My Lonely House

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The rebound.

Everyone knows rebounds are destined for disaster. Most of us have been through one already, or at least witnessed the fallout of a hasty new relationship after a breakup–with friends or family, on t.v. or in books, heard about it in love songs, read about it in poetry, seen art about it. The list goes on. This is no great mystery. Why do we do it anyway?

For me, pressure to begin dating as soon as final divorce documents were signed was intense, and expert dating advice abounded.

“Just have fun with it. Keep it light.”

“My sister met her doctor hubby on a dating site. You should try one.”

“Yay, we can hang out again. I’ll be your wingman like in the old days!” (Translation: Misery loves company. Everyone knows dating is a nightmare.)

The urge came from within, too. Mostly it arrived like my descicated philodendrons crawling out of their pots, across the door jambs and up the window panes, in search of lifegiving water and light. Anywhere!

Because, the divorce process was like a trek through the desert, holding scabby hands with a wounded enemy who occasionally vomited on me as my only chance of sustenance. I’ll admit I spewed on him regularly, too, and probably with more acid. Yet, the nightmare didn’t end once the judge whacked the gavel. Next came a new wasteland, with no hand to hold. Not even in friendship.

After years of clinging devotion, Mr. X moved in with another woman only a handful of weeks after he moved out of our family house.

Ex-family house.

My house.

My lonely house.

The moral superiority I felt with never having been unfaithful or not having a standby lined up blew out in the hot stinking blast of his exit. All I was left with was a hand mirror.

I needed to remember who I was, before I was mired in monogamy and sexual obligation. I needed to reclaim the artist I was, before I stopped working to be a stay at home mom. I needed to feel special and important and authentic, and have someone understand me for who I really was, instead of judge me after over a decade of actually living with me. I needed to know that true love was still possible and that great sex was available and likely, all the time.

Enter, the rebound.

Poor Mr. R. He was no match for my subconscious. Had I considered, even for a moment, what Mr. R needed? Do I really need to even answer that? Heartbroken people are so selfish.

Well, I can’t feel too sorry for Mr. R. He broke my heart again presently.

But, why? Wasn’t he the perfect replacement, the one who I had been searching for all my life? It’s laughable once I write it down. With some distance, I can now see the holes in my delusion…

I’d picture the private corner office he was sitting at (not a cubicle), while thinking of me all day long. Sure, the evidence showed that he drank like a fish while watching sports in bars most of the time, but I believed he led a rich inner life and one day I’d see it. Remember that one joke he told two years ago about attending seminary school? Of course, I knew that there was a good reason he would only communicate in texts, too. Maybe phone calls were a thing of the past. And no, he wasn’t ignoring me–it was my fault for being too pushy. I don’t need kindness, because I’m not a needy girlfriend (friend with benefits).

All of my suffering arose from my own disappointment each time he showed up–or didn’t–to be just exactly who he was. In reality. Yes, my heart was broken when he dumped me. I was in madly in love, after all. But, I was in love with my imagination. I had absolutely no patience for the real Mr. R.

Being patient means to welcome wholeheartedly whatever arises, having given up the idea that things should be other than what they are. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

So, why is patience even necessary?

Because it’s the remedy for anger, and anger–or resentment, or constant disappointment, or depression–is a destructive force that places blame outside ourselves and prevents growth. Anger is not accepting what exists before us, and grasping at wishes instead.

Wish in one hand, shit in the other, see which one fills up first. Stephen King

Mr. R wasn’t the problem. The problem was a mind that wouldn’t accept reality and a heart that was rushed straight past the healing process. Yeah, I was sad. I had just gotten divorced, for crying out loud. Denial of reality only brought me more pain, each time my fantasy crumbled a bit more. Each time another bandaid was ripped off.

It was a slow torture that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. So, please take my advice and run screaming from rebound relationships.

Yeah, right.

I hope yours is easier than mine…or at least quicker!

This was Mean Greeting Card #3. To see the others in this series, go HERE.

Thanks for liking, commenting, and following!  Visit my contact page HERE for social network links, or sign up for my mailing list HERE to be the first to see new work.

 

 

 

 

Forgiveness Doesn’t Mean Being Okay With Something

kissandmakeup

I was 26 when my boyfriend almost killed me.

Two months after meeting him, he wrapped my Jeep Wrangler around a telephone pole with me, unseatbelted and drunk, in the passenger seat. After losing my sight and my hearing, feeling my hair fall out and half my face droop with palsy, undergoing multiple surgeries and spending months in the hospital…I married him. That’s young love for ya.

Traumatic brain injury helped.

How does a couple overcome something like that–my ruined body, his dark passenger of  guilt, and the specter of morbidity hanging over us both?

We buried it, of course.

Afterall, we deserved to be happy just like any other two idiots, madly in love. How could one whoopsie daisy destroy us?

But, it lurked underneath every minute of every day, an oozing cancer. Unfortunately, the past couldn’t remain tucked away, because I had permanent injuries that just wouldn’t shut up no matter how hard I tried to ignore them. And once young love wore off and my rose colored glasses cleared, it wasn’t long before nagging thoughts of, “But, you’re just fine. How nice,” and, “What really did happen that night,” and the most ridiculous, “Hey. You never even replaced my jeep,” began to surface.

It got worse from there. The whoopsie daisy polished every smudge in our marriage to obscene high definition.

Years later at one of many marriage counseling sessions, after describing the car accident to Dr. B, he said to me, “It sounds like you’ve got a lot of forgiving to do.”

That sounded accusatory.

What? That’s bullshit, what did I do? I’m the one who was maimed here. Affronted, I choked out something like, “How can I do that? How can I ever be okay with what happened?”

“Forgiving doesn’t mean being okay with something,” he told me. “If everything were okay, there would be no need to forgive.”

“Well…what is forgiveness, then?”

His answer was groundbreaking for me, and I’m sure I’m romanticizing it now, since I’ve thought about it so much–turned it over in my my mind, unpacked it and refolded it a million times since. I’ll try to paraphrase the message faithfully: “Forgiveness is letting go of the pain a person or event causes you. You’re the one holding onto it. You’re the one who has to let go of it.”

Dr. B was blunt like that, and I usually hated him for it. Yet, this time he rang the right bell. So, this was all about my brilliant mind. The mind that had clearly fucked up my own life, in my own power. Well then, at least I had some control.

To let go of the pain I would have to face it first, though.

“That sounds pretty difficult,” I admitted.

“Well. What’s the alternative?”

Indeed.

That sent me on a mission for answers. I had to forgive and I was in this alone. How could I be not okay with something Mr. X did, but still not let it hurt me?

I studied Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Tantra. Religion isn’t my strong suit, since I was raised an Atheist and I have a natural aversion to authority of any kind. I tried my darndest, though. I went to psychics and mystics, learned to meditate and connect to Source, faithfully took up Kundalini Yoga (nearly lost my mind doing that at first). I had my Akashic records read, listened to my soul council, tuned my chakras, cured my allergies, wrote two books, and even started making art again.

Over the years, I began to realize that I was not hurt at all by that fateful event. Not in the long run, in terms of the cosmos. In fact, I would’ve never experienced the richness of my life as I then knew it, had I not been so broken when I was 26. Forget that soulless beauty I used to be. If I hadn’t had my skull smashed, I might not ever have found the beauty within. I didn’t even blame Mr. X any longer. He was the agent of a great change in me, and possibly a divine agent of Karma. There are no accidents.

So, slowly and incrementally…I began to forgive.

The flip side to that was an unfortunate and unexpected byproduct, however. In all this soul searching, I had changed and Mr. X had not followed suit. And from my new hard won standpoint of a meditative, forgiving mind, I began to question if remaining in the marriage wasn’t more like martyrdom.

What a Catch-22! I seek forgiveness to save my marriage and forgiveness is the very thing that must end it! Was this a cosmic joke?

Suddenly, the tables were turned and I was no longer the wounded, but the one wielding the ax. Afterall, I had learned to accept Mr. X for who he was, flaws and all, and I loved him as a person and a friend, even if I didn’t see a lifelong partnership as viable any longer. The resentment was gone, but guilt had taken its place. I was a nervous wreck with all the sifting and sorting. How could I do this horrible thing that I had to do? How did I become the evil one with a dark passenger?

I went back to Dr. B for more marriage counseling, hoping to find help in ending it peacefully.

With snot running down my lips and a wad of soaked tissues in my clenched fist, I babbled something like, “What if marriage isn’t the right thing for me in this case? I think I’ve learned to forgive, but that doesn’t make Mr. X my partner until death does us part, does it? I think I made a mistake. I’d rather die than go on like this.”

Stone faced, he replied, “My main goal is to keep the marriage intact.”

“No matter what?”

“That’s my goal.”

And that’s when I realized the true meaning of forgiveness. I had to forgive myself and I was in this alone. I was going to break people and ruin lives. How could I be not okay with what I meant to do, but still not let it hurt me?

Well. What’s the alternative?

Indeed.

This was Mean Greeting Card #2. To see the others in this series, go HERE.

Thanks for liking, commenting, and following!  Visit my contact page HERE for social network links, or sign up for my mailing list HERE to be the first to see new work.

 

All Worldly Attachments Eventually Bring Pain

Opposites Attract. Oil, watercolor, acrylic, pastels, and charcoal on paper, 15″X19″, 2018.

My first finished painting in over a year has turned out wildly different than I expected, and I couldn’t be happier with the result.

The series of six paintings–which includes elephants, sea otters, and butterflies, among other fauna–began as an art licensing idea for Valentine’s Day cards, and they were supposed to be sweet! As I stumbled away from ever worsening divorce complications and limped through the swift demise of a confusing rebound, however, my cute little animals became tragic instead.

Too much work had gone into them to quit. Pen and ink, watercolor, pastel, gouache, oil, acrylic–I had really poured my heart into it, probably as a way to stay sane through trauma. I was lost with them, though, because they certainly weren’t commercially appealing any longer. But I had no idea how such lingering sentimentality would fit into my fine art practice.

Then I realized that these paintings had stayed true to their original purpose after all, wherever they fit, and all my frustration vanished. They capture the raw emotion I felt for months and months, and they are quite comforting to me. Much like a greeting card and much better than well meaning divorce chit chat. I imagine it’s a similar feeling when a loved one dies and you’re forced to sit through clumsy condolences. Most of what people say makes you feel worse.

In particular, the monkey and the chicken are so obviously not a great couple! I’ve discovered people to be invested in the survival of others’ relationships beyond reason.

“No! You guys are perfect together!”

“But you looked so happy on Facebook, what happened??”

And the worst:

“What about your KID?! How could you DO this to him?” (Well, by golly you’re right. I have never considered my kid in all of this. Silly me.)

Of course, I’ve done the same thing to divorcing couples, and I think it’s a reflection of my own anxiety in the knowledge that all worldly attachments eventually bring pain. And, if your relationship doesn’t last, that means mine might not either. That’s darn right personally offensive.

But, I mean, come on. What were a monkey and a chicken ever going to offer each other from the beginning? I think if we admitted that many romantic partnerships are like this, maybe we wouldn’t need so much self-medication.

This was Mean Greeting Card #1. To see the others in this series, go HERE.

Thanks for liking, commenting, and following!  Visit my contact page HERE for social network links, or sign up for my mailing list HERE to be the first to see new work.