Sunday, April 27, 2014

The value in being alone

So, I was reading this blog on Being Alone and #5 really resonated with me, "Learn how to talk to yourself." I've been talking about that a lot on this blog and how I've learned the intrinsic value of self-compassion.

But learning to be alone, especially when you've been co-dependent most of your adult life (okay, all of it), has been a challenge for me. I'm just starting to make peace with it.

I have a couple of friends, ladies who are older than I, who spend much of their time alone--eating alone, spending time alone and missing the physical touch and companionship of a significant other. I never expected that would be age 45. But such is the space that I find myself in at this point in time.

Visiting with a very dear friend over the weekend, I was asked if I was dating anyone "up there" yet. He was referring to my current location in North Florida...up there, where I have a few old friends I'm connected with who are all connected to significant others, kids, etc.

I haven't really found my place "up there" yet and I certainly haven't been looking to date anyone. That time seems like a far off in the future sort of place for me. Right now, I'm trying to acclimate myself to this newfound loneliness.

It's a feeling I haven't experienced since 2000 when I sunk into deep despair. I'm not sinking, not in the least. I'm trying to make the most of every minute of alone time, either enjoying a pursuit I'm passionate about, looking for places to volunteer or talking a walk to gather my thoughs and talk to myself.

Like I said, it's been a challenge for me and not nearly as easy as just taking a walk...but I'm getting there. The hours between 9 p.m. and 12 a.m. are the most difficult. That's when I wind down with either some good music, a movie or some TV. I get ready for bed and lie down alone. I lay there in the dark and wonder if I can do this for an extended period of time.

I'm a snuggler by nature, so it is sometimes difficult to get cozy enough for sleep when I'm in the bed alone. Pillows are rarely a good enough substitute. Some nights, I take bourbon to bed to help me relax and doze off, but I don't like to rely on alcohol too much of the time. Other nights, I lay with my journal by my side and try to recapture the highs and lows of the day, what I've learned or remembered or shared. That helps to clear my head of all the clutter, as does paying attention to my breathing and trying other relaxation techniques, but nothing is quite as efficient or effective as someone to hold close, to melt into at that time of the night.

I'm determined to make the most of this alone time, though. To realize that I'm enough to keep myself calm, fulfilled and happy. It's something I've never even tested before. I dated my fiance for 4.5 years before marrying her at age 24. We stayed together 20 years, then I had another relationship right away. No time for me in between. No time to really deal with my separation, what it meant for me personally and no time to heal. That's what I'm finally getting to do now, but it has multiplied due to the loss of two significant others from my life.

You live and learn. I get that. This is my learning curve. I'm learning the value in being alone.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

NO MORE Years a Slave

After watching the highly acclaimed feature film on slavery, I had time to think about the themes of the movie and apply them to my life. The main story of slavery aptly applies to my mental and emotional state for many years. Living as a slave to fear, inadequacy, anxiety and depression, I was a trapped in my own living hell. Not any longer!

I was just journalling this morning, cup of coffee by my side, morning sunlight on my face, that life has a peculiar way of teaching you lessons...of teaching ME, especially (I'm kinda hard-headed).

Photo I shot onstage at a
Sunset Celebration, Times Sq,
Fort Myers Beach
It was two years ago that I met a woman who would rock my world...both literally and symbolically. We played in a cover band together, getting to know each other over 9 months time before we ever officially dated. Then came the moment of that fated first kiss...and I was hooked.

Fast forward through that struggle of a blossoming relationship and here I sit today ready to close that chapter of my life. You see, I'm going down there in a couple of days to retrieve the last of my things, pay off a debt that I owe and get my drums out of storage.

It wasn't easy coming to terms with the fact that I was unevenly matched with a woman that I once thought could be a lifetime partner. We both carried our own baggage into the relationship, but we just couldn't manage to bridge the gap between us and share the heavy load. And to be honest, I went in kind of blindly and foolishly before my divorce was ever final. Lesson learned.

So I get to finally close that chapter of my life this week. Not an easy thing to do, as it's taken me nearly 10 weeks to arrive safely at this juncture. But I'm here.

I won't go so far as to say that I was a slave in that relationship, but I certainly felt stuck for a number of months. Unable to get my shit together, get up and get out, I remained and fought through the emotional rollercoaster of "should I stay or should I go." That's on me. Nobody else to blame. I was just fighting some personal demons. They are the ones who enslaved me from childhood.

But a slave no more, I'm ready to embrace my newfound freedom. And again, to be clear, I'm not talking about freedom from the previous relationship with an incredibly beautiful woman (photo above). No, I'm talking about personal freedom from some demons, some hangups that have haunted me all my life, held me captive through fear and intimidation. Those demons made me believe that I *needed* someone to fulfill or complete me (I realize now that's called co-dependence). I didn't and I don't, but I realize that now. Lesson learned.

I won't go again into another relationship quite so needy or ready to attach. I'll take it slow, allow things to grow organically. I won't ever allow myself to feel stuck ever again (I did that to myself). And I won't go back to slavery...EVER...AGAIN!

Those demons can SUCK IT!

That's all for now. Peace my friends. And thanks for listening.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

free form flows

waiting for calls or e-mails that would never come
words that could have soothed and healed
were never going to be spoken
not by the willfully victimized
certainly not by the broken

trust was shattered long ago
never to be restored
the cornerstone of loving
of giving and receiving
taken for granted or ignored

party on the longheld cry
for past pains and sins
you'd rather cover and deny
why cry out for help
when that would lead others to discover
what's become a latent choice
over and over and over

alas the wounded soul
one day will recover
might take a minute longer
then another and another
but time heals all wounds they say
whoever they might be
take these scars and grow
forever, still, a legacy you'll leave

Friday, April 04, 2014

How do you mend a broken heart?

They say that time heals all wounds, and I'm sure that it's true. Sometimes, it's hard to believe, though, when you're in the midst of the healing. And what of the lingering scars? The heart is never truly the same, ever again. I know that mine won't be.

Some call my previous relationship a total rebound. I'm not sure I'd qualify it as that, even though I've considered it. To me, it seemed like much more. And if you asked her, I'm sure she'd say that it was much, much more than that. Whatever it was, it happened. Two hearts were broken. And time? Well, it's just begun the process.

It took me several weeks to come to grips with the fact that I had suffered another broken heart. Because, truth is, I asked for the breakup. She didn't want it. I knew that my heart was no longer in it 100% and there was always the lingering issue of distrust. It's possible that we both sabotaged the relationship. I'm willing to accept my share of the blame. But no matter who shares or accepts what portion of the blame, it doesn't change the simple fact that two hearts were broken, wounded and left bleeding. It just took me longer to realize and accept it.

Since I'd sorta started the separation last year, in my own heart and mind, I thought that I'd already dealt with all of the hurt feelings, the disappointment that it wasn't what I thought, and the anger over being so blind and foolish. I was being blind and foolish to think that. :)

The day I hit the road aboard a Greyhound bus, the realization of "goodbye" hit me as I crossed the bridge out of town. It came crashing down all around me and I cried for a good 20 minutes, trying to hide my sadness from the other passengers. That was just the beginning...and it was a LONG ride home.

Going to bed alone for the first time in more than a year, I began to taste loneliness again. That was sobering, too. I wasn't quite prepared for the loneliness and all the crazy thoughts it causes you to entertain. But that still didn't unlock the buried heartache.

I'm not sure what the key was that opened that door or when it even happened, but for days now I've been dealing with the real heart of the issue, if you'll excuse the pun. I'm fully accepting now that I have suffered another broken heart. I wasn't anywhere near being over my girlfriend, no matter how much I'd fooled myself to believe that I was. I still love her and care for her very much. But I no longer give her the power to hurt me. The damage has been done. No need to exacerbate the pain by revisiting the wounds.

That is why I've tried like hell to live in the present. It's hard for me, though. I'm programmed to keep going back and analyzing things, looking for areas where I was wrong, where I acted foolishly or where I could have reacted differently to what was going on. That's just how I'm wired. I'm very critical and analytic like that.

Going back to re-read old e-mails, journal posts, blog posts and to look at photos on Facebook only perpetuates the painful memories of what was and wasn't there. Sadly, I can't keep myself from looking at all of it from time to time. And maybe that's part of the process, too...the healing.

At any rate, time has just begun to tick away. With every tick of the clock, I am hopeful to find some small dose of healing. I know that I've made some strides just this week, but that came only after taking two steps back. Hey, I'm hard-headed, too, and sometimes slow to learn. And admitting that my heart was truly broken was a huge step forward.

Several friends have told me this week, "it's obvious you still love her and care for her," and I'm glad they can see it. I doubt that she believes it, and I guess that doesn't matter anymore. I'm ready to live and let live. I want us both to move on and find true peace and happiness within ourselves. Only in reaching that Nirvana, can we be fully who we are and offer "the treasure of us" individually to someone else.

Here's the perfect song to accompany this post:

Well, here's to recovery...Cheers!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The sacred dunes at the state park

They may not be the Mountains of Mordor, but these dunes might as well be. I once took a pilgrimage there with "my precious."

These photos, shot Sunday morning in Panama City Beach, show the very spot where I carried a then 3-month-old baby girl, wrapped in a warm, fleece blanket. It was October thirteen years ago and I was taking my oldest daughter on her first ever trip to the beach. My folks and my sister's family were visiting from Indiana. As usual, I was up before the dawn. My new baby was still sleeping, but something was drawing me into the pre-dawn solitude towards the pristine, sugar sand dunes of the state park, just a few hundred yards from our condo.

I wrapped my already swaddled bundle of joy in my favorite blue, black and white blanket, as it was chilly on this dark morning along the Gulf coast of North Florida. I walked with her and a disposable camera, as I didn't have my Kodak digital camera back then, through the cool sand up into the dunes. Found a nice spot that sheltered us both from the wind and planted myself in the sand, clear of any sand spurs. Surrounded by those green and white blanketed hills, I waited for the sunrise. But I was met by the Divine.

Those of you old enough to remember the mini-series, Roots, will certainly recall the dramatic scene where the father, played by John Amos, raises his infant into the air symbolically. That is precisely how I felt in that moment, like I was offering this precious baby back to the cosmos, or back to God, from whence she came.

You have to understand this baby was a miracle blessing to me at the time. I've even written how she saved my life. But in that moment, I felt something more than mere gratitude. I felt the hand of the Almighty in a very real way. I was humbled beyond measure. I knew that I didn't deserve the great prize I had won, but I was going to cherish it with everything in my being. And that I have.

I have an outstandingly beautiful and gifted daughter who is about to turn 13 this summer. And as I walked that same path over the weekend, I was struck again by the beauty of those dunes and what they represent to me. I was overcome with emotion, as I am now, typing this through tears.

It was another pre-dawn stroll along the beach, like I'd had back in 2001. This time, I had my digital camera, and though the pics didn't all turn out spectacularly, I have them as a token...a reminder of what happened in my life over a decade ago. Those dunes will always hold a special place in my heart.

They are now a sacred spot. And just like the photo below, of the sun rising over them, the sun rises everyday in my life, rain or shine, because I have that bundle of joy in my life.

I love you, MK.