So, this is what it feels like to walk away. This is new to me, and exhilarating. It feels like, setting down a painful piece, which rips out a pleasure piece, and then filling the hole with something healthy.
I write a lot about grief, which may seem sad. I do see my life as a product of grief, but in the best possible way. Which is to say, I see my life as a series of transformations brought about by letting go. And through each, I grow lighter and lighter, purer and purer.
As of this week, I am no longer waiting for a call. Each call a heartbeat of a hypertensive romance. I waited three months for calls. And the waiting was a burden. So I set it down. And suddenly I am unstuck, and flowing. I am even here…writing again.
I mean, it wasn’t so simple. First, I dropped the weight, then I stood up crooked, disoriented, hollow in the places the love had filled. Then I craved new love fiercely, desperately. Withdrawal. I cast around for a source, but the real thing comes when it’s meant to, not when you beg for it.
So then, I assessed the holes, what joy had gone with the burden? Levity, play, excitement. This last man was purely that. Highly concentrated so I had only to ride his exuberance, my brain down-regulating it’s own receptors. I’m a low level introvert. It wasn’t hard to lean into someone else’s hyperactivity.
During detox from him, I dipped into criticism of me, doubting my spontaneity, my knack for adventure. But just for a second, not like I used to. I took a day, maybe two, then bounced into action. I needed people. I’d been through this before, breakups and death, and this wasn’t a time to be alone. I didn’t need a rebound, but I needed connection.
I called friends, imposing myself on their evenings, something I rarely do. I have a slight paralysis around reaching out. But such is the power of grief, that once I’ve honored it, sat with it, let it rock me, I burst up mobilized, determined to balance the imbalances the most recent loss revealed.
Now I see that I am connection deficit. These Peter-Pan-men always leave me aware of that, the sharp contrast of their social life to mine. And for three years I’ve been “building my wealth”, “focusing on me”, and blaming my solitude on a small town, a lack of inspiration, and a drinking culture. My excuse to become a prisoner to my projects.
But this week I had to find connection, or I was going to sink in a pit, or trigger my flight response, plot a move perhaps. But I am rooting here, and rooting means commitment, which means staying, which means figuring out how to fight burn-out, even if it means taking a step back from progress.
As I texted a friend “what are you doing tonight?”, my fingers trembled, hovering over the send button. Then I realized, there is fear here too. I caught a glimpse of how I’d always assumed others see me. Somber, prude, boring.
So much time alone, so much introspection, it’s hard to drop that at the door of a gathering and step into the presence of others, chatting away on some light topic while my mind lingers on the day’s revelations. It is easier to go home than face the fear that I might not fit.
So I see, my isolation isn’t the fault of my projects, my projects enable my isolation. Projects protect me from rejection.
But these fears are aging. They’ve been cycling for years and fading with each pass….I pressed send.
Because the more I’ve opened, the more I realize that everyone feels lonely, especially now. And most are happy to have someone to spend a dinner with, or watch a sunset. I always imagined I was imposing and taking, but now I see I am giving as well.
This week I’ve seen that even an hour chatting after work, before I go home to my shack, makes my solitude so much sweeter. I write, I relax, the pressure relieved a little, instead of building all day in the silent walls of my mind.
Whereas I used to see weakness in needing others, now I’m learning the value in it. It’s taken many cycles of loss to learn this balanced dance of little doses. I am making a mental list of new friends to call for walks, of new spots for sunsets, of dates to go on.
I am grateful to grief. Without grief I would never reach a breaking point, and seek others out.
And now, for the first time ever, I have walked away from something so sweet that does not serve. This is a long learned skill. I wore that weight for many years, and finally learned how to put it down. So when it came again, I knew it, and knew what to do. Cast off…the abyss still stings, but it is not so scary. I will come home quickly.
And I am so amazed and thrilled to feel a strength I never thought I would have. To set down a habit I thought was etched into my destiny, part of my compassionate DNA. But through cycles of loving and letting go, I’m building muscle, grace, and boundaries.
Each one is a course. This one gave me the skills to seek connection beyond relationship, and therefore, the freedom to wait for the right romance. Because meanwhile, there are so many friends to meet, so many dinners and sunsets and jam sessions and walks and swims. All just waiting for my call.