Today, when all the world is deep frozen and drifting, but bright, I sit, the fire at my back, and try to heal. Outside is arctic, a polar vortex of frostbiting winds colder than Siberia, than the south pole, colder even than the dread in your heart. Cosmic ordering, like The Secret, is simply writing down what you want. Hell, I’ll try anything these days. I’ll start with where I am, then get to where I hope to be going. It’s good advice.
You’re taking a break.
A break from drinking a pot of coffee a day. Too-long to-do lists left yet undone. Unrealistic expectations. Trying to justify my day before I have even entered it. Saying yes always, and I’m sorry too often when I fail, or am slow to succeed, or just have different ideas. Feeling guilty, or burdensome, or afraid. Scratch that- I’m terrified… but also relieved. Relieved to only have my own problems to solve, but grief-stricken and angry and still trying to be productive… in my own way. If that means reading and writing and cooking all day, so be it… no one is going to come home at 5:30 and ask accusingly, “yes, but what did you DO all day?”. I wrote a few good paragraphs. The ricotta and serviceberry pancakes were delicious. I am glad I spent the time in July, while working two jobs and helping him at night, to go pick and freeze those berries- their nutty blueberry-almond notes, a hint of bitterness to go with the sweet. I tended the fire, and the animals. I did not freeze. I drank bitter healing tea, and dandelion wine I made in and from the sunshine of several years ago. Dinner will be spaghetti with sausage and homegrown tomato sauce, baked acorn squash with brown sugar and butter for dessert. He can drink his… mine will be better. I’ve missed having dinner… he always wanted a big lunch (leftovers) to eat at his desk, and usually beer only after work. It’s not like you had a table to sit down at together anyway… or you did, but it was always heaped up with his clutter, in spite of your many requests to please please keep it clear. Now you have three tables. Sometimes you still eat standing over the stove.
I hated that, but I dealt with it, like everything else, until I was just a shadow in his world, hanging on to the dream that it would all get better with time. Just finish this project, or that one, and those, and then we can just relax and enjoy being together again. It wasn’t always bad. Sometimes it was god-damn amazing, or I wouldn’t have stayed. And we really were so aligned in so many ways, so close to getting it right that it’s heartbreaking to be where you are now… “You’re so close to perfect,” he’d say, deadpan… “why can you just BE perfect?”. Well… because. I’m not. No one is. The fact that you unreasonably expect that of anyone, and can’t let past mistakes go and truly forgive means you’re right; you’re not ready for a partner. Call me when you are, and realize what a mistake you made… maybe I’ll still be around. In the meantime, clear the clutter out of your own head and heart and house, and stop living in the past and for some idea of a perfect future. Stop living for and through things, and learn to let things go. You let me go. I can’t believe that could be easier than paring down physical objects and crap that made it so difficult for you to truly share your space and your life with anyone else. I know you have hurt, deep hurt. The stuff is a crutch. It’s not who you are, and it’s bogging you down. It drove me crazy, and I only lived with it for five and a half years. That’s my only advice. That, and of course, to take care of yourself, and the pup. Rest. Drink water. Eat real food. Cry. Know that you are loved by many. It won’t make it better but it will keep you strong enough to deal with it. Hey, it’s working for me… I’m not giving you any advice that I’m not first testing out on myself.
I hold a glimmer of hope that both your ways could still work, dreams still converge, but there would have to be real change in both of you and more forgiveness than many could measure. What you had started out comfortable, like the favourite pair of pants that you want to wear every day. You feel great in these pants, and everyone tells you how perfect they are for you. Put them on, and you can conquer the world. Go anywhere. Try everything. Those pants were with you in some of your best and worst moments. You didn’t always treat them with care, but thought they’d be there for you regardless. But by the end, all that was left was a broken thing that just got more tattered the more you tried to mend it until the threads couldn’t hold the patches together and it all came apart. Now that you’re naked, it’s cold, but you wouldn’t even think of going back there (there is no “there” there), but sometimes dream of making a new thing together better than what we had- take the good pattern and inspiration you started with (altered to fit the shapes you are now), and more durable fabric, and take them to an exceptional tailor. Forget about the holes, the duct tape patches, the worn places and heartache and stains on the last pair you two made… but it takes a lot of time to make something exceptional by hand, and not many folks are left who remember how to do the work. You are willing to make changes, but not if you are the only one. It’s not a perfect metaphor. It’s your whole world we’re talking about here, not a stupid pair of pants. But you get the idea.
I will not settle for conditional love, for one that wants me in health but not in sickness. I’m holding out for one that puts a proper value on care and nurture, for putting the “home” into homesteading, and that values all the traditionally devalued “women’s work”. You may have brought home the bacon, but I cured it, smoked it, sliced it, tended it in the pan and then did the washing up. I deserve kindness, and patience, and most of all, respect. For someone to believe that the work that I do, that I can do, has value and equal merit… for my partner to want what I have to offer and not what they think that I should. The difference is everything.
You hope, and you still love, but you’re not holding your breath. You are holding on to your dreams, at least the ones you can do for yourself… putting your heart back in your work (and you’re back at work, which feels so good). Trying to figure out where you’re going to land after this freefall, and how best to steer to get there. Outside, the polar vortex blasts half the country with frigid gusts. Inside, you try not to drift into that dark spiral of heartache and loss, the void and nausea. See it, yes. Touch it, carefully. Try to know it, without falling in. Feet firmly planted on the floor, hands at work, hope, always. Remember all the other kinds of love… your dog is ever faithful, and you are his world. Family, friends, neighbors, all there for you… and of course, the love for yourself. This glorious world we all walk around it, with all its imperfections and many flaws, like each of us, beautiful. You can’t change the whole thing. Just the important parts… and we each get to decide what the important parts are. Isn’t that grand? Now get started!