Enmeshed – Merging and Emerging

Tonight I walked from the cluster of houses into the warm desert. There I became a surface for the full moon to shine upon, and food for crowding mosquitoes.

Living by myself has grown that habit, of walking alone, of looking at things from a distance. Yes, I am enmeshed in the life around me, in other people’s lives, in work and relationships. But there are degrees of involvement. There are shades, steps and angles to the way we move and exist within a community and within the world.

On this stage, and on this full-mooned night, I am made aware of this. I feel the place I stand intensely. With sadness I know a breach was made, a connection severed, and my place in the life of my fellows altered. I never previously saw the extent of my links with the normal, with the acceptable, with what people respect or feel easy with. But now, standing in this new place, sitting alone in the desert, feeling the mosquito bite, I know it clearly.

The known is that I am sharing a house with a married woman whose husband has only just become present. If I were a servant, separated from the woman of the house by the firm social barrier of employer and employed, of servant and mistress, there might be some programme in the minds of observers that shows a green light instead of the red light of suspicion. But the questions are asked, ‘What is this man doing in the house of this woman? How is it her husband allows this? Why does the woman want this?’

It means that any care or contact must be hidden. Love must be denied. Any depth or freedom of communication undertaken only when there is no possibility of others present.

Essentially, while living with another, I am alone, denied, hidden. There is no wonderful intimacy I might have with a lover or wife. I am devoid of the social status and acknowledgement I would be offered as a husband or committed partner.

These I have known in my marriage and in other relationships. I took them hungrily, holding my woman in public, taking her hand, feeling secure in intimacy. I was proud of our social recognition as a couple.

You seldom know how good those things are until you have lived with them for years, then lost them. And I lost them, and stand-alone under the moon, hearing the dogs bark and fight in Los Frailes. The woman and her man are away somewhere together, and I am sitting on a rock wondering about what I have lost, and what I have gained. I look at the emptiness in my left hand, the emptiness of loss. In my right hand is what I gained, and I search it to see if it satisfies.

I wander back over the years, meeting and warmly greeting old familiar memories. From being with them again I see that I wanted this aloneness. I moved toward the freedom enabling me to explore new relationships, to go in my own direction. This can be a wonderful feast of choices. But I want to warn this woman I feel love for, that it is also a torn place, an experience of separation and divorce. Few of us can tolerate freedom in someone we depend upon or need. It is too painful. Anxiety, jealousy, anger or hopelessness, the destruction of dreams, arise too easily. Few of us who ourselves want freedom, can tolerate it in others we love or are bonded with. It is one of those paradoxes of human behaviour. The man who so easily has an affair, is riven and angry if his woman behaves in the same way.

I walked slowly back into Los Frailes, feeling new bites from mosquitoes, and still hearing the dogs barking. I quietly explored roads I had not seen before, feeling, as I had intensely felt many times before, that human love has a finer face than we see when jealousy, possessiveness, competition or childhood pains not yet outlived shape its features. I had longed to find an expression of love in myself and others, not evoked by human frailties. My dream has always been of a new family, a new form of trying to build carefully and caringly within the strange and often awful world of present-day societies and cultures. I see it built upon mutual support and sharing of skills, on a form of love that is not possessive, nor ignorant of sexually transmitted diseases. In my dream, I see this Family mutually owning property, goods, and the larger needs of everyday living – not as a collective, but on the understanding that this mutuality has enormous benefits. Not least among these would be security through ownership for one’s children and oneself, that in the past was only known by the church through its enormous riches in property, by large corporations, and by families who had accumulated enormous wealth through the work of underpaid, or enslaved employees.

Perhaps this is only my personal feelings, but I love to walk in its quiet streets, looking at its beautiful walled gardens and hearing the cicadas sing, as I am doing here in Los Frailes this warm night.

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