Tag Archives: mid-life realizations

letters & journals

So it has occurred to me that blogging is very much like journal and letter writing, only it is done in a public forum and one seldom expects a response of any kind. Not that one expects to get a response to a journal entry (unless you are Harry Potter and the journal in your possession is Tom Riddle’s).

During my second year of college I had signed up for a couple of English classes, part of the core program requirements of the two-year fine art programme that I had unceremoniously dropped out of the previous January. Our school was a small one and did not offer any art classes outside of sequence, so while I waited to resume the second half of the first year of the fine art programme, I had a bunch of time to fill up with non-art classes.

Fortunately, because my English language skills were advanced, I was able to skip past the precursory composition classes and pick some meatier options, one of which was to read through the works of two Canadian Margarets (Lawrence and Atwood), and the other a course called Letters and Journals, which was a study of those two styles of writing in both fiction and non-fiction. We read Marie-Claire Blais’ Tête Blanche and the journals of Anaïs Nin, and were asked to incorporate these same techniques into our own storytelling in whichever way we chose.

I had been keeping a journal, on and off, since about fifth grade, so journaling came easily to me. (Side note: A few years after I walked away from school, struggling through my young adulthood, I came upon my early writings and was so embarrassed by what I had written that I dumped them all, only to continue along a similar vein and write more of the same sort of drivel, but felt that because it was timely and more mature it was more valid. Years later still, I felt despondent at having chucked decades’ worth of my personal history.)

Upon reading Anaïs Nin’s tomes during that year (I went on to read most of her published journals), I felt sadly inadequate with the contents of mine in comparison. I felt green and embarrassed at my lack of knowledge of the world, my unworldliness. I thought that only through life experience could I amass the skills and knowledge to become sophisticated (something that my upbringing instilled in me as being an important value or trait), and that only through hardship could I become someone of substance (another illusive quality that I knew I didn’t possess but longed to).

I wish someone would have sat me down then and explained a few things to me. I wish that they would have said that experience doesn’t guarantee sophistication or a lack of naïveté, that the road of hard knocks alone won’t make us worthy of others’ respect, and that feeling worthy is something that must be cultivated from within, not measured by others’ opinions (including those of our parents, friends or peers). I wish someone would have taught me to be still with myself for long enough to hear my own voice amidst the tumult and clamour of everyone’s opinion, and find my way, not as a reaction to -or to elicit reaction from- someone outside of myself. I wish someone would have listened without judging or wishing to mould me into what they perceived to be the best way.

Stillness is hard to achieve, even on a good day, and hearing that small, still voice residing at our center even harder still. It has taken me decades to finally be able to occasionally tune in without too much interference, the chattering continuing on even without their initial owners’ voices. They mean well. Everyone means well. They just have no idea what it’s like to be in your skin, and many don’t know how to listen when you attempt to explain or lack the skills to explain it coherently themselves, if they were asked to do the same. We are a mystery, even to ourselves. We may lack the curiosity or courage to delve in.

It occurs to me that my idea of sophistication has evolved over time, and that at times in the process of becoming worldly, one loses one’s sense of wonder and perhaps even joy. And that wisdom is something hard-earned, difficult to quantify, and must be tempered with compassion and empathy in order to be effective or useful.

Ah yes… the journaling. So even now, more decades later than I am willing to admit, my written journals tend to focus on matters of the heart (read: boys). And while I am still embarrassed by what I write in retrospect, I no longer wish to destroy proof of my idiocy. We all have a little fool in us.

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Sometimes it does get better… sometimes it doesn’t

Wow… I haven’t posted in over a half a year…

How have you been? Easter came and went here in the Great Northwest, and we had a four day weekend, which was nice. Glad that Canadians haven’t gone so secular that we don’t get a day off on either end of an Easter weekend. It was even sunny for a chunk of it. I made roast lamb for Easter dinner and it was good.

I decided to take a couple of extra days off to rest up. I’ve been feeling run down and just down in general. Maybe I should go to the head shrinker and take some happy pills.

I spent yesterday watching Torchwood on Netflix and working in an art journal. It’s been so long since I’ve felt moved to work in it that I’m just glad I can still do it. Things are hurting inside… my creative process feels splintered and broken… so odd, really. Like I’m walking on glass in there, barefoot, as I root around inspecting my inner landscape for inspiration.

Someone recently told me (in a fit of spite) that he didn’t like my art work and that it was nightmarish. He had mostly only looked at my art journals, I think, and made his assessment based on that. Truth be told I have never made art for others’ consumption… it has always been an outlet for letting out what creeps in my inner corridors… and if I let you all see what truly creeps in there, “nightmarish” wouldn’t even scratch the surface I reckon. I always look on with envy when I see people make pretty things… pretty paintings using pretty colours, purely focused on aesthetic and looking happy, or being informative and helpful and useful–someone whose blog folks would want to visit weekly just to glean some inspiration from. I was never that person, but I really did try to be.

Our landlord has advised that they may be selling the place, so I guess I will need to start putting out feelers for a new place, still in the vicinity. Close by, so that Gabriel doesn’t have to change schools.

I hate moving. I’ve moved so much over the last two decades that I’m kind of burnt out on moving, but it appears I may not have a choice… and I get to go it alone. Gabriel is parroting his dad’s words about my needing to “get rid of some more of [my] stuff”.  I don’t have that much stuff… I’ve gotten rid of so much already and I’m just not prepared to get rid of more at the moment. Maybe I will once I start packing again and get discouraged by the volume of stuff that needs to get sorted and stored, which in turn will need to be found room for on the other end.

I got news that the ex is coming up in a couple of weekends to pick Gabriel up to head to Seattle for the weekend. He’s coming with divorce papers, something that we’ve been procrastinating on but clearly need to file eventually.

It’s weird… I’ve been a wife and mother for so long I’m not sure how to be anything else, and for the last several years it has been as though I’ve been working on partial programming… like there’s a role that I’m still enacting but without the other player in place… so only part of who I’ve become gets voiced and the other part feels lost.

And even that part is shifting slowly. Eventually Gabriel will move back to California and I will find myself having to start my “life” over from scratch, at 50, because somewhere along the way I’ve lost my way and forgotten my purpose.  I feel like Mr. Smith in the Matrix.

Whatever… I’m sure things will begin to get clearer as I go along… at least that is my hope.

When you’re young you have a drive to “become” something… build toward a satisfying career… let the hormones rage and have lots of sex… find a mate… get married… ranch babies… get the house and picket fence… fit into a dynamic like puzzle pieces. Now I feel like the lost puzzle piece… like somewhere there’s this completed puzzle with a piece missing and it’s me… but I’ll never find it because its time has come and gone. I suppose I’m feeling sorry for myself, just a little bit.

But I’m tired, too. Of being in a wife persona… or a mother one (though I don’t suppose we ever stop being one of those once we pop out a kid). I don’t think Gabriel appreciates me for who I am as an individual. I’m merely a provider of mom-ish stuff like clean laundry and meals and allowance and nagging about homework. He’s too busy with discovering himself to really see me clearly… and maybe I don’t see myself clearly either, so how can he?

So… I’ve successfully managed to alienate myself from any close ties, and have but a handful of friends, most of them also rather impersonal at this point, so not anyone I’d feel comfortable deeply confiding in or asking to borrow money from, in a pinch. It’s all very Howard Hughes-ish but I can’t even be the rich eccentric–I am instead to be the poor one. You know, over the last year and a half or so I’ve had to pawn most of my mother’s jewelry so that I could keep us in groceries when the next pay check was too far away. It’s probably my inability to manage money properly that’s to blame, and a string of unfortunate events that put me in a jam that seems to never find its end.

I’m in midlife and still wondering when I’ll have the wherewithal to equip and prepare myself for the rest of my life. Everyone who really gave any shit about me is gone, and I don’t think there’s anyone left that really cares. (Oh… there’s the pity party raging again.)

And another scary thing… that faith that I’ve carried with me for the longest time… the one I had in a higher power, that I’d turn to for comfort and strength? I’ve lost faith in it. I don’t think there is a god, and religion is all a load of hooey… something humans constructed in order to give their miserable lives meaning, or to give themselves more purpose than there is any right to be.

Random… I think it’s all random… not even luck, just a numbers game without any rhyme or reason to how things fall. Maybe it’s true about that quantum physics stuff… the part about our observing something affecting the outcome. Maybe if we expect shit we’ll get it whereas if we expect gold we’ll get that too. But I don’t think it has anything to do with worthiness or of being deserving or not, or based on good deeds done or undone, or repentance… or our being at the mercy of some benevolent patriarchal megalomaniac.

So… I haven’t been able to create in a while. I guess being disillusioned and feeling hopeless isn’t conducive to a prolific creative output.

So each day I have to remind myself of the things that I am grateful for. Like a sunny day, or some flowers blooming, or a good piece of chocolate, or a hug from my child, or the fact that I don’t have to drive a car to get to work, or that there’s enough food in the fridge until my next pay day and a bit of cash in my pocket to spare, in case of a small emergency. I’m fucked if it’s a big one.

Anyway… thinking of you in between my bouts of cranky… hope you’re holding up well.

Finding solace in peonies… and other thoughts

I’ve been tired lately. I always worry about how far I can push this anemia bit before I keel over, my body finally giving up in defeat. The urge to chew on ice cubes coupled with the fatigue always signals iron deficiency. I am almost out of iron tabs, and I’m tired of popping them regularly, truth be told. There’s got to be a better way, especially since the absorbency rate of the iron tabs is not very good. A couple of years ago, when I went to have cataract surgery in the US, they made me do a pre-op general physical and found that I was “extremely” anemic.

That’s nothing new, since I’ve been having this issue for a little over a decade now (at least that was when it was diagnosed). Late last summer I had some blood work done and the levels were so low that I’m sure in the US they would have hooked me up and transfused me… but not here. Maybe I’m going to the wrong clinic. I think it’s time to go elsewhere and get some real help. I would like to get to the cause and eliminate it, not patch it up with supplements. It’s hard to believe that my menstrual cycle would be capable of draining me to the point of anemia. But who knows? I don’t need the plumbing anymore, so maybe it should be removed. Maybe it’s a good time to remodel.

So along with the anemia usually comes the melancholy. Combine the fatigue with the lack of nutrients and blood oxygenation, and the result is a rather sorry-ass Adriane. I started reading a book yesterday morning (The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen) and read some more at lunch, and then on the train ride home. By the time the evening folded itself into night, I was well engrossed, despite my initial doubts. I finished it this afternoon, but last night as I read into the meaty middle of the book, there were several passages that made me weep. They, of course, had to do with relationships between the characters.

I keep thinking that I’m done with the longing bit… with the whole wanting to be with someone. And then when I read a sappy part in a book I realize that I wish I had that too, and that despite where I am now, and where I have been, there is a part of me that is hopeful to some day feel that sense of belonging… that feeling of being “home” with someone. Is that possible? Or does it only exist in fairy tales? I’d like to believe that it’s true, that people can find each other and “see” each other, in that Avatar-ish way. See past the flaws and embrace the soul beneath the hubris and detritus, or in spite of them. That’s what I thought I’d found. I can’t really fully explain this sense of being at a loss that I am still feeling now. I keep thinking that I’m doing fine, going about and minding my own business, and then suddenly I realize that I am hurting again. Hurting and mourning the loss of what I thought was… or could have been… if only.

Yet… if only I hadn’t been such an idiot. If only I had let go before getting sucked into the depths of something that truly, had I been marginally honest with myself and honoured my gut instincts, was clearly not going to go anywhere but south, and would have clearly seen it resulting in the world of hurt that it ended up resulting in. I suppose, on some level, I’m feeling like Sally (from the movie When Harry Met Sally) when her ex, with whom she had a relatively amicable parting, ends up marrying someone and starting a family and she realizes that it wasn’t that he didn’t want to marry, he just didn’t want to marry HER. And it rips into you in a way that only it can. And you wonder why. You wonder what makes them so special and you so UNspecial that you lacked that quality that made you “it.”

I’ve yet to feel that I’m “it” in my life. I wonder if I ever will. Not that I feel that I need to be validated… it’s not about that. It’s about really being seen, and loved, deeply. It’s about acceptance. It’s about sharing on the deepest of levels. It’s about friendship. It’s about belonging… not to another, but with someone… or rather, perhaps it’s somewhere, like a boat finding its’ mooring.

It’s perhaps about worship… mutual worship. What’s wrong with that? I think sometimes the highest form of spirituality is the one experienced between two people who are truly and genuinely in love. Beloveds… like the ones Rumi writes about, not in a mythical or abstract sense, but really and truly experiencing that with another human being. I think, if there is a Creator, and that Creator is living vicariously through each of us, multitudinously, that the point of this exercise is to experience each other in that way. But maybe the Creator is feeling a mite anemic too, because I don’t think it’s the norm. Or maybe I am somehow deficient and it’s experienced by more people than I could ever imagine, just not me.

The other day, while in the lunch room at work, I picked up one of the magazines littering the tables and found an awesome excerpt from a book by Abigail Thomas entitled In The Fullness of Time. What a fantastic little bit of prose that was. It’s now on my wish list. She writes about how she is beyond feeling the need for a relationship… that the thought, or the theory of it, is appealing… enticing… even titillating, but when push comes to shove, it’s better off left to the realm of fantasy, where it doesn’t interfere with the sweet freedom of doing whatever one wants whenever one wants to. It’s a matter of priority. Being selfish becomes the way of being, when you’re alone. Perhaps we lose the ability to compromise–like an unused muscle, it atrophies from neglect.

I feel that way, oftentimes. That’s the part that thinks it’s hardly worth the effort at this point in my life, to try to weave mine with another’s. Too much water under the bridge, to many peculiarities developed, habits formed and inflexibilities worn like calluses. I wonder how we even think to try, when we’re young. What makes us imagine that we’ll succeed. So many don’t. Any yet, hope springs eternal… at least until somewhere in mid-life where we say “fuck it” (at least figuratively).

Anyway… I’m sounding more and more morose… despite cheering myself up yesterday with a bouquet of peonies. They’re so beautiful… delicate and yet their scent is so bold and pervasive… no getting around the smell if they’re in a room. I can smell them as I’m laying in bed, and they’re sitting in a vase around two corners and down a hall on the window sill in the kitchen. They’re so beautiful, too… the different colours, palettes changing even as they unfurl and spread open like big fluffy powder puffs.

Well… time to head to sleep. Put myself out of my misery. Perhaps I’ll feel more like myself tomorrow, whatever “myself” is supposed to feel like on a good day. I feel only partially mended, like I’m still walking around and the chunk in my middle has a big hole in it, the sides pulled together with thread in an effort to sew up the gap, but it’s not fused back, flesh to flesh. And I wonder how long it will take to get to right again. This mourning is different from the ones I’ve had before.

When my mom passed on, I dove into my art for solace. I created a LOT of stuff during that time. It helped me heal. And I wrote, too. For whatever reason, I can’t seem to find my creative mojo on the tail end of this one. Even with my break up of my decade and a half long marriage, as slow and prolonged as it was, I was able to do a lot of self-care… self-preservation and nurturing… not to say that I didn’t hurt and need time to heal, but I was proactive in the process, and seemed to be able to get to a higher vibrational level, by virtue of the loads of meditation and spirit work I was doing at the time. I can’t even find solace in that now. NOthing moves me. Except, perhaps, loosing myself in movies… and lately the odd book.

The only thing that is making me happy is the fact that I have a new job that is exactly the kind of job that I need at the moment. A sort of routine driven, and relatively non-demanding daily grind with some good egg people and a dependable and respectable salary and benefits.

And this is all the writing that I can muster these days. Short story length letters that end up somehow morphing into blog posts. It seems that the only story that I am capable of writing at the moment is the telling of my own.