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    The CVS of Broken Hearts

            Saturday, I was at a local CVS picking up a prescription for my sister. In front of the store, there stood a couple having a discussion. From the look on their faces, and their body language, it looked pretty intense. I had to walk past them on my way into the store, and I really didn’t want to hear what they were saying. But it was impossible not to, unless I pulled the old third grade audible denial technique of putting my hands over my ears and making loud, inhuman sounds with my mouth. I knew how to do that, physically and metaphysically. I’ve watched people in my family do it for decades.
            I heard a little as I walked by. “Relationship”. “Love”. “Lies”. The rest of what they were saying was a blur, and that’s the way I wanted it. But those powerful words leapt out at me like frogs from a lily pad. And right before I got past them, the guy walked away, and the woman turned into the store. Without knowing anything else, it appeared there was some serious hurt going on. I felt this energy as I walked through their collective space, and it literally plucked a heart string that resonated in the key of pain.
            The woman was in front of me, and happened to be going towards the back of the store, just like I was. In another life, I stopped her and asked her what was wrong. Sensing my infinite empathy, compassion, and healing abilities, she broke down, opened up, and told me everything. I held her, wiped away her tears, put my hand on her chest, and instantly mended her broken heart. She walked away smiling from ear to ear, now crying tears of joy.
           That was in another life. In this one, I said a silent prayer for both of them and kept walking.
            It was now official. This was The CVS of Broken Hearts. Eight months ago, my heart got broken there too. Even now, every time I go by the place, I think of that night. God knows how many more hearts have been shattered within the negative love zone of that seemingly innocent pharmaceutical and beauty supply store.
            Last summer, the night before the Falmouth Road Race, which I was running, I had gotten together with my ex-girlfriend, principessa. During the course of the evening, I drove her to this same CVS to fill a prescription for her because she wasn’t feeling well. On the way to the store, I said how madly in love with her I was, even though we had been broken up for two and a half months. I hadn’t been in the situation of being in love with somebody I wasn’t with since I was twenty years old. And just like then, this discussion wasn’t exactly flooding me with dopamine.
            This conversation on the way to CVS was probably the most painful discussion of my life. It continued on into the store, where she started to cry. I tried to comfort her, and then through her tears she said the worse six words I’ve ever heard: “I’m not in love with you.” Actually, it was the worse twelve words I’ve ever heard. She said it twice.
            As I reeled from this machete through my heart, I turned away, the look on her face burned indelibly into whatever area of grey matter is responsible for the storage of devastatingly painful memories. That area’s retention ability was pushing maximum density by now, having received trillions of synapse shattering neurotransmissions within the past hour. I didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing. I wish I could say that I was able to find humor in the moment and respond with “Oh Yeah?!” But no, I couldn’t. I had to process what I just heard. It was the first time she had ever said that to me.
            All of sudden, my whole insides caught fire, and I felt like I was being cooked from the inside by the flames of agony and despair. I walked around the store because I had to keep moving or I would have burned to a crisp right there in the make-up isle. Nothing I had ever felt hurt like this. I would have preferred the pain of a white hot, razor studded catheter jammed through a raging erection.
            Previously, throughout the course of the evening, no matter what she said to me, even if it hurt like hell, I didn’t shut down. I didn’t resort to my normal protective M.O. I didn’t get defensive or put up a wall. In fact, I returned whatever she threw at me with words of love. With understanding. With kindness. With nakedly vulnerable honesty. And I have to admit, it felt good to do that. It was different. I was different. And that was wonderful. Even if everything else about that night totally sucked ass.
            So as I walked and burned, my course of action became clear. Just go back and tell her the truth. So I walked up to her, pushed her soft hair away from her head, and whispered in her ear “I still love you. Whether you love me or not doesn’t affect how I feel about you.” Now those were some words that I had never said to any woman before. Ever. Even if it was how I felt.
            That’s all I could do. I was done with not showing how I felt. I tried that, thinking it would save me from heartache. It didn’t. It just kept me further away from whoever I was with. I had nothing to loose now anyway. Even if she was lying about how she felt, what good was it going to do if I lied about how I felt? Then all you’ve got is even more space between us. And if I was ever going to pole vault over this emotional chasm, I’d rather do it over a shorter distance. I had no control over how far she’s going to push me away. But I didn’t have to do the same just because she hurt me. I had done that before too. It didn’t make me happy either.
            So I kept her close, even if it was just in my heart. That was a lot more difficult than putting up a wall, or staying mad at her, or any number of defense mechanisms that I got good at. More difficult, but it didn't suck energy from me. It gave it. It’s like working out. Going for a run is harder than staying on the couch, but it fills me with an energy that affirms my life. Not diminishes it.
          I got absolutely no sleep that night last August, but I still ran the Falmouth Road Race the next day. All 7.1 miles of it. Like I said, life affirming energy.
            But I still don’t like going into that CVS.

    ©2009 Clint Piatelli. All Rights (and, you guessed it, a CVS full of Wrongs) Reserved.

    Reader Comments (2)

    Let it goooooooo......Serioiusly.

    May 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterthinkaboutit

    Thank you for your unsolicited advice, thinkaboutit. And thank you for reading. You probably have my best interest at heart when you express your opinion, which is touching and appreciated. This is, however, part of my process of letting it go. I write about it. I share how I feel. I share pieces of my life with whoever reads my blog, knowing that we have all been in situations equally as painful. In that, I connect to those who are open to hearing me. In that, I not only express myself, but expose a vulnerability and a truth that many men have trouble admitting to. I'm hoping to help others open up as I help myself do the same.

    If what resonates with you about this rich, honest, and heart felt story is that I should "let it go", then that says something about you, not me. What it says about you is not for me to suggest. I'll ask you to think about that.

    And once again, thanx for reading and taking the time to respond.


    May 3, 2009 | Registered CommenterClint Piatelli

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