Accountability

“Are you okay?”

An innocuous question but for me, it comes tethered to my husband’s emotions, and has done for many years.

It has always been my job to make sure that he was okay.  It would take many forms; making sure dinner was ready when he came home late, tired and grumpy.   Putting the kids to bed so that he could close his eyes for a while; taking care of the house, and just generally making sure that he had no responsibilities within the family unit such as school paperwork, groceries, sex, anything at all.

In these ways, I made sure that he okay.  And if he was okay, then I was okay but I really wasn’t, and I never knew how to express that I wasn’t.

I am learning to loosen my grasp on the honesty of my answer.  I don’t have to hold in the truth.  Don’t be afraid to say no, I am not okay, but I’m working on my shit and I will be okay in some form or another.

I am not responsible for how you feel, and I will not apologize for how I feel.

My husband is a lovely man, and would never make me feel badly about myself, but I know that when he asks me this question, there is an underlying reason for it.  He may not like what he hears from this point forward but opening up to the truth is not an easy thing.

We are accountable for our own emotions, not anybody else’s – not our children’s, not our parents’, our partners’, or our friends’.  It’s such a liberating thing to realize and become aware of and yet, we feel so intertwined and buffeted against each other, it’s easy to lose ourselves in those closest to us.

9363383_orig

So, I say this is my emotional well.  That is yours.  Mine had run dry for a while but it’s filling up nicely now.  Yours is, too, I see.  If you feel yours is murky from time to time, or dipping below the plumb line, do not look to me to clean it up or refill it.  We can share from our wells as long as it doesn’t compromise the depth or quality of the water.

 

 

Advertisements

Pieces.

shattered_statue_by_hecatean-d8o9rd2

What courage have I?  In the moment, it is simply a thing I have to do.  Tired of picking up pieces; the result of others’ choices, I made my own, and scattered my marriage, my life and his life to all points and corners.

I had envisioned months and months of civil side-by-side living while I cultivated the desire to live away from him.  I was shut down, closed off, impenetrable, had made my decision and dammit, I’d had enough.  I loved my children but I did not love my husband anymore.  Even the little, familiar things we shared seemed inconsequential and did not affect my ambition.

Six weeks later, I find myself rummaging for all the pieces.  Slowly, deliberately, even perhaps letting them come find me for repair.  As in Kintsugi, we are reconstructing in new ways.  Our marriage from before is dead; exploded, and the new one is beginning to look much different.

With this slow repair though, comes a devil on my shoulder.  The doubter, nagger, and all around pessimist.  She is obstinate and doesn’t want to move forward.  She is petulant and refuses to show any kind of affection.  She throws emotional grenades that make me break down in counseling sessions.  But what she fails to realize is that her work aids progress; she is part of the yin and yang of me.  However, she’s been the larger of the two for a long time and she’s not keen on sharing power.

So, I am struggling with conflict.  The desire to move forward and to not.

These are interesting times.  I see my husband in a new light but I don’t yet know who I am, or who I am in this relationship.  It’s a new thing, but not.  It’s not like a new relationship that’s thrilling and butterfly-inducing; it has a history.

So, I work on myself.  Or sit with myself.  Do nothing.  Think nothing.  Feel nothing.  Other times, I do, think and feel it all at once.  It’s still choppy waters.

But that devil…..boy, she’s had her way for so long.  I mustn’t fight her, but allowing her just to be makes my life quite challenging.

 

On dead things, and anger, and boats.

He said to me, “our marriage is dead.”

And, I agree; three weeks ago, I cut the head off.

In truth, our marriage had been a ghost of an idea for a long while, and I had exhausted myself being the one to propel us in whatever direction we could go.  He was a ghost of man; an invisible husband whom I recognized every now and then when we shared funny things, or when he would fly off the handle at something.  Mostly though, he was unrecognizable underneath his shroud of bitterness and resentment.  It was so heavy, it burdened both of us.  I tried for years to help him exorcise it but he seemed determined to hold on tight.  As if letting go would expose him, would force him to see outside of himself and thereby, see who he was on the inside.  Perhaps he was afraid of who he might discover?

But, I was tired; I couldn’t carry him, or us any longer and I let him go from my heart.  I didn’t know what to expect when I went home that day to tell him that I was unhappy, and that I wanted to leave.  Had no expectations for the future except that I knew I didn’t want to be in this union anymore.

He will crumble and wither away, and I will be the cause of it, I thought. Seeing him weep in front of me, alternately wishing to hug me and push me away, was horrible.  I didn’t know how to help him.  I only knew that this was the path I had chosen and I was resolute in my decision.  That first week was incredibly painful for both of us – sleepless nights, tearful talks.  I cried so hard that I thought I might puke, and I knew I was crying for the loss; it felt like grief, the sudden first stage when all you feel is heartache and sorrow, and all you can do is stand in the grocery store wondering what the fuck you went down this aisle for.

We both started seeing a counselor separately (ironically, and I think now, universally intentionally, the same one) during the second week.

My resoluteness remained.  I had clarity and peace of mind, and I attended the first two sessions with a sense of “I know what I’m doing, so why am I here?”

Then something happened to him that I was not prepared for; he discarded the shroud. After the initial flood of emotion had subsided, he saw clearly, and for the first time how he had been living his life.  And, how it had affected me and our marriage.  He talked, he wrote, he opened his heart and his eyes.  Within these three weeks, he has almost made a 360 within himself.

At first, I was glad for him.  After all, I had tried many, many times to remove that fucking shroud myself.  I had suggested, cajoled, tried to help find ways for him to be who he really was meant to be.  But my efforts had been fruitless, and I knew that only he could do it for himself.  So, yes, I was happy to see this man emerge, become brighter, happier – in just three weeks.

Yes, as he grew, I felt myself deflate.

I went away by myself for a weekend in the mountains to hike, and to contemplate…things.  But it didn’t go as planned.  On the Saturday, I got sick and ended up unable to move from the bed or the couch.  I was quiet all day.  I stared out of the window at distant bare branches and trees writhing in the wind; it was a gloomy day, reflective of my mood, and I thought nothing at all.  I missed my family, I knew that.  Not necessarily him, but my kids definitely.

The next day, I came home and felt no leap for him when I saw him in the driveway.  And, it wasn’t until we were alone that I felt absolute sadness again.  I cried and cried, thinking I was grieving still, but the words that came to mind were filled with the disbelief that we’d gotten things wrong for so long.  How could I have spent the last fifteen years like this?  How could we?

Since coming home this Sunday, I have been skating a well of tears.  Every act of kindness he shows me, every thing he says, everything that proves he had discovered his truth, pushes me over the edge and I couldn’t figure out why.  Until today.

My session began before she even opened the door because I sat in the waiting room in tears.  Here he is, my husband, becoming the man I’ve always wished him to be, and I am angry.  I am so angry that this didn’t happen sooner.  That he didn’t hear me all these years.  That he didn’t have the strength to do this before I let my love for him go.

I know quite firmly that this could not have happened any sooner; I wasn’t prepared to make the choice, and he wouldn’t have been prepared to deal with the fallout.  It would have been contentious and ugly.

So, what do I do with this anger?  I have to let it go, too.

I don’t know how yet.  And I don’t need to know yet.

What will become of our marriage now that the old way no longer works?

I don’t know yet.  And I don’t need to know yet.

My heart is sore.  My eyes prickle with tears a lot.

I have set my boat afloat.  It was a bit rocky at first whilst it found stability, but now I’m on open water.  I need to learn how to sail by myself, and how to judge my environment before I plot a course.

Where will I go?  I don’t know.  And I don’t need to know yet.

 

 

Not Forcing

The Summer of Me took a turn down a different road; the things I had hoped to achieve physically, thwarted by health issues. Perhaps the barriers were raised because the roots of planning grew from negative soil. Soil in a field rife with self-judgment, and skewed views of the way things needed to be in order to be pleased with myself –  if I could just be the weight I want to be; if I could be shape and size I want to be, things will be much better; I will feel better about Me.

Self, the all-knowing Mother, so calm around the bouncing, impatient child Ego, says in translucent tones, “No honey, this is not what you should be doing right now.”

Impetuous child. She pouts, thinks she knows better and does it anyway.

It has been “settle down time” for a while. In it, gentle daily lessons and reminders of self-acceptance. Doing as I please in moderation, even though it is often accompanied by a certain unease; breathing into being with the transitory nature of now.

Soon, when I am confident of my health, I will return to the road I had started upon. I should take Self with me; she will be an invaluable guide and a steadying force in the company of a headlong kid.

Mother and Child; Self and Ego.

Well done burnt bridge.

659db0474e0f456a4d368385643d4799

For a long time, I have fought a battle that can never be fully voiced. It can never be laid out on a table for all to see. It is a private war. I have danced around it in my blog, written about hard-won skirmishes, and weary defeats. It’s a sort of thing that I have treated alternately with a delicate hand and a closed fist.

Its presence is exasperating, like an annoying mosquito that won’t quit buzzing around.

No matter what I have done to abolish it (think on it, write about it, fight it, silence it, meditate on it, drink, eat), or didn’t do (let it be, accept it) it has had me chained to a merry-go-round. I, a colorful filly with great stems raised, ready to gallop, but unable to.

Recently, I burned the bridge to the battlefield that I alone had maintained. It was done with confidence, and without intention of returning to the precipice pleading for the link to be restored.

But, the ego is fearful. It knows I am stronger, and it bombards me with thoughts and questions, and the same old worn out lines. The crackled movie on a fading loop starring the old witch opposite Snow White, except my apple gift is dented, and browned.

What is it afraid of? I think on it….and have to laugh a little because I simply don’t know.

I have everything I need inside and out!

It could have been a sad thing to burn that bridge, but by deciding to stop the fight; I am forced to face the truth.

And the truth is acknowledging the dark side of self; specifically emotions such as anger, aversion, and dislike. No more sweet frosting. No more battles. No more black and white, or tussles between good and bad. This is it; the beginning of true healing begins with the belief that negative feelings are as much a part of self as the positive. In this way, the ego has little left to live for, and that’s what it’s afraid of.

Without the dark, there can be no light. And, the more I calmly let in the dark that’s practically barging down my front door, the sooner I will be free of these shackles.

 

 

Growth in the negative

Criticism given is also a form of taking away. And a way to the truth.

Recently, I participated in a One Act Festival with the theatre group I belong to. I performed, and I also wrote and directed a piece. At the end of the festival, a few adjudicators summed up their thoughts about each play; gave their advice and opinion. The play that I wrote and directed received high praise, won a few awards and will move on to the State Festival with a few tweaks as suggested by the adjudicators. The play that I performed in, and specifically my role was highly criticized. Apparently I couldn’t be heard, and my diction was unintelligible. I may have an accent but I resent the notion that I speak as if my mouth were filled with marbles. They belabored this point with me and my castmates for a while. Ok, I thought, ok, but was there absolutely nothing else good to say about my character? Nothing? The play received mild feedback as a whole but since I played the main character, I received much of the criticism.

Since then, I’ve felt edgy. I was raised up with one hand and struck down with the other and I cannot shake the deflation, the frustration.

The truth is (and this became clearer to me on that last day) that I have come to dread being onstage. This feeling might have grown from a seed planted last Spring when I completely clammed up at the State festival. Or perhaps, I’ve simply come to prefer the almost anonymous, beaver-like workings of writing, of seeing the story in my head, instead of being the story for everyone to watch.

It appears that my spiritual discoveries are enabling me to outgrow certain things.  Like a snake releasing its skin, the talent for acting may very well be leaving me. What remains is a bright, exciting new talent that has been nurtured and is about ready to blossom.

For now, I am still smarting from the whipping (which if my theatre friends knew I was feeling, would say that it wasn’t that bad). I also pay heed to the intuitive voice that urges me to disconnect from social media, and this is quite freeing. I thrust myself into living, feeling, observing, and walk away from scrolling, posting, and updating. There is nothing I need to share with anyone and nobody has anything to say that is more interesting that my life, right this very moment.

Harnessing the wrong horse

Schnider42

Doubt. I named it. Immediately after an impromptu inner pep talk. During the talk, a fact so certain and real lit up my heart.  It brought forth a brief, and not often felt certainty and acknowlegement. Couldn’t help but smile. Was allowed to view truth.

Doubt is crafty; often barely heard or seen or felt. The inner dialog hums like the continued strum of a guitar chord and doubt weaves its way in and around the sound.

Doubt is devious. It grabs like a wretched Granny with a bony claw at memories it knows will capture your attention, and throws a harness over the neck of that ill-flogged horse. This only serves to stall progress.

Doubt seeps into life in some form or another. Sometimes it’s palpable, “I don’t know if I’ll have the strength to carry anymore moving boxes.” Sometimes it’s trivial, “Hmmm…I don’t think the chicken’s gonna turn out the way I wanted.” And sometimes it’s a whisper, “Why can’t I…?” “I’ll never be able to…” “What’s wrong with me…?”

The self-doubt prose is so finely honed that we only become aware of it when we question the wheedling whine. We have to confront it, and shove it aside to reveal the treasures it doesn’t want to be discovered. It has no choice but to step aside when faced with truth.

The trick then, is to remember that fleeting feeling of gloriousness from a potential met. That solid gold in the heart like light pouring from an open book.

Remember it. Feel it. Doubt will reel from it. And that worn historical horse can go live out its days in pasture.