I've completed my assignment: paintings finished; article written; now I have to package it all up and ship it off to California. Considering I also had to meet a translation deadline, go to my editorial job, an intense 2-hour flamenco session, make some business phonecalls, consult with my sister, do some chores, pick up groceries, all in the space of these last two days, I'm surprised I'm still standing, well, sitting at the moment. This weekend Ramona is treating me to the movies; otherwise I am not moving off the couch.
Some years ago, at the turn of the century!, when American almost-Husband told me he would always love me and promptly left without explanation, I was devastated; I really didn't think I could survive this one, because I've had to overcome so much in my life that at that moment I did not think I could go on any longer. Today I can tell you, that one act of his put me on the path to healing a tendency I had to give my all, by realizing that if you don't own yourself and give your all to someone else, when they leave or die or whatever, you are left with nothing, not even a sense of yourself, no identity, empty and spent. It didn't matter that we were passionate about each other, best friends, compatible in all of the important ways, and all those good things: he was emotionally wounded and even though he was man enough to be seeing a therapist when I met him, he had a long way to go; my experience of marriage was extremely good; his experience gave him stomach cramps. But in the end his leaving at that moment spared me future and much worse heartache. I've always known intuitively that divorce would never feature in my life, so in an awful way, it made sense.
Believe me, if he showed up on my doorstep today, I would give him a big warm hug and thank him from the heart. The old me (the me before I met him) would have excised his memory from my life down to the tiniest scrap of paper or photo or anything connected him, but because I truly loved him and I had seen into his heart which was kind and loving, I did nothing of the sort. I learned the power of love; when it's real it never goes away. That all those wonderful letters and notes and doodles and photos represent a time when I was loved and loving, and very happy. And that when the pining is over and the pain is dulled, and your life continues and you find joy in it, the love is still there. (When some you love is no longer here, when your husband dies or your parents...do you stop loving them? No. You get on with your life, find happiness in it again.) I hated the way he left, but I couldn't hate him. That is my triumph. That is what he unwittingly taught me. And whenever I think of him, I say a little prayer that he is well, healthy and safe.
However, my road over the several years after he left was one long, incomprehensible and seemingless endless painful voyage, and one of the things I did that helped was paint something every day in a big sketchpad that I titled "State of my Psyche." A sort of visual stream of consciousness. Then I added the date and, sometimes, a note of how I was feeling. Looking at it today, I'm proud of myself. I know, as sure as I know that the sun rises every morning, that I will never go through that devastation again, not because I'm closed, but quite the contrary, because my heart has grown and knows very well that, now that I know who I am, that I own myself, when I give it's from a strong place, not a weak one. When I act, it's from my strengths, not from my weaknesses.