The “first day” mantra treated me well again this morning. I was lying in bed, staring at my sunrise lamp, waiting for the alarm to go off. I was making up excuses about why I couldn’t run, why it was okay to skip class, why I didn’t need to get up until it was time for work. But instead I said, “You don’t want to miss your first day of marathon training, do you?” That, and I promised myself a cigarette.
My aunt sent me a text today about keeping up the fight. How it’s hard for all of us sometimes, but we have to keep going. That’s the only option we really have. I needed that reminder and I got it.
I have been asked for patience.
All the gears squeal and fight against themselves. The flood. Anger and desperation and hopelessness. “Not right now,” has got to be the hardest thing for me to hear. I live entirely on split-second and often horrible decisions. I am made of nows and nevers. But I was asked for patience. And I understand why it’s needed, why it’s vital. I understand in waves. All the instances my friends, my partners have asked for something as simple as a little bit of time.
I’m launched back to the night I made Mason ask me for a divorce even though he wasn’t ready. To filing the paperwork neither of us was sure about. Standing in front of a judge still not convinced I was doing the right thing, but resting easy knowing at least I was doing something.
Always have to be doing something.
But this time I recognize it. This time I know it’s a trip-up. A weak point. This time I can teach myself to fall into the lull of waiting. Uncertainty is not a thing we have to embrace enthusiastically, but we must wrap our arms around it and carry it with us regardless. And I’m in a place where I can practice doing that. Where I can wait.
I was supposed to wake up at 5 AM this morning and go running. Instead I slept in until 8 AM, lazed around, went to the coffee shop, at a savory croissant, and drank a delicious cup of coffee. Generally I would beat myself up about this for the next week, but today I gave myself permission to do it. To listen to myself, to take time off, to just be. That is awesome. That is growth.
It’s been almost a year since our (not even remotely mutual) decision to divorce and Mase and I have had a strained relationship for most of it. Today we got together, ate lunch, took a walk, worked at a coffee shop, and had dinner together. He was my best friend for five years and it’s nice to know we are both willing to put in the work to figure out how to build a post-marriage friendship.
It’s forty degrees and raining again in Seattle. Luckily, I am well-equipped with rain-ready clothing. My boots and coat made the two hour walk I just took very comfortable in what could have been rather miserable conditions.
We sit in his car and I wipe tears away with my coat sleeve. I’m reminded of how my Portland therapist taught me the difference between being tough and being strong. The difference between acting like nothing hurts and knowing things will hurt, but doing them anyway.
My best friend tells me my heart is always going in fifty directions. That is must be hard if not impossible to follow something like that.
On the wall in the restaurant two signs hang next to each other. One reads “be strong” while the other “be gentle”. Finally I’m at the place in my life where those two demands do not seem at odds with each other.
In his apartment I wrap my arms around his waist and hold him as close to me as I can. One part pride, one part relief, two parts heartbreak. I cling tightly to the idea that wanting different things does not make either of us undeserving people, just not right for this partnership. And I can’t help but feel a little swell in my chest when I think about finally standing up for what I want in life. But no, that doesn’t make it easier when we kiss at the door, say “I love you”, and I walk out for the last time.
It’s a new kind of ache. One where I stand with my feet firmly planted. It does not question or try to pull in any particular direction. I know what I want and I know if that’s the way I’m heading. Know when it’s time to change course. Narrow my vision. Finally honest.
I think about having children in the next couple years and begin to look at all my options. Think about the things I want to do that don’t involve a partner. Think about my past relationships and what works and what doesn’t. What builds me up and what immobilizes me. Think about how to do this all differently. It’s my dreams. It’s my job. It’s my sobriety. All of this. This belongs to me. And if I don’t want to, I don’t have to share it with anybody.
An interesting feeling. Walking on the ground with my own two feet. Not tip-toeing around anybody. Not sieving everything through someone else’s list of wants and needs. And for the first time it does not feel selfish or pointless. It feels like taking care of me. And that feels… Worthwhile. Finally.
Photo courtesy of Ray Hennessy.