August 2014, probably among the longest months of my life. The days felt like decades and almost seems like another lifetime ago, it was another life ago. It was a month of enduring a nonstop decrepit emotional roller coaster ride. Like a classic wooden coaster, it was a jerky ride that without warning slammed to a halt in the middle of a loop or decent. It was one that jarred your neck and body leaving you with residual aches, headaches, and pain. The intensity left you feeling petrified as you waited upside down in suspense, praying you did not fall out of the cart. As the cart slammed on the brakes, your body plunges forward, only to be slammed back into the hard, plastic chair, a plethora of ideas and emotions flash through your mind. Every emotion, nuance, image, memory, thought lingered an eternity, yet, in fact, the journey through the mind is simply a split millisecond. This is how I describe the unconscious sense that divorce was inevitable, and this was a ride that I would continue to pass from the departure over and over again until I consciously found the strength and clarity and take good care of this brake alongside me. How did I never realize I was in control all along?
Still, the roller coaster hastened for me, I pushed the gas and lamented that I was an unwitting and unwilling passenger. After all, I stopped this now failing amusement ride 25 years back. At that time it was bright and shiny and I had been in love with the ride. It was filled with thrills and appeared to constantly be headed in a new direction, however just like a roller coaster it just goes in a big circle. My life with my ex-husband was the way, it was intoxicating, reaching the greatest highs and the lowest of the lows(the lows were subterranean).
That month my ex slept away from our home many nights, after provoking a fight. He would show in the morning, claiming exhaustion from sleeping in his car or at one of his guy friends. Even I didn’t feel that. He would blame me for not listening, not knowing, not being in tune with his feelings. I wish I would have looked more closely in the passenger next to me – not being in tune with his feelings(!?) – and see the passenger next to me was just another woman. However, I refused to admit my peripheral vision, this was the only ride I’d ever set foot on in the park. Instead, I steadily concentrated my focus forward, certain I was making progress, refusing to see all of the passengers, especially, the one next to me, boarding and de-boarding.
Whether you realize it or not, you get to know the passengers, their habits, their scents and their intentions. They all play their part. What’s the expression, people come into your life for a reason? Well, it’s true, even the ones who turn your stomach are there to educate us. Everybody who sees your cart leaves garbage or bags and valuable life lessons. There was one nauseating fellow who indulged in and out of my cart. Everyone loved this seemingly harmless guy… a large teddy bear with the dutiful understanding spouse who busily swept the steps of the cart. To continue with the metaphor, he sat next to me and my partner offered to protect me from the perils of the ride. I didn’t know whether to be more terrified by the slow turn of adequate or the passenger creeping nearer, and his hand on my knee. I was paralyzed because his wife conversed inane stories. Suddenly, the ride took a turn and normalized, in an instant, I was transported in my twisted new ordinary reality. My known passenger of 25 years returned from his urgent 9 pm telephone call (no he is not a doctor) he was the official website of distracted and anxious to cover the bill. Shaken by my experience I sought safety and refuge and shared my stranger danger story on the ride home. Guess what? He didn’t care. He didn’t care that his friend was really a dark fair ground miscreant, did not care at all because he was already off the ride and disappearing into the shadows himself. He was riding the brand new version, while I clung to the faded wooden and rickety tracks that provided warped comfort.
There were many other miniature stops and starts that left my mind and heart hurting, but the jarring truth that my for worse or better partner had parachuted off the ride and left me at the hands, literally, of a sewer rat filled me with an inconsolable ache as the trail in front of me disintegrated. Finally, as we derailed it propelled me to recognize that the controls were literally in my hands. As instantly as I knew that the ride was falling apart piece by piece, I also understood that I had the capacity to get off the ride at any time. It was liberating to see who was dressing. At times, tunnel vision returnedfear consumed me and I prayed for someone to save me for the ride to repair and for the identical sick, but comfortable loop to re-establish. I was scanning, trying to find the exit. Although, I bought my ticket years ago, and I screamed with artificial delight, true fear and red-hot anger burned inside me as we looped our way up and down, yet my voice still lacked strength, devotion and an unwillingness to change direction. August continued to plod on. From time to time, I watched the ride in slow motion. Still, the experience of the degenerate fair groupies lingered and faintly illuminated my path. Slowly I turned my head and looked around, it was shocking to see this former masterpiece which once represented such promise was rotten and fractured beyond repair.
Methodically, I grabbed the brake and started to apply pressure. I knew I couldn’t handle another sudden, uncontrolled stop, however, I eventually realized I could control the speed at which I would make my inevitable death. I called the one person who refused to ride the rides, the one individual who patrolled the park, the man who the rats dreaded, my father. Patiently and without hindrance he waited for my ah ha moment. He witnessed, with despair, but without interference, the decrease of the wooden roller coaster. He cringed and watched as it(as I) fell deeper and deeper into despair and when finally at the end of August I explained,”I’m scared, but I’m ready, show me the way”, he held my hand as I pulled the brake and stepped off the ride.
Unwaveringly, he continued to hold my hand, saying phrases of empowerment,”you can eat an elephant, but you have to do it one bite at a time,””know your enemy”, keep a cool head”, and”be strategically and tactically prepared.” He didn’t save me, he enabled me. With shaky legs, I firmly stepped and altered my course, leaving behind the depraved world where I had become enamored. At the risk of another fair metaphor, it was like the House of Mirrors, the truth was hidden in illusion. My path was lit and with shaky conclusion the world in which families no longer boarded together, single passenger lines split couples, the constant of the ever-changing passenger and drifters insidiously construction and rebuilding our roller coaster was left behind. It was being lost.
As I linger in August of 2017, I recognize that August 2014 was a month of not surprising abrasive stops, but a month of spontaneous demonstrations. The universe kept sending me stronger and more powerful messages until I was no longer able to restart the ride. My journey across the garbage-filled park, navigating the paper stained map, has been arduous. Sometimes I wandered aimlessly or relegated in the direction of a new thrill ride, but ultimately a silent determination took hold and one foot before the other, I found that the exit. Finally, after three decades, August to August, I’m exiting the fairgrounds. The worn out and exhausted fair groupies aren’t worth a mention.