Where

It hurts to breathe. I can barely put one foot in front of the other, and then when I do, I ask: to what end? Where will this take me?

The answer is unbearable: it will take me the only direction there is. Further from where I want to be. Further from my life with him. Further from the future we had planned. Further from the dreams we were forming together with so much joy and excitement.  Further from the happiest time in my life.

Every night, when we climbed into bed and held each other, one of us asked, “What’s this?”  and the other answered “This is the best part of my life.” These steps are taking me further from the best part of my life.

I have no signs of him. I beg for them every day. I am looking for him. He is not here.

How

Albert.

I have so many of your beautiful words…You sent me so many messages expressing your love and intentions. You said that you were mine completely, you asked me to open my arms and heart to you and that in return you would give me all of you. You thanked me for letting you into my life.

Once, early this year, we looked at all the messages we sent to each other over the first two months we were together. You had tears in your eyes as we finished…It was so incredible to experience you. You were so proud of me and I of you, it was an honor to be loved by you so deeply.

I just cannot reconcile this, that you left. You weren’t supposed to go. You called me your woman, your life partner, your love, your life. I can’t bear that this is it. I can’t face tomorrow, next week, the rest of my life…

How do I do this without you?

Understanding

I’ve been using some unconventional therapies to get to the bottom of what exactly happened/is happening to me, as I mentioned in my last post. They are working. I will probably share what they are here soon, but I need to get deeper into them and understand how they are working better before I do.

The only way I was able to discover them was because I found some resources that described exactly my intense and overwhelming feelings of loss that were so out of proportion to the reality of the relationship. These resources not only resonated with me by providing scenario after scenario describing my reactions exactly, but also described physiological explanations as to why. Why it so resembled an addiction (because it acts the same way in the brain), including the withdrawal symptoms, and why it should be treated as such.

So in short, this overblown emotional reaction was triggered due to unintegrated attachment trauma. The profound need to stay with a lover/partner is the same drive that a wounded child unconsciously carried throughout childhood. The dire need to be with someone who does not care for us are triggers the devastating feelings that the child’s mind was not able to handle because he/she would be crushed by the reality of being ignored, neglected, betrayed, abandoned, or abused. So this drive gets activated in our mind in our current adult relationships and we are caught in this wildly incongruent longing to be with someone we know is not right for us (guilty as charged).

One way to work with this is to take the focus (projection) off of the other person and go into childhood grief. This is what I have been doing with these therapies I’ve been involved in. When the underlying driver is an attachment injury, then the current intensity has nothing to do with the other adult partner. It has to do with a nervous system that is waking up to a lifetime of being ignored.

I always sort of knew this on some level, and I recognized this in other friends too, but I had no idea how to “fix” it and honestly didn’t try that hard to do so. Until this latest episode. I really hit rock bottom through trying to distract myself from the pain of the rejection from this person. I ended up in a few precarious situations where I met up with random men and even traveled to meet strangers, all in the hopes of finding someone to pull my attention away from the target of my obsession. It just made me sadder and more desperate, but that kept me searching for reasons and relief. Which I seem to have found. It is a process but not nearly as long as years of therapy, and I can happily say that I am out of the pit of despair I fell into.

I still have a long way to go, but I’ve stopped my destructive behaviors and (most of) the distractions and am working really, really hard on releasing the old traumas. I have a feeling this whole thing is going to change my life.

 

Kitty

The following is a frequent occurrence in this house: I enter the bedroom where the boyfriend is visiting with the cat.  He is putting his face close enough that she can bump her head up against his face.

He’s speaking softly in Italian to her, it sounds like he is cooing nice things into kitty’s ears, but upon listening closer, I hear he is speaking insults – calling her a stronza (a piece – as in piece of sh*t), fat, a rufiana (manipulator, like a flirt). Kitty has her eyes half closed. She doesn’t care one bit about the insults – she knows they are true.

She has a visitor who comes to see her every few days, a young male cat who makes his way through the fences and walls in the interior square the many apartment complexes surround. The terraces (patios) are partitioned off to the lower floor apartments in a strange puzzle; some owners have long, skinny terraces (like 100 feet long and 20 feet wide), some have L shaped terraces that the hooked end part is so impractical, people never use it, while others have tiny postage stamp size terraces no more than 8 feet by 4 feet, like us. It seems unfair but it’s been 100 years of negotiation for the interior spaces, so who knows the deals that were arranged.

We have some chicken wire-like stuff up against the 100 year old spiked iron fence that arises from the hip high, crumbling wall surrounding our tiny terrace from the vast expanse of the neighbor’s unused terrace. The visitor–I call him Mr. Cat–jumps up onto the wall and meows for Kitty. She’ll casually make her way over and jump up to sniff him. I’ve cut a hole in the chicken wire so I can feed Mr. Cat, even though I know he has an owner, because he showed up with stitches near his ear one day. The two of them can touch noses though the hole in the fence, though Kitty usually takes swings at him with her paw.

Kitty has no tail–none at all, not even a stump–and this not only leaves her butt exposes but evidently affects her ability to…well, get it all out. Sometimes she leaves presents the size of a Tootsie Roll, or even larger, around the house. But even more charming is that she will ask to get her butt wiped. Yes. She has a certain meow that is not “Feed me”, “Play with me” or “Pet me”, but is “My ass needs attending to”.  When this cry is administered, usually when I am at my desk trying to concentrate, I’ll find a tissue near my desk or  head to the bathroom (Kitty follows, she knows what she needs) and wipe off her business. It’s never bad, she is a clean cat, but sometimes she needs help. So she asks me.

The bedroom door must remain closed at night.  Kitty loves food and is an indoor cat, so doesn’t get as much exercise as she probably needs. Oh, there are forays into the stairwell, practically daily, and she runs up and down the hall (nearly always with the hope of me going to her dish or the refrigerator). But if the bedroom door is left open, she will wake at dawn, find her food dish empty, and head straight for the bedroom where she will alight upon the bed and bat my face until I rise to put food in her dish. Kitty is now too fat, so the bedroom door remains closed.

Sorry Kitty, we need to add ‘maiale‘ to your list of names.

 

2014 New Year resolution Part Two/Conclusion

I guess I should have titled this my New Year anti-resolution check-in/conclusion. Anyway, the original post is here, check-in part one is here, and this is part two, and actually the conclusion since it is now 2015 and there can be no more check ins.

In June we went to Aragon. A weekend riding little bikes and supermoto at the Motorland track and some site seeing around the old city of Alcañiz, which is a fascinating city. It’s worth reading about.

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Little bike in the garage

In July we went to the South of France to catch a few stages of Le Tour (that’s the Tour de France for the uniformed), plus Montpelier beforehand. I’ll admit, I was disappointed in Montpelier. Overall, I found it to be shoddier and dirtier than I expected, and the city relies entirely too much on cars for my taste, despite its overground tram system. It had some interesting historical monuments and relics though, including an enormous aqueduct built in the 1700s.

Aqueduct in Montpellier

Aqueduct in Montpelier

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Next stop was Nîmes, where we spent a day visiting all of the intact Roman structures all over the city. An entire, intact Roman amphitheater stands in the center of town and is used regularly–weekly–for events.

Nimes amphitheatre

GP riding toward his roots in Nimes

The Spanish influence is evident in this city, where local ferias, flamenco and Camargue bullfights (where the bulls are not harmed unlike the bloodthirsty Spanish version) are a regular part of life.

Nimes symbol - a croc leashed to a palm

Symbol of Nimes – a croc leashed to a palm

The ancient amphitheater, built in the the 4th century AD, is still in regular and frequent use. Here they hold the many, many bullfights held in Nimes, and also concerts, recreations of Roman games, city festivals and other big sho

Tour du France juxtaposition

Le Tour juxtaposition

Roman structures in Nimes

Riding around Roman ruins

Nimes river

Downtown Nimes river

Le Tour finish

Le Tour finish

After watching the Tour finish from Nimes, we took the train to Carcassonne, another historically significant city, this time for its intact Medieval city center. We stayed just outside the newer part of town, along with plenty of media and press people, and rode our bikes into town and up to the walled in city for a look around. It was a rest day for the tour and we actually saw a couple of riders touring around the tiny, ancient walled-in city.

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EPO, it’s what’s for breakfast.

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Pushing my bike through the slippery cobblestones of Carcassonne

The next day we saw the start of the Tour stage, then rode along the old horse trails lining the Canal du Midi. These are rooty, tree covered paths built for the horses that pulled the merchant barges from town to town. The trails are now bike and walking paths and the canals, that cover France, are now primarily used by pleasure boaters who like to see the country via the canals. Not a bad idea, actually.

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A boat waits for the water to rise at the lock

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Crossing a canal bridge

The next jaunt was to see the final of the big three bicycle races, the Vuelta de España in August. Taking our bikes by train to Pamplona was our first stop, where we had a day to ride around and found ourselves riding along the Camino de Santiago trail unintentionally but to our great satisfaction.

Camino de Santiago marker

Camino de Santiago marker, the shell

Bike trails just outside Pamplona

Bike trails just outside Pamplona

We had drinks with our neighbor in Barcelona who happened to be in Pamplona for work, then the next day we caught the stage start in a park at the edge of town. The city celebrated everywhere with decorations (though nothing like the Italians decorate for the Giro), including a display of Miguel Indurian’s time trail bike hanging in the Santander bank arches.

Indurian's timetrial bike

Indurian’s timetrial bike on display in the central Plaza of Pamplona for the stage start.

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GP’s stage start selfie

Alberto Contador Pamplona

The Vuelta leader and eventual winner, Contador

We then headed to Logroño, where the next stage actually started and finished. We stayed in town and hit the famous Laurel street for some serious tapas and pincho eating two nights in a row, and got up close and personal with the riders at the stage finish.

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Everyone’s favorite personality, ex-mountain biker Peter Sagan.

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In September I flew out to Rhode Island for a week to see my brother on his historical farm he is renovating, along with my father who met me there. I went to a dance performance on the grounds of one of the mansions out there, and crashed the after party. I had a nice long chat with the wife of the proprietor, a woman from Serbia, about Nikola Tesla, with whom she claimed to be related. I’m not sure I buy it but it was interesting none the less.

I then started to get quite busy with work so the traveling stopped until the years end (and yes, more or less broke my resolution to not ‘work hard’). We also moved and the new placed needed a LOT of work so that took precedence.

But for the last trip of the year, on December 25th we headed to New York. I had a real haircut in SoHo, visited museums, ate street food, finally saw the 911 memorial, paid way too much for a hotel room for six nights but didn’t am at peace with it because it was planned. (Next time I’ll stay at an AirBnB for half the price, and not in the theater district either!) New Years Eve we boarded a plane to Southern California for a week or two of sun (and dental appointments).

And that, my friends, concludes the 2014 New Year’s resolution updates.

The Piano

My grandfather played piano. He had a stately, sumptuously decorated house in the wealthiest part of San Diego, with an elaborately wood inlay grand piano in his front hall that he entertained with when asked. I think he was self-taught, and I know that he didn’t read music. He played by ear and could play many popular tunes, and very well. I never knew how he learned, though I suppose if I had asked him, he would have been happy to tell me.

I played piano as a child, starting young in a children’s group class. The teachers name way Cindy, which I thought was the most beautiful name, much more becoming than my own, one syllabled name that was frequently stretched into two by my mother, a DC native who drew out the B so my name sounded like bah-ritt. Or my brother, who frequently toyed, not unkindly, with my name, turning it into buuurrrrito. When I imagined myself on horseback, loping across the golf course to my best friends house, I was always Cindy, a pink skinned, curly haired beauty fashioned after my piano teacher. Cindy sang in a soprano voice, and had cascading blond curls that fell upon her giant bosom She wore frilly blouses and pink lipstick and metallic eyeshadow. Jewelry adorned her fingers and I thought her the picture of feminine idealism. Myself, I was thin and tan, not pink and curvy (although I was only about 6 years old) and very self conscious of my long skinny legs. Though I did get compliments on my long finger –piano fingers the teachers called them—and learned to be proud of those.

A neighbor boy my brothers age demonstrated an amazing rendition of Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer to my astonished young eyes. Here was a boy, maybe 9 years old, putting forth a complex and raucous piece of music that I never imagined myself being able to play. In fact, I never thought any further than the lesson that I went to once a week and the practice I did each afternoon. I had no plans for becoming a piano player—though I must have indicated that I enjoyed it. But he impressed me and I frequently thought of him when practicing.

At the age of 10, I performed in recitals. Local, small town events, held on Sundays in an aging community hall with a stage. There, a grand piano was pushed onstage and student after student from the piano instructor who organized the event shuffled out, took a bow, and sat down to plink out some memorized tune. One recital, I was given two tunes to play back to back and, while I don’t recall what they were, I do remember receiving an enthusiastic applause after the first piece before launching into my next number. I wore a peach and white dotted skirt and dress combo, likely from Kmart, and knee high socks and white sandals. I must have played with feeling on this particular day because I received another resounding applause. I think I carried music sheets with me. Why I was allowed two tunes and a sheet music accompaniment, I don’t recall. But my mother told me years later how awed she was that I could get on stage and play, without nervousness or faltering. All I remember was looking forward to sneaking around with my friend back stage, getting into the dressing rooms and prying open locked doors. That old performance hall was built in the 1920s and was full of interesting nooks and crannies. For me at the age of 10, the performance was the price to pay to be able to poke around in the back rooms of that hall.

Of course, with puberty came the refusal to practice or do anything my parents wanted me to do. They were about to divorce and were already living apart, in fact had been for 3 years, and had new relationships of their own. My interest in pleasing them waned and I looked for a new identity. Out went the piano playing along with my childhood photos and other things I deemed reminders of my childhood, which was now completely gone. I burned all my journals and childhood school photos in a pile on the front porch. My mother asked later what the black mark was and I don’t remember if I told her what I burned or not. There was never another mention of it.

Years later, I longed to play piano again and moved the old upright piano I had practiced on and stained with hot cups of soup into the house I had just purchased on my own at the age of 29. I attempted more lessons but only found lonely old men who required more commitment than I was willing to give, or awkward gay men in sweat pants with electronic pianos with the volume far too low in their crappy carpeted apartments. I became busy with other things.

Fast forward a couple of years. I have a broken leg and a new relationship with a man that would become my husband. I sat with my broken leg and slowly learned to plink out a version of The Entertainer. I picked through the music, note by note, my ability to read music not any better than it had been at age 10 (I still had said acronyms for each space and line to figure out which note was shown on the music). But I learned to play that tune haltingly, to my delight and surprise. Shortly thereafter, the husband moved in a nonoperational organ that had belonged to his great grandmother into our place, and I sold my piano to make room.

Now, a decade later, I live in Europe in a tiny apartment that couldn’t house a piano even if I could get it up the three flights of stairs to my floor. But I need a piano now. I need to master The Entertainer. I need to be able to sit down play for that wide eyed 6 year old whose photos and diaries I burned. So I am looking for a place where I can give a piano it’s own space. A place big enough for all of me.

New Year resolution check-in part one

At the beginning of the year, I stated that I intended to spend all my earnings on travel this year. So far, the spending all my earnings part is right on track, but while much of it has been on travel, much of it has also been on dentistry and dog surgery and tedious (and expensive) travel to the US for said things above, plus fun tasks like renewing passports and collecting tax documents.

But the trips for enjoyment and improvement have been numerous and yes, enjoyable and improving. So far this year, outside of two trips to the US for the above listed reasons, I’ve made some trips. Let’s start with…

Madrid, where I essentially ate my way through the city until the final day when we rented bikes from our hotel and rode through the fabulous and giant park that goes along the Manzanares river. This is the first thing we should have done, and I will return with a proper mountain bike and spend at least two full days exploring the awesome expanse that is the Casa del Campo on a bike that does not weigh 75 pounds.

Fried octopus and calamari in Mercado Sant Miguel. Where I ate a lot of food.

Fried octopus and calamari in Mercado Sant Miguel. Where I ate a lot of food.

My favorite dish: Tapa of tiny, pickled green eggplant.

My favorite dish: Tapa of tiny, pickled green eggplant. Discovered in a 150 year old bar.

GP offroading the hotel bike.

GP taking the hotel bike on an excursion.

Barolo, Rivarolo Canavese, Agliè and Oropa (Italy) to see various stages of the Giro d’Italia. Impressive and I’ll do it again next year. We saw the time trial stage between Baresco and Barolo, the end of stage 13 in Rivarolo Canavese, and the start AND finish of stage 14 which was from Agliè to Oropa. We rode our bikes between the towns via a ‘shortcut’ that took us 5 hours through the backyards of tiny hillside farms, roads so steep that deep cuts in the pavement were needed for vehicle traction, and up hills where even the triathletes of the group (there were three of them) had to push their bikes.

Somewhere in Northern Italy

This is steeper than it looks. And full of holes.

Riders cheering on the real racers at stage 12. It had hailed–hard–40 minutes before the stage passed through.

We also spent a day spectating an off road team endurance race–for scooters. I have some video of this here. This was not quite as spectacular as the Giro, but it was possibly more entertaining.

Offroad scooter endurance racing.

Off road scooter endurance racing.

France: Paris and Cannes (Disclaimer: Cannes was not my idea). I met up with a dear friend for a repeat trip we did last year. She flew from California to Paris and I from Barcelona. We planned to meet in the CDG airport as I would be arriving 20 minutes after her. Of course, phones did not work so we spent 2 hours trying to find each other until I got smart and bought 15 minutes of internet and called her through Skype. We stayed in a tiny (what else?) hotel in the 10th arrondissement and had a fabulous time, as always. I love that city and would live there if it were near the sea. Forget about the old reputation of rude Parisians – people are lovely there: friendly, helpful, playful and engaging. Quite the opposite of how the locals treat non-locals where I live…that’s another topic though. We went to a classical concert the first night in a beautiful cathedral. It was fabulous- except for the dang nuns blocking my view. We crashed a fancy party next door afterwards. I have no idea what it was for.IMG_0588We used the awesome shared bike program Velib and road all the way to and through the Bois de Boulogne where we saw hookers on their lunch break. Then we rode through “Little Africa” and along the river and damn near everywhere in Paris.

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Velib steed in the park. Shh, don’t disturb the hookers.

We ate good food our few days there, spent a lot of time walking around Le Marais and then went South to Nice and over to Cannes where it was really boring. I did find us some bikes and we rode up to the old town which was the only cool thing about Cannes other than some great food and spending time with my friend. Oh and all the old men smiling at us, I guess.

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Old village on the hill above Cannes. The bikes were partially electric so really, we cheated on the climb part.

Riding to the top of the old town hill, a workman flirted with up asking if we were training for the Tour de France.I answered that yes, in fact, I was (in a sense).

Next up: A weekend riding motos in Aragon and our Tour de France bike adventure.