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Day 110-Inching Out on the Tender Branch Called Independence...

Feeling better today about my heart. I got some really good advice from a friend yesterday - she answered the questions I posed:

1. How do you get over it and stop loving them?

You force yourself. Practice tough love with yourself. For your OWN sanity. Accept it and force yourself to let it go.

2. Where does the love go?

It’s goes into YOU. Love yourself with everything you have. YOU are the container.

Fiercely protect your own well being. That is your first and only job!

Then another:

One more thing. And this is NOT minimizing your feelings about Lane. But we tend to romanticize our old flames once the anger subsides. I can bet he looks way better from the rear view mirror. And in the end, he’s just a dude. And you my lovely are a shining star.

Then another:

Always choose you. ♥️

Then yet another:

Hi darling. I tried to call you just to say hi. Finally read NRT late in the day. I just love you. That’s all. And totally know and understand. On 1000 levels. 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

How did I ever get so lucky?

Of course, from the Tribe. Thanks to all of the others too who I did not choose to quote. It isn’t that your sentiments weren’t quote worthy...and life affirming because they were.

I feel better today, less transfixed. Freer. Protect my own well being fiercely. Ok, got it!

Another thing happened yesterday, a friend who has been struggling in a marriage that is not awful but not great, got a job offer. For her this equals independence. I met her for a drink last night to hear all about the offer and her feelings surrounding it all.

I feel like she was sent to me as some sort of spiritual confirmation that the path I have landed on is true and right. She expressing the same thoughts and feelings that I experienced and experience.

She earlier on the path, me farther along. Watching her is like watching myself a few years ago. Seeing how much I suffered with guilt and conflict about what I was doing. Leaving feeling like salvation to me but so hard on those around me. Finding enough love for myself to push onward while the beings about me, railed against my declaration of independence.

I feel empathy for her husband too. Not a bad man. He, not unlike my ex-husband. Kind and caring in his own way. But he doesn’t see her. He looks at her, desires her, wants her but almost to the exclusion of her. She is so present for him and his life that it seems to grant him permission to wholly miss her entirely.

I watch her struggle to keep her head above water. I watch her doubt herself. I watch her teeter on the brink of a daily wondering if she should stay or go. Defending her interiority because it is all she has left. Unable and unwilling to sacrifice this part of herself for anyone again.

Seems like the missing piece fell into place yesterday. She lacked an independent source of support. She needed to produce her own income to completely free herself of her marriage. I so get that. I sat in a marriage for five years wanting out, but not really allowing myself to acknowledge that fact because I could not figure out how I was ever going to get a job that would allow me to support myself and my kids. The job seeming to preclude my ability to be a mother. The mother role precluding a career.

I empathize with her fear. The pervasiveness of it. How it sinks down into her bones and causes stress fractures in her psyche. I can see her struggle on her beautiful face. The face that doubts her worth as a woman at every turn. The part of her that wonders what it will be like to give herself to another man, to feel his body on and in hers. Her self doubt making that more of a theory now than a reality.

Walking this path with her gives me a vantage point to review my own path out of my marriage. Watching her makes me realize just how brave and fearless I was. It takes an incredible amount of courage to walk away from something that is not bad. But it is not good either. Liberating yourself from a commitment you willingly made and lovingly continued. Until the cost of staying became too great.

There were days that I thought I would go mad. Or drink. Or die. Seems overly dramatic to me now. Really, in this time of divorce happening to over 50% of the population, my reaction was to self destruct? But it was.

I can remember when I spent the month in California launching the law reality no longer content to stay in the shadows...forced to the forefront of my mind and life by my being granted a month to work and be alone. The first time since I met my ex-husband where my life was important enough to take center stage. A literal country separating us in proximity and intimacy.

I woke up one day down. Really down. It was a cold and depressing January day. It might have even been raining. If it wasn’t, the sky was threatening. I woke knowing I had to go into the office. There was so much to do and no time to do it in. It was the weekend, but my weekend and weekdays were all just one long continuous day punctuated only by a few hours of sleep.

This day, I knew that I needed some exercise so I decided to go for a beach walk before the office. I went to a beach that I had never been to. I parked my car and had this overwhelming desire to have an affair. I didn’t care really who, just that I needed to do it right that second. As I walked out on the beach, the feeling grew stronger. Rising into almost a fever. Each sand soaked step, a heavy thud against my principles and honor.

The further I walked the more the nascent thought became more compulsive. The thought taking shape more as a plan. I began to look around at possible affair laden venues in my immediate area. My eyes came to rest on Joe’s Crab Shack. (This is hilarious to me now - really I was going to go there to find an affair? How fitting!) My completely appropriate, inappropriate launch pad for this new and unstable trajectory decided.

I was unprepared for what came next. The thoughts tumbling in my head so rapidly that I had a hard time sorting through them. It was like my thoughts were falling down a long, steep staircase that I couldn’t control their velocity. Me standing helplessly at the bottom awaiting my own demise.

Then they landed with such force that I almost felt the wind being knocked out of me. I knew that if I went to that bar, in order to have the affair, I would drink. Two months shy of 20 years of sobriety would be washed away in seconds. 11 years of honoring my words and commitment shot to hell with the fire power from a whisky glass.

Still I walked the beach. Soon I reached the end, I could go no further and I was forced to turn around. As I shifted my body around, it came to me that this was not the ending I wanted. It came on me with a crushing hold. I did not want to blow apart my life. I had done that once 22 years before and I did not want to do it again. The grenade still in my hand, pin in place, waiting for my impulse to pull the pin and let it all become smithereens.

As I walked back to my car, the beach was transformed into my proving ground. Rich, carnal and mired in conflict. I knew that I must leave my marriage but an affair at Joe’s Crab Shack and whatever derelict I could find, would not be the manner in which I brought about an end to a loving but loveless union. I knew that I would not cheat or drink. And I knew I was done. With painful clarity I knew what I had to do.

In retrospect, I walked out the beach with the problem and a solution that was more problematic than my problem. As I rounded out the walk and turned back toward the pier, I found a new solution. I found some salvation that did not require the prerequisite of implosion.

My life changed forever on that beach that day. I have never returned to that beach again, somewhat out of fear of what new reality it holds for me. Content with my life in its fucked up current form. I do realize that the beach was just the location where I wised up and not really powerful enough to change my life without my cooperation, still I remain distant...just in case.

I am so grateful to be walking this path with my friend. Seeing her budding independence and path. Being able to relate but all the while seeing that this is her journey and the ultimate conclusion her own. Always feeling so careful to share only my own experience, never pushing her towards a conclusion or path. Realizing so very much how important it is to be seen and heard and loved while ones entire internal and external life is seemly lived out loud. Being forced to share the inner contents of one’s heart and mind because there is no method or way to keep it contained anymore. Having the once certain, or at least belief of a certain future, now subject to an openness that is both liberating and paralyzing at the same time.

Last night I met her for a drink, I saw the excitement dance in her eyes with the job offer. I also saw the pain. The fear. The loss. Knowing all too well the brink that she stood upon. The decision to leave the comforts of her marriage. The things she recognized she absolutely would lose, the things she would gain uncertain and distant. I admired her courage. Her bravery. Her walking toward the fear, tenderly and timidly. But walking forward anyway. Hoping that regardless of her decision that she fully feel the aliveness that can be accessed on this razor fine line of loving oneself more than all the others. Walking out on the branch of independence so far that you know that one more step equals a firm commitment to go on, moving forward even though the next step could result in the branch cracking, severing itself from its trunk. A desperate fall to the ground.

As I watched her get into her car last night. I wanted to run to her and tell her to not be afraid of the fall. Her branch only a couple of feet off the ground, not a fall that would injure her at all. She would not plummet to her death. Her fall so short that she would almost bounce to her feet upon impact.

Instead I said, “congratulations on your job offer. You asked the universe for this piece to fall into place and it did. Good for you.” Then I said something stupid like “you go girl”. I am 50 and this was a non-hip thing to say. It supplanted what I wanted to say...

Choose you. Choose you. It will all be well but without you there is no life. Without you it all falls apart. Pick you. Allow yourself the dare to be the center of your own life. Orbiting no one but yourself. Live large. Dare to be this. Fiercely protect your own well being...That is your first and only job!

Wait, didn’t I just hear that?

I did. And that is what I need to be reminded every day. If I take care of me, I have the energy and interest to care for others. Not as a servant, but as a loving figure who allows others to care for themselves. I the example more than that giver of care. Showing others how to do this as I learn. Allowing my own expectations of myself to reign my life instead of these awkward notions of others that I have adopted along the way. Coming into myself in this fundamental way. Sometimes feeling the love, other times just feeling lost. Realizing as I watched her get into her car that it is all the same...knowing it takes a lot of courage to live your own life. A lot of fucking courage.

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