Treading Water in a Waterfall

Panchghat Waterfall 

Camels’ Backs, Quicksand, and Occam’s Razor

Treading water in a waterfall is similar to slow dancing in quicksand: No forward motion. Movement without gaining ground. Empty gestures. Hopeless endeavors that do not compel any sort of resolution or solution, only convolution, dissolution, disillusion.

Slow Dancing in Quicksand

When I was married to my ex, I had regressed to a point at which my life was balanced precariously on eggshells: One wrong move, and everything would come crashing down about my ears. His anger, always keenly beneath the surface, could arise at any given moment. The spectre of it loomed, clouded everything. The arguments grew exponentially in caliber and sound, until at last, I realized that neither of us could thrive in such an existence, and those with the most to lose—our three chidren—were powerless to effect a change.

It was not until later that I began to realize that this constant assault on my psyche had changed me in terrible ways. I was quick to anger, loathe to retreat. I would assess blame even when blame was not justified. And the most horrible aspect was that I was unable to forgive, to apologize and mean the words truly. Apologies had become a sign of weakness: I would never admit weakness.

It took years for me to learn how to apologize and mean the words wholeheartedly. It has taken what seems like eons not to blame everyone but myself, and at times, I think that I have flipped a complete 180° in that I am willing to blame myself for so many things.

These things are touchy, personal, private, perhaps not for general consumption, but they reflect my inability to see things clearly. For example, Corey’s desire to look at pictures of other women I blame on my weight gain, my feelings that I am no longer sexy, no longer desirable. The time that Corey spends on the computer I blame on the fact that I do not offer stimulating conversation, am not good company.

But what if Corey is just bored? Does it follow that he is bored with me? To assume so is pretty egotistic, to say the least. What if Corey spends so much time on the computer because he doesn’t have a job and feels completely lost? Should I not afford him that benefit of the doubt? These, too, are possibilities.

However, the anger that is boiling in Corey—to what do I attribute that? Is it me? Have I once again driven another spouse to distraction with my incessant bitching, with my neediness? Is this who I really am? Perhaps. I honestly do not know, do not have perspective. I have lost my true north. I feel as if I am traveling back in time to a period that is best forgotten. I feel as if I am being tugged, inexorably, to a situation that had no winners, only losers.

Dark clouds hangin’ over me
When will they go away ~ From “Cloudy Days,” by Alison Krauss

Wave clouds over Mt Pisgah NOAA
Wave clouds over Mt. Pisgah (Image by NOAA)

Corey and I have been living with each other for almost two years now without any kind of buffer, the kind of buffer afforded by a job, the kind of buffer that comes from not spending 24 hours a day with each other, the kind of buffer that is gained by having conversations with other adults. How people who are married manage to work together is beyond me. I have never viewed such as thing as a positive situation. Even when Paul and I both worked at the medical school, we were in different departments, on different floors. Eventually, we were in separate buildings. We did not see each other unless we wanted to. We ate lunch together sometimes but not always.

Some individuals have incredible patience and an ability not to be affected terribly by circumstances beyond their control. Admittedly, I am not one of those individuals. And while Corey is patient, I know that he is well beyond his acceptance level of the current situation and all of its ramifications.

Family is not supposed to be a 24/365 proposition. It was never meant that way. Even our forebears from ages ago did not live under such circumstances. Depending upon the region, either the male or the female went out as a hunter/gatherer, and the respective partner would stay in the village and care for the younger members, keep the huts maintained.

When neither partner in the relationship is the hunter or the gatherer, an imbalance occurs. One or both become obsolete. It can’t be helped. In a home in which the only diversions are the dogs, books, music, the computer, the backyard, how does one find amusement? Or enjoy what is now coming to resemble escape? Even Brett gets to leave the house to go to school.

Alternatives? Hard to find. Spending time in fixing up the house is not possible without funds. Funds are not available without a job, and so the cycle continues.

One of my favorite pastimes, taking long drives to clear my head, is also not on the list of available things to do. Long drives require gasoline. Gasoline requires money. Money requires a job. Again, another impasse.

And still another aspect of so much imposed isolation and confinement arises unbeckoned: differences become heightened. Currently, well actually, for months now, Corey and I have been having skirmishes over one particular personal preference, his, not mine. Neither of us is willing to yield.

My reasons for opposing this preference are many fold and to go into them would be airing Corey’s business to strangers. I don’t think that I should do that. But how do I get out of my system the need to talk with someone about this particular problem? The person I would normally talk to is on the opposing side. My other avenue for working through things is limited as I do not want to violate my spouse’s personal privacy. But again, at what cost to me?

I can say that my reasons are long-standing and result from situations in which I have been involved that were not positive. These situations all involved persons who were very close to me in one way or another.

I don’t like feeling as if my marriage is being affected detrimentally by this one issue, but I also know that just one issue has caused more than one marriage to fall by the wayside, whatever that issue may have been.

Do I compromise my personal beliefs for the sake of harmony? Does he? Wouldn’t that be disingenuous? What happens in a situation in which neither side is willing to give in to the other? Nothing good, that’s fairly certain. It’s not the Gaza Strip, but it’s our Gaza Strip.

Neither of us seeks for the conversation to turn to this onerous topic. Most of the time, we pretend that there is no elephant in the living room. But one of us will bump into the elephant accidentally, usually me, and then the illusion is shattered. We retreat to our individual sides of the proverbial battle line and wait to see what happens next.

Rain is in my eyes and I can’t see
Life’s become just cloudy days~ From “Cloudy Days,” by Alison Krauss

Anglo Saxon SwordThere is a term in flying called the point of no return. This is the point at which there isn’t enough fuel to turn back, and the journey must be completed. More and more, I feel as if I am flying straight into the sun to the point of no return. The heat is both warming and deadly, but I cannot turn back. To do so would be a betrayal of self. Although, part of me has been so beaten down by this issue that I feel myself willing more and more to cede in the name of peace. I wish that I had the foresight to know how to act in order to save everyone and everything.

Discretion may be the better part of valor, but discretion does not always invoke the truth. And I don’t care who you are: A marriage cannot survive on a lie.

Hence, I feel as if I am treading water in a waterfall: to what end? Too many times in my life I have felt as if the sword of Damocles was poised above my head, just waiting for me to make the wrong move. One horse hair’s breadth away from having the brief moments of happiness in my life taken away.

If I stay in the waterfall, my vision will continue to be occluded, but perhaps that is not such a bad thing as it allows me to delude myself, escape reality. Is my desire to stay in the waterfall motivated by my belief that eventually the water takes everything and washes it clean: pebbles, bones, beliefs? I have no answers, only questions, theories, if you will, that need to be pared down to the simplest terms if they are to be seen clearly. My Occam’s Razor.

If X = harmony, and Y = friction, can Z ever result in anything that can be counted on? If X²-Y²= Z , and X and Y are considered equal, then Z, my friends, can only equal zero, which is nothing at all.



More later. Peace.


12 thoughts on “Treading Water in a Waterfall

  1. poietes,

    “It takes more courage to reveal insecurities than to hide them, more strength to relate to people than to dominate them, more ‘manhood’ to abide by thought-out principles rather than blind reflex. Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles and an immature mind.”

    You show the depths of your strengths in your words. You may not feel as if you are making any leeway in your quicksand and against your wall of falling water, but the mere realization of what you consider your shortcomings, is a giant step towards overcoming them.

    As you know, change is never easy, but it is so necessary to move on every day, slowly but surely knowing that as each day passes the next will be a new beginning. Never stop trusting your instincts, they are wonderful.

  2. I come from the eggshells too Lita. To realize, honestly, what a burden was lifted as the room was cleared. past.

    Very powerful, this post, a beautiful share. As usual my darling your fierce brilliance bowls me over. There are ways of you I know to be like me, the three of you. The water? All the waters are ours. Wield.

    Something else too, precious thanks. xoxo

    1. Thank you. I hadn’t heard from you in so long I feared that you were no longer reading me. I am very glad that the eggshells are gone for you. It’s a terrible way to live life.

      Your caring words are always appreciated.

  3. The only thing I know to say in reference to things like this is, “I wish I knew what to say.” I’m just glad that you at least have some form of emotional outlet through blogging. We all need an outlet. In ages past these were called diaries or journals. I know you’re going through a lot of pain and troublesome experiences, but I really hope your life gets better for you and your loved ones.

    1. It doesn’t matter that you don’t know what to say, just dropping by is a nice gesture. I know that we will all make it through this, it’s just a matter of waiting it out and hanging on, which is far easier said than done sometimes.

  4. Sweetie, I wish I had a magic wand, I would “poof” all the pain away. I can sense the pain in your words. I do not know what Corey’s preference is – not really important. I do know that it is disturbing you and your soul-Karma if you will. My friend hurts and I don’t like it. Should you tolerate this? I don’t know. I will share some things. A few years back, I went with my parents to hear the former preacher (the man who married Joe and I) speak. Sermon was on hurting and pain. It was the most profound sermon I have ever heard at that point. People have the” if it feels good do it”, “if I’m in my own home – so what? I’m not hurting anybody” attitude. He had been counseling a couple, and if memory serves me, drugs and/or sexual issues had come between them. The husband’s attitude was” so what? I’m not hurting anybody, I’m in my own home” And the preacher looked him in the eye and said “HOW DO YOU KNOW”? Just because there is no physical pain ( bruises etc) that can be felt or seen doesn’t mean you are not causing hurt. A mother who’s daughter has fallen into the pitfalls of prostitution is hurting- by there is NO physical evidence. A joint here and there- no biggie – except for the blood associated with getting the drug here to the USA. If the elephant is there it will be there until you extract it.
    Are you better off alone? Is this morally wrong to you? Is it just morally wrong? Is it just plain wrong? Can you keep walking a tight rope? As TD Jakes once said ” Let’s just kiss and say goodbye” As that old 70’s drones in your head, it may be a good question. Don’t compromise your feelings , if you know in your heart it hurts, then it does. We’re here for a long time you must think of yourself. Call me if you want. I’m here. Sorry babbling on -and throwing in God – that’s what keeps me strong. And I do wonder, how much of this is affecting your health? Or, dare I say it, the cause of what’s going on with your health? If I may be so bold, read the book of Hosea in the bible – that’s!!! true love. A little food for thought.

    One last word – you don’t save a drowning person by jumping in after them.

    Love ya, thinking of ya, and praying for ya!


    1. Sarah,
      You are a dear friend, and I thank you for your words. The issue between us is not bigger than our love for each other or our desire to stay together. I realize that I am so low because of the money situation, and the constant assault of outside factors, those same factors that are affecting Corey’s state of mind. I do appreciate your words on the sermon. One day, I hope to be whole again, but right now, it’s so hard to have perspective.
      Love, me

  5. *Is my desire to stay in the waterfall motivated by my belief that eventually the water takes everything and washes it clean: pebbles, bones, beliefs?*

    I like this one. It may be my favorite.

    Look, we’re all damaged. We’re all Humpty Dumpty’s that are bandaged up and moving through with the hope that tomorrow those band-aids aren’t pulled off. And as much as I would love not to, we all carry the weight of past sins and bitter regrets with when we move in to the next stage of your life. But, movement is required. Waiting for the fates to decide as you sway to the music of each other’s heart beat never ends well. Ever. So, darling, it is not all you. Those things he fell in love about you are those same things he has to come to challenge, so to speak.

    What you have to decide is can you live with the decision? Be it compromise and give, or stand your ground and possibly fail? What’s it worth?

    Me? I am a saboteur. When I feel threatened, vulnerable, or am being made to compromise I start packing emotionally, distance myself physically, and put my running shoes on. Which is to say that I am my own worst enemy. But I’m working on it. And some days I’m good and some days I suck. And I tell you this simply to remind you that you’re not alone in your emotions, your frustrations, and in your salty river.

    And in pure soul sister power, I admire your courage to be vulnerable and as honest as you can and posting what very well may be your best post ever.

    I hope that all made sense.

    Anyway, here is a song that may help make the moments in between a little more bearable:

    1. I’m sure that you won’t be surprised, by that song as sung by John Hiatt is one of my all-time favorites and is included on everyone of my playlists.

      Thank you for your insights. I am a sabateur when it comes to my own heart, or maybe I’ve learned not to be. I’m not sure.

      I will have to admit that writing with this much honesty really drains a person. You say that it’s my best post over, and I am overwhelmed. When I finished writing it, I immediately began to think that perhaps I should delete it, that I was putting too much out there. But I couldn’t, and I didn’t. I don’t see my therapist any more. What I have is this medium, and compatriots such as yourself who help to give me perspective and prop me up when I need it. It matters. It really does.

      Thank you.

  6. Hi Lita,
    I think you are too quick to assume blame for everything that has happened in recent times. You are a carer, nurturer and feel impotent when you can’t ‘make it all right’ for those you love but you cannot continue to assume all this responsibility.The weight is too much for any mere mortal to bear alone. I understand what you are saying about that elephant in the room. I too, know that if that elephant is addressed, the fall out would probably lead to…. well, I think you know where I am going here, so we pretend all is well and I have to wonder how long we can continue this charade or have we settled and are now willing to live out the rest of our days this way?
    Take care my friend and lighten up on yourself, you are a beautiful, intelligent and talented woman. Don’t forget that.

    1. Maureen,
      You know me too well. I want to fix things, but I have to assess the cost to myself. Thank you for always saying what’s on your mind. It is very refreshing.
      Big hugs,

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