Seventh in a series [gs *]
For the rest of the day, after lunch and hand holding, I feel profoundly exhausted, and by evening I have a headache around my eyes. I’m not really sure how I feel about the whole exchange. Something feels wrong. I can’t quite define it, but I know that there is some part of today that I do not want to make a habit of, and it would be an easy habit to get pulled into. Still, the lunch-guy’s intentions, his sincerity and vulnerability are compelling. You might think I’d be thrilled to have found such a simpatico new friend – and I probably would have, twenty-five years ago. But not now.
I am even more unsettled the next morning. All the ook of the world is slithering toward me, with big bulgy eyes spinning lasciviously, intent on slurping up my soul. I realize, more viscerally than mentally, that I’ve opened a dangerous door, let in too much, too close, too fast. Yesterday’s lunch date kicked it open, but it’s also related to all of what I’m doing right now – this ‘sharing my story’ stuff, how people respond to it, the way I manage my openness, my job of surfacing those complicated assumptions.
I feel kind of sick, and I can’t write, so I putz and ponder, and I know that I’ve stirred up a bunch of my own muck to work through.
There’s this thing I seem to do, but I can’t see it. It makes my husband uneasy. He calls it casting pearls before swine, disrespecting myself, giving away more than I’m supposed to, inviting others to steal a part of my soul. Being a more private person than I, he understands, in a way I seem incapable, the sacred and powerful nature of secrets – how they must be approached properly, with appropriate reverence and awe, lest they destroy the seeker. I value transparency, and having decided to reveal what, hidden, I find burdensome, I tend to blow the lid off dangerously. I’ve been working to mitigate this tendency, but apparently I’ve done it again.
My husband has learned from experience not to try to fix me, or prevent it from happening. It’s not a threat to our marriage, but it’s a threat to my well-being and purpose – and a hazard to semi-innocent bystanders. It’s an ugly distraction that I expend way too much care-taking energy trying to undo once I’ve done it. My husband knows I have to figure this out for myself, and that the only way I learn anything essential is by entering into it (as many times as it takes). But he also knows that when it starts to unfold, it helps to point it out.
Other people, if they get a whiff of it, are more ‘fix-y’. They start dispensing advice, which I hate, but that also alerts me that I’m doing it again.
The thing the fixers don’t get, but my husband does is – there’s a kernel of magic in this pile of muck. I know it’s in there and I have to find it. It’s related to this being-open business. It’s the thing the lunch-guy was looking for also, I’m not dissing his desire, it’s the same as mine. All the spiritual traditions tout this open, heart thing. There’s this place of connection to the divine. There’s this magic moment at the bottom of the U, the healing reunion, the rites of the Sacred Whore – and it’s in here – in this muck, and I know it. Yet everyone is so afraid of it, so self-protective (which I utterly understand, because being open in our culture so often invites violation – I can attest to that). Or else they’re throwing themselves into it too eagerly (like lunch-guy just did), ignorant of the others involved, ignorant of the inherent danger to themselves.
And I don’t mean magic for me, a momentary solipsistic pleasure – I mean the Big Magic, the healing and connection and transformation the whole world is yearning for right now – it’s right it this very gunk. But like all strong medicine, it should be handled with caution, not gobbled like candy. I know because I, myself, have swung back and forth between the far reaches of this pendulum many many times. I’m still trying to stop the swinging.
But this is my work – to find that magic. And when I pull on my wading boots and start heading off into the goo, and my husband grows uneasy, and the onlookers yell ‘don’t do it!!’ from the sidelines, I know. . .
Actually, I’m not sure what I know, anymore.
I used to think all of that concern on the part of others meant I was on the right track. If this magic was safe and easy to find, it would have been found by now. But it’s dangerous, and the unease and advice I get from the sidelines is like my Geiger counter, beeping more loudly the closer I get.
That’s what I used to think, and I still do. But that’s not the whole story, obviously, because right now I feel sick and foggy, not magical. Especially when my mind wanders back to yesterday’s lunch, which it keeps doing, picking at it like a scab whose cause I can’t recall.
And I feel utterly culpable, like the adult who let the kids get out of hand. Like the siren who lured the poor fisherman to be dashed against the cliffs. Like, if only I were more perfect, I’d have prevented this poor boy from misreading me, and now I have a mess to clean up. Because, he’s right, I could teach him a lot, but I don’t want to. He’s too inexperienced in his ‘connectedness’. He exhausts me.
Anyway, I’m trying to set it aside, and get back to my writing. But my mind keeps digging through the memory, trying to uncover where I went wrong, trying to locate my precise guilt, the precise source of some weird sense of shame.
I know it’s not over between us, but I don’t want to see that guy again (at least, now right now). I don’t want to read or hear another word from him and I don’t want to respond to his next approach, which I can feel coming. I want to pretend none of it happened, and I don’t want to take care of his feelings around any of this.
I just want to figure out what it is that I do that leads into this ook, that makes my husband uneasy, and gives me an eyeball headache, and a lingering sense of violation and shame. I want to find the source of this trouble and wipe it out. I want my un-ooked life back.