This post is dark, and disjointed, and admittedly strange; it is raw and vulnerable, bare as November herself. Read it at your own peril.
The Darkness and the Mud
I experience a slow, sinking feeling, as if I’m losing myself in a soft mud. I am alone in my descent and I cannot call out; I’ve lost my voice. I cannot reach out; I have no arms.
All there is, is sinking.
(All she is, is tremor, Suzanne.)
This is not a dream. This is my life. Now. At fifty. A dark, bitchy drama-queen. I see who I am becoming.
I sink in the mud.
I am spiritually and emotionally hollow. Or do I mean shallow? I never thought of myself as spiritual, but the emptiness I feel seems beyond the everyday. In the past, when I felt bereft, I sought people to fill me up. My forties were about filling up. My forties are gone and already take on a certain flavor, a decade where (by my standards) I partied hearty, occupied the time with lovers and travel and new friends.
Now I am 50 and I have emptied out. Lost. Feeling dark.
I am hyper vigilant about mortality. The brevity of this life is always on my mind.
Two class-mates, ones I met in first grade, died in October. They had both turned 50 this year.
Stephen Schuko used to sit next to me in study hall. He made me laugh. I saw a photo taken when Stephen was in his twenties: handsome, invincible, muscle-built, a bad boy you just had to love. In the pic he twists towards the camera with his handsome grin and his muscles taut, shirtless, gorgeous; he looks as though he should live forever.
Deb E. Howe, brilliant, quiet, and someone I gave a hard time to (briefly) in junior high. I never took the opportunity to apologize to her for being a bullying 13-year old. She died, unexpectedly, from a stroke. She lived in Greece. I believe she died in Greece. At least she died in Greece. At least she lived something she dreamed before she died. But she died.
I ponder the (non-mortal) loss of two best friends, both of whom seemed to have just walked away from our 10-year friendships. In all fairness, I changed, and I did not walk much toward them over the last few years.
It’s the transient nature of life and relationships that has got me down. Sure, that’s part of it.
People leave you so alone. Or have I left them?
I sink in the mud.
Before the muddy muck reaches my eyes, let me share a revelation: I will likely not find a life partner because of who I am.
Who am I?
I am someone who does not deal well with long-term intimacy. That explains a lot about the multiple affairs I had during my forties. Recent dating experiences have also left me with a new knowledge of myself: I cherish my freedom, even when it’s lonely. Oh, and I detest spiteful women. (Yeah, I mean you.)
As I Walk Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death
No, wait, it was a parking lot.
As I walked through the dark parking lot at work the other night, I admitted to myself something I had hoped was just coincidence: I fall in love with women I cannot have or who I can only have for a short time; and I push away the women who fall in love with me. Good thing it was a night to see my therapist. For reasons I can’t pinpoint, this is who I am at age 50 and there’s a good chance this is who I will always be: a single gay woman, breaking hearts, getting broken, and turning bitter.
Desperado, you better let somebody love you….ah, fuck that.
Spiritually bereft, sinking in the mud.
Release me from the muck of myself and from my daggering anger and meanness of spirit. I screamed in the car this morning, the ugliest words, at the top of my lungs, hatred in my soul. And that’s all that was in my soul.
Then I took my aqua fit class and felt fine.
I Went to Church
Last Sunday I went to church and there was no bible.
I walked into a Unitarian Universalist Church for the first time. I’d heard about such churches, welcoming and non-denominational. This one lived up to the reputation: I was welcomed by everyone who saw me, there was not a bible to had, and the word “God” was used twice and clearly used to mean whatever the congregation members needed it to mean in their lives.
The minister was a middle-aged woman and her sermon was phenomenal. She was downright literary. She is doing a monthly series on “virtue” and last week’s sermon was on courage. How timely for me personally, as I have felt less than courageous these days. I have been unable to work up the courage to simply enjoy myself, be it at a Melissa Etheridge concert or meeting a friend in Boston for a day on the town.
I wish I had her sermon here. I would print it. I am paraphrasing a few things:
Courage, she said, is not fearlessness. Courage involves fear and how we manage it. Courage requires fear and moving forward even when we think it’s impossible.
Courage is not a man with a gun in his hands. (She was not referencing brave soldiers, I’m sure, but cowardly killers.)
She read a passage from To Kill a Mockingbird, which beautifully illustrated courage. I have not read this novel, but now I must.
This was church.
There was music. The “hymns” were about living mindfully and with courage. They were not biblical.
No one said the word Jesus Christ. Nobody quoted bible passages. Nobody referred to “Him.”
On the tables in the fellowship hall were numerous pamphlets geared at lesbian and gay youth – not to “cure” them but to help them feel welcomed and okay about their emerging sexuality.
This was church.
I felt jaded and impure, in my muddy, mucky soul, hearing so much encouragement; this congregation — wise yet innocent — the enduring human spirit. I don’t know if I’ll fit in, although I will give it time. I can no longer fill my life with lovers or best friends or other temporary connections. I need something steady and real and something I can handle. That church is always there. Can I handle it?
I attended again today, my second week, and was surprised by how many people remembered my name. The sermon was not as moving as last week, although educational. The minister was not there but a guest speaker. I hope the minister is back next week. She is quite brilliant.
After the service I drank coffee and had two conversations with two old women, who gave me a better role model of aging than my own mother can. After all, they have brought themselves to church on their own, even at their age. They asked relevant questions and could hold intelligent conversation. I also spoke to two middle-aged women who encouraged me to keep attending. One asked, “Are you new to the area?”
Spiritually, yes, I am brand new to this area, but that’s not what she meant.
I said, “No. No, I’m not. I’m searching for something, I think.”
“This is a good place to be searching.”
When the minister is back, I believe her next sermon is on generosity.
I could use some of that, too, and this congregation seems to possess it.
We’ll see if I can acclimate to a spiritual life.
(Rest in peace, Stephen and Deb.)