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.

Quicksand
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.

Weathering a Storm is No Guarantee of Calm Seas

rough-seas

Stormy Seas

Why Does It Always Rain on Those Who Are Already Wet With Tears?

“When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

 

This afternoon a song from my past came to me from nowhere. I wasn’t listening to the radio or any of my playlists, or even a CD. It just came, but I’m pretty sure that I know why this particular song rose from my subconsious: The title and words are so close to what I am feeling right now.

“Helplessly Hoping” has been interpreted in so many ways, but I have always seen it as a love song about two people who are floundering. There love isn’t floundering, which is made apparent by the refrain, but individually, they are both losing themselves to confusion and circumstances. The words of the refrain symbolize how these two people are better together. As one, they are individuals. As two, they are separate but alone. But when they merge their separate selves, they become another person altogether: three. And always, they are “for each other.”

I find myself in a very perculiar position. A someone who has long suffered from severe depression, bordering on bipolar disorder, I have always been the one that has needed support and understanding from my partners. I have never had a more supportive or understanding partner when it comes to my mental health than Corey.

But now, I am watching someone I love more than life itself being consumed by self-doubt, depression, and guilt. And I finally realize just how helpless it feels to be in this position, how much you want to fix things but cannot. How much you want to take on the pain of your loved one, but how impossible that task truly is.

I can listen when he wants to talk. I can try to remind him of how talented he is, how much training and education he has acquired on his own to become better in his field. I can tell him that being unemployed is not something that he should feel guilty about, that taking a dead-end job for slightly over minimum wage wouldn’t give him benefits, nor would it pay as much as the unemployment for which he qualifies.

That’s a point that many people don’t understand. They say things like, “why don’t you just take any job for the time being?” never stopping to think about the realities of doing something like that. I’ve been in a dead-end job just to get by, and believe me, it does nothing for your self-esteem or your mental health. If anything, it only makes the problem worse.

Corey has always had his spells, his times in which he turns inward for a little while, and I have learned, or attempted to remember, that pushing him does nothing to help. Instead, it is better to let him work through these times, and he always has. But this time is different.

With each passing day, I am watching him feel as if he is less of a person, and this infuriates me. Mostly because my husband is one of the most caring, honorable, and hard-working individuals I have ever known. When he joined our family, he gave all of us a renewed sense of hope. He gave so much of himself to me and to my children, never doubting that we were working to come together as a family. He has been there countless times for Alexis when her father dropped out of her life. He has taught my sons about honor and respect and love just by being the man that he is.

How could you possibly want more of someone?

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” ~ Mary Anne Radmacher

We never ever dreamed that his unemployment would drag on so long. He has written, sent resumes and applications, and made so many telephone calls that we have lost count. We thought that the course that he took last year would be enough to make the difference, but it wasn’t. We thought that this AB course would help to make the difference, but now our plans have been derailed once again.

I no longer feel as if I am surfing on quicksand. I now feel as if I am treading in quicksand. The safety of the board on the surface has disappeared. I try not to sound as if I am feeling sorry for myself, and the reality is that self-pity isn’t what I am really feeling. The emotions are more a combination of hopelessness, anger, and guilt in my abilities to make things better for this family.

I cannot help but think that if I had never been put out on disability, things would be different. I still wonder if I shouldn’t try to go back to work, although considering my health background, I don’t know who would take a chance on me.

There are too many unanswered questions. Life has become like a maze with nothing but dead ends and no clear paths.  And so for today, I find solace in an old song. Tomorrow? Who knows?

If suffering and adversity make a person stronger, then by the time all of this is over, we should be like superheroes. That, or we will be like flowers deprived too long of the sun: withering and unable to withstand much more.

Peace

 

“Helplessly Hoping”
by Stephen Stills

Helplessly hoping her harlequin hovers nearby
Awaiting a word
Gasping at glimpses of gentle true spirit
He runs, wishing he could fly
Only to trip at the sound of goodbye

Wordlessly watching, he waits by the window
And wonders at the empty place inside
Heartlessly helping himself to her bad dreams
He worries, did he hear a goodbye
Or even hello

{Refrain}
They are one person
They are two alone
They are three together
They are for each other

Stanby the stairway, you’ll see something
Certain to tell you confusion has its cost
Love isn’t lying, it’s loose in a lady
Who lingers, saying she is lost
And choking on hello

{Refrain}
They are one person
They are two alone
They are three together
They are for each other