Friday, October 11, 2013

Keep calm and carry a bead

"For a moment all the world was right, how could I have known that you'd ever say goodbye."

I'm not a very flexible person.

As much as I'd like to think of myself as an easygoing, laid back, go-with-the-flow kind of person, it's just not the case.

I'm an uptight white girl.

I don't like it when things mess with my agenda. So, for example, if I am going to the community center to walk on the treadmill, and it's closed because the air conditioning is broken, or if I am going to volunteer at the animal shelter, and they send me home because all the cats are in quarantine, I'd be annoyed, upset. Not ruin-the-rest-of-the-day upset, but peeved. Not that either of those situations has happened. I'm just anticipating having to deal if they did.

My first husband and I had issues with this. I like to plan ahead and he was all about spontaneity. I wanted to make plans in advance to get together with friends and he wanted to just drop in on them and encourage them to do the same with us. This became a stalemate that resulted in us not getting together with friends much at all.

Neil and I are aligned on this. He'd never want to drop in on anyone and if someone dropped in on us he'd be very tense. He's a planner too, an over-planner at that. When we go on vacation, he wants to have activities all lined out. I'm OK with planning on the go. I'm also OK with chilling on vacation and not having specific activities at all.

My days and weeks have a rhythm, and I like it that way. Mondays I have enamel class. Tuesdays and Thursdays I make beads. Wednesdays I volunteer at the shelter. Fridays depend on whether or not it is Neil's 9/80 Friday off. If it is, I spend time with him. If not, I make beads. If Neil works Saturdays and I don't have other plans, I'll do a second shift at the shelter. I also make beads on Sundays if Neil is working, unless it is a bead show weekend or I have an HSGB meeting or something fun to do.

I work out at the fitness center every free afternoon. Most weeks that is five times. Sometimes four and sometimes six.

I'm a creature of habit.

Thursday morning I was making beads. I ran out of mandrels and came into the house to dip some more and eat a bowl of cereal. I heard my iPad beep with a Facebook message.

It was Ashley, one of the Beads of Courage coordinators. She asked me if I would be interested in making 80 pairs of Team Beads. I said sure. Team beads are beads carried mostly by athletes and sometimes by celebrities such as musicians. Gavin DeGraw and Johnny Reid are Team BOC members, as well as athletes on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team and participants in the Alaskan Iditarod.

Anyone can sign up for the team and Carry a Bead. For $20 you get a matched pair of handmade Team Beads, a pewter Team BOC charm, a string or safety pin (you can decide to pin or wear your beads), a story card to share where the beads traveled, a Note of enCOURAGEment card to include a special message to a child in the Beads of Courage program and a return envelope.

Once received by Beads of Courage, all Team Beads continue their international journey to one of 30,000 children coping with a serious illness.

Here is what your Team Beads might look like.

I can't say a lot more about my project because it is going to be a surprise, except that I'm very pumped. It is for an event that will take place in late November, so I have about a month to make the 160 big-holed beads. I'm happy that I'm getting compensated for it and I'm happy to be part of it.

I look forward to telling you more and showing you the Team Beads I make.

Near the end of November, 2001, while still deeply grieving about my broken relationship with Marty, I met a man named Mark.

There were warning bells ringing out right from the start. It is a testament to my sad, weak state that I ignored them.

Mark began planning our life together pretty much beginning with our first conversation.

We met up at Whole Foods. My friend Nancie did my hair and came along with me to check him out. After she left, Mark drove me over to Half Price books in his white Prius Hybrid. We browsed for a bit, he took me back to my car and I went home.

He was tall and lanky, not bad-looking, a couple of years younger than me. I didn't think I'd see him again. There was no chemistry. On my side, anyway.

But he was persistent and kept calling me. I told him about Marty, about how Marty had spoken words of love too soon, before he really knew me, and how he had retracted them later.

And don't you know, after about two weeks, Mark told me he loved me.

My water heater died. Mark went with me to buy a new one and then spent hours in my cold garage installing it, while I sat comfortably inside, nice and warm, relaxing.

Hey, he wanted to do it. Who was I to say no?

But then he had to go and say he loved me.


In early December I posted on the support forum for the first time since September.
I am still fighting the horrible depression triggered by the broken relationship, and while I believe I am almost totally over the man, I am not over the hurt he caused.

Facing life alone has been much harder than I ever thought it would be, but because of the pain I am still in from the loss of love, I am just unable to form new attachments at this time. I have gone out a few times on dates with nice enough men who would like to take it to the next level and I just can't yet.

Maybe they just aren't the right men, but I hardly have the energy to go to work and keep my life going let alone look for ways to meet new men. I have to work on getting well first, or at least controlling the depression to a level that feels something like well.
I may or may not have been over the man, but I was struggling in my life.
I'm not looking for happiness 24/7, just a neutral feeling, a relief from the fear and heaviness and yes, the angry feelings. I'm angry that my house is a mess and that I don't have the energy to keep it clean or engage the kids in doing more of their share. I'm angry that my pets are adding to the mess and the chaos and that the cat scratches the furniture and sits on the countertops and the dog still makes mistakes and won't go outside when it's cold and damp.
At the same time, I was striving to look for the good, to deliberately practice gratitude.
Let me try to say something positive. At least we have each other here. We have hope that there are doctors and therapists and medicines that can help if we can stick with it and keep trying. We have enough to eat today and clothes and a bed to sleep in.

I have a job that I like and am good at and even if I can't pay all my debts I can pay some of them. I may be alone today but the perfect man for me may walk in my door tomorrow (and this time he won't leave just months later). As long as we are alive there is hope.

I also think about dying a lot, but not about doing, just wondering about whether it would really be a way to peace or just more bad karma to outlive in future incarnations. I wonder about whether there is a reason and a purpose for everything or if things are random and coincidental and meaningless.

I measure my mental health by the days I stop trying to figure this out and just live life.
I continued to see Mark, mostly because he kept calling and asking. I was very honest with him about my mental health, or lack thereof, mainly because I didn't give a damn what he thought about me one way or the other.

One Saturday morning in mid-December he called, wanting to see me. I told him I was still in bed and was feeling too depressed to get up.

An hour later he showed up at my door with a brown paper sack of groceries. He took it into my kitchen and chopped up all kinds of fruit for a fruit salad. I love fruit salad.

Then he mowed my yard.

Yet still I had no feelings for him.
I really think what would help me more than anything would be if a new lover with all the good and none of the bad of (what was his name again?) appeared on the landscape. I know we are supposed to find happiness and satisfaction within ourselves but to be honest, being in a good relationship (while it lasted) was the best antidepressant drug for me ever. And it came so close to being everything I ever wanted, and I truly believed it was going to last.

I guess the lesson maybe is that we never know what could happen. Maybe if Mary had never contacted Marty again he would have died of cancer or been in a plane crash. There are never any guarantees and to give up control of our own happiness completely is always a huge risk.

Still I rail at the fates that made our paths even cross. The dance was not worth the pain. There must have been some life lesson here I was too stupid to learn the last time around when a man I was in love with went back to a troubled former relationship.
I wouldn't let Mark touch me. But one night we were watching TV, sitting apart on the sofa, and he took my foot and started to rub it. It had been so many months since I'd had any physical affection. I acquiesced and tentatively allowed him to rub my feet. That is as close as I would let him get.

On December 23 he asked me to marry him. I'd known him for a month.

I can't even imagine what he was thinking. He had a small house in Bellaire, three dogs, no kids. I had a small house in Jersey Village, and two kids. Where did he think we'd live? Never mind that I didn't love him.

I wrote about it in a letter to my mom.
Mark is complicated. I don't see it leading anywhere. I like his company except that he is too pushy and doesn't listen to me. I keep telling him I'm just interested in going out and having fun and taking things very slowly. I've told him I'm battling major depression and getting over having my heart shredded into ribbons and that I'm not ready to be physical.

He says he understands - and then he tries to kiss me. He also says he loves me. Last night he asked me to marry him. I think he is trying to prove to me that he isn't another Marty who declares love for me very quickly and then disappears a few months later. I said thanks, that is a sweet thing to say, but no.

The trouble is, I am not in love with him and I don't love him, and right now I need one or both to get involved in a physical relationship. I don't have the desire to reciprocate physically or emotionally with Mark. It's probably because he isn't the right person, and also because I'm still not totally healed from the hurt Marty caused.
I talked to a friend about the situation. He thought I should not see Mark any more because, knowing how he feels, even if I am being honest with him, I am using him.
I guess I know that is true, but I am lonely and it isn't good for me to be alone so much and if the powers in the universe want to put a Mark in my life, maybe I should not try to be so noble. Maybe he has something he needs to learn from me, even if I am never going to be his lover.

Yesterday, while I was out at the mall, he came over and mowed my front yard. Little things like that mean a lot. I can't picture Marty ever doing a thing like that. But I still can't love Mark and I am almost certain I never will.

Love and logic - who can reconcile them?

I just know I want to love and be in love with a life partner. There has to be someone out there who I can love and who will love me back and stick around.
And then on December 27, out of the wild blue yonder, I got an email from Marty.

The subject line was: Thinking of you....

"Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared beneath the stars above
For a moment all the world was right
How could I have known that you'd ever say goodbye

And now I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end, the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain, but I'd have had to miss the dance

Holding you I held everything
For a moment wasn't I a king
But if I'd only known how the king would fall
Hey, who's to say, you know I might have changed it all

And now I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end, the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain, but I'd have had to miss the dance."

Tony Arata, performed by Garth Brooks

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