Day 113 - Reclamation, Balance & Perspective
I had a late lunch with a girlfriend yesterday and we spent the time talking about our lives, our varied roles and how we felt about all the changes divorce and separation bring to them. She at the beginning of the process, me five years in.
Yesterday, a photo popped up on my Facebook page. Saying “Five Years Ago Today”. It was the last family portrait before I said I wanted a divorce. Getting that photo yesterday kind of brought me up short. Everyone looks happy, including me. We are all smiling for the camera. My kids look genuinely happy. I mean why wouldn’t they. They were being cared for by the two most important people in their lives. We were on a hike. All was right with the world. My ex-husband looks happy. Surrounded by the people who were supposed to love him most. He doesn’t look miserable like I remember. He looks content.
Then there is my photo. I look happy. I am smiling. I am hugging everyone. In the middle of the photo surrounded by beings that I have drawn toward me. But I was not happy. I was not content. The smile, fake and phony. I remember that hike well. I remember it was just after I returned from that long California beach walk where I wanted to have the affair and blow up my life. I was desperately trying to stuff myself back into my former life. I remember feeling like I would just fake it. I would just pretend that I was happy. That my heart and soul were appropriately sized and situated.
I showed my girlfriend the photo. She made some interesting observations about me, having known me back then. She commented that I was not really the same person. Almost like there were two of me. The person sitting before her in the bar yesterday, more a life like version of the person she knew back then. She said that the difference was startling. My former pony tailed self in work out clothes. Drab and uninteresting in many ways. Mom attire all the time, non-descript, my personality hard to read and even harder to reach.
She commented about how much more I have come into my own. How I occupy my body now where as before it was like some foreign host holding me hostage.
I think back to the way she was back then. She still beautiful as always, but now calmer. Less agitated and spun out. This despite the fact of her recent separation. A calmness awash in her that is palpable.
She has so many questions to questions I have long since answered. I am excited for the stuff that is coming as well as bracing for the criseses that are part and parcel to separation and divorce. Her life chaining quickly and the shifting taking its toll.
As I sat there almost five years post separation, I reviewed my life and all that has happened.
I left a decent marriages with only a vague idea as to why I was doing that. Feeling like my life depended on it but at the same idea having no idea why. Marriage resulted to a place where I checked out and shelved myself and my being. I did not marry and blossom. I married and then became less and more at the same time. I became my roles. Wife and Mother. I was consumed by them in a manner that tugged at my soul. I escaped into them and hid there for years. The busyness of my tasks enough to keep me moving and allowing for little time to reflect. The rare opportunity interrupted by illness, care taking and laundry.
In short, I got lost. Or maybe I got more lost than I already was. Was I asleep when I married or did marriage just deepen the slumber? Marriage a numbing agent applied in a daily dose that kept me sleepwalking for years...my husband responsible for not waking me.
I do not think that women hold a corner on the lost in relationship market. I have heard just as many men say that they were lost in their marriages. They consumed with their roles of Father, Husband, Provider. They become those roles to the exclusion of any personhood.
So if both sexes are doing it, and seeing it as an issue, why?
Maybe it isn’t a problem. Maybe I am the problem and people like me. Maybe the people that leave a decent marriage for something else that is ill defined are just never satisfied. Doomed with the idea that better is just around the next bend. Convinced that whatever is around that bend needs to be met in a solitary manner.
I can’t speak for the others sleepwalking through matrimony. I can only speak for myself. It was not my husband’s fault that I was slumbering. Reflection has brought me way too many facts that show that I was already tiring when I married. Deciding that escaping into a marital union some sort of respite for my restless soul. Years of therapy and analysis have ushered in the conclusion that it was fear. Fear of being alone, fear of not being picked, fear of more fully occupying the life that seemed too large for me to manage solo.
Half a decade later, I am amused by the fact that I now feel almost completely opposite. My life too large to share with another. The thought of being able to contain myself in a relationship creating the same pervasive fear now that remaining married did five years ago.
Same fear, contrary direction.
I have worked so hard to find balance for myself. Staying at the center of my own life. More fully occupying that space. Affixing myself in the most honest and forthright manner. Taking charge of myself while letting it all go, difficult to manage all the incongruities. Knowing that falling in love again will challenge all of my progress. My reclamation feeling tenuous and flimsy.
Last night I had a revelation. Falling in love again was not the issue. Instead, the manner in which I gave my heart away more directly proportional to my level of fear. I do not have to jump off a cliff to partner with another. Perhaps only a curb that resembles a cliff. I think the distance to the bottom of another’s heart hundreds of feet but perhaps instead it is more like stepping off a curb, many, many curbs.
My revelation was that, five years post marriage, I finally feel like I have a life of my own to share with someone else. Thus the fear that sharing my life with another will result in me losing that life. A precarious tipping point always resulting in the destruction of balance, never resulting in the parity I so desperately seek.
As I drifted off to sleep last night, I realized that falling in love without the feeling of being swept away, would result in feeling like it wasn’t really love. The early ups and down required of me and the other person to import the high value on the relationship. I decide to enlarge my window for balance. Focusing more on the long term nature of life. Seeing its distinct units as part of this larger whole that when examined totality resulting in a more stable vision. Life and love being this one continuous unfolding that sometimes rages, sometimes lingers, always moving in directions we cannot fathom for our current GPS.
My ultimate conclusion?
I had to get married and then leave that marriage. That process the carnal grounds upon which I learned to select myself.
I had to fall in love after that marriage and have my heart broken to see that I am capable of great love, passion and friendship being contained in one relationship. I had to have that relationships that I wanted to last a lifetime end to find myself. He not willing to be the handler for another woman sleepwalking through her life.
I had to return to work to find my intelligence, purpose and be among other people striving for a feeling of competence.
I had to become a single parent to see the value of my role as mother. To feel the insecurity divorce and custody issues bring to the title of mother. I had to become terrified to lose my children (even though this was never a threat leveled at me) to really come to appreciate them and the honor being their mother.
I had to reconnect to my body, forgiving it its age and shape and size. Coming to terms with myself as a sexual being whose needs and wants are not always easily contained or even understood.
I had to reconnect to nature, spending lots of time outside in the natural world to remind myself that I am only one small part of this large spinning planet. My presence in it just as important as all the other beings. I had to claim my place in this world, come to see myself from this more humble perspective.
I had to meditate to learn to sit still with all of my neurosis, fear, longing and regret. I had to learn to take these things to the cushion to allow them their expression without judgment, reaction or retaliation. I had to learn to sit still with the moment, just as it is without adding anything more. I had to sit with the storyline to see that I, in fact, had one. That storyline not being anymore true than any other story my head and heart could fabricate.
I had to spend time alone, not pouring myself into another, to pour myself into writing. Writing always a solitary pursuit. Writing would become my means for connection to others as well as to myself. Tiny alphabetic characters on a screen, evincing my progress and struggle.
I had to, in the end, see that balance is not something one can pinpoint to a moment in time but see that it requires a larger more fluid and dynamic perspective. My quest for balance becoming something that happens in this larger timeframe but also in every tiny moment. All of these events of my life had to happen because they did! Everything that has happened now this great and mysterious unfolding, seeing all the people as teachers, the events as opportunities for my own salvation and reclamation. Balance something that is occurring right now whether I agree or not. The cosmos being in charge of this whole deal that I just get to participate, not direct or control.
In all that has happened, and continues to happen, my only real job is to get into the moment of: What comes, allow. What leaves, let go.