Saturday, October 31, 2015

A box of darkness

I have been divorced for going on two years. And I am working on forgiving both of us.

The marriage started out beautifully. He was my big love, the one I dreamed of and never believed possible.  I thought love had passed me by. Then in my late twenties, I fell for the charming guy with the beautiful smile, who made me laugh and take a chance...

25 years later, we divorced.

During those 25 years we loved and hated and fought and made up. We both were at fault. We both made mistakes. We both had issues. Some were so crippling that essential parts of us died. We became two people sharing a home. And sharing it badly. So there was no other solution but to separate as neither of us was happy.

Now two years later, we both seem to be happier. He has found love again. He is pursuing his dreams.

And to my surprise, I am happy too. I am finding myself and finally realizing that I don't need anyone to believe in me except myself.

Which is huge. I have never felt deserving of any praise for my work, my intelligence, my compassion, in general for just being me. For whatever reason, I have always measured myself and come up lacking. When I compare myself to others, I am just not as good as they are. I am my harshest critic. And I am harder on myself than I would ever dare be on anyone else.

I remember early on in my theater career, I had to be "the best" at whatever I did. One mistake and I was an abject failure. I couldn't let the missed cue go. I couldn't let the flubbed attempt rest. I beat myself up again and again failing to see what I had done right.

I pushed myself in grad school to earn a perfect 4.0. At that point I had ceased to compare myself to others, I was in competition with myself. I had to do better on each exam, each paper, chasing praise to garner self esteem. Even after, I had to do better than just pass my licensing exam. And with each one I had to make a higher score.

I remember a time in my marriage when he told me he was in love with someone else and would never love me as he loved her. I remember experiencing an almost physical sensation of falling and cracking open. Of plunging into darkness and landing totally and abjectly alone. Sitting in that black place with only myself, I remember thinking "So. This is what it like to be truly alone. With no one but me to save myself."

It was one of the most illuminating moments of my life.

Because in that "box full of darkness" that I was handed, I decided to survive. I realized fully for the first time in my life, I was a survivor. If I could survive my heart shattering into a million shards, I could survive anything.

We worked through that time but the lesson stayed with me. No matter what came my way, I knew I could make it.

And in the years that followed, that belief would be tested. And each time, I survived. And each time I grew stronger. If not for the adversity, I would never have become the warrior that I know I am.

I can now look at those painful times and feel gratitude for the lessons learned.
For that I thank him. For all the lessons I learned, for all the trials we endured, I thank him and myself.  I forgive him and more importantly I forgive myself for any harm done.

I don't know what the future holds, but I do know this. No matter what, I cannot be broken, I will get up and fight again. I am strong and I am worthy. I am the dragon...

Friday, October 23, 2015


"I've conquered the past, the future is here at last Stand there at the entrance of a new world I can see The ruins to the right of me, will soon have lost sight of me Love, rescue me"
Love Rescue Me

One of the things I love best about friendships is sharing music. Getting to know someone through their musical choices is exciting and enlightening.

I remember as a teenager spending late nights on the phone with a friend who would punctuate the conversation with music. 

"Wait" he would say, "that reminds me of this song..." and he would put an album on and hold the phone up to the speaker so I could hear it. 
Then he would get back on and we would talk about the meaning of the lyrics and how they pertained to us. I learned a lot about 70's Rock from him: Alice Cooper, Lynard Skynard, Cream. He once called me just to play Janis Ian's "At Seventeen" because it was my story. And in the music we found truth and we made a connection that helped us weather those awkward teen years.

I have reconnected with an old friend who does the same thing as that friend from my youth. He illustrates his points with music. Instead of holding the phone up to a speaker, he sends me youtube links. I am discovering music I would not normally listen to thanks to him. 

I am quickly becoming a U2 fan. How did I ever miss them??? 

Mumford and Sons. Iron and Wine. Songs from new musicals on Broadway. Lyrics that take my breath away. Sometimes he sings to me over the phone. And it is an intimate connection that I treasure. There is something about someone singing across the miles, across time, across the thin wire of the telephone, singing words that ring true and that touch me deeply in the hollows of my heart.

"Raise your hopeful voice you have a choice

You'll make it now

Falling slowly, eyes that know me
And I can't go back
Moods that take me and erase me
And I'm painted black
You have suffered enough
And warred with yourself
It's time that you won


Falling slowly sing your melody
I'll sing along'" 


And sometimes, I do sing along. 
Music is all about connecting souls.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Goodbyes suck. Whether they are chosen or forced upon us.
But the memories... those shards that tear through our hearts and minds leaving trails of pain...

I have found out someone close to me is terminally ill and I will be losing them soon.
It seems as if Autumn is a time to let go, to not hang on until the Winter cold...

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Solitude is a process...

For over 2 years now, I have lived alone. Well as alone as a person with 3 dogs and 2 cats can be!

But alone as in "no other human shares my space". And it is OK. Actually more than OK.
It is peaceful.

Growing up I never had to share a room as I was the baby of the family and all my siblings were older than me, the oldest were actually married and out of the house by the time I was 5.

It wasn't until college that I had to share space with someone. At times it was great, at times it was horrid. Then one summer I was without a roommate and I had my tiny apartment all to myself. And I loved it. I wasn't afraid to live alone, despite having never truly lived all by myself. There was a freedom that I had never felt. I could do as I pleased, eat what I wanted, stay up all night reading without disturbing anyone. I grew to like it and had a bit of trouble readjusting when once again I took a roommate.

After college I moved to NYC and began the never-ending roommate roulette; sharing small spaces, rooms, apartments, once even a brownstone with 11 other people. Then I got married and started sharing a bed. During that marriage we added cats and dogs and occasional guests and temporary roommates. And there was little solitude in my home.

As the marriage progressed other "things" began to share space in our home. Clutter, mental illness, anger, money troubles, physical illness and grief. The marriage ended and he moved out at my request. I was now without human companions but left with a lot of "stuff".

For awhile I sat amidst the stuff, grieving all that was and was not. I finally started moving and clearing out stuff. I became less sentimental. I realized "things" were not that important to me after all. Especially the things that brought sadness. Discovering his love letters to his high school girlfriend written during a psychotic break while we were married,  reminded me of how broken he was, how broken our marriage was 10 years in, never to be repaired in the following 15 years. Photographs of long dead pets, people and forgotten places proved to be painful in remembering. Mementoes from long ago events, report cards, childish letters, newspaper clippings, drawings, bad teenage angsty poetry collected in boxes and bags, mountains that I have to dig through and let go.
So much stuff... physical and emotional.

There were times I felt lonely but more and more I began to feel peaceful. Shedding layers of the past exposed a new tender and sometimes raw me. I have to be gentle with my newly forming self.
I began to love the quiet. I love coming home to be greeted by animals who were excited to see me, showering me with love.

I do not miss the anxiety of what "mood" I would encounter upon arriving home. I do not miss the disappointment of dashed expectations of a roommate or spouse if I had left dishes in the sink or the bed unmade. I don't miss the anger, the yelling, the distance between two people no longer in a healthy relationship but one that has become toxic and is held together only by a piece of paper and procrastination.

I made an active decision to be alone. And I know it was and is the right decision for me.

I cannot imagine sharing my house with anyone ever again. People have suggested getting a roommate but the idea is hateful to me. I don't want to share this space. It is becoming holy to me. It is my sanctuary, my fortress, my home. Nothing comes in unless I allow it.

I am painting it in colors that I love. I am heading toward minimalism keeping only things that "spark joy".  I am making improvements, stripping away all that I don't truly need. I have a firepit, a tv, an antique bed, red sofas, art work that I chose, things I have long wanted but pushed aside...

Peace and love abide within these walls; and within my soul. I have friends and family a phone call away, dogs and cats within reach, and in my sanctuary I am content and revel in solitude.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Recently I private messaged a friend on Facebook to ask how they were. A simple "You doing OK? Haven't seen/heard too much from you. Just thinking about you!" turned into me being questioned about if I ever looked at their FB page, their posts and why wasn't I responding to those posts or the fact that they had commented on my posts???? 
I was confused by the questions, and when I checked, I saw that I had unfollowed that person due to some of the graphic animal cruelty posts on their page. I replied and explained why I had not been seeing the posts and that let to another rant about me not viewing those posts whereas they have "other friends in social services who don't seem to be upset by the animal cruelty and aren't as sensitive to it as you are" then they justified it by saying they were posting in hopes of saving animals.
The whole conversation became about why I wasn't scanning their posts and commenting about them. So for once, I did not apologize and try to console the person. I ended up expressing my feelings and explaining I can choose not to view things distressing to me and that I was feeling very judged...
Usually I try to ignore personal attacks and chalk it up to the other person having a bad day. But lately I feel like I have been a doormat for too long. That I have put others' needs before my needs and I am tired of being lashed out at and feeling guilty if I offend someone. I don't want to live my life walking on eggshells due to other's tempers or ego-centric world view.
 OK, so other social services workers aren't offended by the posts. But here is my deal: I worked in a vet clinic for years before going into social services. I saw animals in extreme pain from human's cruelty. I have seen cats with human bite marks all over it's face. I have seen cats dying from neglect, broken bones, poisoning, beatings, burns. 
All out of ignorance and neglect. 
Being in social services I have seen what humans do to one another too. A child with a distinct handprint on his bottom. And yes, broken bones, beatings, burns, bite marks... I see this SHIT if not daily then weekly, but far too often for my comfort. SO when I go on facebook to see funny animal videos and chat with friends, yes, I choose not to view any more hate and cruelty because that is what I see face to face, boots on the ground in my job. I want to escape from the reality of it and if by escaping, I choose to unfollow a post, that is my choice and my freedom. 
I understand that there are people unaware of the cruelty of man and perhaps they need to see those things to realize what a broken, wounded world we live in, but I walk daily in that world and I don't need to see it 24/7.  
I don't need to be judged and questioned about WHY I will not willingly choose to subject myself to pain to stroke someone's ego. I am tired of needy, whining, soul suckers in my life. I am tired of toxic people. I am just tired of being questioned and judged. I am tired of my motives being questioned. I am tired of explaining that I am an introvert and need solitude and a certain distance from people in order to function in the workplace. I am tired having my love and friendship tested by whether I like a post on freaking facebook...
I have a feeling I just lost a "friend" with more to follow...