I dig all the dirt and grime out from under my nails with the end of a needle. I notice it at the end of every day, the evidence of the work I have done.
I have energy for all that is work: building the house, making the art, digging the garden writing the journal. I tried fixing the car, and though I was successful, I was not satisfied.
These are my days of recognition, my days of dedication, where I do exactly as I want to do and I change my mind whenever it moves me in that direction. The direction of change, that is.
I enjoy this new freedom slowly, methodically. Without a proper job, I can apply my focus to what is in front of me, and I can choose whatever that is in any moment. This is the only healing I need. I haven't known this softness for quite some time. For most of my life, my days were "should" and "have to." It is not so much the ending of the relationship, but the lack of gainful employment that has freed me up as well. I have had a job of some sort since I was twelve. For the last few years, I have not.
I work, I just work much like Bert from Mary Poppins, I apply myself to whatever the weather and my attitude allows. Last week I painted houses for a few days. This week I'm house sitting. I am also working on some social media projects for an artist I know and helping a lawyer get all of her paperwork organized within processes of efficiency. In between my paid work, I build my tiny home, I paint, I make pottery, and I write.
I recognize this woman, who can do so many things well enough that she can help others as well as herself for as long as it is useful and profitable. This is the woman who wears what she must for the task at hand and is comforted by the feel of her useful clothing. I love this woman. She is a worker. Her boots give her calm as she walks through the world with a tromp and a little smile on her face. She won't bend to the will of anyone for a while, or maybe, ever.
I don't partake in tasks and events I do not have energy for. I tried. Once or twice. It hasn't ended well. I become annoyed too easily when I think someone is trying too hard or if I feel like I have to try at all. Dating just isn't something I have a desire for, and while part of me wonders why, there is this other part of me that knows, the taskmaster, who tells me to keep to myself. She will not have me paying any of my energy to outside sources. She doesn't care if I ever have sex again. She has kept me from shaving any part of my body. She has kept me hydrated, fed and rested. She is focusing me inward to jog my memory.
As I have moved through middle age, I have held the belief that I had to keep my body in a certain sort of shape so that I could have sex as often as possible, always worried that the sex might evaporate. I am amused now at the thought of this. I will never again race to have sex for its own sake. For within the race, I have missed the little things that make it a joy. Now I keep my body in shape to feel strong, because I know myself in that frame. I recognize the able-bodied woman, the one who feels no pain in her physicality and wants to focus on the pain within.
I have been working towards this recognition. I moved so that I might recognize myself again, before all the men, before all the heartbreak, before even the death of my parents. I want to remember all the joy I could carry in my little body as a child. I see her now, that girl, I feel her, and allowing her out has been a revelation. I know that my tears have been due to the loss of a great love, but some of them as of late have been tears of recovery. Recovering what I have been protecting for these many years. Recovering the heart of the woman I love.
I am recognizing the original me as I dig her up from beneath the ashes and rubble of my life. I am rebuilding her into who I always knew I could be, who I had the desire to embody. It is not that I have been lying, or being false, it is that I have been living under the burden of my own expectations and the expectations of those around me. I am letting those go. I am just going to wait and see what happens. These are the moments before the sunrise, before the child jumps out of bed and into the day. These are the moments of surrender, where I wait to see what I might do next.
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Every morning I wake up to pecking at my roof, which is just, as it happens, on the other side of my bedroom wall. Some days I am glad for it. Other days, I wake up, hear it, and I begin to cry. Just like I cry when I hear the Scrub Jay that sometimes calls in my neighborhood.
It's off and on, grief. It pops up sometimes for no reason and stays for as long as it wants, and all I can do is observe and serve it as best I can, which usually involves laying in bed, crying, sleeping, and eating small bits of food here and there so I don't also suffer from extreme hunger. Crying takes a lot of energy.
After it's done, I feel so much better; empty in a clean way. But it seems to come from an endless spring of sorrow that resides deep within me, always ready to burst at the slightest provocation, or, more mysteriously, at no provocation at all.
That's why I elected to stop eating sugar and drinking alcohol in March, because I know that I am fully capable, and have a long history, of using these things as substitutes for what I'm really wanting. If I get to the cake or the alcohol fast enough, I might not even feel the depth and the breadth of my emptiness. That is why I am crying, because I am not distracting myself from the pain of absence.
I haven't missed the alcohol, but every day, at some point, I am really aching for a nice piece of cake, a slice of pie, (damn you, Pi Day!) or some ice cream. My whole body screams for it. But I know if I give in I will put off the inevitable, and I know, deep down, it's a bit of an insult to whatever I might be eating. If I am to eat cake, pie, or ice cream, I want to eat it for it's own sake, not because I would rather be hanging out with my ex-boyfriend.
The truth is I want something deeper, something that came from my past that I hadn't remembered, until my brother reminded me how food was handled in my house growing up. At a certain point in my teens, my mom shacked up with a woman who had a lot of weird things about food. I refer to them in this insulting way because I had to suffer for them. The fridge and cabinets were stuffed with food I couldn't eat because it was my mom's and her partner's. We were forbidden from eating most of the food in the house. The food that I could eat was often sparse and between my brother and I, it was a race to see who would get to it first, each of us worried we wouldn't get our fair share. Sometimes my mom would eat our food and not tell us so that we were fighting with each other over who took all the pizza bread, apples, tortillas, cheese, whatever.
There was so much tension around food in my house it's a wonder I am not more screwed up about it. But the reality is that it was just an echo of the actual issue, which was love. My mom really didn't have that energy for us at that age, and for the most part, we were treated a bit like a nuisance during our high school years. The food thing exacerbated it, but what I wanted was my mom's undivided attention. I never really got that.
I see that in my last relationship as well. I wanted more of his attention, and whether he was giving it to me or not, that is the feeling I learned to feel in my relationships. I found ways to set him up to fail, or ask him for things I knew he would not give, just so I could validate my own feelings of being unworthy. Instead of asking for more, I would allow him to ignore me, secretly making him the villain and myself the victim in a relationship pattern that had been set decades ago.
This loss has awakened all of my feelings of lack, so going back to food and alcohol is my primary urge. It is my goal, in this month, to focus on that feeling of lack, come to terms with it, and grow comfortable with it so that I am not driven to eat something lovely without proper appreciation. It is my goal to understand that I am actually lacking nothing.
I was able to fix my relationship with food when I made it my own. When I started thinking about what I really wanted about food, what I wanted it to do for me, when I started to listen to my body and recognize the signals it was sending when I ate certain things, I claimed ownership of my relationship with my body and with food I would put into it. All the issues I had as a teen melted away as I saw food, more and more, as a way to care for myself, and used it to do just that.
It is the same with the birds. I am birding now, and it is painful because my world expanded exponentially as my former partner taught me about them over the five years we were together. I saw parts of the world I would never have seen otherwise, and I came to see life in a whole new way. Over the years, every time I saw or heard a bird, I would associate it with him, with us. It was a sweet thing that no matter where he was, or what he was doing, he was not far as long as I could hear a bird's song.
This pecking that happens in the morning, the Chickadees that call to me outside my window, and the Scrub Jay I occasionally hear on the wind are a challenge. I don't want to give up the birds, though it is painful sometimes, I want to in some way, make them mine. My work now is to move to a place where I can hear their songs and pecks as a reminder of all that I have, not all that I am missing. When I see a Bewick's Wren or a Flicker, I want to remember all that I was given, not all that I never got.
I will make the birds my own and over time, I will remember the goodness of our trips to visit the birds. I will remember looking out at the sky with him, feeling how wonderful it was to watch the world grow as he stood beside me.
It is a strange and wonderful thing to be able to sit within years of experience and extract lessons and wisdom. The challenge is releasing the pain associated with a particular kind of experience so that I am not blocked from gaining the lesson.
It is a peculiar kind of accumulation, these lessons, all layered on top of another to create a single image of wise counsel. The achievement is both satisfying and exhilarating, as the work leads to something that very often is hiding in plain sight right in front of me.
The lesson I am just now learning began teaching me in my youth, as most things do, with my parents. After they split, they both fell in love with new people. Their two children, each eight years old, became less important to them as their relationships went on, and by the time they were teenagers, the kids had the freedoms only the neglected enjoy. This had its benefits. I was able to do things most kids would have to wait years to experience. I also had the added benefit of practicing subversive behavior on a regular basis, which would also come in handy later.
Over the course of my life, I noticed that this very early experience attracted and exposed me to a particular type of pain; that of neglect and abandonment. No matter who I chose to partner with, there was always some element of our relationship which involved me putting in my all as the other person slowly withdrew. My marriage was exactly this way. By the time I left the relationship, my wasband was barely doing anything to keep the household going, save the animals and his pot growing operation. When I told him I was leaving, he tried to argue by telling me he would stay up all night cleaning the house, as if that would make up for years of neglecting the relationship.
I also noticed that some of my friendships would labor under the strain of romantic entanglement. That I suffered as I watched friends flirting with my boyfriends or the other way around. As my partner would foster emotionally intimate relationships with other women, even as he sat in bars with me and watched football. This same lesson kept popping up at me, over and over, trying to tell me something that I wasn't getting.
At the end of romantic relationships, and certain friendships, I would find myself digging out the rubble that surrounded me, the rubble that was very much my own accomplishment, in order to find myself again. In order to put myself first.
Then, in honor of my dissatisfaction with Women's History Month, I decided to go out dressed as a suffragette and hand out resistance cards to women on the street and ask them, "don't you want more? More than just a month a year? More than the lip service we are paid, in lieu of actual money?"
For the most part it went well, mostly I was preaching to the choir, but for two women who snapped at me that they were treated well. that they were already treated equally.
That evening I ruminated on the subject and realized that I, just like almost every other woman I had come to know, had been socialized into this. Into settling for what they could get, into sacrificing all for romantic love. It is not that I didn't know this on an intellectual level for some time, but this hit me in the heart, and as I looked back on my life with this in my body, I saw how predictable it all was. That just as women are trained to sacrifice for romantic love, men are trained to foster that.
And this is why we don't show up for each other. This is why there are some women out there who do not see that the struggle that certain women face is also their struggle. This is why the women at work would not back me up when I would talk to them about a particular man who was terrorizing the staff. It is why when I exposed a male colleague for theft, the result was that I was accused of being a slut, and interrogated for it. This is why some women will not support the struggle of others. Because they are too deep in their own self-sacrifice to even keep their head above water. They have lost too much in their life-long search and sacrifice for love and belonging that when others do not choose that path, they are scorned.
So I sit with this truth today, in March, in 2019, and I wonder, how do I break myself out of this, how do we, as society, break ourselves out of a pattern that is destructive for women and men alike? How do we start to recognize that we should not have to give up the responsibility the bond of humanity demands in order to feel loved?
I guess the first thing we need to do is wake up to it.
Next, we have to start showing up for each other.
The mountains have always been there to calm me. Today, as I walked out of the community cafe, shortly after my old friend had told me about my bitterness, my edge, and my meanness, they were there, standing up to calm me. In that moment, I knew that my intolerance to his analysis was not, as I had thought, a symptom of my deep sadness or my emotional weakness, but rather, one of developing emotional health.
Something like this had happened last month, where a trusted friend began to unearth my emotional struggle and shame, and I thought then that my impulse to shut down and leave was because I didn't have my usual emotional strength about me.
But it was not, and it is not.
The mountains reminded me. I am not up for debate, or analysis, or any type of uninvited behavior that turns me inside out and leaves my guts spewing on the table top.
I grew up in analysis. Both my parents were social workers, and as luck would have it, after they split, they each married social workers, so I was regularly on the table for dissection, often without being aware, and I became accustomed to it. This was not without its rewards, but generally speaking, it created a lot of anxiety in me and prompted me to question almost everything I did on a regular basis. Then at the age of 13, I discovered pot and alcohol. Glorious intoxicants of numbness and silence to get me through my teenage years and beyond, where no one and nothing could touch me, or at least, numb me enough so if they did, I would not be too keenly aware of it.
When I turned 21, I emerged from this semi-paralysis and moved far away, to be near the mountains and the ocean, and a good distance away from my dissectors.
Living near the mountains, natural geographic boundaries effortlessly dividing space whether visible or not, has subtly influenced me over the years I think. It might be the reason I am always happy to see them. But more to the point, and finally, after a good bit of soul searching and inner work, I see how I have put myself on hold to serve the needs of others. I see how I have sat silently as others dissected my behavior in order to explain away their own. Or simply sat silent so I wouldn't make anyone else uncomfortable.
But the mountains are always there to remind me. I don't need to explain my actions, nor do I need to put up with the bad behavior of others in favor of a relationship. Leaving a painful situation is okay. Not putting up with people who don't respect my boundaries is healthy. It is not that I have not known these things, it is that I have not behaved in a way that reflected this knowledge.
It is a happy day when the mountains are in view, happier still when they reflect back to you how beautiful it is to stand up.
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.
The clean sheets call my bones to rest but I cannot. I am feeling the energy return to my body as my mind moves over the events of my life with the swift touch of loving familiarity.
I have been feeling more and more that my time in this human vessel has not been linear, but radiating out from the hub of a central experience. An organizing event, pivotal and one from which every other experience has sprung, occurred half-way through my life. I cannot explain it, though I embrace it. Even as it perplexes me, I see my marriage and divorce as that from which all other love relationships have grown.
My first love, my mother and father, my sexual abuse, even the relationship I have with my twin brother has been informed by this, and not the other way around, but how could this be? I have no answer except to say that this past heartbreak feels closer to a primal loss, closer to the grief I felt earlier in my life. I look back on my divorce and believe this centrally located phenomenon was known to me as a child.
I do, after all, understand love differently. Love for me now is an healing energy that I can use to know myself, my friends, my lovers, love is a way of being. And love has re-organized my understanding of how things happen. It is dimensional. It is anarchy.
For so long, I have traded my efforts for love, my time and energy for the return of being loved. Minutes and hours of care and consideration in exchange for expectation unfulfilled. I have done this in every relationship I have had, including this last one, but now I see how and why I ended this generous relationship in a decidedly loving manner. I have begun to understand that I need not reach for love because I am in fact swimming in it.
Now that I know this, I feel through situations in which I have been distracted from this fact, times when I have been diverted from the awareness of the love that flows around me. This doesn't mean I'm happier or in a better place, in fact, I would say my confusion over spacetime is profound, like I just opened a door on something I cannot keep from pouring out. I'm a two year old who has just had a lesson in trigonometry, lost in it, but dazzled. My mind feels wide and deep and my lungs, anxious for breath, swim in the spiral of knowing. It is the hardest thing to be still. As loss and grief swirl around me, I float in the pain of it, the sadness flows through my sinew to my fingertips and keeps me from reaching again.
I must take this space in order to understand myself before I reach out for anything because I might just reach for something that in the end, I will not want. I will familiarize myself with the topography of this expansion, and while I hope for borders, I also secretly wish that I might not find any.
I hope there is no end to this.
The world is shivering with pain, it seems, and I shiver within it. I am beside myself with grief and illness and an ache that seems to know no bottom, and I don't believe that I am alone. It doesn't help me when I am crying on the shoulder of my roommate, or friend, or stranger on the street. We are all of us in pain. This is our unifying trait.
Not long ago, I planned a "project of hate" which I believed would take me all over the world. I have observed, no matter where I have lived, that the community around me shares a hatred for some other group. Oftentimes it is purely geographic, but without exception, there is some form of distrust or loathing on the part of the commonwealth for some other outside group. I believed I could go around the world following the "thread of hate" from one group to the next. I never did it because I decided to do A Love Rebellion instead.
This is what makes our present unpleasantness so challenging. No matter which victim is pointing the finger, no matter how much good they have done in the world, they too are guilty of this act. There has been too much violent, exploitative history between people for too many centuries for this not to be the case.
It is the one thing we have learned over the course of human existence, how to hate when we feel threatened. The key is to learn how not to feel the threat, or, at the very least, not to act on this fear as it reads in our newspapers, plays on our televisions and in our movies, and runs through the veins of our politicians. Even the people who call themselves "healers" belittle other groups in order to prove that they are somehow above this all-too-human condition.
So I go about breaking myself open, again and again, to learn how to heal, how to love, how to be there for myself without judgment, because that is my practice. I walk in this pain as the soles of my feet pulse with the sadness of the earth. I breathe in the chaotic air that whips through the trees, encouraging the birds to flight. I cry as often as I can, and let the toxic lessons I have learned throughout all the painful episodes of my life run down my cheeks.
I am endlessly becoming a different human than I was, and this endeavor has brought so much richness and life to my experience, but it has also brought loss, ache, and great sacrifice. I learned hate from the same people from who I learned love. This is the underlying conflict for all that I feel. I have come to understand that I both love and hate who I am. My hate is based in lack, disappointment, regret, and resentment. My love lies in comfort, success, and engagement. Both live within me, and always will.
Presently I resonate more with the pain and the loss of the people around me, but I know there is an end to this time. It is my hope that someday all humans will find that the thread that is easiest to follow is one of love, and that I might make a project out of that commonality.
I think about living in a place where the people all share a love for another group so fiercely, that that loved group is inspired to kindle its own flame for another group entirely. It sounds crazy even as I write it, but I am forced to hope that it is possible. I am forced to believe that one day we can stop seeing each other as competition for scarce resources and start seeing each other as potent collaborators.
There is so much wasted creative genius in the race of humans. Wasted in wars, in planned incarcerations, in exploitation of the weak and less fortunate. I know this as I know my own bones. As I know my own waste. As I know my own creative genius. I am no different than anyone else.
That is why I still have hope.
Be a part of A Love Rebellion. Spread love, hope and compassion.
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