A Good Year

It has been a year since my “Last Week of a Happy Uncoupling”.

There was always going to be a continuation of my stories.  I just did not know how or quite when it became appropriate.

Although anticipated, I guess, I never realised how barren the events of my last 10 years would leave me.  I have had nothing to say.  I’ve sat trying to word my feelings, I’ve tried to simply journal my days and the words have not come. I’ve been frozen.

So now, perhaps, I will begin again, writing simplistic occurrences of a new and different life. A year that has me moving for my seventh time in one city. A year of terror as to how I would survive financially, a year of self appraisal, painful self acknowledgment and my now enormous appreciation and appetite for life.

Good prevails over all, throw in a sense of humour, and joy unfolds.

A Good Year
A Good Year was coming. I simply couldn’t feel it at the time.

Juncture

FA45B075-777F-4A56-B5FE-877C385F839FThe joys of dating and being single has hit me in my fifties.I remember waking up one morning feeling desperate and wondering how I had possibly gotten myself into this position.  What had the meaning of my last ten years been? Precious left without a backward glance or any significant parting with my children. What was left of me. Where was the person I had once been.  What had I taken from this time and had there been significant self growth?The heaviness did change, the numbness turned to quiet contentment.  The spring in my step returned.  My walks with the dogs became not desperate and lonely, but a wonderful appreciation of my surroundings and life ahead. The relief of not being anxious and unsure was replaced with an absolute freedom and calmness I had long forgotten. So why mess with this newly found peace, right?  I was sure that nothing would be able to replace this new calm and nor did I need any change to my carefully structured days.The storm hit unexpectedly.  A 50th themed party that I considered not attending when I heard that the person I had relied on being there wasn’t going any longer.  My intention was to mingle and leave graciously when it was polite.I was dragged across the dance floor by the birthday girl insisting that I just HAD to meet someone. He was the only Indian in a room full of Cowboys, I was the only Saloon Girl in a room of Cowgirls. As I tripped across towards the massive bright Indian headdress I was muttering rather loudly under my breath, “I do NOT want to meet anyone.”He was standing in a corner quietly observing. We made contact, and something about him piqued my interest. Conversation flowed easily, no awkward silences, no game playing, no outrageous flirting.  Somewhere in time he reached across to put a stray hair behind my ear, at once intimate and I didn’t flinch.juncture ~ noun  1. a particular point in events or time.”It is difficult to say at this juncture whether this upturn can be sustained

The Last Week of a Happy Uncoupling

IMG_1509

So Precious and I have done our time.  It is not my personality to demean 10 years with blame and accusation, we are just unable to connect on vital core issues.  As we are, we are fabulous.  We entertain with aplomb, we party up a storm, we will tango and be the last to leave, we have the best time on holidays, and yet here I find myself writing about the last week of our amicable uncoupling.  These few days in Robertson have been organized together knowing that shortly after it we will be saying goodbye, he to return to Pietermaritzburg where he feels his heart and soul are, and me to re-enter corporate work and rediscover life alone.

We book into Africamps, Pat Busch, in Robertson –  a glamping experience which we have wanted to do for years, but never had the time…We are to leave on Tuesday morning and return on Friday.  Just prior to leaving, I receive a text confirming that my summons is ready to be collected from town.   The wheels are really in motion.

We have pre-planned our trip to a point, printed a map, discussed if we are just going to run only or hire bicycles as well, established which days are going to rain and where we want to go wine tasting.  My neck and back are stiff with weeks of tension, my eyes are hollow and dull.  I glance at him in the car.  His eyes are slightly swollen, no softness, just survival mode, we are going through the motions.

The tent is just beautiful, and the surrounds.  We unpack and decide to walk a bit to familiarize ourselves.  A little walk up to the dam becomes a semi hike, me with a polo neck jersey and jacket on.  Beads of perspiration start flowing, but the fynbos, bird calls, views, silence entice us up and up.  We eventually turn and descend gently.  Once back in the tent, he suggests we spend the afternoon at Graham Beck with some bubbles in the afternoon sun.  Well, what an afternoon ! We started with their “Gorgeous,” then the “Brut,” then “Rose (Pinot noir/chardonnay) then the “Vintage Rose,” and finally the “Blanc de Blanc,” the best bubbles I’ve ever had. Much laughter and warmth and the day ended with an outside fire, an inside fire, our electric blanket on and a warm content feel in our bellies but the underlying sorrow sits between us, unspoken.

IMG_1538

Day 2 starts with a jog along the farm road, it is 1 degree, but we are committed, off we go, passed massive blueberry plantations, an olive farm, onto the tar road and up to the Klaasvoogds Primere school, the cold air biting into my chest, but the familiar happiness of the run is invigorating and such a release for me.  We giggle over the encounter with a very boisterous boxer male who runs all the way back with us.  Shower, breakfast and head out to the task at hand…..wine tasting.  Springfield, our first, is captivating, we go on to Viljoensdrift, Excelsior, (where we blend our own bottle of red) De Wetshof, where we have the pleasure of meeting none other than, Mr Danie De wet, who chats to us and on departure discover that he has given us a bottle of his delicious Naissance as a gift.  Not to waste a moment in the day, we finish at Klipdrift, where we eat THE most awesome nachos ever and proceed to brandy taste.  We rambled back to our tent in the late afternoon, with much knowledge and a boot full of wine and a bottle of Black Gold (Brandy).  We settle next to the fire, (inside one only) and play numerous games of rummy with a merlot in hand.  A beautiful day, sorrow between us still unspoken.

Day 3 begins lying in bed procrastinating about a run to justify our planned lunch at Four Cousins in Robertson, but by the time I get up and get organized the heavens open for the much awaited rain.  Back into bed I jump, electric blanket back on and book in hand.  It is  sad we only do these kind of things on holiday.  By the time we get organized, it is too late for breakfast as we are going to lunch so off we pop to Rooiberg ostensibly just to buy some of the Graham Beck, “Game Reserve Chardonnay” but end up having a full tasting with Muscadel and Port to finish it off, not a shabby start to a day.  We add to our boot collection and head to Four Cousins for lunch very pleased with ourselves.

Four Cousins – a beautifully designed restaurant, large big fireplace, glass, modern, lovely, just to my taste, I couldn’t be happier.  Second mouthful of my food.  I’ve swallowed, but it hasn’t gone down.  My eyes widen, I remember tapping on my back with huge eyes to get Precious’ attention.  He rises and pulls me up and attempts the Heimlich.  Nothing.  I can’t breath.  I feel another man grabbing me and doing the same,  I vaguely hear a woman’s voice loudly saying, “punch her,”  there is then a third man, who I’m told thrust and punched at the same time. It worked.  He had done a recent first aid/survival course.  Precious loudly says, ” I hear the food here is not that good,”  there is a roaring of laughter and everyone carries on as normal.  I sit dazzled, tears run down my face, but I’m good to go.  Not to allow this incident to affect us, we pop in at Zanvliet.  Another fantastic tasting experience that ended with delicious gin and tonic.  Back in the tent, we lit a fire of note, played music, danced, tried to tango in the tent, played scrabble.  I’m told then that we have to leave early the next day as he is working in the afternoon, silly me thinking anything else.  No feelings discussed at all again.

Friday morning is a subdued day.  We pack quietly, load the car, I take a last photo of the tent.  He is distracted by his cell phone.  He is silent and I’m just a passenger again.  I am back to not knowing his movements, where he is working, when he is leaving, what times his flights are, who he is staying with. We arrive back, he races to change and leave the house.  I unpack and drive to town to fetch my summons.

I gave it my best.  He gave it his best.  We are as we always were.  So to our friends, do not treat us any differently.  Life will go on as always.

IMG_1512

 

“Frankly no”

Frankly no

“Do you not care at all how I feel?”

“Frankly no.”

End of conversation.

I have recently read a book that really resonated with me.  The storyteller is “Music” and just as “Death” tells the story of the Book Thief, “Music” certainly touched something in me.  The idea is that, as you are born, “Music” decides how much talent you receive and enters you as you emerge from the womb.  “I am a brilliant colour in the rainbow of human talents from which you choose.  Later when a someone special lifts the curtain, you feel that chosen talent stirring inside you, a bursting passion to sing, party, dance the tango or simply bang on drums.”  Talent is a piece of God’s shadow and under that shadow human stories intersect. Talent weaves from generation to generation and the shadow stretches.  Truth is light.  Lies are shadows.  Music is both. From the Jewish Midrash, there comes the teaching that,  “With each child, the world begins anew.”

How the flatting of the third finger on a guitar can change a major chord to a minor chord – happy to sad.  In a heartbeat, the mood is changed.  The ambiance and feeling is altered, but not necessarily destroyed, sometimes enhanced and more beautiful.  In comparing our life paths, it is necessary to anticipate these melancholy times and ride with the tide until the change of the chord.

In musical terms a suspended forth moves back to the third.  A diminished chord slides to its tonic.  Dissonance to consonance.  Dissonance is a total lack of harmony among musical notes, and a lack of agreement or harmony between people or things.  Disparity. Do we ride the tide until consonance is achieved?  Consonance, the combination of notes in harmony with each other or in agreement or compatibility between opinions and actions.

Music forms the base of most of our memories.  It transports you back to your childhood, possibly in utero, that is if you were lucky enough to hear the joy so early, to the singing of nursery rhymes, to teenage years, first loves, concerts, ballets, weddings, funerals. It is the most cathartic form of joy and healing we have on offer.  Whether you find this joy in the gift of others, play your own version of honky tonk or dance to your own rhythm, it is a wonderful form of release and correlates to your life path.

I was one of the fortunate.  The tide swept into my soul at birth.  I hear it, I feel it, I play it, I dance it.  It is beautiful.  Like so many, I perhaps let the shadows overwhelm me.  Let there be more light.  Let me be free to my music.

The god of music quotes “I have said that music allows for quick creation, but it is nothing compared with what you humans can destroy in a single conversation.”

“Frankly no.”  Two words.

 

Something afoot?

And, she’s back at it.

Today she is particularly pleased with herself.  I sense the jauntiness in her stride.  I have allowed a gentle return to her passion.  We have jogged around leisurely as she acclimatises herself to new shortened bones, plates and taut muscles.  The relentless tenacity has had me wake up earlier again, but not quite at 4am.  I shudder at the thought of it.  It may come.  I hear her appeasing those around her, with “I’m just so grateful to be able to go for a jog,” its absolute bullshit of course.  She has engineered a training plan.  I am whisked off to gym and up and down she goes on all my sensitive parts, weighted calf raisers, rotary calf raisers, squats, lunges, it’s absolutely mind blowing.  The next day we hit the road, the next day, I feel electric waves rush through the mother body as she “Bodytechs”.  Ah, then the “rest day,” she is SO not rested, she paces around, dissatisfied.

In her defence while on the couch last week, she did try to briefly waft through this little concern of hers, she is aware of it.  She queried if it may be a personality flaw, no shit Sheila.   “I was so grateful to be able to do 5 km, but then I pushed to 6, then 7, then 8.”  We are currently dashing around the Constantia suburbs for a little over 10 km.  She is watching her Garmin again and the foot strides are becoming more rapid, the hair on her neck sodden and her pulse rate pounding.  As she sits on the couch contemplating what has been suggested at her session, she eagerly nods her head and agrees that maybe all that is necessary is an iPod, “Yeah, she says, I guess I could just run on my own, for the joy of it while listening to music.”  Bullshit, she can’t.  All the reasons she initially gave for pushing her body further and further are no longer prevalent, or are they?  What is missing?  Why is everything she does so measured?  Was she pressured to perform as a child or is it simply the classic “A” type personality, or is she still running away, and then from what?  Is she simply a crazy runner?

In her mind I think it is aligned with coming out of rehab,  it is aligned with alcoholism.  It is aligned with a lack of control.  She is fearful of the hold it has on her and simply being unable to manage it.  It is her dirty little secret.  She tries to pretend that it is a casual activity.  She puffed and pushed me up to Groot Constantia this morning and on the trot through the vineyards, I felt her come alive.  I get the endorphins, I get the ecstasy of achievement .  I am just so scared that she will compromise me, or for that sake, my partner in crime, and all will be lost.  She knows it too.  I do not want to fail her again.

I have no need to whisper to or jab her at present, I am not feeling pain.  Long may she be free to run.  Our bodies and body members are all part of a temple are they not?

IMG_2148

The Journey

IMG_3083

 

I suddenly feel that in some ways my middle age is a huge disappointment.  Besides realising that there are so many things that I wanted to do, but now may not fit them in, there seem to be continuous stumbling blocks that I had thought would miraculously be out of the way at this stage of my life. Pheromones, hormones, menopause, mid life crisis, whatever it is, once a woman is in her fifties there is a subtle and sometimes not so subtle shift in her needs.  It is not necessarily our partners, our jobs, or our children we have had enough of, its ourselves.  The years of carefully constructed lives that have made us wives, career women, mothers, suddenly feels totally dissatisfying.  Let’s be honest, nowadays most of us hit middle age and still have a whole heap of caring duties.  Teenage children, adult children, elderly parents, domineering in-laws, partners agonising over dodgy business partners, not uncommon for us to find we have become full time psychiatric nurses to those around us. We are all proficient liars, to ourselves and those around us, because without a carapace daily life would be impossible.  We have learnt to construct carefully, our ways of being women, the ways we present ourselves to a world in which we are constantly observed and constantly judged. Middle aged women have disassociation down to a fine art.  Try spending just one day being totally honest with those close to you, in both your home and workspace, and you may not have a friend, job or spouse by the end of it.

Is this our mid life crisis which is a transition of identity and self confidence?  We are at the stage where there is a general downward drift of our physical features as weight and gravity take their toll and this coincides with increased self awareness and the realisation that we have finally got a bit better at working out what we want.  So where we are empowered on the one hand, we become a little insecure on the other. Carol Burnett quoted, “I finally got my head together, and my ass falls apart.”

So how do we articulate this dissatisfaction? How do we experiment with other ways of being ourselves without hurting those we love and destroying what we have?  The tragedy for so many of us is that the desire to experiment with a different self can destroy the life we are leading, when all we really want is a holiday from it.

Perhaps men have always been “allowed” the mid life crisis more readily, when all our lives, both men and women are a process of constant negotiation with the different selves we want to be at different times.

The feeling that you forget until it is awakened.  As happily married or involved as you can be you can suddenly become captivated. You become aware of his every move, nuance, tilt of his head, you can feel his eyes on you.   As you pass things across a laden lunch table, the hairs on your arms raise as his skin briefly touches yours.  The friction brings colour to your throat and you can hear yourself breathing, ears thumping. Surreptitiously, you glance around to see if anyone is noticing this discomfort, but the cutlery is clanging as people are eating, voices are raised between mouthfuls of food and gorgeous wine. When you are touched  by this power, perhaps enjoy the glow, the tumultuous ups and downs of emotions, and then let it pass.  The awakening is sweet.  Alternately become the rationalist who acts on a moment of impulse.

I’m loving writing this, as right now, I am sure that every one of you ladies reading this, is identifying on some level.  Perhaps over analysing this change is pointless, but it is always so good to know that there are many of us out there, who are so grateful on one hand for the life we lead, and so dissatisfied on another level, and we don’t communicate it, because we feel guilty.

I happened to read my friends blog this morning fulfilled-life.com and her very title is “Living behind the mask of accomplishment.  Its time to come out of the fog.”

The technical term of disassociation is the feeling we all get, when sometimes whether you are walking to your car, or sitting on a bench, we feel unreal, as if we are watching ourselves in the film of our own lives. How happy is your film?

 

 

Honne and tatemae

like-father-like-son

Honne (true sound) and tatemae (facade) are Japanese words that describe the contrast between a person’s true feelings and desires and the behaviour and opinions that they display in public.

As much as we all go on about how being older, enables us to say exactly what we mean, accept only what we are prepared too, in essence, take control, find our voices.  There are so many times, that we can’t express what we need too.  When for whatever reason, there are things we need to keep to ourselves and weather the storms alone, as sharing them can cause unnecessary hurt.

“Our little sister” is story about a Japanese family of three sisters, who hear of and attend their father’s funeral and discover a little sister, who they willingly take into their home and hearts and another,  “Like father, like son,” (pic above) another Japanese movie currently available where 2 families are ripped apart when they discover that their six year old sons were swopped at birth in hospital.  Words that come to mind about the Japanese people based on these are kindness, humility, control, respectful, contained, welcoming, ritualistic, vociferously non judgmental, and it begs me to ponder if maybe we share too much and too hard.  Perhaps less is more, to contain your feelings from the world leaves you more respected and in control of yourself.  In both of these stories, the backgrounds of the main characters were fraught with pain, disappointments, hurt and unspoken feelings. Amal, is a Japanese concept/word that is used to describe people’s behaviour when they desire to be loved, depending on another person, whether it be your parents, your wife/husband or even your boss with a certain meaning of submission. We all desire to be loved, and to be loved we crave the reciprocation and submit ourselves to whom we seek the love from.

I chose to share many months ago that Depression and Loneliness haunt me from time to time.  They seem to cohabit.  Sometimes in the morning when I wake up I can sense a faint trace of Depression’s smoke, but he has gone somewhere in the night and taken his buddy Loneliness with him.  In the vine of this story, perhaps I should have kept it to myself, but I need you friends of old and those met recently who have walked this road with your children.  You can’t help them feel better or fix them, you can just be alongside them.  Sometimes the lines between honne and tatemae become blurred.

The closing line of  Greys Anatomy last night was…”We have to hold it together for as long as we can”

So go gently all of us.  We have to hold it together and we will, we are of resilient stuff, even when are hearts are breaking.