It’s New Year’s Eve 2011, the last time we gather to celebrate as a nuclear family. My soon to be ex-husband hangs out in the study. The kids alternate between their Lego creations and banal shows on the Disney Channel. I scurry around the kitchen trying to put together a festive meal of appetizers. I love to cook but I don’t love tonight. I am under the gun. Our middle son, Josh, wants to get to his friend’s house by 7:15PM. When are you going to make the fondue Mom?
Intermittently, I ask for help (something I’ve become better at doing). The kids and my husband each reluctantly take a turn helping with a task and then immediately return to their respective corners. The meal is a hodgepodge of separate snacks and entrees, yummy and tantalizing, but as disconnected as our family celebration.
Really, That’s It?
Midnight eastern time draws near. Josh is at his friend’s house. Bryce (12) and Anna (8) and I watch the festivities unfold in Times Square on television. A few minutes to twelve in NYC (eleven o’clock Minnesota time) we start to look for Jeff (husband>wasband). He’s not in the study anymore. ?? The kids find him asleep in the bedroom. They wake him up and he joins us. We all sit on the couch and watch the sparkly ball descend. I’m already in the doghouse because I forgot to buy crackers, the English popping party favors with a small gift inside. The ball hits bottom and the clock strikes midnight. We shout, Happy New Year!, and then sort of pat and smile at each other. No kissing or enthusiastic embracing. It’s as anticlimactic as Chevy Chase and his family staring at the Grand Canyon in National Lampoon’s Vacation.
The ball dropped and so did all the couple/family dreams and plans we had carefully constructed over the past decade and a half.
2012 is a whole new existence without a plan or a partner.
Existing Without a Future Plan
Jeff went back to bed, but Anna, Bryce and I stay up until the real Minnesota midnight. I think we are afraid to go to sleep into nothingness. We don’t feel like we are done yet. We can’t say what excites us about 2012.
I hop on the computer and post my favorite New Year’s song – Same Old Lang Syne by Dan Fogelberg. I do this every year. This year I cry as quietly as possible as it plays on my laptop. I can’t shake the melancholy.
I’m disappointed in myself as I’ve anticipated the end of my marriage and a sense of liberation for quite a while. Jeff and I have not made travel plans together or scheduled date nights for months. This is not new information. I’ve already experienced the vague dull loss of NOT looking forward to something with a partner. I know everything changes and we should not cling to the familiar so, why am I falling apart?
Confusion can be an incredible teacher. How can you learn if you already had it all figured out? ~ Julie Peters
I guess it’s that little thing called suffering that we all must do in order to be completely cracked open like a rib cage during open heart surgery. Open heart – that is what suffering is all about. Apparently, my head knows there is no such thing as permanence but my heart is lollygagging back there in Expectation Land. It has not fully mourned all the old ways but IS lying fully exposed and broken on the surgical table of life.
According to Julie Peters in her article, Why Lying Broken in a Pile on Your Bedroom Floor is a Good Idea, this broken vulnerable heart is more powerful than ever. At the moment when you find yourself crying at your laptop over a dissolved future and a Dan Fogelberg song, you are at your most glorious. Know why? Because you are open and flowing in a different direction. Expectations have flown the coop. You are in flux and it sucks but it is how you jump the rut of toxic routines. Opportunities are considered rather than ignored. This is the time to re-arrange the pieces and build yourself anew.
Before going to bed on New Year’s Eve I decide to meditate, a practice I want to return to in 2012. I rest my hands in my lap, palms up and open to external feedback. The house is quiet and my heart feels lighter.
For Auld Lang Syne means for old times’ sake. This year the old times feel bittersweet and the future is unknown. I’ll live in the transitory present and be open to the power of possibilities.
When was the last time you put the pieces back together in a different way? In hindsight, can you see how loss or suffering cleared you of obstacles? Can you imagine living without a future plan?