Tuesday, August 07, 2012

the truth will set you free, but it will piss a lot of people off

Forgive me Gloria Steinem, but right  now all I really want a man, on a great big horse, to ride up and rescue me.

I'm sorry, but sometimes this life gets to heavy to carry by myself and I regress from my fiercely independent "Sisters are Doing it for Themselves" self, and daydream about someone sweeping in and taking care of me. Someone who would, as Maurice Sendak says in "Where the Wild Things Are", "love me best of all".

I feel a bit like a spoiled princess stomping her tiny foot (for me it would sensibly sized foot in stylish, but sensible shoes, no glass slippers here), but I really want to be someone's, anyone's -- okay, scratch ANYone's -- first choice. I'm not perfect, but I have tried to be mindful and compassionate in my relationships with family and friends.  I am sometimes successful, and sometimes I crash and burn quite spectacularly, but I do really try to stay compassionate in my intentions and have my words and actions come from there. This is sometimes difficult, because I want to feel sorry for myself, I want to be the victim, so I don't have to take personal responsibility for aspects of my life and of myself that I don't like. Yes, it stings when people react unkindly, but I can only be responsible for myself - I HATE that. ..... Okay, I only hate that sometimes, when I'm stressed and I'm tired and I would LOVE to blame other people. Ultimately that doesn't work well for me. They say resentment is like drinking poison in the hope it will harm the other person. It doesn't, it just eats you alive until you're the bitter mean spirited person that you were resentful of.  I know other's actions are a reflection of themselves, as mine are a reflection of me, I know this in my head. In my heart I sometimes feel like an unloved child, or on days that I'm really feeling sorry for myself, I feel unlovable. 

So where does this leave poor me? Still without a man to rescue me. I've tried dating. It was nothing short of disastrous each and every time. One date, "Barry" who seemed wonderful online, was spewing political rants with in minutes of my sitting down (and I do mean spewing, bits of saliva and all), but at least he paid for my soda water (I'm even a cheap date...), "Chuck" and I met at a Starbucks, and after he physically got up stood with his back to me while ordering his coffee, to make it crystal clear that he would not be buying me a coffee, we sat down chatted about how marvelous he was, how great his car was (it actually was a very nice little Audi), and when next week would I have an open afternoon to have sex with him. What I thought was a get to know you, he thought was a booty call arrangement. Should I be flattered that after talking with me for 15minutes he thought I was okay to have sex with? Anyway, if I'm going to put out, I at the very least require a meal, with dessert and coffee.

Okay, so men are not exactly queuing up to ask me out, much less show up on horseback; perhaps there's a protocol here that I'm not following. I've had 3 men tell me that they had lusted after me - one of them after he'd been married to someone he met on line to for about a year. So perhaps I'm looking for a Sugar Daddy on a horse? That sounds eewwie.

And here's where I start shoulding myself to death. I should have spoken up earlier in my marriage, maybe we could have started working on things 14years ago when it started to go wrong instead of pretending everything was fine. I should have left my husband and never moved here. I should have firmly, and compassionately stood up for myself countless times with countless people. I should have done a lot of things. I should have known better? I tried. Really I did. All I ever wanted to do was to make for my children a home like my cousins grew up in. My mom's sister had three kids, and was married to one of the best men I've know in my life. I loved having such a wonderful extended family. I look at them now, and they've been through some rough times - my Uncle dying 20years before we thought he should being the hardest - but they are still the loving, close happy family I watched growing up. So with my own kids I thought, if I couldn't have that growing up, I can at least give it to my family. It was a plan. I married a nice guy, I had three kids, stopped working before the second was born so I could be a full time mother to them. Then I tried to put down roots somewhere - my cousins grew up in only one house, on a street where every neighbour knew each other, where they could bike to school. There was a problem, with no job to hold me anywhere I had no say in where we moved when my husband got transferred, which was a lot. Still I kept trying to make that  life that existed only in my head.

So here I am. No family except my kids. All my extended family in another country, and while my Aunt and my cousins are friendly to me, I'm not their family, they don't invite me to holiday dinners or family celebrations. We have made ourselves a village here, and my kids have many stunt parents, mentors, and friends who support and love us, and we love them. I still long for my own family, for the extended family holiday dinners, for cousins for my kids to have and horse around with. It's nice here, but it's lonely too.

Honestly I don't really want a man to come in a rescue me. I know that if one should try to, I would most likely mock him, steal his horse and ride off. 

Maybe I just want a horse, and a plan of escape.

Or maybe just the horse, I'll figure out the escape route as I go.

The Journey by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save.  


Tracey said...

Dear Lovely Ms.,

1. Your honesty is the read that refreshes.

2. I am married to a very nice, very decent man. But the marriage is not perfect. He is also not my savior in almost any way. Over the long haul marriage is very difficult. Sometimes I, too, yearn for the horse and the escape path. I'll bet he does, too, only the horse is a pick-up truck or cool car from the 1950s.

3. My single friends have been had the same types of experiences of which you speak. A really good man, a soulmate, a substantial companion...they are hard to find. (This can also be rephrased as "married men/women/couples change over time, and not always for the better," and could be added to #2.)

4. Familes...friends...the proverbial "Village." I grew up lucky in one wonderful sense: My parents's parents LIKED each other. They were from the same 'hood, went to the same church, shopped at the same places. On holidays and birthdays BOTH SIDES of the family would come together, and hours of happiness would commence. I expected the same for me, my husband and my kids, but life happened and it has not been that way. I'm not sure what to make of it all; I know that EVERYONE has missed out on something special, but the chemistry wasn't there - and my Dad's catastrophic illness nearly completely unsealed the two-family-as-one deal (can I get my money back for that defective Catholic Unity candle we had at our wedding?). And here's the thing: We NEED a village. Even if we are "self-sufficient/reliant" as I (cough-cough) have believed myself to be. Where I'm really seeing the need now is with my aging parents; if more people around were somehow involved, it would be better for everyone.

5. Can we, at least partially, blame technology? I wonder.

6. No one here gets out alive, and no one here gets out without tossing around some "shoulds" from time to time. As my eldest gets ready to leave the nest, I am shoulding all over myself. When it comes to myself, where's some of the compassion I so quickly offer to others?

7. What helps me, after I've gone through similar soul-searching, is to remember this: We are each doing the best with what we have in any moment. Really-truly-ooly. I mean, unless we can look back and say, "Welp, I knew exactly the right thing to do but just said, damn it all to hell I just ain't doin' it!" we were very likely, very genuinely doing our best with the experiences we had, and the resources that were available to us. We are perfectly imperfect, and then some. Learning to make peace with that, as obvious as it sounds, is tough.

One horse away,

poetryforum said...

i guess i was one of the lucky ones. i met my partner online and never got to see her for two years. eventually i did and she was all i expected her to be and more, apparently it was the same for her. i moved half way round the world and adopted her family, thankfully they also adopted me, i'm sure we didn't rescue each other but we were each others mode of transport to something more than we had. my ex was and is a good woman and i see her every year along with my two adult kids.
hope does spring eternal, sadly it doesn't always spring our way.

good honest piece of writing;


Ruth Elliott said...


Thank you.

I can look back and honestly say I did my very best in whatever situation I was in. Lots of times people didn't like my best, so I'd try harder, but maybe I would have been more likable if I actually knew who I was and communicated to people from that place.
My best now is better than my best when I was 20, but I was still carrying a huge chip of my shoulder then - the angry, abused, and abandoned adolescent was alive and well within me through most of my 20's. Maybe if hadn't tried so hard to be what I thought would make people happy, and had figured out who I was as myself things might have gone differently - better? hard to say (this, apparently is a very common trait in adults who were abused as children, we're chameleons, adjusting ourselves to the emotional temperature of any situation, a handy skill at times, but you eventually forget who you were).

I realize all good relationships are work, I'm turning 48 tomorrow and wonder if I'm too old to start. Although having just watched The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the second time, I am more hopeful.

thank you again.

Ruth Elliott said...

thanks Billy,

You're at least the third person who I know who found a meaningful relationship online. I'm so glad some people have these things work out.

I did meet someone online who I fell completely in love with (still love the bastard, something I would very much like to just get over) and he, well, saw it as a little fun and when we finally met was like a robot, wouldn't really look at me, only touched me if he had to (read: important things, narcissus). He broke my heart, not on purpose, I think he didn't really notice or care enough for that. I wish I could take a pill, or have surgery to remove him from me (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind anyone? - I would have that procedure if it was available in the real world), but he is my muse, the person I write about and write for, even though he doesn't know or care. Still, I could live without writing, or write about something else if I could just exorcise him from my consciousness. (maybe there's another blog post in there...)

thanks again Billy, I'm glad you are one of the lucky ones - gives me hope is the current popular tag line I think.


Tracey said...

HOLY COW. You write so eloquently of my own life experience:

"Maybe if hadn't tried so hard to be what I thought would make people happy, and HAD FIGURED OUT WHO I WAS AS MYSELF things might have gone differently - better? hard to say (this, apparently is a very common trait in adults who were abused as children, we're chameleons, ADJUSTING OURSELVES TO THE EMOTIONAL TEMPERATURE OF ANY SITUATION, A HANDY SKILL AT TIMES, BUT YOU EVENTUALLY FORGET WHO YOU WERE)...I'm turning 48...and WONDER IF I'M TOO OLD TO START."

THAT is probably the crux of it. After tremendous and intense soul searching, I have come up with the idea that Who I Am is, at the core, a reader/writer. So what if I was those things as a coping mechanism when I was a kid? These actions ground me, fuel me, help me feel joy.

Realizing this, I have dropped nearly every single people-pleasing activity-obligation to which I have ever tethered myself (which is practically all I have ever done, and not very successfully I might add, my whole life) to read and write.

So far the Return to my Self is a success in terms of how I'm thinking/feeling. In terms of my relations, it's pissing people off (but I pissed them off living the other way, too, so what the hell. The title of your blog post fits like the proverbial glove here).

Now if I can just figure out how to turn my loves into income generating machines...

Thanks for your posts. I feel known and heard here.

Jackie Powers said...


As you well know, I'm in the been-there-done-that category with you. :-) At the same time, I acknowledge that every person's experience is unique. So I'll give you my experience, and take from it what's useful to you.

For me, the change from the experience you describe here to being okay with being single, began with the realization that most of the time when we are single, it's because --on some level-- we want to be single. And I'll be the first to admit that the "on some level" qualifier may not be a level that we are conscious of, but it's a level that is still running our life and keeping us single.

For me, no matter how much I thought I wanted a partner in my life, I finally realized that:

1) I just didn't have the time to put into creating a relationship of the kind I wanted because raising my kids and pursuing my dream of learning to write was taking up all my energy, and

2) I wasn't willing to put my kids through the trauma and upheaval of me getting into a relationship. My house wasn't big enough to add another person, and I figured that my kids had gone through enough.

Even though I _consciously_ wanted a relationship, I sub-consciously _didn't_, and my sub-conscious won the battle, _as_it_always_will_.

So my advice for you, is to take in the thought: "I am single, because on a level that I can't consciously access, I _want_ to be single". I'm not saying you have to believe the thought, I'm just saying consider the possibility.

I know you journal, so I'm sure you're familiar with this exercise.

Find a quiet time and place, get out your journal, turn to a blank page, and write "I am single because" then write the first answer that comes to mind. Go to the next line and write again "I am single because" and write the next answer. Repeat.

Keep repeating this until what I call the "gong of truth" goes off. You might feel it ding softly on the 10th repetition, then louder on the 24th, then about the 45th to 50th repetitions it starts gonging loudly and more loudly with each repetition and each new revelation. And when it does this, keep going until it quits gonging and you've finally reached the bottom/base/core reasons that you really, truly want to still be single.

After you quit calling yourself all kinds of names for taking so long to realize what has become so utterly obvious, draw a deep breath and give thanks, because you now have the information you need to take action... or at least to quit grousing. :-)

When I did this, I realized the truth that I had lots of really good reasons to not be in a relationship, and making peace with that helped a lot. I wasn't any longer a victim of my circumstance. Suddenly, it was my logical, emotionally sound _choice_ to not be in a relationship at that time.

And as my circumstances change, as time passes, the reasons that I put on my "I want to be single because" list are starting to fall off my radar. And I don't know when it'll happen, but I'm starting to feel like I really am ready for a relationship.

How do I know I'm ready? Because I've made peace with every aspect of my past and I'm no longer carrying the baggage of all my hurt, anger, victimhood, and pain. Which was important to me because one of the reasons on my list was "I want to be single because I refuse to inflict my crappy self and all my emotional baggage on anyone." :-)

The reasons you pull out of this exercise will tell you the next steps you need to take. Mine was to get my kids grown and make peace with my past... yours will be unique to you.

Hope it helps, :-)

Ruth Elliott said...

I hear you Jackie! :-) and this is excellent advice. I don't want a relationship (she says mostly truthfully). I want to get to a place where I can have one, right now, I'm not there, won't be for a while. I would like to have a gay friend to go to movies with and that sort of thing, a Will for my Grace, but I haven't found him yet either. Mostly I like my dog. He is a good soul, loves me unconditionally, never makes unhelpful comments, always happy to see me, the only thing is at night he sometimes farts, and can make the most disgusting slurping sounds from his crate (which is in my bedroom), but hey they don't keep me awake - well except for some of the really impressive farts...
thanks for the great advice, I still may use that exercise to exorcise some other personal demons....
I'm not divorced because..... (another blog post)