Quieting My Soul

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It used to be that for my husband’s job we would move about every 2 years. I loved the excitement of it all. The new house, new town, new things to do. I loved purging my life of all the un’s … the un-used, the un-wanted and the un-needed. I loved starting life “over.”

For the past 10 years we have lived in one town but moved to three different houses. We have been in this one 5 years. About the longest we have ever lived in one place and to tell you the truth…I am ready to move. This wouldn’t be a problem except that it is…B refuses to move again. I get it. It is a pain to move….so much to do…taking apart, putting together, cleaning, painting, and organizing, Yet, I was good at it. Amazingly so. In fact, I got so good at moving I would have all my boxes unpacked within the first 72 hours. No boxes sitting in the garage waiting to be unpacked for me. I took that as a personal affront if things were not in place where they belonged…soul included. And for a while my soul would be at peace while it explored and planned and painted.

My soul is a nervous one. One that craves excitement, changes and challenges. My soul has a hard time sitting and staying in one place. And when my soul gets itchy I know that it is time to move. Yet, I can’t. B no longer wants to buy and sell houses; no longer wants the bother.

So how does one feed an itchy soul?

I am not sure. I am meditating which calms and centers me but still my soul is restless. I am working on my novel but still my soul wants to wander. Sometimes it feels as if my soul is akin to a ghost wandering the halls of an old mansion looking for a way to get back into herself. And I am just not sure how to quiet her.

Will it quiet when I am living where I really want to be? Will it quiet when my marriage is good again? Will it quiet when I know what the future holds for my two autistic sons? Or do some souls never quiet because they are always looking to stir things up and invite chaos into their lives?

People say doing things for others helps quiet the soul. I haven’t found that to be true yet but I am hoping to start volunteering for a local hospice program and perhaps that will help…being close to death often reminds you how precious it all is and plants seeds of contentment in your soul.

Or perhaps quieting the soul it is more ominous to me than I truly want to recognize. Maybe my soul believes that quieting itself means I have given up… that I no longer am wanting or expecting change, that I am content and therefore complacent, that I am accepting of whatever comes my way; no longer carving out a life of my own. Done. Finished. Bricked up like a fireplace in an old house so as to eliminate the drafts. And if this is what quieting the soul is all about then frankly it scares the crap out of me.

Sometimes I wonder if I am doomed to have a wandering soul and sometimes I wonder if wandering is better than a soul lost to complacency. I’m sure there must be a middle ground but I have been unable to find it. For now my soul wants a change but perhaps this time the change will have to be within me and not through external circumstances. Looking inward instead of out. I am not sure but I know without a doubt that change is acoming’.

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Conflict

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When I was younger I enjoyed conflict. It meant that I was letting things be known and getting things done. These days I just want peace. Gone are the days of spending two hours trying to convince B that I am “right.” Gone is the time spent crafting a great argument. I would much rather spend time meditating and sitting quietly than fighting.

Yet, there is something to be said about the positive effects of conflict. During conflict we are often forced to grow, to dig deep within ourselves to find the answers that are needed, and do a bit more in an effort to resolve the issues that are at the root of the problem. Oftentimes, conflict brings us some much needed insight about ourselves and our loved ones that can then be used to find solutions that best fit our mutual needs. Usually conflict forces us to do a bit more thinking, to take action, and encourages us to analyze patterns that are dug up when our nest is disturbed.

Conflict is hard, especially when we as a species, tend to want to chase rainbows and live our lives surrounded by sunny skies. Many of us avoid conflict like the plague. But conflict if managed with mutual respect and sharply attuned listening skills can unearth gems that can change our lives or our thought patterns. So while I am not encouraging anyone to go out and start a fight with their loved one; I am saying that the next time you are in conflict with your loved one try to look for the treasures that conflict can bring. You may find exactly what your relationship needs in order to take that next step by digging deep and listening carefully and in doing so; you might just find the peace that you have been searching for.

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Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

I tell you that I’m leavin’,
You can’t believe it’s true!
You say….
Girl, there’s just no livin’ without you.
Don’t take your love away from me.
Don’t you leave my heart in misery.
‘Cause if you go, then I’ll be blue,
Breakin’ up is hard to do.
Remember when you held me tight,
And you kissed me all through the night.
Think of all that we been through,
And breakin’ up is hard to do.
They say that breakin’ up is hard to do,
Now I know, I know that it’s true.
Don’t say that this is the end.
Instead of breakin’ up I wish that
We were makin’ up again.
I beg of you don’t say goodbye,
Can’t we give our love just one more try?
Come on baby, let’s start anew,
Breakin’ up is hard to do.
Written by Howard Greenfield, Neil Sedaka • Copyright © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group

 

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I arrived home Friday to a man who was so sweet I wondered where he had been for the past year-and-one-half. Since I had told him that I want him to leave, of course, there has been a change….there always is for this type of thing. I guess it is to be expected. Shaking things up puts the boulders on top until time slowly sinks them back to the bottom. Some things never change.

He missed me while I was on the coast. He believes you don’t let go of something we have had this long. Or so he says. Now when the fear of losing me is closer than he had  ever dreamt. Filling the pill boxes, carpooling, doctor appointments. Is it me he wants or my numerous occupations…nurse, taxi driver, cook, house cleaner, bill payer, laundry folder…the list is almost endless and so is my need to know.

We talk. I am insistent. He is adamant we need to keep trying and he is staying. I suggest that he take my letter to his therapist to see what she says. I tell him I bet that she will say that he should take this time for himself. I also tell him that I want him to give his therapist permission to talk to mine to see if there is any middle ground there. He agrees. We talk late into the night without hurting each other. What do you know!

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The next day we go to lunch and start talking about separation. It is not a pleasant conversation with plenty of “My lawyer said this” and “My lawyer said that.” That little exchange gave us a preview of what was to come and neither of us liked it. Yet, one thing has changed. Paul is noticing that we are apart more than together and he is upset. Asking why one of us is gone so often. He wonders why we have to leave? “Can’t we just be a family again?” he asks. A small earthquake is rocking his world and he feels it shaking the earth under his feet.

Later, we decided to look at our calendars to see what kind of leaving can be done during the month of March.

Shit! I totally forgot that I leave with Gracie on Wednesday on a cross-country trip for a diving meet. Gone until the 7th.

B leaves the 10th for a business trip to Canada and Pennsylvania. He comes back the 17th.

The following week is the Highland Games that we have both committed to.

The next week is our anniversary with a trip to the East Coast to see our son. Neither of us wants to give that up. It should be interesting. Hopefully, we can communicate like the middle-age adults we are suppose to be rather then using our usual two-year-old communcation methods…me,me,me…you,you,you. Never just us.

Now we are into April.  Two more diving meets within the first two weeks and a business trip to Colorado. In between all of this, I am trying to become a volunteer for hospice which will require training.

All of this to say…who has time to break up? Doesn’t mean we won’t. Just means that there is a lot of booked time away from each other this coming month. Yet, Paul is noticing and he is upset. Asking why one of us is gone so often. A small earthquake is rocking his world and he feels it. Deeply.

I think it is just what we need. It may not be my original plan but it’s good enough for now and sometimes that is all you can ask for.

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Queen of Hearts

10 Minute Poem Challenge

 

QUEEN OF HEARTS

You tell me you want to keep our love alive

I tell you I want to be free

You want me to hold your hand

Until you’ve decided to be rid of me

You think that you have the advantage here

Your game so neatly played

You have counted on that fistful of hearts

Resting so neatly in your hand

To win this lovers game

You’ve used your charms quite nicely

Much like a card-counting pro

You think you hold all the cards

But I am now a worthy foe

The surety of my love for you

You mistakenly believe

Binds me to you forever

And to the rules of this game

But now I hold something more important

Than your Queen of Hearts

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Confident she’ll win the game

Thinking you have me beat

But I hold onto my dignity tightly

And play this hand so sweet

In the guise of the lowly 2’s

I use them 2 walk away

2 reject the “love” you feel for me

2 let peace fill my heart

2 feel my emotions again

2 laugh in the face of disappointment

2 love deeply even if it is not you

And instead of loving the game

That we are used to playing

I find a new understanding

That I hold the cards this time

And the heart no longer rules

But bends to the lowly 2

So I lay down my hand

And  quickly walk away

No longer do I turn and look back

I keep my eyes straight ahead

For I have finally won this hand

The game is surely dead

There are no winners here

No winner take all

But finally I have found myself

And once again stand tall

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Storms and Baggage

I wait in the shallows

Like a fish hooked to a line

Splashing frantically

Mistaking love for oxygen

Your words driving me backwards

As you release the hook

That has pierced my lip

And held me still for so long

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Like a gale churning and throwing

Our life far, far away from

All we knew

I am here

You are there

Yet, your words

And sometimes the lack of them

Take me under

Scraping the sandy bottom

Of what our relationship used to be

I think I can no longer be with you

Because you do not know who you are

And in not knowing

You drag me down to skin and bones

Clinging to life, yet lifeless

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I am a soul who still wants to dance

Unafraid of your pronouncements

Of whether that movement

Is good or evil

I want to feel the wind for myself

Let life wash over me again

Unhampered by your sea walls

Meant to keep the shoreline in place

I have done the work

I was meant to do

Have you?

For now I wish

To let the unknown be born

Let the necessary changes occur

Which will free us both

As we are no longer one

We are now separated by a quay

Of hurts larger than the boulders

Which have created it

I want to find wisdom

In how I am living

In what I am feeling and doing

Touching and tasting

No longer content to munch on stale bread

I want the life force

Of action and touch

I want to look outwards

Not back towards your shadow

Which tries to hold on to mine

Refusing to free it

But now…finally

I’m throwing my baggage to the sea

So once again I can be me

Do not try to retrieve it

There is nothing new there for you

All it contains is what

You already rejected

Time and time again

No, let that baggage float out to sea

While I go pack again

With those things that are

Meaningful just to me

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Sitting With The Pain

Since I started seeing my therapist she has been urging me to just sit with things and honestly I thought I had been. But these past two weeks have been a real revelation to me as I finally understand what “sitting with things” really entails.

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The first thing is that I am just sitting and observing my feelings in a detached sort of way. Not depressed, not numb, but just watching as if my feelings were a movie. Watching the shadows, the lighting, the words that come out of the actors mouths and the body language that accompanies these things. And I have to say that it is one of the most freeing things I have ever done for myself. No explosive reactions just observation and the time needed to think things through without a time line.

Another thing that has happened as a result of my sitting with things is that I have no need to determine the outcome or push for what I think the outcome ought to be. I realize that I have wasted so much of my energy over the years trying to bend things to my will. I have always tried throughout my entire life to produce the desired outcome I envisioned at all costs.  The result of letting this go: more energy, more happiness, less anxiety and frustration.

Sitting with things as I am doing it now is delightful. I feel no pressure to make immediate decisions. I feel that reflecting at my own pace instead of reacting instantaneously  is allowing me to have a deeper experience that is bringing greater understanding as to how we have gotten where we are. And even if we separate it is bringing a much needed peace to my heart in knowing that I am better off for this entire experience and can bring a whole person to the table when this is over; instead of just a shadow of my former self, as a result of taking time for deep self-reflection.

So although I will confess that ending a 30+ year relationship is not what I thought would be on my radar just a few short years ago, I find I am growing in ways I have not in a very long time. Important ways which my soul desperately needed and of which I was unaware. I have no idea what is ahead but I suspect there will be many tears which will water the flowers in my soul’s garden and bring forth the life hidden in seeds I am planting for the future. I know not whether we will walk this path together or if I will be journeying all alone but either way I now know that I am stronger than I was when this all began and that is a gift that I will always treasure.

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P.S. My first biggest fear my entire life has been heights. I hate them. My second biggest fear has been divorce. But on Friday, February 17, I have decided to take on my biggest fear and jump out of an airplane. I have two notions about this:

  1. I figure if I can take on my biggest fear than anything my second biggest fear throws at me I will be able to handle.
  2. If the chute fails to open I just avoided a potentially messy divorce.
  3. Either way I win
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  5. If she can do it so can I

Re-Cycle

 

Today you leave on a “business” trip

To give us space and time

And next week I’ll do the same

While our children

With all their special needs

Watch the slow

Splintering of our lives

Not seeing the whole picture yet

But getting a glimpse of what is to come

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Next week I will walk the cliffs

Gather my thoughts

And sit in silence as waves of emotions

Threaten like a gale force wind

To toss me off the path

Down to the jagged rocks below

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Wanting to make the decision that must be made

And hiding from it like a field mouse

Scampering everywhere just to avoid

Going THERE

Decisions that are far-reaching

Into children’s minds not yet formed

Which when released

Might set off an explosion

One from which this family may never recover.

I’m a freedom fighter

Setting a charge on a dark and gloomy bridge

As the flame slithers along towards it final detonation

But as you look up you see… it is your own loved one

Making their way slowly down the cobblestones

Their last seconds burned into your mind

As you try to squash the flame that you intentionally set

Not knowing at the time

Who the victims would really be

I know what is coming

More heartbreak, despair, second-guessing,

More anger, blaming and worry

Until at last

My soul will be left hollowed away

Into something completely unrecognizable to me

Something vast, flattened, and empty

Something I can abandon or recycle into something new

A vessel that only I can begin to fill again

And it’s my choice what to fill it with….

I think I’ll start with wine.

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Distance

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I thought things were so much better between us but it feels like we are headed downhill once again. The distance between us has re-appeared and it makes us wary, circling one another, both waiting for the other to make the first strike.

The distance between us varies. Right now it feels like a ship off course from its intended destination. Off course because a storm is tossing it about in rough deep seas and as I look out of the window all I can see is gray skies and rolling waves the size of skyscrapers. And the smell sticks to you like wet, moldy grass. But it is the smell of fear that fills the room. Fear of sinking and fear of knowing you can never swim hard enough or fast enough to plant your feet firmly on the ground.

Sometimes I associate this distance with my GGG Grandparent immigrants. That last kiss, that last hug and that last wave knowing that all of it would be the last of everything and everybody you knew and that you would never see those who were left behind again. It feels conflicted…excited at a new chance, scared about what the unknowns were before you, and sad for all you were leaving behind. Sometimes our distance feels deeper than this sort of distance.

Often the distance between us feels like we are across from one another, standing in a sunny meadow. I reach for you and I find I am stuck in concrete and that I cannot move. Sometimes you see me and make your way towards me. Other times you turn your back and walk away.  It feels confusing and leaves a terrible taste in my mouth like dry burnt toast.

And sometimes this distance feels like we are just feet away from each other on a bridge but we both fail to take off our blindfolds so we can see that the other is right in front of us. This is even harder…so close…yet so far apart.

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Best Qualities As A Mother

UPDATE

Since B stated 18 months ago that he might want to divorce we have done a lot to try to save our relationship. This includes a Marriage Encounter weekend, his therapist, my therapist and a joint marriage therapist. I have decreased my yelling to a trickle, have kept the house in good shape and have lost weight. Frankly, things had been improving for close to a year but lately I have noticed that we have been regressing. More grudges, less sex, 66% less dialoging, etc. I am a very intuitive person and I “feel” these changes and recognize them for what they are and lately I have been feeling really anxious about them.

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I have never been an anxious person even when I have had plenty to be anxious about. For 57 years I have kept most of that anxiety stuff swept under the rug. But lately, it has occurred to me that as B distances himself my anxiety rises. It is an uncomfortable place to be. Sometimes it even makes me question my sanity because I tell him I am feeling the distance which he denies but then three weeks later at a therapy session he uses the words and admits that when x happened he distanced himself all the while denying my concerns for the past weeks.  It is a crazy way to live.

BEST QUALITIES

Recently, we had a dialogue question that asked each of us to talk about our partners best qualities as a parent. In the allotted 10 minutes I wrote about 7 qualities that B has that I think make him a great parent.

Now I know in dialogue you are not supposed to judge the other’s response because they are based on “feelings.” And feelings may be factually true or not but the bottom line is that they are what they are. So when B wrote about the qualities he admired that I had as a parent it basically came down to the fact that “I cared for my children.” To say I was hurt that this was the only quality he listed was an understatement.

Everyone cares for their children. You care for your dog. You care whether you have enough toilet paper in the house to last the entire week. Caring for your children really doesn’t get any accolades in my book. It is something we all do… even badgers, skunks and probably even one-cell amoebas.

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So I took this to my therapist. She wanted me to write down what I wished he had said about my good qualities as a parent. Here goes:

  1. I wish he had said that I am good about seeing or initiating those deep soulful and meaningful talks when they need them to boost their confidence, understanding of life or just need to express their concerns. I wish he had said he knew that most of the time they seek me out which shows that they trust my love and advice.
  2. I wish he had said that I love my kids fiercely and deeply and that they know that they can count on that love and can trust me to be there for them forever.
  3. I wish he had said that my children know I believe in them and that I think that they can accomplish whatever it is that they set out to do and that by knowing this it will take them far in life.
  4. I wish he had said that he knows I am their biggest fans and that I cheer them on with encouragement when they are lacking the spunk to make that “final touchdown” in whatever it is they are doing.
  5. I wish he had said I am a “good” parent far more often than a “bad” one and that even when I fail it is not intentional or malicious.
  6. I wish he had said that raising six kids, two of whom have autism, would be a tough job for anyone and that it is amazing I don’t lose it every day.
  7. I wish he had said that my kids had experienced so much of this world thanks to me and that if it was left to him they would not have.
  8. I wish he had said that I try my best to teach them the important things that they will need to navigate their lives now and in the future.
  9. I wish he had said that I am “good enough” parent some of the time (which is okay) and a great parent when it really counts.
  10. I give good hugs.
  11. I wish he had said that I encourage my kids to take risks which creates opportunities for them to believe in themselves.
  12. I wish he had said I am an honest parent in dealing with my kids and all the people we have to deal with because of their interests and their issues and that my honesty helps provide desperately needed clarity.
  13. I just wish he had said I am a good mother and he could not manage without me.

And while this exercise was difficult because I kept wanting to explain or add in the negative to balance it all out, I didn’t because this is my gift to myself and a tribute to who I am as a parent. I don’t NEED B to validate it…but it would have been nice.

The Other Side Of The Mountain

 

The other day we were driving up to the cabin. The wind was quiet and the sun bright as we climbed higher into the mountains. It brought me back to a year ago when I was making the same drive. My marriage was a mess and I was a wreck. It seemed like nothing was ever going to get better and I wondered if I was ever going to feel happiness again. Last year it was a hard drive and I made it alone.

This year the drive was different. The wolf spiders were out along the roads doing their mating dance. img_1929

The leaves were just beginning to turn with brilliant yellows and a few orange ones dotting the landscape. The birds were singing and the deer were just frolicking with one another in the backyard. We also felt lucky as we saw large embers from the fire laying on our deck knowing how easily the cabin could have gone up in flames as the embers were carried by the wind.img_1933

B and I just enjoyed our time together and wished for nothing more. It was a fantastic day.

When it was time to leave we opted to try a different way home. It was a road we had never ventured on before and we hoped to see how close the big fire of a month ago had made it to our cabin. About a mile from our place we left the pavement and headed down a dirt road. Further and further back we climbed until we could look back upon the entire valley. It was clean and clear. No sign of a fire anywhere. We climbed higher, the trees in thick clusters, more colors to their leaves. We were high on the mountain and you could feel the tightness begin to shape your lungs like the blue rubber bands you find on bunches of celery in the grocery store.

Finally, we came to another paved road. Here we found signs still mounted on the trees which read THANK YOU FIREFIGHTERS and STAY SAFE. But still no sign of the fire itself. We saw the red fire-retardant splashed on the road that had been dropped from airplanes that once buzzed through the smoke choked sky. But there was still no trace of the devastating fire that had ravaged the mountains just one month ago.

As we descended, we realized that we were on the backside of the mountain which usually takes us up to the cabin. It felt like an entirely different place. Long grasses lay flat and swirled around massive tree trunks creating a kaleidoscope of colorful designs.

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Huge boulders the remnants of dinosaur days dotted the landscape in odd places looking like they had been dropped there by some humongous creature playing chess. It was the other side of the mountain but it could have been worlds away from where we had started.

Finally, after another 10 miles we made it back around to our usual road, the one that could take us back up the mountain. As we hit that mile marker I realized that our marriage in the past twelve months and this trip to the cabin shared many commonalities. For over this past year we had the courage to take an unfamiliar road which brought us new things to see/contemplate which eventually brought us to a happiness/coziness that we find amongst the trees. We also fought the flames of divorce, and while we did get singed, we didn’t get burned. Our marriage, just like this new road, looks different from the other side of the mountain at which we started our trip.  And today, more than at any other time during this journey; I feel blessed that we were able to traverse the vast unknown and make our way safely home from the other side.

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