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Posts Tagged ‘identity’

silence

This week I have been on a journey and I have discovered that, like Alice, I have well and truly lost my muchness. There’s no sign of me, no sign of my relationship. The one good I can get from this is that, since the past is completely broken and lost to me, I have to start from where I am now.

I know I said that I would be terrified of a New Year resolution list at the moment, but I have been thinking about how strongly I need to do something to initiate change, and finally I thought ‘I need a list’; so here are the things which I would like to change to improve my relationship. Because I cannot make changes outside myself, this list is about me.

There are ideas here which might make some people very angry; I do know that women have fought hard and in many places are still struggling for the rights which I seem to be planning to give away. But I am a long way into this relationship and have succumbed to the temptation to use short cuts when I deal with and speak to the man I love.

So the idea behind this list is to make myself focus on ways that I have overstepped the boundaries of respect, kindness and polite behaviour – to remind myself to walk carefully without treading on another person’s feelings.

Things I will change to improve my relationship with my husband

1. My insistent opinion. It’s not till I try not to disagree or contradict that I realise what an argumentative person I am at the moment. It is anti-modern and personally almost impossible to give up my right to express my opinion, but I can see him flinch and close up every time I indulge myself, so enough.

2. My desire to be right. I’m no more likely to be right than anyone else, so why do I assume that I am correct? In order to be right, I make him is wrong; I can see how that must hurt.

3. My criticism. When you’re with someone a lot they get on your nerves; the mannerisms you used to love, how much they snore, whether they work too hard or not hard enough. I have slipped gradually into the habit of letting many little things annoy me and worse, of commenting on them. That must be debilitating. I’ve also been so hard on myself that I need a drop of mercy too.

4. My sexuality. I love my husband and I feel a strong attraction towards him. It’s increasingly painful that he is unhappy to be close to me, to be touched by me or to accept any gestures of affection, but I have to respect his boundaries. If I reverse the scenario, if he – a man – was pushing unwanted attention on me – a woman – the rules would be clear.

5. My lack of patience. I am frustrated, I want things and I want them now! But other people don’t always work to our time schedules, and I am aware that pushing to get what I want, the way that I would in business, is not appropriate or helpful, or kind. I have to wait.

A short list but how far I can succeed in restraining myself and keeping to it I don’t know; I just don’t know. But I will try, so don’t be angry – wish me luck!

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As a very old man who has lived a very long life, I would
like to impart my (perhaps dated) perspective on this matter for anyone
interested.

Now that I have lived a lifetime’s worth of days, I have finally
come to see the folly of my ways. So listen when I speak of the temptations of
this world: nice things, status, success and pretty women.

Since I’m nearing 80, I can confidently say that I’m standing on the precipice of
death, and I can tell you that my perspective is enormous. When I wake up
each morning and go outside, I can see the connected nature and wonder of every
leaf and every cloud and I marvel at the forces which have formed us.

However, ever since the passing of my wife, some days all I’ve
got is a lone nighttime walk. But then when I whistle some sweet melody, and it
sparks some very beautiful memories; and once you are my age those great
memories bring unspeakable contentment to you.

So young people, try your best to ignore what you think
matters, instead bring true joy to yourself and each other. Because when all is
said and done, when your youth is spent and burned, you’ll see that it’s all
about the simple things you take for granted: music, flowers, babies, sharing
the good times, traveling not just for business, accepting your mortality. This
is finally what I’ve learned.

And then in the end it’s family and friends! Loving yourself,
but not only yourself, it’s about the good walk, and the long hard walk and the
relationships and connections you’ve had. It’s about making a little music
everyday till you die; it’s a beautiful ride.

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Early morning found me standing alone – again – on the lawn, waiting for the sleepy January sun. It seemed like a meaningful gesture to go out and seek the dawn on New Year’s Day; I was not disappointed. The wind had dropped, the garden had somehow gathered its strength and appeared cool and quietly potent in the chill moonlight, a deep calm spreading with the shadows from the settling beech trees.

I have weathered a storm. Not gracefully, it’s true, but I feel like I have shaken off the old pain with the old year and woken with a bad headache but a remembrance of who I used to be, who I could perhaps be again. Has rejection forced me to turn to what I have left – myself? Or am I just a typically contrary woman, changeable as last night’s gale, spinning the weathervane of emotion till I am dizzy?

Well I’m steady today at least, and I face the new day with the will to make a resolution. There are confident, brave and ambitious souls out there making lists – long lists! – of resolutions, but I don’t have the strength to write a bucket list, let alone walk around with its weight on my shoulders, so just one wish for this princess.

Resolution is such a resonant word; it can be passed as a formal expression of opinion, it means determination, it can be used to mean promise, we can resolve and be resolute. So much in this one word.

So this is my resolution for New Year, my promise to myself; to be resolute, to find resolution, to go where this journey has to take me, to find and to be myself – today, tomorrow, whatever.

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New Year’s Eve is surely the loneliest day of the year. What to do this morning but stand alone on the miserable, windswept plains at Year’s End and look backwards on desolation, or strain tear-stung eyes into the gale to catch a glimpse of an empty, awful future? Behind me, the virgin mistletoe hangs withered and dry, the Christmas cupboards are bare, the Yule fire lies cold ash. The present is bleak and comfortless.

Yes, today I am sad, and more than sad; a night lying awake with my partner’s snoring ringing in my ears and my head ringing from that knock has left me too much time to think. I am overwhelmed with sorrow and regret – the things not done, the things I will never do, the many things I wish undone, all crowd my thoughts until no room for positive thoughts remain.

I know I should raise my head proudly to look into this rising sun and visualise my future, to remind myself that I have within me all I need to achieve my dreams; I am a burgeoning seed waiting for the promising spring, a sleeping flower waiting for the warmth of a helpful sun. But I have woken from the comfort of my dreams into a harsh reality, and as I stand on the porch watching a stern, grey day break over the exhausted, wind-whipped garden, I cry.

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by Nicole Krauss

“He went on for some time while I sat listening in silence because I knew he was right, and like two people who have loved each other however imperfectly, who have tried to make a life together, however imperfectly, who have lived side by side and watched the wrinkles slowly form at the corner of the other’s eyes, and watched a little drop of grey, as if poured from a jug, drop into the other’s skin and spread itself evenly, listening to the other’s coughs and sneezes and little collected mumblings, like two people who’d had one idea together and slowly allowed that idea to be replaced with two separate, less hopeful, less ambitious ideas, we spoke deep into the night, and the next day, and the next night. For forty days and forty nights, I want to say, but the fact of the matter is it only took three. One of us had loved the other more perfectly, had watched the other more closely, and one of us listened and the other hadn’t, and one of us held on to the ambition of the one idea far longer than was reasonable, whereas the other, passing a garbage can one night, had casually thrown it away.”

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I sent him a text.

‘I’ve just realised that it doesn’t matter. I’m not able to do Christmas, it’s too sad and pointless. I have to go home.’

‘Oh dear’, he replied.

 

He phoned me.

‘Do you realise that I tried to tell you months ago how I felt, but I couldn’t make you listen, that I needed something to change, that it wasn’t working? I have done what I had to, to protect myself, to make a life for myself. You can’t expect me to give that up, to trust you and make myself open to rejection again because you’re lonely at Christmas.

I don’t want to be rejected any more, to have to put up with being hurt any more, to just wait for you like before. I can’t go there again and I don’t know how I feel now; I need some space.

Yes, it feels safer to talk about it like this, by phone, but I’m not able to give you what you’re asking for at the moment.

I have to be in a meeting in ten minutes.’

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It’s nearly Christmas. Somehow I have managed to almost forget, but now the clock is ticking on another challenge to make-it-all-perfect-like-on-the-tv and as I stand in the supermarket I realise that I don’t care, I really don’t care. Not an ‘oh, whatever, anything will do’ sort of lackadaisical carelessness but a frightening deep inability to engage at all with tins of chocolate biscuits, luxury stuffing mix, and bath bubbles for Grandma.

For a few moments I stand in a sort of stunned limbo, a disavowing island in a swirling torrent of trolley-pushing believers. Then I leave, stagger somehow back to the car, and stand purposelessly in the freezing air, frozen more by the enormity of what I have thought.

For my whole life I have believed in the importance, the essentialness, of Christmas, have devoted myself to making Christmas all it should be for the people around me; but this year I don’t care.

I wish I could say that I feel liberated. The truth is that I am unmoored from the things which gave my life shape and meaning, I am adrift and lost and purposeless and loveless.­­

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