Archive | narrative RSS feed for this section

A Meaningful Narrative – The Challenges and Pleasures of Secular Parenting

3 Apr

My son is nearing four now, what an incredible age! When allowed to freely explore, ask questions, and wonder about life – this is an age of outstanding discoveries, of vital first impressions of the world, of discovering who is trustworthy, what is permitted, where one can go and where doors are shut.

I have two strong guidelines in my parenting, that have been guiding me from the day I brought my Boy back home from the hospital. Be authentic. Tell the truth. There is a lot more of course. I try to listen to him, I mean really listen, as much as I can. I try to set boundaries where they are necessary, I try to support his urges to be independent and guide him and be supportive, and not lose my patience and maintain composure, even if he throws a fit because his sunny-side-up is leaking and now he won’t eat it.

But I honestly believe, if I’m authentic, if Mom-Me, is not an entirely different person from Professional-Me, and Intellectual-Me, and Friend-Me, and Lover-Me, then I’m doing something right. So I tell my son about my day when I come back from school. He listens, and then he tells me about his day at preschool. I joke around with him, because I can be silly like that sometimes. I say I’m sorry when I make a mistake. And I tell him the truth, or a version of the truth that he can take in, when he asks me the big questions, when he wants to know how life begins and what happens when it ends.

Yes, he’s not even four yet. But my son has already asked if everyone dies, and if I’ll die one day. I couldn’t tell him some ridiculous story. A part of me wanted to go with the heaven-story. It’s a good one, really. It comforted me when I was younger. But I didn’t. I said we live forever in the hearts of those who love us. It’s a good narrative. It’s as close as I could get to where I really am vs the death thing. He accepted my narrative the way only four-year-olds can, absorbing it, inscribing it into his own narrative, into the truths that he will now grow up with.

Now he knows, because he asked and I answered, that the male and female bodies fit together perfectly, like two pieces of a puzzle, that the sperm and the egg yearn to unite and form a baby. That they have to wait for love, because only when a man and a woman love one another, can they unite to form life. He knows that I think it’s a miracle. And so he finds if miraculous as well. And it is, isn’t it? He is too young to feel confused about it. Too young to be weirded out. The narrative I chose to deliver has now become one more truth that he will measure future stories about sex, love and child bearing against.

“How does the baby come out?” He asked.

“A woman body is amazing,” I said with wonder. “It widens for the baby to come out from between her legs. They in narrows again.”

“Really? It can do that?”

“Yes,” I answered. “Isn’t it amazing?”

 

 

 

Advertisements

Horizon

30 Oct

peer

I had the morning off today and I took a long walk along the peer and looked at the water. It was a beautiful beginning-of-fall day, with a bit a wind, grayish skies, and a gloominess that makes you reminiscent and somehow pleasantly melancholy. I love this type of weather. I can sit for hours watching the waves and contemplating life, arriving at endless conclusions that have no practical implications on my life.

I stood there, leaning on the railing, looking at the horizon, and as always felt overwhelmed by the vastness of it all, so many possibilities, so many opportunities, an openness that the future seems to hold when you take time off work and stare into the ocean. It filled me with such hope and happiness that I had to take a picture, so I pulled out my phone.

Then I took a step back, and I noticed the railing, which was actually a fence, a barrier installed to keep people from falling or jumping into the water. A barrier keeping people from that vastness, from that openness, narrowing down possibilities and opportunities. I suddenly felt held back, constrained, angry even.

And there you have it. Like everything else, the peer on a fall morning is a completely different experience, depending on your perspective, and the narrative you choose to to organize your story in. You can look at the horizon, or you can choose to see the railing. You can allow the foamy waves to fill your heart with prospects and opportunities, or you can take in the impossibilities, the constraints.

A Piece of Advice from the Cheshire Cat

23 Sep

– I was just wondering if you could help me find my way.

– Well that depends on where you want to get to. 

– Oh, it really doesn’t matter, as long as…

– Then it really doesn’t matter which way you go.

cheshire cat

I have no fucking clue where I’m going, it’s difficult to even say where I am, and I certainly don’t know where I want to be.

Two roads are diverging in this yellow wood. One will lead to a reunion, mother, father and son, living together, sharing the same ‘boat’, caught up in a routine of joys and sorrows, pausing to become excited by first words, first days at school, first fights, first loves, first disappointments. Anyone who says I can have that without BD – and I’ve been getting that – is wrong. I can try to create a similar kind of closeness. I can’t have THAT.

The other road leads me to great passion and comfort. Not necessarily with a partner – I’m doing pretty well on my own these days – but maybe, at some point, that too.  This road is reliable. It will never fail me. It’s the road in which I learn to accept the fact that my son and I are a complete unit that lacks nothing. It’s a road that makes me feel empowered, because I do everything on my own and prove to myself that I can. Only, I already know that I can. Everyone in my life knows this too, including BD. So who am I so desperately trying to impress?

I can’t shake the feeling that I’m missing something, misinterpreting something. Being let down by men, picking myself up and doing it on my own – it’s a nice narrative. It just seems a little too easy. It doesn’t really feel like it’s my story.

Most of my life I’ve been very opinionated, impulsive, stubborn. I don’t feel like these words really describe me anymore. And though I realize that people change, and it’s a good thing, and I know that I’ve been through quite a bit, and my priorities have changed now that I’m a mother, now that I’m separated, now that we’re “working on the relationship” again… Still, I’m not sure I’m liking this new me. I’m not sure I’m ready to give up opinionated, impulsive and stubborn for reasonable, level-headed and accommodating.

Still a Little Yours

19 Jul

path

 

I tried to tell myself not to contact you again, especially when you were so explicit about letting go and moving on the last time we spoke. I don’t have your phone number anymore, and that makes things a bit easier. Still, I’m writing. Sometimes you have to be unreasonable. 

I just returned from four magical days in beautiful Berlin. It was lovely – quiet and calm, the exact opposite of the everyday turmoil of my life. This peace that I felt there, brought back memories, made me think of you, and I suddenly had a strong urge to know what’s up with you. Still at that same job? Have you read that book we talked about? Made any important decisions? Had any interesting thoughts? It’s not exactly longing, this feeling, well maybe a little. But mostly it’s an honest interest in someone who used to be a close friend, and suddenly I have no contact with him. 

This year has been the most challenging, interesting, emotional, turbulent year of my life, and you had a part in it. I often think about everything that’s happened to me, and even more about how I have dealt with it all, about the narrative I put together, that ties all these events together and gives them meaning. 

I think about the time we spent together and everything I’ve learned from it. You have a unique ability to see people. I still feel that you managed to see me in a way that I hadn’t been seen in a really long time. You’re sharp, and you think outside the box, and that’s because you don’t even live inside this box called ‘normal life’ or ‘Earth’ or ‘acceptable’. You live entirely outside of the box. But life sometimes calls for thinking inside the box. And I think it’s a huge challenge for us to find the balance – where do we consent to doing what’s expected of us, so that we can lead reasonable (that word again) lives, and where do we draw the line and refuse to cross it. I’m still looking for the balance, and maybe I’ll never find it, just as I may never figure this world out completely. That’s the beauty of this road I’m taking, that it’s full of plot twists, and dramatic changes, and lessons, and surprises, and I love each and every one of them, even when I hate them – I still love them. 

I understand today more than ever that I have the power to choose my own path, to live my life as I wish to. All the doors are open, the choice is mine, and all the possibilities that lay before me are good ones. I understand today that I can’t go wrong, as long as I stay true to myself. It looks like my narrative is changing again. 

I’m not writing you because I want to get back together, although a part of me would give anything to spend another senseless passionate night with you. But in the morning, I know we’d reach the same conclusion we have before. We both want different things. There is a huge gap between what we expect of a relationship and what we want from the future. 

They say that people fall in love, because it makes them see the best in themselves. When I was in love with you I felt that I was the most beautiful, the smartest, the happiest, the sexiest, the most special woman in the world. I think you felt the same with me. I hope so. Today, I just feel like I’m in love with life, in love with this journey. I hope you are too. 

Still a little yours.

 

 

 

 

Hit Me.

27 Feb

I’m not arguing with life anymore, I said to my therapist yesterday. I feel like I used to argue with life a lot. If something, even petty and insignificant didn’t go according to plan, I’d lose my inner peace and balance, I’d be genuinely upset. But I’m not arguing anymore. Life is full of twists and turns, it’s unpredictable as hell. But I have a sort of confidence that I can take it. So it’s not with anger, but with a sense of capability that I find myself telling life, OK, hit me.

Some unsettling news entirely unrelated to my boy-drama has kind of smacked me on the head, and made me remember, once again, that life has its own plans for us, like an overbearing mother who thinks she knows best, and we’re left sitting there, wide eyed, screaming our heads off in a fit, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! But life, just stares you down, doesn’t it? And I think we all know who’s going to blink first. Crying out, protesting, denying, throwing a fit, these will get me nowhere. So I’m not playing that game anymore. There will be no more NOOOOOOOs. If life wants to smack me on the head, maybe I need a good smacking.

INTERPRETATION. Like a recovering alcoholic, I’m beginning to learn to accept the things I cannot change, and summon the courage to change the things I can. The dry facts cannot be changed. The narrative can. And we do not live for dry facts, we live for narrative. What we’re not always aware of is how much capacity we have to write and rewrite, and rewrite our narratives again and again. This was mine, only a few months ago: Surviving betrayal. Or Ah ah ah ah staying alive. It’s the story of a single mom, who’s been abandoned by a man she loved and trusted, but managed to survive the flood, to function as a mother, and discovered she had a stronger backbone than she ever imagined, and an amazing support system.

Then, when it became clear that I was going to survive, the narrative became useless. I didn’t need it anymore as a way of explaining to myself what had happened to me. So I wrote a new narrative, and it was called: A New Me Or Take these broken wings and learn to fly. This was the story of a woman, who’s not just a mother, but an entire person, who discovered that she was more than a caretaker. She had wants and needs and they deserved to be met. But, lo and behold. This too soon became irrelevant. Lesson learned.

Finally, a third narrative is being constructed as I write these lines. This one takes the dry facts of my separation, my boy-drama, and the difficulties of a close friend and tells a completely different story. It’s called: Hit Me. It’s called: I don’t know why the fuck this has to happen, but as long as it’s happening, let me see if I can achieve something along the way. 

I think I’ve quoted Einstein in this blog before, saying that crisis is sometimes a necessity for growth. So here’s a brand new narrative, and M, if you’re reading, I’m sharing this one with you. There was once a girl who had some bad shit happen to her, and it wasn’t fair. She was able to overcome a lot of it, and she reached a better place in life, but some of that shit was still troubling her, it was holding her back. Then, one day, this completely bullshit, cock-sucking, donkey-fucking piece of crap happened to her and smacked her hard on the head, in a way that only such dramatic events can. She took a moment to breathe and recover from the shock, and then she quoted Dürrenmatt’s old lady from that play and said: “If the world turned me into a whore, I shall turn the world into a brothel.” Or some other less vulgar way of saying I’m ready to fight back.

Now, just in case this girl isn’t able to see that far yet, I want to make sure she knows how this story ends. Not far down this road this whole mess is behind her. Except now, she is stronger and more capable than she’s ever been before. She feels like she can face anything, do anything, and live a life that fulfills her and makes her truly happy. And when she gets there she celebrates her rebirth with her closest friends eating waffles with sour cream and apple sauce and a dash of cinnamon.