Running in the Shadow

It was one week ago yesterday that my life was turned upside down and shaken until all the loose change of experience, feelings, and memories rattled out of its pockets. I came home from work, following a long weekend of dogsitting, following a long week of work, and so on and so on, and, exhausted, fell asleep for several hours, fully clothed on top of my blankets. When I woke up, I felt as if I'd drifted into a nightmare as my partner of 5 years told me our relationship was over.

Most people soften the blow of their breakups, solicitously remarking that it was mutual, no hard feelings when pressed. This was not mutual. It was not even expected. There may not be hard feelings, but nor are they soft ones. To say that I was shocked would be an understatement. The rug had been well and fully ripped out from under my feet. The friends and family I told would remark, "But you two seemed so happy!" and I would reply, "I know, I thought so, too." It seems there was a lot about my relationship I didn't know, a lot of fears and doubts and anger that had been kept from me. I had thought we shared everything with one another, but so much had been bottled up that it was now impossible to breach the chasm that had suddenly opened up between us. Truthfully, that stung more than the separation itself. 

Many of my friends have never known me outside of this relationship. I've been involved with this man for the majority of my time in New York, so when they find out what has happened they look at me with worried eyes and ask if I'm going to be alright. The truth is, grief and loss is an old friend to me. Death, and the literal and figurative change it represents, is one of my birth cards in tarot, and I am no stranger to putting together the shattered pieces of the life I knew following a death or separation. I often joke that I have grieving down to an art form - cry for one to three days, spending less time in tears each day; accept the new reality; figure out what needs to be done to move forward; give myself space to cry once more when it hits me out of the blue in a week or six months or a year, then dust myself off and carry on. It would not be inaccurate to say that I'm more comfortable with pushing myself after catastrophe than I am with doing so when life is going well.

I've spent the last week sorting through my life, uncovering the causes of this sudden shift, and sheltering my battered and bruised heart from the storm raging within and around me. I've made and discarded plans, figured out temporary solutions to the tangled mess that is cohabitation following a breakup, and, above all else, thrown myself into the challenge of moving my life forward. If there's one thing I'm good at, it's taking all the energy that is now swirling aimlessly around with no relationship left to maintain and funneling it into every other aspect of my life. I've submitted to acting roles, attended auditions, booked a job interview, landed a likely permanent tarot reading gig, researched apartments in my neighborhood to get an idea of where I can move and how much it will cost, and spent a great deal of time on Pinterest and AptDeco as I mentally plan the new space I will inhabit (subject to change when I actually FIND a space). I've finally found the time/energy to write the blog post I've been promising myself I'd write for months (though the topic is different than initially anticipated...). 

I have also been fortunate to discover what an incredible support system I have in place. I've always been blessed in the friends and family department, but to see them spring into action has been awe-inspiring and humbling. From that first night, when my little sister stepped up and called me a cab to spirit me over to her apartment and we spent hours sitting on her kitchen floor, fantasizing about all the possibilities before me and laughing at her kitten's insistence at drinking out of my glass (and sometimes just sitting in shocked silence), I have been surrounded by love. Friends have taken me out for walks in the park or cheese plates at their apartment. Pictures of adorable puppies and kittens have been sent to cheer me up. My mom has checked in with me every morning. Friends of the family have checked to see if there's anything I need. Beds have been shared with me, couches have been offered. The hiring of hitmen has been threatened on more than one occasion. Every single witch in my friendship circle has offered up curses or performed spells for my own healing and happiness. Arrangements have been made to ensure I can roadtrip with friends up to Canada for a mutual friend's wedding in October, regardless of where I am financially at the time. And over and over again, I have been assured that I am strong, incredible, able to survive anything. 

And strong is something I know I am. I've been here before. I have never, nor will I ever, let the dissolution of a relationship break me. Right now I feel as if I'm waking up from a dream, coming out of a haze, remembering who I was, fully and completely, before I was half of a matched set. I look at the last five years and I'm not sure I recognize the person I was then, even just two weeks ago. I feel bolder, fiercer, more energized now. More ready to fight for what I want. I'm sure this feeling will subside a little, but I had forgotten what it was like to just be me. In the end, I know this will be a good thing even if I'm hurt and angry in the moment.

The hardest part now is the waiting to fully move on, being stuck in relationship purgatory until I can fully separate my life from his. I have plans to move in with my sister and a friend at the end of the summer, but that leaves me a month and a half of shuttling between my own apartment and those of friends', of feeling adrift and without a true home. A month and a half of seeing my cats in snatches of borrowed time. A month and a half of feeling caught between the person I was and the person I'm trying to become. The waiting game is always the worst, and while September will come sooner than expected the last week has already felt like a year. I miss curling up with my kitties at night, I miss feeling fully comfortable in my space, I miss feeling secure in my own life. When I'm done with something, I want to be DONE, gone, out of there, and it's always hard when circumstances dictate otherwise.

But liminal spaces and time are good things, whatever my impatient nature may prefer. They offer space for grieving, for processing, for healing. For finding a new source of income, for finding the perfect new apartment instead of jumping at the first opportunity that comes my way (a decision that would surely leave me miserable). For engaging with my shadow side and making sure I've left no painful demons lurking under rocks, waiting to leap out and surprise me at inopportune moments. And, at the very least, I've got a bright horizon ahead of me, something to look forward to and guide me as I push off into this next phase of my life. 

 

 
   Just me and my very happy cat.

Just me and my very happy cat.