Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Writing at the Top of my Lungs

Oh dear. Things are not good. The details really don't matter, but I reached the point this evening where I finally said that Dave and I shouldn't communicate any more at all. If he has something to say, he should say it to my lawyer and she'll convey the message. This guy with whom I have two children and many memories.... we may never talk again. Just when I thought my heart couldn't be any more broken.

When most of this tragic e-mail exchange happened, I was actually at work. He couldn't have known that, so there's no blame here for what ensued. I was almost as distraught at this latest development as I was when I left Swarthmore. I was casting about in desperation for the next right thing to do. Catch up on documentation? Go hang out with the clients? Make sure there are no children unattended and unsupervised? There must be something right that I can do. When things are this bad, I've learned that I have to think very small and very short-term. This is not the time for grand plans. Rather, I have to think of some small thing that I can do right now that has the virtue of not being wrong.

I realized that what I wanted to do -what I MUST do- was write. How weird is that? Some people might need chocolate. Some people might call someone (Actually, I did that, but work isn't a great place to carry on a private conversation of this importance.) Some people (those not at work, one assumes) might need a drink. I was beside myself because I didn't have my journal. If I grab a piece of paper and start writing, will I remember to put it in my journal? If it's not in my journal, does it "count"? What if I get distracted and accidentally leave it lying around where someone can find it?

But there was no peace until I grabbed some computer paper and a pen and started writing. I had to figure stuff out. I had to process information. I had to try to forgive. And I had to put it all somewhere -somewhere not the front of my brain, so that I could continue to function as a, you know, person in charge, but also somewhere where I could revisit it.

I had a professor in college who, when the conversation got heated or entangled, would primly say "writing makes for clear thinking." He would then make us get out paper and pen and write down our arguments. We would roll our eyes and think of him as essentially a prig. But, I still think of that man today. My need to write was visceral.

I don't know what this means. I was howling in pain -quietly. I was struggling to understand. I was trying to reject bitterness and anger. I was, at the same time, trying to claim a spot on the planet that says that I am NOT unworthy, unattractive, uninteresting or just plain awful. (I'm smart enough... I'm good enough... and dog gone it, people like me.) I make no claims of being good at writing. I just need to do it.

Writing makes for clear thinking.

9 comments:

Kimberly said...

Andrea, I'm so sorry.

I can't even imagine what it's like to have someone you trusted so thoroughly turn out to be such a jerk.

Thank you for sharing your struggle, though. When you write things like:

I was struggling to understand. I was trying to reject bitterness and anger.

It gives me something I know I could use in the future. It's easy to embrace bitterness and anger when we're betrayed, but that doesn't help anyone--certainly not you.

This whole post is very timely for me, too--I'm teaching a class on using writing to teach critical thinking this afternoon. I've just recently heard of using that same technique to refocus a class discussion that gets out of hand.

I was, at the same time, trying to claim a spot on the planet that says that I am NOT unworthy, unattractive, uninteresting or just plain awful.

This makes me so angry at Dave! I want to try to not just beat up on him, but this really raises my ire. Keep reminding yourself that this guy is NOT the guy you married and shared your life with. That man had integrity. This guy replaced him somewhere along the way, but his opinion just doesn't mean much. Unfortunately, he knows where your buttons are, but his opinion is as worthless as a stranger who might stop you on the street.

You probably know all this, but I can't help it. Listen to your friends, listen to your family, but don't listen to him.

Elisa said...

You are NOT unworthy, unattractive, uninteresting, or awful, and the best thing you can do for yourself is to avoid contact with someone who makes you feel that way. You know that. Avoiding contact with him is absolutely the right decision now. It doesn't mean you'll never talk to him again. But right now things are too raw, the legal issues are unsettled, and talking to him isn't helping anything.

Lexy said...

What elisa said. I was just about to post the same thing.

Renee said...

Seriously, all of it. I can't even pretend that I would have as much dignity and grace in your situation. You are a light in this world, Andrea.

Megan said...

Andrea - even though we've not met in person, I find it impossible to believe that any part of you, from the content in your brain right on down to your little toe, could be "unworthy, unattractive, uninteresting, or just plain awful." Keep on writing and keep on claiming that space in the world for yourself that KNOWS you're worthy, attractive, interesting, and just plain wonderful.

Andrea Rusin said...

Oh, thanks guys. I thought the interesting part of this was the need to write rather than the unworthy, unattractive bit. I sign up to believe those things pretty readily, to be honest, so Dave is only pushing the easy buttons. Heaven only knows what he's going through to make him act this way. I really couldn't say.

Renee said...

Heaven only knows what he's going through to make him act this way. I really couldn't say.

Hey, scabies itches A LOT. It'd make anyone cranky.

Lisa :-] said...

Hard not to excuse him on some level, after so many years of shared history (not to mention offspring.) But you are not awful. If he says you are, or makes you feel you are, he is a shit. Maybe just now he is a shit, but a shit nonetheless.

I know about the NEEDING to write thing...

Sandy Hansen said...

Hi Andrea,
Sandy Hansen here. I don't have your email address or phone number. Pleas get in touch with me.
shansen@wmol.com