Leaving Hope

     For a long time I thought being an alcoholic made him mean.  Now I see he was mean, and he was an alcoholic.  Not all mean people are alcoholics, not all alcoholics are mean.  He could be so nice, so attentive, caring and thoughtful.  It never lasted. When the cycle would begin again, each time it eroded more and more of my belief in the possibilty we could have peaceful times.  I learned I could not trust any kindness. I could never relax and just be in those moments.

     When I came to realize it would not last I began to build a life that didn’t center on him. I still had to dodge his daily verbal assaults. And moods. And accusations. And demands. And withdrawal. And mind games. As much as I tried to focus on me it seemed hopeless every time I walked through the door, not knowing what to expect.  I lost me while I was so busy trying to find some common ground with him, looking for peace in my life as well as the children’s.

     To survive I had to carve out a life where I did things that made me happy and surrounded myself with positive people.  The more I moved away the more he tried to control me.  The healthier I got, the sicker he got.  The more independent I became, the harder he tried to hold on and the meaner he became.  

     He chose to blame me for every bad feeling he felt, every disappointment he experienced, everything wrong in his life.  I fought it but inside I did think I was responsible after so long of being told I was.  Responsible for ruining his life, his children’s lives.  Reminded of who he would be, what he would be doing, and would have if it weren’t for me.  I was never enough: not good enough, not from the right background, not attractive enough, not even sane enough.  It was a weight that I carried and continue to a lesser degree. Though I try to throw it off, it is a daily battle to ignore his voice and continue on.

     It was like being lost in a jungle and all the paths seemed to lead back to the same place. There doesn’t seem to be a way out.  Now that I am out and looking back into it the way seems so clear. To be in it was not so black and white. It is the areas in between, the grayed areas, that look like hope to us while we are in the relationship.  It’s easy to look back now and realize in leaving the relationship I wasn’t giving up hope.  I was actually grasping hope and bringing it closer to me. 

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
Proverbs 13:12 (NIV)

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The Box

September 2, 2010

I have a box on top of my armoir in the bedroom.  In it I put all the pieces.   I listen to the crickets, remembering the night before, and I take it down and open it.  I look through the forensic pictures, pictures of me after the hospital, healing; the search warrant, the police report, the ER report, the autopsy, Margaret’s written recounting of that day, Mary Ellen’s. Further down is the guide for the bible study of Job we had begun that day at church.  At the bottom is the bulletin from church that day, the 4th of October 2009.  I read the old testament lesson and the gospel and I am stunned.  It is Genesis on the creation of a woman from a man, joining as one, and Mark on divorce.  It is a bizarre irony for me, someone who does not believe in coincidence, someone who believed I married for life, hanging on long past the end.

 I revisit it all tonight, and I thank God for the gift of my next breath.  I resolve not to be cynical and bitter, not to let anger consume me.  It takes such effort.  All my effort to move past the ultimate betrayal of trust.  It is a journey in which the way is not always visible, on which sometimes I get lost and loop back over the same road before moving ahead.  Looking at my box I see how far I have come, instead of focusing how far it is I have to go.

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The Box Update….

November 4, 2010 

 It is with a somewhat hesitant excitement that I share I now have a new box atop my armoire! The existing box is filled with the remnants of a broken life and painful memories of an event that even now seems surreal. In that box are the pieces of that day I can’t bear to see but keep for when the children are ready for the truth.  It is sad, but it is our history and they have a right to know it.

My new box is going to be my happy box.  It was given to me by a very thoughtful friend. I have decided in it will go some of the sweeter things in life I want to keep close and look at often. They won’t replace the items in the other box but I’d like to think it will be much fuller than my ‘box of pain’. Certainly the gift itself is a powerful beginning.

It is actually a box that contained L’Occitane bath products.  I doubt the giver thought in these terms but as I am all about metaphors I think it is an interesting comment on my life; given the original contents are essentially about removing dirt, albeit in the most pleasant of ways.  The gift is about cleansing, soothing the spirit and softening the rough spots.  Emerging rested and peaceful and if you are into TaiChi, with a joyful and open heart.

It is amazing that a simple gesture of kindness and appreciation on one person’s part could have such a positive and profound effect on another’s.  One never knows how big the little things are.

“Gratitude is the heart’s memory”  

French Proverb

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The Piano

 

About 4 years ago I bought a used piano.  I thought I was quite thrifty getting the piano for $300. The same person who moved it tuned it.  It has a lovely sound.

I have a vivid memory of getting it.  He gave me more grief about that piano.  When I shared my intention of getting it he had a fit.  I was so excited to get such a nice piano so inexpensively, and that the children and I could take lessons together.  He was insistent that I shouldn’t bother taking lessons ‘at my age’. He reminded me regularly that I wasted money on buying the piano, that it would just sit there unused.  He seemed to totally ignore the fact the children took weekly lessons and played almost daily.  He never sat and listened.

I ended up paying for the children’s lessons.  As much as I wanted to take lessons with them, there were things I was just too tired to fight for.  I’d played classical guitar from age twelve until early when we first lived together. Because it wasn’t to his musical taste he asked me to not play when he was around. I played when I was alone.  It couldn’t be another room; it had to be when he wasn’t there. 

It was all a fight.  Eventually I grew tired of fighting and threw up the white flag rather than engage in yet another disagreement.  As I had with guitar, it seemed easier to just give up the piano.

Occasionally now as I pass by to do laundry or go upstairs, I will sit and play. I tend to play very sad songs and I sometimes imagine my piano holds my sadness.

I have a friend who plays it.  It is calming to listen.  I feel a small victory in hearing it played so beautifully.  Actually, I feel a huge victory when it is played, finally feeling validated that I made the right choice in acquiring the piano.   

“The time of singing has come”

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Endings and Beginnings

It is an unusual habit I’ll admit. It is a habit I’ve had as long as I can remember.  When I begin to read a book, two or three chapters in I turn to the last 10 or so pages and read the end. It does not spoil the enjoyment of reading to know what happens.  Actually it piques my imagination as to how the author will move the storyline from the first chapters to the end they have chosen. It is the words in between that make me continue to read until the end.  This curiosity carries over to everyday life.  I am always seeking to know how it turns out before it has truly begun.

 Some books have a predictable sequence of events. Others do not. Knowing the end of the story of my marriage I have tried over the past year to fill in the pages of how we got there.  I try to pinpoint the day or week or month of the turning point.  The snapshots of time when considered individually do not seem significant.  When put together they form the landscape; connected and huge in retrospect.  At the time they were mostly a series of small events.  Intersperced were occasional big events intermingled into the daily routine of living life.

I have begun not just a new chapter, but a whole new book. It is not a continuation of the story or life I’ve known. That is done. This is something new.  Every experience, every sound and sight; they are all brand new as though for the first time. I am in awe of commonplace things we take for granted. To see a hawk fly over head, or the vibrant pink and blue on the horizon at sunset, the vibration of a cat’s purr; to touch the satiny finish on my silver necklace, the sensation of water on my skin; are all amazing.  To feel my feelings is a new theme.

The book I just finished had a tragic end.  I am doing my best to choose a new one that is filled with inspiration and redemption. I am only pages into it and as I hurry to search out the last chapter I realize the end, as it is written, is not for me to know. I need to step back and be patient as the story unfolds, savoring the experiences as words on each of the pages between the beginning and end. To be in and know the peace of reading the page I am on.

“Declaring the end from the beginning, from ancient time things that are not yet done.”  
Isaiah 46:10

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