Tag Archives: relationships

Stage five

It’s been a few days past a month since everything came to a head and changed.  To be totally honest, everything changed long before that — I just was in denial, hadn’t accepted, refused to believe — it took me a long time to get to the place of tearfully trying to get through my last sleep in his house, to packing bags, to looking at the (grim) Seattle rental market and to closing the door behind me and starting over.  And since that moment, the universe in the form of my friends and family and colleagues has provided.  Not just a safety net, but a trampoline.

Yesterday I worked from home in the afternoon with the plan to take care of a few thinking things and spend a little extra time with Gibs before my evening plans.  We stopped off at a park for a walk before getting back to work.  We walked happily along the path, both of us smiling at the other mid-day walkers, all of us lucky to be out in the sun and fresh air at 1pm on a Friday.  I thought about the last month, and about how when I was a senior in high school we had a segment of our social studies class where religious leaders came in to speak to us (I did grow up in Port Townsend — we do things a little differently out there).  One of the speakers was a Lutheran or Methodist or some kind of Protestant pastor.  I don’t remember anything he said that day, except for the message that faith in God is an absolute must because the people in our lives are weak, and will let us down, and when that happens we need to have some form of divine support to get through.  Being the teenager I was, my hand shot into the air, incensed.  “My family won’t let me down,” I said.  “My mom won’t let me down,” I replied, incredulously, feeling a mix of confusion and sadness that anyone would have so little faith in the human beings around them.

He stuck to his guns, assertively.  People will let you down.  They will do wrong by you.  They will hurt you.  And when they do, you need somewhere to turn.

While that conversation put a damper on my teenage flirtations with reformed Protestant churches,  it’s also been one of those teachings that has stuck with me ever since, but not in the way it was intended.  All these years later, I do think that he was partly right.  It is possible for people to let you down, to do wrong by you, to hurt you.  Where we diverge is on the relationship that we need to foster, as insurance for when that happens.

Gibson and I passed the wading pool where I’d been last weekend with Megan and her babies, and my little dog perked up.  She’s not so sure about kids, but she’s a freak for babies, and there were a few toddlers making toddler sounds that caught her radar ears.  She wanted to go visit, but dogs aren’t allowed in the wading pool.  I delighted in the comedy of my little dog, who’s not so sure about water, issuing body language of complaint because I wouldn’t let her jump in a wading pool to sniff a toddler.

We turned around on the path, me needing to get back to the work of the day.  Gibson sniffed a tree root in the shade, and I watched her happy animalness, blissed.  And the words

Thank you for setting me free

echoed in my head.  They repeated

Thank you for setting me free

They caught me a little off guard in their clarity.  This was no chatter from my monkey brain, listing off its wants and needs and impulses.  The words were clear.  Ringing like a bell.  Unmistakable.

Thank you for setting me free

My first instinct was to pull out my phone and text them to Ryan.  I hesitated, always the fact-checker,  once a journalist always a journalist.  That’s not exactly how it went down, I corrected myself.  While he contributed to the conditions that lead to that tearful night and that difficult morning, he didn’t set me free.

I did.

So I paused in the park, and let that sink in, and let waves of gratitude move through me.  Some gratitude and compassion for him, and some for myself and my circumstances, and some for the friends and family who’ve moved through the last month with me with so much love and abundance.  And I soaked up the freedom of the fresh air in a park surrounded by trees with a little dog who is my little sidekick and teacher and breathed it all in.

People will disappoint me, but the worst pain comes from the times when I disappoint myself.  When I abandon myself. When I don’t put my own oxygen mask first, or don’t listen to my instincts, or don’t honor and insist on what I know to be true.

When people — including myself — fail me, I have my trampoline of friends and family and self.  And perhaps to that pastor, that is God at work.  For me, God or the spirit or the beloved or whatever name is least offending is in the tree canopy providing shade and the beauty of the dappled shapes that leaves bring to that shade, and in the smile and snuggle of my little dog and in the so very many teachers in my life who seem to bring each lesson precisely when I need it as if according to some kind of (divine?) plan.  And for all of that, I am truly, truly grateful.

Oxytocin is known to function as a bio-behavioral feedback loop,” the researchers note, adding that “research in mammals showed that more touch and contact increased oxytocin receptor density.” This suggests loving couples may get into a positive routine in which “higher levels of reciprocity and touch” allow them to maintain elevated oxytocin levels, sustaining their feeling of emotional connection.

I love you and it’s no concern of yours

I love you and it’s no concern of yours

Some things I do in life are very loud.  The things I do loudly are the happy things.  Things like laughing, and loving, and playing outside.  Those sounds … those happy things … are for sharing.

I like to be quiet about the other things.  My negative or hurtful feelings are nearly silent.  They are the small rustle of a mouse moving across the floor without even a squeak.  Angry noises of voices raised… the earthquakes of heavy bull feet stomping angrily through the china shop… the eggshells those things place my own feet on… these things are not good for me.

My feelings may make less noise than yours.  My footsteps may not make the ground shake with anger, and may not place other peoples’ feet on eggshells.  

And my wounds need tending too, and I have been quietly tending them for awhile.

Daily Pep Talk From A Best Friend: You date available people.

Daily Pep Talk From A Best Friend: You date available people.

Notary

“How can I help you?”  she asked.

“I just need to get this notarized,” I answered.

She scanned the piece of paper a little more closely than is necessary for a notary.  She asked me what it was.  I told her it was a statutory warranty deed, meant to transfer title to the subsequent purchasers of my house.  I handed her my identification and she set it on her desk.

That’s what a notary does.  They check to make sure you are who you say you are, and that you know what you’re signing.  

But this notary cocked her head to the side and looked at the piece of paper as if it were written in a foreign language.  She had that glassy eyed look of a person who doesn’t have it in them to cry any more.  

“Are you selling a house?” she asked.

“Yes… if all goes well.”  I answered.  I explained that it’s been a long time coming.  I chit chatted about the real estate market, and how I can’t wait to be out of it.  

“So, are you renting now?” she asked, now looking at me with that side-cocked gaze that was formerly directed at the paper.

“Yes,” I answered, knowing that we’d exceeded the boundaries of the notary / client interaction, at this point.  

I can’t remember if she asked or I volunteered that the sale was the result of a divorce.  She confided quietly that her house has been on the market for two months, and that she and her husband are separated.  But the word separated should be in extra small type, for how quietly it was uttered.  I could barely hear it; but I knew exactly what she said.

She stamped and signed the deed, and I signed on the line with my still new, chosen name.  When I see my middle initial, “G,” I have to think for a minute about what it stands for.  Grace.

She asked me if I’m dating.  I answered that I’ve tried, but am presently taking a break; that men are a pain in the ass.  That I am learning a lot… and that I’m getting close to feeling ready… but that it’s taken a lot of healing and learning to get here.  And that, when I’m ready, it’ll happen.  Or not.  And that’s okay.  And that I wouldn’t change a thing.

She asked how long it’s been, and I had to think about it, and I always get the years confused.  It’s been more than two years since the divorce was final; nearly three since the separation.

It feels like a past life ago, I told her.  Partly, I have a terrible memory; and it’s even worse when there’s trauma involved.  Partly, I’ve grown into a very different version of myself, since that time, so I spend more time thinking about the present than the past.  

Today, while working through the paperwork process for the house sale, I realized that the deed had me and my ex listed as husband and wife.  I emailed the escrow agent to let her know that we’d divorced in 2008.  She replied that the title search hadn’t found the divorce.

For a stunned flash of a second, I thought, “Oh my God.  Am I still married?”

I know better — I mean, I’m a lawyer.  When I came to, I realized that no … I’m not still married … and yes, I have the judge’s signature to remind myself.  

And I realized that I completed numerous divorces for other people as their lawyer.  I prepared quitclaim deeds to clear the title for their real property… to move them, in the eyes of the title company and the county auditor from husband and wife holding property as joint tenants, to single people holding property as tenants in common in their separate capacity.  But in my own divorce, when I got the decree, with the judge’s signature, I scanned and filed the documents and put them away.  I didn’t tie up all of the loose ends I would have, if I were really my attorney.  We’d never quitclaimed our interest from ourselves as married people to ourselves as single people.

The title company worked their magic and drafted an updated deed.  The notary handed that updated deed back to me, our signatures inked and drying.

“We grew apart, I guess.” she said.  

“I plan to choose better, the second time around,” I said.  

“I just feel so… sensitive.”  she said.

“I know.”  I said.  

“I wish I could fast forward to where you are, right now,” she breathed quietly, her eyes tired.

I asked her if I could bring her a book or two.  She asked if I’d read a lot of books and I said yes.  She observed that she felt like she needed some help, spiritually.  That she needed support.

When I stood up to leave, she said that I was the day’s most inspiring customer.  I looked her in her tired, perfectly lined eyes, and asked her to take good care of herself.  

Eventually the things he said to me had less punch and I chose not to let them hurt me. When someone hands you a fork, you decided if you want to put it to use, toss it aside, or poke yourself in the eye with it. And so it was with the criticism, belittling and sarcasm that my husband sent my way. I simply did not make use of them as I once had.

The One lives inside of you:

There is no Prince Charming, no winning the lottery or magic bullet. Life is a process and experience of joyful times and challenging times. When you have found The One deep inside of you, your ability to navigate through all of these times with grace, acceptance and continuous learning happens naturally. You experience a freedom and a love that you may have never thought possible.

From “How to Find the One” by Sue Jones, on Elephant Journal.

Being my own Valentine

Being my own Valentine