I don’t have the luxury of deciding whether or not to engage in PDAs. (Public Displays of Affection, for the uninitiated) Unless of course you consider showering the dudes with hugs and kisses spontaneously, often, and, as of yet, not against their will. I have, as you well know, participated in PSTs – Public Shedding of Tears, as have many people experiencing the emotional upheaval of infidelity and divorce. There’s no luxury of choice there either. The tears burst forth, you try to minimize the impact on those around you and hide behind oversized and very dark sunglasses.
This time last year, as I walked the little dude to kindergarten, I recall bawling because I saw a Mom with her infant. For no reason other than being shredded up and raw inside, I wept. I don’t miss those infant years, while I enjoyed them immensely. I’m quite content exactly where I am. But the site of a Mom and her baby had my crying like one.
A woman taking a man’s suit to the dry cleaner might have caused the same reaction had I been in the right state of mind, which at that time was a state of emotional fragility.
These days the tears are back, after a long hiatus.
The last big sob fest was at Limantour Beach, when I sat on a rock at the southern end and let her rip. As I reflect on that hike, I believe that was Day One of getting really honest with myself. Recently, that effort has reached a zenith with the acknowledgment of how my Ego was (and continues to try to be) in charge and quite accomplished at making life a real slog.
What I used to call quieting the mind is now a conscious choice to banish my Ego. I am excited and proud to say that the benefits of being anti-Ego, mostly, have been significant. I’ll craft a post on this, but I have to figure out a way to not come across as preachy. Benching the Ego has been an ultra-game-changing move. Literally the best thing I’ve ever done. Changed me forever. A more important event than the Pocket Call itself. Next to birthing human beings, the single coolest gift I’ve given myself.
You can so see how my enthusiasm could cause eye-rolls the world over.
So, why the tears?
I wish I had a new word for these drops of moisture. They look different, as I imagine them, they feel different, as they burst forth, and they leave me feeling different – not drained or emptied, but alive. They’re the kind of tears you shed when you run to someone you love who you thought you may never see again. The kind that come when you arrive at a finish line you weren’t certain you would cross. The kind that come after a birth, after a summit, after an achievement that defines you. You. Not your Ego.
They don’t come from fear, or because your insides are blown apart from pain, or because you feel lost and scared. They come from the heart. They’re more than tears of joy.
These are tears made of love. Pure love.
Which is why, when I imagine what they look like, they are iridescent. They don’t cling to the cheeks, sliding off the face and down the chest, hitting the floor. They spring forth like the tears of early cartoon characters and evaporate, making the air shimmer.
These tears have been surprising me quite often lately. Immediately upon waking in the morning, while underwater working on my breathing so thin air doesn’t gain the upper hand, or while sitting in a public place writing about the death of my Dad as I state for HGMers the world over that I’m going to freeze my tuchus off on Mt. Rainier this winter.
That was the post where I chalked up my
mad desire to climb Mt. Everest to having a near death experience when I answered the Pocket Call which brought me face-to-face with The Genius’ double life.
It was after writing that post that I came to see how discovering The Genius was cheating on me, and hoped to carry on the affair for my entire life, was about as near death as high fructose corn syrup is all natural.
As in not at all near death.
Because it was fantasy. It never happened. They never pulled it off. They were busted. They didn’t get to have it all. No near death. Not even a near hospitalization. With timing that I can seriously call perfect, their affair was discovered. Sooner and the dudes and I would have been forever east coasters. Later and they would have been closer to their goal.
Calling the discovery of their desire to keep this affair going until they or I croaked a near death experience was a total Ego statement.
How do I know for sure? Because the Universe made sure I knew what near death really meant, really felt like. And that even near death can be a gift.
The day I wrote that post I sat at one small table while a man sat next to me at another. His laptop was open, his eyeglasses perched upon his nose. We were alone in a public space that is one of my go-to’s to write now that I am a full time, daytime writer. We spent about a half hour typing away before we shared a hello as he walked by me and our eyes met. When the tears rolled as I thought of my Dad’s death and wrote about how my being was filled with awe as I witnessed his passing, I (my Ego!) wondered if the man to my left noticed. I wondered if he would put me in the box with all the other hormonal-ish women my age.
After an hour or so, we both took a break and began a typical stranger chat –
Nice day out, huh?
Cool spot to get some work done. It’s quiet. Pretty view.
And then he asked if I lived nearby. I told him I lived in Bolinas. He said he had just moved to the area from southern Marin.
Oh. What brought you up here?
And then within a few breaths he began to tell me about his daughter and how she didn’t look very well one day when he picked her up. And how he held her in his arms while she had a seizure. How he performed CPR. The ambulance came. They took over as he stood watching an unfathomable scene unfold before him. He followed the ambulance to the hospital. He called his wife. They waited to learn of what he already felt inside.
The doctor came to tell them their daughter died.
As with many couples who experience the death of a child, they eventually divorced.
Then he told me of a woman who lived in the same house as her husband and two children, but their hearts long ago parted ways. They tried to live together to provide to their children the benefits of living in a two parent household. After some time the experiment failed and it no longer made sense to live that way. She moved out. He remained. The children went to and fro.
And then she moved back in. So she could care for him as he died from a terminal illness.
My tears started rolling at the word seizure. (The kind that roll down the face and hit the floor.) His came not long after. I cried right through the end when he finally answered my original question. He moved to northern Marin to live with a widow and her family, a woman he loves and her two young children who already feel comfortable enough to treat him as a father figure.
Full-fledged sobbing by this point. And my mouth was hanging open. So the tears never made it to my chest. Instead, they slipped inside my mouth after hitting my bottom lip.
I knew this story was shared by design, but it took me some time to unravel why. At first blush it could be the old, Be grateful for what you have, it could always be worse! But I find the lessons aren’t always that easy-breezy. After several days of reflecting on that intimate exchange between two strangers, his wisdom pushed my Ego out of the spotlight and took center stage.
I didn’t have the equivalent of a near death experience. I discovered that my husband made a very bad choice. His very bad choice has transformed my existence. On many levels his choice has set me free. I’ve had to make a million choices along the way, some great, some questionable, but I’m not ashamed of a single one. The discovery of his affair was emotionally brutal, but when I honestly assess what it has done for my journey on this planet I can only be thankful.
To jump ahead to a future that doesn’t exist and claim as mine a feeling that I was spared is…bogus, pointless and only serves to keep me tethered to my past. It’s doing something that I despise – creating drama where drama does not exist. It’s an Ego move. (Mine must have eaten its Wheaties and chia seeds because it’s hanging around like a horny drunk at last call, but I am going to persist in sending it on home. Alone.)
And it’s inaccurate.
Unless a rebirth is near death. Which it quite possibly could be, but you know physics and time warps and black holes and stuff aren’t my strength.
There are a million ways to grow this experience of infidelity and divorce. To feed it and let it live on so I can have something to point at and say, Look what I survived, what I’m still surviving to this day! I can lament the loss of my marriage or be honest and call it what it was: two people who were better off as friends rather than lovers because of an inability to grow together. I can talk about something awful that never happened, finding out about the affair at his or my funeral, and make it feel inside as if it did.
I’d rather not do something that irrelevant and unproductive.
And I’m certainly not going to credit The Genius with creating in me the desire to climb mountains. That desire was always there. I was built to do it.
The only thing I can exclusively credit The Genius with doing, other than creating with me our beautiful children, is having destroyed any chance at rebuilding our friendship because of his betrayal.
But when he asked this week if I would go to counseling with him I said yes. It would have been easy to say no, to stand behind a shield, unwilling to grant to him the opportunity to communicate with me about our tattered relationship. To keep the fight alive.
But I wouldn’t let my Ego say no. I don’t fear tears of pain. I’m sure these new kind of tears are here to stay.