I’m having this conversation with my 10-year old niece. She’s asking me about my Ex. How do you explain to a child that just because one person is blissfully happy doesn’t mean the other is feeling the same – or even if both people are happy, it still doesn’t mean there’s a happy ending to the story? How do you break it to them that life’s not a fairy tale?
I have a new guy in my world right now. We’ve been dating about two months now. I like him, but sadly, I don’t LIKE him. Always respectful, I would never lead him on or toy with him, but I’m also aware of this relationship’s limitations.
My childhood memories that I show you are usually horrific ones of an abused and scared little girl. I remembered this contradictory morning and wanted to share it with you. Not every hour and every minute was bad and perhaps that type of childhood is even more challenging – never knowing where on the spectrum of love and hate a moment is going to land.
It’s Saturday morning, not too early because even as a little kid, I was never a super-early riser. Perhaps it’s 8 or 9 o’clock. I’m watching Saturday morning cartoons from my spot on the floor at the end of the coffee table. In front of me is a half-finished Libby juice glass of “coffee” made especially for me by dad – three heaping tablespoons of sugar, probably filling 1/3 of the glass, 1/3 whole milk and the final third of coffee. Tasting more like dessert than bitter coffee, it’s delicious. Dad is sitting behind me at the dining table, reading the paper with his mug of black coffee in his hand. The rest of the family is still asleep. All is well.
Perfectly cooked crispy bacon
Being brought coffee in bed
My kitty, purring
The scent of freshly cut grass without the noise of the mower/blower
The warmth of the sun on my back
The air when I drive by the cookie factory
Fresh rain on dusty blacktop
Crescent moons on clear, chilly nights
Spooning in the dawn hours
The sound of my pencil on paper
Nutella, spooned straight from the jar
Crackling fires in Autumn
Being loved – despite all my faults
7 am Saturday morning – when I realize I have hours more to sleep
A new haircut
Spaetzle, fried crisp in butter
Nonsensical conversations in bed
Lindor Milk Chocolate Truffles
Napping to the sound of the washing machine
The very last center bite of buttery cinnamon sugar toast
Watering the backyard, barefoot, on a warm summer evening
Wind chimes in a gentle breeze
Sun-warmed tomatoes, straight from the vine
My Buddhist friend calls the myriad of possessions, relationships, events and beliefs in our lives “transitory clouds in an illusory sky”.
I’m a dabbling Buddhist at best, but this statement has resonance.
If we think of these “things” as clouds – changing, disappearing, migrating – it makes the rollercoaster of life essentially bearable.
When unwanted or unexpected change rears its head, our first reaction is often to cling or clutch for what we know, for the comfortable. If we see the absurdity in this grasping at clouds, it allows us peace with these things we cannot control.
It’s perceptive to find delight in a cloud’s formation and just as foolish to mourn its passing.
The mood here has been grey this week. My disappointment in myself for canceling the catering weighs heavy on me. I also broke off with the guy earlier this week. It was an inevitable outcome and kinder to do it now rather than wait until things got too muddled. Still, he was a good man and I take no pleasure in hurting him. I also miss him. Daily emails and phone calls have given way to silence. Midweek adventures have been replaced by quiet nights at home once again.
A year ago, if asked, I would tell you my daily happiness rank a 7.5 or an 8 on a scale to 10. Today, I feel like I’m struggling for a 4.