Fifteen years later, I can't stop crying.
I woke up around 5:30 am, reacting anxiously to my husband's raspy, thundering curses filling the air first thing, before sunrise - a daily routine now, I lost track for how long. I just had a nightmare, where the late actor Robin Williams is remarking what a short breathing I have. I wake up to J.'s cursing, and notice how shallow and fast my breathing is, and I struggle for air, beneath what feels like heavy pressure on my chest. My shoulders are high, and I consciously drop them low. When I notice my belly, it's tight, and the muscles of my vagina contracted till it hurts. I relax all of my body which is under my voluntary control, sit up on the edge of the bed, and exercise the belly breathing I've been taught by my teachers and coaches, slowing the exhale down to twenty seconds. No word is mentioned about anniversary, and while we disagree about almost everything, we do silently agree that October the 1st is nothing to celebrate at all.
I wait to hear the door slammed shut behind J., as he leaves for his office work, at 6:40 am. The house immerses in a kind of quiet which reminds me of a power outage: you never noticed how much noise is buzzing in the background, until it ceased. I don't know how much of the mental noise is his, and how much of it is mine, or perhaps the noise is the result of our two minds in tension with each other that sounds worse than electric appliances; what I do know is that the sudden quiet gives me green light to open the door to my room and walk into the house, still in the dark, and start my day.
It's a special time of reflection, between the Jewish New Year start, Rosh Hashana, and the day of atonement, Yom Kippur - a time for soul searching, and asking, and granting forgiveness.
I feel at times weepy, at times shaky, and I ask myself what possibly lurks inside the shadows of my mind that correlates with such tension and emotional toxicity in my living environment. I think about the pain I've endured, and wonder about any pain that I've caused. I think about the lessons learned, and wonder if there's more, and when do I graduate from this school? I feel weak, lost and scared, but stronger than last year, when I brushed with death and lost appetite for living. I reached out this past year, and some very fine people said yes to me, and gave me their skilled and caring support. Will it ever end? Will I find a place to stay and make it a home, will I be able to sustain myself financially on my own, without J.? And where, exactly, is home?
I've learn a lot these past fifteen years, about myself, about relationships and attraction - conscious and unconscious - , about trust and mistrust, lies and honesty, about what connects and disconnects two people; about sex, sexual frustration, emotional trauma, and how it harms the body; about sedentary living, social isolation, and fear. I've learned about power struggles, and what power means, what it is, and what it takes. I've learned to listen to my instincts, reason and intuition, and watched the consequences of failing to do so. As I wrote a Reiki student of last year, after struggling to stay awake through training her: ' I've gained tremendous wisdom, kindness and skill; I lost health and stamina. You've found yourself a wise, kind, knowledgeable, worn-out teacher'
What is the good for all these lessons, I inquire? What if I die before I put them to good use? I make a promise to myself and to the world that I am part of, that if I survive this ordeal, safe and sane, I will place my experience in service of others, to help overcome abuse and trauma, and to cultivate kindness and power.
I don't know yet in which direction I will walk, and my thoughts seem to reflect two competing external voices: that which belongs to J., my husband, who says that I'm a cunt, a bitch, a parasite, and a blood sucker; and the voices of people whose lives I've touched through my healing and coaching work, who call me a miracle-worker, a life-saver, a friend, a mentor, a wise woman, and an inspiration.
On this fifteenth anniversary of a marriage that turned out to be the Dark Night of the Soul, will you please pray for my deliverance and integration, and also pray for our humanity to end all cruelty, violence and hatred in each of us, amongst us, and in the world; and to sow and cultivate more care, compassion and loving-kind power for all of us to flourish, without exception.