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Just a paper boat headed towards the open ocean

June 21, 2019 Karianne 5 min read 1 Comment

In February, two months before Joel and I broke up, I prayed an unusual prayer. “God, please let whatever is hidden between us be made known. Let our secrets come out of the dark and into the light.” That was it, short and simple.

Later that day, I received a direct message from Joel on Instagram. It said, “Jess.” I was pissed. He had meant to send a cute meme to his friend Jess-ica and his excuse was usually her name pops up first and he just clicks it. But it just so happened that this time it sent her name to me. Coincidence? After much arguing and finally agreeing with him that I was overreacting, I wrote it off as one.

I shake my head now.

Last night, over tacos and chips with queso, my friend shared a startling truth. Joel and Jessica started dating “quickly” after he and I broke up.

I remember when I felt his heart drift into an unreachable corner. It was last September. I was getting ready for my trip to Kenya, which is not the safest place, and Joel wouldn’t make time in his schedule to see me more before I left. A little while after I got back, my new computer broke and even though Joel said he would help me, I would have failed my animation class if my friend Jake had not come out to fix my computer. (Joel had penciled me into his schedule but it was after the assignment was due.)

Despite my pleas that he would stop working extra shifts, he always said yes when someone needed a shift covered or when his boss offered extra hours. He loved to go to work, he said it was for the extra money, but now we know it was also because he could see her.

Like road-signs on the highway, memories flooded back to me all night, clear signals I should have seen.

He helped her buy her new car. He took time out of his schedule to do her oil change and brakes on her car. They went to movies together and special lunch runs during work.

When I asked if there was something going on between them he assured me they were just good friends. He’d know her since she was a little kid, “like 8” I think he said. After all, she is 17 years younger than him. He said I was being insecure and crazy.

And I believed every word.

In November he bought a new TV and gave her his old one. I should have known then but he said he gave it to her dad (or was it her brother?) in exchange for a washer and dryer. In February again, perhaps because of that prayer, it also slipped out that he actually gave it to Jessica directly. I was angry that he lied, so he said he would have told me but he knew I would overreact and be hurt.

Apparently he said the same thing to my friend when he asked her not to tell me they started dating. I would overreact and be hurt.

A couple weeks after we broke up I asked if we would ever get back together. He said No, “because of India.” Even now he continues to let me believe the demise of our relationship was entirely my fault when in reality, he wanted someone else.

Joel waited 7 months to start a new relationship after his girlfriend before me cheated on him. For me? Who knows if he even waited a week. I almost asked my friend to tell me when they started dating, but before I mouthed the words I miraculously realized that knowing would only add another number I would use to asses my value—and I would always come up short.

This news ignited a battle with two of my greatest inner torments. One is when I look in the mirror all I see is a hideous face, and the other is suicide.

After learning how little I meant to him, how little he invested in us while I was trying so damn hard, I felt as good as sludge on the bottom of a shoe—something to be scraped off and forgotten—and I wanted to end my life.

But despite my tendency to close up and try to handle everything on my own, I actually reached out to my friends and family. They showered me with love, and Jake came over, held me, and let me cry.

Also, what apparently was for my own benefit, I just wrote about how to recover from heartache, and I find myself returning to that list again and again. I’m back in the grieving step for what I hope is the last time for this relationship, yet my mind also flashes to a scared but determined pursuit of a better me. I grieve. I pursue. Grieve. Pursue.

I close my eyes and picture myself as a paper boat on a steady sea. I stayed close to shore, not docked but not interested in moving towards the dark, mysterious waters on the horizon. Now, with this news, my anchor was cut, the dock closed. I have no choice but to head towards the unknown with my heart beating loudly in my ears. I’m afraid, but I have a secret.

I’m not alone.

I have family, friends, my dog, and my God. Another coincidence, if one can still believe in such things, my nightly reading schedule brought me to Romans 15 last night, and these words popped off the page.

“…the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.”

“May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus.”

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

It was written so long ago yet it felt like this passage was a direct message for me and what I’m going through right now.

As I grieve yet again, and wish there was a magical genie who could sprinkle dust on me and make me forget, or make my heart better immediately, I will do something I rarely do. I will trust in God’s spirit for the peace, encouragement, joy, and power to come to me.

Not because I deserve it, but because that is what he promises each of us.

I hope you never have to go through anything like this. But if you do, I hope you make it through the darkest night and know you don’t have to rely on your own strength.

After much prayer and deliberation, I’m not mad at Jessica. I don’t even think I’ll stay mad at Joel for much longer either. How could I? He believes the purpose of life is to be happy so that’s how he makes his choices.

Maybe I’ll write about that next. What is the purpose of life?

And, you know what? The longer I imagine my paper boat sailing into the open ocean, the more I am overwhelmed with a desire to get over my fear of the ocean. Does anyone own a boat and can you teach me to swim?

Meet the author
Founder - Art Director - Animator | Website

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Karianne is the founder of Windmill Ways. She plays the cello professionally and currently works as an Art Director for a charity. Because she loves animated shows and movies, she studies 3D animation and graduated with a BFA with the unfortunate class of 2020. Her dream vacation would be just staying home, but "home" being a glamorous cabin somewhere in the mountains surrounded by forest.

Favorite band: Lord Huron
Favorite book: This Present Darkness
Favorite quote: "Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail." Proverbs 19:20-21 (NLT)

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1 Comment

  • Jay June 21, 2019 at 8:03 pm

    To improve our life and those around us, I think, is the purpose of life.

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