This is a serial about love and awakening. Previously: Billy and I go on a four-day bender of sex, drugs & rock ‘n roll. To see all posts in chronological order, Click Here.
The next time I visit Billy, he gives me a lifeless peck on the cheek.
“Is something wrong?” I ask.
“Your age is troubling me,” he says. He’s eight years younger than I, and this is the first I’ve heard it troubles him. The last two men I’ve been with, including my ex husband, were ten years younger, and their response to the age difference was, “Who gives a damn?”
Billy does. He says he’d rather be with someone who won’t get old before he does. I point out that he knew my age from the first time we met. “Maybe your mind is throwing this up now because it’s one thing we can never fix, talk through or compromise about. I’ll always be older.”
He nods. “It’s a brilliant way to check out, don’t ya think?”
I sigh. I have my own doubts about the viability of this relationship. Billy’s not working and has no focus. He shows no ability to see the other person’s point of view—his perception is always “correct” and mine is wrong. He has few friends. After living in Colorado all his life, he has one male friend with whom he never talks intimately, and two women friends who’re ex lovers.
More important is his skittishness. Because of my own ambivalence, I do best with men who really want to be with me and consistently hang in there. “That won’t be the case with me,” Billy says.
What to do? Months later, I’ll read in Pia Mellody’s book, “Facing Love Addiction,” that the love addict has a fatal attraction to the avoidance addict. But on the day I feel Billy pulling away, I think: Okay, here’s a chance to work on my own stuff. Can I let him have his doubts, say what he needs to say and not react? In meditation, I’m using the practice of “allowing everything to be as it is.” Allow Billy to be troubled. Allow me to be troubled that he’s troubled. Allow it all to be as it is, and when I do that, peace drifts in.
Billy motions me to join him on the sofa and we hug, stretching out. “Do you want me to leave?” I ask.
“I’ve been asking myself that question.”
I shift into a different position and feel his body soften.
“That feels… really good,” he says. “I just relaxed.” He begins to stroke my skin with tenderness. I love the feel of his chest, I love his smell, and in a short time we’re in another land. In this breezy, sun washed country, he can let down his guard, shut off thoughts and let the doubts recede like mist. In this realm he’s playful, inventive, always trying new things, and he wants to make me happy at any cost.
Anne Cushman, a writer I admire, wrote in Enlightenment for Idiots: “In bed with him, my body hummed… His touch hooked up two loose wires inside and I was electrified. The more I had of him, the more I wanted, as if in the very act of satisfying my craving, he was carving a deeper and deeper pit of hunger within me.”
That’s what’s happening with Billy now, except we’re both doing the carving. Day becomes night; he says he’ll leave first thing in the morning but he doesn’t. We sip Prosecco with peach nectar, take a couple hits and keep going, headed for the place Ken Kesey painted on his psychedelic bus: FURTHER. It flits through my mind: Is drinking and smoking and fucking the way to enlightenment? Or to oblivion? But I sweep the question aside like a filly swishing off a fly. Besides, the gurus say the way to nirvana is through samsara—the dark unconsciousness. So dive we must.
As the physical pleasure intensifies, so do feelings of merging, union, love. Billy says, “I’ve never felt so close to anyone.” The problem is: when we reach this closeness, I want to sustain and build on it, raise high the roof beam, carpenters. He wants to run. And the more we let go with each other and love flows, the more violent the backlash. When we’re together, he never wants to leave, but when he does, his mind takes over, carping, judging, finding flaws. His emails and calls fall off, and when we meet again it takes hours, sometimes 24, before he relaxes and we can find our way back to that sun washed isle.
“This is his mating dance,” says Wendy, the Buddhist psychologist. “It’s not about you. Just try—I know it’s a challenge—but try to stay detached.” Okay, I think, I’ll try to let go of my expectations. I can’t control Billy, the future or my feelings, but I can allow it all to be what it is. Surrender—that’s the game. And when I feel myself do that, the clouds part. There’s a knowing in me that whatever happens with Billy, it’s not going to do me in. Whether he leaves or stays, I’ll be okay. Really. And when I feel that … I’m free.
PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT: Is this an opportunity for me to do important work? Is it, as someone said, “another fucking opportunity for growth?” Or is my warning system not working?