Monday, August 25, 2014

I've been thinking a lot about marriage lately and what makes a marriage work and what we are allowed to expect out of a marriage.  And are my standards, wants, needs too high?  Clearly, not everyone wants the same thing out of a marriage and partnership that I want.  I look around me at some of my friends and acquaintances and I think, I could not do marriage that way.  Except that I did, for 12 years.  It didn't work. Not for me, anyway.
Now, clearly, I am not in the marriages that I see, but some of them are friends of mine so I do know some of the inner workings of their marriages.  Not enough to make a fair judgement, but enough to make me curious how much more there is to it.
I had many people tell me that I was not justified in leaving my marriage.  It's none of their business and they certainly aren't in a position to determine that for me. But, I can see that for some of them, some of the things that made me HAVE to leave are things that they would not consider that big of a deal.  Things they can do without. Things that they think I have no right to expect and that aren't necessary for a marriage to be happy? Successful? Perhaps they are right.
But, what makes a marriage successful, then?
For me, it's one thing, really.  Because this one thing parlays into all the other things that make a marriage work.  It's intimacy.  I require it.  And, I don't just refer to physical/sexual intimacy, although, I think that can be a natural extension of the other types of intimacy, if one is in that type of relationship.  By which I mean that friendships can be intimate as well, without physical/sexual intimacy.
So, what is intimacy?  How does one achieve it?  Is it that important to everybody?
I'll start with the last question.  No, I don't think it is.  I don't think everyone is interested in a deep level of intimacy with their partner, and I think there are a variety of reasons for this.  Fear, lack of awareness, lack of desire to do the work required, to put in the time.  I think fear and lack of awareness may be two of the most prevalent.
I once likened being intimate with someone to a castle.  There are layers of defenses set up to protect ourselves, some concious, some unconcious and many quite necessary.  There are things about ourselves, our divine spark, if you will, that are too precious to share with the common world, so we guard them, as we should.  So, you can go to the extreme and keep everyone on the other side of the moat, drawbridge up, portcullis down.  Or, you can back things off a bit.  Leave the bridge down and allow people into the outer bailey.  They can look and see and interact, but the spark is still well protected, as it should be.  Then, there are those people you allow through to the inner bailey.  Your close acquaintances, etc.  They get a somewhat better vision of the real you, but you are still safe, because you don't know these people QUITE that well yet.  There are those you allow into the outer keep, your bannermen, those who will stand by you in times of trouble, but have their own things to do when peace is in the land. They can recognize your need to retreat to a safe space and will defend it as they can.  Finally, there is the inner keep.  It's where you keep your treasures, your secrets, your SELF.  The barest you.  For some people, no one is allowed in here.  It's too dangerous, because in your inner keep, you are unarmed, naked.  Anyone that comes in there can hurt you.  And so you are careful, you keep the door barred, your treasures safely guarded.  This is not bad, unless you stay in your inner keep with the door permanently barred.  Most of us don't, most of us wander down to the outer keep, the inner and outer bailey and even to the other side of the moat.  But we don't do it unarmed or unprotected.
Being alone in the inner keep is lonely.  But, it's also where you find yourself.
I think a lot of people never spend time in their inner keep.  I think there are some people who don't even know there is an inner keep, not of their own, nor that others have one.  And if you don't know it's there, you can't let anyone else in.  If you can't see someone else's, you can't join them in it.
I want someone in my inner keep, but I want them to want to be there.  I want them to earn their way in.  I would have to trust them, because my inner keep is a reflection of me.  It has areas full of light, and areas dark with shadow. I need someone to love the shadow as well as the light, if only for the contrast it gives. But, I am reluctant, because it is easy for someone to betray me in my keep.  I am unarmed.  I have been wounded there and left defenseless, open and raw.
But, I am also hopeful, because I have been loved there.  I have had someone come in and tell me it is beautiful and mean it.  Someone who wanted to spend time there, to admire and enjoy the warmth and beauty and to help drive away some of the shadow with their own spark when mine dims.
And this is a thing of beauty and something that I require, should I ever be inclined to marry again.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Words matter

This quote made me think of someone I love.  Someone who I think sometimes forgets about the poetry, in his noble efforts to sustain life.  Poetry and passion are what make the life worth sustaining.

“We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. So medicine, law, business, engineering... these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love... these are what we stay alive for.” 
― N.H. KleinbaumDead Poets Society

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Single parenting sucks.

Having to work full time and be a single parent sucks.

Having to allow someone else to raise my child so I can earn enough money to raise my child SUCKS.

That being said, I am grateful I have a job and I am very grateful that the person caring for my daughter is my mom.

But, it still sucks.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Suicide, Depression and Other Painful Shit

As everyone now knows, Robin Williams committed suicide yesterday.  It's a horrible tragedy, and one that made the front page because everyone knows who he is.  But, the real tragedy is that it happens every day. To young and old and middle aged, from all cultures and socio-economic levels.  Suicide is ugly and brutal and violent and hurts everyone around the one who has died. And we don't like to talk about it.  It takes the death of someone well known and well loved to bring it to the fore.  And yes, everyone is blogging about it now or posting on FB.  Facebook may have its cons (many, in fact) but one of the things I love about it is the fact that issues get discussed. One of the cons, of course, is the amount of misinformation that is spread, and the nastiness that seems to come out of people, but I think the overall is a net good.

Here's what is pissing me off about some of the commentary, though.  According to many, Robin Williams made the choice to end his life.  He had agency, he didn't have to do it.  I respectfully disagree.  Unless you have been there, unless you are in his shoes and know what demons he was battling, you DO NOT GET TO MAKE THAT CALL.  Unless you have been in that deep black hole, that merciless pit of blankness and numbness and soul sucking ugliness, for an extended period of time, like YOUR WHOLE LIFE, you do not get to make judgments.  In fact, even if you have been there and you came out alive?  You still don't get to. Because you came out alive.

I have experienced a certain level of this depression.  In my late teens, as a sophomore and junior in college, I experienced the deep, black pit.  It was partly circumstances, partly my clinical depression.  But I was there.  I was in that thick, putrefying sludge. It's like quicksand and you can't pull yourself out and no one can pull you out.  Your only hope, if you have ANY hope at all, is that you have the strength to cling to whatever lifeline you may have for as long as you can in the hope that a flood will come and wash the quicksand away from you, before your strength gives out and you are sucked down and suffocated. That's all you can do.  Hold on and WAIT. I was fortunate, blessed, lucky, whatever you may call it, because I had a few lifelines.  There was one in particular who would not let me go. I've lost contact with him and I doubt he knows what he did for me, but he is absolutely one of the reasons I never did it.
 I am...lucky?  in that I did not have to wait overlong.  For me, it only lasted about a year.  There were days when only my nose was above the quicksand and all I was doing was breathing.  And there were days when the quicksand receded somewhat and I could enjoy the scenery around me.

I am fortunate in that my medication is very effective at keeping my depression and anxiety under control, that I have learned coping techniques for my depression, that I have family that isn't afraid to acknowledge mental illness and talk about, that I have friends and family who experience it as well, so I am not alone.

And I am fortunate that my depression is not as severe as some.  I was only in the quicksand for a year or so.  It has happened a couple of times, and each time I managed to hang on until it was washed away.  For whatever reason, support, shorter time frame, different temperament, I hung on.  I can imagine what might have happened had it lasted longer.  It is extremely unlikely that I could have hung on.   For those who live long term with this, my heart goes out to you.  The alternating pain and numbness is agonizing, snd it isn't just mental or emotional pain.  Depression manifests itself as physical pain as well, in many different forms, and, it can be unbearable.  Literally, unbearable.

Suicide is not a choice someone makes in the way you make other choices.  When someone is contemplating suicide, they are not capable of making a rational or coherent decision.  They think that they are, because depression is a liar.  The person suffering from depression is not unable to see the beauty in the world around them, it is that they think that beauty is not for them, because depression tells you it isn't for you, but depression is a liar.  Depressed people are not unaware that their death may cause others momentary pain, but they believe that they darken the beauty of the world for those around them, so that long term, those people are better off without them.  And this is reinforced by the fact that when you are depressed, many of your friends leave you.  But, depression is a liar.  And even those who left you are hurt and saddened by the loss, should you take your own life.

Depression is a liar.  It will tell you that taking your life in a violent way will serve those right who abandoned you or hurt you.  It will tell you that suicide will make those around you understand the hurt and pain and anger and horror you face daily, even if they only feel it for a short time, though they will feel it for the rest of their lives.  It is insidious and horrifying and robs you of joy. And it is a liar.

Do not judge those who commit suicide.  You cannot know the pain they have walked through.  They are not weak.  They have been stronger than you can imagine for longer than you can imagine.  Just be there for them.  Hold on to them for all they and you are worth. They will push you away, try not to go.  Do what you can, whatever you can, and then do not blame yourself if your loved one succumbs to the illness.

To those of you hanging on for dear life, you are loved.  You are deeply, sincerely loved.  Your loss would leave a gaping hole in the hearts of those around you.  Your loss would mean the loss of much good in the world.  Your darkness may indeed add shadow to the lives of those around you, but shadow makes the light brighter, you add depth.  You are needed and wanted, more than you can possibly imagine.