Last Saturday I didn’t have any human contact all day. I typed a lot of journal, played a lot of solitaire. Washed a bunch of dishes. Dumped a puzzle on the table & started turning pieces right side up. I finished Wildfire at Midnight and started a biography of Crazy Horse. I own the book, but I can’t have read it before, and it’s too difficult to keep going. I started The Middle Window last night.
“Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day unto the last syllable of recorded time. and all our yesterdays light fools the way to dusty death. Out out brief candle. Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” I memorized that as an adolescent, thinking I knew what it felt like. The truth is I had no idea. That passage from MacBeth is such an accurate description of despair. It’s the full-blown version of “that twilight feeling.” Yes, that’s exactly how I feel. I ask myself if I really know that that level of despair is based on reality. And something inside me says “No, it’s not true.” It’s how you are feeling and that’s a combination of emotional exhaustion, “compassion fatigue,” the ongoing battle with PTSD, the pain of helplessness in the face of Eleanor’s suffering.
I think “If Eleanor weren’t living here, I could have had the kind of life I was hoping to have living in this house.” I would have been able to scatter seeds and see the birds… but then I would still have been battling attachment trauma, and I would not have her support. It’s like the work with Erica, sometimes it’s so painful I wish I had never started. But I had no choice. Why did I have no choice about working with Erica? Because I had to get down to the bottom of what’s causing my suffering. I had no choice with Eleanor because I love her. That’s the great learning I got from these past weeks of pain. That I really do love her very much, that I am capable of loving in such difficult and painful circumstances, that this is what love is. Some hard thing that you do, not some nice thing that you feel.
I wonder about typing up what I wrote about despair and love for a blog post. I get that little IRNK feeling that suggests that I am bragging, an old old voice. Actually, I’m telling the truth. Because of early trauma, because no matter what I did I couldn’t make my mother happy, I internalized a belief that I am not loving. This is the first time that I have seen that how much pain I’m in tells me how much I love. And the fact that we both want to stay in connection with each other is one of the first times I have found out what it feels like to repair a major break in an important relationship.
I think this is how Jesus loved us. He came to teach us and show us what compassion and forgiveness were, and he accepted a painful death because that was a consequence of his revolutionary teaching. He didn’t “die for our sins.” Unlike me, he had had the experience of a loving god and that gave him the strength to challenge those in power with revolutionary teaching. He knew that they would execute him, but that didn’t stop him.
Because I love, I am willing to accept the pain of my loved one, even pain I have caused. This is what my ex-husband couldn’t do. Hurting me made him feel despicable, and the only way he knew to stop it was to cut me off.
“Some hard thing that you do,” and “Hating those we have injured because it makes them feel despicable,” are both quotes from the writings of Elizabeth Goudge.
Wildfire at Midnight is a romance by Mary Stewart
The Journey of Crazy Horse is a biography by Joseph M. Marshall III
The Middle Window is a novel by Elizabeth Goudge