The C Word

I find out tomorrow whether the relatively large lump in my mother’s left breast is cancerous. Till then I’m in a holding pattern and standing before two very distinct roads, one of which will carry me as a passenger along stops of chemotherapy and surgery, hoping that the final destination is not her premature mortality. The other road is a crisis averted, a miracle, and a renewed life. I can only pray it’s the later road.

Death and I haven’t been on close terms; He seems better acquainted with friends and colleagues and has yet to cast a pall over those I love. In fact I’ve only been to one funeral in my life, so color me blessed, but I know it’s a matter of time — sorry, not to be morbid. (That said, it seems like Death has been working overtime in 2012. Is it just me or are a lot of people suddenly dying this year? Or at least making huge deathlike transitions?)

I realize this is a rather dark update after a few months of radio silence. The irony is that apart this “oh shit” sort of development, life is good. I returned from my week long vacation in the Virgin Islands last February renewed in spirit and it provided me the turning point I needed after emotionally bottoming out. I then used the spring to strengthen friendships, find my community, and remember aspects of myself that I didn’t get to express in my relationship with K. More importantly, I found my sass and my confidence, shining a light I heretofore forgot that I had. While I’m not dating at the moment, the more I grow in confidence, the better lover I will eventually attract.

And so here I am at another major crossroads, dear reader, and I continue to be strong.

Expansion

K moved out on December 5th. In many ways I was ready for it, tired of the in between and her growing pile of boxes. In other ways I was surprised by the amount of emotion I felt, at times overwhelming, when I had so naively thought I had moved on. My therapist likened it to repeatedly visiting a terminal patient in the hospital. It is only when the patient dies after months of waiting that you can finally grieve. Ready as I was to move on, there was a shock in coming home that evening and feeling her void like a punch in the gut. My loss was no longer abstract. And I felt a tangible sense of emptiness.

In the days afterward I struggled to fill the space, buying a new rug and moving this here and that there, but the expansion felt strange. I went to parties that I may have not gone to before and met new people outside of my social circle. My outward steps were shaky like that of a toddler. Then again, all of these feelings are rather normal. Just as it’s normal to feel down this time of year, my recent separation all the more acute. Continue reading

Intersection

You know that feeling you get when you’re out, doing an errand, and you look across the street and see your ex with her new girlfriend? Yeah, that happened to me. Yesterday to be exact. In Park Slope. I don’t even live in Park Slope.

I’d like to think that I held my head up high, waved hello to K, and looked Jess powerfully in the eye, asserting my authority. But no, snapping out of my 10 seconds of panic and paralysis, I scampered up 5th Avenue before they could see me in something akin to a fugue state. Continue reading

Hecate Moon

In astrology, the Scorpio archetype, one of twelve archetypes describing the stages in the human experience, takes us by the hand and leads us into the underworld. Sometimes we are snatched, just as Persephone was in Greek mythology, and brought down into the dark against our will where we are irrevocably changed. Therefore the sign of Scorpio speaks to any experience that transforms us through the shadow, through death and powerful rebirth.

I mention this because today is the New Moon and it falls in the sign of Scorpio. My experience with this archetype expressed via a lunar lens is that of emotional discomfort. Indeed Scorpio speaks to those experiences that are emotionally uncomfortable — sex, death, and soul bearing intimacy. It likes to pick at the scabs and pull out all the thoughts we’ve stashed away in the dark recesses of our psyche. And Scorpio’s sole function is to get us to purge that which no longer serves us just as death naturally transmutes the physical body into another substance. Continue reading

Keep On Keepin’ On

I had a rather abrupt realization the other day. I love being single.

The thing about healing after heartbreak is that it isn’t a binary state — one day you’re sad, the next day happy. No, each day is an incremental journey towards the other side, towards acceptance and integration. Some days you slide a little, but there comes a day when you realize you’re in new territory. Continue reading

Equinox

In the month since I last wrote, I’ve been adjusting to my new routine of separateness. On one hand I relish waking up alone, stretching out under the covers, or simple things like home-cooked meals that no longer require extensive negotiation. I hadn’t realized how much I missed my freedom. But on the other hand I miss having the physical presence of someone close, the intimate moments and language that only a couple can have, and, yes, I miss waking up next to the person I love.

K is still around and still living with me, but our time together is abbreviated. Two or three nights a week she’s out with Jess and sleeps over her place, the other nights she’s either at home with me or I’m out or she’s working late at her second job. For now this arrangement works, giving us ample room to carve out new lives. I’m not angry or resentful, just eager to be in a space that feels less transitional, yet anxious about what that life will look like. Continue reading

New Sight

Earthquakes come in two forms.

There are, of course, the literal ones, the geological varieties that cause multi-story buildings to sway as if a branch in the wind. Then there are the metaphorical ones — earthquakes wrought by a buildup of wrenching emotional tension and heretofore unexpressed grief; earthquakes that threaten to rip apart the psychic landscape with their undeniable power; and earthquakes that cause an illusion to slip, laying reality bare. Continue reading

Post Mortem

It recently struck me that I had planned to have this nice leisurely summer. I even turned down freelance work so I would not be overburdened or stressed by deadlines. I planned to set aside room for my goals and dreams, even saving space for beach trips, swimming, and frozen cocktails. But, as things are want to do, the demise of my relationship filled the space instead.

Good thing I cleared my schedule.

I’m a faithful believer in divine timing. Call it fate, call it the script of life, but everything happens in its own time — even breakups. To have forced a different outcome would have delayed the inevitable, causing myself and K avoidable emotional agony. If you needed a reason as to why I walked away from a four year relationship, it’s that. If you wondered why I didn’t fight more, it’s because I had fought enough. It was time to move on. Continue reading

Transitioning

It was on Thursday, unable to breathe life back into our partnership and wanting to let it go, that I told K that it was over. The grass of Madison Square Park was the backdrop for our conversation. I just couldn’t go back; the mere thought was a struggle. Instead, focusing on a future where we could still love each other as friends, I chose to spare myself a painful alternative.

K, wrestling with our new reality, emailed me the next day with the question, “Who will we be when when we’re not us?”

The words shot through my already aching heart. Indeed, what identity is forged when a couple ceases to be? Do we revert back to a younger version or do we find ourselves anew, yet feeling strangely lacking?

As K and I slowly navigate the unfolding terrain of our separateness, I am aware that it’s one thing to talk about being done and another to experience it.

The Accidental Polyamorist

As I trace back the events of the last couple of months, it’s hard to remember when it exactly happened, when my relationship with Ms. K started to unravel.

Was it during a recent vacation when she, yet again, proposed the idea of an open relationship? Was it when I said yes after years of saying no? Was the seed planted months or even years before, born of restlessness and the arguably difficult task that some find it to remain monogamous? Or was it there all along, tucked in the knowledge that long term commitment probably wasn’t something that K was cut out for?

I don’t know.

I can, however, point my finger to a conversation with K this past February. She had innocently announced that she was going to purchase Tristan Taormino’s Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships from Amazon. With that she had hoped we would both read it and have an honest talk on whether an open relationship was right for us. It was a very passive-aggressive approach to an old subject that occasionally bubbled up. But K, knowing me well, had played to my rational side this time.

I read Opening Up, an enthusiastic if not academic selling of partnered non-monogamy, figuring I would give K that much, even if my enthusiasm didn’t match that of the author’s. I’m not saying that an open relationship can’t work, but even sex positive Tristan Taormino would agree that they can be a landmine. And if anything, to do them well, one has to be at a graduate level when it comes to relating, boundaries, trust, communication, and maturity. Were K and I even capable of that level? Continue reading