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The weather is rainy and cold - out of place in the middle of summer. I spent half the day sobbing. I dread Former Husbandís call when he gets his divorce papers. Iím scared what heíll do, scared to have the conversation about how he hates me now. Maybe I sense this is the true good bye, even though he left for California a year ago. In art therapy, I made a picture of me, pink, vulnerable, childlike. I was carelessly dragging a security blanket behind me. Falling off the blanket were my sister, my dad and husband.
Iíve been rereading my past 100 words, even the ones under a former name. They all seem to have pizazz that is lacking in my current work. Back then, I was into telling short fictions about made up characters or recreating fond memories, or giving fresh insights on the current events of the day. Now, my writing is documenting the raw fears and daily struggles; it lacks creativity. I hope, after the trauma subsides, there will be a new force of wonder and a freshness of observations that make future 100 words fun to read. Ease up on judgement.
Itís almost over. The remaining link between my single, little household and my estranged sisterís household is the Trust bank account in both our names. The debits and credits have been managed by me and her husband, through text and emails. He tries to acknowledging my personhood by interjecting questions about progress in my job search or my son's wellbeing. I donít respond because heís just being polite. I donít ask personal questions. The link is doomed to wither. We had the past. Our futures are un-entwined. There is shame in that. Heartfelt shame.
Such stillness in the morning! Thereís only the sound of a woodpecker picking its meal from the trunk of a tree, the hum of my refrigerator. All seems peaceful. But no! My thoughts race from one task to another, and worse, I acknowledge the task and then reject it, like Iím a defiant brat. I have so many things to do. If Iíd just pick one-any one of them, start it and finish it and go to the next, then I would probably be on point by the end of the month. Could I do that?
New idea for the Open Art Studio: Silent Morning spill or spell or Art Meditation or visual devotional or Art Prayer. Large roll of paper, cut to any size. Only black paint or crayon, or marker. The limitation (of color) accentuates the focus on one's inside. Methodically or sporadically, but intuitively make marks, symbols, anything. This can be a warm up exercise or the calming beginning of one's day. Keep it or trash it. Use for the development of the next work. Use it to experiment. A visual language diary? Wall paper your bedroom? Wrap up a gift to yourself!
I've overcome some type of mental block and I was able to tackle my to do list with gusto. Love that! Sort of frees the mind to be able to focus on important stuff. Maybe I don't have any important stuff to do. Maybe it's time to go to the beachfront of my youth, where I spent ideal alone time like this: Get sun, read, get hot, go swim. Repeat; all day long. Off course, tanning was the main verb of the day back then. But how else to escape the duties and doldrums of the house? Maybe I'll go.
Art show theme: "The Power of Myth." Here's a myth: The myth of romance as an organizing principal for a life. Love is essential to life. A mother's love and nurturing predisposes a child with confidence, openness to explore, cheerfulness to attract a network of friends and support. Romantic love of adolescents fuels the evolution of mankind forward. But.. what about our culture's pressure to find the perfect mate? (aka fit round peg into square hole.) If you picture the whole of life as a pie chart, what percentage is spent seeking, attracting, committing, fighting, maintaining this single relationship? Wasteful?
Which myth is more powerful? And by powerful, I mean measured in energetic effort to fashion a life to fit the myth. Islamic myth of 72 virgins after death? Or, western myth that you will find your true love and soulmate and THEN you will be happy? I think they are equally outlandish and detached from reality. Sad actually, if measured in the havoc these myths manifest in peoples' lives. The power of a belief system to shape a culture is extraordinary in scope. It shows the behavioral gravity toward conformity as a survival tool. Is that a good thing?
The weight has been lifted off my psyche. I did my preparatory, emotional homework. I cried, I made art work, I rehearsed possible scenarios in my head to practice imparting the announcement to my significant other that officially, the divorce has been decreed. It wasn't all courage; it was pressure from health insurance that prodded me.In the process, I learned just how tired I was of dodging anger bullets; from my two ex husbands and my mom! and then slinking around until the coast was clear. Ahh, freedom at last. Seriously! I am released from emotional fallout jail! Halleluiah!
I don't know how to process this. I spent months quivering about it. Crying and spilling emotions in therapy about it. The crux of the marriage/divorce was coming to the final brink of oblivion. Well, it came and it went and there was basically no change at all. I'm grateful for that. Yet why did I make such a big deal about it? Why do I over think it, over emotionalize it? Why not let everything remain in molehill stage until it proves otherwise? Do I not have enough drama in my life? Am I still manufacturing drama? Apparently.
I lost the quote, but the essence was: Stand up for what matters, without support it will die. It brought invisible tears to my eyes. It makes me proud to have saved myself by standing up for authentic me. To not reshape it into something else that he could honor (which was always undefined, but never me.) Otherwise, my essence would now be dead. My shell would be going through the motions of a dead life, empty of possibilities, a dearth of interest and joy. The gray zone almost encompassed me. The invisible prison almost captured me. But I'm free.
If my life were a tree, it is shaping up and filling out in ways that seem intended but are unplanned. Taking root in firmer soil, leafing out in a vibrant green, bestowing some small fragrant scent on those that come close. My energy is coming from the center of my being, getting stronger and taller. Each leaf is an idea whose time has not quite been spent into fruition but is willing. The sound of my ideas are silent until stirred by the influence of others. This tree is rooted into home like never before. It feels like strength.
I grew up in a home that housed a princess. The first live born child after the traumatizing stillborn baby boy. Princess is my sister. She was the smartest, prettiest, socially adept child ever. Our neighborhood revolved around her. Whatever game she wanted to play ruled the evening; mother may I? or kick the can. She was in control. Oh, and I was born 4 years after her. As in after thought, as in oh yeah, that again. Princess took what ever glee was left inside Mom. There was none left over. Imagine being an audience for your nemesis, forever.
It seems idiotic to rehash old, very old family history at my age. I never wanted to. I thought is was an egoic verbal indulgence to spout to a therapist. I am learning that I have sped by little gems of understanding on my road to the future and missed clues about reality on my way. My inability to be clear about what I will and will not accept in a relationship. My inability to quit a job. My hurt feelings and meltdowns when confronted by an authority figure. Evidence of a child not nurtured. I'm finally connecting the dots.
Delayed Gratification I'm waiting, stewing, spending like crazy. I'm crossing all my t's and doting my i's but still there is no money coming in for me. I started working in May, driving forty miles per day--two months ago! I remind myself, there is money in the bank. I'm not destitute. On some level, I guess I get that--just spent $78 on new underwear. (Can't think of a more unnecessary purchase.) I've always put more in the bank than was coming out. And this prolonged reversal of the established pattern has me way out of my comfort zone.
I'm planning another day alone. It's what I do everyday now. I make a "to do" list that includes at least 3 things I've been avoiding. I try to spice it with one thing fun I can do when I finish. Today, since it's too hot for anything, I'll go to the movies. But it's a bit sad. This wonderful luxury of never needing to consult anyone; no boss to placate, no husband to cajole, no friends to gather for lunch. I'm drifting, contently (?) but warily; like I'm wading into waters too deep to keep my feet firmly under me.
Mellowing with age: In my youth there was a very distinct delineation between fun activities and work activities. The work related caused an undercurrent of disgruntlement; watching a sunny day go by and not being able to "enjoy it." Now, I enjoy work as much as not working. The same is true for traveling verses staying home. A worthwhile, great vacation had to be foreign expensive and exotic. Then, I asked myself, why is there better than here? Aren't I always chasing what's on the other side of the fence? I think I'm much happier focusing on here and now.
Drained from heavy lifting in the sweltering heat, I intended an early bedtime. I even dragged the mattress down the stairs to the much cooler living room for an anticipated great night's sleep. In the shower, I noticed purple swelling around the blood draw site with a red line trailing toward my shoulder. Called the nurse provided by my insurance to ask advice. Yes, go to urgent care. Drove a distance to be within the network. Doctor prescribed antibiotic, but couldn't supply one dose at 10:20 pm. In the pharmacy, waited 45 minutes. Home at 11:30pm. $85. Crap!
Yesterday was the one year anniversary of my former husband's departure from this state. It seems weird that after living with him for 24 years, I haven't seen him for a year. We speak everyday via phone. We say "I love you" when we hang up. We are as connected, I suppose, as we want to be. The divorce was necessary to bring the relationship into balance, into genuineness. Living a lie is so draining. I bought a ticket to go visit him in August. He appears to be happy for that. I'm glad he didn't ask to visit me.
Hi. I'm Doris, and I'm a procrastinator.
My justification is that procrastination is the way I get other things, non important things done. For example, today, I read Time magazine, made a recipe for cauliflower, walked to the post office, talked on the phone, sorted my laundry, went to the hardware store preparing for the next procrastination fest, (i.e. another scary project that I will resist) AND organized my linen closet (no lie.) Obviously, there's a problem. What Iím resisting by doing all those incidentals are these: 1) Write a second protest letter to the unemployment ...
CONTINUED: agency to convince them that my former employer was unfair in her expectations and therefore, I HAD to quit. There's $5000 riding on the success of this letter. 2) Set up an Opening Day for my business, and start to advertise. Or, nothing will happen. I am fearful of committing. I resist even going there, like it's my new jail. 3) I must enforce the divorce judgement. I must follow through with TAKING that which has been adjudicated to me. Otherwise, why spend $7642.40 for a lawyer? My procrastination is all about fear. Thought I had conquered that.
I hardly think of her now. I've trained my brain to accomplish her technique of friendship and / or sisterhood, as she stated it: "out of sight, out of mind." Right on! Sister. That way, we won't be bothered by interruptions, concerns about one another, opportunities to show love and caring for each other. Life is so much simpler, isn't it Sis? It cuts down on the drama. We don't have to be involved emotionally or lose time listening to one another's stories about life. It gives you more time to consult your fashion magazines thus, live up to your image.
News is about Martin/ Zimmerman case: People of all races are upset that an innocent man could be followed, and gunned down and the killer is not convicted. I admire President Obama for speaking out and giving us a hint at what life is like for black men. We fear black men. Almost every segment of society has been helped by television programing. We've been socialized to accept gays, obesity, and different ethnic groups. They are presented to us as diversity; mainstreaming differences. Not so with blacks. They are presented in their own foreign culture, closed off from the rest.
Being early vs being late. There is anxiety associated with both, however earliness is my own personal anxiety. Like right now, waiting for an appointment in the lobby. I miss timed the string of events, which I'm now playing over in my head to figure out what I should have done differently. Lunch didn't take nearly as long. Actually I could rush to the produce store nearby... There's time...or should I sit still and wait 25 more minutes? Being late, the anxiety would mound as I thought through all people I was holding up, what to say as excuse.
Without the 40 hour work week, I find that I love the tiny steps in a day... I'm usually satisfied with each evening, when I review what I've accomplished. A little project like cleaning Mom's paintings and taking them to the studio, finally paying the bill that's been hounding me, sending the birthday card. Working full time, lots of these things got done, but my heart wasn't in it, or I never had time to reflect. Each day's a gift; each day is a mini art form. Would be fun to use color to describe the mood of the day.
Began a new conference tonight: Open Art Studio Project. This is where one learns to teach the intersection between art and mental health. As I write those words, I think, does that need to be taught? Every artist already knows that art is therapeutic, that one's work can speak volumes of discovery and serve as a vehicle to another, more sheltered world, for a time. So, in essence, is OASP just a way to capitalize on their approach to use an intention as an approach to artwork? Does it seem more deliberate, therefore more valuable? I'm not sold on this.
A refreshingly different atmosphere permeated this conference: participants checked their egos at the door. A contributing factor was that the facilitator requested we refrain from using our "devices" except in emergencies. Ever since cell phones were born, conference participants use all breaks to run outside the classroom and act like they have something important to do. Also, learning to stay silent and not to give feedback was an integral part of the conference. People learned how much energy is expended trying to get attention for their ideas, or trying to be helpful or showing empathy. This time people tuned inside.
Conference experience was surprising. It was a safe place to share ours words and art. The purpose was for us to hear our own voices read our words as they were witnessed by the others. In the summary phases, we shared our overall experience in front of our paintings. I had neglected to assemble mine, so the act of gathering, taping while group waited, unnerved me. When I began to speak, my voice was quivering. I learned that when I talk louder, it unquivered my voice. Curiosity and observation calmed me. I wasn't hijacked by nervousness. I shared this information.
Facing fears. What could go wrong? What's the worst that could happen? No one would come to the Grand Opening. Don't call it grand. Petite opening. I'll feel uncomfortable. I'll be embarrassed if someone doesn't have fun. I'll be tongue tied or defensive if someone confronts me. It will be deemed a failure. It will be stifling hot and no one will walk in. I can't think of anything else. Seems like I could endure this. Make it fun, make sure you have fun putting it together. It's a celebration of the human spirit, planting a seed, trying to grow.
I haven't even committed to the open hours of the studio, and yet telltale things have dropped out of my life. Reading, for example. I haven't claimed time to read forever. I'm still accumulating books, but sit and read? Reason is that there is always something compelling to do. A niggling to-do list that expands over time. I find myself trying not to go over there. I'm lost in a mountain of shoulds and what-abouts. I guess I'm worried. I think I'm self-concious about this time of show your stuff, sing your song, put it out there.
I'm going to inhabit the studio today. I'm going to make art there. I'll to put the open hours sign in the window. I'm going to commit. I'm going to invite one person to come and make art. I'm going to enjoy my new studio as if it were mine. Because it is. If X was here, I'd be there every second as an escape. Why is home better than over there? What is missing over there? I'll take a comfortable chair. I'll take a candle and a prayer. I'll initiate the space. My spirit is not over there yet.
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