I haven’t blogged in awhile. Life is moving too fast right now.
But I saw this old entry in a journal pop up.
I normally don’t post very personal things. But somehow..just a feeling today…maybe this will help someone. I don’t know who…I actually have no one specific in mind as I repost this.
This post isn’t about music at all…so punch out if that’s what you are looking for. It’s about recovering from betrayal, and offering advice to another who is forced to follow in your footsteps.
Here goes. This was originally written in Feb. 2016.
Saw a post online from someone else in the bass community tonight…about betrayal. His wife of four years has been sleeping around with a college professor behind his back….ongoing for the last seven years. He admitted to his community that he had lost the life he was working to build, a school he had started…this had caused him much bitterness, anger…he felt terrible on all fronts…he lost everything he loved…he had no love or compassion to offer up…just bitterness.
It felt weird to be the one administering advice on surviving betrayal. And rebuilding.
I was thinking today about how contented I’ve been in the last few months. Contentment has been seeping in. The holidays were not even a ripple in the emotional ether…no attachments, no desire for anything (save a lotto ticket, a Bass Soul Food pedal, and a trip to Trader Joes). Once the Avenue Q performances pulled me out of the funk following the Heart debacle and then my beloved Maxwell passing…a switch did throw…in a very unexpected way. It was like the culmination of a year’s efforts….boundaries being established, resilience slowly growing, and getting clearer about what (and who) I want in my life (or don’t want). And why. The switch threw, and there I was. Contentment seeping in.
It’s not all perfect, but things are better. The new van arriving was certainly a symbolic thing. Like ushering in a new era of change…and the means to effect it. Even the color…a stark break from all the green vans. Deep red. Bold. The color of life…attention grabbing. And powerful.
But yes. I’ve been happy. And wanting for little except to finish the cleanup on aisle 7, metaphorically, and to move on, to a new phase of life.
I thought on this young fellow’s pain. You can’t tell them it will be ok. That’s not even a remote possibility right now. All he knows is someone he trusted, the person he was supposed to spend the rest of his life with…hurt him in one of the most gutting, evil, vile, deceitful, emotionally abusive ways a person can. His self esteem has been eroded like a barrier island in a hurricane. There is no future right now. Just…a mess of a person trying to scrape themselves back together after their life stepped on a land mine.
I see the messages from others, of love, of “it all happens for a reason”…that’s utter bullshit right now. It won’t even land. It’s not even close to the target. That’s new-agey crap someone says to make themselves feel better in trying to help you when they don’t know what to say.
I offered the truth. Because no one would say it. And it needed to be said. I said “be bitter. Be angry. Be ugly and emotional. You have to clean the poison out of a wound before it heals. Let yourself rage. And it might be years you feel this way. Clean out the wound…because you have to clean it out before a healing can begin. And someday, something might spark joy again for you. You most likely will never be quite the same. The same thing happened to me..betrayal. It was like surviving a storm that tore away parts of myself…they are simply gone. I’ll never be the same. But I love myself, I love my life, I have a spring in my step, and I have my own joy. So, the best “revenge”…is to live well. So well in fact, that you forget what’s her name because your joy and interest in and with your own life is so consuming and remarkable. But go ahead. Hate. Be bitter. That’s what is needed so you can heal.”
It got a lot more likes than I expected. The truth will set you free. Go rage young man. It is productive.
I didn’t tell him (he’ll figure it out) he’ll know when it’s time to recenter himself, and he will not need vitriol and anger to protect the part of himself that was shattered. It will rebuild just enough that at some point, he can look at the damage, lay a warm hand against the wound, and he will not rage…he will just know how he needs to heal what’s still broken. He will see the broken parts and regard them with no judgement, just an awareness of what needs to be done. Until then, any sight of the wound will invoke righteous anger…and it is righteous. The universe stole what you loved. You are a good person…what did I do to deserve this? Howl…rage…rip the very fabric of the world around you down.
Rage until the wound is drained clean and no venom weeps from it….until clean edges are exposed, ready for stitches. When you’ve poured the last of the living rage and bitterness from your heart onto the black stones that carry it to the sea…and you look skyward…when the last of the living, seething rage pours out….you see the sky with no resonance of loneliness in your heart. The stars will illuminate the handiwork you now need to set to. You will have raged a black, pure living rage, and life…sadly…will not have granted the death you quite possibly begged for. Sutures are needed, because now you actually need a plan to live. You will probably wake up tomorrow. And maybe even the next day. And the day after that. What’s the plan now? Yeah, you don’t have a plan B. Suture that wound up, and start trying to think about what’s next.
Those stars…cold and clear in their light… illuminate truths about those you loved. All the ways your beloved was a truly ugly person. You’ll finally see it. You will recount the moments they thought they “put one over on you.” Out of politeness, you stayed quiet to see what they would do. They failed you. You see their shortcomings clear as the stars in the clear Colorado sky. You’ll take stock, and you’ll learn from it.
Someone recently said, focus on the work. Success will find you, no matter how many detractors try to steal it, take it, take credit for it. It’s true. That’s my whole life in a sentence. That’s the shift that happened in the last part of 2015…focusing even more on the work. For me. I’ve wasted time, effort, energy, money, resources on so many people I’ve cared for who did not deserve or fully appreciate that care. Too much of my life spent on these time sinks. Maybe that’s unfair. I’m ok with that. We’ve already asserted life is not fair. You learn to be discriminating.
There’s real joy in that time spent on the work I need done. Even in 12+ hour days. It is a refusal to permit anyone else to waste my opportunities and my value anymore with their agendas. Or selfishness. No, I have better things to do. My life, for starters.
This person will know when he’s in that spot though…resilience flourishing, boundaries, an appropriate level of apathy for “what’s her name”. A focus on his work, an acceptance that he will have some kind of future…and possibly even be excited about having the freedom to do whatever he wants, unfettered by someone who isn’t worth giving up that future for.
Along the way, he may relapse, like the man wandering the desert, possessed…who the demon leaves. The man has a void now. The demons return, more powerful and more plentiful than before. The man was an empty vessel, but nothing filled that vessel before the demons returned. I tend to think of it as…nothing came that was positive, but the man only knew demons…so he accepts returning to what he knew.
I wish this young man well. Own the anger for a season or three. It’s better that way. Better than trying to be what you are not. You will simply wear false virtue on your sleeve while bitterness consumes you quietly and kills you slowly. Just own it. Come to the dark side for awhile. The cookies are pretty damn good after all.
And on that strange metaphor…we go back and forth, embracing our darkness and our light, and we are better for the process. We know ourselves better. We have resources of strength in that anger that rises to defend us as needed and set boundaries. Softness becomes harder. But we also know compassion for others, as we know how it is to struggle with our own dark side and dark times. We offer our own maps and tricks that we’ve navigated the stars by when we were lost at sea…no compass, a broken mast, no power, and no sight of land. You figure it out.
And finally…onward and upward, lighter, stronger, better, and finally unfettered.
I wish you well young one. See you on the other side of your journey.