Surfacing: Making Sense of Leaving

Strange. Walking around campus, reading for my dissertation, grocery shopping–all these places, I am hungry to tell my story. I want to pour it all out, put in a book, put in on my blog, pour it out of me so the whole world can see, and everyone who needs it can be nurtured and known a little bit more and I can be healed a little bit more.

But how hard it is to sit down in front of this empty white space and spill it. I want to do anything else. I want to run away. But this is where I must stay–at least for the next ten minutes.

So today I’ll tell you about last fall, about how much I wanted to leave, even though I knew it would cost me almost everything.

I didn’t leave my religion or my marriage in the way I wanted.

I wanted to leave God thoughtfully, rationally; I wanted to leave with an ideal mix of rationality and emotion, of intellectual reasons and human feeling. Instead, I left angry. I left shouting and sobbing and screaming. I left aching with dull fury at the abandonment. You expect me to hold on? I screamed. I’ve been holding on for years. I’ve been waiting for years. And now this? Fine then, I said. Fuck this.

I left in a mess.

I wanted to leave my marriage gently, sorrowfully, mindfully. I wanted to talk it out together in front of a counselor, to go through all our shit. I wanted to us to come to the same conclusion. I wanted to leave with The Reason sitting in my pocket like a stone, so I could reach in and curl my fingers around its sure weight, and pull it out to show when anyone asked why I left.

Instead I left scrabbling and desperate. I’m not saying I didn’t think about it–I wrote, long desperate hours into the night. and I found truth there. I was searching for a way out like a drowning person searches for air. I left like a hunted thing, turning over chairs and tables in my wake to slow down my pursuers.

I left in a mess.

I left in any way how I knew how, and I’m still learning to forgive myself for that. All I know is that the way I left was so obviously desperate to save myself, that I have to find a way to forgive that girl.

I had a dream sometime soon before I left–in the summer perhaps, but I really have no idea. In the dream, I was deep, deep in the ocean. There were thousands of pounds of pressure on top of me, layers and layers of thick water. I needed to get to the surface–I needed air, and my tank was running out. I needed to get up fast. But there was one problem. If you go up too fast when you’re deep under water, you get the bends, the pressure compressing your lungs like plastic milk jugs. I felt trapped, everything in me needing to shoot up to the surface now for the air I needed, and afraid that I would go too fast and die.

I didn’t understand the dream at the time, but it fascinated, haunted me. It resonated deeply, and I had no idea what it was about.

It makes a little more sense these days.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

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