I have wanted to write lately but my mind seems oddly quiet. A couple of weeks ago I experienced an exhaustion that was like no other exhaustion I had ever experienced. That is saying a lot for someone who has attended births for twenty years and have had my share of lost nights of sleep. The exhaustion was a strange weighted blanket, like a wet wool hunting blanket connecting with every pore of my body. It stuck around for about ten days. We have been ramping up for the end of Ella’s Senior year. There were lacrosse Senior nights, a banquet, graduation, getting ready for graduation, senior prom, and there is still more to come with her graduation party. There is a lot going on but these events did not seem like the culprit. It felt like a deeper level of exhaustion.
It felt like a release from a long existence running on adrenaline, being on guard and at the ready for the next thing, the next pivot, the next ball being passed at my head that I need to catch or be knocked out cold. Now my mind would like to take a break.
It feels very strange and I cannot help but worry about the quiet in my head. There is a voice, a woman’s voice, a soft voice. Maybe my own. I am not sure. She is saying what I have said to many birthing people in the throes of labor as they approach the stage referred to as transition – “You are ok. Let your mind go.” Transition in birth can be the most difficult phase. It is difficult physically but it is more difficult, in my opinion, because it is the phase where the body really wants the mind to get out of the way. That’s why birthing people feel sleepy in this phase. The body is trying to wash the brain with endorphins to lull the mind quiet. Unfortunately, more frequently the mind is desperately trying to engage, control, understand, manage, to protect the birthing person. Our mind has good intentions, but it is not necessarily helpful. My body is much smarter than I am.
The message my body is trying to send me right now is “Let go. Just be.” I am in a huge transition. I am in a new career, a divorce, recovering from stage IV cancer, empty nesting, helping aging parents, figuring out who I am after 20+ years of parenting and I am not partnered.
I am feeling something pressing on me to just be ok. Why is it so difficult for me to just be and trust everything will be ok? “Let go. Just be.”
I am leaning into me. My attention to myself is increasing. I am creating a list of what I will and will not accommodate or compromise in my life. This list is manditory if I partner again. Loving myself more than my desire to be loved by another. I do not want someone to complete me. I am a whole human by myself. I may have bumps and bruises, mended cracks with gold to represent the lessons learned and growth, scars that tell stories, and experiences that color how I walk through the world, but I am whole. I have faith there is a whole human out there with their own collection of bumps, bruises, mends, scars, and experiences that I could share my days with. Only time will tell what the rest of my adventure holds. “Let go. Just be.”
I need to remind myself that I do indeed have time. It is ok for me to stop hustling, stop managing, stop being on high alert. Life will unfold. “Let go. Just be.”
I have been sharing my favorite quote with some folks recently in birthday cards, graduation cards and packages I have mailed across the country. It is a quote by Louise Erdrich from her book The Painted Drum. This is the quote:
“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.“
I am here to be swallowed up by life. I will risk my heart again as terrifying as that sounds. The salve to my soul when I hear those words is that I will be risking my heart with my eyes wide open, my being brimming with self love and more self awareness than I have ever carried before. I may experience brokenness again, life is life, but there are always gifts of growth. I am not one to make the same mistake twice. I like my mistakes to be unique opportunities to stretch the skin I am in. Brokenness can be fertile ground for creating healthy boundaries for the next opportunity.
Recently I got into a conversation with a friend about partnership and love / being in love. She started the conversation with – “What is the point of partnering?”
This friend is in her mid-twenties. She has become a very good friend of mine. We meet up about once a week to have dinner and big idea conversations related to things happening in our lives – be it work, relationships with humans, family, being human. She says she learns a lot from me and I must say the feeling is mutual.
While pondering her question “What is the point of partnering?” I was not sure that I was the best person to answer this question being that I am on my second divorce. I did not choose mindfully either time, but that gets more into the act of partnering not the point of partnering. From another light I could be the perfect person to ask becasue of my experiences.
Originally, I feel the point of partnering for me was because it was socially expected. It was a central part of the social construct I was raised in. Now my motivations are different. I like having a buddy. The buddy that I check in with. The person with the top level of trust and intimacy. They know the secret hand shake. The one that gets the call of great joy or great sorrow and they can handle all the events in a way that nurtures and creates a stronger bond. I am looking for the deep dive of intimacy. That is something I have always wanted but did not have in the forefront of my mind when partnering in the past. I will honestly admit that I was distracted by physical connection and the endorphins of connecting with a new human. I didn’t understand what I wanted from a partner, so I had no way to identify it, especially through the fog of new sex and endorphins.
My friend and I did agree that similar goals, projects, values, aspirations are key to a successful partnering. For me that would be someone who likes to be active, is compassionate, doesn’t shit talk, honest, creative, wants to build a house someday, traveler, likes animals, understands parenting, likes being on and in water, loves big thinking conversations, emotional intelligence, can talk through conflict (I am done with hostile fighting – like done done forever done), can give and hear feedback with an open heart, not a big drinker, good hugger, playful, financially independent, is open minded, can enjoy slow mornings, can collaborate for the greater good in stressful situations, finds my ADHD traits endearing and loves me for exactly who I am today.
The older I get I am also paying attention to how a human keeps their home. What is their style? Cleanliness level? Hoarding tendencies? Controlling tendencies? I would love to have a home with someone someday, not anytime soon, but someday. I have an eclectic style that I am not going to give up. I also don’t expect someone to give up their style. The conundrum of dating as an older person. I have been very blessed with a beautiful home that I am in no rush to leave. It will take a lot for me to leave this home by the river. I am open to the possibility that one day, a mindful decision might be made to leave this lovely nest. I will take these steps with eyes wide open and a clear heart.
Last but very not least physical connection is huge. For me it involves trust, feeling safe, intellectual connection and the openness to be creative. I am post menopause, post cancer, post surgeries, and post other stuff. I love my body more than I ever have in my entire life and she is a Picasso-esque work of art. I will not tolerate any shaming of any part of my body, of my sexuality or how I am as a sexual person. That is a hard line. I am looking forward to opening up myself to someone like that again, when the conditions are right. I will take these steps with eyes wide open and a clear heart.
So back to original question “What is the point of partnering?” My overarching answer, there is no point. It is a social construct that we have bought into along with a whole slew of other social constructs that seem to lean towards partnering being beneficial. My personal answer, I believe in the deep intimate connection possible through mindful partnering. Although I always wanted it, I do not think I would have been capable of it before now. I am hopeful it is in the cards for me but also ok with whatever may be. In the end, it is a personal journey to partner or not, and it is not for everyone, that is important to note.
This summer my baby graduated, my divorce will be final, I will have been single for a year, I will have a year in our new home, I will be halfway to my 5 year cancer free goal, I may be getting my surgery (we are waiting to hear if insurance will cover it), I may get a new job within my company, I am going to Fern Fest, my son is moving back to Detroit, and I celebrate my 47th year on this beautiful rock. Life is good.