This is what I have discovered recently. True love, real love, requires a level of nakedness (emotional) and vulnerability that is fucking scary. For me perhaps more than some because of my background, I don't know. But I suspect it's scary for everyone to some degree or another.
Whenever there is even a perceived threat of abandonment, even if it is not anyone's fault because oh say there's a big distance between me and my beloved and a lot of logistical challenges to see one another plus - as recently - a sense memory of a great loss unrelated to the present moment - I can spiral into a kind of fear that is truly terrifying. A very good friend of mine has pointed out that this is the fear from my childhood abandonments that only now can I actually feel.
The good news is I am with someone who can remain present when this happens so I am able to walk through this terror.
No wonder I've never been able to form intimate relationships before now. There was this Wall of Fear.
The irony is I thought - of course - that I was able to do this and others were afraid of intimacy. (Pause here for laughter.)
If my beloved had walked into my life a day earlier, I may very well have bolted. This shit is scary. To be seen and see another human being in all our vulnerabilities - to allow each other to truly affect the other - to always be ready to acknowledge when either of us is projecting a shadow figure onto the other (and at 49 & 53 believe me there are an accumulation of such shadow figures) - and to be willing to open our hearts even more - every day. That is what is necessary and - miraculously - that is what is happening.
For me, sometimes the terror brings me right back to some ancient terrors - most of which I could not feel at the time. But I am walking through it now and - crucially - with another human being who loves me more than anything, which is how I love him. So there is healing. Finally.
It's not a matter of the same old scab being ripped off over and over again only to grow back and be ripped off again in some insane repetition compulsion masquerading as healing or whatever. But because there is compassion and love rather than just a self-will machine attempting to Fix It For Good or Because it's Unacceptable, there is room for something so much more actually healing.
Healing is of course a deceptive word, something I think I've written about on this blog before - because healing sounds all soothing but is in fact painful. Think of any physical injury you have sustained and the healing process and you'll know what I mean. Love is painful. It's also the greatest joy ever. By an infinite amount. Because there is alchemy here - mysterious, gorgeous, where time shifts and past wounds can heal in the present and there can be a sense of wholeness I never thought possible. I thought I was 'too damaged.' I was wrong.
But this healing love does not come for free or cheap. It requires an ability to accept whatever comes from oneself and one's beloved, however and in whatever way that emerges...There is a Rumi poem that addresses this in a certain way and I will quote it here:
Learn the alchemy True Human
the moment you accept what troubles
you've been given, the door opens.
Welcome difficulty as a familiar
comrade. Joke with torment
brought by the Friend.
Sorrows are the rags of old clothes
and jackets that serve to cover,
and then are taken off.
and the beautiful
is the sweetness
A friend sent me this poem after 9/11 and at the time that is what this referred to for me, but now it also refers to more personal matters. The 'undressing' is what is happening now with my beloved...'the sweetness that comes after grief' - but also, because of so many past traumas - the welcoming of difficulty is also required from time to time. In these moments, I also feel terror. But because I am with someone who loves me, in the end the terror is held and soothed.
There is an opening now - more layers of my past revealed - the most dangerous - the most terrifying - the least 'worded.' The miraculous thing is I now feel safe enough to allow this to happen...
This painful, joyful healing process is what will allow me to finish my grandmothers book. This I realized today when meditating. The block I feel when working on it - the quicksand feeling of doom - it relates to all this. The love I share with my beloved is beginning to melt down the last walls...and this much I know: this final bit has to happen with someone else. I can't do it alone.
Lucky guy, right?
Well, he says he's on board for the ride. Time to buckle up and hold on tight...
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. While felt blessed for the opportunity, after four years of this, the lack of pay combined with heavy work load stopped working, so have transferred this teaching passion to private workshops in my own apartment and working with writers one on one, which I adore. I will die a happy person if I never have to grade an assignment ever again.
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 a new book recently completed.
I am now working full-time as a freelance writer, writing workshop leader, coach, and editor. Contact me if you are interested in any of these services.
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. You can also contact me through that site.