I can’t believe that August is almost here!
Because I am so used to the academic calendar, August always signals the end of summer to me. It is that one last gasp of freedom before school starts in September, when we settle into a new routine, celebrate the autumnal equinox, and collectively prepare for fall with remnants of harvest based rituals.
Right now, it is still summer. The days are long, sunny, and hot. We are bare arms and legs. We are breathless nights, clear stars, green trees.
At least, that’s how it has been around here. Free. Lazy. We live day-to-day, without the rigidity of the school schedule. My children hang out with friends, but they do not go to summer camp or anything like that. The hours are erratic at the job I’ve been working at over the summer, and I work some days, some nights. I rarely have to be awake before 9am and I have slowly become more and more nocturnal, my natural state.
Even as an infant, I preferred night to day. In general, sleeping and waking have always been difficult for me. As a child, there was a period of time where I feared sleep. In my adolescence, teens, and early 20s, I suffered from insomnia. Then I had children. As a single parent, my down-time was after the children went to sleep or when I went to work. Anyone who has had children understands that sleep deprivation takes on a whole new meaning after you are a parent.
Now, I welcome sleep. I’m actually thankful for it. But I prefer to stay awake late into the night, and sleep until late morning. I get a lot of things done over the course of the night, when the world is asleep and the house quiet. That is the time I most love to spend writing.
Soon, our schedule will change again. I’ll have to be awake earlier, to see the children off to school. The demands and responsibilities of daily life will change. I feel like my life is all about change, constant change. I keep hoping for that stable leveling out, which I don’t see happening anytime soon. Sometimes I think I experience this continual turning acutely because I do have children. They change every year – physically, mentally, emotionally. As their mother, I have to change in response. So, there is a constant flux of change and growth in my life.
Over the last few months, I have dealt with some painful changes, due to breaking up with someone I had been seeing for several years. I haven’t written anything about it here, and I think it is interesting that the most difficult and challenging times in my life are the times I am most silent in the blog portion of this website. In the past, I sometimes haven’t posted for months, or I have only posted work related things.
There is a part of me that retreats when wounded. And I think that I avoid talking about these kinds of things on the blog because I am aware that this is sort of like a public journal. I share very personal things on the blog, but I try to respect the current relationships and situations I am in by not writing about them, or by referencing them vaguely. I have a very private life, and I’m conscious about what I share on my website and social media sites.
I’ve been thinking about relationships a lot over the last few months. I’ve also been thinking a lot about what happens to the self, and what we accept, allow, and concede in order to maintain a relationship with another person. And why. In retrospect, I’m disturbed by my acceptance of so many things that were red flags telling me that this was not the right person for me. Yet, we stayed together for years. Always with the hope that things would be better in the future. Always with the hope that things would change.
I didn’t want to accept that not everyone wants to grow, not everyone wants to change, and a relationship can’t be contingent on that necessity for change.
In the aftermath, I’ve come to realize that some people place blame on others because it is too difficult for them to face the truth in themselves. I’ve also come to realize that some people will lie to everyone they know to make themselves look better, to elicit sympathy, and to alleviate the pressure of taking accountability and responsibility for their choices, behaviors, and actions. Not everyone wants to grow. Not everyone wants to change.
I feel that a relationship is in many ways a mirror. The closer you are, the more magnified that mirror becomes. But sometimes what the mirror is showing you isn’t an image you want to see. Sometimes the mirror of another is false or distorted. Sometimes the mirror of another is illuminating, crystal clear. We are our own mirrors too. How does a person reconcile something they don’t want to see? How far do some people fall into cognitive dissonance, where they cannot even see their own reflection in their own mirror?
I was talking with someone recently about this idea, and she had mentioned that she felt that older men in “mid-life crises” seek younger women because they want that mirror. Some women also do this, “cougars” – but this response to aging seems more prevalent in men. They want to feel young. But they are no longer young. They can’t accept the person they see in their own mirror, or the mirrors of those in their peer age group, because they can’t handle the reflection, that glare of truth. They want a false mirror, a distorted mirror.
The only thing that we can change is ourselves.
I think the hardest part about this break up is the way we broke up, the way that things between us didn’t just fall apart, they shattered. I loved this person deeply. I trusted him. I shared my family and my life with him. I was left feeling like Dorothy (and the rest) when the Wizard of Oz was revealed to be not a great and powerful wizard, but just a man behind a curtain.
Did I love an illusion? Sometimes we project things onto other people. We think they are what we want them to be. We see only what we want to see.
Still, there are positives to breaking up. Freedom. The kind of freedom that is dizzying and exhilarating and terrifying. Time. I have more time to write. I’ve been spending time with other friends. I have more time to take care of my self, my needs, my life. My focus has shifted.
Even though it is usually painful, breaking up with someone you have shared a close and intense relationship with can provide an opportunity for change that is unlike any other. Some important aspects of my world have been razed. It is up to me to rebuild. Instead of thinking of what has been lost, it is important to see what has been gained. We can try to understand and learn from our experiences; we can transform our lives. We can grow and expand and develop, and embrace change in healthy and positive ways.
An ending is a new beginning, another opportunity to start again, anew.
And for that, I feel so grateful.