(Just Like) Starting Over

So much to say, so much to share that all the words and thoughts run into each other and tumble pell-mell into a mental smoothie,  which I reread, and decide to delete.  So my first commitment to reader and self, is I will not delete this post.  But warning, there are triggers in this for those who have been abused.

“It is time to spread our wings and fly..Just like starting over..” was the soundtrack for my hike yesterday. (Hey NPR had a whole show on how this is a real thing, not that I needed proof it was real, but who doesn’t love validation.)  John Lennon was talking about a woman and rekindling the relationship, my heart was singing to Father Sky and Mother Earth, the best friends, family and lover that I have ever embraced, neglected or ignored.

No prose, poem or picture could convey the world I walked in the last two days. The two hiking spots are only 20 minutes apart but different altitude zones and could be on different planets.

The first was aspen, pine and lake view, heavily travelled, partially paved and hardly hiking. The crows were plentiful, gophers, chipmunks, cacti and unfortunately trash were pretty much everywhere. I strolled through nature’s mall smiling and greeting visitors from literally all over the world on their way back to Phoenix from the Grand Canyon. Took a dozen group pics at least with phones, pads and cameras. No language barrier exists when you smile and pantomime, and gratitude and laughter have no nationality.

The second hike was around the cone of a volcanic eruption, higher elevation meant constant wind, scrub pines and few cacti, birds or visible mammals. Instead it was the spirits posing as upended roots and laughing rock faces from which the insects, lizards and the tiniest snake I have ever seen peeked out to see who was intruding on their spring festivities.  No pavement here and one very steep incline. A forest fire was frighteningly visible downwind from the crest.

I have not given up planning for and dreaming of doing first the Arizona Trail and then the full Appalachian Trail.

I am definitely NOT thinking about romance. Everything is always so perfect until it isn’t, and the most recent surface charmer gave me clues he was a dishonest, narcissistic abuser but he would claim such good intentions and play my kind heart like a well-practiced piano, and I would forgive him.

I was foolish and paid a high price for this education.

“No, never!” means the same regardless of how far a relationship has advanced.  He claims it was an accident, he was carried away in the moment, he loves to tell the story emphasizing the fact I have PTSD from my time in the military.

He should know, Early in our relationship I shared my most horrific adult memory, a trust I had to that point only shown to my therapist, I was the first woman in my field and an officer and local spiritual leader assaulted me and I was told that if I pursued and action my military career and future would be over. It was more than 30 years ago, and the story I realize too common even now that things are beginning to change.

So imagine my shock and devastation when his arms held my arms down and he ignored my protests and did to me what I had said would never happen again.

I was in shock. I had just officially moved in with him, I had no place to go, I was the common denominator, it must somehow be my fault, he was crying and saying he was sorry, I couldn’t think. I couldn’t feel. Because if I let go the numb even a tiny bit, the pain would destroy me.

I was ashamed. What was wrong with me?! How could I be here again?

This was December. Merry Christmas.

The interesting thing about narcissists is they are very believable because they believe their own lies, Whether it’s the 5’5″ man saying he is 5’8″ or the same guy telling you and the world that he is just doing his best and that he loves and cherishes me and I am just broken. And like my father he is the kindest, smoothest, most generous and charming man in the world until he isn’t, then after the damage is done he is all tears and apologies and please help me be better.

Except that is not my job.

And it is the greater cruelty to even ask me to help you be okay with raping me. Because that is what you did is called. Straight up honesty, and somewhere under the darkness and shame we both know it.

So it is embarrassing to say, it took me until I was hiking this weekend to absorb the frog in the boiling pan way I ended up in the same place, the same relationship space, where I am literally taking care of a cruel, conscienceless child man and calling it love.

I don’t wish him any ill. Whatever seed of Karma was maturing between us has flowered and I pray that he will gain honest self-awareness and finally pursue happiness instead of fleeting pleasure at the expense of all others. I pray for him what I pray for all of us: self-awareness; compassion and the self-love that comes from placing others first; physical, mental, and spiritual health; abundance.

There are details to clean up of money and possessions, the worldly detritus of broken commitment, but I am done and out and healing. Finally.

Not that I don’t find myself missing the way he made me feel like I was the world, or the safety of saying I was part of a couple in a world that values a woman more in a relationship, and trying to find an excuse or perspective that would let me go back there again.

Because that is how it works.

Ask any abuser or previously abused person.

But now that it is here, in black and white, I won’t go back.

And maybe one other strong, independent, smart woman like me will forgive herself for ending up falling for and staying too long with  a narcissist and find the strength to leave.