Part 1, Becoming Me: Hiding publicly

This post series may be a bit difficult for some of you to read…or stomach…or even believe. I’m even going to preface this series with a disclaimer: there is absolutely no disrespect, ill-will, or anything else intended to be deliberately disparaging in it towards my ex. He is happy now as am I, and I joyfully want that to continue. I will touch on some issues we had as a couple, and perhaps he (if he actually reads this), will accept this as an “exit interview” and take some of the observations in the spirit intended…as my own personal views and interpretations. No one else’s. Now on with the show…

 

Unless you’ve been under a virtual rock, or had a life, or are new to the blog, or [insert any one of a million valid reasons], then you’re aware that I am at a real crossroads in my life, and a very happy place that is to travel. When the ex and I officially separated in January 2014, it was a complete “non-event”: no wailing and howling or dish-throwing. True, tons of glares exchanged lines of sight, but that was about it. But I made a decision in an instant, that from that day forward I was going to be myself, own my feelings, be unapologetic for my beliefs, and do what made me happy. To some this may sound wholly selfish; for me, it was a matter of reclaiming myself.

 

One of the first things I started doing was writing again; it’s been one of the best decisions I could have made for me. I had an outlet for my creativity, in addition to the candle making, and it felt wonderful to put “fingers to keyboard” so to speak. This was more than a diary or a journal; this was a sharing of my soul at times…perhaps a bit exhibitionist one may believe, but let’s be honest, without that bit of narcissistic belief that someone other than ourselves is interested in what we have to say, there would be no books ever written. There is something that drives a writer to publicly commit their thoughts, ideas, dreams, fears to a public airing and open themselves to criticism. Perhaps we are gluttons for punishment and pain, as it is painful to hear/read that someone judges our heart’s blood to be…heaven forbid…drivel. After all, “it” meant enough to us to agonize over a single phrasing of a sentence for hours or days before releasing it for public consumption; how dare someone else proclaim it unworthy of a read much less a second thought? But, as surely as there is cream and sugar in my coffee, I will continue to write and put my thoughts out there for your review. No longer do I have a fear of rejection of this part of me, regardless of what views I express, when I sit down with the keyboard in my lap. The only agony connected to my writing now is in reigning myself in sufficiently to avoid using the real names of those characters who now write my life’s scripts. I love them all, and it is my choice to not bring their true identities into the telling of my tales.

 

Case in point. I’ve skirted around many of the details surrounding the relationship between “Bruce” and I, and will continue to do so; I may share some of our conversations, but more in the manner of sharing things we have learned or believe in the spirit of hoping that it may encourage someone else in their journey. For a bit, I was annoyed that “Bruce” didn’t want to make us “Facebook Official”, meaning, changing our respective statuses to read “In a relationship with…”. My old self-esteem immediately assumed he was hiding something, such as me or another girlfriend(s). I was ready to share my joy with anyone dumb enough to be in earshot or visual range as the case may be. But in his calm, unflappable manner, he took my face in both his hands for a sweet kiss, hugged me tight, then explained,

 

“I want this to be about us right now. No one else’s opinions or suggestions or comments. Just us. If something happens and we decide to back up the U-Haul*, people would feel the need to take sides, and I don’t think either of us want that.”

*backing up the U-Haul: our phrase for going our separate ways

 

We still comment and like each other’s posts on Facebook, but we don’t directly say we are dating each other. We have had a bit of fun with my status, changing it from “single” to “It’s complicated”, as in, he is a fan of American football, and me a fan of real football (a.k.a. soccer). Or complicated because he is “Bruce Wayne”…just plain silliness bourne out of my need to call him something. I’m sure we’ll make a quiet status change to real names before much longer, but for now, this has been a bit of fun.

 

I finally understood his need for privacy on social media was in a manner of speaking, a showing of respect and protection of “us”. We have since allowed a select group of friends in on our secret. They’ve been very respectful of our wishes. We’ve met each other’s family, visit with his folks regularly, hung out with our kids together, and even had our parents join us together for a relaxed dinner out while my dad was in town. I was very fortunate to have loved my ex’s parents while they were still alive, and I am equally fortunate to adore Bruce’s parents. Lovely, lovely people…as is apparently everyone related to Bruce. Amazing folks. But what I find so refreshing with Bruce is his attentiveness to me in the presence of our friends and family…yes, even in front of my lovingly intimidating and protective father! For me, this was missing from my marriage, and it’s partially my fault for not speaking up more clearly perhaps that I needed this: this public acknowledgement that yes, we are together, yes, there is a bond here, and yes, the man with me feels lovingly protective and proud of me enough to put his arm around me or give me a quick public kiss. Nothing mushy or sloppy or hugely demonstrative…just a quick “I love you and I’m glad to be with you.”

I had another “yes, this is going good places” moment this morning along those lines when we passed an elderly couple walking on the side of the road, holding hands. At the same moment, we both sighed and let out an “Awww”. I once told my ex upon seeing an exceptionally older couple, in their 80’s perhaps, out for a stroll holding hands, “That. That’s what I want.” He had no reply or comment at all at the time, but after our split, he brought up that moment, and said his heart dropped when I said that while watching the sweet pair walk along the water, hand in hand, heads bent together laughing over a shared memory perhaps. Might have been my hair standing on end though that amused them, who knows. He said almost sadly I think, that he just couldn’t do that. As I told Bruce this story, I confessed that the night of our first date, when I “accidentally” brushed his arm and he reached out to take my hand, that the accidental klutzy move was really a “test”. Had he pulled away, it would have been a deal breaker. Then and there. I will never spend my time investing in a relationship with someone who is afraid I might have cooties. I never expected him to actually reach out and take my hand and heart in his in that one split second, three hours into our first date, but he did.

 

He hasn’t let go yet, and it is the most amazing feeling.

 

Coming in Part 2, Becoming me: what is intimacy?

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Rain and Rebirth: Originally drafted June 5, 2014 at 6:51am

Again, found another post I had not published.  This one also dates back to the first week of June, what was so obviously a turning point week in my life.  Strong and deep, without bashing you over the head with what’s on my mind.  If you know me, or have been following along to this point, draw your own conclusions.  Heck, interpret this how you will anyway!
June 5, 2014
Sometimes standing in the rain is required. Or at least, standing under shelter in the rain. Conducive to writing with a depth of emotion I haven’t felt in years. Enjoy ( or skip… Your call)Thunder is rolling in. Best sleeping weather in the world. Yet here I stand on the deck. Fresh smells, cool water in drips on your skin. Refreshing and cleansing for body and soul. Even the night-time creatures are quiet as if they sense a washing away and purging of the day’s heat.Pause again, face upturned, and just breathe. I am alone out here, but not lonely. I am blanketed by darkness, but not in the dark. I feel small, but not helpless. The rumbles grow louder and bright streaks flicker slowly at first, then more urgently, glimpsed through full shadows of leaves.
Normally the storms bring pain to my body. Tonight, I don’t feel it though I know it’s there. I pause. Rain begins to flow over my shoulders and down my back and chest in thin rivers, washing away the day’s troubles and doubts. I feel reborn with each chilling trickle.

I know for certain there is a Power greater than myself leading me if I am wise enough to follow. It is known by many names, but for me tonight, this Power has no name, only a sense of strength and comfort.

The thunder rolls in, more insistent that I listen, yet more gentle in its chiding. “Change is coming,” it whispers, then startling me, it booms an aftershock that startles me back from my mediation.
“This change will be a challenge! Are you afraid to face this? Can you stand there, as strong as you think you are, and take what comes next? Or will you retreat, cowering for someone to rescue you?” The thunder shouts at me to listen.

I draw a deep breath. Wait. Observe my heart pound. Exhale. Rain pours around and on me now. What is my answer?

My response comes slowly, with conviction:

If the rain continues to fall as if to drown me out, I am ready to fight it.

If the rain softens to a caress again, I will accept it with love.

I bid the night and its energy Namaste, then walk to the door, confident I am where I need to be, even if I am unsure where I am.

 

Reclusive to Sharing

photo

Magnolia blossom, joyfully shared with me by a student in May 2014.  She thought it was the most beautiful thing she had ever found, and rushed to let me see it. For privacy reasons, I will not show her face, but believe me when I tell you, that smile could light any dark corner. 

 

I am naturally shy and keep my feelings close to my heart. I share so little of who I truly am…at least I have been this way in the past.  If something positive occurred in my life, few would know it; it was as if I feared I would cause it to cease by revealing it. When trials came my way, I turned them inward and took on the darkness they brought until I felt as dark and shadowed as the back alleys in the night.  Pain ate at my soul and heart, and keeping it within seemed to be how to show strength to the outside world: that I was surviving.

 

But surviving is not acceptable to me any more. I have a need to thrive and live! Recent history and major changes in my life though have triggered a need to share, to let the rest of the world know in some small way that I am here, and that I matter…more importantly, that things and people and circumstances matter to me.  I would, in years past, have kept my joy to myself, as I found joy more in solitary pursuits than in those with my ex-husband.  My children, though a source of consternation at times, were also my greatest providers of joy and amusement at the minutia of daily life. Of living.

 

But a change has occurred to cause me to open up…to believe in the need to share. Perhaps it is more of an ego fault, but I now find myself wanting to share openly my joy and the source of that newfound pleasure in my life. I awake in the morning hopeful of what the day may bring. There are still many of the same money issues that have tried to haunt me since the separation, but they no longer terrify me.  I know that through grace and prayer, family and friends, resourcefulness and care, I will survive to thrive.  I have looked back at where I was even a short 12 months ago, and my heart swells to know that I am making my life over into a journey worth living…worth sharing.  It has been painful at times, but I feel drawn now to share this joy that has been borne from pain with others who may be feeling a similar sense of desperation and dread that once kept me shrouded like a storm-soaked wool blanket.  Uncomfortable…unbearable…painful to the touch.

 

I carefully check my outlook and perspective now before I speak. Am I sharing from a place of pride in myself, or because I desire to help someone see him or herself in my story and perhaps understand that there may exist a way out that has yet to reveal itself? Can I soften my view of someone’s opinion and recognize that while I might not share it or can even stomach it, I will never be privy to all the history and condition that makes them who they are and see the world with their same eyes? I hope I am capable in each case, but still, I will continue to share my imperfect journey through life as this act of sharing myself continues to give me strength and confidence, and even hope and compassion.

 

Please feel free to share your challenges and obstacles here; it is through sharing that we take a single mind, heart, and trouble, and lay it at the feet and hearts of many for their wisdom, faith, and love to envelope and release with you.

Oxytocin vs Dopamine: A Tale of Two Loves

This post has been trying to hit the page since Monday night, but its timeliness hit me with such force I had to catch my breath first.  I subscribe to a few yoga, Buddhism, and “New Age” sorts of blogs, and there is one that always seems to have something spiritual crossed with science.  Being a bit of a geek, but a free-spirit at the same time…well, I really enjoy this one. The topic of the webinar was “Love, Sex, and Yoga”.  Ok, you’ve got my attention.

 

Here is a link to the webinar in case you’re interested.  http://lifespa.com/webinar-love-sex-yoga/?inf_contact_key=c13677e407f8f769ebf0e1b57031f5b06eb06ceba82a5f61f88a7fc32bb99c06

 

If you aren’t into Ayurveda or yoga, some of the terms will seem quite hysterical or just plain bizarre, but that’s okay; I’ll try to sum up some of what I heard/learned in more simple terms as we work through this. Ready? You’ll have to endure the backstory first; bear with me. This is some deep shiznit….

 

If you’ve been keeping up with the rekindling of this blog/my journey, you are aware that I am now technically still separated, but right at the edge of finalizing my divorce from my husband of 29 years.  Loads of reasons, some will be implied, but I’ll try very hard to refrain from placing blame either side, as truly, it rarely ever is one-sided.  The marriage ended, for me, emotionally, about 5 years ago with a major event on his part.  I absolutely hit rock bottom then, and I spent the next 8 or 9 months in therapy to figure out why and how to fix it.  But instead of learning how to repair a broken relationship with my spouse, I learned a far more valuable lesson: how to fix the relationship with myself.  I cried more than I’ve ever cried, was angrier, more indecisive, more disappointed, more every negative emotion you can come up with…then I started to take the therapy sessions to heart and really listened.  I did hear him challenge me to answer honestly, but I finally listened to what he wanted me to know.  Mainly, that this marriage was probably over, but that if I was ever going to have a snowball’s chance in Hades of having a healthy relationship in the future, I had to get honest with myself…I had to acknowledge every shitty thing that happened in the marriage as it came to my mind, ask myself what my role was in it, decide how to not do that again, then let it go and move on.  Oh yeah, and while I was at it, wake up every morning and do two things:

 

1. Forgive myself and my ex and,

2. Make a checklist of who I am, what I need to be happy, and what that would look like.

 

Shit, he didn’t want much from me, did he?

 

But I did…over the next few years I started working on my own version of these, as well as a flow chart of progression of a relationship.  My therapist shook his head and laughed out loud with me at the daughter-of-an-engineer’s approach, but he let me own it.  Goes a bit like this:

 

  • Like: You like someone or something, but you could take it or leave it.  It/they don’t typically cross your mind unless you put direct effort into it.
  • Want: You are interested in something/someone, would like to have/experience it, but you don’t require it in order to live. Bit of fun. Nice to experience, but not on the Bucket List.
  • Need: Now we’re getting deeper.  The choices of needs are fewer, and you are more selective.  Without it, life would be more challenging or unpleasant.  You think about it often and create goals in order to achieve it. You cannot see yourself as complete without it.
  • Love: Absolutely must have/do/be with.  A choice to the exclusion of all others (isn’t that the most Unromantic B.S. you’ve ever read in your life?  Yeah…it really was).  Not certain you can breathe without it.

 

As I type these words even now, I’m laughing at myself…how I thought of these.  I still think somewhat in terms of this progression, but I experience it so differently now.  At the time though, I also worked on what it might look like to fall in love again.  I thought he (therapist) was an ass for making me work through this too, but I did it anyway.  I won’t share that partly because it has evolved the most, yet started off the most concrete of the checklists.  I just knew I would be in love if I could check X percentage of items on this list.  As I worked through this list of “me”, I began to realize what he was trying to get me to do: admit to myself what I really wanted in life, from a partner, what I needed in order to be happy and content…and ready for this?

 

…to accept who I am, for what I am, make no apologies for it, be content that I am enough, and to just be satisfied knowing who I am. Celebrate THAT, experience THAT, share THAT, and in time, someone will recognize it in me, and fall in love with the real me.  But if I didn’t love me first, then it was foolish to expect anything but the same shit results again.  Powerful stuff…about like being smacked in the face with Truth.  Painful.  Enlightening. Liberating. You name it.  I felt it.

 

Some of the things that became even more apparent to me as I stuck a toe back into the dating pool helped me clarify even more what I needed in a relationship.  I have found myself returning more and more to my southern roots and being more proud and comfortable with them.  I truly am a very simple person, needing very little to make me happy and content.  Give me a bit of dirt to dig in, good friends, a faithful dog, the room to grow spiritually in my own way, a fluffy down quilt, a cold Belgian wheat beer and someone to share them with….

 

So that “someone to share them with” bit…as I started meeting up with guys for coffee dates, it became clear that some were looking for fun (that’s cool), some were looking for a replacement for the spouse they no longer had (hummm…replacement, sounds like a recall), or just someone to roll in the sack with (MAYDAY!!!)  And for a couple, I just didn’t click for them, and that was okay too.  No harm, no foul right?  But here is where I seriously took another look at dating…what role did I see sex playing in this new chapter?  I had to sit back and really re-examine this new “concept” for me.  I mean, seriously, I had been completely monogamous throughout the entire marriage.  Completely.  Heart and soul.  It was that important to me, and I took those marriage vows seriously.

 

Here is what I knew in my heart based on now knowing myself; I didn’t want to give myself so completely to someone again without there being a connection of the heart.  Connection in spirit.  I needed to bond with someone, care about them, want to care for them, and have them not be “in it to win it” so to speak.  I believe I have a gift to give someone, the gift of me, my heart and spirit, and I was not willing to just toss those parts of me out the window for a cheap thrill.  But how was I going to tell the difference between a deeper connection, love, and its yin: lust?  I figured I would pull out the handy-dandy checklist and start mentally keeping score.  It helped to be honest.  I could remind myself that while, heck yeah the guy on the other side of the table was easy on the eyes or saying all the right things, there wasn’t that real want to know more.  Things didn’t go from “like” to “want”, and I am thankful.

 

I continued to share on Facebook my journey to rediscovering myself, my fears when I had a health scare, things that made me laugh, the massive weight loss on what I affectionately call the “Happy Diet”.  Life was good.

 

Then out of the blue.  I got a private message.  On Facebook.  From a former high school alum.  My life got flipped.  This guy reached out with such a simple, from the heart honest message: he had spoken to my sister in church, and had mentioned how much he enjoyed reading my posts, that he admired my attitude, that I was fast becoming a favorite of his to read.  Oh, cool.  I said thank you, and let it stay at that.

 

A week later, I had been having a bit of an “off” kind of day for a multitude of reasons…none really worth getting excited about. I looked for a positive to pull me out of the funk, and there was the earlier conversation. I had not deleted it for some reason so I replied back that I had a bit of a down day, and had read his note to give me a boost, and thanked him for it.  Shoot, if someone makes you smile, and they don’t know, I figure they ought to know they’ve done something good, right?  He replied back quickly, and the rest as they say, is history.  We’ll skip all the in between chatter that led to the first date, but that first date went from first coffee to first dinner to first kiss over the course of an afternoon and evening.  Whoa.  Pull back and regroup.

 

I’m going to fast-forward again a bit, to the main topic of this post.  Perhaps in time, I’ll share more of the getting to know you stage if you think it may help you connect with someone, but for now, that’s all ours. So when do you know, I mean really know in this ultra-jacked up fast-paced society, that sex should become part of your dating ritual?  Conundrum…I mean, here was this absolutely amazing guy, treating me like a princess/lady, respecting all the boundaries I was throwing out there, but at the same time, eliciting a response from me I didn’t think was possible…or at least, I had told myself wasn’t possible.  How the heck did he do that?

 

We had a very frank discussion about sex beyond the “can you get pregnant” and “are you clean” (we have spent a lot of time sharing our histories…no judgment implied).  I ventured into my thoughts on sex, that I believed for me, sex needed to be the ultimate expression of my caring, bonding, and giving of myself to someone.  That while it may physically feel really good, and some would argue that sex is a basic animal urge (which I don’t disagree with in principle) that I had to know that this was not a one-nighter.  I wasn’t asking for a ring and a promise of the altar in exchange for all of me, but rather a knowledge that giving myself would be met with the respect and understanding of the commitment from me that it would mean.

 

If he was going to run for the hills, this was certainly the time to do it…no call came from a “friend” to rescue him from a flat tire at an awkward moment…no sudden need to write a report or head to the gym.  There was simply, understanding.  He understood, and said it might be tough, since he is a guy and all that (said with this whole face smile he does so well…lights up a room…seriously), but that he completely understood and would respect my needs.  So here it was, I had laid out bare my thoughts on needing to bond, connect, touch, laugh, share, be with this man, and he was still texting and calling throughout the day.  There was, and still is, a somewhat animal urge that creeps up on me at times…I love to bury my face in his chest and just breathe him in… He said perhaps the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard when he hugged me in the kitchen.  He put his chin on top of my head and said, “I love how you just fit perfectly here.”  Nearly melted, died on the spot.  I mean honestly.  This guy has a quirky obsession with Star Trek, loves all things sci-fy, yet is as big a gentleman and romantic as they come.  Awwww…

 

So are we in fact, in love?  That’s an excellent question.  I know that if I should wake up tomorrow to his voice telling me that it was time to continue our journeys apart, I would be terribly sad for a bit, but would genuinely wish him well and be grateful for the amazing memories, as well as a fantastic time spent reaffirming that I am worth someone’s attention and affection.  He made me believe by being so freely giving of himself, that I deserve to be pampered and that all roads do not in fact, lead to instant gratification and sex.  He will always hold a special place in my heart for that.  So, I would say that we love each other as we would any other fellow human we care about. But as for having reached the level of love that is reserved for the person who completes you, then no, we aren’t there. If that love comes, it will come when it is ready, and when we are both ready.

 

So where do the oxytocin and dopamine mentioned in the webinar come into play?  Where was I going with all of this in the first place? Briefly, the webinar explained that the body releases oxytocin, the bonding hormone, when the mind and body enter into bonding sorts of activities: actively being kind (specific acts), holding a newborn baby, touching, remembering pleasant events…in short, being kind and available emotionally releases this hormone (which incidentally, our physiology appears to be happy with, regardless of the frequency or duration).  Oxytocin appears to be the hormone we need to take a relationship to the next level.  Now here is the part that stopped me in my tracks.  The speaker said that relationships that start off with sex as a primary focus of the relationship, we in fact tying the act of sex to acceptance.  Sex, releases dopamine, the “addiction” hormone if you will.  It is the feel-good, gotta have more hormone released with thrill seeking, high energy behaviors. When we go straight to sex, we often are looking for that instant high; if we do that as a first response, we are essentially dopamine junkies.  The more we release dopamine, the more of it our bodies require to still get that same sensation, that rush.  It’s why thrill junkies often do more and more dangerous shit until it kills them: they’re hooked. Oh, and awful news of the day…coffee causes us to release trace amounts of dopamine.  Oops….

 

The speaker went on to say that many of us will have those moments or periods in our life where the instant thrill or satisfaction from sexual release is all we want, but that to make a habit of it, makes it hard to retrain the heart and brain that bonding is the ultimate goal; the sex will come as an expression of having bonded so completely with someone that you need to give yourself completely to them, without expecting anything in return, yet knowing that your heart will be returned.

 

How is that for a big ol’ punch in the gut?  The speaker went on to say, that a new relationship that may have started off with early sex, recognized that there may be more to it, still had time to pull back, regroup, and start fresh with oxytocin activities.  Making those the priority would lead to more bonding and develop a need for the bonding…bonding (not “bondage”…get your mind out of the gutter…) is what carries you through life’s ups and downs.  It allows you to trust and love and disagree and forgive without any reservation.  But also of importance, it would allow you to part as friends if that is the path that ultimately proved to be necessary; you would have developed a relationship based on trust and understanding that each is their own person who would be loved and respected for that, not to be molded into what you think you need or want. Go watch the webinar for yourself if you like; understand that he is speaking from an Ayurvedic wisdom and practice and listen for the deeper message and information.

 

So, as I reflect on this post, which has now taken several days to write, I can smile as I think about all the oxytocin I must have bopping around in my brain right now…gardening, cooking, snoozing, spooning and snoozing, relaxing, laughing, smiling….

 

I don’t know about you, but an oxytocin addiction seems like a great one to have….

 

New Beginnings….

As you may have surmised, I’ve restarted this blog…again….

This time though, it comes at perhaps the most critical life event I’ve experienced to date: the end of my 29 year marriage.  I’ve written bits and bobs about my life married to a Brit, but in the end, it is that story that will shape the rest of my destination.  I’m not bitter any more; in fact, if I’m painfully honest, it is a relief.  For both of us in fact.  I couldn’t give him what he needed, and I no longer even knew what that was.  He was brutally honest when he said he couldn’t give me what I needed.  Here we separate the “wants” from the “needs”.  For me, “wants” are those things we would like to have, but can live without.  “Needs” on the other hand, are what give us life…what keep us together and let us hold our heads and hearts high when the road gets bumpy.

I needed a partner in life and love, not a companion to bounce business ideas around with.  I needed someone to kiss my forehead and tell me I was beautiful, even when I was dripping sweat from cutting the grass.  I needed someone to laugh with me as I stopped to look at something silly in a shop window, rather than laugh at me.  I needed someone to understand that I am at heart, a very simple country girl, who needs nothing more than her friends and family around her to make her life full.  I needed someone to let me take care of them: cook, pamper, and spoil, but who was excited to return the gift.  In other words, I needed what he couldn’t give.  I know he has needs too, but it is his personal business to ever list those shortcomings, not mine.  I can only own and share what is wholly mine.  He wasn’t a bad person, but he had his faults that were in the end, deal breakers for me.  It just took me 5 long years to accept it, face them, and learn to hold my head up, confident in knowing what I needed to do in order to move forward on my journey.

I’ve now hit the 6 month mark where my divorce can be made official in VA (since all the kids are adults), but this marriage has been emotionally over for 5 years, and I’m ready to share what has transpired in those years to get me where I am today. I hope you will join me as I set off on this new adventure.  I’m sure we will laugh a lot, cry some, pray together, and share coffee and chocolate over these pages.

Namaste, and let the journey begin anew…..

Kim

Snow and Solice February 13, 2014 at 8:25pm

I’m including the dates these posts were originally published on Facebook to avoid confusion.  This particular post was written a month following the end of my marriage.

Thanks for reading!

K

 

This time in my life has been full of changes: exciting, terrifying, lonely, loved.  But above all, it has been characterized by hopefulness and confidence.  While I’ve not shed a tear over the separation, I’ve chosen to reflect on the good times we had as a family and the acknowledgement that we, in all honesty, have been friends who consulted on business matters yet avoided the closeness that comes from sharing one’s heart, hopes, fears, joy and dreams with another. I’m not bitter or resentful though. I am thankful for the ability to self-reflect…to see where I am, envision where I want to go, and dream and plan how to get there.

 

The snowfall last night and today, was hypnotic.  I spent some time staring out the window or finding excuses to stand in it, face upturned, and catch snowflakes on my tongue like a carefree child.  I truly felt…at least for a little while… childlike, and I chose to follow that feeling.  I’m not wearing blinders: I have money concerns, swear at the car when the back door gets stuck again, and get annoyed when someone cuts me off in traffic. But I stood in the pure whiteness and looked down towards the back of the subdivision where I rent.  From my house, you can’t see the end of the street, and in the closing daylight the end of the street tapered to a fuzzy gray.  Not black. Just gray.  It was an incredibly powerful moment.  I stood planted under a street light surrounded by the ice-covered trees and gracefully bowing limbs of a magnolia that were blanketed in snow: bitter cold, yet thick as my grandmother’s down quilt.

The silence was stark.

Standing at the corner of a busy road, and I knew where I was, right here and right now. I don’t mean, at the corner of Oak and Elm, say, but rather I knew for certain where I was in my life in that moment.  I looked ahead and could imagine what lay at the end of the road, but I couldn’t see it clearly.  The only way to know for certain, would be to go there, one step at a time.

 

I set off, one heavy boot in front of the other towards the end of the road.  I was cold, my face catching the snowflakes blowing straight into my face.  Two blocks down, I nearly turned back, but a feeling stopped me briefly in my tracks.  I still couldn’t see the end of the street, but the path was not as gray.  I refocused my attention from what lay down the road, to what was immediately upon me. Yet again, I was under a street light, and I could see around me.  But even more apparent, was the sound of laughter coming from a yard ahead. I recognized them as a father and daughter, building a very professional looking snowman. It was as if I were looking back at times with my own children, playing in the snow, coming in breathless and red cheeked…stripping down in the kitchen to wrap up in towels and fix cocoa, ending up in a pile on the floor to watch a movie.  And I smiled.

Then I stepped forward.

A half a block later, a new sensation replaced the cold.  My hands.  My hands felt warm, as if my small hands were being held in someone else’s larger ones.  Completely yet gently enveloped. True, I knew that in reality, my hands were reacting to the cold by swelling and becoming inflamed, but that wasn’t what I felt.  Walking down the middle of the road, my heart knew that I was feeling the hand of a friend, letting me know that I was not alone on my journey.  The hand holding mine was not pulling, but just holding.  Not releasing, but just being there without making demands.  I knew in that moment for certain, that while I may be by myself, I was not alone.  That I may not have a partner waiting impatiently with me on the morning coffee, but that I was not alone.  That I didn’t have warm arms pulling me in close at night as a child would embrace a favorite cuddle toy, but that I was not alone.  That it was going to be alright, and that I would continue on my journey.  I don’t know what lies at the end of the road still, but I know I will get there one day.

And that I will not be alone.

 

2/13/14