It has been a long while since I have been motivated to write. Mostly because my dating life is nonexistent and work has taken over the hours of life formerly used to muse about relationships. But this week a string of odd occurrences of firsts or triggers of recollection of firsts was so strange that blowing the dust off this blog space seemed appropriate.
All of you astrologists and numerologists may find it interesting that the events centered around the sixth of February – whatever that is worth- and much of it has to do with addiction.
Here is what transpired…My mother called me on the 6th to tell me that a childhood friend had died the previous day. Though, sadly as my life moves through its fat middle, this is not the first friend that has passed on to the next incarnation but some odd coincidences surround it….
My first close friend to leave this life for the next was Lynn Dozier. I tear up even now remembering him and his tragic life. He was a smart, good looking boy from a wealthy, loving family who in an effort to escape a pain I will never understand since he seemed to have everything going for him, got into drugs as a teenager, starting with pot (of course) and ending after a few attempts at rehab at age 23 with an overdose of cocaine and god knows what else. His Birthday, February 6th, remains ingrained in my mind because for many years we celebrated our Birthday’s (mine being February 1st) by going to The Club (The Country Club of Virginia if you live outside of insular Richmond, VA) for a dinner of prime rib then off to the Circus which somehow came to town around that time every year.
Smith, the man my about whom my mother called, was my playmate as a young child. He was my constant companion from ages 3 to 7, an instigator of mischievous play, co-builder of forts, fellow honey suckle taster and the boy to whom I gave my first kiss at age 4 at the coaxing of his older brothers. I ran into him in my mid-twenties and alcohol and drugs had him in their powerful grip. I spent one evening with him which I cut short after he insisted on getting high and never saw him again. Although I have no idea how he spent his days for the last 25 years, I can only surmise by the early timing of his death, that he lost the battle to the substances he abused (hopefully, I am wrong). The sadness that has crept over me is twofold. First the thought that another friend is too soon gone due to some horrible pain from which they desired easy escape through synthetic mind alteration and secondly the obliteration of a piece of my own childhood. Sometimes knowing the beginning and end of one’s story is depressing. Once my mother asked Smith what he wanted to be when he grew up and his answer was, “Well, all I have is a Superman suite.” The finality of the end of that Super Hero potential has had me breaking down into periodic sobs over the last 36 hours.
This week also marked another sorrowful first- listening to the first friend to discover that their child is abusing and dealing drugs. The middle of life has shifted me to the other side of this issue. I am no longer the untried teenager trying to understand a peer’s fascination with drugs and watching their parent’s futile efforts to change the situation. I am now on the adult side listening to the desperation of a scared, confused father who lacks the support of other important parties. Adding to my heartbreak, I fear that this person, who has rolled eyes and mocked those in search of emotional and spiritual enlightenment, is completely unready to take this opportunity to grow as an individual and a family. I also know that dedication to emotional and spiritual growth is the only path that affords a snowball’s chance in hell of turning the child’s life around. It will take work. Hard soul- searching, time-consuming, behavior-changing, faith-building, walk-through-the-fires-of- your-deepest-fears-and-learn-to-let-go- of -deep-rooted- elements-of-self-that-no-longer-serve kind of work that most people in our culture simply don’t want to bother with. In this situation, as in all situations, I could only offer to help when they are ready and drop the topic.
So what does this have to do with act of finding a mate?
These situations usher in the opportunity for self exploration.
It is interesting to examine how substance abusers have played important roles throughout my life. Two alcoholic husbands, many dear friends- most of them amazingly talented artists or ridiculously wealthy and some close family members. I am grateful that my own spiritual path has provided the tools to recognize these people and maintain a loving detachment which best serves both parties. Detachment from expectation is also a good tool when dealing with substance abusers or meeting potential mates.
My dear friend who will be called “Pat” for the purpose of anonymity, has just started dating again after the end of a 23 year marriage. She is gleefully embracing meeting lots of new men via an online dating site in her new home town (she just made a cross-country move to fulfill a lifelong personal wish). I, of course, have trepidations about meeting people online (for those of you who are just starting this blog there are some doozies about my online dating escapades which make my feelings understandable – click here for first post, date 1, date 2, date 3 pt 1 and date 3 pt 2.) but my friend’s open attitude rather shames me. She says, “I am just meeting people with no expectations and am having a blast doing it.” There’s the rub. The expectations thing. Perhaps online dating didn’t work for me because I had expectations or hopes that I would meet someone with whom I could have a long term relationship instead of just meeting people. Maybe when I pursued that avenue I was too raw, too needy or something. Perhaps I was unready to just be me and release the pressure of finding “the right guy”.
There are two more firsts in this premier week of the year of the Horse:
I ran into the first man to ever to fill my ears with the words, “My wife just doesn’t understand me.” Those words, if you have yet to read my posts about married men and the pursuit of other women, are commonly used to introduce the concept of an extramarital sexual tryst. My reaction at the time of first hearing was one of verbal sympathy and no other action and to his credit, the man did not pursue a physical relationship after that. But it was the beginning of a decades long trend of hearing that line from the lips of cowards who may or may not actually feel alienated from their spouses but are moved to see how far they can get with the woman in front of them. Those words have been so oft repeated by such a variety of married men that the mere utterance of them ignites an inner amusement. I now understand the translation to be “Since I am misunderstood at home, perhaps you could make me feel better by having sex with me,” and I am able to laugh at the commonality and simply offer up the name of a good psychotherapist. During our conversation the other day, I noted the gold band still in place on Mr. Misumderstood’s left finger. “Well, she must understand something about him because they are still married 20 years later,” I though, happy to have dodged that bullet of certain misery so many years ago.
The last first is a pleasant one. For the first time I noticed, with some prodding from a good friend, a handsome, single man with whom I have lots in common. We have been Facebook friends for many years and yet, I was unconscious of him. I guess I just wasn’t ready to notice. Like the person who walks through a park every day for years and fails to see a beautiful tree until the day they trip over its roots while messaging on their smartphone. Then, suddenly, a as they stare up at said tree from the viewpoint of the of the ground underneath it, the magnificence of the tree is revealed for the first time.
We have scheduled a time to meet for tea and while I am excited to meet a kindred spirit, I am being careful to curb expectations of romance. My feeling is that with so much in common I can, at minimum, be assured of at gaining a good friend- which is a welcomed prospect.