Tonight I am wakeful to a period in my life two years ago, early February 2008, just before the man I loved broke me. It doesn’t matter what he said; my friends and family were scraping me off the floor for months. They weren’t surprised at the outcome, all having been certain that things would be fine if I’d just heed advice and walk away from the snake. Eve was taken to task for listening to the snake and eating the apple. Had I been in her skin, however, I would have forgone the fruit to pick up and examine the marvelous snake. The snake is a being I can be in relationship to. No matter what work I am engaged in, no matter what the writing, I am always focused upon relationship.
Amid many relationship struggles that Z and I had before we split, was this one: WHAT DO YOU DO ALL DAY? and why I wouldn’t tell him?
THURSDAY 7 FEB. 2008 WHAT DO I DO?
All day, every day, I am sorting out relationships and myself in relation to them. I was imprinted in a relationally poisonous environment, a dangerous environment, one that required I conceal its essential nature. So, given that all parts of my being are focused on relationship and how it functions - for good or for ill - it is only natural that I hide what I do, for I am investigating the one thing I was forbidden to see into as a child. To see and to speak the truth are my sins, the sins of the eldest daughter. Each and every day, so that I might better understand it, I am holding in my hands and in my heart the one dangerous thing that sane human beings would, will, HAVE told me to release. In short: the snake in the garden.
How can I admit to this? Why would I? What good could come of it? Judgment will surely be my only payment for such confession of purpose.
Even so, dear curious ones, here it is. If I am to hold this dangerous thing, if I am to investigate the forbidden room; then my man, as my mother, must be emotionally unavailable, unwilling, and unkind, yes; but also adrift in denial, buying me with gifts and loving words; and most of all, the piece de resistance, judgmental of my “wasting” time pursuing knowledge of the one thing he (like my mother) would keep hidden at all costs: SELF in relation to OTHER. That’s where the pain is. That’s where life shows you the work to be done.
What do I do all day? I look at the monster within myself by carefully examining the monster reflected to me by others, those others I love and feel unseen by. We cannot with the naked eye see the monster within ourselves, but we feel it. We fear it. We flee from it. We might as well try and flee from our own internal organs.
Interestingly, the more and more I apply the hand mirror of relationship, the more and more and more those “sane” human beings around me deny existence of the monster in me and point to Z as The Monster in Our Midst. They say:
• He needs to grow up.
• He needs to take responsibility for himself.
• He’ll never make it in the world if he cannot sort things out in a relationship; this is the blueprint.
• He needs to learn to control his temper, get a grip.
• “I’ve never felt such anger” / “I’ve never seen anyone turn so cold” except [fill in name of ex-bitch, ex-asshole, etc....]
• His emotional development is arrested at the point where he started doing drugs.
• He needs to be with someone at his own level (read: age and/or immaturity).
There’s more, but the point is this: there isn’t anything said about Z that couldn’t also be said about me (or most of his detractors, for that matter). His monster is my monster is his monster is mine.
Only our most intimate others - husbands, wives, lovers, pets, children - ever truly feel the teeth of the monster we hide in our bellies, behind the smile and the good deeds and the overeating and over-helping and over-shopping; only our most intimate others experience the pain of our denial of the darker self, the shadow, the retched sinner; and we are blessed if one day we wake up and see, reflected in their unenlightened eyes, our own monster looking back at us.
(Hey little monster, want a cookie?)
Z had accused me of not trusting him, and truly that is a different story than the one at hand, but it did get me to thinking about how I shared my writing, if I shared it, and why. So one night I asked him, “If I were trusting you, what would that look like?” He didn’t have a picture so much as a list of what I wouldn’t be doing, but no matter because here was my little monster staring right back at me, saying, “Are you ever going to let me out and into the light, or are conditions going to have to be perfectly perfect?”
Here little monster, chew on this. It’s called paper. What do you think.... you like it? You want some more? How about ink.... want to draw? paint? dance? sing? Have at it, honey. This piece is all yours.
Goodnight, kind readers, see you all tomorrow when you are encouraged to bring little monsters of your own.