Thursday, February 23, 2017

Something simple

Something fairly simple occurred to me today while I was on my morning commute.  I realized that no one is coming for me.  I obviously need to explain that, so here is my attempt.

I remember when I was a young-ish teenager and all bubbly headed and romantical...I had occasion to walk away from a guy or two.  Each time, I walked stoically ahead, forcing myself not to look back, praying that they would follow me...that they would come for me, take my hand...tell me I was wrong and that all the love blah blah starry stuff was true for least for the moment.

Needless to say, that didn't happen.  Pretty much ever.

And then, just like EVERYONE says, I had had enough of the ridiculous way I was behaving.  I decided to stop dating, quit smoking, stop most of the drinking and take a year to figure out how to do "stuff" right.  That was in 2001.  A week after that (this is the "everyone says" part), I met John.  Not only did that man come after me, come for me, but he didn't let me leave.  My illustrative story is the one about him hiding my keys:  it was early on in our relationship, perhaps two months?  We were arguing over something dumb.  I got out of bed in a snit and went to the living room.  I fumed for a while and then decided I was done and was going to leave.  Except, he had hidden my keys so I had no choice but to stay and talk it out with him.

So, when he died, the first and only person to ever have come back for me, it was like this part of me that was trying to rebelieve in romance stuff was dropped straight down a cavernous, slick walled, black as night well.  This part of me couldn't see, couldn't hear, was afraid to reach out and touch, so I went to my fantasies...I went to stories and movies and silly tales of widows who fall in love with their dead husband's best friends, or who are surprised by a long lost love from their high school years caught in a decent marriage that doesn't quite touch their soul...the universe takes care of its wounded birds, right?  Windows open that are actually big enough to be doors, and successful relationships come in all shapes and sizes...not everyone has to stay married till death and not every divorce has to end in hatred.  Maybe, just maybe, love was winging its way to me on the dust of something I'd swept away...always known and never expected...and someone might say "As you wish" and make me feel as beautiful as Buttercup.

The thing is, no one is coming.  I have peered into passing cars, watched fathers alone with their kids at the grocery store, eyed men working on the side of the road, puzzled over the guy at the table just beyond ours...every man I see, I've wondered "is he the one that will come for me?"  and I'm tired.  I'm tired of hoping.  I am tired of telling myself not to look and then, immediately, filling that incredibly brief hole of time with a caveat calling for that rule to kick in:  as soon as you aren't looking, he will come.

No shit.  But I already played that card.  It was quite lovely.  And I sat with it, with him, till his last breath came, which, for the record, was way too early.

And besides, the universe taking care of its wounded birds doesn't mean that what you lose, you also get in return.  It's not quid pro quo.  It's an ebb and flow that sometimes spills.

So I think about OTHER books I've read and wonder if my family was cursed and the women on my mother's side are doomed to raise their children alone.  I AM the third generation doing just that, after all.  Granted it's for a reason quite different from that of my mother and of my grandmother.  But it still comes down to my children growing up without a father, never seeing a man treating their mother with love, never seeing an argument between grown ups handled and fumbled and apologized for...

And please, do not misunderstand:  when I say that no one is coming, it doesn't mean I won't necessarily try to find love or won't be open to it if it appears.  But no one is coming.  I want to see that fairy tale.  I want the maiden in her tower, pining away, awaiting the kiss to break the spell like Fiona in Shrek.  Except REALLY no one is coming.  And she gets fed up, and slays the dragon herself and kicks the front door down in an explosion of dust and walks out, hands on hips.

Then maybe she has some adventures on her own and a shit ton of hard and boring days.  And...I keep trying to come up with a way that she can pick up a guy, throw him over her shoulder, and carry him off into the sunset...except wouldn't that still be a version of someone coming for someone else?  And if I change it into something sweeter, more gentle and where they are all simpatico, that makes me want to sucker punch the universe.  Because really??  No.  Just, no.  NO ONE IS COMING FOR ME.  And THAT's what that over-the-shoulder image is attempting to do:  be the manifestation of the simpering wish that someone would still be out there for me to find and hold hands with.

I do not believe that we all have one and only one soul mate.  I believe there are many matches for everyone and it's a matter of timing, placement, and desire to put in the work at any given moment. So losing John hasn't closed My One True Door to Love.  He was amazing and annoying and wonderful and self centered and thoughtful and kind of obnoxious.  He was mine and all I ever wanted to do was work on learning how to love him better and teach him to love me better and, lucky me, I'm pretty sure that he wanted that too.

But he's gone and I am here.  And for the first time since he died, I actually did get mad at him today. They say that anger is a part of the grieving process.  I haven't been able to get mad at him because he fought the cancer tooth and nail.  I get mad at CANCER.  But today, just for a bit, I was pissed that I am here doing this asinine dance in my head about the meaning of all this, and I'm doing it because he is gone.  I knew that drinking, smoking, and bad choices about men were on my horizon when he died...I know how I tend to screw up, and I was so PISSED that he left me to all that shit again.  I didn't want to DO that anymore.

I guess I just need to keep repeating it.  No one is coming for me.  No one is coming for me.  I do not like it.  And it's okay.  I can handle it anyway.  No one.  Is coming.  For me.  No one.  There is no "as you wish", no "you make me want to be a better man", no more hidden keys.  I don't want to think of it like my friend said, that now that we have kids, it's all about them because they didn't ask for any of this.  I watched my mother and grandmother stop living for themselves and live only for myself and my brother.  That was not healthy and it did NOT work out well.  So I do know that I need to find a way to live for me, to perhaps believe in love again.  So possibly, this mantra I need right now, this restating the fact that no one is coming for me, needs to be adopted as a temporary focusing tool.  For now, what I need to learn, is that no one is coming for me.  I don't yet know what the lesson after that shall be.  But I cannot hide from my grief inside the desire to not be alone.  I am alone.  I have been alone before, so that in and of itself cannot be my lesson.  Perhaps it's just that I need the year that I promised myself 16 years ago.  January to January.  It seems like an eternity.  It may turn out that it passes like one, too...or it may only be a moment.

I guess it really isn't all that simple, after you scrape the surface off.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

straight talk

Healing is so strange.  One minute you are doing ok, then you are drowning every night with tears that wash the entirety of your face and neck.  Then, something clicks without any noise.  And tiny steps seem to spin like a top when it catches the groove.  The next thing you know, you are running.  Like, running for 22 minutes!  And not drinking.  Well, taking (attempting to take?) two weeks off, to allow your body to heal.  And the smoking ended almost five months ago.  Also, sometimes I sweep and mop at night now.  I do so dancing to Prince on wireless bluetooth headphones and sliding around on TARDIS socks, but still...

All this "you" stuff is obviously me.  I noticed recently how much it means to me to do kind things in random places.  I told my class today about what it means to "pay it forward".  I told them how people donated money when John was going through chemo to pay our rent and someone at church paid to fix our car.  I told them how, because I don't know who did those things, I try very hard to see everyone as part of the person who did them, so I can spread the thanks around all over the place.

I also started calling and emailing Senators about issues.  There is a bill to do away with the EPA and one to get rid of the Department of Education.  I keep thinking about the tattoo on my back and how it was partially motivated because I believe it is so important for us to learn from our pasts.  I need it personally and this country needs it, too.  Before the New Deal, we did NOT successfully support the families failing and flailing from the Depression.  It just didn't happen.  We can't just get rid of things and leave a gaping hole.  Aiden sat beside me tonight while I called and emailed.  I could feel his pride.  That was pretty amazing.

I really am trying to "love the hell out of this world", and also trying desperately to recall that I, too, am of this world.  I can almost think calmly enough about living the rest of my life without a such a way that I see the empty, but also the full.  I see the possibility of imperfection and also joy.  I still believe in love...or at least in the possibility.  I mean, I was swinging around the kitchen dancing with my swiffer all sexy hips to "I Would Die 4 U", so...there's that.


**to remember, to be proud of myself, here is a list of the things I'm doing to care for myself and my world, in no particular order, I

  • started donating blood again
  • am also donating platelets 
  • am leaving my phone downstairs to limit screen time and sleep better
  • am writing every morning (almost) when I wake up
  • taking 2 dry weeks to clear my mind and body
  • quit smoking
  • am calling and emailing my senators about issues that matter to me
  • am training to run the 5k Race for Hope 
  • take walks on days that I don't run
  • am reading to Neil more
  • am making sit down dinners with the kids happen more, even if it's just simple stuff
  • have daily "family meetings" with my class so that I can listen to ALL of them EVERY day if even only for a moment
  • have started listening to music that always gave me strength in the past, like Public Enemy and Sinead O'Connor (I know, weird combo.  Whatevs)

Friday, February 10, 2017

I'm just not sure how

Sometimes the title of the story doesn’t fit
Sometime magic
Isn’t what you thought it was
I keep reaching to hold the whole

The good thing is that it is lined
With love
Because I chose to do that
The question is always “are you okay?”
The answer remains “not really”

Yet we soldier on
Because inside us
We so often
Have more
Than we ever thought we did

I have traveled many places in this world
And at times, I would touch things
I placed my palms on the Leaning Tower of Pisa
And on the legs of Notre Dam
My fingers have lightly played with poppies
In the hills of France
Snitched cherries from backyards
Of Spanish homes
My body was buzzed by a sea lion in the cool waters of the Galapagos
I did handstands at the entrance to Machu Pichu
And burbled excitement upon seeing a sleeping shark
Fathoms below me in the Coral Sea
I have stories to tell
And pieces that are broken, rebuilding, numb, dumb and confused

My fingertips still buzz
With the desire to touch
The wind
As it moves on
Beside me
Beneath me

Grief is not an ending to it all
It is a dancing script upon my soul
Singing soft and sexy songs
To lift
Me higher than I might otherwise

Have gone.