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I saw something in your eyes and I wanted it for myself November 10, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in blogging, thoughtful.
4 comments

I don’t usually like to post unless I can make the ideas flow coherently, which has been very, very difficult for me lately.  I keep reaching for a word and not being able to find it, or trying to make an analogy that doesn’t quite make sense to anyone but me.  My mind jumps from one unrelated thought to another.  My body aches to be held, and I can be laughing at something absurd one minute and so desperate to re-create a memory the next that I go in search of the places where significant events happened, places guaranteed to make me freaking lose it.  And in the middle of it all I need to remember that I still have to go to work every day, pay the bills, get packed for my move, and make sure that my childrens’ lives are as normal as possible given the fact that their mother, who has, without fail, bounced back from every single bad thing that has ever happened, appears to be really cracking up this time.

I was talking to a friend the other night about our fundamentally different approaches to being in love, and I admitted out loud something that I have known for a long time.  I don’t know how to love someone without having the relationship defined, packaged up in a box, and progressing toward a “goal” of some type, whether that be a “happily ever after” or a “you’re my very best friend in the world”.  If a relationship, whether it be romantic or platonic in nature, can’t be “defined”, then I haven’t wanted any part of it.  I also realized that I have had many, many opportunities for potentially life changing, loving friendships that I have bypassed because I have been afraid that someone would want me to display the same level of committment to them that I wanted them to give to me – in other words, I’ve been afraid that I can’t give as well as I take, so better just to say that I have too many other things to focus on, right?

I had wonderful models for loving relationships, both romantic and platonic, in the family I grew up in.  But my family was also very “in the box” when it came to those same loving relationships.  “This is how it works.  You do this, and then this, and then that.  And if you do it this way, then you will be happy.  Any other way, and you will not”  So, I chased after love and the creation of a family of my own like it was a race I had to win.  I chose people who said they loved me and that I was beautiful, not people who said they would stand by me and treat me with dignity, even if I was acting like an ass.  And the one time I did meet someone who said that I was a genuinely good person and that we would be friends no matter what happened with our dating, the timing was all fucked up.  I was basically insane with grief, I was drinking too much, I was putting on an act that my life was somehow “together”, and I wasted no time in trying to force the so-called “next step”, resulting in loss on top of loss.  I preach forgiveness as the path to peace, while steadfastly refusing to forgive myself for wanting what EVERYONE wants – to be loved.  “I should have known better” is my mantra.

Do I regret my choices?  Can there be any doubt reading this?  I’d love to say that I don’t, that every single thing I have done/thought/felt/experienced led me to the place that I am now, and that might be easier to say if I actually liked the place I am now.  But I don’t.  I don’t feel as though I have made any spiritual or emotional progress since 2000, the year of That-Thing-I-Don’t-Talk-About-Anymore-to-Anyone-Ever.

Typing that last part out was a bit of an epiphany.  I think…I know what I need to do now.  Yeah.  Will I do it is the question.

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sick day October 16, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in Boy-o, reading, thoughtful.
2 comments

I haven’t been feeling 100% for about the last week (I’ve had a cough I can’t shake, probably due to trying to kick the cigarettes yet again), so this morning I called in sick to work. I’m not sick enough to be bedridden, but all that endless explaining on the phone to lousy people who think it’s my fault their mobile is shut off just didn’t sound like too much fun today! Instead, I’ve been laying around reading Shel Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends” to Boy-o.

WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know,
The place where the sidewalk ends.

October 7, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in blogging, family, friends, marriage, tattoos, The Princess, thoughtful.
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From the age of 15 on, I have always wanted to be married and to have a family of my very own. This has led me to make some pretty questionable relationship choices, and on two occasions now, to have children because I thought it would cement the relationship. Of course the pregnancy thing didn’t feel that calculated either time, but in hindsight, in both cases, it really was…in a subconscious way, of course.

What is it about my personality that wanted to be married, as opposed to just being in a long term, even lifelong committed relationship? I would look at couples that had been together for a long time without being married, and I would wonder how they knew they could trust each other, and how they knew one person wouldn’t just walk out. It seemed very unsafe to me, very scary.

My belief in marriage as an “exalted state” came partially from my religious upbringing (I was raised Catholic, and when I was taught about vocations I was taught that marriage was a vocation, just like a call to the religious life) and partially from my perception of my parents’ marriage. They had – HAVE – a partnership like no other I have ever seen. They are aware of and respect each others strengths, weaknesses, talents and flaws, and they work through disagreements instead of manipulating and sulking their way through them until there is a clear “winner”. I looked so highly upon marriage that when I first became aware of same-sex couples inability to get married, I immediately felt that it didn’t seem right. I didn’t have to think about whether their relationships were good or evil. All I knew – KNOW – is that two individuals’ commitment to each other seems TO ME to be a reflection of God’s commitment to us. When my mom says that she can’t support same-sex marriage because, to her, marriage is supposed to be “life-giving”, and homosexuals cannot biologically create life, to me that is the same as saying that infertile heterosexual couples are somehow “faulty”, or that couples who choose not to have children are not going along with the Creator’s plan. And I think God has proven to be perfectly capable of ensuring the survival of the human race without having to insist that any of us live lonely and solitary lives because we don’t fit a particular mold…especially considering God is the One who cast the molds to begin with!

So, moving along…this led me to the belief that any time and in any way people commit to each other, God is present in that commitment. Through that relationship, whatever form it takes, we are giving back to God what God has given us (“All things come of thee, O Lord, and of thine own have we given thee.”). This includes my 7 year friendship with the woman I call my best friend, a woman I expect nothing of other than to be who she is, even though who she is would drive me CRAZY if I had to live with her! Why is it that nothing she could do could ever make me put our friendship to bed, but romantic relationships are chock full of “deal breakers”?

This post came about because this past weekend, my parents and I signed papers to return legal custody of The Princess to me, and I jokingly said to them, “This is your way of ensuring I don’t get married again anytime soon, isn’t it?” and my mom replied, “Yes, actually we were thinking that.” I told them not to worry, and that I was actually thinking of tattooing a stop sign on my left ring finger! What I DIDN’T tell them…that I can’t even conceive of a future spent without a lifelong romantic partner, but that I honestly can’t imagine getting married again. My problem is that I can’t reconcile this feeling with my long held beliefs that two people who are that committed SHOULD get married, otherwise…what are they playing at?

I’m 32 years old. I took my first stab at creating my own family when I was 16, and my second stab at 26. Why has it taken half my life to learn that automatic trust and dependability aren’t included with the price of a marriage license?

The truth September 9, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in addiction, blogging, divorce, friends, life, marriage, thoughtful.
9 comments

My ex and I met online through Yahoo! Personals, back when it was still free. Though we only lived 45 minutes apart at the time, we talked for close to 6 months before we finally met each other. I had many occasions throughout our courtship and engagement, at all the gatherings of our friends and family, to tell the story of how me met, and being the romantic that I am, I always put a romantic spin on it. After all, we were going to be married! And I wanted a great love story to tell! My dad has a fantastic one about how he fell in love with my mom, and , at the age of 25, having been disappointed in love before, I admit that I sort of felt the universe OWED me a story of my own.

So, I made up a story.

Telling people that we talked for almost 6 months prior to meeting made it appear as though we were being cautious. Truth was, I would attempt to talk to him via instant messenger, and he wouldn’t answer back. Then when he did, he would make a completely random statement that had nothing to do with what I had asked. This irritated me. I think I’m a good conversationalist, and good conversations flow. Ours never did. We hit the basics of upbringing and education, and really had nothing in common and nowhere to go from there. We had extremely stilted conversations maybe once a week, and I always stood up from the computer shaking my head and thinking, “What a strange guy.” The pictures he sent me of himself appealed to my sense of alienation from everyone, though. We met for a picnic at a park, during which he didn’t say ANYTHING, so I went to go play on the playground equipment. Then we met again for a supposedly REAL date at a Goth club. We had both been there before. I went regularly, but didn’t talk to anyone and danced by myself, as I’m a real introvert. He went occasionally, but seemed to know EVERYONE. Confused, I followed him around the club all night and listened as he talked in a language I didn’t understand about role playing games. We were supposed to be on a date, but he didn’t introduce me to anyone. A few times, I stepped back into the shadows to watch him, and he didn’t notice I was gone. Most people started leaving around 2 AM, and it was at that point that I finally managed to get him to the upper level of the club to sit at a table and try and talk. We watched the few people who were left on the dance floor below spin around in circles like stoned ballerinas, and I tried to talk again, but he just really wasn’t interested. It was at this point that I probably should have cashed in my chips and left, but I was pretty desperate for a relationship. I wanted to be with someone in the worst way. I was lonely as hell. I had just walked away from someone that I believe to this day that I was really in love with, and my ex met all of my relationship criteria. His parents were married, to each other. He didn’t live with them. He had a job. He believed in God, and he wasn’t a fundamentalist. He didn’t judge me for the strange relationship I had with my parents and The Princess.

The club closed down, and we wandered out to the parking lot to stand by our cars. He wasn’t making an active effort to get away from me, but he didn’t have anything to say, either. I asked him if he was going to kiss me, and he looked startled. In retrospect, I should have stopped right there, but I didn’t. I leaned in and kissed him. And boy, was it awful.

When I told the story later, of course, I didn’t say that. I made it out as though he was shy, and I was a brash and cheeky girl who simply knew what I wanted. But oh…I was so disappointed by that kiss. It was really terrible. From the way he grabbed for me afterwards, I could tell right off the bat that he didn’t enjoy kissing at all and preferred to get on with what comes next. And so we did. We went back to my house, and the true part of the story is that we rarely spent a night apart after that. He got my number, and if he had never called, I might have been able to exit the situation gracefully. But he did call, and he kept coming back over, and I believe now that we just slid into being a couple because I was too afraid to be alone. A month later, I told him we were getting married, and he said okay. The confusing and enigmatic guy I was really in love with, the one I had walked away from because he wouldn’t say he wanted to be with me, was still calling me, and I told him to stop. Two months later, I moved 45 minutes closer to my soon to be husband. Two months after that, I picked out my engagement ring and we made the announcement to our families. And then, it was simply too late to get out. And this was all before I knew of his sexual addiction. I knew something was wrong with our relationship and his ability to be intimate, I knew he didn’t enjoy kissing me, I knew from discovering his porn collection that it went a bit above and beyond what most guys store on their computers, but I never thought it was something I couldn’t fix, given enough time. I could become sexier, I could dye my hair the right shade of red, I could submerge my entire personality, as long as I had someone THERE. I confused the physical presence of another person with true intimacy. And the worst part is, I knew I was doing it at the start. Eventually, I came to believe my own lies. And this is my cross to bear in our breakup. While I may never have violated my vows or been unfaithful with my body, I did not love my husband unconditionally.

I told my story over and over and over again. I wanted to believe that we had it all…we were cautious in our courtship, we waited an appropriate amount of time (a year and a half) to get married, we were college educated and we had jobs, and we both felt a little weird and alienated from the rest of the world, which would make us great partners for each other. And after all, is love really *that* important? I mean, I knew very well that love wasn’t even an ingredient in marriage until about a century ago. It was all about alliance, and I thought we would make a good one.

4 months before the wedding, I discovered the depth of his sexual addiction when he went missing for a day and I logged into his email looking for clues. Instead I found graphic pornography addressed to him personally and featuring one of his female coworkers. I also discovered pornographic webcam pictures of one of the girls from his gaming group, and an accompanying message thanking him for the pictures he had sent of himself. Suffice it to say, I went off the deep end. I had a slight mental break, and began destroying everything of his I could find. I could not, for the life of me, figure out why, when I had been so loyal and so understanding and such a perfect girlfriend (in my mind), I deserved this. I actually had to be carted off to the mental hospital for the night, where I was given a lovely sedative and told to sleep it off. When my ex picked me up the next day, I begged him to take me back. And that is where the whole dynamic of the rest of our relationship was set. He had cheated, but I had broken things and lost my temper and threatened harm. In his mind, he was doing me a favor by being willing to deal with me.

It never got any better after that moment, only worse. The morning of the wedding, my dad took me aside for a talk. He and my mom were, of course, raising The Princess. And he looked at me very seriously and said, “This time is forever, you know.” Up to that very minute, I had been having secret thoughts of running out the door of the church. I was acting up a storm that this was the happiest day of my life, but really, I was just ready to be done with it and move into whatever came next, and I assumed it included security and never another lonely moment for the rest of my life. We might not be lovers, but we would be partners. I would stake my life on it. And so I did. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, for as long as we both shall live. The ceremony itself was a holy and sacred thing. I meant every word I spoke. I shared the Eucharist with my husband. I kissed him at the end with complete enthusiasm. As we exited the sanctuary, the wedding coordinator ushered us off into a little side room for a few minutes of privacy before we had to come out and face our guests. I looked at him, and knew there was no going back now. On with the rest of our lives.

And for the next four years, we repeated that pattern over and over again. I would find evidence of his infidelity on the computer – not just looking at pictures, but actual communication with real people in real life that I knew. I would threaten divorce. He’d tell me to go ahead. I’d lose it and throw things. He’d threaten divorce. I’d beg him not to. We’d walk away, breathe, come back together, he’d go back to SAA meetings, I’d seek counseling for my anger, he’d quit, I’d quit, it would happen all over again. In the midst of this was job loss and an arrest, constant blame, endless instability, lots of moves. We had our son. I tried to be the best mother I could, knowing full well that I wasn’t succeeding because I was constantly focused on what my ex might be doing behind my back. But we were married. We had made vows, in front of God and our families, and there was no going back in my mind. Marriage was forever. But in November of ’05, when it happened for the 5th time, I promised him I was not going to put myself through this again. This was it. Our son was a year and a half old, and I would be damned if I was going to raise him in a house where he would learn that THIS is what husbands and fathers do, because their wives let them get away with it. He went back to meetings, acquired yet another sponsor, and stayed sober for over a year. I thought he did, anyway, although I have my doubts now. He was always a big collector of the SAA group’s monthly chips that recognized another month of sobriety, but when it came time for him to go to an anniversary meeting to collect his one year chip, he kept putting it off. So, I suspect I just didn’t catch on as quickly that time. It wasn’t until I opened the cell phone bill two months ago and found the international charges from his phone sex with his ex who had been part of that same gaming group that I had incontrovertible proof that I was being played once again.

But I’m not blameless, and I hope I’ve written this saga in such a way that shows that. I manipulated this relationship from day 1. In my desperation for a partner, I brought this upon myself.

All the stability I sought through others has flown out the window, and I am now having to try to attempt to rebuild my very self. I loved being married. I did. I just didn’t love the man I was married to. I liked him a whole lot, when he was being the best he could be. And I thought he could somehow complete me, as if I wasn’t good enough or worthy enough to stand on my own two feet and take care of myself. But I am.

My head knows it, and soon enough, my heart will follow.

July 25, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in faith, thoughtful.
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“It is right that you should begin again every day.  There is no better way to complete the spiritual life than to be ever beginning it over again.”   -St. Francis de Sales

what’s important July 16, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in thoughtful.
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Courtesy of Waiter Rant.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“The two men finish their coffees, pay the check, and leave. I go outside to catch a breath of fresh air. I watch the younger man climb into an Aston Martin and drive away. As I stand on the sidewalk I think about what makes people happy. Kids? Money? Sex? Power? The right job? A nice address? Many people looking at my life would say I’ve made all the wrong choices. Sometimes I think they’re right. The demons of loneliness and failure are never far from me. But, in my less anxious moments, I realize my life is probably unfolding as it should. Screw what other people think of me.

Sometimes, for some people, the only way is the wrong way.”

I saw God in the numbers July 16, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in lyrics, thoughtful.
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“Sometimes you hold the world in your hands
Sometimes the world it baffles you with plans
Some days you drift oh so easy and free
Some nights you sleep in blissful harmony

How do we leave the wreckage of our lives?
How do you leave the past out in the night?
Don’t throw away the pictures that give you a smile
Don’t throw away the memories that make you cry

I know that I could learn a little harder
There’s so much that I want to read and know
But maybe I’m a little lazy
Maybe I don’t really want to know

The more I learn of history the more I hate it
‘Cos we’re repeating things we did a thousand years ago
We’re building palaces of fortune in the sky
There’s an underclass dying whilst we smile.”

-The Verve

Jerry Falwell, 1933-2007 May 15, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in theology, thoughtful.
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I didn’t agree with much of anything this man ever had to say about anything. I was always particularly disturbed by the Moral Majority and their influence in government, and his use of religion to divide the nation. Nonetheless, he devoted his entire life to serving God and his country, though I many not agree with the way he went about it, his commitment to his ideals was one of a kind. He was a man who put his faith into action. My prayers for his family, and for peace for them in this difficult time.

I take my son to his aunt’s house… March 6, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in life, road trips, theology, thoughtful.
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…as she has agreed to watch him for a few hours until his dad gets home from work. I am about to embark on my first non work-related road trip in quite some time, and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. I’m anxious – there’s something about leaving my child in someone else’s care that does that to me, even if it’s only for a few hours to go to a movie or out to dinner. I suppose I’m fortunate that I don’t let that anxiety cripple me to the point of not being able to leave him. I’m also feeling anticipatory. I don’t have any enormous plans, just a short 3 hour trip down to the state I grew up in see my friend S and to go to the Irish Festival, but it is time for myself, time I have needed since my husband began full time grad school on top of his full time job and I became our son’s primary caretaker. We pull into a visitor parking spot at his aunt’s apartment and he immediately throws down the toy computer he was playing with in the back and announces, “I want to see Foxy!” That’s the sweater-wearing diva dog in residence, of course, and the boy always has a grand time when he gets to play with her. We walk up the stairs – he is just starting to be able to alternate his little legs on the stairs, and in no time we are knocking on the door. The minute he lays eyes on Foxy, I cease to exist. Somewhat grudgingly, I’m given a good bye kiss and a “see you later!” I’ve been banished, and so I trudge back to my car and pop a Peter Murphy CD into the player.

“…listen boy, it’s a long way down… down to heaven’s gate
to heaven’s gate the steps the steps to the tower of pride, the devil lied…dive up to the highest point, where our lives are saved…”

I back out of my parking spot and head down Mississippi Street to where it will meet the highway. I light a cigarette – I don’t ever smoke with the boy in the car – and call the husband to let him know that I’m off. He says he’ll miss me, but he wants me to have a good time. He hears the music and asks what I’m listening to. I hold the phone up to the speaker for him, and he says, “Is that the Sisters of Murphy?” I start laughing so hard I have to pull over to the side of the road for a minute. That’s the man I love – he’s always “almost, but not quite” got it.

“…don’t get shy, don’t get caught with the world and its thoughts
I’m not asking for worship or lazy sleazy thoughts…”

I inhale and exhale, and tap the ashes out the window. The turnpike stretches out ahead of me. Not too long ago, my sister-in-law hit a deer on this road, in broad daylight no less, and so I’m a little more observant, a little more wary, even though in the course of my daily life I spend so much time driving that I do get lazy sometimes. I sometimes joke with people that I’m a tad bitter because my mother lied to me as a child – in 1980, she told me that in the year 2000, cars would be flying in the air like planes and that their drivers would be able to sleep while they were traveling. I reach the toll gate and drop in my 55 cents. Green light – hit the gas and keep going.

“…I twist a shade to my right, and spit at Beelzebub on sight and go on loving all I see, for here I live on patiently…clearly now, I tell you man that all I say is all I can
for I am nothing but my sin until I learn to caste them in
…”


My thoughts drift to some emails I’ve gotten lately from an old friend, someone that I only talk to a few times a year, even though, if I’m really honest with myself, I wish it were more often. I was 25 when I first met this friend, and I was fresh out of a very needy, traumatic relationship that had finally run its course. At this point in my life, I knew that I wanted to get married and have kids, and I was fairly certain that I was done with getting into relationships that had no shot at permanency – and I had pretty high standards for the next contender to meet. This friend – and oh, I loved him and wanted him to be more, yes I did – was beautiful, intelligent, funny, had a job, and didn’t live with his mother. He introduced me to new music and new food, made me think about things that I had never thought about, taught me a few things about insight, and helped heal some of the shame that I had been carrying with me for years over some poor decisions that I had made in the past. I give him a LOT of credit for getting me ready for the man who did become my husband. He was bizarre in quite a few ways – he took me to meet his parents, but he was so secretive he would never show me the house he lived in, and a few short months later, I knew that I didn’t have the wherewithal to figure this enigma out. We had a tearful conversation in my car on the last night that I ever saw him, and I drove away, my heart in tatters. The whole 7 hour drive home, I alternately screamed and sobbed. I had to pull over several times because I simply couldn’t see through my rage to drive.

“…hot tears flow as she recounts her favourite worded token, forgive me please for hurting so don’t go away heartbroken, no…”

This is the trip that comes back to me as I’m driving now, and I’m not completely sure why. While the process took me a good two years, obviously, I *did* heal. I went on to marry someone else, someone who is my partner in every sense of the word, who created a beautiful son with me, someone who knows all the scary bits and ugly bits and loves me anyway. I talk to my old friend a few times a year by email, and he always asks about my family and always skillfully deflects any questions I have about him and the state of affairs in his life…and that’s okay. Not everyone is the open book that I am. Since it’s a bit chilly AND I’m headed to an Irish festival, I stop at a convenience store and get myself an Irish cream cappuccino. I get back in my car and laugh, remembering several long drives that my friend and I took together when I would drink the same drink. These drives usually took place in the dead of night, and since I don’t like regular coffee and needed help staying awake, this was what I would choose. I punch out a quick text message informing him of my beverage choice so that he will know I was thinking of him, and very shortly I get back “Haha! You should have gotten a red soda.” I shudder at the memory of his oh-so-vile drink of choice and keep on driving.

“…the moon and the sun, partners in light separating reflecting one light, hearing this confusion wanes, no need to ask for wealth or one thing more now…”

By now I’ve reached a major interstate and the rest of my drive will be due south on this multi-lane highway. I don’t drive on highways like this much – most of my work takes me down one or two lane country roads. My pack of cigarettes is emptying at a more rapid pace than I would like, but I need something to do with my hands…I’m not content to keep them on the wheel where they belong. I try and decide if I want to do anything tonight when I arrive at my destination. Briefly, I consider stopping to pick S up and informing her on the spot that I have decided to keep driving…all the way to the nearest beach. She might actually go for it, being from California…but she might not, and she’s been looking forward to the festival as much as I have. I sigh and decide to stick with the plans as scheduled, but know that I will have to get to the nearest beach as soon as is reasonably feasible. I’ve lived in a completely land-locked state for the last two years, and I need to be near the water in the very near future or I may lose it. I tell people that often, and they say, “This state has lots of water!” Yeah, it does – but man-made lakes ain’t the same, kids, and I don’t care how big they are.

“…a white light blazing deep through the wasteland searching we soaring birds now hunt the brow as thirsty gripped with hunger now clear sighted painful ends to win, the battle of the me so wafer thin, the line between the devil’s teeth and that which cannot be repeat…”

A book that I am reading for my Benedictine study group at church – Pilgrim Road: A Benedictine Journey Through Lent – falls out of the passenger side visor when I have to brake suddenly, and as soon as I get back up to speed and replace everything that fell, my thoughts turn to Lent. It’s no understatement to say that I hate Lent…but lately, it’s been bugging me that I don’t really know why I hate it so much. I have no problem in theory with the concept of sacrificial love – I *am* married, after all, so I get a new lesson in some aspect of what it means almost every day. At the same time that I am reading this book for my study group, I am also re-reading (on what little personal time I have) an old favorite, Kathleen Norris’ The Cloister Walk. She says in the introduction to the book that a pleasant surprise for her in writing it is the way her marriage “came to weave in and out of it. It seems appropriate, as my life vows are not to a monastery, but to matrimony, and marriage has been for me a primary instrument of conversion., a “school for love,” to employ Benedict’s metaphor for the monastery.” A few pages after that, she writes, “As I walked back to the hermitage in the dusk, I was suddenly glad, and not despairing, that in just a few days I’d be back with my husband, to take up life in the ruins.”

The highway stretches ahead of me, seemingly without end, and as I cross the state line and enter the Motherland, I mused for the next little while on what “life in the ruins” has meant for my husband and me. We’ve encountered our share of challenges, to be sure. We’ve both had trouble finding our niche professionally, and this stress was compounded by knowing we had a child to support and therefore no luxury of time to figure it out. We’ve both targeted the other in times of extreme stress, and been slow to forgive each other. We’ve moved often…in search of the perfect job, neighborhood, and proximity to family/friends…and ultimately ended up somewhere my husband swore he would never return to, which I turned out to be the place that I have experienced the deepest happiness of my life (in spite of the lack of God-created bodies of water).

“…yeah on and on it goes, calling like a distant wind…through the zero hour we’ll walk… cut the thick and break the thin, no sound to break, no moment clear – when all the doubts are crystal clear, crashing hard into the secret wind…”

Back to Lent. It starts with Ash Wednesday, when I am reminded of my nothingness in the grand scheme. It ends with Holy Week and Easter, a time of high pageantry when I experience in “real time” what it might have been like to be a disciple. In between is where I get bogged down. No meat on Fridays…take something on or give something up?…repentance and discipline on the brain, concepts I strongly resist in the best of times…getting bogged down with thoughts of evil and hell and WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? Is Hell for REAL? What kind of God does that? Is God’s “YES!” stronger than my “NO!” as I heard one pastor say, or can I keep backing away and backing away until I fall over the edge into a Hell of my own making? Surely it can’t be the pit of fire and brimstone with a red devil with horns and a pointy tail, or Dante’s “Inferno”! And why can’t I figure it all out? And on top of that, why do I experience this pathological obsession every freakin’ year?!

When I was a child, my dad heard me say under my breath, “Damn you!” to my sister. He immediately made me get out the dictionary and copy the definition of “damn” one hundred times. If I remember correctly, it was something to the effect of, “To condemn someone to hell.”

That’s a lot of power to give a little kid.

“…there is no middle ground, or that’s how it seems for us to walk or to take…instead we tumble down, either side left or right, to love or to hate…”

I arrive at S’s house, and take my bag in. She’s tired and not in the mood to go anywhere, so we open a couple of beers and settle in for “Iron Chef” on The Food Network. We can laugh at anything, and we do. The secret ingredient of the evening is peanuts, and the contenders appear a little *too* excited about it. At the end, one of the judges says that one of the dishes was so good it made him “cry like “Beaches”, and we spend the rest of the weekend using that over and over and over again. The next morning, we go to the Irish festival. We look at every single bit of jewelry for sale, and I promise myself once again that one of these years I am going to buy myself a full length hooded cloak. Instead, I satisfy myself with some dragonfly earrings to remind myself that it is better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you are not. We listen to the bands and the session players and watch the dancers. We eat…and eat…and eat some more. I drink Belgian beer, because in spite of the framed Guinness poster on my wall, I don’t like to chew my beer. I let a beautiful boy speaking in a true blue (green?) brogue bum one of my cigarettes. I have a wonderful, relaxing day with an old friend, and briefly I think again of the friend who was on my mind during my drive and wonder if I will ever lay eyes on him again. I head home refreshed, renewed, and ready to take up my own version of “life in the ruins.”

“…on a long and winding grey paved street, your breath the only friend, chattering others surrounding you, you’re going out again…”

reading February 1, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in reading, thoughtful.
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“It was a long season of mourning, and there were times when I wondered if I should mourn all my life and never again be free of it; but at last I could remember without weeping, and recall the days of love without unending sorrow welling up like tears from the depth of my very being. There is no sorrow like the memory of love and the knowledge that it is gone forever; even in dreams I never saw again his face, and though I longed for it, I came at last to see that it was just as well, lest I live all the rest of my life in dreams…but at last there came a day when I could look back and know that the time for mourning was ended; my lover and my child were on the other shore, and even if I should somehow meet them beyond the gates of death, none of us would ever know…but I lived, and I was in Avalon, and it was my task now to be Lady there.”

The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley