FreeCell is the most amazing thing in the whole world - bar none!
A pile of cards tossed onto my screen in random order end up slowly but surely in four nice little stacks in the top right hand corner of my computer. I can carefully refresh my browser until I get a pile of chaos that looks not-so-chaotic thus making sure I win. When I'm done I can hit "Play Again" and the near-orgasmic pleasure of doing nothing but stacking cards on a screen starts all over.
This has been my main focal point for the last several weeks.
Of course I do dishes, make the bed, eat good meals. I go for hikes in the hills and walks on the beach. I spend minimal time with friends and continue to explore this new loving relationship. But mostly I play FreeCell. Come to think of it - I think I'll take a little break from writing and play another round.
Now I feel better
Actually I don't. The game itself creates a sort of tension in my body - a cheap, low-grade excitement that isn't quite relaxing. It distracts my mind from thinking about....thinking about...actually I don't know what.
I see that I have learned over the many years of mindfulness training to not allow my mind to get lost in clinging to thoughts of life with Tad. Today I have the skills to notice the urge to hang out in the past, to wish the present were not what it is or to yearn for something that can't be. And thankfully I can stop myself. Engaging in those thoughts brings me some joy but mostly it brings me sorrow. Life is so full of good things. Being alive is so full of pleasure that I don't see the use in setting in motion my incredibly well-designed imagination to create worlds that are not real.
When I mention this to folks I imagine them saying to themselves "Aaah denial! Such a great little trick we play on ourselves! Well - we'll see how long it takes for that to bite you in the butt."
This is similar to the thoughts I imagine people having when I mention that I have started seeing a delightful man: "Humpf...well that's not very respectful of Tad, is it? That flight into a new relationship will no doubt catch up with you sooner or later."
(I haven't entirely learned how to manage my imagination - as you can see.)
If I take the time to see the bigger picture - something this blog allows me to do - I see that I am in a liminal phase of this whole grief thing.
I am standing on the top of a hill at a gate. Below me is a big new life; both the continuation of my present life and something new and different. It is stunningly beautiful and calling out to me but behind me is a field, the one where I met Tad. And it too is so gorgeous - so full of life and love, tenderness and tragedy, beauty and respect. So full of fond memories.
I am standing in the gateway, my hand on the old wood post. I feel the urge to take that first step into the new field sweeping out below me but just can't seem to do it. So I stay here trying to keep my focus on my feet on the ground and get the lay of the land.
I have engaged in a lot of homework of what that future life might look like. I've read reams of IRS documents to understand incorporating (and see more clearly how the rich get richer). I've spoken to experts in mortgages, first-time homebuyer programs and looked at places to buy in Santa Cruz. I've explored retirement accounts legislation and done endless calculations and simulations.
But I keep coming back to non-movement for the moment - to this idea that now is not the time to make big change happen.
In all fairness this is actually good news coming from a man for whom "diving in" has always been the antidote to anxiety.
Feeling a little shy at a party? Go chatter with 12 people back to back!
Feeling unsure about a job? Read 10 books in three hours then start the next day.
Feeling uncertain about how to express affection for someone? Jump in bed!
Here is a glimpse into the thoughts:
I don't want to call Tad's dad because I'm afraid it will hurt too much even though I think about him everyday. I enjoy looking at the many photos of Tad around the house but digging through his stuff is too much for me so I don't. The memory of his precise smell, texture of his skin, or sound of his voice has mostly faded. I could just listen to all the voice mails I've saved but don't. I avoid the Goodwill Store for fear I'll see one of his shirts for sale. I an aware when I do activities I wouldn't have done in his lifetime because he was so shy and think "Ah Tad and I never did this". I don't feel the raw emotions of our fight with cancer or the weeks surrounding his death. I get to have my life focus back on me.
But then there's the emotion. I carry this deep conviction that if I don't express the sorrow it will somehow build up like clutter in a neglected bedroom and haunt me one day.
So I try to let myself feel sadness and cry when the urge comes up without clinging to thoughts. In fact recently in the shower I purposely let myself bring up lots of thoughts of Tad and his illness, the tragedy we crossed through for months on end. And I was able to cry a bit - but it didn't last long.
The spontaneous crying tends to happen at two different moments:
1) when I am hungry and/or tired. Twelve steppers use the acronym HALT - Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired- to recognize when it's time to stop everything and do some self care.
2) When I simply stop my brain and settle into beautiful sweet silence - but this doesn't happen every time. Lying on the ground in a mountain meadow, feeling the gentle silent wave after a climax or sitting in meditation at my local sangha bring me incredible joy. And sometimes these situations bring heaving tears of sorrow (usually mixed with joy).
This is in fact the closest I come to heaven as an atheist; the closest I get to the "place where God lives"; those deep moments of silence that spur the joyful tears.
In those moments I am so alive and yet so aware of death.