Lately I have been reading through a journal I wrote when I turned 25 - ramblings and musings from a decade ago when I was so young I felt invincible. I felt overwhelmed by what seemed like life’s endless possibilities. I had starry-eyed dreams of accomplishing Something Big. I had a lot of very high highs and low lows. My life often seemed to swing between incredible bliss and near-suicidal despair. (Or perhaps the more mundane moments of life did not make it into my journal.) At 25, I lived big - grandiose. I ate big and I drank big and I smoked big and I sang and I lived like a diva. In all my grandiosity, I was sheltered by the gigantic tree of marriage. Its trunk stabilized me, rooted me, kept me from spinning off into an orbit from which I could not return.
My life is so different now. Parenthood has tempered me, forced me to settle down, to focus on someone other than myself. Divorce has left me feeling, in the Arabic phrase, maqtua3a min al-shajarah (cut off from the tree; rootless) but I am slowly learning to put down roots and settle into the life I have.
I have been reflecting on the lessons I’ve learned over the last 10 years. At 35, I am still young, but I would like to think I’ve learned a few things. I am very aware of just how little I do know, in the scheme of things; perhaps that is a humility that comes with age.
Here are some of the lessons I would like to think I’ve learned (or am still learning day by day). Not in any particular order.
Life does not always turn out as you imagined. While potentially scary, this can be a wonderful thing because there is the possibility of life turning out better than you imagined. Basically, be open to life taking you to unexpected places and don’t get too attached to “how things are supposed to be.”
Don’t look for anyone or anything outside of yourself to bring happiness. I know it’s such a cliche, but I spent my 20s and most of my 30s so far doing this in some way, shape or form. I am still working pretty hard with this one; learning that happiness is truly a result of my attitude to life and not about any achievement, thing I acquire, or substance I put in my body. Happiness has little to do with external conditions and everything to do with internal ones.
Tell the truth. I’ve decided that lying, even so-called “white lies” has had a toxic effect on my mind, body, and spirit for too long. For this reason, I’ve decided to give it up. I have even given up making excuses that aren’t true. I simply say, “I can’t do it,” or “that won’t work for me.” Less is more. Sometimes the truth can be hurtful; and sometimes it needs to be said anyway. I’ve learned the hard way about the danger of lying to protect others’ feelings - it only comes back to bite you in the ass.
Big accomplishments often come about as a result of small, daily actions. In other words, discipline is more important than having lots of time on ones’ hands to do something. I can’t say I’ve applied this principle to my blog over the last several months, but I have seen it work miracles in my life in other ways. I’ve especially learned this lesson as a parent, when “free time” has become a laughable notion.
All things that arise, pass away. I didn’t know this when I was 25, at least not in a really visceral, gut way. That came about as a result of the last 7 years of studying Buddhist philosophy and trying to live it in my life. These days, even when things feel just impossibly painful, I seem to remember “this, too, shall pass” - and it always does. This also applies to the good stuff - which reminds me to savor life’s joys more deeply.
When you’re feeling down, do something for someone else. For much of my life I have led a very self-centered existence. It’s just always been All About Me. I’m learning that this kind of attitude does not tend to bring much peace, nor does it foster authentic relationships. I’m learning that when I am really in a bad place emotionally, it is actually more helpful to ask someone else how they are doing than it is to repeat my same sob story to someone else for the gazillionth time. Doing for someone else, or even just asking them how they are doing, gets me out of a rut every time.
I don’t need a man to complete me. Feminists everywhere are puking because I ever felt differently. But the truth is that I have not been alone for my whole adult life. There was always a man. It has only been in the last few months that I feel like I can authentically speak this sentence, from the heart and not the head. At the end of this year, I may decide to start dating again. But if I do, it will not be from a sense of lack but from a sense of simply wanting a partner to share this big, crazy, beautiful, complicated thing called life.
Don’t act out of anger. Anger is an absolutely authentic emotion that has very real and legitimate causes in many cases. Yet I have regretted pretty much every single thing I’ve ever said when angry, and every email I’ve sent in anger. I’m learning to pause and allow myself to feel angry without actually needed to say and do anything from that place. To take some time and postpone action until I am calmer. I may still be angry but I am not acting from the heat of that intense rage.
Live for today. This one is in the category of wisdom I am very much still working on. I spend huge swathes of my time in the past, feeling remorse, or in the future, feeling anxious. The pull of the past and future are like these huge magnets on either side of my brain, tugging endlessly. But yet, both don’t exist. Every day gives me an opportunity to start fresh trying to live this truth.
“To compare is despair.” I am most miserable when I am comparing my life to someone else. I always fall short; or if I do deem myself superior, there is always someone else who will come along and cut me down to size. I am most at peace when I compare myself to myself. Yes, I may not have the huge book deal I dreamed of 10 years ago. I am not really accomplished in any sense of the word. I don’t have an ultra-glamorous, prestigious job and I am not jet-setting around the globe. But I see how far I have come, how much I have grown in the last decade, and it makes me smile. I have much more compassion for myself than I used to, I am learning to forgive myself for my mistakes, and I am on the road to being more comfortable in my skin.
Happy birthday to me!
I have neglected this blog for so long, it almost feels silly to start it back up again. Being a blogger takes a lot of work and discipline and I have just been too overwhelmed with life to put in the effort. Yet, I miss the practice. I am not going to make any promises to myself or anyone else to start writing regularly again…but here I am, back for another try.
Part of why I have not been writing is that my life has been so, well…mundane lately. It’s been very simple. No drama. No exciting stories about dating and men and being giddily in love and having my heart ripped out and tossed in a blender to puree.
Don’t get me wrong - there are dramas, but they are largely internal dramas. A lot of them have to do with stopping the dating roller coaster and coming face to face this year with me. With a lot of feelings that I didn’t even realize I had. I was so busy looking for “the one” that I forgot about “the one” I look at in the mirror every day.
The dating roller coaster is on hiatus, for now. Last November I took a no-dating commitment and dubbed 2010 “The Year of Loving Myself Passionately.” I have to say, though, that I haven’t really been loving myself all that passionately.
Not dating has also caused me to pay a lot more attention to my ex and his new wife and 11 month old baby. They have all moved into my brain and are living lives of permanent domestic bliss there. My ex and his new wife are always happy and they never fight. Their marital satisfaction is complete and total. They have endless amounts of romantic time and fun family outings. Their baby daughter is perfectly behaved and self-soothes like a dream. They are not sleep-deprived and overwhelmed. My ex is so ecstatic to be with the woman of his dreams and to have procreated with her to engender such perfect offspring. Their lives are just fabulously special.
Do I have an iota of a clue of how their life in reality corresponds to how they live in my brain? None.
The truth is that I’m still clearly grieving the loss of my friend and partner of 10 years. Still. This month, we were divorced 2 years ago. He is married to someone else and has a kid! Hello! It’s OVER.
Yet, I can’t let go of him. Friends remind me that I was not all that happy when I was with him, for most of our marriage, that he was far from the idealized soul-mate I am making him out to be now. But that doesn’t compute. All I can see is my loss, and this other woman’s gain.
Ever since he left, I chased men so that I didn’t have to feel what I am feeling right now. I smoked a half a pack of cigarettes a day and drank my daily allotment of wine and beer, ate my daily allotment of chocolate, so I wouldn’t have to feel these things so acutely. But for now…I am on this path of sobriety and celibacy, and those are not options I’m pursuing.
Some days…the grief and the jealousy are not total. Some days, my ex and his family take up less space in my brain. Sometimes, they even go out for a while. Other days, they take over and make a mess, kicking over furniture and being very unruly guests.
I’m not sure what to do with this occupation of my brain, other than to weather it through. The past couple of years, I never really came to terms with what happened, how my marriage ended. The hideousness, the humiliation of being left for someone else. None of my single mom friends can understand it. Their ex-husbands were all disgusting bastards and it was their decision to end their marriages. Not that it makes the whole thing easy and simple - divorce is rarely that - but there is some power in being the one who leaves.
I know, I know, I have abandonment issues. I’d go back to therapy if therapy hadn’t been so completely useless to me my whole life. I can talk about things ad infinitum, and understand very deeply why I feel the way I do. But for me, knowing why things are the way they are doesn’t automatically lead to acceptance of why things are the way they are. I’m still working on that.
One thing that does help is to try to practice gratitude for what I do have. I am blessed with the most awesome kid in the world, a kick-ass job…a sweet little home, a relatively new, reliable car that gets us around to all kinds of places, caring friends…a healthy body, relative youth and physical attractiveness. The list could go on and on. I know, objectively, I have a good little life. But it is such a challenge to not focus on what is wrong with my life. Every day, I just try to change the channel on this tired old rerun that plays over and over in my head.
I see the ways that I try to distract myself from my ex-husband’s family that has taken up residence in my brain. Even when I have my time with my dear sweet little boy, we are always on the go. Because I work from home, being at home a lot when I’m not working is hard. I am always on the hunt for activities to do with S — partially because he is an active 4.5 year old, and partially because mommy must keep moving, must keep going…sitting still can just be too hard for mommy these days.
I do my 30 minutes of meditation a day, but above and beyond that…I’ve got to move!
Another distraction I’ve taken up is in the form of Turkish soap operas. I discovered that I can watch them online through MBC, the Middle East Broadcasting Channel. They are dubbed in Syrian Arabic - the language my ex speaks, and hearing that accent is so comforting to me for some reason. I like that they take place in a culture that blends the values of the Middle East and the West. I tell myself it’s also good for my Arabic, rapidly declining because I don’t have anyone to speak to anymore - but the real reason is the excitement, the romance, that I vicariously get to live through these soaps. It is interesting because I couldn’t care less about American soap operas…but these, I am obsessed with. I stay up until all hours of the night watching them, saying, I’ll just finish this episode. Oh, just one more…
I see the ways I try to distract myself, and I try to have compassion. One cannot be with their feelings 24/7. I am not a monk, not even close.
Summer is tough. It is hot and sultry and sweaty and people’s clothes are coming off. I think sometimes I turn heads, though I always need my gay friends to tell me that. Everywhere I look, all I see are couples. They are holding hands and kissing and going out for dinner and being all lovey-dovey and stuff. I feel so ridiculously, conspicuously single.
But, all this whining aside, I need to go on with this commitment to investigate this single life. There is some value in it, some growth, that is happening. It seems I can’t quite see it, as I go through it, but this is one of those experiences that I know I will some day look back on and say, “Damn! That was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
Writing this post reminds me that I have sort of forgotten about the “loving myself passionately” part of this commitment. I’ve been so distracted by my mental house guests and their sickening happiness. But I am the landlord of my brain and they can only live there if I say so. I can kick them out, I can spiff up the place, and decorate it to my liking. It is my choice.
I’ve just begun a 10-month online course called Awakening Joy with Buddhist meditation teacher James Baraz and a whole host of guest teachers. As the name would indicate, it’s about cultivating happiness, wellbeing, peace, serenity, whatever you call it, in your daily life. I continue to be amazed and humbled by technology because it really is the next best thing to being there; they have videos of the in-person class in Berkeley, assignments, discussion forums, etc. which is just a great way of learning for someone like me.
I want to practice making peace and serenity my new default switch. In fact, I think this is one of the most important things I can do, for myself and for Sami. My current default is a mixture of fear, doubt, and insecurity. I have to work very hard to overcome that; I suppose much of humanity does. James talks about it as our primitive brain, our amygdala, which is that part of our brain designed to scan the horizon for threats and danger.
Today, I know that I am my own worst enemy, my own greatest threat. I take difficult situations and challenges make them more painful by throwing heaps of self-judgment and shame and blame on the pile. I know that all of this must not be very good for my health. It isn’t a way of living and thinking that I want to teach Sami.
I want to be a person who is alive and at peace. I know I am already that person. The task that lies before me is to let go of all the habits and ways of being that get in the way of who I already authentically am. So…as part of The Year of Loving Myself Passionately, I’m dedicating myself to cultivating joy.
One of the first tasks we are asked to do in the course is to write a “nourishment list” of everything that brings us joy, and to indicate which ones we could see ourselves doing in everyday life. I’ll put a * next to those activities. Here’s mine. If anyone out there is reading, I’d love it if you would do your own and post as a comment or link to it on your own blog.
My nourishment list:
Snuggling and kissing my son *
Loving my child *
Meditation at dawn *
Mindful prayer *
Burning a stick of Nag Champa *
Long hot baths *
Eating healthy whole foods, freshly prepared *
Reading a fantastic novel *
Writing in this blog *
Going to live shows
Listening to Sigur Ros, Iron and Wine, Low *
Remembering Amma’s darshan *
Talking on the phone with my peeps who get me *
Travel to new places *
Learning how to make digital videos *
Putting together 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles *
Getting tattooed (I know, not everyone’s idea of nourishing)
Painting my nails funky colors *
Zoning out to a trashy TV series when my brain needs a rest
Visiting the Peace Park
Walking in Rock Creek Park
…that’s all I can think of now. It is a lovely exercise to reflect on the things that bring joy. And part of loving myself passionately is that I will make the time and effort to do these things.
As I hear my ex’s car pull up to drop off S, I open the blinds. The light goes on in the car.
She is sitting there. I don’t see her face, I have never seen her face…but I see the toss of a head. Long curly hair.
I feel sick. I feel my aloneness, my acute loneliness. Who am I kidding with this Year of Loving Myself Passionately. Tonight I am not feeling it.
He opens the door, looking ridiculously handsome in his grey corduroy jacket. He had always loved his style, always looked good. He never knew how good-looking he was. I wonder if he knows now. I wonder what occasion has him so dressed up. It’s not for me to know what happens in his life.
My ex hands me my son, and I am silent, not saying anything for fear of waking him up. “He’s out,” he mumbles. I carry him upstairs and deposit him in the bed. I watch from the bedroom window as my ex and his new family drive away.
The pain is so big I feel like I can’t stand it. But that is a lie. I know it will pass. Tomorrow is another day. But there is something about seeing her, there in the passenger’s seat, the one who replaced me 2 plus years ago. The one he lies next to every night. I wonder if he loves her.
Why can’t I get over it? Why can I not accept reality?
I know this isn’t about him. That’s the most recent story I tell to myself. But I know it’s BS.
I wasn’t satisfied when I was married to him, and I’m not satisfied alone.
I will never be satisfied, with myself or anyone else, until I do some honest, inner work.
I will never be satisfied until I learn how to practice acceptance.
Until I find a way to come to terms with the way things are I will always see what is missing, I will live in not enough, and I will live in yesterday, and tomorrow, and I will live in the anxiety that propels me speeding forward into this life, with so little peace in my head, and my heart.
I want more peace in my head and my heart.
So I will take this grief and these tear-stained cheeks and I will hold myself through it. I will snuggle up to my little guy and I will allow myself the “poor man’s nirvana” of sleep.
I find myself exhilarated by the early days of TYOLMP…but I also feel a bit alone in it. All of the single parent bloggers I know talk about their evolving relationships, newly-found significant others, their dates, their hook-ups, their ever-hopeful search for connection with another human being. And believe me, there is zero judgement or criticism in that. We are human, and the need to love and be loved is a central part of the human experience.
What is this road I’m on? This strange, counter-cultural path? The path of chosen singlehood. Celibacy. The deliberate decision to work on a relationship with oneself. And simultaneously, to work on developing a spiritual connection with the Universe, God, whatever you wish to call it - something greater than myself. Those are two really significant relationships to be working on…in addition to the critically important relationship with my child, and I can’t imagine trying to fit dating in there, not right now.
When I date, at least when I have dated, it tends to eclipse just about everything in my life. It’s that hunt, that search, the catch, the infatuation, the decline, the falling out of love, or he falls out of love, the drifting apart, the breakup, the sadness, the disillusionment, followed inevitably by that new contact made, the new interest, the new crack-love-high, that whole cycle. It takes up all my excess energy. I disappear in the darkened forest. Spiritual connection disappears. My relationship with my child is less authentic. I wish I could do it all in a more balanced way, but I can’t. I have a wound that is old and I have never even begun to let it heal. 34 years of festering pain is a long time, and each time I turn away from it, I only increase the magnitude of it.
I feel like I am living some kind of combination between a monastic life and that of a householder. Like a monk, I am abstaining from intoxicants and substances that are addictive for me. I am abstaining from dating, sex, all of that stuff. Today, I am heeding a deeper pull, a pull of the Spirit, which draws me in quite powerfully. Yet I live in the world at the same time, as a woman, a mother, a worker, an activist, and an artist. I cannot spend just about all my time in prayer and meditation and devotion like the monks do.
Sometimes I don’t know how to balance it all. I feel attracted to certain people and I know I will not act on it in any way, regardless of their availability. A married male friend recently asked if he could set me up with his friend, and this was a good early test of my commitment to TYOLMP: I said “if he’s free in 2011, by all means set me up.”
I won’t deny that there was a twinge of curiosity about my prospective date. It’s made tougher because I feel so attractive and sexy right now. I feel physically better than ever with all this weight loss I’ve experienced in the last few months. In some ways this would be the best time to put myself out there; yet I know I must stay true to myself and wait, no matter what kind of tempting people or situations cross my path. There are old impulses that remain yet, I know that like the desire to drink, smoke, and eat junk that I must ride the craving through until it passes. And it always does.
This is a bold new journey for me; uncharted territory, and I don’t know where I am going. I can’t see very far ahead on this path, which can be frightening, but I am confident that it leads to the place I’ve always been searching for in every man, in every high, in every external thing “out there”: the true refuge that is already and always in here, in the steadiness of my heart beat, in the strength of my breath, in the early-morning silence that greets me as I take my place on the cushion.
Thanks to Ms. Single Mama for inspiring this video!!
Tomorrow will conclude a full seven days spent with my son. A week without work and school, without the typical interruptions that punctuate my time with him. Just the two of us, and our friends, the only family I have. And it has been a beautiful week, for the most part. Just about every day I managed to set up playdates, fun holiday activities, one on one playtime and snuggle time with mama. What a joy to hear my four year-old say, “I love spending time with you, mama!!”
To be fully honest, when I got S back from his dad almost a week ago, I was not without trepidation. How would I keep him busy and happy for all that time? How would I provide him with the mental and physical outlets he needs, especially in the winter? Would I have the patience and strength to be present for him for such an extended stretch, when unfortunately we are both accustomed to being together for brief increments of time? In truth, the only full day I have with him each week is Saturday evening to Sunday evening. I am not satisfied with that, but it is just the way things are right now.
It is a tragedy to me that I am filled with such enormous insecurity as a mother. Yet it does not surprise me. I was taken away from my own mother at age 5 and she died at the age of 46. My maternal grandmother, who made an enormous sacrifice to raise me, was still not the kind of role model that I want to emulate. Without much in the way of role models, I go on a combination of doing the opposite of what was done to me, trying to apply a lot of gentle/positive discipline techniques, and of course, give a whole lot of love.
I know most parents feel inadequate to the task of parenting. Yet sometimes I feel like my sense of inadequacy will swallow me whole. It is sometimes crippling. It is this sense of parental shortcoming that butts up against the intense and all-consuming love I feel for my child. It gets in the way of the moments we do have.
There was a low point, early on in the week, when S and I got into a power struggle about something (I honestly don’t remember what) and it ended up with him screaming, then with his teeth sinking into my leg, creating a wound that nearly bled. I was too horrified to react. I quietly went downstairs and cried my eyes out for a few minutes while he played upstairs, perhaps a little shocked himself at what transpired.
Later that night, I sat down and wrote all my limiting thoughts about my mothering abilities. The various permutations filled a solid page. These are the thoughts that so often run through my head. Seeing them on paper was kind of stark and eye-opening. They were so harsh and cruel. The one that hurts the most is a thought I often have: that his father somehow knows how to do everything right and I am the one who is clueless and bumbling. It is a double-whammy: the sadness at losing my 24-7 partner and my sense of not being able to go it alone.
Then I remember the question that Byron Katie asks: “Who would you be without the thought?”
Who would be I be without these thoughts?
That is easy: I would be a conscious, aware parent who is totally in love with my son and committed to doing the best I can at the most important job of my life. I would be a mother who is not perfect but tries to be humble and open-minded and willing to learn from my mistakes. I would feel free, open to possibilities of increased connection with my child. I would be a mother, and a person, who loves and respects herself, even with her flaws, and therefore is able to model self-respect and self-esteem for her child.
How amazing would that be? I could be that mom!
There was a deep power that came from the act of writing down these thoughts. Since then, I have been able to more consciously spot them when they come up. I have been able to respond to my son with more kindness and patience than I ever thought possible. After that low night, things turned around. He didn’t stop having temper tantrums, power struggles didn’t totally disappear, yet I was able to respond in ways that were helpful, that helped to de-escalate things, that left both of our senses of dignity intact, and we both had a much easier (and fun) time of it.
On a personal level, It is nothing short of a small miracle to have a mental reversal like this. It doesn’t mean that I have ceased to be insecure as a parent; yet I notice that for the time being, the insecurity does not define me. In writing down my limiting thoughts I have taken away much of the power they have over me.
The dharma wheel turns; tomorrow, S goes back to his dad’s until January 2, and I am left to assume the strange role of mama without my son. I will try too, to meet this situation with presence and patience, until we are reunited again in 2010.
A little over a month ago, I declared 2010 (ok, perhaps a bit early) “The Year of Loving Myself Passionately (TYOLMP).” This is a serious decision for me: a holy vow to really, no-bullshit, truly, honestly shed some layers of self hatred and get down to the business of serious self esteem-building. I am literally seeking to raze myself to the ground and strengthen my internal foundation, which has been so shaky and weak for so much of my life. I see this as the greatest gift I could ever bestow upon myself or my family.
TYOLMP is a year to truly hold and embrace myself. A year to connect to a sense of something larger than myself in a real and authentic way. I’ve abandoned hope for the man who will save me and I am now bent on my own salvation. I am taking the words of the Buddha to heart: “Work out your own salvation with diligence.”
Since the day I took the YOLMP vow, I am mostly happy with it. But sometimes in my encounters with the Married or the Partnered, I find that old familiar longing to love and be loved romantically, that compulsion to date, rearing its head. That need to be cherished by some other person who somehow sees in me what I cannot see in myself. I have written before about my relationship with Married Folk here, from a very raw place of resentment and sadness and jealousy.
But now I am seeking to change my relationship to the Partnered World. I refuse to play the role of the beleaguered single, orphaned mother in a world of people who are happy and secure and safe and loved. I give up the “me vs. them” mentality, which is nothing but illusion created by my mind.
I am choosing instead to see that the pain that I sometimes feel in the presence of the Wedded as a positive sign: my heart has not hardened and given up on love. I still have the romantic belief that someday I will be part of a real relationship with a kind, evolved, decent person. Yet I do not and will not need that person to feel complete and whole. I am glad that I have had the courage and willingness to stop the dating hamster wheel and get some clarity on who I am when I am not in a dating or love relationship with someone. That has never happened before as I have literally been continuously (no exaggeration) in a relationship with someone from the age of 18 until my divorce at age 32, with much frenzied and unsatisfying dating until I took the YOLMP vow.
Today, when those feelings of jealousy and lack surface, I can choose to see them for what they are: another form of my personal Mara. I can “invite Mara to tea.” Here’s an excerpt from one of my favorite books about the spiritual path: Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach, that talks about this concept of inviting Mara to tea:
“One of my favorite stories of the Buddha shows the power of a wakeful and friendly heart. On the morning of Buddha’s enlightenment Mara, the fearsome demon who symbolizes the shadow-side of human nature, fled in defeat and disarray. In Sanskrit “Mara” means “delusion” – that craving and fear that obscure our enlightened nature.
But it seems that he was only temporarily discouraged. Even after the Buddha had embarked on his teaching career and become a revered figure throughout Indian, Mara continued to make unexpected appearances. Instead of driving him away, however, the Buddha would calmly acknowledge the demon’s presence saying, “I see you, Mara.”
He would then invite him for tea and serve him as an honored guest.
Offering Mara a cushion so that he could sit comfortably, the Buddha would fill two earthen cups with tea and place them on a low table between them. Mara would stay for awhile and then go, but throughout, the Buddha remained free and undisturbed.
You see, when Mara visits us in the form of troubling emotions or fearsome stories, we can say, “I see you Mara,” and clearly recognize the craving and fear that persists in each human heart. The objective is to see what is true and to hold what is seen with kindness….
Our habit of being a fair-weather friend to ourselves – of pushing away or ignoring whatever darkness we can – is deeply entrenched…. We truly befriend ourselves when, rather than resisting our experience, we open our hearts and willingly invite Mara to tea….”
There is such enormous power in naming and seeing Mara. I can attest to this in all aspects of my life. I need to write a post soon about how Mara creeps into my mothering, and how “inviting Mara to tea” has helped me to gain greater awareness of the stories I tell myself about motherhood and to shift some of the heavy layers of judgment and self-recrimination I hold around mothering and parenthood.
For now…the sadness around the Married People has shifted and I am back to unabashedly celebrating TYOLMP, trusting that this path of abstaining from intoxicants, celibacy, and spiritual practice will bring forth possibilities I can’t even begin to imagine in this life.
Ah, the bitter irony of this life. I was to have a full five days to myself while Sami was at his father’s. And what happens? The Snowpocalypse of 2009. All my plans to be a whirling dervish of activity, dashed.
It ended up being all good. I just so happened to have a wonderful house guest in the country from Melbourne, so I wasn’t alone. We connected on many levels, had great talks about all kinds of subjects intense and silly. I learned the term “blobbing” - the Australian equivalent of “vegging” - and did quite a lot of it as the snow fell fast and furious all around. We did much staring out the window in awe and wonder at the blizzard-like conditions, so unusual for my area. As an Australian, this was all particularly unusual for him.
At some point, when all my friends started to post pictures of their children playing on Facebook, and when my ex sent me some picture messages of S having a blast in the snow, I started to feel sorry for myself. I felt the sting of not being able to play with S in the new and fresh snow. So I coaxed my friend into heading out into it ourselves. We ventured out, bundled to the hilt. We frolicked, we trudged through drifts up to our knees, we videotaped each other doing snow angels. I was transported back to my own girlhood as my arms and legs swung through the snow, deepening the angel’s impression.
And somehow, the ache of missing my son subsided a little and I was able to enjoy the house-bound time.
I feel this life is studded with all these little tiny miracles. I have put out the intention to find more ways to enjoy what I love - music, art, community, creativity - substance free. And just by chance, on Friday night we stumbled onto an alcohol-free music and community space and had the opportunity to witness a live performance from one of the best local hip hip acts I have ever experienced. I am so excited about this space: more on it later.
This morning I tried to go down my front steps and they were covered with a thin layer of ice. I myself froze, in fear, convinced I would be trapped in my house for the rest of the day. A story arose in my mind: If I had a partner, he would have taken care of this. He would have made sure the steps were salted. But you don’t, and you’re alone…
Then I realized that I have the ability to ask for help. I asked my dear housemate to please pick up some salt or kitty litter, and she very happily did so. The sun, in the meantime, melted the layer of ice and my steps were passable within an hour of the worry arising. Such a great dharma lesson. All things arise and pass away, according to conditions themselves which are in constant flux.
So as with the ice, so can the stories I hold to be solid dissolve in the sun of the dharma, the truth; the sun of sangha, community; the sun of buddha-nature, that part of me who sees the madness and the chaos and is still through it all, present for it all, pure love and wisdom.
The ice always melts, eventually.
Welcome to this blog - my chronicle of the illuminating, character-building path of single parenthood. I'm making this up as I go along. My life is my practice, and my five year-old son is my greatest teacher.