After Joan Didion‘s husband John Gregory Dunne died she wrote perhaps the best book of her entire career A Year of Magical Thinking.
I have been told that there is something incredibly liberating after the death of a loved one…as there definitely is after the end of a relationship. One can suddenly see everything so very clearly.
The only thing I miss about being in a loving relationship with another person is to check in, to share, to make sense of a troubled world.
Someone who is committed to listening as I am committed to listen.
Since last weeks end of relationship prose I have not only felt creative again but quite by chance have found what I was looking for..to be at peace. It was without doubt the answer to the most nagging of all my prayers. Was I, could I…am I even capable of making a relationship work.
The answer has to be a resounding NO.
I am not sad about this conclusion, in fact I have found much peace from finally answering this most perplexing of questions.
You will have your own ideas about this but for the time being I tell you I have found my equilibrium. It has been a very bumpy ride. Not just the past eight months but the past 50 years.
You see, he thought I was like the man he met on the TV…but I had been edited that way. Compassion and kindness are only a small part of who I am.
I want to write this blog entry just feeling the breeze on my face. Listening to music. There were days when I could not feel a thing I was so distrusting of him and full of fear. Within weeks of meeting Jake I found it hard to trust. Looking over our long email correspondence it is obvious that I become toxicly paranoid with those I say I love. I have felt the same with others..this is nothing new. You have said that he was too young. Well, I am not the sort of man who worries about age appropriateness. But I am the sort of man who frets about appropriateness.
I am blighted with the most gayest of disabilities: always wanting something better then..when something better comes along..strangling it to death.
There is a stigma attached to those of us who finally throw in the towel and accept singularity. Yet, my grandmother was a widow for 40 years. She owned her aloneness and for that I am very grateful. She was not a particularly loving human being, prone to complaint and curmudgeonly conversation yet she taught me that she would rather be alone than have someone in her life who would not compliment it.
I am sick of feeling guilty for the crime of being single.
My mother’s greatest fear for me was that I would die single. Well, baby, most people do. There are retirement homes crammed with human husks who will die today alone. They are unlikely to be missed, there is no hope of an obituary. They will die oblivious that they have been processed (three score years and 10) through the mill of modern humanity. Born, worked, reproduced, ate, died.
I stayed with Jason and Jennifer last night. Their marriage is tight but they bitch and complain like any couple. I watched this morning as Jason was thrown out of the piano room. He moped around for a little while then seemed to forget all about his gripe. I know from recent experience that this is no easy task. When I look back at the time I spent with Jake we seemed more often than not to be locked into some kind of squabble.
So, where have I found this peace and acceptance? Well, knowing, owning, accepting that I will be single for the rest of my life dovetails beautifully into the work I have been doing in therapy. The search for sex or relationships, the intrigue and flirtation and unrequited love has all been set aside. In doing so I have a clear head, clear enough to begin writing the chapter of my last years.
I am not and never have been lonely when alone. I have only ever felt lonely when I am in a relationship with another and they are not there.
Some people have few or no friends, are not connected to community, do not believe in God (I remain nondenominational) and most crippling of all: they are not creative. Without doubt I am most excited about how creative these years will be. If it is only me and my writing then I may as well marry my pen as soon as possible.
To say out loud that one has accepted absolutely ones destiny as God intends it is indeed the first hurdle to making sense of the rest of ones life.
Without Jake constantly in my head, without the fantasy of the great dark man, without the perpetual search for sex or sexual complication I can avail myself of some peace. I am more than middle-aged. I used to sneer at my Grandmother because it seemed to me that she had given up but the truth is: she had only just begun. A healthy relationship with one’s self takes as much time and energy as a healthy relationship with anyone else.
I have given up so much, things that others take for granted to get them through every day: drugs (prescription and recreational), alcohol, television, white flour, career, and now..romance. You’d think life would shrink..but quite the opposite seems to be happening.
The house in Malibu is set above the glorious ocean. The land around begs my attention. Sometimes I do not get further than the first step outside the house. Some days I cannot leave my bed. This is not the sort of life I want. If I am going to be single forever then I must start engaging with the land as I planned many months ago before I met Jake.
I am sure that some of you will think that I am just giving up for no good reason. Well, I am very sorry, I don’t buy your dream that there are ‘plenty more fish in the sea’, that there is ‘someone for every one’ etc. That is your dream. My dream is that I can be alone without resort to catastrophic thinking. I have lived on borrowed time for as long as I can remember. Everyday should be a delight! By cluttering my life with suspect romances I have only served to degrade the quality of the one thing I truly own.
I am grateful that I met Jake because in 8 months he has done more for me than almost anyone could have. Without realizing it he held a mirror to my face for long enough so I could see in startling detail just how ravaged I had become.
Relationships make me so unhappy. They bring out the very worst in me. I don’t like sharing my bed or my head with anyone. If I don’t like me when I am in a relationship how could anyone else?
In the night I think of him but as I have said many times before it is not him. It is the ghost of what never was.