Ok...so you know my usual disdain for the hippy dippy/emotions/hard stuff...well, fair warning... Be prepared for the opposite side of that today...also for a lot of talking...
Chapter 2 in the Inner Excavations book (IE) is called "I seek". It deals with looking into the past, but it also talks about our senses and noticing the details around us in any given moment.
These days, I'm pretty good at noticing the details around me. For instance, this morning I was noticing that the ceiling fan was casting shadows on the wall that circled around me like a mini strobe light. It's still doing it, and it's very distracting now that I mentioned it... I heard the scratching sound my favorite pen makes when I was writing some journaling. I can smell this little tiny left-over smell of cinnamon from an almost empty plug-in air freshener in the kitchen.
The hard part about this chapter for me was looking into the past. I don't have a lot of memories about my childhood. If I think about it really hard, or if I talk about it with other members of my family, then I can remember specific details of my childhood. I can pick out pieces of certain days that were good.
There are also a lot of unpleasant things that come up. I've learned to deal with these things over time. I choose not to dwell on the bad stuff that happened to me as a kid. Maybe one day, when there's money for a therapist, then yes...but for the most part, I've got a handle on it. I know what's there, and I know that I didn't deserve it (no one deserves bad things...not even bad people...but especially not children) or cause it. I also recognize that, at a certain point, you can't use these things as an excuse anymore. Of course I've been shaped by the things I went through, but I'm an adult, and, as such, I am the one responsible for my actions now. It's taken me a long time to come to terms with that. It's something I still struggle with. But I do struggle, I do try.
Of all the things that bother me about my childhood, the thing that bothers me the most is that there wasn't a permanent place where I felt safe to be myself. There was a lot of "this is right" and "that is wrong", which isn't bad in and of itself. The hypocrisy that I grew up with, however, was very wrong. It was confusing to a child and caused a lot of resentment later on. I learned to be fake at a very early age. No one can know the truth. People don't need to know our business. People don't like sad people, so you just have to be happy all the time. It doesn't matter whether you're actually happy or not. These are things I still have a hard time with. I feel the need to conceal my feelings about certain things. I feel the need to smile even when I'm a wreck. If it does manage to seep out, I apologize for it.
I think it's one of the reasons I like this blog so much. Because I can just be myself. If people like me, that's great. If not, that's fine too. I am working to make my real life, the day to day person I am, more like that. It's hard, because online I've met a lot of really supportive people. I can say what I need to say and they aren't telling me I should think a different way or be a different person. I don't feel like I've really got that as much in my real life. I feel like I can't share things. I get the eye rolls when I talk about certain ambitions of mine. There are things I've learned not to share because they are judged harshly. I've heard 'you wouldn't care if you didn't know it was wrong' more times than I can count. The thing is, sometimes I'm not ashamed of these things, but I don't want the other person to be ashamed of me either. And that doesn't work, because we have different outlooks. It's not anybody's fault, it's just how things are.
So when I thought about all of that, it occurred to me that I'm looking for my 'home'. I'm longing for a place where I can be entirely myself and be appreciated and encouraged, instead of feeling like I'm squashed into the mold of another person's ideals. And I think that most people are looking for that 'home' in some form or another. Maybe a few very lucky people already have it, but I think that, for the most part, it's a place that doesn't actually exist. Because we want that 'home' to be perfect, and it's just not going to be. We either have to take what we've got and learn to live with it or we've got to find a way to make what we've got change into what we need or else we've got to leave what we have where it's at and start looking for something more.
I had all that in mind when I made the assemblage piece for this weeks chapter in IE:
|On the inside, I'm just a crusty, bearded, weather-worn sea captain wanting to go home.|
When I went to do my journal spread for this chapter, I had a slight shift. I was thinking about this evasive 'home' I long for and realized that I feel like I've had it and lost it.
There are a lot of extra details I won't go into here, but I'll give you the gist of it.
I had a very dear friend, Leonard, who was this home for me. He was smart, funny, kind, insightful, and a million other things that made him precious to me. He was the first person, the only person to date, that made me feel accepted for exactly who I was. There were no outside reasons for him to like me, he had nothing to gain from liking me, he didn't have to like me. But he did, simply because I was me. And I believed it. It's pretty much the only time in my life I've ever felt that way about someone...everyone else has a reason, everyone else has something to gain by befriending me...not Leonard.
And he was a great friend. He could be obnoxious and arrogant, he fought his demons but sometimes he quit fighting and let them reign over him. Even then, he was the best friend I've ever had. He would listen, actually listen, when I talked. When I asked for it, he would give me good advise, tell me all the pros and cons of the different choices, and then tell me to go do what I wanted. He'd make fun of things I'd do and in the same sentence he'd tell me he was proud of what I'd done. He didn't make me feel inferior or that I was wrong for doing, saying, or thinking a certain way. And he was the only person I have ever known that would ALWAYS tell me the truth. Even when I didn't want to hear it, even when it was hard and I hated him for it, he never once lied to me. I think it was my favorite thing about him.
Three years and a few months ago, Leonard killed himself. There are a lot of extra details that come in to play that I won't be talking about here, to save the feelings of those that remain and because, frankly, I've cried enough this week.
Looking back now, I think that there were things I should have noticed. But you never really believe someone you know will do something like that...even once it's done, you can't believe it. It takes a long time to accept it as the truth and so, so long to get to a place where you feel like you can breath again. But then you have bad days and good days...I still do, and I think I will for the rest of my life. Everything I do has his ghost in it. I wish I could tell him things. I wish I could hear his voice giving me good advise. I wish he could see and experience all the things I see and all the things that happen in life. He lost so much.
When it gets really bad, I write him. Sometimes, they're long and sprawling letters. Other times, they're just a sentence or a snip of a thought I'm having. It helps though, either way, to get it out of my head. I thought I would share the most recent thing I wrote (before I did the journal spread):
"Sometimes I still catch glimpses of you, even though you've been gone for so long now. It's hard to think about how life goes on in all the insignificant ways, how I get older and you never will. I know I see you with rose-colored glasses, that my memory of you has become hazed over with half-truths and even entire lies and that no one would ever be able to live up to that harsh standard of perfection you've set by dying before your time. And I hate so much that this knowledge is in my head, crammed down deep, next to the strong desire to find someone like you, when the truth is no one will ever be all of the things I know you were and all of the things I have imagined you had been. And I feel the years and I feel the weight I carry and the burden that you've forced me to take possession of and this hollow person you've made me become: trying to find this beautiful thing that will never be found again, that was really never there at all."
I know that I'm not the only one who lost him. I know that he touched the lives of many people. And, honestly, the whole world is less for having lost him. For all his flaws, he was a good person; there aren't a lot of those left.
After he died, I started looking for someone like him. To take his place, I guess, or to make up for what I lost, or to make it easier at least. I look for pieces of him in every person I see. And that's not fair. No one will ever be what he was. Because even he wasn't the person that is in my mind now. His flaws are glossed over to the point where they never existed...and he was flawed, everybody is. That's the way we are, and I'm sad that I've lost those pieces of him.
That's what was on my mind when I worked on this week's spread:
Left page, close up:
|Inner Excavations, Week 2: "I seek"|
Left page, close up:
|This poem is by Lang Leav, and it fits the way I feel. It's entitled "Closure":|
Like time suspended,
a wound unmended-
you and I.
We had no ending,
no said goodbye,
For all my life,
I'll wonder why.
Right page, close up:
|The black shirt lifts up in this way. There is more journaling on the page, and then on the back of the tip-in, I wrote the poem I had written for this weeks prompts (basically memories and senses), which you can read below.|
This is the 'memories and senses' poem I wrote:
I hear him say my name
and the words "I love you" rolling off his tongue
like his was the only mouth I was ever meant to hear it from.
I taste the cold on his lips
and the warmth that radiated from within
like all the good in the world came from him.
I feel his hands running up and down,
slowly, over the length of my arms
like he was the only thing keeping me safe from harm.
I see the electric light
pulsing in his throat under the skin
like this was the moment we would always live in.
I smell his shirt:
lightly cologne and laundry soap so clean
like he was the innocence in this world so mean.
I know that life must teach us things
but life keeps showing me again and again
that beautiful things cannot last, as if I didn't know it then.
The thing about the past is this: it's over. Whatever happened, it can't be undone, only dealt with. The hard truth is that no one knows what consequences their actions might lead to. Kind people consider the options before acting. Foolish people either don't consider this or they do and simply don't care what the results will be. And then there are people who are so afraid to make a move, afraid of what their actions will cause that they do nothing. These people are basically martyrs. I mean this in that they sacrifice something of great value over principal. They suffer for it. They end up being victims. Because time and other people's actions make the choices for you if you don't decide for yourself. I've been all three types of people.
These days, I feel like a martyr and a fool. I have all these thoughts in my head, things I'd like to do, ways I'd like to be, but I'm so afraid to make the move. Then I get resentful and I jump into doing stupid things that I don't really care about just to be able to say I did something. Or in the end, because I don't choose, someone else chooses for me. Time keeps ticking. Opportunity passes with every second. Going with the flow is fine, but if you never swim against the current, you end up in an ocean of someone else's troubles.
And I hate it. It's stupid and it's weak. I only get one life. I don't want to come to the end of it and regret that I live someone else's version of my life. I want to live MY life. I want to live it for me alone. And I want to live it so that I can be proud of it and so that the people who have helped me along the way can be proud of me. I want to live it so that if Leonard was watching he'd be proud. He'd know I've learned the smart and beautiful lessons he taught me while he was here.
I've spent too much time thinking about what I don't want, who I don't want to be. Time has been wasted not being myself, hiding myself away. I'm done with that. The time has come to start being the person I am and thinking about the things I do want. And not just thinking about them, but actually working to make them happen.