There’s no practicality in love

•May 28, 2016 • Leave a Comment

broken_heart_black_version_by_radu20092000-d3hfgxy

While I’m far from being an expert, I think I’ve had a decent amount of experience in the domain of love at this point in my life … perhaps not even love in the conventional sense. Maybe I’ve not yet experienced “true” love … I’d like to think I have, but fuck knows.

There’s no practicality in love. None at all.

Love doesn’t give a shit where you are in life. What you want. What you need. What your circumstances are or even what you thought love would be. Nope. It doesn’t care. Zero. Fucks. Given.

It shows up like a juggernaut, despite your best efforts to fight it off. It consumes you. It beats you down and it takes control.

There’s no practicality in love.

Over my many years of existence I’ve been blessed enough to have experienced love. It’s not always been in the same capacity, and perhaps not even immediately evident that it was in fact love.. But it’s been there. It’s been intense. And it’s been incredible. Sometimes short-lived, but always an experience.

And always unexpected.

Such a simple, easy-to-spell word. But what a fucking loaded one. With so much meaning and weight. And for what?

Maybe I’ve become jaded over the years. No, not maybe, I have become jaded. And I’ve become cautious and careful and restricted and closed off (emotionally). Love wasn’t ever anything I wanted to share or indulge in again. It was so empty before. So meaningless. Just a habit. A required word and sentence… “I love you.” I said it because I was supposed to. Because it was the right thing …

Once burned, twice shy, right? Apparently not.

Love’s never easy. Between parent and child, best friends, partners, owner and pet, person and passion; there’s always a struggle. There’s always a back and forth. It has to be worked at. It has to be maintained. It cannot, by its nature, be easy.

Nor should it.

If love is easy, it’s not real. Real love has obstacles. It should have obstacles. Even if they’re small ones, they should be presence. If you’re not fighting for something to work then it’s not worth having. And I don’t mean those in love need to argue every day, I just mean there needs to be work put in. You can’t become complacent. You can’t let things be. You can’t just let things meander along. It doesn’t work like that.

Love doesn’t work like that.

My marriage meandered. I didn’t fight for anything. Neither did my ex. We were non-confrontational. We know now we didn’t care enough, we didn’t love enough to fight for us. To keep us together. To keep the love there.

There’s no practicality in love.

Nor is there practicality in the loss of love. Suddenly realizing my marriage was done, my partner of 13 years gone, was highly impractical on all accounts. But it happened. It was my reality. I had to deal with it. And so I did. Perhaps not well, perhaps not even properly, but I did.

Love.

What the fuck is it, really?

The love I have for my son is pure. Unconditional. I would die for him. I would kill for him. He is my world. He is my being. My heart aches at the thought of not having him near. He is my end all and be all. I sometimes get tears in my eyes simply looking at him and the amazing little human being he’s become.

Tonight at bed time I told him he was a good boy, and his response was (in all its honesty and purity), “You know you’re a really good mummy, too, right?”

Heat = burst.

So much love. Pure, honest, wholehearted love.

Are we supposed to feel that for another human being who didn’t emerge from our own bodies? Can that purity be translated to another? A partner? I still don’t have these answers. Maybe I never will.

There’s no practicality in love.

Apparently it also doesn’t know when to go away, when to stop, when to leave me be.

When all I want is to turn the emotion off, be numb, be uncaring, be free of the hurt and the breakdowns it won’t go away. I don’t understand. I spent so long unfeeling .. and now it won’t stop. I desperately want it to.

And yet I don’t.

This impractical invasion of love in my life has lead me to feel incredible things to experience moments I’d never have had before to be purely me. And it scares the fuck out of me because despite all signs pointing to the fact that I should no longer be feeling the love that I do… it’s still there. Very much there. My practical, rational mind is screaming at me to stop, reminding me I should no longer feel this way. Literally pounding at my irrational, emotional side to smarten the fuck up and get over these feelings…

My rational side needs to grow some bigger muscles…

I have no idea how to handle it. I have no idea how to go about my day-to-day activities on most occasions with this weight in my heart, this weight that’s not at all a negative but pulls me down so completely that often times I’m rendered immobile and all I can do is heave great breaths to steady myself.

There’s no practicality in love. But perhaps that’s the idea. Throw you a curve-ball, put you in a situation you’ve never been in, make you question it all… and have the only answer be:

It’s love. Fucking deal with it.

When there’s no one else to say no

•May 20, 2016 • 1 Comment

DifferentiateHeader

Drawing attention to the fact that most of the time I’m a single parent is not something I like to do. I’m self-sufficient. I pay my bills (mostly) on time. I have a mortgage. I buy healthy (ish) food for both my son and I. I have a career. Yet, I make sure I still have time for me and exercise, and go out, and drink too much wine … but I digress.

I am a single mother.

I have no partner to help me when I’m with my son. When it’s my week/weekend with him, I am alone. Just him and I. Even when I was dating someone, the weekends I had Owen were mostly spent just us two.That time together is very important to me, especially that it’s just us.

Owen’s 4 1/2 now, and he’s an absolute joy. I adore my time with him. I look forward to our weekend adventures and try my best to give him as many experiences as I can. Watching the world through his eyes is absolutely incredible, and it brings a huge smile to my face every time we’re together.

But it can be as taxing as it is rewarding.

When it’s just us two, I play both parental roles. All. The. Time. I don’t get to share tasks or punishments for that matter. There’s no one else to say no. It’s always me. And it wears on me.

A few weeks ago, while visiting a very dear friend and her husband, with Owen in tow, this was pointed out out to me. They were inquiring into my well-being and I was explaining that I was coping with life in general but that I was rather exhausted, despite Owen being an amazing little boy who is really very, very easy to live with.

“Of course you’re tired,” chuckled my dear friend who’s also experience single-motherdom.

“There’s no one else to say no, is there?”

And for a moment I was confused. Then it hit me.

There are days I feel like all I do is chastise Owen. All I do is say no he can’t, and could he stop, and please don’t touch, and sit up, and don’t do that… it’s tiring. And I hate it. I wish I never had to tell him no. I wish I could let him run wild sometimes, but then what kind of adult would he grow up to be?

Owen really is exceptionally well-behaved (and I promise I’m not just being one of those barf-y mums who thinks her kid can do no wrong, ever). I’ve never heard someone tell me the contrary or rather friends/family/strangers are quick to point out how good he actually is. I assume if he was badly behaved nothing would be said at all.

All that to say: I still say no. A lot. And I hate it.

We do everything together: From bank appointments to museum outings to my gym time (there’s a play area for kids and he loves it while mummy gets her sweat on), right down to coming to work with me when he’s sick and I can’t stay home. He’s my sidekick, my main man, my best friend.

But I’m tired.

Being a single parent is exceptionally incredible in so many ways, and horribly daunting in so many others.

Do I wish I had someone to help? Fuck yes.

I’ve never experienced being a parental unit. Ever. Not even when my ex and I were together did we parent “together.” On our own, we were fine. Together? We were never a unit. I don’t know what it feels like to have that support to share that parenting task. And I want to.

To have someone to wake up on Saturday morning with Owen, let me have a lay in, perhaps bring me a tea in bed … those are the types of fantasies I have. Truthfully. Super sexy, right?

I know I am extremely lucky in that despite being a largely single parent, I have a great deal of help from my parents. I visit them often and then the rearing task is shared mostly between my mother and I. But that only happens for 1 maybe 2 nights and a day during a week and only every few weeks, sometimes longer than that.

I also have incredible friends who openly suggest outings with Owen and I (usually activities that are kid-oriented even when they themselves don’t have kids) or ensure restaurants are kid-friendly and don’t mind at all that he comes for dinners or brunches.

Plus, with shared custody I do get a few days every second weekend to myself, sans child. And it’s almost like I lead two different lives at that point. For 6 days it’s #mumslife then suddenly for the next 5 days and nights I’m childless and free to do what I please and go where I want without time restraints or a little person to entertain, feed, scold, and care for.

It’s very, very odd.

My mother raised me on her own till I was about 8-9 years old when my step-father came into the picture. I admire everything she ever did for me, and for us. She made some hard decisions when I was younger. She sacrificed a lot. She gave a lot. And she always, always put me first. And she also said no, and she was the only one who did.

I think I’m a better person, and a better mother because of her.

When there’s no one else to say no, it changes the parent you become I think. And not in a bad way. I feel stronger and better for it. I feel more in charge of myself and my convictions. Do I think I’m the best single mum out there? Far, far from it. But I’m trying, damn it. And if it means I have to keep being the only one who says no to a child who’s so incredibly amazing in order to make him a better human being for society when he becomes an adult. Well, fuck, I guess I’ll just have to keep saying no then won’t I?

The trouble with spilt milk…

•May 15, 2016 • Leave a Comment

spiltmilk

Is that sometimes it really is a big deal.

Somewhere along the highway on a long drive home with a rather tired, overwhelmed and overthinking mum at the wheel and an equally tired 4-year-old chattering and fidgeting in the back (from endless play in the countryside and a fabulous weekend of freedom and treats and movies and good laughs) and even after one cup of milk had already been deposited into a flower pot on the seat next to him (seriously, I don’t fucking know, so please don’t ask), cup no.2 of milk made its way onto the backseat of mummy’s luxury-brand media car.

And I lost it.

Truthfully, I don’t often get upset. Ask friends and family; I’m a very calm person (on the outside). I never yell. I don’t get red-in-the-face angry. Honestly, I loathe confrontation and fights. So, yelling at anyone, most of all my own flesh and blood, my son, was something I couldn’t fathom.

But I did.

Not in a raging, vein-sticking-out-of-neck yelling way. I don’t think I even have it in me to do that. But definitely in an angry, uncharacteristic way for mum to speak to son. I’m not proud of it. And I hate that he became the brunt of so much more than spilt milk on a car seat.

It had nothing to do with his accidental spillage, which he truthfully remedied almost immediately, picking up the sealed cup that had only dribbled a minimal amount on the black leather seat. His wide eyes in my rearview mirror revealed just how unreasonable I was really being. And yet I continued.

I wasn’t chastising him so much as the situation.

“I told you to be careful!”

“Didn’t I warn you to watch out and be conscious of the milk and know that it was there?!”

“You saw what happened last time you swung your arms around like that!” (At least that’s how I assume the last cup of milk ended up in the flower pot … )

“Why weren’t you more careful like I asked you to be?!”

And as the asinine questions came pouring out of my already quivering mouth, the tears welled up and I realized it really was about so much more than spilt milk.

For the better part of three weeks now I’ve been dealing with a veritable tsunami of emotions internally. Trying to get through each day without either breaking down into gut-wrenching sobs or conversely punching someone in the throat for being obnoxious or saying something insensitive.

It’s horrible.

I have terrible moments of complete weakness where I find myself curled up in a ball, tears flowing, with absolutely no ability to make it all stop. Because it all comes crashing down on me in those moments and the sheer level of emotions I feel are just too much for me to handle. Thankfully, those moments pass. But they are intense.

Spilled milk is a shock. It’s not supposed to happen. You’re aware it COULD happen, but it’s not supposed to. You don’t want it to.

Life is full of shocks and surprises and uncertainties, and no matter how much we try and prepare ourselves, sometimes it’s just not enough.

That’s when I realized the questions I was blindly shooting back at Owen, who really didn’t deserve it in the least, were directed at me.

“I told you to be careful!”

“Didn’t I warn you to watch out and be careful?!”

“You saw what happened last time… don’t you remember?”

“Why weren’t you more careful like I asked you to be?”

Upon this sudden and abrupt realization, I went silent as I drove the rest of the way home. Tears silently falling down my cheeks. Owen staring forlornly out the window. I think I may have turned the music up ever so slightly to drown out my own thoughts a bit and the sound of me sniffing quietly.

A meaningless cup of spilled milk brought about a wave of emotions I’d been harvesting for too long, clearly. The feeling of being desperately and completely alone, and readjusting to my new solo life and time, as well as accepting what I knew was coming all along. Accepting what I could not change. So “why bewait what is done and cannot be recalled” as the saying goes.

I should have been more careful. I saw what opening up to someone did in the past. Why wasn’t I more careful with my emotions, my heart, like I promised myself I would be in the beginning?

Now that it’s done, now that the change has occurred, there’s also nothing more I can do about it. Metaphorically speaking the liquid has escaped. Nothing I can do, say or feel will put it back. Absolutely nothing.

This arrant liquid on a car seat represented the lack of complete and utter control I had and have over it all, and it crushed me in that moment. As the dairy product dribbled down the seat in whatever direction it wanted, I realized that was a pretty accurate description of my life; dribbling down in whatever direction it pleased no matter how badly I wished and hoped and begged that it would just stop making a mess, please.

Exiting the highway and coming to a set of lights, I reached one hand back towards Owen. Immediately his little hand was in mine, gripping tightly. We stayed like that for as long as I could safely drive and hold that position.

“I love you, bud.”

“I love you too, mummy.”

The trouble with spilt milk is that sometimes it is so much more; however, we have to remember that once it’s done it’s done and cannot be returned to the cup, and it can always be wiped up and cleaned, no matter how far down the dribbles and drops travel.

To the girl who wasn’t as prepared as she said she was

•April 4, 2016 • 4 Comments

url.jpg

I see you crying. I see you crying a lot. I can almost physically see your pain, see the discomfort radiating from your now seemingly frail and weak body that shakes with sobs sporadically. I hear you take deep, shuddering breaths trying to steady yourself, trying to regain your composure; trying to be strong. I see your internal struggle. I think I can hear you arguing with yourself, fighting your inner demons as best you can.

You thought you were prepared for this. You said you were. You assured yourself you were. You reassured those around you that you were. You joked about it, made mock of it, threw in the odd self-deprecating silly story.

You were asked almost on a daily basis for months what you were going to do when this moment came. Asked how you planned on handling it, what you were going to do. And you simply shrugged, said it would all be OK; that you’d deal with it all when the time came.

You idiot. You weren’t at all prepared for the inevitable for the end you knew was coming regardless, and especially not for what you did.

Did you do it on purpose? Did you make it worse to make it all easier in the end? Did you fuck it up because you were told not to? Why don’t you have these answers?

Why are you crying so much?

You’re an adult(ish) who was supposed to be making adult decisions and being a better human being. Looks like you missed a turn somewhere on the road to a better you and future. But why?

You knew what you were getting into from the beginning. You knew it was never going to last. You knew you’d be alone not because of a failure in relationship, but because of a living situation. You accepted that. You said it was OK. You said you were OK with it.

Because you knew it would inevitably end, was that the reason you went into it?

Stop crying.

You’d been counting down the months/weeks/days till that fateful day. Is that why you chose to fuck things up early? Piss him off enough to push him away so you could deal with the pain of losing him before he actually left? That was a pretty stupid idea. Perhaps one of the least intelligent “ideas” you’ve had as of late.

What the fuck were you thinking?

After everything you’ve experienced, learned, felt, and realized over the months, you’ve regressed again. You did it on purpose; please tell me you did it on purpose. You can’t go back to that place, you can’t let yourself sink back down to that. You’re bigger than that, better than that, you’re worth more than that.

He did that for you: he made you feel worth it. He built you up. He showed you everything you could be and more. He made you feel like a real person, he made you feel happy, like a human being worth being around; someone with a heart and intelligence and a stupid sense of humour that could actually be appreciated. He showed you how great you were, through his actions and his look.

Stop crying, and don’t throw all that away.

Don’t go back to that place you were before. I see you trying to sink back, to step into the same shadows you emerged from months ago. Fuck that. Don’t be a complete idiot. Take from this and grow more.

You thought you were prepared for all of this, and maybe you were. But you weren’t prepared for yourself, and that was the worst part. You should have prepared for that. You should have known what you were capable of, what you were able to do without even meaning to. Have you learned nothing over the years? Maybe you really are destined to forever be that girl and you’ve just got to fucking accept it. Ever think that?

Maybe I’m being too harsh, but tough love might be exactly what you need right now. Tough love to toughen you up and stop you from making these mistakes in the future. Stop throwing away good things.

And stop crying. Please, please stop crying.

You gave everything, and every part of you. You held nothing back; not emotions, nor words, nor physical gestures. You presented it all fully. It was all accepted. You also presented a side of you that was less than desirable, and entirely not acceptable in his eyes. You need to live with that. You need to embrace that and accept that’s now a part of you, as well.

All these puzzle pieces, however awkwardly shaped and sharp-edged come together to make you who you are. You might not like the shapes they make, the colours they produce or the images they portray, but they’re you.

Fucking deal with it.

To the girl who wasn’t as prepared as she thought she was: Prepare yourself to heal, because you will. Eventually. As painful as it all is right now, you will pull through. You always do.

Sincerely,

The girl who wasn’t as prepared as she thought she was

xx

We all break

•February 24, 2016 • Leave a Comment
birds-of-a-feather

We’re all bits and pieces of brokenness, really…

Everyone’s a little broken. That’s life. We experience things that tear us apart, rip us up in side, leave us feeling like we’ll never in a million years recover. As humans we subject ourselves to these situations and put ourselves in harms way to experience things to live. They’re not always horrendous, they’re not always heart wrenching and soul-crushing, but we are all broken in some way.

We lose family members, pets, friends, jobs, good fortune; and we break.

We embark on self-realization, self-discovery, emotional clarity; and we break.

We realize we’re not where we want to be in life (at all); and we break.

We’re hurt by those we love, betrayed, lied to, cheated on, made to feel insignificant; and we break.

We take on too much in life, we over-analyze, we work too hard, we don’t enjoy our free time, we overthink; and we break.

We all break.

It makes us human, but it doesn’t make it any better or easier.

So, why do we let it happen? Why do we put ourselves in harm’s way?

You know full well falling in love can lead to heartbreak, but you do it anyways. Why? Because it feels so goddamn good. Because it lights you up inside when it’s there. Because it feeds your soul and your mind and every fibre of your being. And if you went into it thinking only of the end, only of the break, you’d never feel all that glorious lightness and amazing inner glow. So you don’t. You focus on the good, the experience, the now, the present, and you deal with the break when it happens and only when it happens — if it does.

We all break.

I broke for the first time a few years ago. I broke in the worst way possible. I imploded. I let myself crumble from the inside. Pieces of my soul dropped off internally, and I told no one. I showed no one. I even hid my brokenness from myself, covering it up instead with an affair. I hid from my ex with another man. And I hid from myself in the arms of someone I wasn’t married to. I broke. Hard.

And when all those shards of myself had no where else to go and they came spilling out and the world was privy to my brokenness I shattered all over again in a whole new way. Because, you see, as humans we’re rather like onions in our layers … it was only a select few of my layers that had broken away, I had plenty more to be dismantled. And dismantle they did.

Am I proud of my broken times? Not at all. Am I glad they happened? In a way, yes. I wouldn’t be where I am right now had I not broken the way I did.

We all break.

And I think we break to be better. To learn. To overcome. We can’t know who we truly are, what we really want, until everything is exposed. Until everything is seen, known, heard, felt. And the only way to be all that is to crack it all open, expose it, break it.

How do we recover from the break? Ah, now that’s the question.

I don’t think I have yet. I’ve described myself as many things over the years: weird, odd, silly, funny, intelligent, spastic, non-adult-adult, crazy, driven, ambitious, clueless. But the one description that’s resurfaced multiple times is: broken.

In the beginning, when I’d accepted that I was indeed quite broken, I used it as a defense mechanism. It was a way to keep people at a distance. If I told them I was broken, they’d not want to come any closer, not want to embark on anything more serious with me for fear of slicing themselves on my sharp, jagged, broken bits. At least that’s what I’d tell myself internally as I’d shake my head and say in a coy, playful, yet serious way, “Oh, you don’t want me, I’m broken.”

It made me feel safe. Made me feel secure being broken. Made me feel like I could control the next break. Control the pain, and inevitably remain numb to any sort of connection.

Well, I broke my rule of keeping everyone at a distance for fear of exposing my jumbled bits and pieces. And I did it knowing full well that I was opening myself up to another emotional evisceration.

We all break.

Can we glue the pieces back together? Can we ever truly heal? Can we be whole again?

I don’t think so.

But, if we’re ever so lucky (and maybe luck is the wrong word, maybe it’s more about fate or the universe working in just the right ways) we find another human being who’s equally shattered or someone who at least understands what it means to truly break. Someone who’s there to see the cracks for what they are and not just try to cover them up; someone to pick up the shards, but not try to reassemble them. Someone who’s simply there to support the unstable bits, lend a hand at organizing the fallen pieces, and maybe shine some light through the cracks when it gets too dark in there.

We don’t need someone to fix us, we need someone to accept us for who we are after we break. Because you’re never truly fixed, you’re never truly whole again, but that’s OK.

We all break, because it makes us human and makes us who we are.

The break won’t be pleasant, it won’t be enjoyable, and it’ll hurt like a motherfucker, but it’ll happen; and you’ll be grateful it did in the end. Trust me.

The Sobbing Tree

•January 30, 2016 • Leave a Comment
Sobbing_Tree

The Sobbing Tree (furthest to the right, with the most moss…)

A few days ago, I broke down at the base of a tree so large I couldn’t even see the top. Covered in the greenest moss I’d seen in months at the edge of a winding, quiet road on the edge of Butchart Gardens near Victoria on Vancouver Island, I openly sobbed and wept with one hand against the ancient evergreen, doubled over, as cool, refreshing BC rain washed over us both.

I didn’t mean to. That hadn’t been my intention as I strapped up my running shoes in my hotel room and mentally prepped to go for a run. I’d just landed on the island, never having visited before. I wanted to explore a little and also knew I needed to clear my head after a long day of travel and an upsetting conversation (for me anyways).

Running soothes me. It’s been the one thing I could turn to in the last few years that’s truly been mine. It’s all mine. Running is completely selfish. I can shut down when I run. Not think about Owen. Not think about work. Not think about bills. Not think about anything but: right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot, breathe in, breathe out. It’s wonderful.

I knew I needed that more than anything that afternoon. Rain or shine, I needed it.

And so I went. Armed with a set of poorly explained directions printed out on a sheet from the hotel reception, I left the resort and ventured out into the Brentwood Bay area.

I came across my Sobbing Tree completely by accident.

When faced with the choice to go left or right after getting completely lost thanks to the sad set of directions, I chose left and was met with a steep incline and a winding, twisty road. Large, ancient trees covered in vibrantly green moss lined each side of said road. Before running (as best I could) into the green abyss, I removed my headphones. Rain was falling at a steady pace. No cars appeared. All I could hear was my own raged breath and the rain hitting the leaves in the canopy. It was a beautifully stifling silence.

And so I set out, up the hill and onto the forest-lined road.

As the incline increased and the burn in my thighs and calves became ever more present, my lungs struggled for air, the rain mixed with sweat and ran into my eyes burning them ever so slight, my hands clenched tighter and my arms began to burn, too; and my brain suddenly came to life with every struggle and upset I’d had in the past few months — scratch that, past few years. Every misstep, every uncertainty, every unknown came crashing down on me in mere minutes.

I just quit my current job, which means I start a brand new one in a few weeks. A new job I know nothing about. This panics me a great deal. I’ve kept this panic at bay for now, but as I rose up the hill, so too did the anxiety I feel towards this new venture.

Writing is my escape. It’s the one time I’m me, fully me. I need it to survive, I need it to function. I need it to be Miranda. But am I good at it? I read as much as I write — no, that’s a lie. I read more than I write. I read a lot of very good writing, and I read a lot of really shit writing. And I wonder, where do I fall on that scale? I find myself talking about writers who are complete crap but who’ve published books that I’m reading. Am I like that? Do I shock and surprise the reading world that I’ve “made it” and that they’re reading me instead of someone with actual word power? I clenched my fists tighter as my strides became shorter up the steep hill, pumping my arms hard, feeling my shoulders ache as I felt the anger swell: Don’t ever be one of those writers, Miranda. Don’t let it happen. Unless it already has? Clench tighter.

I don’t have the balls to say the words “I love you” to someone I actually love. I can’t make my lips push the words out, and I know in a few very short months when everything changes for good that I’ll regret it for the rest of my life. The fact that I can’t grow a pair and fucking tell him eats away at me. I’m letting my past get the best of my future. I’m scared of the consequences, scared of the result, the empty silence that could hang in the air after I say it. The possible rejection that I’m not so sure I’m stable enough to handle just yet. As the burn in my thighs grew to epic proportions, to an almost unbearable point, so too did the burn in my heart telling me to actually express myself, properly.

Being a mostly single parent is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. I question my methods, abilities, and choices every single day. Do I say the right things? Do I teach him enough? Am I involved enough? Am I providing well enough for my son? Am I a good mother? These questions circle my brain more than I’d like to admit. Knowing someone’s life and well-being is really and truly in my hands, MY HANDS, it’s fucking scary. Petrifying really. Every day. As my lungs heaved and struggled for every breath, my worries and questions heaved from within too, bubbling to the surface.

The past few years have been a massive balancing act for me. From learning how to live alone for the first time ever in my 32 years to entering the dating world for the first time since I was 17 (and let’s be honest, I wasn’t really part of it before that, either) to learning how to be a fully functioning adult (I say “learning,” but really I’ve not even opened the manual yet) to working my way through a divorce and all the wonderfully shitty things that go along with that to growing my career then deciding to change my path ever so slightly to figuring myself out and discovering who I AM in all of this … fuck. It’s been huge. It’s been heavy. Supremely heavy. Soul-crushingly heavy, actually.

And it all came crashing down on me in staggering succession as I reached the top of the hill and stumbled up to my Sobbing Tree.

A huge, heaving breath escaped me suddenly, and all I could do was double over. My hand shot out to stop myself from toppling forward, and I caught the edge of my Sobbing Tree. My finger nails dug into the moss, feeling the soft, wet shrubbery. And I wept. Openly, loudly, I wept. Crouching down I put both hands into the muddy earth at the base of the Sobbing Tree. Watching my bright purple nails sink into the rich, dark earth, rain pelting away on my exposed skin and fingers, I tried my best to breathe.

Deep, shuddering breaths were all I could manage. My shoulder pressed against my Sobbing Tree. And I looked up, into the rain, into the foliage, into the nature that surrounded me. And I felt small. My glasses caught drops of rain, and my breath caused the lenses to fog over. I was blinded momentarily, listening to only my whimpering breath and the creaks, shuffles, drips, groans, and sighs of nature around me.

For all the largeness of my problems, I felt tiny. Like nothing. Like a gnat on the surface of Mars. Minute. Microscopic. How could I let my troubles feel so large when I was so fucking small?

Before I left my Sobbing Tree, I touched my forehead to its mossy surface as a kind of thank you. I took one final deep, long, steady breath tasting its earthy scent and feeling the clean, cool air fill my desperate lungs. My Sobbing Tree grounded me in those moments. It brought me back to a reality I wasn’t quite ready to face, a reality I’d tried hard to push aside.

What if you knew when it would end?

•January 18, 2016 • 3 Comments

a95466b2ced8dc31d3ee41219087482c

As philosophical as I’d like to think I am, I am not talking about the end of days. Sure, the earth will likely implode one day in the distant future with the amount of shit we do to it and pollute it with, but that’s not what I’m on about. I’m not even trying to get into the greatly deep discussion about death. No, I’m talking much more personal, everyday things.

What if you knew when your cat or dog would die? What if you knew when you’d get fired? What if you knew when your parents would pass? What if you knew when you’d get into an accident and lose your car? What if you knew when your relationship would end? What if you knew when your child would move out and you’d no longer depend on them to make you the parent you’ve always known yourself to be?

What if you knew when it would end?

Would you do things differently? Would you not even start to begin with?

I struggle with this daily. Seriously. Every day.

When you start watching a movie or reading a book, you know it’s going to end. You aren’t shocked by the fact that it finishes. You aren’t upset or put out. You went into it knowing full well that it would finish. But between the time you start the story and end it, there’s a middle. There’s a meaty bit. Characters build, things happen, and the ending is (usually) satisfactory. And if it’s not, you’re annoyed, but none the worse for it. You experienced it. You learned something (perhaps not to read a certain author or see a movie by a specific director).

Can that logic be applied to life? Is experience and gaining knowledge and know-how enough to make something worth it if you know it will end?

When I was 27 years old, my 19-year-old cat passed away. I’d had her for more than half my life. She was, quite honestly, my best friend. She grew up with me. I got her when I was just 8 years old. I named her “Spooky” in my infinite creativity because my parents brought her home to me the day after Halloween. She was my confident. I used to imagine I could communicate with her. I’d created a legend of communication with the number of times she licked my hand when I asked her a question; 2 licks for “yes,” 1 lick for “no,” 3 licks for “maybe.” It was all quite scientific — especially to my 8-9-10-year-old self. Spooky used to follow me everywhere. She slept with me every night, even in her old senile days she still managed to jump up on the bed and curl herself up around my head and purr the loudest purr I’ve ever heard come from a cat.

Every day, Spooky would sit in the window and wait for me to come home. Seeing her excited face in the window each day, seeing her mouth excited meows before she leapt from the window to greet me at the door always brought a smile to my face — even on my absolute worst days. The moment I’d sit down on any surface, Spooky was instantly in my lap. We used to sunbathe in the backyard together. She used to “help” me fold laundry, and we always had the best time when I tried to make the bed; she absolutely adored running around  under the sheets and chasing my hand through the fabric.

Then she was gone.

I didn’t know the day it would happen, but I knew it would happen.

Spooky passed away about 2 weeks before I found out I was pregnant with Owen. A close friend of mine at the time told me that it was the universe’s way of opening up my heart for another “baby,” since I loved Spooky so dearly.

I have two cats now. I’m not at all as attached to them as I was to Spooky. Not even Biscuit, who we recently acquired as a kitten. I won’t let myself get sucked in again. I know it’ll end. Not tomorrow, and likely not for many more years, but it will. And I don’t want that hurt again.

Is that what I’ve learned? Is that the lesson I took away from my 19 years with Spooky?

I think a lot about how I’d have felt had I known when my marriage would end. What I would have done differently (if anything). Or if perhaps I made it end when I did. If I chose the date. If I chose the stamped delivery date of our demise. Did I know the end all along? And if I did, did that change me? Change us?

I know, with a good amount of certainty, when my current relationship will end (at least as it is now). No, I’ve not chosen a specific day and time to say, “Thanks for the good times, but I’m out.” It’s a bit more complicated than that.

What I know is that it will end. And I’ve known it from the beginning. But I still went into it. I went into it cautiously at first. I went into it thinking I could control myself, my emotions, my brain, my heart.

Fuck, I’m dumb.

Has it changed how I’ve reacted through our months together? I’m not sure. I’ve never done this. And I’ve not had enough experience otherwise to say there’s been a huge difference. The only thing I can say is that it’s stunted me in opening up fully. In trying to protect myself I’ve kept a few walls up, perhaps even built a few new ones as the end gets closer and closer.

Is that why I went into it in the first place?

There are those around me who say that’s more than likely. It was a “safe” choice, a way for me not be alone, feel loved, have a good time, and to gain experience and learn without a huge form of commitment.

To that I say: Bullshit.

I hate being hurt. I hate crying. I hate being upset. I hate feeling lonely. I hate feeling lost. I hate saying goodbye. I hate endings.

Why would I go into something knowing it would end? Why would anyone?

Because we’re humans. Humans who crave interaction. Crave connections.

Things end. That’s life. That’s how the world functions. TV series end. Pets pass. Children grow up. Parents pass away. Jobs are lost. Careers change. Location are changed. Families separate. Things end.

If we all knew when those endings would occur, we’d likely never be as brave or experimental as we are in life.

What if upon meeting a stranger at a bar, the first thing they said to you is: “Pleasure to meet you. In 3 weeks time precisely, I’ll say something really cruel and asshole-ish about your sister, and you’ll never talk to me again, ever. But until then the sex will be great and we’re going to have the BEST time together.”

Would you still do it?

Or if when you went for a new job the last thing you were told in the closing interview was: “You’ll work here for 3 years, 10 days, and 15 hours before HR comes in and tells you we’re downsizing and you’re one of the chosen few because we know you can survive, but it’s going to come as a shock for sure. But until then you’ll gain some serious experience in the field and grow your reputation in your position. Oh, and we have rockin’ Christmas parties.”

Would you still take the job?

Of course you would.You’d call back the person at the bar, and you’d call the next day and take the job.

Because as humans we believe in chance. Hope. The possibility that things will change. We hold on to every ounce of possibility we can. Even when we know, inevitably, there is an end, we hold on to the hope that the ending is avoidable or at least re-directable — kind of like a choose your own adventure book (I loved those growing up, btw… maybe that answers a lot of my adult issues … and is a subject for another blog).

I know the end. But I’ve not turned away. I opened my heart again. I expect hurt, but hold on to the hope that its avoidable, changeable somehow. That the ending can be manipulated, molded, formed into something that’s more of an interlude perhaps.

I’m in the meaty bit of my book, and I’m desperate for it to be a “choose your own adventure” that will keep me in an endless loop in the middle, never reaching the end.

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,112 other followers