Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Hole No Cigarette, No Cabernet, No 8 Minute Mile Can Fill

Lately, it feels like my life has been building toward some moment that I'm not yet wise enough to understand.  After having a truly fantastic weekend, finished off this morning running a 5k in Syracuse in pelting ice-rain (yes, that's one word) I felt the heaviness of needing to sift through my thoughts.  When I finally arrived home, the weather was so balmy for November, that I threw on my running gear, again, and went off for another 5k.  I knew it would get dark soon, but my need to gain the type of understanding that only a good run brings was much greater than that worry.

Recently it seems that many people have made contact with me for inspiration of some sort or another.  While I am deeply touched and will continue to provide guidance, both spiritual and physical, for anyone who reaches out to me, I feel that I need to share how often vulnerable I, too, still am, and how raw my emotions can still be.  I think that if I tell you these things maybe it will make it easier for you to have faith and the courage to follow your heart, intuition, path...whatever you would like to call it.

Saturday night my ex-husband told me that his grandfather had passed away last Thursday.  Of course he was not "my" grandfather, but I was with my ex-husband from 19 to almost 31 years old...  We spent many days at Grandpa's.  I know his favorite food, the types of books he likes to read, the stories about his military service, his wife who passed many years before him and so much more.  I spent many many nights at his house before I was married and even after.  I cooked for him, helped him clean, bought and wrapped his Christmas gifts all through our marriage... and I shared my stories too.

When I talked with my ex, lets call him "Jack", about it, I was hurt that he had not told me.  Even after "Jack" and I were divorced I sent Grandpa Christmas and birthday cards and gifts.  When after some time I received nothing in return, I stopped.  I realized that "Jack's" new girlfriend had truly taken my place and I was no longer part of that family.  It was just another piece of a painful path that I was on.

I wanted to tell this because I think many of you who have come to me see me as this strong, independent woman who has made so many "good" choices and who has a vision of the future and will stop at nothing until I achieve my goals.   While that is certainly true that I have decided that I can't let anything stop me from my dreams, I have done so many things wrong and made so many mistakes.  I am uncertain, even still, and recently had to go to a good friend for support.   I still experience the ache of loneliness, and there are days that I truly do still miss the hopes "Jack" and I had for our future.

People often tell me that I will marry again.  People often say, and I understand it, that I have commitment "issues".  A part of me agrees that I do have issues with commitment, but it has less to do with committing to someone and everything to do with being afraid that someone else will stand in the way of my dreams, instead of supporting them.  I've been there and I was in love.  When I said my vows,  standing on a sandy white beach in Maine where we had vacationed for years together,  looking into my soon to be husband's eyes, my own eyes brimming with tears unspilled, I meant every word.  It was my for-life vow.  A real promise.   There was never a time when I doubted my commitment to that vow.

But it takes two people to keep a commitment.  So I had to let go of my promise.  Break my word.  And even though my heart was saying, you will not go back to him, look what he has done to you, the truth is that for a period of time, a couple months, I would have done anything  to keep my family intact, to not have to drive away from my 17 month old daughter crying, her face pressed to the glass door, to feel my Jack's hands intertwined with my own.

But there came a point where I knew in my heart, that this was for the best, so I moved out (he wouldn't).  I realized that he didn't love me anymore, but he was willing to stay in that loveless marriage.  I would've been miserable. I was miserable.

When I left, I felt as though I was going into a nightmare.  It was dark.  I was so very despondent and unaware of who I was.  I wasn't a wife anymore.  I didn't have a man to clean after, cook for, plan a vacation for, choose a Christmas tree with, turn to in the middle of the night.

Yet even though there was an ache, I walked away.  I knew he couldn't treat me like that, so disrespectfully.   I'm a woman, not an object.  I'm not meant to be used and tossed away. And yes, it hurt.  It ached.  There was a hollow that nothing could fill.  No cigarette, no cabernet, no 8 minute mile, could fill for many months.  But slowly, I began to heal, because I wanted to.  Because I made that choice that this was the right thing, the best thing, for me.  That I was meant for bigger and better experiences.

Now while that is true and I believe that there is a world out there that I am soon to know and have taken baby steps, working very hard this last year so that I can step out into it, that hole, that deep wound, that ache, has not fully healed, but it has scarred over.  I don't know if it ever does heal all the way.

I have learned to believe that my path had to veer away from his, because he was suffocating me, depriving me of my true potential.  So, when it comes to that ache of being alone or lonely without a man's touch next to me at night I can honestly say at this point in my life, I would rather be alone than make a decision that goes against the song I feel in my blood.  I would not make a commitment to any man at this moment because I can not.  My heart belongs to the future.

Having said that, I think it's important to recognize that there will be a man that may come into my life that I have feelings toward...

Like Anna Deveare Smith said, "I never know when somebody's going to knock on the door of my own unconscious in a way that I wouldn't have anticipated."  

That has actually happened to me this year. About 3 months into that relationship I felt myself needing to pull away.  I hadn't had those feelings about a man since Jack, that fondness, and that attraction that is difficult to put a finger on.  It was unsettling.  After detaching myself and spending some time dating other men, I decided that I needed to let go of my fears and just enjoy the moment, be mindful that this relationship had an expiration date (he is moving in January) and not try to make him be what I want him to be.  Facing my fear that I could develop deeper feelings about him, I began seeing him again, and have felt powerful beyond measure that I can be with someone, know it will end, and savor every each moment together.  

Early in the relationship, I said that I thought we should stop seeing each other because I was developing feelings, and he responded  that the "timing" was just not right for us.... I agreed and we stopped seeing each other, naturally, without any anger, bitterness or resentment.  It was difficult because I wanted to be with him,  was intellectually challenged, and this was a feeling that I haven't experienced, ever.  It was absolutely frightening to me to want to be with someone on that level. 

What I have come to realize is that it wasn't the timing was off, it was that I wasn't able to see this opportunity for what it was.  I couldn't grasp that I could be with someone for a temporary amount of time, and then have to let that person, who I could potentially care for, go.

The timing wasn't wrong at all.  My thinking was.

I like to think of spending this time with him now as an experience, almost like a vacation.  Would you forgo a journey into the vacation of your dreams just because you knew it would end?  Of course not.  You set your mind, understand the implications of the experience, and go into the experience with an eager heart and the knowledge of the pending finality.  That doesn't make the experience any less sweet.  In fact, it makes it sweeter, because you know it will end, and so you go headfirst, without caution, mindful of the moment.

I am telling you these things today because I am both wistful, missing my old way of life despite how often miserable I was at the end of the marriage,  yet feeling blessed that I have had the experiences I would have never had, living the dreams I never would have lived, had I stayed in my relationship, which was making me miserable.

And best of all, I am learning how to be mindful of the moment: living day to day, following my heart, taking baby steps, chasing the rainbows that one day will be over my head.  I want to live deep and with intent, experiencing the sadness as divine, not just the joy.  This reminds me of Thoreau, so I must quote him,

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

I am telling you these things today because I know so many of you are depressed, afraid, confused, uncertain, doubtful of yourself, as was I, as I am still sometimes.

Yes, it is frightening, but go into the "woods." Go into that fear.   You can only ever truly understand the intense love, peace and joy life can bring if you go earnestly into the dark places and know those, too.

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