Today's post is another chapter for my work-in-progress memoir. I am picking up where January's post, Color Arising, left off.
Thank you for taking the time to read today!
Mike’s romantic gestures at the end of the evening triggered a frenzy within me and sent me running to my cabin up the hill. How could meeting a man be a good idea? I had come to Omega to figure out what to do about the two boyfriends back home. I liked this man, didn’t know what to do, and had trouble quieting my mind to fall asleep that night.
In the morning, I avoided Mike when I saw him in the main hall. He was swaying gently to the music whereas I was restricted, unable to relax and enjoy myself. I had a problem to solve. I can’t avoid him forever. Figure it out! Calm down. Take a breath. It’s not an emergency. Finally, a moment of clarity came, and it occurred to me that I could tell Mike the truth. I was so accustomed to inventing tall tales and excuses that honesty was a novel idea.
The walk and talk
After lunch, while on a walk together, I said, “I feel like I need to explain my actions from last night. May I share with you the whole story of why I came to Omega?”
“I am interested to hear whatever you’d like to tell me, but you don’t owe me an explanation,” Mike responded.
With his go ahead, I began, “I have been involved with two men for about three years. At first, they knew about each other, but after a while and many breakups, I couldn’t bring myself to tell them anymore. I went back and forth between them so many times. I don’t even know how many breakups there have been. There have been times when our relationships overlapped, and I had to lie and sneak around to manage things. I couldn’t seem to end the cycle or live with the tension and dishonesty anymore, so I came here to try to figure things out.”
Mike listened without judgement and without giving advice as I continued, “Your romantic advances last night really took me by surprise, and I reacted poorly. I don’t want you to have the wrong impression. I like you a lot and have really enjoyed all of our time together.”
Being vulnerable in this way felt really freeing, and Mike met me in that open space with an open heart as well. “Thank you for telling me about your circumstances,” Mike responded. “After only a few days, I can see why both of these men love you.”
Our meandering led to the discovery of a small country store with a diner in the rear. We sat down at a tattered old booth, ordered a beer and some fries to share, and talked for a long while. Our exchange was light and easy again, interlaced with much laughter.
On the return trip to Omega, Mike stopped and asked, “May I kiss you, or will it further complicate your life?” We kissed and held hands as we finished the trek back to Omega.
Heart to Heart
Over the following days, Mike and I spent a lot of time together, and I continued to maintain some time to myself for processing my experiences at Omega. Mike was on campus for six days, and on our fourth day together, we attended a workshop in the art hut. I was drawing with markers and collaging a little bit, and Mike was putting together a more intricate collage. I finished my drawing and watched as he glued the final words that he had chosen onto his paper. “I have seen war.” “I hate war.” It brought tears to my eyes. When he was finished, we walked up to his cabin, sat on the edge of his cot, and looked at his finished collage together. It was an intimate moment in which I glimpsed a piece of his soul. I was learning to open my heart at Omega and I was given the gift of experiencing another’s heart as well.
That evening he drove the two of us into the town of Rhinebeck, and we had dinner at the Terrapin on their patio—a real date with all the trappings. We strolled arm in arm down the quaint shop-lined streets of town before returning to campus.
distancing and turmoil
The following day, I didn't see Mike at breakfast and caught up with him in the cafe mid-morning. He wasn't particularly friendly and was preoccupied with plans for his drive home the next day. Feeling a bit rejected, I wished him well with his travel plans, said I would see him at dinner, and excused myself. I was calm on the outside but felt hurt and confused on the inside. In accordance with my default response of those days, I was in immediate turmoil. What should I do? My chest was tight and heavy, and my throat constricted. My breathing felt smothered. I needed help from outside of myself. I wanted to run from the ache, but there was nowhere to go, and so I sat still. Again, the idea came to be honest with myself and Mike.
When we were midway through dinner that night, I said, "I missed being with you today. This morning I sensed that you needed your own space, and I wanted to honor any time that you needed for yourself on your last full day at Omega. It also felt to me like you were backing off or putting distance between us.”
"Distance. That is what I do,” Mike responded. “I have felt a great connection with you, and there is no certainty that I will see you again, so I backed away.”
"I would like to see you again,” I said. “Is there any reason that we cannot visit each other after Omega? Would you like to see me again too?”
“Yes, I would love for you to come visit my home in D.C.”
Such a simple conversation, and yet my heart pounded in my chest. Being vulnerable took a lot of courage.
The remainder of the evening and the following day were light and fun and romantic. I had met an amazing man, and we were going to see each other again. We said our goodbyes in the parking lot after lunch, and it was a sweet farewell. As with other new friends who had left Omega before me, I knew it was time for Mike to go. I had more work to do and more to learn from this divinely orchestrated adventure.
During that week, I also let go of one of the men in my life back home. It happened naturally as an honest response to a question that he posed to me in an email. I also came to the realization that if I was to see Mike again, I would need to either be honest with the other man back home or let him go as well.
As I look back at the experience with Mike now, I see him as one of the blessings of Omega. I had the gift of seeing all the qualities that I wanted in a partner in one man. He was masculine, logical, and capable, and he was also very creative, open, intuitive, and thoughtful. Within a large female population, he not only attended workshops, he participated.
More importantly I had the experience of being with a man in a different way. I didn't abandon my feelings or become a chameleon, picking up my next move based on his last. I sat still and paid attention to what was going on inside of me and I expressed myself to him. I allowed myself to be vulnerable and courageous.
coming into power
rectangle, which encases a figure in its negative space, was a design element, giving structure to the piece.
In the painting, Coming into Power, I see myself in the central figure. Although he has not fully emerged, he is building strength, and his power and drive are evident. He hides parts of himself and in places he appears to merge into the background like the chameleon. He contains both my old familiar characteristics and my emerging strength and confidence.
Just like the central figure allows a large block to stand in his way, my transformation has not been easy, and I’ve stumbled along the way. My fear of being vulnerable and leaving behind what I’ve always known created hurdles for me, and I tried to practice self-kindness and love along the way. Through awareness, modified behavior, perseverance, and action steps, integrating a bold new reality becomes possible.
If you are looking into ways to step into your power, you might consider a booking a Dalian Method workshop or private session. or a meditation series.
Madeleine Newkirk, Artist, Spiritual Junkie, Dalian Method and Art Process Facilitator.