Tag Archives: emotional growth

Love & the Road: the stuff of nightmares?

I don’t dream with the frequency that I did before the divorce. Now and then I still have deeply symbolic nightmares.

A bit of set up: I met a nice gentleman on my journey who was kind, attractive, and intelligent. We had several fun conversations and enjoyed the same music from the same era though he was several years younger than I. We both love poetry and reading and shared our histories readily. He treated me to the tour of the Caverns of Sonora, dinner, and several starlit strolls with Sammy in the frigid winter air. All in all, despite age and origin differences, we had many things in common.

Obviously, I couldn’t let THAT go on.

Then, the second night I had one of those “this symbolism is so obvious it’s stupid” nightmares.

I dreamed I was a very attractive, youngish, homeless woman who had been killed in a rage by her childhood sweetheart. I haunted the place of my death but people who saw me only saw a lonely, waifish young woman. I would talk to them, entertain their advances only so far, then abruptly disappear.

On one such occasion a man took too much liking to me and got too amorous. While he meant no harm, he was playing at being aggressive because he thought it was sexy. My “character” began to panic and started warning him, “Stop! I will hurt you!” repeating this over and over, louder and louder. I began punching, biting, scratching, screaming until he let go with a hurt and shocked expression. My now non-corporeal self was flung backwards as it had been in my death and, as in my death, began bleeding profusely from a huge gash in my torso. Invisible hands dragged me away slowly as had my former love when he tried to conceal his crime. The poor man who simply wanted to fool around with a pretty girl, stared on in terror as an unseen force dragged me away leaving a thick trail of bright red blood on the concrete.

I awoke.

Such dreams take me several minutes from which to recover and gather my thoughts.

When, after about fifteen minutes, I was awake, clear, and had processed the dream, the symbolism slapped me hard.

I am in no way like that girl on the surface: I am “a woman of a certain age”, a little “fluffy”, and only passably attractive. Yet, I do somehow get attention from men. I am alone in this world now which is in itself something that attracts people.

The more important aspects of the dream are these:

I have referred to, in writing, my love relationships as “bleeding out” in a gradual process for thirty nine years. From first love to first marriage to second marriage to first-love-after-divorce I have experienced my vision of love and the men who present it to me as a “death by a thousand cuts.”

While I am not at all bitter at this point (I do not hate men!), I am entirely untrusting. I may feel completely comfortable with the person, but never comfortable with their hearts or my ability to navigate them.

A boy told me he loved me and slept with my best friend.

A man told me he couldn’t live without me while sleeping with exotic dancers and fretting he might get HIV (it was the 80s).

A man told me I was the love of his life and he was still in love with me yet held the divorce door open for me because exploring/fixing why we were constantly arguing was just too scary for him.

Lastly, a man told me I was his ideal woman but the timing was wrong.

So when a man tells me, “I think you’re amazing and would love to get to know you,” all my alarms go off.

Naturally, I screamed, “I will hurt you!” in some quiet, metaphorical way, and let the loves of my past drag my bloody corpse away from my new friend.

I have said many times recently and in many ways that I foresee a life alone from this point on. There are numerous reasons, not least of which are the houseless life I have chosen, my age, a heart still tied up in the last man, and a strong desire to be utterly independent. Ultimately however, being alone looks to come from my experiences and the doubt it has foisted on me.

To my new friend I met
on the RV-life trail
I’m sorry for the bloody corpse.

Someday these cuts may heal.

And yes, J, you were right. I miss your easy laugh and conversation. I miss our common ground, of all sorts. Wish I’d gotten that playlist, too.

Leaving Davis Mountains: Arriving at a new piece of self.

I chose to drive south from my sad little boondocking grounds and make the U to Fort Davis. South of I-10 and the McDonald observatory. The pretty little Texas town has a sweet historical Main Street with easy parking for my truck and trailer — at least in winter. Spring or summer tourism may be another matter as visitors seek the spring bird migration or the observatory.

The drive from my hideaway in the mountains to Fort Davis was pleasant: a quick dip downhill to run the foothills of the old volcanic formations and look out over the high desert that stretches toward the US-Mexico border followed by a deep U-turn northward back into the mountains and a steady 15-mile climb to Fort Davis.

Leaving the little burg was something else. I was not prepared for the emotions I experienced. Surely there are more stunning sights in this country and in the world, but for the little girl in me that had been cooped up in some version of suburbia for at least the last 20 years, rounding each bend was joyous. I called my daughter to check in at one point and as I came around a turn to be met with great, dark pillars of volcanic rock marching toward the road like an army crammed together at the fortress gates, I lost my words and began to cry.

Davis Mountains columns. A less spectacular view where I wouldn’t get run over.

My daughter said I sounded like her grandmother. That added to my joy. I will never be my mom but if I can regain some part of myself that is in any way reflective of her grace, I have made progress in my life.

I will never grasp how someone can spend their life hardly leaving their own town or county. I will never understand the reluctance to stop and see roadside beauty and instead simply race by it at 80 mph. One doesn’t have to take the extreme journey of buying a camper or van, driving across the country, and boondocking. But given an opportunity to witness beauty and variety first hand, why not take it? More so, why be afraid of what you may glean from it?

There is so much to be seen in this world that lies beyond our driver’s side window. So much that lies beyond our easy chair. If our only way to get there is television, that’s something. I would never judge a hardworking life that makes one feel they must stay in place because of economics. But, if one is driving from point A to point B, consider not worrying so much about the destination and focus more on the country rolling under your tires and the people that populate it.

I’m thankful I opted for the mild anxiety of driving out of my way and into unknown territory when I pulled away from that little splotch of gravel on the side of the mountain road. I will never forget the elation and tears from seeing those stunning columns.

I hope to see them again in spring and perhaps the other people drawn to them. Winter travel is solitary and starkly beautiful and I am gaining much emotional and spiritual ground with each mile. Still, I look forward to more social milieus.

Revetment

Revetment: Self-preservation?

Something about the word “revetment” is oddly musical to me. Without knowing its meaning, I sensed its purpose the first time I heard it. It is a solid word. It has strength when spoken aloud. The second syllable has a sort of slap to it: re-VET-ment. It doesn’t have the punch of “wall” nor the drag of “reinforcement,” just strength.

So, let me tell you about our revetment. Its stones are a jumble, organized chaos, in a long line along a road initially left unprotected by Hurricane Ike. It separates and protects the road and the immediate row of homes from the constant, bashing surf to serve as a sort of poor-man’s sea wall. Like the beach, it has its own ecosystem and there is much to be said there, but that is more appropriate for my Surfside blog.

In the first four years of home ownership on the island, I may have spent half an hour a week, at most, on or near this feature of our village. My former husband and I drove by it perhaps once a week. Most outdoor leisure time with him was on the beach or on the jetty that marches about .6 miles out into the Gulf of Mexico. He and I never walked ON the rocks of the revetment.

Now I go there almost daily.

I clamber over them, pulling trash out from between them, challenging my old bones and muscles. The city has replaced steps down to the (occasionally available) beach from the road above, but, pfft!, climbing over uneven rocks is much more entertaining. If I’m honest, it makes me feel younger (not young) to be able to navigate them without pain or anxiety. Five years ago, I don’t know that I could have done so. Walking, swimming, and climbing for bird rescues, cleaning the beach and roads, leaving my marriage — these things have all contributed to a sense of strength, both mental and physical, that I did not know I had. Yes, the Black Dog makes itself known here and there, but most days that I am on the beach or rocks I feel vivified and hopeful both in terms of my abilities and my future relationships.

Most days.

I cried like a crazy woman this Monday.

I hate crying. My dad always used that ridiculous “spilled milk” phrase on us. Raised stoic Baptist and bottled up, my dad felt there was no place for emotions in our house, except his occasional angry rant, of course.

As a child, I held everything in until the world was quiet, then cried in my room until I was exhausted. (Insert here a soft apology to my daughter and granddaughter for passing down this trait) However, since early adulthood, I’ve allowed my emotions to roll and toss like the Gulf. My boundary against self-expression has been broken down ad nauseum.

That’s a problem as I see it. I want to be like my dad and most of the men I know. I want not to express the things I feel, but just look calmly on while those around me crumble. Lock it all up in iron boxes and smother it with “DILLIGAF”.

So when things looked bleak yet again, after I cried like a baby in the middle of a dirt road while the dog tried his best to console me, I stood up, said a few choice words about the things that I have allowed to hurt me, and decided I would be like Dad. I would build a revetment.

I want the wall around my heart not only to keep this sea contained, but to keep people out. Permanently. I want them to dash their hearts on these rocks and I will stand sure-footed and watch with disinterest.

I want the strength of that word, revetment, and all it implies, in my head, at all times.

Yeah. I know. I know all the reasons NOT to do that.

I don’t care. I’m tired. I’m tired of getting bowled over by the waves.

And I know, based on yet more tears later Monday night, long after having made that decision on that dirt road, I will likely be unsuccessful.

Reboot: Divorce After Fifty

So it goes.”

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. used that phrase to mark every death, to signify the inevitability and perhaps our pointless flailing at death, in his novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death. I have avoided the phrase in speech and writing since I first read the novel many years ago. As if, in uttering it, I might condemn someone or something to their or its demise.

July 21, 2020 officially marks the death of my second marriage after slightly more than twenty-nine years.

So it goes.

Anyone who thinks that because I am “the Leaver” that I have not grieved this death as deeply as any other death I have experienced, has never been through a divorce. Anyone who doesn’t understand what it takes to leave twenty-nine years of entanglement and love, rage and joy, argument and, eventually, resignation, doesn’t understand and will never understand how difficult the decision was, how painful leaving has been and, ultimately, how strong I was and am to have left.

And that’s okay. Because I don’t have to answer to anyone except myself. I am, as it happens, the only one I’ve ever had to answer to. I’ve spent a lot of years being convinced I had to behave a certain way to please others: spouse, parents, child, siblings, and friends.

I was wrong all those years. I only ever had to live up to my own expectations.

I’m finally doing that now in the smallest and grandest ways.

So, with the death of my marriage also comes the death of my fear and dysfunction. Comes the death of my accepting the will of another. The death of my need for the approval of others.

So it goes.

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