was a prince inside. Maybe someone else’s prince! When I stopped looking, and stopped kissing, someone sent me a prince by email! More joy is coming for you! An Italian friend once beautifully said (in Italian), ‘when a door closes, a window opens’. When you are looking at the closed door, sometimes you can’t see the window.


Cris: Gladly January 8, 2012 at 10:10 pm

I agree! It was absolutely settling for crumbs. That has been a beautiful part of my transition over the last few months since I wrote that post … realizing that it’s okay to let go of the little bit of good that comes because then your hands are open to receive even more. Life is always a delicate balance, I am learning, of knowing when to let go and when to hold on. Both have their time and place. :) I wouldn’t say I’ve kissed any frogs. I’d say I’ve drawn to myself the exact right people who’ve mirrored back to me exactly what I needed to see in myself (albeit the hard way a few times) to grow to where I am now. THAT has been a huge piece of this for me. Learning to accept the lessons gracefully, even the harder ones. Thank you for this wonderful comment. Consider me officially looking for windows!! :)


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