The call display said Montana, and I almost didn’t answer, I don’t know anyone from Montana. The call was from a father that I didn’t know. A father that I will never meet. He told me his son was dead, and for a moment I had to think which dead son is this, which dead child is this about.
Then I understood.
This was Kevin’s father. Kevin who was dead. Kevin, the young man who made a small party my son’s first birthday in Arizona, far away from home. Kevin, who arranged for a decorated ice cream cake and twenty candles. Kevin who ordered pizzas with everything that Graham liked on them. Kevin who took pictures of Graham blowing out the candles and sent them to me because he knew how sad I was about not being there for his birthday. That Kevin who took care of my son when I could not. That Kevin who within six months of the party had relapsed, and shortly after had died.
I had sent his phone a text after he died. More of a prayer in text form. It read something like I’m so very sorry, and thank you. I was so sorry he had died, and still so grateful to him for taking care of my son. I sent it, and like a prayer, I never thought anyone would ever know about it.
I do understand that to his father when he finally got his dead son’s phone that my message would be a mystery. I imagine how many times he must of read it before he worked up the nerve to call me and ask just what I meant texting a dead person.
Today he called and we found out about each other, although we never even exchanged names. I told him that I was so sorry, that his son had been kind to mine, and kind to me, and how much that meant to me. I told him that my son was still alive and still clean and sober. I don’t know that was comforting or painful for him. I think it could be both. Maybe I should have said in October my brother, John, and many years ago my father, Alan died of the same disease his son did. Maybe, but that’s not the same as a child. Nothing could be that.
He seemed content enough to have his mystery solved and we said goodbye, and then I sat there and cried for all of us, for those who have died, and for those of us who loved them. I cried, because there is nothing else I can do for Kevin, for John, for Alan, for any of the dead ones.
For the families and loved ones left behind, sorry is not ever going to be enough. Sorry can’t heal the kind of pain this is, but is all we can do. We say sorry and we then hold space for someone’s pain. We say sorry and we hold space in our words, in our actions, in our lives, and in our hearts for them. We let them feel their pain without judgement. We surround them in as much love as we can. This is what we do for the living,
because there is nothing more we can do for our dead.
A repurposed necklace, the charm is mine, the cord was part of a gift from someone I loved (the original charm, it went the way of the love – gone)
I can’t find the right words to describe this. This feeling that comes when I least expect it. The feeling, as Rilke would say, of pushing through solid rock.
It’s possible I am pushing through solid rock in flintlike layers, as the ore lies, alone; I am such a long way in I see no way through,
and no space: everything is close to my face, and everything close to my face is stone.
I don’t have much knowledge yet in grief so this massive darkness makes me small. You be the master: make yourself fierce, break in: then your great transforming will happen to me, and my great grief cry will happen to you. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke (Translated by Robert Bly)
“Our greatest glory is in rising every time we fall.” Rising. I’m working on that, because I fall a lot. I fall all the time. And I rise, I do, but it’s exhausting
There’s a hollowed out feeling when I think of you, there’s sadness and anger too, but mostly I’m hollow. I can usually distract myself, with sleep, with TV, with work, with art, with words, with movement, with anything handy. The thought of actually sitting still with myself still overwhelms me, so I move, or I sleep. When that doesn’t work, when you bubble up unbidden, on those days, I run the same circles in my head, the same tight circles that loop back on themselves and spin faster and faster. I tell myself I’ve been an idiot once again for loving people who leave, for banging my head and my heart against your rock wall, constructed to keep people like me out. I sometimes think a different version of me might have been enough, could have make it through your emotionally unavailable barracks, but that’s not true. Occasionally I feel like throwing a rock, a brick, or smashing a plate, perhaps that would at least get your attention. I won’t, but the thought remains attractive, if only for the moments I pick it up and hold it, pass its weight back and forth between my hands.
You huddle in, becoming
the deathless younger self
who will survive your dreams
and vanish in surviving.
– Self and Dream Self excerpt, by Les Murray
It’s not just you, of course, it’s been a brutal fall. Somedays, all of its hurts lay on top of each other and weigh me down. I thought we were connected, but we weren’t, that was me telling me stories and you telling me your well practiced lies of convenience. That level of connection, of honesty, was the last thing you wanted. At my core sits a small hard bit of certainty that if I love, you will leave. My head and my heart know somehow this is not correct, but my bones know that it is so.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That is how the light gets in.
– Leonard Cohen
There isn’t a light coming in, at least right now. It’s cold and it’s dark and it’s empty. He also said “The Heart beneath is teaching / To the broken Heart above”, maybe that’s what this is, healing.
“Into the pit” – aptly named
I don’t think you’ve ever allowed yourself to be opened, to let someone break your heart, your shell is too hard, too thick, too well formed to allow that to happen. Or maybe you did, once, and then swore never again, and that is why you remain frozen, hard, hidden and clinging to that past trauma that you will never release. You turn your focus on yourself, withdrawing into your shell if anyone gets too close, only pretending to connect, to engage, to care. If that doesn’t work you manipulate, gaslight, play controlling games, run tests, that will always set you up as the winner. You don’t know how to live openly, you don’t know what it is to fall, and to rise again, only to withdraw and hide. There is no glory for you, only more hiding, more controlling, more walls.
Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall
I do know the feeling. I once had walls. They had a hollow sound behind them, but they were solid. With them in place I could play happy, charming, funny, but was just acting. Taking the walls down was excruciating, and also exhilarating; still, there are days I wish I still could hide behind my walls.
And so, I’ve fallen, and risen, and fallen again. I’ve fallen into this mess that I have to push through (not go around, not go over, or go under). I will, push through this.
10. The cold way you looked at me (the warm affection in your eyes).
9. The way you’d protect yourself from me (the way your arm moved to protect me).
8. Waiting hours for you (the way you greeted me).
7. The way you made me cry (you made me laugh).
6. Your lies of convenience (your lies of flattery).
5. The part of you that understood me and then left (the part of you that understood me and seemed to want to stay).
4. The drive-in (sneaking into movies).
3. The plans you never meant to do (the future plans we talked about).
2. Waiting for your call (your goodnight texts).
1. Blowing cigar smoke in my face.
The truth is my struggles, my demons, all come from, and aim directly at the very things I am most insecure of, mainly not being lovable, being abandoned, and when they strike up the band and start to play my thoughts and emotions get sucked into that spinning wheel where no good ideas ever emerge. Don’t believe everything you think, don’t believe everything you think especially when you are tired, hurt, raw, emotional and generally broken up inside. Those are the times when throwing the rock, or smashing the plate seems like the best idea ever. Those are the times where you, as Pema Chödrön says, have to lean into the sharp points, the pain, and the discomfort, even when, especially when, this makes it hurt even more.
Which means this won’t last forever. I will emerge. I might even grow a little. Maybe not today, today is pretty awful. Today I am pushing through solid rock. Maybe another day this won’t be so heavy. At some point you do free yourself, and take your power back – flaws and all. Someday.
The Highlights, The Lowlights, The ‘No Lights at the End of the Tunnel’ Lights
Mood Swings: MORE moods, MORE often, ALL the moods in ONE day, ALL the moods in ONE moment, Ten moods for the price of One!, BUY ONE and get 3 Bazillion FREE moods, ‘Happy Roller coaster moods’, ‘Sad Roller coaster moods’, ‘Happy/Sad/Mad Roller coaster moods’, ‘Roller coaster without a seatbelt moods’, ‘Roller coaster without a seatbelt and a broken rail moods’, ‘Completely overworked roller coaster metaphor because you couldn’t come up with anything else, so just sod off will ya’ kind of mood.
Tears: Sad tears, Happy tears, Mad tears, ‘Happy/Sad/Mad at the same time’ tears WITH boogers, ‘Stupid love song comes on the radio’ tears, ‘Drive by that restaurant you had that date in’ tears, ‘Friends being nice to you’ tears, ‘Nobody will ever love me’ tears, ‘Rejection’ tears, ‘Why I am watching this stupid fecking movie’ tears, ‘somebody ate the last slice of pesto pizza’ tears, ‘why didn’t I buy the stupid waterproof mascara’ tears, ‘we were suppose to do that together’ tears, ‘we were suppose to ride the roller coasters together, dammit’ tears.
Communication: Stupid texts, ‘Happy/Sad/Mad’ texts, ‘completely overworked roller coaster mood metaphor’ texts, ‘Foot-In-Mouth’ texts and emails and words coming out of my mouth (around my toes), cell phone glitches, computer glitches, music glitches, ‘omg, ALL the fecking spreadsheets’ glitches.
Appearance:Hair: Lord. In all the wrong places, in “honey, you should really get that waxed’ places, in the ‘feck it, I’m just going going to grow the hair on my legs and wear long pants because no one will ever looks at my legs again’ places. And Very poorly behaved hair in the proper places. Skin: ‘buying ALL the kinds of cream in the Beauty aisle’ skin, skin doing all the wrong things on all the wrong places.
Indignities: People having ‘banal conversations below your waist whilst your (unwaxed) legs dangling in the stirrups’ indignities, ‘little cough now dear’ indignities, ‘this will only hurt for a moment dear’ indignities (also not true), ‘the whole fecking reason for all the indignities evaporating in one phone conversation about too much drama’ indignity.
Food: Doughnuts for breakfast, cereal for dinner, ice cream for dinner, pizza every damn meal because I just feel like it, okay?! Cake, because Cake. Chocolate, dark chocolate, dark chocolate truffles with fancy expensive tastes added stuffed in my mouth three at time, dark chocolate with pizza and ice cream by the fist full while watching television that makes me cry, chocolate on the fecking tissues because apparently I can’t stuff chocolate in my mouth and cry at the same time without making a mess and wasting chocolate.
Allie’s images are brilliant, she manages to convey a wide range of emotions with a few lines and still manages a sense of humour. I’m working on the sense of humour part.
this one’s mine, computer generated
So yeah. It’s been a ride. An overused roller coster metaphoric kind of ride. It will pass. Retrograde will end, I’ll figure out the menopause thing. All of this will pass.
After much prompting I read He’s Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt on my vacation last week. I know, I know, I’m WAY behind the curve on this one. I also watched the movie, but the book is MUCH better, just in case you were about to say, I’ve seen the movie I don’t need to read the book. Read the book.
Wow. Greg where have you been all my life? I feel like my eyes have been pried open, not in that Clockwork Orange kind of way, but then again, it wasn’t too far off of that. Let’s just say I’ve had to give up many (cough! almost ALL) of my preconceived ideas about men, how they think, and what behaviours actually mean, and while ultimately this is good, and often humourous, it was also kind of painful.
Why should you feel honored for getting scraps of his time? Just because he’s busy doesn’t make him more valuable. “Busy” does not mean “better.”
Mostly I’m going to quote the book for this blog, because Greg really gets right to the point.
100% of guys polled said “a fear of intimacy” has never stopped them from getting into a relationship. One guy even remarked, “Fear of intimacy is an urban myth.” Another guy said, “That’s just what we say to girls when we’re just not that into them.”
“And above all, if the guy you’re dating doesn’t seem to be completely into you, or you feel the need to start “figuring him out,” please consider the glorious thought that he might just not be that into you. And then free yourself to go find the one that is.”
― Liz Tuccillo
“But what I can do is paint you a picture of what you’ll never see when you’re with a guy who’s really into you: You’ll never see you staring maniacally at your phone, willing it to ring. You’ll never see you ruining an evening with friends because you’re calling for your messages every fifteen seconds. You’ll never see you hating yourself for calling him when you know you shouldn’t have. What you will see is you being treated so well that no phone antics will be necessary. You’ll be too busy being adored.”
“Meeting someone you like and dating him is supposed to make you feel better, not worse.”
and this one especially
“Don’t spend your time on and give your heart to any guy who makes you wonder about anything related to his feelings for you”
So this. I’m riding my own personal crazy train right now. One of my own making, from the full steam ahead steam engine that burns red hot, fiery coal 24/7, through car after car full of personal baggage of all shapes, sizes, weights and colours, to the caboose that can only look back and wonder what, the fuck, was I thinking?
Aside: I did quit that job, and I LOVE the job I have now, the rest, it’s a work in progress.
This quote, and a few dear friends are currently what is holding me together. Also, quite a bit of chocolate, and singing to very loud music in the car, off key, every single time I drive. I’m not kidding, tonight is was Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off. This guy does it better. Yesterday it was Eurythmics, Smiths, and R.E.M. all day.
I used to think that when I turned 20 two major things would happen. 1. I’d be given the ‘adult handbook’, and 2. my skin would clear up. You know the handbook that ALL the grown ups had. The one that gave you the answers to life. No more teenage and young adult angst for me, I would finally have the ansewers, and then BOOM, I would figure life out and become a happy, well adjusted financially secure adult. Apparently there is no such book. You can imagine my disappointment at having to figure things out for myself, and don’t even talk to me about my skin. Honestly, how does anybody figure anything out? I am a hot mess with passable hair on a good day, and on a bad, I shove it into a pony tail.
My ego took a hit last week. It was not pretty. I wasn’t so pretty, except for my hair, I had a good hair week, so it wasn’t all bad. I was just mostly bad. I may have got a little crazy, or as I like to say, super sized extra crispy crazy with side of hysterical hot sauce. Yep, I’m a grown up, and I still cannot figure this stuff out. My brain has this section I call the the hamster wheel section where all my crazy ideas spin faster and faster. I’m not allowed to go there without a friend.
how do they know?
Fortunately, I have great friends. I spent tonight drinking pop, diet pop even… from a Wonder Woman glass, eating chocolates and watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding with a friend, and then confessed all my crazy thoughts and actions and, she still loves me and sent me home with cupcakes and a fortune cookie that said “Be willing to admit you may be wrong, you’re only human”. That’s love for ya.
I decided to start dating. Actually dating. First time at it (save for 2 absolute disaster blind dates) since the 80’s.
What am I thinking?
What I am thinking:
I have spent decades taking care of other people.
I have put other people’s needs before my own my entire life.
My life is never going to say, hey, you take some time for yourself now, we’ll all be fine. I’m going to have to take that time for myself.
I’m not getting any younger.
I’m a lot of fun.
Last week I joined an online dating site. I wrote a fairly irreverent and silly description of myself which included references to Monty Python, Shakespeare, The Princess Bride and a semi-naughty poem. I posted the insanely flattering professional photo of me that makes me look like a movie star. I also posted photos of me after a Warrior Dash, in a yoga class, messing around with my kids, and a couple of my feet in interesting places to make me look worldly and slightly mysterious. Then I started looking at the men the site suggested.
I am new at this, but I do have a few suggestion for men on the site:
Don’t say you’re athletic and toned if you’re not – seems obvious, but…
Those pictures of you holding the big fish you caught, all ten of them? Yeah, not a real turn on.
Posing with various weapons? Ditto.
Shots of you with animals you have killed? Double Ditto. (or I might not be your demographic)
I’m very flattered you think I’m hot, but maybe there could be a few more things you could mention in your note to me?
The picture with your ex where you’ve blurred out her face? Not so endearing. Get a friend to snap a picture of just you with your phone.
Selfies in the bathroom – just don’t, I’m not ready to see your toilet yet.
I realize you love your dog/cat/kid/kids but no more than a couple of pictures of them, they’re not why I’m here. (also your dog who died last year? why would you put up that one?)
Why are you wearing sunglasses in all your pictures? Where you burned by acid?
Why are you wearing baseball caps in all your pictures? Do you have hair or not, just let me know one way or another, I can deal with it, really.
That’s a very nice sportscar / motorcycle / sports utility vehicle, but maybe you could save all those manly photos for the guys who would probably be very impressed by them (again, I may not be your demographic).
Spell check, spell check, spell check. No, really, it’s important.
Don’t send me your address, I’m not going to come over to your house, even if you offer me presents.
Try to write something that doesn’t involve the words soulmate, sunset, long walks, holding hands, sensitive, loving, or true love (unless you’re quoting the Princess Bride, and then bonus points).
In spite of this list I have met several wonderful men. No soul mates, but I wasn’t looking for one. Something about dating in my 50th year has given me a freedom I never had before. If I like someone, I’ll have a coffee with them, if I don’t, I won’t. I chat with who I like, and don’t take it personally if someone decides not to see me. It has turned into great fun. I had a much better face and body in my 20s, but my 49 year old mind is a much happier and much more secure one.