Try to learn to breath deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.
– William Saroyan
This weekend I was alive. I am still alive, but I was really alive this weekend. Friday, I finally got some time on the ice, skating with my daughter. To me, skating, whether on boards, blades, or wheels, puts me in the “flow state” almost instantly. Once I find my balance, I’m just there, fully in my body, but also not in my body, letting it do what it needs to keep me balanced and also moving. I’d been trying to get to the rink for several weeks but something always came up. When I went to bed that night, I was physically exhausted rather than mentally exhausted for the first time in weeks. I really slept after that.
Saturday, my Zen quote of the day was “There is nothing you can see that is not a flower; there is nothing you can think that is not the moon”, by Basho. I was on a mission to work in my yard and garden and spent most of the day pruning back the wild trumpet vine that takes over everything by August every year. Pruning is hard but necessary work in tending a garden. Careful pruning, doubly so.
This goes for life as much as gardening, of course. As I was struggling with the trumpet vine, I was thinking about a poem I wrote a few weeks ago. It started from two thoughts I’d jotted down a couple years ago, about love being a seed and growing into a forest, but ended with the realization I should have only been working in my own garden all along.
Divorce is more than pruning. It’s taking the forest you’ve grown and raising it to the ground, paving over it, and building a Lowe’s with a cement “garden center”. Sort of, anyway. That’s certainly how it feels at the beginning. Then it becomes accepting that the Lowe’s isn’t so bad and has all the raw materials to start a new garden for yourself. So, you work on finding everything you need to make this new wonderful place for yourself and you get to work.
I had hoped to write this on Saturday, after my gardening for the day was done, and write about the moon and my thoughts on that. But, my thoughts were hijacked in the worst way. That hijacking is something I still need to work on.
My ex husband contacted me and asked to meet to talk about something important. He wouldn’t say what it was over the phone. He emailed me “a hint” about what he wanted to talk about and honestly, just typing this I am shaking my head at my stupidity. I should have kept my boundary firm about only communicating in writing. Nothing good ever comes out of engaging with him directly.
He was, as he usually is, paranoid, hypervigilant, aggressive, and having delusions of grandeur, to say the least. When I didn’t respond to him the way he had expected me to respond, he became livid, more aggressive, and verbally abusive. I stayed calm. I was in public, so I could tell I was mostly safe. He was rude and snapped at and spoke dismissively to the waitresses when they asked if everything was alright. And finally, he got up and walked out without paying when I remained calm and didn’t feed into his behavior. I was relieved. I had made a mistake coming here, but I was going to leave relatively unscathed.
I didn’t fully fall apart because of this, like I would have in the past. I could tell I’ve made progress there. My heart rate and blood pressure are still telling a different story. It will take another day or two for my hands to get steady. That’s part of C-PTSD that is hard to deal with. The physiological effects of that amount of stress are hard on the body. Last night I slept deeply, like I’d been drugged, and woke up stiff from not moving much in my sleep. I am still alive. Today, I will breathe deeply.