Is he romantic? Do you want the same type of relationship? Do his actions match what he says?
Hmm…it’s hard to face facts sometimes, but why waste time?
Today as I chopped up parsley for tabouleh by hand (a deplorable and messy task), I realized that the only real residue that was left over from my last foray into the land of romantic love were a few forgotten belongings, and a reinforced belief that being treated badly is not my problem, it’s a problem of the person who did the bad treating. You know what I mean, right?
To put it simply, you being an a-hole is not my problem. It’s yours.
Had I known the slap-chop was a piece of crap, I would have picked up a new food processor yesterday (it’s been on my list since I binned my old one). Had I known it was useless, I would not have messy, wet, parsley bits stuck to my hands. Yes, it struck me as a metaphor for the broken relationship.
When a relationship ends, there is, like a bathtub that was once filled with warm water and bubbles, icky residue that’s hard to wash off and no one wants to touch. I think most people refer to it as scum.
In the past I have ranted, raved and stuck-it-to’em after a relationship. I’ve been hurt, angry and took solace in the most creative vindictiveness.
But not now.
Maybe it’s because I’ve achieved some sort of emotional maturity, and maybe it’s just because I’m wiser.
As a middle-aged woman, I like to think I choose where my energy goes. I like to think that I channel it toward peace, positivity, and at the very least, not to people who are emotional fuck-wits.
But there is always the residue of self-doubt, indignation, anger and resignation. Long ago I came to some sort of peace with the fact that I cannot control anyone else’s feelings. People either like who you are, or they don’t. To be inauthentic is a crime against yourself and everyone you enter into relationship with.
I’ve also come to realize that relationship residue exists because the good we had once hoped for, gets bogged down with the residue of hurt and betrayal. We’re just people, doing our best to get by. The bad stuff sticks to our romanticized memories of the hopes and dreams we projected onto the relationship.
Today, with sticky parsley covered hands, I tossed the remainder of the visible relationship residue into the bin, knowing that I had betrayed no one, especially myself.
Most of us live with some low-level hum of anxiety buzzing around inside our minds. It accelerates our need to establish order all the while turning our brains into a three-ring circus overseen by an insane ring-master.
In most cases, a couple of shots of bourbon, a long hot bath and a good sleep can reset our anxiety pendulum. During more turbulent times, anxiety can make us wish that we could tear off the pendulum, and take a swing at anyone who gets in the way of trying to sort out the mess in our minds.
Throughout my life, I’ve been blessed with wonderfully joyful situations and I’ve been challenged by the dark things that haunt us all.
Sound familiar?I’m sure it does, the human condition is a universal suffering. Many times I’ve been tempted to shut down, stop smiling, stop waking up and believing that it’s a beautiful day, and just generally stop being a nice person.
When the world doesn’t fit how we think it should be, anxiety wedges its foot in the door of our psyche, and pries it open;
The whole right and wrong business closes us down and makes our world smaller.
Black and white is so damn easy. Adulthood makes you realize that grey is the new black – that life and everything we thought we knew about it is an ever-changing kaleidoscope of what-if’s. Grey, please help us love you!
This middle way involves no hanging on to our version so tightly. It involves keeping our hearts and minds open long enough to entertain the idea that when we make things wrong, we do it out of a desire to obtain some kind of ground or security…Could our minds and our hearts be big enough just to hang out in that space where we’re not entirely certain about who’s right and who’s wrong.
Beliefs about how things should be versus the way that they are, are terrific ways to make yourself believe there is only one way that is good enough, acceptable, and worth getting out of bed for. But that’s what kills our joy, that bullshit idea that life as it is isn’t good enough, that we’re not good enough.
What if we could really practice this;
Compassionate action, being there for others, being able to act and speak in a way that communicates, starts with seeing ourselves when we start to make ourselves right or make ourselves wrong. At that particular point, we could just contemplate the fact that there is a larger alternative to either of those, a more tender, shaky kind of place where we could live. This place, if we can touch it, will help us train ourselves throughout our lives to open further to whatever we feel, to open further rather than shut down more. We’ll find that as we begin to commit ourselves to this practice, as we begin to have a sense of celebrating the aspects of ourselves that we found so impossible before, something will shift in us. Something will shift permanently in us. Our ancient habitual patterns will begin to soften, and we’ll begin to see the faces and hear the words of people who are talking to us.
My heart is vulnerable and hurting now. I’m struggling to practice all of the wonderfully liberating ideas here. If you are too, I hope that we can keep this in mind;
If we begin to get in touch with whatever we feel with some kind of kindness, our protective shells will melt, and we’ll find that more areas of our lives are workable. As we learn to have compassion for ourselves, the circle of compassion for others – what and whom we can work with, and how – becomes wider.
Wishing you the kind of anxiety that can either be solved with a shot of bourbon, a hot soak, and a good sleep, or the ability to cradle your own being in kindness so gentle that it carries you through to a way of living that makes you feel fully alive.
All quotes are taken directly from When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron
To say I’m not athletic is to say that Harper Lee is a mediocre writer. In other words, I sucked at gym. Other than basketball, and hitting a baseball, I dreaded that class more than anything, and was so thankful that the high-school-credit-gods decided that one was enough.
During gymnastics class I once did a vault and actually knocked my spotter unconscious with my right thigh. The same girl was victim to a line drive when she was pitching to me, which once again rendered her without response. When she offered to stand up in my wedding, I should have known the marriage was doomed.
Tonight, after a two-week hiatus, I took my chubby little buns off to the gym right after work and hit the cardio class. I hate this class. There is no joyful flailing of flab like Zumba or Urban Rhythms. It’s all very practical and ham-string agonizing.
My first clue that something was up should have been the lack of participants in the room. You see, this gym is busy enough that you have to be banded to attend class. It should have been full, but it wasn’t, and then I saw her. A woman who surely was the doppelganger of my High School gym teacher. The one that generations of students and their parents had nicknamed, “Spade-Face”.
Spade-Face inspired fear in the hearts of all girls with breasts. She was like a drill sergeant in purple and gold (our proud school colours) sweats, whistle and baritone bark included. Just looking at her made me pee my pants a little bit.
So, tonight in my mind, it was “Spade-Face” whom I was at the mercy of, with my middle-aged porcelain white thighs and tailored to fit sports bra. It was a terrible class. She lost count, screwed up, and had the personality of a torn gusset from a totally used up pair of panties.
But I made it through, without too much gasping or excessive sweating. I actually felt good when I walked out of that studio.
Spandex – the great fashion equalizer. I may wear a suit all day, and provide ‘expertise’, but when we get to the gym, it’s just my glutes and yours darling, and yours win hands-down.
As it turns out, I really wasn’t that bad when it came to athletics. Nope, like most young ladies who were abused, I just had incredibly low self-esteem, and would rather have worn a moo-moo over my svelte 16-year-old body than have anyone see skin.
Years passed, and I shed the skin of victimhood, to find out that I wasn’t such an athletic anomaly as I thought I was. I loved going to the gym, played squash, and even started running when I was in my mid-thirties. I even have a ‘sports’ injury incurred from competitive paddling. Go figure.
So, with this in mind, I have set some new goals for myself after a bit of a lazy go at living. Wish me luck, and I wish you luck too. This getting older may be harder on the ego and bones, but it does wonders for the spirit when we put it all into perspective.