Monday, March 28, 2016

A Journal Entry and Some Pretty Flowers

I sat in front of the crowd, raised my right hand, swore to God, and, just like that, ended a thirty-year marriage. Friends asked me afterward if I were going to celebrate, if I felt relieved, free. One friend told me people have divorce parties, that they invite everybody they know, that they whoop it up and drink to new life. Another suggested I buy myself flowers, light some candles, enjoy a bottle of wine. None of this feels appropriate to what is going on in my heart. I have been living on my own now five months. My husband, I mean my ex, and I dated a bit during that time. We’re friendly, enough. We talk, sort of. Am I relieved to be out of a lifetime friendship, a friendship with someone whom I still consider a friend? No. Do I feel freedom to be loose of the marital chains? Not really. Perhaps I am not very good at naming exactly what it is I feel. Numb? Dazed? Saddened, but hopeful?

So, instead of donning my divorcĂ©e crown and toasting with friends, I am in a coffee shop working on an essay. I bought myself a new book and a little something pretty, sticky notes with flowers in a paisley box. After spending a good half hour or so draped across my bed this afternoon with a box of tissue, I straightened my dress, reapplied my mascara, and decided I needed to be out of the house. I got a burrito bowl at QDoba. I’m crazy like that. Looking back, I should have calorie-splurged on the tortilla. I had been advised on celebratory techniques for this day prior to it coming. I had been told I should go out drinking with friends. Do a little karaoke. Let loose my wild side. I was not a bar-going gal when I was of the age where everyone did that. It’s not that I view it as wrong, it’s just not my idea of fun. But then, I’m single now. I need to think about this. I don’t know that I’ll ever meet a guy in the stationery aisle at Barnes and Noble.

Do I even want a guy?

A couple months ago I was on one of the popular dating sites. For two weeks. It was more than I could bear. My first two winks came from SPOILU4EVR and HunkWaiting4U. This was not a good sign. Or maybe it was. How would I know? Whatever happened to the days where you could smell a guy first, breathe in his scent, study how he looks at you when he thinks you’re not looking? Guys with regular names like Todd and Dave. At one point, I was curious and decided to check out my competition. I entered statistics to match the kind of woman I feel myself to be--education, hobbies, religion, astrological sign, perfect first date, and book I have currently on my nightstand. I was expecting cleavage. This is what I had assumed. The women I found, however, were conservatively dressed. No boobs at all. And, interestingly, they lacked the typical slutty facial expressions. I was feeling much better, because I refused to play that game. Then I realized that I had forgotten to enter myself as a man looking for this sort of woman. Let’s just say I know now what the prospects are for a woman like me looking for a woman like me.

Truth is, I am not one of those women who needs a man. I know this sounds weird coming from someone who just ended a thirty plus year relationship. Don’t get me wrong. I like male attention. I like to share my time with someone. But I am not interested in clinging onto any guy just to have a guy. At least not right now. Ask me again in a year or two.

Relief and freedom, then, are not the words I would use to express the way I feel. Is it exciting to think about the possibility of dating? I guess. Is it nice to be on my own and to know my strength as an independent woman able to make her own decisions and run her own life? Sure. But I also carry a heavy heart. I ended a union today that meant something to me. I have four children from that union, stacks of photos, and a multitude of memories. I put a space between myself and a lifelong friend, a space that will, by design, never be repaired. That’s a big deal. It’s not something I’m going to celebrate. It’s a life transition worthy of my respect and recognition, possibly a journal entry and some pretty flowers, an ending of one phase, the beginning of another.


Friday, March 25, 2016

MINE!

I have been hoarding my words. Like the two-year-old in the sandbox afraid of sharing his shovels, I have been stingy with my writing. Mine. It’s mine. You can’t have it. I was misread recently and it pissed me off. Again, like the little guy when a friend breaks his toys I threw a tantrum by picking up my pen and walking away. If you can’t play nicely, I thought, I don’t want to play at all.

The trouble with essays is that the words are my life. They represent pieces of me I don’t even share with those I know. So when a reader catches hint of something and infers guilt without asking me to coffee or offering me tea, I get a little miffed.

The problem with this is that when I walk away nobody gets to play. I can’t process my life by poring over the page. Readers can’t escape their troubles or find their muse through my messages. And fellow writers are denied the benefit of a kindred soul. It is a creative lose-lose.

My therapist says it is a bit arrogant of me to believe I am in charge of others’ opinions. She says I need to understand that others will have feelings and thoughts with which I disagree and that that is okay. She says their attitudes toward me are none of my concern, that these people are grown ups and are allowed to have minds of their own. She says these opinions and assessments of my worth have no impact on my actual worth. She says these things and then she hands me a tissue because I am still not able to separate the opinion from the reality. In my world, if someone thinks a thing of me that is just not true and then tells others about this untruth, it is as if my heart is pierced by arrows so strong they rip clear through to my back and on out the other side.

I am a sensitive sort.

When I was a little girl, my mother schooled me on sticks and stones. I thought I knew. I thought people flung words much as they threw fists. But, no, my mother said. Words could never mark my soul the way a fist could. Words could never bloody a nose or blacken an eye. Words were merely letters strung together, punctuated with thought, emphasized with feeling. My adult self will have to disagree, with both my mother and my therapist. Some of my deepest cuts are from words. Some of the greatest gashes in my body are from letters strung together, punctuated with thought, emphasized with feeling.

I used to be a Girl Scout when I was younger. One of my favorite activities was that telephone game where a message is whispered into the ear of your neighbor and passed on down the line. By the time the words get to the last person, the message is blown so out of proportion it resembles nothing of the original thought. This is how I see misread essays, inferred guilt. If you would like to know a thing about me, ask me. I am pretty open like that. I may not give you the details, but I will tell you truth or not truth. I believe much of our disconnect as humans comes from lack of proper communication. By proper I mean communication with the source.

I read a quote once that said misunderstanding is the farthest distance between two souls. I have seen relationships destroyed over misunderstanding. I have seen good friendships torn apart because the two would not speak, would not present their respective sides to the other. I have seen this, and I have been a part of this. I’m taking my toys and going home. Now nobody gets to play.

Every essay has a point. Every thought winds itself back to the top. Last paragraph summarizes the previous six hundred words, reflects back on the first. I want to play. I want to have fun and to dance with my words. I can’t do that if I let you keep me from the page because you decide to not play nicely. If I walk away, that wrecks the fun for everyone. I may not be who you would like me to be. I may not play the games you choose to play. I may not look like you would like me to look, sound like you would like me to sound, or dress like you would like me to dress. But that’s the beauty there, isn’t it? We all bring our own toys and ideas and fun to the sandbox. It makes for a richer day. Join me, would you? It’s time to play.