This morning shortly after arriving to work I became fixated on something my 8-year old made for me when he was in preschool. To think that that was just over 3 years ago is bizarre. On the one hand it feels like just yesterday. But on the other it’s as though it were so long ago. Who I was then, where I was, what I was doing was completely different. And in that time my son has grown in so many of his own brilliant ways most assuredly.
What the message reminds me of is a lesson I have found myself sharing with my son over and over and over again. Because yes, there are times when I’ll catch him feeling sorry for himself; he feels he’s been cheated out of something that someone else got and he didn’t. And what I’ll tell him is how important it is to focus on what he has instead of what he hasn’t got. It’s amazing to watch those little wheels turning inside his head as a shift in perspective begins to take place on his face and in the way he proceeds with his life. He moves on. He gets over it. He learns to appreciate what he already has instead of clinging to feelings of jealousy and insecurity. He remembers the love in his life. (And the ice cream I just treated him to perhaps!)
There is something for me to take away from this, too. How often have I pined away for a love that couldn’t be reciprocated? How often have I wallowed in sorrow, loneliness, and discontent? Or wondered why other people get to fall in love and live happily ever after and I don’t? All the while forgetting–even deliberately–that I am already surrounded by so much love in my life. And who am I to expect more than what is already given me?
Maybe in a relationship, the thing that keeps it from going anywhere is the fear deep within ourselves that we are imperfect beings capable of hurting others; capable of feeling hurt; capable of destroying; capable of being destroyed. When we become intimate with another imperfect being, tensions do arise because building intimacy requires that we reflect as a mirror to the other person both how we see them and how they truly see themselves, deep within. And sometimes we do not like what we see; we loathe what we see whenever how we feel inside isn’t congruent with the reflection of ourselves in the mirror that is our partner. We feel hurt. We feel destroyed. We feel the need to hurt. We feel the need to destroy. And so it goes; an endless cycle between creation and destruction.
We create stories in our head that we tell ourselves to hold on to; we replay them over and over in our minds. We eat these stories; we drink these stories; we dream these stories, over and over and over. They become us and we become them. But what if there is more to the story than what we are allowing into our self-narration? What if there’s another truth of ourselves? One that’s deeper, and richer, and more fulfilling? Wouldn’t we want to follow that, to use our mirror’s reflection to better ourselves? Wouldn’t we want to create ever more of this type of dream, instead of destroying our only hope for everlasting redemption?
Lipstick, cherry red
A face, a body you can’t get out of your head
Hair done, nails too
A look that suggests they want to screw you
High heels, make up on
You’re the bishop, they’re the pawns;
Another pony in a fucking parade,
A pigeon willing to play the game
Where the rule is and always has been
To win not the hearts, but the desire of men.
But guess again
Because beauty quickly fades
In this perilous brigade
When seen with the eyes, not felt by the heart.
But how can you be expected to get that
In the end
When you’ve been this shallow from the start?
It feels like
falling without anyone to hang on to,
falling to pieces without anyone
to mend you,
it was all in your head.
Not a reflection of reality
but a means of gathering
the truth of you.
It feels like searching for the truth
and happening upon a
The pain is settling deep into my bones
I ache for you.
To enrapture me as though
I was all you ever wanted.
True love is all I ever wanted.
Not meant for me.
The reality sinks heavy into me
And I cannot think
to want to breathe
without you there
to fill my air
no space unfilled
no distance between
I want you near
Yet you remain
Sometimes you’re just too angry to cry. I keep trying to wrap my head around it: How did we get here? I suspect true honesty was lacking, finally leading us astray. Why couldn’t he tell me about her? Was it just too painful to accept her ghost? Yet she was always there. In the back of his mind, whispering his name. Her face. Her body. Kept calling. His heart. His desire. Kept growing. I threatened to take her away. That’s when I became impossible to take. And so it is that he left me with this skin too callused for another to touch.
I’ll never be her. Ms. Melissa Lee. I’ll never get him to say the things that he says when he’s wished for her to come his way. Cannot match the beauty he sees when he looks at her, not me.
I can only be this. A woman so afraid to be cast out. As the unwanted, unneeded thorn in somebody’s side. A shadow to another’s light. Not worth one’s whole heart. Or the ultimate fight.
I think that perhaps the hardest part of breaking up with someone you put all your faith in–so much so that you trusted you could invite them into your children’s lives and into their home–is the feeling of having failed. I let not only him down, I let myself down and most importantly, I let my kids down. It’s hard to hold your head up high when you feel ashamed for being deserted. I guess that means I’m assuming blame but how else am I to interpret his leaving?
Maybe it’s the fact of having kids that I expected him to be more careful, but it’s also the reason that I should have been more cautious. It’s hard to trust yourself to trust another when I keep making choices that end up hurting not just me, but the two most important people in my life.
Every time I am around other families…or really just, breathing… it is a reminder that I am a single mom failing at love and life. There is an indescribable sense of shame and embarrassment in this, even with all of the single parents out there. There is shame in being naive enough to allow someone to convince you that they’re strong enough to make it through the tough times with you; that to them you are worth it. There is embarrassment in admitting to the world that none of this is so.
What ended our relationship was nothing that couldn’t be worked out… Had he kept in mind any of my redeeming qualities. I certainly was able to recall his, despite doing things at times that made him feel like nothing more than a whipping horse. While he didn’t hesitate to share those feelings with the world, I guess he forgot to include all of the small, day to day things I did do and say to remind him of his worth: Extending gratitude and words of praise; offering up back and belly rubs; watching movies and shows that were of interest to him; having conversations about things I knew nothing about, but were important to him; and just generally doing things to express warmth and love, kindness and consideration…
But… We see what we choose to see. And to quote one of my favorite songs of all time since it has become a theme in my life: “you don’t…see…me.”
**Just an interesting fact about the song from which it came, 3 Libras, Maynard James Keenan had this to say in the liner notes of the song: “Up until the mid twentieth century the mountain gorilla was considered a myth. Oddly enough, a legend not unlike Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster. The chance of actually seeing/experiencing this elusive shadow was as likely as finding one’s soulmate. Rare. Precious. Even once discovered they seemed unapproachable. The only way to get close to this magnificent creature was to become empathetic. Abandon all pretense and preconceptions. To bare an open throat. To collapse into the arms of vulnerability. All but extinct, these beings/moments are threatened by the black hearted. The cold and oblivious. The empty eyed profit seekers that overlook these Rare. Precious.”
I am that rare and precious being, seen only for what frightens people away. They are the black hearted…cold…oblivious.
You made a fool out of me.
Now all these people won’t let me be.
I never asked for a handout,
Nor do I need their sympathy.
Sometimes people just… leave.
But I can make it on my own,
Alone I might have a fighting chance
Of learning to love myself again,
Since asking anything of you became a sin.
And my biggest transgression was
trusting that I could let someone in.
not thinking straight these days.
the potions to turn these memories
into a foggy haze.