This is how the days pass. I wake up within a vacuum. I am alone in quiet bliss but I feel the absence in my skin. I go about my day, building fires, building houses, making art, making money, writing as often as the emotions well up in me, and I just keep moving.
I move forward in his absence because I can't afford to stop. When I do, the full weight of it hits me and I am hollowed out again. It's funny because sometimes I am so in my moments that I forget. I am so in my body and in my life that I am full and whole and free. I create. I listen to my body religiously. It is through this instrument that all my decisions are made, and it feels good, this release, this trust in myself.
I haven't had a panic attack since that day I tried and failed to build that stupid fire and got us into our last fight instead. I have been without that horribly vivid rush, that feeling of imminent doom since he walked out of that wood shop and my life. But that's not really true. We still talk, send messages to each other via email, text, and even snail mail. It is now as it was then, I am often the one who initiates, and he replies graciously. But there is no more panic in my life.
Over the last two years, the attacks had been coming more and more frequently, and there was nothing I could do to manage them, though I tried. I turned into a beast within them. The frantic pain and suspicion always got the best of me and brought out my worst. But since that day in January, I have not even come close to that state, and for that, I am grateful.
I think that's why I was so happy at the surprise of him in the bookstore. Seeing him felt like a relief, but there was something else. It was that panic. I felt a bit of it when I saw him; it was shallow, but it was there. My joy at seeing his face overrode that, I can't remember the last time I was so happy to run into a person. It made my weekend. He made my weekend. Or did I? I think it was, as with all things two people do together, a collaboration.
I knew who I was at the beginning of the relationship. I was the woman who gives too much, in the face of indifference, in the shadow of neglect, in fear of abandonment, I give and give and give, because I am in love, and I want to prove myself worthy of that love. That's why I was so reticent to date him. I knew who I would turn into, no matter who he happened to be. I knew him well enough to know that I would fall too deeply in love. I would, as I do, lose myself in his life to the point where I would find myself truly lost. And I would know, as I do now, that it was my choice, my effort, my own undoing. I can't blame any of the men I have given way to for this effort. It is my pattern ever since I first lost myself for my father. Turning myself into what I thought he wanted so he would love me.
I was able to get my father to love me, but he left too, in the form of ALS, and as he left, he said the thing that he would always say at the end of our infrequent long distance visits, "I think we did very well." This put a cap on the pain of leaving him, of having to be without my father again.
And all I want to do is break out of this set of habits. All I want is to be free of this dynamic that I always create, because in the end it is the end of my relationships. If my dad had lived long enough, I might have found that out with him, I might have seen that there was no gesture large enough to convince me that I was worthy of love without the effort. I know that he loved me, but sometimes, I chose the role of victim instead.
I recently saw this, the dynamic of love, or relationships, and how it keeps me from becoming. I feel like my cells have outsmarted me again, pushing me into a pattern of behavior that in the end, is my undoing. Or, the undoing of my relationship. It was the same with my divorce. When I finally left my wasband, I felt like I had shed 200 pounds of weight in a single day. I had given so much to him and to the relationship that I felt, and still feel, that I have nothing more for him, ever. Not love, not hate, not even a conversation. He has gotten enough of me to last my entire lifetime.
This is how the days pass, with hope that I will someday believe within a relationship. Believe in the strength of my character, in the potency of my being, in the wealth of my wisdom. That everything I give will be given out of love and for love alone. That I will have a knowing that will keep me from giving up too much of myself just in case I am not actually worthy of the love I am receiving.
Maybe someday, the days will pass differently.
I hope this helps someone. I feel like it has helped me, and in the end, I share my stories so that people don't feel so alone in their lives. I have gotten so much, writing this blog, I have gained more than I can quantify, and if you are still reading this, I thank you. It means a lot to me that you would read this and maybe relate a little bit to the words I have written.
I have heard it said that you cannot find anything outside of you that does not already reside within. I believe that to be true, and I think that is why I have learned, by way of spectacular failure, how to end things before everything is broken, including hearts, minds and souls.
I grew up in an environment where people broke upon horribly violent endings, where things; relationships, jobs, events, would be prolonged until everyone involved was good and sick of each other and the places they were tied to. My family was full of resentment for people and places that had been a part of ending badly, and I grew up thinking this was the norm.
As an adult, I walked in anger and breathed destruction. You wouldn't know it now, but I was quite fearsome, and I never hesitated to bring someone down if it seemed justified. I could quite easily rise to any occasion to fight or confront any type of (mis) perceived injustice, and had no problem telling off any person, large or small, if properly provoked. Being properly provoked often did not take much effort.
I left jobs and relationships in approximately the same way, with a big "F you" as I was rushing out the door, possessions in hand. One place I quit actually had me walked off the premises. Though frankly, I am still quite proud of that achievement.
But things have been different and I have changed. The last job I quit was a first for me. I quit still loving the place. I quit still loving many of the people. I decided that instead of hating the place that I had let ground me to dust, I would leave before that happened. I had had a long and beneficial history with the place before I worked there (it was a community grocery store), and I didn't want to give that up, long term. So, when I realized what was happening, that my problems at work were beginning to effect the rest of my life, when I tried to solve these problems in straight-forward ethical ways and could not, I left. Happily. Without resentment. Without bitterness. There are times I even miss it there, but I don't regret my decision because I left while there was still love in my heart.
This strategy, I can soundly and justly say, is why I have been so brokenhearted with this last break up. I broke up before I had been smashed to dust. I left him before I could utterly stamp out the flame he carried for me. We are both profoundly hurt at the loss of this relationship, but we still love each other. We still respect each other. I have never had that in any other break up. I think back on all my boyfriends, and I have had many, and I can only think of one, maybe two that I could stomach seeing again, maybe even getting a beer with.
So while I am profoundly sad over the loss of this love of my life, I am also proud of myself for not staying until everything and everyone was burned to ashes. Just yesterday, in fact, I cried for a good hour or two over the loss of the relationship (Sundays are especially hard), but even in my sorrow, I felt quite lucky that I am so sad because I still love him. I want the best for him. I want him to be happy, no matter what that might entail.
I am so proud that I have found outside myself what I have, over years and with great effort, cultivated within; love, peace, integrity. I know that I am different with those outside of myself because I am different within myself. With this realization comes great relief, because for so many years I made my life much harder than it had to be. I sometimes made other people's lives quite challenging as well.
My dad once told me that if you protect yourself from great pain, you also end up protecting yourself from great love, because a fence is a fence, and it keeps out everything, good or bad. He warned me of building such protections because of the joy I would miss out on by protecting myself from the sadness.
Even though I am in great pain right now, I don't regret it, In fact I celebrate it, because it means I have found a way to let life in. It means that I will have more of everything in my life, good and bad, to experience. It means that with all I have experienced in my life, I have still found a way to love. Because this love that I seek is also within me.
Thanks for reading! I hope you like it. If you do, hit the FB like button or Tweet it out. Also, look at the side bar! Things have changed a bit. I am making more art, selling it on Etsy, and writing on Medium as well. I am also within a week of moving in to my tiny house, so I MIGHT miss the next deadline for this blog. We will see. Thanks again for reading.
I knew from an early age that I would not be a mother. I knew this because I decided that I would only become a mother if I had met and loved a man who could rise to the monumental challenge of being a good father. I never thought I would meet that man, and I never did.
It is not to say that I have not known many decent fellows. I have. I just think that being a good father, just like being a good mother, takes a certain level of commitment which many men simply never learn.
My own mother loved me very much. This I never doubted. Unfortunately, her own pain and fear got in the way of her being good for my brother and I. I have accomplished a great deal and have become a solid individual as a result of the obstacles I have had to overcome due to a challenging childhood. But it doesn't mean I was nurtured or cared for in a way that would have produced a confident, well-adjusted woman. My mother had far more on her plate, emotionally, than I have had to contend with, so I have, with the passage of time, come to see my upbringing as a gift of sorts.
Quite a few of my friends are excellent mothers. When I say they are excellent, I mean they are mothers who make me pause in awe at their selflessness and ability to love and nurture their children no matter what type of pain they are carrying. I have been relying on these women for their support in the recent painfully arduous weeks, and I know for certain that I would not have healed as well as I have if it weren't for them.
The loss and heartbreak I have been dealing with in the past month has prompted me to feel all of the loss, all of the grief, all of the anger and pain I have felt with every departure of an important person in my life. My mother died when I was 36, but I realize that I lost her long before the death of her body. I lost her when I was about six years old. That was the first time I hugged her and I could not feel the pain draining from my body. It was the first time I felt my mother reject the hurt I needed to release. I am not sure if it was conscious or not, but it was definitely a shift and one I noted. I lost her healing energy at a young age and I never felt it again.
It is a giant, courageous task to choose to raise a human, even without all the bullshit that goes on in this world to crush people into dust. I never had the nerve, never wanted to find out if I would resent my children the way my mother resented me. But I have had the good fortune to watch certain of my friends show me how to raise a person, how to lift up the spirits in their children so they feel brave in this frighteningly dangerous world. It brings hope to my weary eyes and an optimism to my soul. It is yet another gift good mothers give the world, for theirs is the task of providing hope where there is none, showing new humans how to look for ways to shine, and in doing so, showing even the most cynical and unlovable among us that we too, are worthy of love.
This is the only way I know out of heartbreak. I am not trying to avoid the pain, the feeling of emptiness that pervades every moment of my day, On the contrary, my creative work is a way for me to harness this pain and move into it, so that I can move through it.
I wake every morning and reach for my journal. I write whatever has occurred to me in the quick moments after waking. I am always surprised by how much I fit into those first breaths of awareness. How much I feel through into my being in the early hours of the day. I meditate, eat, breathe, then walk over to my studio. I have several things I can do, but there is nothing that gets me into my body like the throwing of a pot. The rhythm of clay is much slower than the rhythm of human energy, you see.
Clay is alive. It goes through many phases on its way to becoming, and on its way there, the potter must pay attention, pay respect, and in the end, collaborate in a way that celebrates a letting go of control.
When I sit down at my wheel, I must slow myself down. Clay is soft, slow, consistent. If I listen to it, feel into it, it can slow me down as well. Each moment I am at my wheel I am appreciating. I am not just happy that I have the ability to throw, I can see that my particular form of throwing expresses my inner life. When I am angry, I inevitably throw off-kilter. I ruin pots more often than not because my heart is in my anger, and anger is a hungry beast that steals effort from any external endeavor. My sad pots are thick-rimmed and sometimes wonky. My happy pots are loose, lovely, rhythmic. In order to work with clay, I create a relationship with it which requires listening to feedback in the form of behavior. No matter what, my pots will tell me a story if I am present.
This is how I have been working through the grief of the loss of the love of my life. I have been examining how I have been able to get out of the way when I needed to, and how I failed to get out of the way when it would have been helpful. Through my art making practice, I have been getting constant feedback from my materials and my creative wanderings that have bolstered my confidence and reminded me of who I am and what I am capable of.
It's not that I think that throwing pots or even making art is the solution to everyone's emotional challenges. I am not suggesting that everyone take up a hobby. The value for me is putting my whole heart into something so soon after it has been smashed into thousands of pieces. I am taking risks with my heart after I have been crushed, and it has reminded me of my courage. It has reminded me of my magic.
I have never been more satisfied than I was in this relationship to which I gave my all. I am so proud of myself for having faced my fears and loved anyway. It is the same with my art. The more I can engage whole-heartedly, the better the result. This is not to say that the art I make is jaw-droppingly gorgeous, it means that the process I undertake with which to make a piece is one which reflects back to me all that I need to know in each moment that I am engaged.
For now, that is enough. I will work through my heartbreak whenever I make anything I put my heart into, and maybe someday, when I sit down at the wheel, I will have the opportunity to work through something else.
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