I was wondering what I would write about today, aside from walking for hours and hours in streets and parks in London with my friend Sean, then going to a meeting of similar friends and talking about the sadness, then dinner talking about NYC and the feeling there of never being 'too much', which feeling I do definitely have at times in London...
and then I talked with my closest friend Julie (seen in blog posts circa June 15) and after crying for god knows how long, got to some of the core stuff underneath the sorrow about my separation, which has to do with some pretty ancient pain of abandonment. I may have mentioned this a while back but my biological mother and father split when I was 2 1/2, and I was left with my grandparents, while my mother tried to find work and my father went I'm not sure where. And I was picked up about a year later with a new father and driven up to Maine from Connecticut, confused and frightened by this new man who yelled a lot and whose idea of how to deal with a 3 1/2 year old afraid of snow was to throw her in it. Nice.
Meanwhile, my father kind of receded until disappearing - a long story, but one of disappearance without explanation, even when I was an adult and asked, the best the poor man could say was "I couldn't deal with it." I've since realized my poor father was not dysfunctional but instead afunctional. But, and here's the rub, no matter what, I missed him, but told myself for a variety of reasons and not so subtle emotional pressures from my mother and all other fathers (3) that I did not miss him, nor in fact was he important to me at all. This was a big fat lie.
And until seeing the two (count them two) pictures of my father, mother and me together when I was about 6 months and 1 year old respectively (which I found in January 2010 my father's belongings - which were probably actually my grandmother's originally) I didn't even realize I had any emotional attachment to the idea of living with my actual mother and father. But when I saw those photos for the first time - oh my god. I actually, for a brief period of time and no matter how totally fucked up (they fought a lot and violently - so violently apparently I would stop breathing, which made them stop fighting...) had a mother and father - no steps, no breaks, no room in someone else's house, no fold-out sofa. A beginning of a sadness welled up in me and I cried.
But nothing like I'm crying now. And that's because, as objectively painful as separating from my husband is, it's ripping at this ancient wound as well. What I could not stop crying about last night was the loss not only of my husband but his family (many of whom I reconnected with in Scotland earlier in June - photos etc. are in the posts from June 4-11), and his father in particular, who I actually love quite a bit and who reminds me in many ways of my grandfather (the one who changed his name to Barclay and whose real family, the Bukoskis, I only just found in May and met for the first time this June - see posts for June 16-19)...and the house he lives in, where Bill was raised since a baby and all the Stability that means for me. And it's gone, or so it feels now. And that just fucking kills me. The whole normal family thing ripped away again.
Now some of this is the sadness of now but a lot is the sadness of then. And I really, really needed to have the conversation with Julie, my wisest, most compassionate, loving and insightful friend on this planet, to get to this on the deepest level. And also my sadness about not having children myself. Somehow allowing in all these losses and feeling them makes them bearable. It's a paradox but an important one.
This is the power of being heard by someone who can hold so much feeling and has so much experience walking through this territory herself, and also the power of allowing myself to go through it and not diverting over to Something Else, whatever it may be.
There is indeed no way out but through...and if nothing else this whole last few years of my life has been an object lesson in this simple but profound truth. And while I am not grateful for the pain, I Am grateful for the freedom walking through this pain affords me. There is still a ways to go through this tunnel, but it now feels like a tunnel and not like every inch of the earth, the universe and everything else. And I will walk through it. Because I am now strong enough - with a little help from my friends.
Well, a lot of help from my friends, actually. And whatever you want to call the powers that are greater than ourselves...today, let's say Kali - creator and destroyer, with a little Ganesh, the trickster, troublemaker, divine comedian, mixed in...and actually, that which I now connect with within me. I never thought that would happen. But I feel it now, which is why even with all this and even in most of the desolation (with some times of extreme exception) I feel connected on some deeper level to everything and everyone. It's an amazing feeling and completely grounded in reality. Not hooey in the slightest.
I have never felt more real, more human, more vulnerable, more strong and for all the pain involved, it is fucking worth it. Wouldn't wish it on anyone, and wouldn't trade it for the world.
Welcome to my blog..
"We struggle with dream figures and our blows fall on living faces." Maurice Merleau-Ponty
When I started this blog in 2011, I was in a time of transition in my life between many identities - that of Artistic Director of a company (Apocryphal Theatre) to independent writer/director/artist/teacher and also between family identity, as I discover a new family that my grandfather's name change at the request of his boss in WWII hid from view - a huge Hungarian-Slovak contingent I met in 2011. Please note in light of this the irony of the name of my recently-disbanded theatre company. This particular transition probably began in the one month period (Dec. 9, 2009-Jan. 7, 2010) in which I received a PhD, my 20 year old cat died on my father's birthday and then my father, who I barely knew, died too. I was with him when he died and nothing has been the same since. This blog is tracing the more conscious elements of this journey and attempt to fill in the blanks. I'm also writing a book about my grandmothers that features too. I'd be delighted if you joined me. (Please note if you are joining mid-route, that I assume knowledge of earlier posts in later posts, so it may be better to start at the beginning for the all singing, all dancing fun-fair ride.) In October 2011, I moved back NYC after living in London for 8 years and separated from my now ex-husband, which means unless you want your life upended entirely don't start a blog called Somewhere in Transition. In November 2011, I adopted a rescue cat named Ugo. He is lovely. As of January 2012, I began teaching an acting class at Hunter College, which is where one of my grandmothers received a scholarship to study acting, but her parents would not let her go. All things come round…I began to think it may be time to stop thinking of my life in transition when in June 2012 my stepfather Tom suddenly died. Now back in the U.S. for a bit, I notice, too, my writing is more overtly political, no longer concerned about being an expat opining about a country not my own. I moved to my own apartment in August 2012 and am a very happy resident of Inwood on the top tip of Manhattan where the skunks and the egrets roam in the last old growth forest on the island.
I am now transitioning into being married again with a new surname (Barclay-Morton). John is transitioning from Canada to NYC and as of June 2014 has a green card. So transition continues, but now from sad to happy, from loss to love...from a sense of alienation to a sense of being at home in the world.
As of September 2013 I started teaching writing (composition and rhetoric) as an adjunct professor at Fordham University, which I have discovered I love with an almost irrational passion. So blessed for the opportunity and hope to find a more permanent job doing same.
I worked full time on the book thanks to a successful crowd-funding campaign in May 2014 and completed it at two residencies at Vermont Studio Center and Wisdom House in summer 2015. I have done some revisions and am shopping it around to agents and publishers now, along with having written a rough draft of a new book and some other projects.
Not sure when transition ends, if it ever does. As the saying goes, the only difference between a sad ending and a happy ending is where you stop rolling the film.
For professional information, publications, etc., go to my linked in profile and website for Barclay Morton Editorial & Design. My Twitter account is @wilhelminapitfa. You can find me on Facebook under my full name Julia Lee Barclay-Morton. More about my grandmothers' book: The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick & Jani
Recently, I started a website Our Grandmothers, Our Selves, which has stories about many people's grandmothers. Please check it out. I will be blogging there, too, now.