May 17, 3:15pm
That’s virtually like drinking sugar – she remarked from the depths of his conscience, as he poured a nip of green cordial into a long glass of chilled water. As a flaccid retort he would silently question if it was virtually like doing so or literally, or if the tautology was required at all.
Such was his life now, one of still hearing the echoes of someone he loved, but loves no more. The newness was new to him. Whatever the phoenix was, for he had not studied it, if it was a sense of rising from a dormant decade then he felt like a phoenix.
The cavern where his marriage had once lived is now filled with an excitement of learning about his home country, and the freedom to follow his interests, whether or not they are compatible with the closest human being.
Those interests centred around reading and writing – two personal joys he had foregone in the haze and busyness of a life over-committed to another. He was master of his time always, yet lacked the personhood to enforce it. If the loss of a marriage is what it would take to regain this, then so be it. It would be a fantasy, a tailor-made one by a guilty conscience, to imagine even if his personhood were intact and enforced, that the marriage was of a high quality.
But what was marriage? Besides from a covenant between a man, woman and God – as per the book.
He didn’t explore too closely to the fringes of this question, for he didn’t want his affection for the very basics of what he called ‘faith’ to be disarrayed. He had always given things the ‘Retard Test’: If someone impaired in the function of their brain can understand and, at the core of them, accept Jesus, then why are external realities, like divorce or homosexuality or cigarette smoking, of that much concern?
The concern, he feels, was always in the heart of those who had arranged their behaviours and convictions to suit the Church – whatever form or denomination it was.
He had found, in his very self even, the comfort of the approval of that group was synonymous with Godliness. And Godliness had more to do with your reputation for emotional stability (or dullness) and canonical understanding than whatever internal reality which could not be measured by middle-class Australian standards circa 1950s.
For many years this disgusted him, and led him to cease keeping said company. While now he does not keep the company, unless painfully required by family connection, he does not despise it. He now sees it as normal human behaviour, which can be observed in any gathering of likeminded folk.
Thus, its association with the divine, he sees, is entirely false. Not evil, just false. Noble? Perhaps. Helpful? Not to him, no. Human? Entirely.
He had outlined the shape of a biro in his notebook, which is extremely difficult with just one. An arrow pointing to it and the words ‘this is your therapy’ captures his processing of separation and into single-dom – with the added dimension of fatherhood.
In his rejection of her, he knew her proximity was guaranteed because they both had hearts set on being decent parents. Imagine his joy when he learnt at his first and last Dads In Distress therapy group, that a course was run titled ‘Parents not Partners’. He had no clue the world of the Separated was so strong – he had grown up apart from those ‘unfortunate’ enough to divorce. The fact the state and federal governments had poured millions over the years into ensuring that divorced parents still do their parenting competently remains and wonderful comfort to him.
Not that he had attended the course, or even prioritised doing so. But the fact that it was there, somewhere in a directory, was a helpful thought.
The last 6 months had given him much cause to think over his short-term strategies. His accommodation with his parents, as a grown man, was painful but critical. He would have no bed in Syndey, or base from which to parent, if it weren’t for his generous parents.
Thus, he is constantly reminded of three iterations of himself– the one he grew up as, his married self, and his new life as a single parent. All in the one house.
Some travel many miles and spend thousands for their challenges. His was in the reality of his current dwelling.
He knew this, and all it did was made him mentally more resilient.
There was a time, in his early teens, when the doldrums of a quiet home life made him concede to a destiny of boredom. But he learnt young that you needed your own picture of you, not others’. Your own picture was painted by yourself, and no one can steal this, not even your reality.
How else does a man grow into himself, unless he can first see his preferred self, even faintly, in the recess of his imagination?
Exact specs are not required; it’s just the vague outline and the associated emotions that are needed for the pursuit. One very good bloke, from his previous profession as a consultant, framed his similar personal journey in the title of a powerpoint presentation, as his “journey to real.”