On Seeing the Person you Love, Love Someone Else

When she tells you about her for the first time, she will be drunk.

Don’t react.

Keep a smile in your voice and on your face.

Use short, concise sentences, like, “It’s all good”, or , “I wish you happiness.”

Don’t say much else.

Your voice will show you are running out of air.

The anvil she dropped on your chest just landed.

You haven’t gotten good at breathing around it yet.

Realize that she doesn’t love you. She never did.

Practice saying “it didn’t work out”

and “we broke up”

until you can say the words casually, without tears.

The first time someone asks you about her,

You will feel tears form.

Make sure to cough,

let the tears be explained away by allergies.

Make yourself as busy as possible.

Wake up at five am every day, so you can go to the gym before work.

After work, go to the gym again.

Volunteer for everything, say yes to every request.

Spend hours writing, late into the night.

You know how to do this.

You’ve gotten good at being used and discarded.

You need to fill every second of every day with as much activity as possible.

The goal here is exhaustion.

The long, endless nights in a dark, quiet house are the worst.

Avoid these at all costs.

That’s when the tapes in your mind, the ones you have had since childhood, will play.

On repeat.

They will bring your deepest, darkest insecurities to you.

They will belittle you.

Demean you.

They will try to make you believe you are worthless.

When you realize they are now playing in her voice,

it will crush you.

Begin a new practice of having a drink before bed.

Just one.

Drown her voice with bourbon.

The goal here is oblivion.

The first time you see a picture of them on Facebook,

you will be physically ill.

As you wretch over the toilet bowl, your stomach will turn itself inside out.

You will realize then that in the past week you have eaten exactly

five grapes

and two saltine crackers.

That’s why you can’t get sick.

Your stomach is like the rest of you.

It can’t tell when there is nothing left.

Know through all of this, that this is not your fault.

You love someone who doesn’t love you back.

She doesn’t love you.

She never did.

She never will.

 

Liar

It comes to me in dreams,

All the things I should have said to you.

Like you are an asshat

or, how can you lie so easily?

Or, call me if you change your mind,

or, please, don’t go.

I want you to know I don’t regret a second.

I will keep my memories safe,

tucked away in a corner, and one day,

when I need them

I will take them out, and like any good writer, edit them.

I will keep the time you told me

Anywhere I am is home,

and delete the fact that you were lying.

I will keep the fun we had singing bad music,

and delete the fact that you were lying.

I will keep the time you told me you weren’t going anywhere,

and delete the fact that you were lying

And I’m crying while I write this,

but I will delete my tears too.

Because you don’t deserve them.

Because they don’t matter to you.

when you said they did, you were lying.

I know the reasons you left me.

It’s not about my past,

It’s not about my looks.

It’s about honesty.

It’s about honest, real love, and that terrifies you.

My real-ness and my honesty scared the Hell out of you

and why wouldn’t it?

You have worked so long to hide the real you.

How could you possibly be prepared

For something real to touch your soul?

The last time I saw you,

I knew I would never see you again.

But you were still playing your game, so I played along.

I watched you pull a steady stream of fish from the lake,

so proud of each catch.

I imagined being that fish,

My mouth ripped open by your hook,

saying I’m so sorry.

I’ll try harder to breathe,

out of water,

for you.

 

 

Strong

A woman is like a tea bag.  It’s only when she’s in hot water that you realize how strong she is.  ~Attributed to both Eleanor Roosevelt and Carl Sandburg

In one of the highest compliments ever paid to me, my mother once told me I am the strongest person she knows.  I have never forgotten it, and never will.  I have repeated this to myself thousands and thousands of times, as a matter of survival.  I can withstand anything, I am strong.

This compliment has been repeated to me by other people, in different forms, but with the same central meaning.  My friends tell me with admiration how strong I am to have endured things I have endured in silence for years.  In a rare moment of honesty, my ex husband admitted to me that I am stronger than he ever was, something I have always known and he now denies ever having said.  I have always looked at strength as a positive character trait in anyone, but most especially in women, the supposed “weaker sex”.  These days, I’m not so sure I do.

What I have found is that the more strength you display, the stronger you allow yourself to be known to be, the more strength is required of you.  With every obstacle overcome, every challenge faced head on, the faster they seem to be thrown.  Still, to be considered a woman of strength, we face them all, and rise to yet another challenge, and reconstruct badly damaged and bruised egos and souls.  We may be strong, but to say that we are not permanently changed by each and every blow, physical or emotional, would be a lie of the darkest kind.

In the past year I have found myself wishing often that I wasn’t  strong.  I wish sometimes that I could retreat into alcoholism, or drug addiction, or mental illness and not have to keep going every day.  That is not the way I am made, and honestly, most of the time I am grateful that I’m not.  Still, at my lowest points, I sometimes fantasize about how easy it would be to have an excuse to give up, even if it was only for a while.  I hear about people staying in bed for a year after the death of a child, or having a mental breakdown that incapacitated them after years of physical and mental abuse is heaped upon them, and I don’t blame them.  I get it, I really do.  I just wonder sometimes about the human mind.  Why some people keep going, while others get the time to recharge.

I’m getting divorced.  Tomorrow morning, I will be in a lawyer’s office, dissecting the last 18 years of my life, and hopefully be given the tools to start rebuilding.  Starting over at 42 sucks.  It does.  I hate dealing with the process of disentangling my life from my ex.  I hate the vulnerability of doing all of this alone.  I hate all of it, and I know that it is going to get really messy from here on out.  everyone tells me I’m strong though.  I guess we are about to find out if they are right.


Beginnings

So I think Ive been looking at things entirely the wrong way lately. For months I have been sad and depressed, thinking about all of the endings that have been occurring at an alarming pace lately. I have listed and mourned all of my losses, bitterly regretted each one, and lived every day with an emptiness in my very being that comes with loss. However, if I know nothing else about myself, I know for sure that I am a survivor, and be assured, I have survived far worse than this. So in my disgustingly optimistic way, I have realized that there is a flip side to all of this, a mirror image, if you will. I feel that I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the beginnings that are occurring.

1. My roommates are here. All the time. They aren’t always here at the same time, but they are always here some of the time. The thing is this, they are here for me, no matter what. They are dysfunctional, they are loud, they can be obnoxious. They listen, they support, they care. They are my family, and I love them more than I could ever say or express.

2. For the first time in 4 decades, I am on my own. I pay my own bills, I make my own decisions. I live my life on my own terms, and make my own mistakes as I go. Its scary as hell, but I love it, and it feels right.

3. I am finally figuring out who my I am, really. In the words of Oprah, my authentic self. Living authentically is hard and takes real courage, but I would really like to think that I have courage. I really believe that the outcome will be worth it.

4. Probably most importantly, I have discovered who my real friends are. People who will tell you that you are wrong, and then let you find out for yourself. People that support you in your wrong-ness. People that cheer your right-ness. These are the people everyone needs in their life, and my gratitude is deep and eternal.

So for all the miserable, depressing blogs to come, I can now look back and see, for all of the endings, I am blessed beyond what I deserve.