It’s been almost one year ago to the day that I stepped out the doorway of my mainstream life, and into the threshold of a lovely uncertainty.
A day I’ll never forget, September 26, 2009.
The day was crisp, yet still simmering with traces of summer. The morning was cool but the air warmed as the enormous orange, bright- star filled the sky. I called and asked my friend Susan if she would meet me at Piedmont Park. I told her I had important things to say to her, significant questions to ask. She obliged and told me to park in her parking lot so that we could walk over together.
I knew where she lived, although I had never been to her house before. As I pulled in the lot of her mid-rise Art-Deco Condominium, my heart zipped and skipped what seemed like a thousand beats! I felt as if I had a row of humming birds buzzing in my chest and they couldn’t get to her fast enough!
I was wearing a black jersey skirt with a matching black sleeveless hooded sweatshirt. I wore mid-calf high lace up sneakers that made me feel bold, but silly. The combo was perfect for the chilly morning, but by the time I met her, the heat had engulfed the city. While driving, droplets of sweat began creeping between my breasts and my thighs felt slippery from the lotion. I was boiling!
She met me and we walked and chatted nervously as we crossed Piedmont Road and headed into the park. I distinctly remember feeling dizzy. We passed a few bushes of flowers that looked electric as if I were on LSD. All of my senses were heightened. I could feel every strand of hair coming out of my head. I smelled burning flesh as the rays of sun hit my face. I heard the high pitched choir of birds, and the scrambling and bickering of squirrels.
We passed people on bikes, runners, walkers, lovers, friends, families; and mutts harnessed at the end of long leashes. I spotted a swing by the lake (facing the track), and asked her if we could sit down. The two-person “front porch” style swing was old and looked loved on, many times over by Mother Nature. But even so, it was inviting and will forever be my favorite swing in the park.
I sat next to her and slightly angled so that I was somewhat facing her. Our legs were elevated by the height of the swing as we moved them back and forth uncomfortably. Up until that point I hadn’t really looked in her eyes, and when I did, I felt like I’d fallen into a raging river! They were soft and kind; and filled with the color of floating June grass in the Gulf tide. Her smile looked delicate and I noticed the outline of her character filled dimples. She was grinning playfully and I noticed the sharpness of her cute, canine tooth. I wanted to graze it with my pointer finger and feel it against her sealed lips. I took in every ounce of her petite and sturdy frame. I wanted to hug her and never let go.
My head was spewing data but I was having a hard time speaking. I knew I was smiling because my cheeks hurt and my jaw was tired. I finally spoke and severed the connected tension between us. I told her it was over between Jon and me. I asked her what I had to do or give her before she would see me. I asked her if my divorce needed to be finalized first, arguing that it would take a while. I asked her if she needed to see some sort of contract in the works first. I pleaded with her, telling her a contract would take at least eight weeks or more. I was willing to wait, but I didn’t want wait any longer.
I’d spent the previous year falling in love with her and I knew what I wanted. The eight weeks prior to September 26, 2009 intensified as our friendship deepened and moved towards an emotional attachment. I spent those eight weeks hanging off the cliff of my marriage. The weekend prior I actually told Jon I was leaving but my guilt pulled me back. The guilt chained me for a few days but eventually a greater force took over and I broke free.
During that I time I was back and forth with her as well. At one point I told her I couldn’t talk to her anymore but that only lasted a few days. I was miserable without her in my life on some level. We always said to each other,” no matter what,” we always wanted to be friends-no matter. We didn’t want to destroy our friendship, nor did we want to lose faith or trust in the other. We played by the rules and did everything possible to respect each other and my marriage.
I told her and she agreed, “ I had to try harder at home.” I had to put our friendship aside for a while. But in my head the only reason I was doing it was to say, “I tried!” I was only pretending to make an effort so that things would be right with her when we could start seeing each other. I thought by doing the “right” thing; we could be together without any regrets or guilt. I knew I was staying for the wrong reasons. I wasn’t being authentic to anyone. It was very hard and it took a lot of courage, but I finally told him I didn’t want it to work between us. I admitted to him that I was only sticking around for selfish purposes. In the end, my honesty was the right thing. I didn’t love him the way I should’ve. And I loved her with a love I’ve never felt before.
I didn’t know I was in love with her until the plane ride home from Park City, Utah back in August of 2009. I was flying high above the Western blue-skies trying to drown out my complete and utter disappointment at the thought of going home- back to my husband. I was listening to my iPod while writing. Ironically, or maybe not, my I-pod started playing ” Susie Q.” by Credence Clearwater Revival. Instantly, chills rose up in ridges along the soft flesh of the insides of my arms; suspiciously as if denying the question, “Why does she move me?” I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I wanted to hug her so bad it hurt. She was my friend, my confidant- Susan. I constantly asked myself, why I am so attracted to her – her spirit, her soothing nature. I wanted to hold her and whisper my fears.
I met Susan three years ago when I started seeing a chiropractor for the numbness and tingling down my right arm. She worked as an assistant, untangling my twisted nerves.
She kneaded and worked out the kinks and knots, asking me, “Is it too much?” I was in heaven. She knew how to calm me.
She always brought Tasha, her Terrier rescue to the office. Tasha, like Susan made up for what she lacked in size with her personality. Her coarse, short yellowish hair stood up tall along the ridges of her spine, just like her humans. They were like two halves in a pecan shell! I saw so much in each of them I wanted to love and nurture. I wanted them to let me in if only for a visit. I made it my business to win their trust as they both were always on guard-a learned response of their pasts. Little Tasha’s eyes were like that of a wounded forest fawn. I immediately understood her and made a point to try and bring out her displaced spunk. Once she familiarized herself with me she would climb up on me, comforting me with her warmth.
Slow and steadily, I was allowed to peek inside. I began to see Susan as this beautiful light, and I wanted to see her shine! She always greeted me with a hearty laugh and open arms. Weekly, I left the office feeling alive, like after leaving a Southern Baptist Revival and having a demon rebuked from my system.
We spent many therapy sessions talking. One day the conversation turned in the direction of my mother. The office was cool that day. I was face up on the traction bed while she sat a short distance behind me. I told her how I was trying to come to terms with my mom, and more importantly, myself. She acknowledged my repressed rage and suggested I hadn’t really begun to deal with my mother up to that point. She said I was only “crossing the bridge,” or basically I was just getting there. The idea never occurred to me, all along I thought I cleansed myself of my mother’s drugs.
While I was on the table listening to her, she placed electrodes on my hips. The electric device send little shock waves which help with blood flow to injured tissue, as well as reduce swelling. The vibrations went away and the sensation of “shock” was overcome and replaced by a deep, wretched twist in my stomach.
Usually the strongest source of pain masks any other pain you’re experiencing at the time. For example, when a woman receives an epidural needle in her spine she doesn’t feel it because of the excruciating contractions. I felt so connected to her at that moment, my heart wanted to jump out of my chest and into her arms. For the first time, someone actually understood me and treaded lightly.
That was the day my soul expanded and a soliloquy of Susan filled the space. Although her message was profoundly true and dreaded, her voice felt so good, as if she blew a beautiful and meaningful breath of words. “The fear of what you will find is usually worse than what you find.” It was as if her words were like a tiny prick to my emotional balloon. The air started to feel safe enough to travel out into the unknown. When I left the office that day, it was the first day that I almost, seriously cried, and I hadn’t cried in years! I sat in my car and tried orienting myself to the unusual, yet natural sensation. I’d been so frozen I couldn’t even thaw enough to cry. As I sat in my car, I felt the telling “lump” rising in my throat as I swallowed hard, not to feel any of it.
After that emotional experience in the office with Susan, I started calling her on a regular basis. She earned a spot in my heart as a trusted and loyal friend. The first time I called her was because I needed to talk to someone with substance regarding an emotional issue around my mother. I didn’t want to call anyone else other than my good friend and writing buddy Chris, who at the time was headed to dinner with her husband. She knew I needed to talk and invited me to dinner with them, but I decided to call Susan instead. Although I didn’t realize it then, that was the first hint of our spiritual connection. She too had been having a tough evening. She was dealing with one of her ex’s, and it was right around Greg’s birthday, her deceased brother.
I started seeing more and more of Susan socially during the summer. Not only did we teach classes at the same gym, but I also started playing water volleyball with her and her friends. My husband and I became regulars on game days. Those days were full of delights! They were filled with laughter, singing, playing, and noticing her strong, sexy body in a navy bikini. Things shifted a little towards the end of summer, I didn’t know how or why it was happening but I became attracted to her physically.
My thoughts bounced around like kids in a moonwalk. Nothing stuck except my feelings for her.
This song kept looping in my head like a hula- hoop circling my torso.
“Because your momma’s name was lonely and your daddy’s name was pain and they called you “little sorrow” because you’ll never love again.” So why you wanna fly blackbird? You ain’t never gonna fly. You aint’ got no one to hold you. You ain’t got no one to care. If you would only understand it, nobody wants you anywhere. So why you wanna fly blackbird? You aint never gonna fly.” Nina Simone, Black Bird.
I thought my life had ended up that way, and I wanted to break free from the cage. I didn’t want to fly. I wanted to soar!
I wanted it despite my fathers voice ringing in my ears, “Why can’t you ever just be still?” “Why can’t you ever do anything?” I had a dream once that Jon told my Father I was in love with a woman and my Dad said, “I’m not really surprised.” Interestingly enough, that’s pretty much what he said when I told him about Susan. I decided to go against the voice inside my head; it wasn’t my fathers, but my demons. I knew I had an incredible ability to love myself and that gift is in all of us.
The thought of leaving Jon scared me powder white, but I felt so despondent and alone. I knew if I’d stayed there I would’ve spiraled down into a deep, funnel cloud. The more I thought about it, the tighter the grip felt.
I felt wrapped up and cocooned in a filmy shell. I was coming undone. I was squirming inside the membrane, trying desperately to crack the surface of my interior. I couldn’t stay in there forever.
I had to grow my own wings and expansion requires transformation. I couldn’t stay where I was and expect different results.
The sprouting has been toilsome, but I ascended a tall stalk!
In one year, I have learned how not to shut down, and if I do, I know how to pry myself out of it. I am able to sit with my emotions, and understand and accept them. I can see myself for who I am and for the most part I am ok with that person. And most importantly, I am learning how to take responsibility for my actions.
I am in a rewarding and honest relationship. I freed myself from self-imposed walls. I allow myself to be seen and known by another human. I am so grateful to Susan for giving me a safe place on which to perch.
I fantasized about the day I could honestly love her- the way she deserves to be loved and the way I deserve to love. That day has come and I am celebrating it! We are celebrating our one-year anniversary on Sunday. This is such a huge milestone for us, as she would say “four-seasons!”
We’ve worked so hard, my emotions are not of this world – they exist despite my efforts. I bonded to her like a newborn hatchling. I found and knew her everywhere. And she knew me everywhere too and we were/are somehow always connected spiritually.