Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Breathing in and out

"Maybe life is made of flickers from some brilliant burnished flame."

As part of my new practice of celebrating both success and failure, both being part of my life story, I'll start by sharing some new inspiration that influenced the beads I made today.

These painted rock fish are by the talented Alika Kalaida and the minute I saw them (on Facebook, where else) I said, I want to make these in glass.

So I did.

The usual caveats. This is just the first prototype group. They will get better.

I posted this photo on Facebook and was happy to get 17 likes and 6 comments. See, I'm celebrating where I am.

Apropos of this theme, this just happened to pop up on my Facebook page.

Sounds easy enough, doesn't it.

I remember a time when it wasn't though.

There was a day when I sat in a psychiatrist's office, having been asked the question, are you getting any exercise.

Those were days when getting off the sofa to get the mail was almost more than I could cope with.

The doctor asked me if I could muster the troops and just do it.

Doctor, I said, I am getting some exercise. I am breathing in and breathing out.

It was 2001. I'd met and fallen in love with the man I thought I'd spend the rest of my life with. The man who, 16 days after our first email, 8 days after we first met in person, told me he loved me and asked me to tell him I loved him too. The man who signed his letters, I love you so much, stay with me, please, I want you, forever yours, your lover, your Marty.

The whole affair started in May and ended in August, when he "realized" that he still had the woman before me in his heart. When he told me he couldn't see me any more because when he talked to her (on the phone, she lived in upstated New York, where he'd lived until he moved to Texas) he felt like he was cheating on me, and when he was with me he felt like he was cheating on her.

Except that it didn't really end in August for me, in fact, that was just the beginning of the profound loss and anguish I suffered for many more months, the trip to the bottom of the pool of tears. Because I did something very terrible, something bad enough to blight all hope that things would ever come round right.

I'm starting in the middle here. I'm not even sure where the beginning should be, because it's part of my whole life story. So I'll just try to put it into context.

When my marriage was ending in 1998, I became close to a man named Robin, who would be my best friend for the next 8 years. We met online about 3 weeks after my husband moved out, although my husband never believed that Robin and I weren't already involved before we separated.

It didn't even start as a romantic relationship. He was a lawyer in North Carolina, I lived in Texas, we each had kids with another parent nearby to consider. I met Robin just as instant relay chat took off big time on the world wide web. He was a bright, kind and well-read man and we had this new toy, ICQ, and we spent many hours on our computers, chatting. We were both lonely, he was easy to talk to, and I may have flirted with him a little, but I had no expectations that we'd ever have a real-life relationship.

So I was surprised when he suggested meeting me somewhere, Atlanta or New Orleans, and when I asked him why, he confessed that he had fallen in love with me. Hearing that was like balm for my spirit. The last years of my marriage were devoid of affection, and I was still confused and disappointed by my equivocal relationship with Nick.

But I was conflicted about the idea of meeting Robin, of a long-distance relationship with so many practical obstacles to a happy future.

Robin was a dreamer though, and his enthusiasm was contagious. We had started chatting online in March and at the end of June I agreed to meet him. I didn't want to travel anywhere though. I felt more secure on my home turf. After all, this was someone I'd met on the internet who I'd be meeting. So I arranged for my kids to stay with friends for a few days and Robin came to Houston.

This is hard to say, I've never told this to anyone, but from the moment I saw him in the terminal at the airport, when I went to meet his flight, I knew he was not the right man for me. We had talked on the phone, exchanged photos, chatted and emailed daily, but I learned at that moment that until you meet someone in person, you don't know them.

There was something about the way he carried himself that made my heart sink just a little, and when he embraced me, the chemistry was all wrong.

But he had come all that way to see me, and he was there for several days, and it had been a long time for both of us since we'd been intimate with anyone. And after we spent a little time together, his gentle nature and unmitigated worship of me worked its charms, and I talked myself into starting something that probably should never have been started.

I think it was a lucky thing that we lived more than 1,000 miles apart and that neither of us was free to pick up and move. It kept us from making a really big mistake, but it also sustained the wrong romantic relationship for the next three years. At least for me it was wrong. Robin never wavered in his love for me, but there were lies of omission and fatal flaws and in the end I had to make the heart-rending decision to end the romance and hurt him.

In April of 2001, I told him I thought we should see other people. He didn't want that. He said I'd never meet anyone else who loved me as much as he did. That hurt me. It was too close to what my ex-husband used to tell me, that if I left him, I'd be alone for a long time. I do know that Robin at least meant it without malice. It was just something an insecure man says to an insecure woman.

In May, impulsively, I joined an internet dating website. In May, Marty wrote to me.

Later, when it had all gone down in smoke and flame, Robin was my friend and my rock. As I spiraled into despair and he witnessed my grief, he made the observation that I'd never loved him as I had loved Marty. We never resumed a romance. We were what we should always have been, best friends.

I owe Robin my life. I'm not sure how I'd have made it through those dark months without him. Because he understood. He told me, I've been in it even deeper than you are and I came back.

It gave me hope. I never let go of that hope, that I'd get though it and I'd come back.

"Maybe you're the one waiting
For the ship to find your harbor
Maybe you're the one looking
Past the forest to the trees
Maybe you still think
The older that you get
Life just gets harder
Maybe you would trade everything
For just one moment's peace
Everybody strains to hear the sound
Of their heart's calling
Now you can write yours down
It's your life story

Maybe what we leave
Is nothing but a tangled little mystery
Maybe what we take
Is nothing that has ever had a name
Maybe love will fade
Like the parchment pages of our history
Maybe life is made of flickers
From some brilliant, burnished flame
Everbody's waiting for a sign
I won't worry, I think we'll be just fine
In your life story
It's your life story."

(Mary Chapin Carpenter, Your Life Story)

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz