She was walking across the parking lot this woman, my ideal physical type. (Perhaps more of a cultural archetype) Tall, model-thin, dark hair, dark skin, and slightly disheveled. And an alcoholic.
How do I know? She was heading into an AA meeting, at 9:30 am, on a Wednesday morning.
What is it about the devilishly distraught woman that calls to our hero hearts? What caregiver gene is responsible for this longing for the vacant and damaged woman? There must be something in my past that causes me to reach out, even if only in my mind, for this waife in distress.
Ah, I got it.
She is my sister. My sister who was ten-years-old when I was born. My sister to raised me like her child, or doll, or “baby buddha brother,” as she used to call me. Ah, that hurts.
My sister committed suicide when she was in her early thirties. She was so brilliant and beautiful, though. And so creative, talented, and loving. When she threw herself from the bridge on Christmas day, our whole family grieved on so many levels. We’re still uncovering them today.
Like today, I didn’t see my sister walking across the parking lot. I saw a metaphor. A cliché. I saw a fractured woman, who was also strikingly attractive, with an undertow. It was that undertow that I’ve become leery of. If the attraction is too visceral… If I want her just a tad too much, I have to go back to the drawing board and try to understand what is going on inside me that is calling out such a strong emotional reaction.
I long to fall in love. I crave the free fall. But I know that often this euphoria is more like a drug that an actual signal for the beginning of a healthy relationship. Crap. I don’t want to worry about healthy relationships. I want heat. I want magic. I want the drug.
There was nothing beyond her beauty today, that triggered this response in me. Well, that and my loneliness for companionship. Okay, maybe I miss my sister. Sure. Maybe that’s the love someone is supposed to feel for their moms. Well, my “mom” was really my sister. My singing, dancing, gypsy sister.
I’m not sad talking about her. I’m sad understanding that my soul still craves something that is missing of her love. Some closeness, and openness, that I have never experienced again. Something that I saw in my first relationship post-divorce. Some part of her that could just adore me for being me. Nothing to deliver. No expectations. Just love.
What is pure love? We understand it sometimes in terms of how we feel about our pets. They are pure love, because they love us unconditionally. They are dependant on us, and wait for us to reappear in their lives when we are gone.
Somehow, today, I realised I am still waiting for my sister to reappear. Not in physical form (holy cow, that’s either zombie talk, or ghost talk, and I’m not a fan of either) but in feeling. I’m hungry for someone to love, to love with an unhinged abandon. I’m ready to fall.
And even noticing this tendency towards the edge, towards someone who I know would be toxic, given my history, I can still feel the pull towards this woman as she meanders into the halls of recovery. I am not actually craving her, or even her body type. I’ve grown more aware, recently of how programmed we have become by the fashion and marketing industries to crave the Victoria’s Secret image. I don’t. I don’t any more. I used to. I still feel the rise and pull. But I can walk away from that trap, with the same firmness I continue to my car and drive back to my office.
See, I was in my own therapy this morning. I’m in my own recovery. Not from drugs or alcohol, but from something that might make those addictions much easier. This morning I was in counselling for my own health and welfare. Almost like a coach. But I don’t have a life coach. Almost like an AA meeting, but I don’t have an addition, unless you call this proclivity towards unavailable women, an addiction.
I’m getting better on all fronts. I’m healing, day by day. And, in some ways, I’m still healing from the loss of my loving sister. She comes out in my unhealthy desire for the fractured soul of the dishevelled woman.
Let’s leave that dishevelment alone. In our relationships lets not look for a person who needs our help, and not a person who can help us, either. Let us look for happy, healthy, and balanced. Everything within reason, right?
Today, I salute my sister and her beauty. And I salute Victoria’s Secret models and the woman crossing the parking lot to attend to her own healing.
I’d prefer something a little less dangerous, and perhaps a little less racy.
The Off Parent
< back to The Hard Stuff
- Terms of Surrender: Our Divorce Papers
- Losing Everything In Divorce; Learning to Carry On
- Depression is No Joke: Suicide is Not the Answer to Any Problem
- Losing Touch In the Off Times
- Check Engine Light: How Long Until Repairs Are Forced By a Breakdown?
image: screengrab of Martin Stranka portfolio, creative commons usage
And out of the clear blue sky, it is gone, and I am sad.
It’s been a great summer. Through many challenges and growth opportunities, but we made it. And with the school drop off today, after a three-day weekend, I find myself struggling to maintain momentum. I’ve got plenty of work to do, so it’s not lack of requirements. It’s something else.
Little reminders of the loss of my children sometimes sneak up on me when I’m not paying attention. And the coffee doesn’t stave off the bummed out feelings. The nap that sounds like an escape is really just a temporary sedation.
In divorce you lose everything.
Maybe this is preparation for the empty nest that’s at least 5 years away. Or this is just part of being a single parent with less than half-time custody. But I’m not sure it’s about custody, or schedules, or even the divorce. I think it’s me. My sadness. My losses. The grip of my daughter’s hand as we walk into Starbucks for her lunch sandwich. Those things that we take for granted, the ever-present child, is stolen away by the changes required by divorce.
And as always, it is a growth opportunity to me. It is a moment to pause and reflect. Remember not to fall into soulful revery and sadness. And pickup with the work to be done. But the pause IS important.
This is what we’ve lost.
And with so much to gain from the newly available time, the nights and weekends “off,” the opportunities to find what makes us GO again, there are still these little pauses, setbacks, to remember our own pain. And to walk on into what’s next.
This is not about them. It’s not about her. It’s about me.
The journey is long. And, for the most part, we travel alone. And we have choices about how we move and grow with the changes, losses, and new wins in our lives.
Time for a walk in the sun. The work will get done. The days will grow shorter. And another chapter is waiting to be created.
The Off Parent
< back to The Hard Stuff pages
- Of Course You’re Not Happy With Me, We’re Divorced
- Losing Touch in the Off Times
- On the Turning Away: Fighting with Your Ex About Money
- You Know They’re Watching You, Right?
- The Divorce Whisperer
- The Divorce Library (reading list)
- Songs of Divorce (free listening library – youtube sourced songs)
- Laugh It Off (building a resource library of funny videos and other diversions)
- Facebook (follow us on Facebook and keep up with all the conversations)
- The 5 Love Languages (a book on love styles by Gary Chapman)