A couple of years ago, I did a guest post on a friend’s blog and this morning I found myself searching it out, reading it again. It was about this man’s devastating effect on my life at that time.
What brought me down memory lane?
Yes, it’s been another tough weekend.
When I wrote the post, I was on the cusp of some very big changes in my personal life. Some I’ve accomplished other’s I’m still working on. But all these months later, I’m only just starting to recognize how deeply I miss connections, deep, emotional connections in my life. I’ve gone so long being the connector, letting relationships simply flow through me that now when I meld with someone it’s a riveting moment for me, a real, heartening, sometimes heartbreaking, thing.
This past week I’ve been conversing with a man I met through Facebook, a handsome, kind, funny man. Not a general in the army in Kabul, not a man in need of a woman’s name to save his inheritance, not a twenty-something bored with life and looking for free porn, in short, not a caricature, a real living breathing, hard working, opinionated man. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversations and looked forward to the times he’d be available online. That exhilaration of recognizing something in a stranger, that feels familiar.
Then, this morning, something very unexpected happened during our conversation, something neither of us had any control over and it abruptly and completely ended our association. A situation in my life that I didn’t choose nor do I have any control over. A situation he cannot countenance because of his own beliefs. After I read his final message, I sat there frozen, staring at my screen in disbelief, tears of loss, embarrassment, regret, filling my eyes.
He wasn’t unkind, just gone.
This has happened to me more in the last two years than in the previous twenty.
Three times, it’s happened three times. How do I remember that number, you may well ask. I remember because each time it occurs, and before I can begin to process it through my frontal lobe, my limbic cavewoman tears our chest open and scrawls the memory on the granite wall of our heart using our own viscera.
As I sit there stunned and hurting looking into her familiar wild eyes I’m caught by the primitive urge to run back to the safety of the past. Run back to what we knew, where there was no upheaval, where everyone accepted the version of us custom made for them.
She won’t tell if we silently slip back to safety, anonymity, mute sadness. Back where we were quietly overlooked.
I risk a glance back over my shoulder, and sigh, the weight of my new reality settling over me like a doomsday cloak, itching, heavy and uncomfortable.
I won’t go back; I can’t go back.
My cavewoman turns back to her wall, adding the final flourishes from her bloody, dripping fingers, those details that clog my throat and water my eyes. The bits that make me question what I’m doing, make me want to hide in the underbrush every time I hear someone approaching.
I read this part again, this bit I wrote just over two years ago –
Mr. Armitage awakened something in me. Something so deeply buried in the drudgery of day-to-day life that it needed extensive resuscitation, serious mouth to mouth, the thing was barely breathing. It was desire. A desire for myself. A desire to be seen again. A desire to be good, extra good, peaceful and forgiving, to myself. A desire to thrive, not just survive, not just take what I’m handed and be thankful. A desire to live my life, unapologetically for myself, but also anchored by a drive for excellence, compassion for others, plain human decency, humility and hard work. It’s my life, it has to be about me, it just doesn’t have to be about only me.
Being awake hurts, feeling hurts.
In my old life, I was enough the way I was. Everyone knew me, knew my history, and knew I was a good woman. This new woman, real woman, I’ve freed is still looking for her footing. Looking for her place, a place she can stand in peace, safety, and acceptance.
I’ve received comments from readers, on other venues, who are struggling along the same path. Beautiful, sensitive, empathic women, who’ve found they could no longer live in the shadows but quickly discover that sunlight, though beautiful and warm, burns.
So sit here by me for a minute, while I drain the poison from the bite, try to ease the sting, bring down the swelling. Sit here on this rock with me while I open my first aid kit; find a suitable bandage to wrap my aching heart tightly enough to numb it.
“I’ll just catch my breath, you go ahead.” I finally say.
In a moment, I’ll tighten the straps on my pack. I’ll scan the shadows and find her crouching there, matted hair, bloodied hands, wound stitched but seeping. I’ll nod my head forward, up the path.
She’ll press her finger to her lips.
Yes, we’ll go quietly for a while; she in the shadows of the trees, silent on fallen leaves and through whispering ferns, me on the path, one step at a time, one foot in front of the other but just for now, not meeting the glances of our fellow travelers.
Just for now, eyes on my feet, keep moving.