Explorations of mind, paths, and life


Posted on January 17, 2010 - Filed Under self reflect

The air is heavy. I step outside and feel it immediately in the shift of my breath and the taste of the evening. The stars are hidden and the sky lit by city lights with the pressing pulse of a darkened moon between oppressive clouds. The unraveling of my sense of family is felt, in my heart, in my bones, in the way I stand on the driveway, eyes closed, waiting for something familiar to relax the tension in my neck… to relax the tension in my heart. Sometimes I notice the wanderings of my mind – they come upon my consciousness like the voice of a story-teller, narrating they joys, the fears, the tiny thoughts that pop when I catch a glimpse of a picture, or the residual scent of his hair, or the sound of steps echoing below the spaces of our home – triggered by the tightly fitted footsteps next door – and for a brief moment I am left feeling the familiar. I find myself, instead, snapping back to the reality of where I am… alone.

We have taken steps to redefine our relationship – and by society’s standards that has all kinds of labels: separation, divorce, breaking-up… The labels annoy me, daily. I can’t say them, but I don’t know how to identify what is happening without using one of those labels. Regardless, it is foreign, like treading into water that is deep and dark and alien. And in that water I hear apologies, I see startled expressions that move and contort like a heated film… again unfamiliar, and then questions wash over me that feel exhausting. I spent months trying to explain my need to distance myself from my marriage to him… I have endured months of fretful grief, both in him and silently by myself. I know his position, I know the perceptions others carry about who we are, and so all this seems even more difficult to understand. I, however, have just enough energy to work through it on my own. I smile at them all. Explaining, softening the apologies, the condolences, the expressions, feels much like opening my diary and showing all the faces I transcribe there in order to find some balance in the confusion of others. I look at the pages, and laying naked with answers doesn’t work for me at all.

People assume that one of us has been terrible, that there has been some catastrophe in how we relate that has caused such an interruption of our relationship. Some almost want to hear that my movement to separate has been traumatic and ugly and full of snide and abrasive dealings. It hasn’t.

I love him deeply and soulfully. I miss him. However, I have gotten so lost, so separated from myself that doing this is bringing a deep level of healing and balance back into my life. I was, quite literally, dying. He wasn’t killing me… I WAS killing me, to subconsciously give significance to the despair that was growing in my soul. Quite frankly, I have been married to an amazing, funny, playful, and dedicated man, AND there is always more to that story. The relationship didn’t fail, instead it has taught me a lot about love, commitment, self-awareness, depth, self-care, what I need, what I can and can not do, my courage… the list goes on.

I think people in general expect the trauma, because it is hard to fathom a “good relationship” resulting in separation. What might that say about the mortality of their own relationships? They are curious, “how could this happen?” It has been hard to explain, as it is something I feel about my life more than “know” or have some functional logical map to describe. Perhaps the most difficult place to deal with this has been the college. I have not been open about this at the college, simply because we both teach there and have relationships with students. We are the dynamic Dufner Duo, and we both feel pride and appreciation of that piece of our professional identities. Facing that has been stressful, uncomfortable. I can’t be real about my life as it is… and that has not been pleasant for me, because being real is part of how and what I teach.

Regardless, I am determined to get through this gracefully, with tenderness towards both our positions. I want for his happiness as much as my own. I want for his place in our family, and my life, to continue to have significance because he has impacted us, despite the expectations that follow the labels. I am keenly aware of how difficult this has been for him, and again, I worry about that before myself… and it is this that keeps me from breathing for myself the way I should.

Late yesterday, I sat on the couch, looking at our deep red walls, and the books I have moved into the living room. I wondered what a conversation might sound like someday with a new partner. I immediately heard my inner narrator describe, “I was married to a wonderful, passionate, playful man. It was a good marriage.” This is my truth. I smile. There is nothing more to say. I pull back into the contentment of sitting, looking at the walls, contemplating the care I take with myself each day, in a very quiet house, in a very quiet way. Through this experience I am beginning to know myself more, and that is a gift.

Outside,  the air is heavy. I step outside and feel it immediately in the shift of my breath and the taste of the evening. A breeze brews from a distance, and as it makes its ways through the reaching limbs of trees, I hear the rush and shuffle of the leaves. Everything moves around me and I breathe deeply with my eyes closed. I, like the leaves, won’t hold or argue the currents, but instead let them work through my life just as it is, one moment, one breeze at a time.


3 Responses to “Unraveling”

  1. Monica on January 17th, 2010 10:58 am

    Wow, Ev. This is really a beautiful piece.

  2. Life with Kaishon on January 28th, 2010 5:36 pm

    Hi Evelyn, I saw your comment above mine at Pioneer Woman today and I saw that you are using a new camera and excited about it. I came over to say hi and to wish you all the best with your endeavor. And as I read this post, my heart hurt for you. I hope you will find happiness in this journey on which you are embarking. I will keep you in my thoughts this evening.

    PS LOVE the dog by Picasso in your header. How fun : )

  3. Evelyn on January 28th, 2010 6:05 pm

    All is good "Life with Kaishon" and I appreaciate your kind words and encouragement. Life is always full of lessons and discoveries. I will carry on my photo explorations, as full of life as I can.