A Crack in the Foundation
Entry #2: A Crack in the Foundation
In my headphones: John Mayer "In The Blood"
Foundation. It's a mighty heavy word with multiple connotations and it's also a concept that's been heavy on my mind for the last several weeks. When I think of foundation, I think about the emotional structures within each of us, the building blocks our character rests upon, the intricacies that motivate our day-to-day actions, and the layers beneath the surface that make each one of us unique. My personal mission is to create a foundation that's built to sustain growth, evolution, and progress. As an individual, as a friend, as a brother, as a son, as a lover, as a professional, as someone who wants to live a full life, I aspire to build any and all relationships atop a foundation made of stone. As I reflect on my past "situation-ships," I'm realizing that the ones that dissolved to nothing were the ones that were established on frivolities, like, say, physical attraction, and not much else. That's not gonna cut it anymore, fellas. As I've gotten older, I've decided that I want my relationships to be built on friendship, dignity, shared experiences and to be so "Ford tough" that even if I have to fly off somewhere, I know I can come back and pick up right where I left off. Building something like that takes time, of course, but I'm happy to report that this kind of foundation, one rooted in honesty, respect, and understanding, describes most of the relationships already in my life (family, friends, colleagues, etc.).
When it comes to love, though, is it fair to look for this sense of grounded-ness in a partner, especially a new one, considering the career path I'm on? Even when I wasn't touring it's proved difficult to find, damn near impossible actually, so is it even realistic to expect someone to be on the same page when I'm not even physically present? I will say that as I was living and working in LA these past few years I got closer to what I've been looking for with each man that's come into my life. I can look back on each one of them and see the lessons they each taught me. They all had challenges, complete with identity issues, commitment issues, financial insecurities, etc. and even though they weren't easy, touring has presented a different type of challenge. I'm not there most of the time and physical space creates room for restless imaginations to dream up all kinds of things that may or may not actually be happening. Admittedly, I can sometimes be the Walt Disney in my relationships; my imagination can conjure up all types of hypothetical scenarios when a love interest is inconsistent. It wasn't until this year that I learned what it felt like to have someone who never allowed that type of space and inconsistency to exist, thus never giving me the opportunity to tap into my imaginarium. More on that later, but here's what else I'll say: I am a very grounded person (I am a Virgo after all) and even though my job carries me with the wind, I do have a strong desire to plant roots and "settle down." Paradoxically, and quite hysterically, I long for the freedom to fly and roam, whether for work or for myself. See the potential issue? I sure do.
Before we dive deeper into that paradox, I need to pose a question: where does our understanding of foundation come from? I, personally, think it starts with the family unit--as children our family establishes our first understanding of stability, love, morality, value, and safety. As far as I go, my foundation as a kid was rocked in a major way: I lost my mom when I was 3 years old after a fatal car accident on her way to work. Talk about a crack in this toddler's foundation. Although traumatic for my entire family, I think I was dealt the best hand in a shitty deck--I don't remember my mother, not one memory or even the slightest idea of what her voice sounded like. It's hard to even type that without tears streaming down my face. Up until now, I've operated under this theory that if you don't know what you're missing, you're somehow safe from feeling the pain that certain memories can make you feel. It is only right now, in this moment, that I'm realizing that what I lack in memory of my mom is replaced with this great void buried deep down inside me. It's an emptiness I can't really describe, but I feel it's heaviness most when a love situation goes awry. Then, I also realize that my life since losing her has consisted of this mysterious quest for strong feminine figures: when I was growing up my friend's mom's became surrogate mother figures, then as I got older I began magnetizing strong, fierce women into my inner circle of friends. I wasn't always aware of this, but this lifelong affinity to outstanding women has always come back to my mom. I guess that explains why I'm surrounded by so many strong, beautiful, and powerful women. Listen, I know the unfortunate truth is that my mom's never coming back and that I can never replace her, but I can't help but wonder what my life would be like had I not lost her. Perhaps I wasn't dealt the best hand after all.
How much of my father am I destined to become?
Will I dim the lights inside me just to satisfy someone?
Will I let this woman kill me or do away with jealous love?
Will it wash it out in the water,
Or is it always in the blood?
I don't want to be a complete downer, but there is something revitalizing about tapping into the source of your deep-rooted emotions. It's quite a labyrinth to work through, but I think it's necessary in order to grow and build better relationships. So we have to dive into our psyche when we're trying to grow, but how about how our personal history affects our relationships? I think we might need a specialist's perspective on this one and guess what? I've got one. I've never made an appointment to see a therapist, but I have crossed paths and had casual conversations with a couple throughout my travels. One, in particular, brought something to light that I had never seen before: a 3 year old losing his mother doesn't yet understand the concept of life and death, therefore he would process that sudden absence as abandonment. She tucked me into bed one night and I never saw her again. Then comes, "where's mommy? Why isn't she here? I want my mommy!" All followed by a colossal amount of pain. It hurts to imagine, but it makes all the sense in the world. 31 years later, many men in my "black book" have pulled the Houdini on me--some I welcomed their curtain call, but others I struggled to understand why they were with me one minute and gone the next. See the connection? I can't fully get a grip on this whole ghosting/zombie'ing thing that's running rampant in this millennial age because I process the sudden absence of anyone I care about as abandonment, rooted in the moment 3 year old me wanted his mom but couldn't ever have her again. While others can simply walk away or just accept that someone left without a trace, I have to do a tremendous amount of internal work in order to heal the wound.
Re-enter: MPD. For those who read my first entry, you should know that I'm currently in Boston, land of MPD (if you haven't read my first entry, or you need a refresher, click here to binge like Netflix). I don't think I have ever cared for someone as deeply as I cared for MPD so his sudden, unexplained absence really took me down. I felt safe with him, my feelings were genuine, my faith in "us" felt justified and realistic, and, in terms of character, I thought I knew him enough to know what to expect. For the first time in my dating experience, I felt like our foundation was rock solid. But, clearly, I was sorely mistaken. This next part is not his fault, but his ghosting has ripped open the wound associated with my mom and has caused random bouts of instability that feel like wild attacks on my emotional well-being. One moment I'm happy, joyful, and enjoying myself, the next I feel empty, a sense of immense loss consumes me, and all I want is to be alone. What is clear, after all of this, is that I have a lot more work to do when it comes to processing my mom's death, but the whole thing has me wondering: would we do some of the things we do to others if we knew their backstory and how it would affect them? I, personally, could never do to someone what MPD did to me. I aim to live a life filled with integrity and respect, among other things, so if a difficult conversation is necessary, I have the conversation, I don't shy away from it. Simply put, I find it massively disrespectful and selfish to open someone up and not acknowledge your emotional responsibility to them.
I can feel the love I want
I can feel the love I need
But it's never gonna come the way I am
Could I change it if I wanted?
Can I rise above the flood?
Will it wash out in the water,
Or is always in the blood?
My time in Boston has been, surprisingly enough, really fun. I've reunited with an old friend, the infamous "Shawna Bonna," and performing 2 sold out shows at Fenway Park is nothing to graze over. One day, though, I had a complete out-of-body experience in the back of a Lyft. Our Boston-based physical therapist, Heather, recommended we see a massage therapist while we were in town. I definitely needed a rub down, so after I made my appointment I looked up the masseuse's address only to find out that his office was located in the same part of town that MPD was living in when he first moved to Boston. Oh universe, aren't you cute? I scoffed, laughed even, and then decided that once my massage was finished, I'd walk around the area. I don't exactly know why I felt inclined to walk around, my best guess is that my curious mind couldn't help itself. Historical aside: my dad used to always call me "Curious George" growing up because I had to have my hands in EVERYTHING. Nothing's changed. You see, when MPD first moved to Boston he sent me pictures of his apartment, the building, his view, and some buildings and street intersections that I'm guessing were near his new digs. What's the harm in looking around, right? So there I am aimlessly walking around his neighborhood, no destination in mind, but nothing looks familiar. Eh, it wasn't meant to be. I give up and decide to walk to the nearby Public Garden. I've always wanted to check it out, but it has been freezing every other time I've been to Boston so I've never gone. Now let me tell you, I've seen a lot of parks over the years, all over the world, but The Public Garden is one of the top 5 most beautiful parks I've ever seen. Also noteworthy is the overall attractiveness of the people in Boston. As I was walking around, I caught myself thinking, "Oh, MPD, you aren't having any cold nights." I'm shady and I'm an asshole, I know.
I wasn't at the park very long before Shawna told me to grab a Lyft and come meet her for lunch. Once in the backseat, I was extremely invested in my phone--texting, Instagram'ing, e-mailing, all of it. After a while, I realized that we had been stopped in the same spot for a longer period of time than I felt was appropriate for these Boston streets. This isn't LA, people. I finally looked up from the screen, out of the window, and found myself looking at buildings that felt very familiar to me. "Why do I know these buildings?" I asked myself. The answer started sinking in. "No no no..." I looked out the opposite window only to see what I knew was his building. "No, NO." I did triple takes between each window and immediately demanded confirmation. Frantic, I pulled up our text thread, checked the details, and low and behold, the last several pictures MPD sent me were taken right where I was coincidentally stuck in traffic. You see how the universe works? Just dangling the carrot in my face. I hadn't realized it, but the driver had been trying to get my attention this whole time. "Yo! Hello! What brings you to Boston?" I stammered God knows how many times and said, "I'm so sorry, what? I'm kind of having an out-of-body experience back here. Is there any way we can get off this damn street?" I kept looking out both windows like a crazy person. After what felt like forever, we finally started moving and continued towards the restaurant. As we pulled away, though, I couldn't help but look over my shoulder...were you there?
How much like my brothers do my brothers want to be?
Does a broken home become another broken family?
Or will we be there for each other like nobody ever could?
Will it wash out in the water,
Or is it always in the blood?
Despite our near proximity, I have not heard anything from MPD, I don't expect to either, but I will say that I can't quite wrap my head around the strange feeling of being here and not speaking, knowing that he's just as physically close to me as he was weeks ago in LA. I've already made my attempts at reconciliation so I won't reach out again but what I've begun to see is that I'm at a stage in my emotional process where it's no longer about him as the man I knew, it's about what he represents. That is: what I've lost, what I've gained, and the arduous search for the holy grail of relationships: the WHY? Why do we open each other up only to walk away? Why do we use personal struggles as an excuse for our behavior towards those who care about us? Why, especially when it comes to romance, do people suck at communication? I mean, damn, if you don't like somebody anymore, just say it! You think I'm ugly now? Shit, tell me! You can't stand to hear me ask one more waiter about gluten free options? Fine! Hate how much I love my bougie coffee? Peace, sucka! These are all silly examples, but all I'm saying is the truth can hurt, it really can, but it's also clarifying, and with clarity we can all heal a little faster.
So that's life: a crazy, not-so-coincidental trip in the back of a Lyft and an overwhelming amount of introspection. What's bugged me the most since posting my first entry is that I haven't been able to recognize MPD's role in my life and the lesson behind his disappearing. I could see, to an extent, where he taught me how to be a better partner, where I can be more attentive and supportive of my (hypothetical) other half. When he was present, he was both of those things and more. It's taken writing this all out to comprehend that I needed him in order to confront the beast within, to look the void in the eyes, the emptiness I've felt throughout my life, and truly process losing my mom. I have cried so many times throughout this writing/editing process, but with each fallen tear has come a newfound acceptance of what is. For that, I can't help but be grateful for him. My mother will always be with me, in fact I carry the most beautiful picture of her, from her and my dad's honeymoon, everywhere I go. And although the wound may never fully heal, I know she's been there during yesterday's heartbreaks and will be there for tomorrow's new beginnings. Thank you for bringing me into this world, thank you for being a silent whisper during the dark times, thank you for making me who I am, and thank you for becoming the strongest part of my foundation. I love you.
Until next time...
How much of my mother has my mother left in me?
How much of my love will be insane to some degree?
What about this feeling that I'm never good enough?
Will it wash out in the water,
Or is it always in the blood?