A less than auspicious start


It’s official.  The holiday season is over.  Thank Buddha.

Hmmm.  Maybe that is one of the things I like about Buddhism is its conspicuous lack of big holidays.  I mean, think about it.  During the winter months, Muslims have Ramadan, Hindus have Diwali, Jews have Hanukkah and Christians have Christmas.  What do the Buddhists have?  Bupkis, we got bupkis.  I suppose it all comes down to equanimity.  If we are truly trying to practice equanimity, why make one day more important than another?  Besides, shouldn’t giving and love be practiced everyday and not just when it is cold and dark and we have nothing better to do?

Anyway, I’m relieved the official holiday season is over.  It’s just a hell of a lot of pressure on someone who really doesn’t celebrate in general, and who wasn’t into it at all this year.

My geriatric cat, Alaska, has been having a tough time the last week or so.  He was just seeming more frail than usual, and then he started stumbling when he walked.  Never ever a good sign in an older cat.  I was pretty well convinced it was the end, complete with premature mourning crying jags.   I figured there was no need to rush him to the emergency vet since they would just tell me the obvious – end stage rental failure – and suggest I put him to sleep then and there.  I know that decision to euthanize may be in my near future, but I want it done at home.   I feel very strongly about that.  I don’t want his last mind to be that of  fear.  I want the other cats to be able to see and sniff his dead body so they understand what has happened to their friend.  There is nothing more plaintive than an animal who wanders around the house looking for their buddy because they don’t understand what has happened.

Fortunately, I don’t have to make that decision quite yet.  His blood-work  showed he had an infection and as that is being treated he is getting back to his old 17 1/2 year old self complete with his impaired kidneys, GI issues and heart murmur.  But, he’s stopped stumbling and seems a lot stronger, and I’m very grateful.  But, this episode really hammered home the possibility of losing him, and it hurts my heart.

And while I was on this mental path of shedding things I loved, I really started to question my long relationship with the boyfriend.  I’m not sure that is going to last out the year either.  It’s hard when all I can see are the faults in the relationship and he is perfectly happy, and sees no reason to change anything.    On New Years Eve out having dinner at one of our usual haunts (sigh), I asked him if he had any resolutions for the new year.  His answer:  “nope, I’m good.  I’m on the path I need to be. ” Sure, one view of his answer is that he is a very sensible man oozing with contentment.  Or another view is that of a highly delusional man who is complete denial of his various areas of improvement, including his relationship with the person sitting across the table from him.

Maybe I’m still feeling kind of cocky having the thrill of accomplishment from NaNoWriMo and getting a new job that I’m really enjoying.  I mean, I did that, who’s to say I can’t dump my longtime boyfriend and free myself to have this exciting new life? But, would it be?  I’m turning 50 in exactly a month.  And the outlook for finding someone else at my age is, frankly, not promising.   So, do I trade the problems with being in a relationship for the problems of being single?

I don’t need to figure this out this week.   As my friend John reminded me last night on the phone, I’m just suffering from a case of the New Year’s blahs.  This too will pass.

17 responses »

  1. Bupkis? I have not heard that word….I like it! I am going to borrow it in my writings. Not sure where, but it does sound “daring”! Sorry to hear about Alaska, but glad it looks like some of the problem is temporary.

    I think relationships can be wonderful, and sometimes challenging. Seldom do 2 people go in the same direction at the same time and at the same velocity, but that is what makes it interesting and exciting. You are pretty in tune with your feelings and are pretty aware….I am sure you will do what you need to do…if you need to. It may just be a bump in the road. or not. 🙂

  2. I think a time comes when we would rather be alone than with someone who isn’t the right fit. Yes, being alone has it’s problems. Maybe you’re not seeing things clearly? Maybe it is the blahs. I don’t know but I do know that you are an amazingly strong woman and if you were single, you’d find your way through it.

  3. Yeah, what Corina said. Take some time, but quite honestly, for me, once that thought enters my mind, it tends to be a sign and no relationship has lasted past it. Relationships are hard work. You have to be happy with who you are working with. Otherwise it is JUST work, with very little love and happiness. Better to be on your own. And c’mon now – why does age prevent you from finding someone better?

  4. Hi LB

    I think it’s a case of the grass is always greener sometimes….You trade the suffering of having a boyfriend/girlfriend for the suffering of not having one. And when that gets unbearable you change your suffering again and get a girlfriend/boyfriend, if you can. It’s impossible to advise anyone on these things. What will happen will happen. Our ability to stay in any one situation has a built-in life expectancy. This is just part of our human problem. So I truly think we’re fucked (forgive my language) unless we manage to find something deeper. For me it is dharma. I am learning to be happy on my own, aware that getting hooked up with someone else isn’t likely to bring me happiness. I think one has to remind oneself that this is Samsara and the grass doesn’t stay green for long anywhere.

  5. Well, whatever the case may be with people in the world, I don’t ever put much stock in New Year’s Resolutions. As far as I can tell, they are simply public declarations of impending failure. Very few people I know of actually live up to their resolutions. Those that do, well, they must have something special going on, and I wish they would share it with the rest of the needy world.

  6. Hi LB

    I think I could have given better advice. So after a little thought, here it is:

    All our problems are in our mind. There are no problems outside of our mind.

    The head of the NKT in Australasia summarised it rather nicely for me: We have relationships….and there’s pain. Those relationships end…and there’s pain.

    Pain is inevitable, either way. And your next relationship will be the same. Inevitably. The greater the attachment the greater the pain will be.

    But of course you do need to recognise that the faults are not in your relationship, they’re in your own mind.

    As for the cat, sadly this is the same. There will be pain, inevitably.

    Anyway, the answer is to continue working on your mind. This is the only thing that can help any of us.

  7. It could be the New Year’s blahs. Or, having just done it myself, it could be something about turning 50 that makes you reevaluate your life. I was almost ready to jump out of my skin with all the reevaluating I was doing. Fortunately that wasn’t an option (as I don’t know where I might have ended up if I HAD jumped out of my skin).

    I admire the way you’ve thought things out regarding Alaska.

  8. yeah.

    I agree with Robin, your careful thinking about how you want your cat’s life to close is pretty unique. You obviously care a lot about that menagerie.

    In a way, I had a similar reaction to tpgoddess about the doubts signifying end of relationship, but then I thought about it a bit. I’m a big wuss in the interpersonal department, and not probably someone with a great deal of wisdom to offer, but I think the honesty thing is important no matter what.

    Is it fair to harbor these doubts about continuing and have him go on thinking everything’s great? Did you take the opportunity at the table to tell him you’re not feeling as content with things as he is? Personally, what I hate most in a romantic situation is to feel a fool. If you’re feeling that way, it might be simply fair to let him know. Maybe he would also start questioning the way things are between you if his knew his mate wasn’t too happy with him.

    If you care for someone, it’s always a good idea to try and let them be on equal terms in a scenario.

    My two cents. (unsolicited, but still)

  9. Ah, I’m glad that the puddy tat is still enjoying life. Long may it continue!

    As for the relationship – as a single woman, all I can say is; the grass is rarely, if ever, greener elsewhere. I’d be honest with him – but honest in a positive “let’s address this together” way rather than a “I’m not happy with you” way. Can you get some relationship counselling sessions together?

    Whatever you do, don’t chuck it in during the January blues. Deep breaths and this, too, will pass.


  10. BQ – I know, isn’t that a great word. Not for nothing did I spend 10 years dating a Jew. Oy! The expressions I learned.

    Corina – Thank you for the vote of confidence. I’m not afraid of being alone. That has always been part of my problem – I’m a bit too fond of my solitude, so I don’t always appreciate company as much as I probably should.

    TPGoddess – Don’t worry, I’m not going to rush into any rash decisions. These feelings come and go with great frequency. Maybe it is the current state of the relationship or maybe it is the January blahs. Time will tell.

    Ron – I’m not naive enough to believe that any relationship will bring me the long lasting stable happiness we all seek. But, like with the bad job situation, I can’t help but wonder if I have stayed in a less than satisfying relationship knowing that to leave would be merely ‘changing suffering’.

    When I was deep in the dharma, I had to admit I had a much greater tolerance for the boyfriend’s idiosyncrasies – seeing him as an object of patience or someone to whom I had a lot of gratitude for the positive things he would do. With my practice pretty much in the crapper these days, the relationship has been pretty damn mundane.

    I do get what you are trying to say though. He is not intrinsically flawed. Not too long ago those flaws were seen as a sign of his nonconformity and uniqueness. I wish my mind did not see flaws, but it does and I don’t know if I am capable of being happy in this relationship, much less making him happy.

    Robin – OK, so it’s normal to want to change EVERYTHING and try on a whole new identity for the remainder of my days? Whew.

    Am – You’re right. I’m not being very fair to him. Rather than being honest, I border on bitchy, thus trying to push him away. That way, I don’t have to do the dirty work of either fixing or ending the relationship. I do need to have a conversation with him about my lack of contentment. Thank you for saying what needed to be said. I have a long history of just walking away and never looking back. After close to 11 years he deserves more than that.

    Truce – Good advice on all fronts. Thank you. 🙂

  11. I’m relieved to know I’m not the only person who has planned a beloved pet’s future euthanasia down to the last detail. I hope it’s a ways down the road for me and my oldest girl, but I have the names of several housecall vets, I know exactly where I want her to be, and the handmade blanket I will wrap her precious body in to be taken to the crematorium, and where I will lay her ashes to rest in my yard. I feel better knowing that I have these plans in place, because when the time comes, I am going to be a basket case incapable of thought.

  12. David – as pet owners/guardians we have an awesome and terrible responsibility to create for our furry friends the kind of death we could only wish for ourselves: peaceful, being held by our loved one, and hopefully without pain and fear.

    When my Nomie died almost a year and a half ago, some people may have thought I was a little nuts, but I treated her death and her body as I would a dear friend (except I probably wouldn’t bury my friend in the side yard), complete with Buddhist ritual for the dead, and a group of friends who came over for her burial. I even wrote her a eulogy. Sure, some people don’t get it, but I did what I could for her, and in doing so I also helped myself get through a very difficult time.

  13. Animals are people. They have bodies very similar to ours, but more importantly they have minds very similar to ours, with which (also like us) they think and feel. Science still denies this, and it’s usually only animal lovers and owners who appreciate that despite the differences, animals also have souls. They too have good days and bad days, and sadnesses and joys. They too feel love and compassion. They too have senses of dignity and humour…

    Animals are people. Sadly many human beings don’t understand this.

  14. animals are people n vice versa eh? ~ then maybe the boy friend is just a pet that needs your care. So next time yer cleanin his cage (or his clock) just include a fresh bowl of water and maybe a carrot or too – but dat dont mean he gits to hogg the remote!

  15. LB, I’m with you about the holidays. My only regret is that I should probably have done a little more in the gift department for Mrs. Om — we exchanged gifts, but I should probably have picked up a few little extras.

    As I like the neo-pagans who try to honor all life, I’d like to incorporate more of that into the solstice celebration; still trying to work out how.

    Re Alaska: I’ll be interested to hear how you handle it. I now kind of regret putting our old dog down at the SPCA. I wish we had done it at home, too.

  16. I’m always astounded at the amount of, whats the word, introspection (?), that people here have. I enjoy the comments, and certainly look forward to reading them all as it really gives me a few things to think about in life. My own philosiphies tend to be a little different than most of those here, and I appreciate everyone’s comments as it only adds to my own knowledge and lets me see things in a fairly different light.

    Thanks all.

  17. introspectively speakin then ~ it mite bee hard to imagine how skirls re produce seein as how they mostly just wanna hide their nutz ~ and then thairs the drunken wonz = cum to think ovit squirrels are people two ~ at least they shure act lickit.

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