Friday, February 16, 2007

Scorpio

It's the simple, truthful things I find hardest to express. I do glib well. This is what's underneath all the Internet hilarity and...

I have to get this down. I want to make sure that I never forget it.

He says, "I come from a family of controlling, emotionally abusive men. And if you break a pattern like that, you do it over and over. You have to pay attention for the rest of your life."

I cried so hard the day after we said goodbye that it took a good long spell the next morning with teabags on my eyelids to return them to something passing for normal. I cried for my own sadness and because I thought he was sad too.

He pauses and then, "So yes, I felt those things, but if you have something good and then it ends, if you focus on sorrow, your sorrow turns to bitterness and then to bitterness against the other person for what you miss. So, I told myself it was not a bad goodbye and I would always be your friend. We've been good for each other all this time. That was what I focused on. I had to because otherwise, I'd fall into that family pattern - ownership, control, jealousy - and I'm not going to do that. And it might look uncaring but it doesn't mean I don't care about you." It's quiet, even, matter-of-fact, his tone. He doesn't trust words much and I know he is choosing these carefully, so that I don't get it wrong.

I am sitting with my head resting against his shoulder. I'm astonished to think it is an effort for him, that it requires attention. In all this time, I've been perplexed by the absolute absence of controlling behavior or possessiveness. I confess, at the beginning, I even tried once or twice to pique a little jealousy. He laughed at me. Called me on it, immediately, cheerfully.

I knew about the male side of his family. I knew he'd broken the pattern, but it never occurred to me that it required constant vigilance.

Why didn't that occur to me? Why would I ever think that an emotional demon is suddenly vanquished once and for all - an event instead of a process. A lifelong process of attending, noticing, altering the tumble of thoughts and emotions that push us into unhappy shapes.

Why didn't I ever think about how sadness can turn to bitterness, if you let yourself wander there? That you turn it outward and against someone? That, bit by bit, you can forget all the good parts. If you don't attend. If you aren't vigilant.

"I have holes inside myself," I tell him, "they have been there all my life. My family pattern is for women to throw themselves on their swords for people they love. To think that the needs of men are more important than our own. I was criticized constantly as a kid." I am thinking, with hope, that I have begun to fill those holes with something that is beginning to feel like self-worth. And knowing this man has helped that process greatly. And if I sometimes fail to heed my instincts, fail to protect my own boundaries adequately, it's less often and less serious now. The good part and the hard part is realizing that is one of my lifelong tasks. I just have to keep practicing.

"I had holes like that, too" he says, "I filled them with good things."

17 comments:

Jessie said...

Better to fill the holes with good things than with tears. Tears leak out and you have to keep pouring more in.

I was watching Oprah yesterday (only because the topic was The Secret--about attracting what you want into your life--which I need to be constantly reminded of!) and I made some notes, one of which speaks to the sorrow-to-bitterness issue. Forgiving (says my note) means saying "thank you FOR GIVING me this experience." My note goes on, and I think this was verbatim: "Being unwilling to forgive is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die." Another one of those lessons that require vigilance.

Thank you for this post, LJ. Sometimes I feel like such a stupid idiot, trying to learn the same lessons over and over. Good to be reminded that there are things that just need attending, always. It's so easy to get comfortable and forget.

LJ said...

Hi Jess.
I can certainly relate. I should know these things. I do know them. But then? Someone once said to me, "to know a thing and not to do it is to not know a thing."
I need reminding. And every time I realize I do, I feel an idiot, too.

Jess D'Zerts said...

Oh yeah, I forgot to add my final muttering...

...cursed Saturn return!!!...

There. I've said my piece.

beadbabe49 said...

you know, this one day at a time thing isn't just for those of us addicted to mind altering substances....it works for the other addictions too...like to saddness and bitterness...and the reason it's one day at a time, is because we ALL, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US...even Thicht Nhat Hahn, have to practice EVERY SINGLE DAY...I bet even the dalai lama does!

So, we're not stupid...just human beans...

LJ said...

That's not what it says in the self-help section of the bookstore, BB. I'm smiling.
Yeah. Yeah. The addiction analogy came to mind when I was thinking about this. Habits, all those millions of ingrained habits...

herhimnbryn said...

Ingrained and tucked away and then cankerous...habits and sorrows that we all have.
It is so hard to be mindful all the time. Sometimes tears are the only answer lj....they help wash a little of the sadness away.
Sending you a hug from across the sea.

LJ said...

H - I can always use those. I'm just sort of feeling profoundly grateful today for that conversation (which happened yesterday)...feeling relieved to be reminded that it's a day to day process for everyone.

zhoen said...

Be ever mindful. When you forget, forgive yourself and start being mindful again.

Darkmind said...

I see you've been redecorating... That is certainly an odd looking brush in your hair.

Teri said...

(((hugs)))

Mella said...

I'm always blown away by your ability to unravel your experiences, your relationships, yourself, so eloquently.

Mostly, I just read and then sneak away, for lack of words to offer in response. I have no insight, no wisdom or advice, only appreciation for your willingness and ability to so bravely and beautifully express yourself as you do.

Just thought you should know.

Teri said...

Yes, Mella!

LJ said...

Thank you Mella and Teri.

Marigoldie said...

You sure ain't alone, LJ.

LJ said...

Hi Marigoldie. Yeah, I know. I didn't really think I was alone on that one.

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