Coping

Coping


Trying to come to terms with Yuliet’s return to Cuba is a daily struggle. I’m employing a variety of methodologies and practices in an effort to deal with the pain, grief, anger and other emotions, while still moving forward with my life and not giving up all hope of a reunion.

One of the coping mechanisms is journaling, or blogging – basically putting my thoughts down on paper or otherwise recording them so that they can’t hold me prisoner. I’ve kept a journal off-and-on since 1992 (where was blogging, then?) but this is the first time that I’m doing it with the clear goal of mitigating pain.

Normally this kind of writing I keep to myself, but today I woke up desperately thinking about Yuliet and desperate to see her. There is definitely a significant psychological toll attached to this, and tomorrow will be one month since Yuliet was to have arrived in the USA. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve checked flight info online with the intent of going to Cuba to find her. Some friends encourage me in this, while others most definitely discourage me. I can see both points of view, though right now I’m haunted by Yuliet and my memories. To not have a definitive understanding of the situation, or at least closure, is torturous. It’s like my life is, and has been, on hold since July.

I have a book of Chinese poetry from 1959 titled, appropriately enough, “Chinese Love Poems.” I sometimes hate the fact that I’m a romantic, since my capacity to love and feel is why I married Yuliet, and it’s why I suffer now. There is a poem by the T’ang Dynasty’s Li Po: “Lines.” It goes:

“Cool is the autumn wind,
Clear the autumn moon,
The blown leaves heap up and scatter again;
A raven, cold-stricken, starts from his roost.
Where are you, beloved? – When shall I see you once more?
Ah, how my heart aches tonight – this hour!”

What’s not funny is that I’ve read many of these poems before; I even took a Chinese poetry class at the University of Pittsburgh. Since Yuliet disappeared I’ve thought a lot about how to best deal with this situation, whether or not to pursue her to Cuba, what my inability to act quickly because of financial difficulties indicates about my past life and future needs, whether or not I’m going crazy or suffering post-traumatic stress. It’s been a difficult four months, and I know that the worst is not yet over.

I do think that I must travel to Cuba urgently and resolve this, one way or another. To trust in the Universe, in God, in fate (whatever you call it) is important to a degree, but conscious action is also required. The old me, one who was not so limited by money in his capacity to act would have already been in Havana and returned to USA with his bride. It’s a bitter pill to feel the impotency of not being able to respond similarly now.

Instead I sit at my desk, planning the day’s work, trying to conceptualize a gratitude list to keep me on the straight and narrow. I’ve integrated self-hypnosis into my treatment regime and it does help, but is not a short-term fix. Thanks Josh Horowitz for recommending the CD’s by Rick Collingwood. When I wake up feeling desperate like I did today, I find that this process of introspection and expression does truly help to recenter me and give me the strength to make it through the next several hours. It’s a constant battle, however, much like I imagine real life must be for all of you – all of us.

I’m trying to turn my agony into positive action, and one thing I want to do before hitting rock bottom is to pen a final diary for cyclingnews.com in which I write about “what-I-didn’t-know-when-I-was-19-and-had-I-known-it-I-might-have-made-more-informed-choices-about-cycling-and-life-that-could-have-more-positively-influenced-my-outcomes.” Say that five times fast. Don’t think that I’m lamenting all of the choices and decisions I’ve made in my life. Granted, some have very serious consequences that I still haven’t fully realized, but I was priveleged to be able to create a set of circumstances that resulted in almost 12 years of incredibly rich life experiences.

I’ve spent Christmas in Cuba, Christmas in Hong Kong, New Years in China, summers in Australia, Uruguay and Argentina…I’ve watched the World Cup with Fagnini, ridden with Cipollini, blown snot on Simoni, got married in Havana and sipped genuine guarapo in the gardens of the Hotel Nacional during a fairy tale reception. This all in the first 31 years.

Now the challenge is to get through this rough patch and get on with the next adventure.

So what am I grateful for?

  • I’m grateful for all of the experiences that I’ve been lucky to have thus far.
  • I’m grateful for the support of my family, especially my brother.
  • I’m grateful for the support of my friends, all of you, and especially Tim, Jeb and Mike Fraysse.
  • I’m grateful for the support of members of the Cuban-American community, Cubans, Americans and people in general who took an interest in what Yuliet and I have been going through, but especially CB and KC.
  • I’m grateful for having had the opportunity to get a world-class university education.
  • I’m grateful for having the chance to share significant life experiences with people from other countries and cultures, people who are now like family to me, even though we might not see each other often.
  • I’m grateful for being able to share these experiences with you through my writing.
  • I’m grateful for my health, despite all the risks I’ve taken with it (and I have the scars to prove it).
  • I’m grateful for the work that I have right now, and the faith and compassion of my employer, and my clients, who recognize what I’m going through.
  • I’m grateful for the love of my wife, even though it’s being tested now in a manner that is unfair to all of us.
  • And I’m grateful for the understanding that there is something “greater” out there than us and that this pain and suffering is just temporary.

My action plan for today … well, I’ve internalized that already. I know what I want to do. And the more I think about it, the more I recognize how I feel…I am going to have to go to Cuba shortly, because I believe that in doing so I will come closer to resolution.

2 Responses

  1. Ack, this is my Gemini Horoscope: “You’re a little off-kilter and out-of-whack these days, Gemini. Don’t worry about it. It’s a natural response to recent plot twists. Fortunately, there is a medicine you can get that will fix you up pretty quickly. All you have to do is spend quality time in nature. One long hike should be enough, though to be absolutely sure you flush the psychic parasites that have been messing with you, two long hikes would be better. To aid in the exorcism and healing, I suggest that you also sing songs and shout out crazy ideas while wandering in the great outdoors. And if you can’t escape to the wild places, at least have a picnic in a park.”

  2. Joe P,Been following your travails about your wife, and honestly, can only wish you the best of luck. I hope that this comes to a resolution in the very near future, and that the 2 of you can be together again. Best of luck, will be reading up in the future.

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