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Long Walk.

It was a good day for a rambling, long walk through the city. I went from the Club to the Randolph Street fair, and then back. Four and a half miles on the loveliest fall day imaginable.

I thought a lot about perspective along the way. Perspective is hard in times of change, because, as all artists know, perspective is based on a fixed point.

In times of upheaval breakdown spiritual awakening, the ground shifts underneath you, and so a reliable perspective is hard. And perspective, or the perceptions that stem from it can shove the dominoes over to action in an instant: You go from "I am lonely" to "I'm going to be alone forever" to internet dating in an instant. Or "I am lonely" to "I am hungry" to overeating.

Perception is the beginning, frequently, of action (or reaction). If I can manage my perspective, and my perceptions, I find that I can make some space for better actions, or even non-actions, that serve me better than reactivity.

I'm learning the art of the productive pause.

I've been working on creating my own perspective in the moment, and I've found that gratitude is a kind of universal fixative. Sometimes all I need is the moment of mindfulness that helps me to get through to the next morning.

The mantras shift but they are like this: "I have enough." "My children are wonderful." "My life is full" or just simply, to the universe, "Thank You."

The lack of perspective and the risk it creates of making really bad choices is why all the sage advice holds that a period of solitude is necessary after divorce to re-establish one's bearings.

Most sources say five years.

Five years. That's for real.

And the work of the five years is largely about perspective. Responsibility taking. Growth. Re-fixing the ground underneath yourself, so the next part of life can be solid. Rebuilding, deliberately, choice by choice.

I keep reminding myself: Five Years.

Some people are ready before. Some take the five years and more and still are never ready, going from one relationship to the next, looking for the point to fix on. It's no wonder that they, frequently, end up in relationships that are not satisfying.

Because the point that leads to all perspective isn't outside of ourselves. It's inside, and it's called self.

Self-worth.

Self-reliance.

Self-care.

Self-direction.

I think, generally, I have the first two down. But he last two have been a process of failure learning. Learning to articulate my needs, care for myself, and set limits on what I can and can't do. To have my choices and my desires and my values be unapologetically what they are.

More critically, it has been a process of determining what I want to do, where I want to go, and what MY dreams are. Determining who I am from the ground up. Learning to show up for real, as me, every day, regardless of the perceived or actual consequences of that choice.

It has been, and continues to be, very difficult work, because it bumps up against all my childhood baggage. My quest for belonging, to belong to someone, to feel part of something. To be chosen and remembered and seen and approved of.

I know how I got here. I've worked through the forgiveness for my family and, indeed, myself for my chaotic childhood. My parents, both, did the best they could, which was deeply impacted by illness of various sorts and their own childhood issues.

I know they love/d me. I know I am love-able. Full stop.

Abandonment, though, is a particularly nefarious feeling - one of the things it caused in me was a pattern of wrapping myself in someone else's dreams and values, regardless of whether they suited me, in order to not be alone.

I ended up living in a way that left me exhausted and drained, because it didn't honor who I am. It was completely understandable, because I didn't know who I was, and didn't believe I could be myself and have it be OK, if I did.

Imagine being a person who disliked running, but who moved to a country where people ran everywhere, all day long. How long would you make it?

I had to leave to survive.

My leaving surprised a lot of people, and blindsided my children, because I was so good at making it look like it worked, because, for me, there was so much emotionally riding on belonging.

To move forward, I had to embrace the knowledge that my childhood was done. I was never going to belong to a mother or a family in any idealized way, and that I couldn't create an adult relationship that was ever going to fix that or fill in that quarry in my soul.

I had to open my heart to that loss and move on.

What I discovered was that I had to fully and totally belong to the only person who would never abandon me: ME.

That took getting to know myself, which is an ongoing process, and can't, yet, be interfered with or interrupted by, anyone else.

I don't want to share my dreams with anyone, because I don't know what they are, exactly, yet.

More importantly, I don't want to ask about anyone else's dreams in the process of getting to know them, especially if they're wrapped in the cherry-candy flavored hormones of new love, until I'm sure my dreams are mine and not limited or proscribed by theirs.

I accept that I am responsible for my own dreams and the progress towards them.

I accept that the only person that makes me feel good or bad about myself is me.

I have to learn to imagine a future filled by me, and not built around someone else, because I'm also letting in that the only constant is impermanence.

I'm not sure what a relationship of two souls that honors impermanence and change would look like, because it's certainly not the script we are sold.

I imagine I'll figure it out when and if I ever get there. But until then, solitude feels right. Uncomfortable and needful sometimes, but right.

I am a woman who goes to India alone. I am a woman who eats alone at a restaurant and doesn't have to bury herself in the phone to get through it.

I am a woman who is learning the difference between "alone" and "lonely".

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