It’s been awhile. Like a long while.
I’ve been trying to find my way back to this place. Obviously with no great success. So much has changed and yet so much remains the same, right? The world has been transformed in a way that I’m fairly certain, it will never go back to as it once was. What has been seen, cannot be unseen and I’ve reached a point where I don’t think we should. We should never waste our energy wishing for what can never be, should we?
I’ve been looking for a way back into this place. It’s felt like I’ve been looking for the right key to open the door. Hell, many days I’ve been uncertain that I even still owned the keys. Or maybe the right words would be like a combination on a lock. If I could just fumble through the pockets of my mind long enough and find the words. Because there has been some serious change in my life and I’m no longer the person who wrote the last post.
I left here with adventures on the horizon and all the optimism in the world despite COVID. In fact, as shit got real, I learned that there is one thing we all forget about our phones and their photographic technology, they hold evidence of our happiness. You can freeze a frame of happiness in a lens. IF you should choose to see it that way…but I’ll talk about that another time.
What I’d like to discuss today is something I’ve been giving a great deal of thought to lately, perception. How we choose to or fail to see people for who they are. Including ourselves. For me, it’s related to how I have withheld myself from being seen by others as well. And I’m pretty sure for me there is a direct correlation between those two things. Like so many things, it’s the inside job that is affecting the outside.
At my last therapy session, we were talking about how I’m afraid to let people to see things about myself. That I will be judged and come up short. Things like the fact that I played piano for a quarter of my life, yet no one who knows me as an adult has ever seen me play. Or that I can sing, pretty well, yet I sing for no one. Or any of my mistakes I’ve made. I’ve always been an at arms length kind of person. And it’s been keeping me from fully trying to do what I want to do. It’s keeping me from everyone.
On Christmas day, I had some friends over and drank more wine that I can ever remember drinking. Not out of sadness or anything like that, just sometimes wine gets away from you. Do you know what I mean? Anyhow, in my intoxicated stupor I had this fantastic conversation with someone whom I did not know well at the time. There was this moment where was explaining to me why he doesn’t sleep well as an adult. It was tied back to childhood trauma and yet I could see in his face, he was still quite clearly haunted by it. Here’s a fully grown man who isn’t sleeping because of memories formed over an almost life time ago. And I don’t know if it was the vino or what, but in that moment, I could see him. Like really see this person in front of me as a witness without any illusions. It was the most sobering inebriation I’ve ever experienced. And to be clear, I only drank three times in 2020.
A few days later, I began to piece together that moment and my dialogue with my therapist and realized, this is my key. This is how I find my way back here to this place that I created. Along with one other detail…
Five days after my birthday in October, the man that I have written here about, my ex husband, took his life. He was dog-sitting for a friend and killed himself in their house with a gun. And it has changed everything in me. Forever. I’ll talk about this again and again and in more depth because I believe it’s worth talking about. It needs to be talked about. I want his death to mean something because he meant alot, whether we were together or not and this moment is entirely germaine to what I’m writing about right now.
When I met Dave, and we are going to use him name now because I want him to be known, not long after we met, he told me about his previous failed suicide attempt. He told me about his life long battle with depression that he was on medication for. He told me about his beliefs and his family and at the time we met, he had a sort of girlfriend. I was drawn to him like a magnet. He had a kind of gravity I had never encountered before.
And yet, I didn’t fully see him. I saw what I wanted to see, an intelligent funny guy who gave the best hugs I’ve ever known in my entire human life. He hugged people with his whole soul, as we should all hug. I didn’t understand the depths of his illness or the shadow that it would cast over him and us. I didn’t see him. I saw what I wanted to see.
And I didn’t see myself either. I couldn’t see through the haze of my own trauma. I wasn’t acknowledging what had happened to me or it’s ramifications on my life. I wasn’t addressing my own behavior. I was choosing to see as a means of survival. And while I think that this kind of vision can be necessary for our ability to endure at times, ultimately that kind of short sightedness robs us and others of the thing that we all so desperately need, to be fully witnessed and accepted by the humans in our life.
We want to be understood when we are completely indecipherable. We want to be heard even through the barriers of our differences. We want to feel safe enough to show our gifts and not be ridiculed or judged. We want to be able to be different and accepted for that, to understand our viewpoint is not the same and not be attacked. We want to meander deeply into our own souls and dive in to find who we are and when we resurface holding what may appear a be a common rock to others, understand it’s a pearl to us.
This lack of vision also causes us to harm others and ourselves. We choose from a place of fear or insecurity or pain. We deprive ourselves of realness and closeness which is also scary. Vulnerability people, it’s the only key. And Dave’s suicide has only served to drive this realization so far home it’s like a permanent mile marker on my soul.
Look around your life, do you really know the people in your life? I’m not talking about knowing every detail in their story, I mean their essence. Do you know yourself through your blood, bones and back again?
I can’t help but to think about this country, America, and the events that have unfolded in this past year. I feel like we no longer choose to see those whom we disagree with, do we? Do we even understand our own motivation in the COVID world? This is the moment to dig, into ourselves so we can see again. Because I still believe in hope and all the possibilities that lie beyond the horizon, but we cannot get there in blindness.
Lastly, let me leave you with a quick story from my childhood. One summer, I went to a swimming pool with my brother from another mother, his brother, his mother and my mother. There was a high dive and I’d never been on one before. I can’t recall how old I was, but I know I was a child. Because the memory has an immense height attached to that board. Both of my cousins climbed the ladder and jumped with the greatest of ease and I was encouraged to do the same. I’ve always been an avid swimmer, so why not, right? I remember scaling that ladder and when I arrived at the top, it was a helluva drop. But there I was and just when I was about to go back down. Crawl back down actually, there was a bee. And I jumped. I told my therapist that I feel like I’m on that board right now and Dave is the bee. And so despite all my fear, I’m gonna jump.