October 29, 2012

Dieser Weg

Aquarius, 2012 is your year to shine!


That is what my yearly horoscope said this January.


It’s funny, really. It also said that Jupiter would place importance on long-buried family issues in the first half of the year. It also said that the stalemate us Aquarians must have felt during 2011 in terms of work was just a time of collecting ideas and experiences that would be put to good creative use this year under the auspices of Saturn. It also said that Venus would make herself cozy in my chart between April and August, and predicted travel in September.


I got divorced in May.


I am mentally refinancing my dissertation.


And on August 12, I was never so happy to cross a border in my life.


Back in 2010, during my year in the States, I was a hyperinflated version of myself, and I was high on it. Self-knowledge came in books, time zones, happy hours and strange beds. It came in everything that was not my home, my marriage, and my comfort zones. I was needy and loud, actively unwilling, hungry for myself and reckless as only a God’s child can be.


It was not the devil that made me do it. It was loneliness.


I was lonely beyond words. I had been lonely for years.


Some six months ago, between moving out of my old home and the divorce hearing, I imagined the next phase of my life. After a year of extroversion, exposing myself to more emotional vulnerability than I knew what to do with and getting intoxicated with each new experience, I saw months of introspection, circling the wagons, and very probably more solitude than I could bear. Being one half of a team would be replaced by the hollow bang of nothing but my own thoughts. The new freedom of time and space would feel denser than a black hole, and I felt weaker than when I had to slip on an invisible protective armor around my person when I was thirteen. I had not known human connection then, not the kind I was looking for anyway, not my kind of connection, and it was easier to just zip up and shut myself off.


I know what the next phase brings. It will be a test of patience and big picture thinking. I am an impatient little devil. I do not ask for much, and God knows I am willing to do the work myself. But I usually know what I want, and I want it NOW. I am looking at a marathon effort of toiling away without the promise of immediate gratification. A mental hill that at times feels too steep for my drained faculties. An emotional deferment that leaves me raw, sensitive and vulnerable.


It is like swimming across an ocean. You keep your head above water and your eyes on the horizon. The Sun, the Moon and the stars are all there, venerable guides and companions. You know you are worthy, you know you have it in you, and it is not difficult to spot the level geometry of that beautiful line that splits - or connects - sky and water. It is distant but clear. But the journey is still made up of individual strokes against a medium that provides buoyancy as much as it does resistance, each of which takes its toll on the muscles and bones, the head and the heart. And when someone says they will be here, for you, with you, whether to throw you a pair of flippers to make you go faster or get in the water with you to swim alongside, and then they don’t, they might as well have pulled you back a hundred miles by the feet. Then, next to living, breathing, loving creatures one can still feel terribly alone.
Manche treten dich, manche lieben dich
Manche geben sich für dich auf
Manche segnen dich, setz dein Segel nicht
Wenn der Wind das Meer aufbraust


  1. There is one section of this post that absolutely cut me to my knees because it tapped into to something that loomed so large over my entire life...for YEARS. And the way you approach it then share the realization...God it hit so close to home I shed tears because that wound though healing is still so raw.

    "It was not the devil that made me do. It was the loneliness.

    I was lonely beyond words. I had been lonely for years".

    Loneliness nearly drove me to suicide and I NEVER knew it was an issue with me. I was so fucking smug and so damn good at lying about how good things were. I was the poster child for feeling alone in a crowd.

    For another person to identify loneliness as a culprit...well it was a shock...and a blessing.

    I have not processed the rest of your post...I feared that if I did I would lose what I wanted to say here so it is probable there will be another comment or two.

    On another serious note...I hope you are in contact with your Love on the Chesapeake and I hope to GOD he isn't physically there right now because BIG and BAD shit is going down with the weather right now with Hurricane Sandy. My prayers are with him & the whole upper east coast of America right now, they are getting pummeled..

    More later Friend...

    1. It was my therapist in the States that brought about the realization for me, T. I described my situation never once using the word "lonely," but he used it in describing what he had actually heard me say. It's funny how, beside all the empathy from friends and family, sometimes it takes an emotionally uninvested stranger to legitimate your feelings.

      Solitude is such a natural state of being for introverts that sometimes even we forget how thin the line is between self-sufficiency and loneliness. Even though I recharge from within, I am still a human being invested in many relations and relationships.

      Smugness is another thing I am guilty of myself. These past two years have been a huge eye-opener in terms of arrogance and "it could never happen to me" kind of thinking.

      Thank you for the prayers and kind wishes. It was an intense and crazy night, but he is safe and sound.

      Thank you for commenting my friend, take good care of yourself.

    2. I can tell you C that nothing deflated my arrogant smugness like waking up 10 days after my suicide attempt and not only realizing that I had failed at failure (suicide being my ultimate idea of a failed life) but the first time I looked in the mirror I saw there was still dried black charcoal solution around my mouth from when they tried to pump my stomach!

      But I find it revealing that you too have made the connection between some of your past behavior and the ultimate result that came as a result of it.

      My friend, you are truly an amazingly resilient human being...you have come to important...no they are in my opinion, critical realizations about life and taking responsibility for your actions that will only serve you well in the future...a future that I suspect is limitless and quite bright as you move from past...to present and beyond.

      That "It will never happen to me" line of thinking gets the best of some very smart people every time. I have found that TRUE humility is the absolute KEY to strength in living this life...it has been for me and many people I personally know (In recovery and rape recovery circles) who I have immense respect for.

      The last point that I totally agree with you on is about that razor thin line between self-sufficiency and loneliness. As I mentioned I too never realized I was lonely until well into recovery. And if I am not careful today (again I'm talking humility here)I'll find myself acting like I know it all and don't need anyone in my life again. That's right, after all that has happened I will revert to the same loner behavior I exhibited before...It's totally insane!

      Glad to here all is safe and sound...the images of the Jersey Shore, NYC and the rest of Eastern Seaboard of which I am very familiar are absolutely SHOCKING. I hope you were able to get in contact with him and didn't have to agonize in silence for a long period of time.

      After I wrote that comment I actually wondered if I should have held off mentioning it because I had no Idea where he was or what you knew. I didn't want to upset or worry you unnecessarily. I'm happy all is well...

    3. I recently wrote to a friend that, like life tends to serve us the same lesson over and over again until we've learned it, I also think that life serves us the same opportunities until we have finally taken them. We may never learn some lessons and we may never take certain opportunities, but that does not mean they are not there. Not only did you learn your lesson with your 'failure at failure' [btw I am amazed at your frankness in talking about it], you also took that opportunity to turn your life around completely. That is fantastic. The humility you have found will make sure to keep you in check so that you never think you are done with making that change but keep making it every single day.

      Taking responsibility... that is a dodgy one with me. I am hyper-responsible with many things, most things in fact. But there are some where I seem to run away from responsibility and whine like a child, "I'm too weak," "I can't deal with this right now," or "It's not my fault, why should I fix it?" If and when I figure that one out, you can be sure I will be writing about it :)

  2. In truth we are all truly lonely. We are sole beings that can connect physically briefly with others, but the emotional connections that we all crave are, when you think about it, created in our minds, no more real than dreams. As always your gift for introspection and expression is breathtaking. You're wasting your time on that PhD. You need to write poetry for the world to see instead of the small audience you have here.

    1. Phil,

      You just earned yourself a big hug if and when we ever meet. This not only made me laugh out loud [as I clearly suck at this PhD business :P], but made my day as well. Thank you humbly. It is a great and melancholy point you make here, and one that makes me go back to my baroque lit class and Calderon de la Barca's La Vida Es Sueno, where poor shackled Sigismund asks if life is a dream between two awakenings or an awakening between two dreams, and wonders at the cruelty of both.

  3. Ahhh Chris. I am new here. And following a similar journey I suppose...as if there is a "similar". None the less, the post and the comments have left me panting for this: "sometimes it takes an emotionally uninvested stranger to legitimate your feelings." It is a basic human need to be understood. Loneliness has been, and seems to be, the whole banquet. There must be something more. And I am haunted by the notion that I am incapable of anything else. I'll be digesting this awhile. Thank you so much for sharing it.

    1. Hello Unlocked, and welcome.

      There are not many of us here, but things get deep, especially in the comments section :) You have a similar thing going on at your blog, and I have been following in the background, trying to figure out an entrance for my own thoughts. Your writing is of that self-sufficient kind that bears no additions or embellishments, but causes a reaction that begs to be communicated. So I will work on that.

      Of course there is more than loneliness, and of course we are capable of much more. It was not a Weltschmerz kind of loneliness that got to me, it was loneliness in the one relationship that was supposed to be the exact opposite, and a surprisingly great deal of emptiness once it was gone. Time helped a lot.

  4. Yes, exactly that loneliness. I have been lonely my whole life, especially within my marriage. Still, I can not figure if I caused it. Somehow I am hoping I did. What I cause, I can fix...or so the delusion goes. Now I am lonely and alone, and realizing the two are not at all the same. It is difficult...the compounding.

    Self-sufficiency. So funny you should mention that. I act as if I have no need, but I had NO IDEA I wrote that way also. In childhood, there was no hope of having needs met. In adulthood, I find it is childish needs that have the largest footprint. Now that I am on my own here, anonymously blogging, I hope to attempt to write more authentically. Actually, I hope to live more authentically.

    1. I did not mean to say you wrote like you had no need, but that your writing was of that well thought-out, finished kind that is not published a moment too soon but when the time is right. Most of my favorite bloggers write like that, and when I comment, I like to do their writing justice.

      I wonder why you might say that there was no hope of having needs met in childhood? Or describe your adult needs as childish? I struggled for a long time to give legitimacy to my needs and wants, and felt petty and immature for having them. I found that sometimes they don't even need to be fulfilled, just acknowledged. Given space, and the right to exist. Then they pipe down and you can see them for what they are and tend to them with care. My partner could not give me that, nor will any new partner give me that. I had to give it to myself.

      It sounds like you think in big concepts and don't cut yourself much slack. "Cause" is a big word that requires your world to be forcefully arranged to fit it. There is no single cause in most cases, and besides, life is not about how much milk we've spilled, but how we deal with the clean-up and getting back on track. "Authentically" is another big, heavy word. Try breaking it down into what it really means to you? Personally, I am very much familiar with that kind of thinking, but I am also kinda done with it after three decades of self-flagellation. I am learning to be soft. er.

  5. My dear Chris
    Reading your post was like watching a movie, following each line to the next—the progression, the crisis and resolution, my breath skipping with the rhythm and then pausing like a musical score. Of course I want to take control of outcomes. I want to pamper you and surprise you with all things beautiful.

    Your writing presents like a banquet with so many delicious morsels to sample, each tasting better than the last, so much so that one hardly notices that they’ve been dropped into an ocean of marathon expectations. I am always with you in your writings. If you get wet, I get wet.

    Imagining you alone, swimming…that part pissed me off. I can still feel the indignation of it. But if I look carefully I can see a small boat with sturdy oars parting the lonely waters beside you. The stars moon and sun are your jewels. They belong to you and you alone.

    Get in the boat for a spell. It’s waiting.

    I really miss you. I have been doing a bit of swimming myself, which sucks up most of my attention. I find it hard to swim and do anything else. I find I have very little desire to engage with others. I guess I’ve become somewhat of a lurker. I know it’s selfish, but I have to do this, and when I reach the shoreline I know that my friends will be there with food and dry clothing. Please know that I am always here for you Chris. I will get out of the water for you;)

    Sending love,

    1. Dear Leah,

      You might have been holding my hand as I read this comment, that is how close and steadfastly supportive it felt. Your protective instincts wrap me up in a warm fuzzy blanket and hold me up while I catch my breath. I was pretty pissed off myself as I wrote that last paragraph, but am happy to say the situation has been lovingly resolved. That, plus now I know who to call when I want somebody's ass kicked! ;)

      I was recently reminded of how much I love the genre of lyrical essays, by accident. And it got me thinking that I might have subconsciously been moving in that direction with this blog. I abandoned the idea of becoming a career writer some 12 years ago, but this little black and grey website has given me much peace and beauty and friendship. I might give it a little more space, who knows. Life seems to be moving too fast and too slow lately.

      No need to get out of the water yet, at least not for me. I gotz it :) You keep swimming and do what you have to do. You were always good at discerning where you are and what you can and cannot do, and I learned from your example. Whatever shore you land upon, it will be grand.

      A thousand times - thank you for being here.


I thrive on interaction. All comments are welcome and will be replied to.