St. Oprah of Winfrey calls them, “A-Ha Moments”. My gongers are the exact same thing.
Both are these very specific moments in which something snaps and clarity fills the void that once contained all that purposed ignorance. It’s as though your eyes (the orbs in the sockets in your face AND the philosophical one in your mind) suddenly open and reality is the only thing you see on the immediate horizon.
Here’s how my Gong Moments went down:
I was taking my evening constitutional around a man-made lake on Houston’s southwest side. It’s now June here in Houston; you can practically trip over the brimstone, so needless to say in the midst of this three-mile sojourn around this body of water, I became very hot, very thirsty and I started sweating profusely. The late evening offered no reprieve from the heat, so in retrospect, I either had a Gong Moment or was enduring a near-death experience. Either way, it was an enlightening event that once rehydrated, gave me pause.
I’ve always been under the mistaken impression that I had only been in love twice. The first time at the preposterous age of 12 and then the second time in High School when I fell head over heals for a boy who eventually became a man who like herpes and certain polyps, just won’t go away. He keeps finding his way back into my life and has on three separate occasions since 1975, mind you. And I must be honest–contrary to the way I just described him, I care about him very much. He happens to be the sweetest and cutest polyp I’ve ever known. And more importantly, we have this thing; this indescribable bond. The word “destiny’ is starting to enter into my vocabulary.
And I’m building a special exit for it, too.
You see, really I don’t want to get caught up in such a romantic notion. Because while I could, I’m choosing not to. As I walked I realize that I was coming to terms with the fact that I don’t want this relationship to be anything like the ones I’ve had before. In other words, I…Me…Laurie…n0ne of us want me to behave as I did with other relationships. I don’t want to get panicked, to feel angst because he didn’t call, I don’t want to worry and let my neediness and co-dependence dictate how it ends.
Yes, how it ends, because when I…me…Laurie act like some inverted narcissist, things never end well.
I was passing a few ducks swimming near the reeds when I realized that my relationships, every one of them, ended for two reasons.
1) There was not enough me in the relationship. Fear and self loathing kept me distant…
2) There was too much of me in the relationship. Fear and self loathing kept me waaaaaaay too close.
It’s all about breathing room and space. I never got that before. I was like this ramrod of LOVE ME!!!! I was selfish because I made it all about me…my wants and needs. And to tell you the truth, part of it should have been about me, but proportionately so. Sadly, I never saw the my own relevance; my own worth in any of my relationships. Desperation might have looked as though I loved others, but I didn’t. It was just covering up the fact that I got lost in that concept of love and never held an iota of anything back for me.
It didn’t matter if it was love or not. I had no self-respect. That was the problem.
GONG MOMENT #1!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I was my own problem.
Wow. And I didn’t fully grasp what love was.
When I was 12 and in seventh grade and met ‘that boy’, that started my career of falling in love with love. That never lasts.
Years later when my Recidivist Lover first entered my life, I loved a bit more maturely. Even more so when he appeared on my doorstep in Austin a decade later and these days, 25 years after the last break up, I am the President of the Maturity Club. What I feel is so different. So much so, that I have to question what it is that I’m actually feeling? I’m calmer. And that’s an alien sentiment; I’ve never felt like this before. Perhaps it comes with the territory of being 52.
So, is this love?
Well, I suppose I could answer that by going all 1st Corinthians on you, but I won’t. What I will do is admit that I like how this feels. I like him and I like the way he feels in my life; when we’re together and when we’re apart. I like the way we feel. He doesn’t take and give nothing back. He brings something to the table and willingly leaves it there, when he leaves. There’s no compromise. We offer each other options and in the face of so many choices, we choose to be together when we can and when that can’t happen, we’re fine with being apart. Even so, we never feel forced to choose style over substance. I love that and I love that right now, he provides the salt that adds much-needed flavor to my life. He has become this wonderful exclamation point that’s brought pathos and sensation to it, too.
And be helps me bring me civility to the forefront. A few weeks ago, we argued over politics, while still holding hands.
GONG MOMENT #2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
My God…am I…gulp…actually happy???? Me??????
Maybe I am, but am I in love? I don’t think I am. But I am committed to wanting this man in my life in any form that takes and for some reason, that feels very, very right for who and what I am at this stage of my life.
GONG MOMENT #3!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wow. I’m happily NOT in love.
Guess that’s why I am so totally okay with the fact that the relationship we have is far from perfect. At times, it’s downright insane. In fact, Nietzsche, Mr. Crabby Appleton himself, once wrote, “there’s always some madness in love.”
And then again, there’s always some reason in madness.
I walked my three miles while doing butt clinches every third step. I then drove my Cheeks of Tungsten home where I happily sought solitude and sanctuary. No phone; no computer to distract me. Not that night. I wanted to be alone.
I wanted to be all by myself to revel solo in the wonderfully fulfilling insanity that comes with being with this man, whether we’re together…
And then the gong broke.
My, my….how wrong was this gong.
I was never in love. Never. I was operating from a position of fear based on some impending life changes that I didn’t want to deal with alone. Silly when I think about it now, but it was a classic case of ‘needing’ more than ‘wanting’ , a situation that never ends well.
I’ll accept most of the blame; but not all of it. Not only was the timing wrong, the object of my affliction was/is/will always be way too self-absorbed. And this isn’t coming from a place of resentment. The truth is I could have said this about him 27 years ago; I’ll be able to say that about him 27 years from now. He’ll never change. But I was pathetically willing to accept crumbs. Fools act foolishly when blinded by anxiety.
But in the years since writing this post, I’ve forgiven myself for my naiveté; for my desperation. And even in the bleakness of this period in my life, I was able to come away with some invaluable knowledge: sometimes the biggest assholes in our lives; the biggest pain inducers, are the very best teachers.
Consider me schooled.