As much as I practice suiting up and showing up there is still a melancholy that follows me like dirt off Charles Schulz’s Pigpen.
I never in a million guesses believed my life would entail being 53, twice divorced, estranged from my daughter, brother, and living in such a rural area of Anywhere. I can paint all the smiles onto the good things (and there are good things in my life), but I feel the weight of omnipresent loneliness.
I might not speak of it, but the people that love me and see me know it exists.
Running helps immensely. Traveling helps immensely. Dancing, even if it’s alone in the middle of the kitchen, helps immensely. Therapy helps immensely. Writing helps immensely.
However, what helps immensely, doesn’t fix. Growth has taught me there is no fix.
In reality, life is hard. Life needs to be hard. The stories I tell myself makes it harder. When I remember this, I allow myself to feel depressed if I feel depression, sadness if I feel sadness, anxiety if I feel anxiety, and loneliness if I feel loneliness.
Then I tell someone.
Eventually. Which also helps immensely.
What never helps is adopting a toxic positivity that forces me to curate what I am feeling or how I feel. Dr. Susan David talks about the concept of emotional agility and feeling all the feelings I feel without self-judgment, self-contempt, or self-pity. Considering my life history and the shadows I struggle to step out from under, such as anxiety and probably ADHD, this is a practice that requires conscious effort.
Approaching how I emotionally experience life I”m reminded of of two authors:
As Carl Jung wrote, “What we resist persists and even grows.”
Although, frankly, I always feel an echo of loneliness and anxiety.
There is no avoiding the loneliness and anxiety. I know. I’ve tried for 53 years.
And Walt Whitman’s lines about friendship and loneliness. Whitman writes:
“When I peruse the conquer’d fame of heroes and the victories of– Walt Whitman, When I Peruse The Conquer’d Fame
mighty generals, I do not envy the generals,
Nor the President in his Presidency, nor the rich in his great house,
But when I hear of the brotherhood of lovers, how it was with them,
How together through life, through dangers, odium, unchanging, long
Through youth and through middle and old age, how unfaltering, how
affectionate and faithful they were,
Then I am pensive?I hastily walk away fill’d with the bitterest envy.”
Whitman’s poem touches my soul.
The truth is, I imagined that through middle and old age Painter and I would love one another unfalteringly…if I could just fix my mistakes, get Beatrix to leave us alone, and keep Painter happy and safe. I use to tell myself and others that my relationship with Painter ended because I blew it; it ended because I failed.
It isn’t that simple. “I blew it” and “I failed” remain wholly inaccurate summaries deeply infused with unspoken nuance for those paying attention.
The perspective that I am solely responsible for Painter’s actions and responses or solely responsible for the relationship’s well-being is a codependent‘s approach to vulnerability and intimacy. It is an approach to relationships built on fairy tales.
Knowing the story is a story doesn’t mean it is easier. Knowing this I think makes it harder because I am forced to take a different tact in connecting with others.
Based on the limited words from Painter, she always felt the relationship was temporary. I was, in her words, the day she asked me to leave, just a “sugar daddy.” I cannot express with a million posts how that phrase shatters my perception of our life together. I cannot speak how deeply that cuts to the quick of my life. How deeply that blade sunk into my heart.
I never felt that way about Painter or our relationship. Perhaps she spoke in anger or out of a hurt place. I don’t know. I do know that sometimes people say things that are honest out of anger and hurt. I know that phrase didn’t pop out of a vacuum.
What I do know is it never even occurred to me she felt that way. I never acted in a way that treated our relationship as a transaction. I never thought of her as property in a sexist way. I believed we were Partners “together through life, through dangers, odium, unchanging, long and long…” I believed I belonged to her.
When I say my heart is broken, I mean it is broken. It doesn’t work the way it did before.
Maybe that is simply growth as my understanding and approach to love, intimacy, and relationships have become more skillful, pragmatic, and truthful. I like to think that is what is happening. I’m growing.
It may also be I am so demoralized by the loss and soul saddened that I disconnected the battery.
I am wired for connection, empathy, love, and passion, but I’ve struggled to find a spark after the relationship with Painter. I can go through the motions, but sometimes I am profoundly disconnected from my heart. At times, especially when I am alone sitting in a hotel room again, I am numb.
For this reason, I write. Writing connects me with my heart.
It doesn’t mean that I don’t love someone or cannot have a relationship. It simply means that my expectations are reset, my priorities have changed, and the approach to life is driven by pursuing growth and not relationships. Pursuing growth means leaving the door open to the discomforts accompanying sensations, stories, and experiences that accompany loneliness, grief, loss, and sadness.
As I said earlier, there are some things I can do that help me make sense of the moment, but those actions don’t fix. There is nothing that will fix that sense of loneliness and isolation.
Oc course, I could run away, again.
I could cope using another affair or drugs or porn or pain-shift onto others…or put a bullet in my brain. I could avoid the emotional consequences and search for ways not to feel uncomfortable. I understand those choices. They appear easier.
Or I can leave the shadows and stories. For example, sometimes when I hear someone say, “I love you” I cringe. There are stories attached to that expression I am trying to leave.
However, as BADBADNOTGOOD sings, running is easy, leaving is hard. Frankly, right now, and over the last few months, marshaling the resources necessary to leave has been hard…but I’m doing it anyway.