A bit before the demolition began openly and in earnest I had set a goal of losing weight and I picked up my guitar. Distractions that were escapes and life lines to the corporeal. It is easy to get trapped by distraction and ignore the present when in a crisis. Of course I tend to think I got it right and the Leaver took her escapes beyond the therapeutic and into an alternative reality. That difference of opinion is, of course, entirely irreconcilable.
But apparently I’ve got a bit buff, and I can play the guitar again – I have excavated some little corners of unsullied accomplishment in the midst of the shit storm.
It has helped tremendously to get through the past few months, to have other stuff to engage both mind and body. I’d been going to the gym for years. But I changed my routine and just started working out harder and running a lot. Eventually I found a race to go on in the summer; I’d never done an organized running event in my life.
That gave me a goal to work towards and I really started working in the gym. Nausea from sprinting at the end of a long run counteracted anxiety cramps. I know it helped my sleeping and my immune system immeasurably. And feeling deep pain in head and neck from lifting weights, no matter how acute, is much easier to tolerate than the same pain arising from repeatedly slamming your head into a wall.
And, hell, I lost 25 pounds and I now look the best I have in 20 years! With the blame, guilt and sense of failure which threads its way through this whole process, it is wonderful to have a constant reminder of some sort of success. It’s not just the mirrors but hearing people say “you look great” is very, very nice.
Vanitas vanitatum, omnia vanitas, I know. But in comparison to all the other sins, temptations and crapulence that I have dodged, tasted or immersed full-on in the midst of the moral no-mans-land that is created by the break up process, this is pretty good.
I picked up the guitar again, too. This is really more of a therapeutic intellectual exercise for me than an artistic one – I’m a very, very shitty guitarist. Nonetheless, as a friend of mine who is a very, very good guitarist put it and has been through several familial combustions “she (the guitar) is very, very patient and feels very good to hold in your arms.”
I like to figure out songs. See if there’s some way that I can arrange a song that I would like to play on a solo guitar. I can be quite ingenious at the planning and usually an utter failure at the execution. No matter, after a few hours of combat, exhausted, I found that with the guitar in the basement lair to which I’d been banished, I played and emptied my mind till my fingers bled.
I suppose, taking up crosswords or a giant puzzle or a video game to master might serve the same purpose. Maybe doing the crossword till your fingers bleed is unlikely maybe not (don’t do crosswords… yet). There is something exceptionally healing about music and singing (yes, I will croak out the tunes too).
Maybe being able to paint or draw works too? Not an option for me – my doodles inspire nightmares in small children (my handwriting does the same for adults, but I digress). But really the therapy wasn’t the artistic expression – I might try that later, but right now everything is too new and immediate – it was just taking your brain to a different place inhabited by an entirely different set of challenges.
Challenges that you wanted to deal with before the demolition and you will continue with after the demolition. The exercise and the guitar, for me, gave me a sense of accomplishment but also connected me with something positive in me, that pre-existed the crisis and should out live it. It reminds me that alongside of the me that is the ex-husband, single dad, trepidatious employee, half-assed handyman etc. there also exists this guy that does stuff and likes stuff.
And nowadays, doesn’t look half bad doing it. (Vanitas… etc.)