Friday, March 27, 2015

Beginning to see the light

I'm trying very hard to understand why we do the things we do, and what influences us in the choices we make as human beings. I've realized for example that lately, in the last week or so, I've felt an enormous sense of palpable relief, that somehow my life is less anxious and more about the warm spring days and the abundance that brings.  There is an optimism that wasn't there before. I'd lost it. I'd forgotten I had it. I forgot the thing that I bring into the room. I left it somewhere. Blame it on the time change, blame it on the fact that the odd ex-boyfriend and I aren't in contact at all, zero, zilch, or blame it on healing.

EXT: FARMER'S MARKET, LOS ANGELES: I had breakfast with my Ex-Husband on Monday. We don't know what to call each other. We are still married. I'm not sure why, but we are. We see each other infrequently, but we talk every day, and he is, to be honest, still my best friend. He introduced me to someone as "the mother of my children and my current wife" but that's not entirely true. I have to find a better word. There must be a better word. In his honor I ordered huevos divorciados. I chortled at the joke. He didn't notice. He stuck with rancheros. And all the way to breakfast I'd felt excited, as if there was something magical in this meeting, that I'd maybe I'd been wrong all along, and that he was lovely and I was lovely and it was all a big misunderstanding. Five minutes in I remembered why we couldn't live together. Tears were pouring down my face in the middle of the Farmer's Market (not enough tears apparently to prevent me from gulping down my divorced eggs and their two delicious salsas) and I remembered the pain that only someone who has known you most of your life can inflict, unwittingly. When he's really mad at me his eyes blink rapidly. But breakfast finished with my face only slightly red, my nose only slightly swollen, and I saw how bad he felt, not just for making me cry, but for all of it, for the years and years and years we spent together where we couldn't quite get it right, for being children together, for raising each other, for our co-dependence we couldn't shed, all of it. He struggles. I struggle. The children struggle. But we love, too, over divorced eggs and warm tortillas and "a bunch of fucking tourists you'll never see again" (his quote when I complained about crying in public).

For over a year there was anxiety: when was he (London boyfriend) going to call, when was I going to see him, would he keep his word, would he return the text, would he say good night, was he having a bad day, did he in fact love me as he said he did, was he going to miss another plane. It was constant. It was constant and I think I thought that I enjoyed it. I loved him. I loved him because he was brilliant and kind and funny and unpredictable and completely off his tree. And I thought that I would be able to change him. I thought that by loving him, everything would transform for him. I thought that the brilliant sunshine I brought to his life (and I am, I promise being ironic) would illuminate his days and we'd live happily ever after.

You see, the damage we dispensed to each other was beyond anything I imagined two human beings could do.  I don't think it was intentional, but it felt like it, and so everything became miserable. Every time we spoke. Every interaction. Even seeing his name, or a letter he'd written me, a present from him, set me off into such a state of anxiety, I could hardly function. I didn't sleep. The sunny way I saw the world became dark and bleak. I was like an addict. Maybe I was an addict. "You're in a bad relationship" said my friends, all of them, at different times. "It's toxic" they said. But like my sweet Frenchie who won't let go of a toy she loves, and you have to wrest it from her grip and her strong, puffy jaws, I wouldn't, couldn't let go.  27 years of one relationship went pear-shaped. And then I was dancing and being read poems and walking through London at midnight and I was loved and fed smoked fish and flat whites and my hand was held constantly and I was told I was beautiful (and that hadn't happened for a long, long time) so you see, it was very hard to give up.

"You're worth more than table scraps" said a friend and I wondered what that meant. Because after no food, table scraps taste pretty good.

My mother said something quite telling the other day. She said "you can't keep asking about someone if there isn't happy news." And I think that is how we are programmed, to fill our lives with happy news. I do it without thinking about it. But one thing that John (my husband) taught me was that being in it, living with it, being in the pain, and feeling it, and allowing it to cover you, knowing, with faith, that it will go, that it will dissipate, is important. Maybe that is the healing, to just be with it, without judgement. Maybe that's what I have to learn to be comfortable with. My mother also said "he will make you unhappy for the rest of your life if you let him." It was that advice that allowed me to let go.

And so now, when I walk in the mornings, early, with the dogs, and marvel at the flowers that have grown overnight, and watch the hawks, the crows nesting, the little band of wild parrots that flies over the canyon, the cucumber vine with the spiky chartreuse fruit, that people hate and I love for its persistence, I have back a sense of wonder that I'd lost in the fraught, hard-scrabble world of trying to make a man love me when he didn't know how.

It's all here. It's in the trees and the grass and the birds. It's in the sky that makes theatre every morning and every evening, without fail. It's in the constant knowledge that the sun will rise and that there will be a new day, a new way to start, and way to make amends for the crappy job you did of yesterday, and that today there is a cup of tea, a joke, a book, work, a warm bed, some furry friends.

"Oh, to throw my arms round the neck of a creature, dog or man, a creature who loves me!"  -- Colette

I'll stick with dogs for now. Ok?

Here's the Velvet Underground:


Lib572 said...

Gosh ..such a journey u have travelled .
Sorry it's so painful but u have lobviously learned a lot and I hear yr old self in this post ...welcome back from your travels xxxx

Susan said...

Dear you: welcome to the light of day after your trip to the dark side of the moon. Give a listen to the March 10 reading at new paradigm astrology dot com - I promise it will explain some of the forces at play. (not a spam thing ... trust me). Many of us have been swirling in a high pressure system where bad outweighed good but times they are a'changing. <3

Miss Whistle said...

@Lib572 Thank you, what a very kind thing to say. It does feel like coming back! xx

@Susan, thank you so much for this. I am happy to discover new paradigm astrology. It's beginning to make so much sense. I am enormously grateful xoxo

LPC said...

I think this is the starting place. <3

Katherine C. James said...

It was lovely to see a post from you in my email when I completed my work for the day and settled into bed.

I'm finally sorting through the disarray created by the last chaotic years, and returning my life to the order that in the past I relied upon to give me a sense of serenity and strength to use to face the world. When I was sorting through the stacks of files and piles of paper, I found one of your blog posts I'd printed out. The blog post, Winging it Across America, was a list of ten things. I loved what you included in your list about perspective, movement instead of rumination, and love being the answer *if it is kind.* I think those ideas you wrote on 7 June 2014 complement what you wrote here.

In the sorting and organizing I did today, in my emotional archeological dig, I read the wedding vows my ex-husband and I wrote for our wedding at the chapel in Yosemite, found the drawings my young nieces made in our Ahwahnee hotel room, looked at the files for the rape and its aftermath and the work and education plans it derailed, sorted through stacks of divorce paperwork, and the stacks of paper created by the sale of two homes in twelve months, read old journal entries for things I had forgotten or remembered in an entirely different way, and was filled with sadness, loss, and a sense that there has been more failure than success in my life. I felt overwhelmed by wreckage.

But once I set aside the work, and after I had put a satisfying amount of paper in the recycling bin, an act which in some way felt like I was moving the paper and the events and emotions the papers represented away from me in a vessel of their own (I imagine a Viking ship burial where all the papers go up in satisfying flames and become something else entirely), and wrote in my new journal for the first time, I realized that my stubborn optimism, a gift from my dad, was pushing its way back up to the surface. I wrote, "I hope organizing what I need, letting go of what I don't, both physically and emotionally, instead of clinging to old things and old feelings, will set me free to move to a new place. It has been a painful day, but I feel a sense of lightness and hope. Optimism rises."

When I read what you wrote this evening, it does feel like you are coming back to yourself, your optimism, your sense of wonder in what a day gives, after a period of difficulty, and I'm glad. I understand what you are doing and the things that you have done, and I wish you contentment and moments of joy in your new moments.

I think Lisa is right, this seems like the starting place, or as T. S. Eliot said, "And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from."

One last thing in this long comment: As I was reading your post, and thinking how much more it seemed like you (if I can say that about someone I've not yet met, and I can and I did), I also had this pleasurable sense that there was a group of us who care about each other reading what you wrote, and that made me happy.

Thank you for writing these posts. It is an effort you don't have to make, and your efforts enrich me

Goodnight. The dogs are enough for now. The dogs are wonderful. xo.

Anonymous said...

I have learnt so much from reading this post; to be kind to others and myself.
Thank you, thank you

Anonymous said...

Thats funny, feeling embarrassed, in LA??? I wouldn't care if I were you what anyone thinks.

What did he make you cry over??? Over what? Why embarrassed? Are you afraid anyone will see you for as you are?

Anonymous said...

You are a good writer. A good word is friend. That is what you are isn't it, after all. You are a friend, its not complicated unless you make it such. He should call you a friend. Its in your head the fuss you make. I suppose thats what writers do.

Anonymous said...

So, at last you have remembered this. Sorry you forgot about it. Remember also, to be kind to others!

Anonymous said...

So, at last you have remembered this. Sorry you forgot about it. Remember also, to be kind to others!

Tania Kindersley said...

It's a rainy night in Scotland and I can't sleep. I was noodling about on the internet, and I suddenly remembered I hadn't been to your blog for a while. I'm so glad I came. Two things struck me. One is that you always write your most beautiful prose when you are in pain. And the other is a bit odder and more twisted. It's a bittersweet thank you. I choose, slightly oddly, to live alone and not think about romantic love. I was absolutely useless at it, and your words remind me exactly of what I was like, only ten times worse. I sometimes think I perhaps am missing out, or being a coward, but I do believe in playing to one's strengths. Reading your ravishing, haunting, honest post has given me a reminder about why I made that odd decision, on which society frowns so hard. I get the family love, the horse love, the dog love, the Scotland love. It's not a bad bargain. I think you are braver than I, because you are still searching. I love your authenticity, and thank you for it and send love across the ocean. xxx PS. Don't mind the Anonymous too much. I had one once, and she made me cry. Then I gave her silent permission to be her, and I got to be me, and I finally understood which was the fuzzy end of that lollipop.