Two days ago was Tuesday, November 13, 2018. It was what would have been my 25th wedding anniversary. He didn’t die, we divorced over eight years ago. But still, I woke up, realized what day it was and thought I needed to change gears. Fill the head with other thoughts.
So I did what everybody does. I picked up my phone to see what was new. And there, with perfect timing, was a message from the last serious boyfriend in my life. The only one since my divorce. Oh shit, I thought, the universe has decided to conspire against me today, and I’m not even out of bed yet. It’s going to be an all-around pissy day. Because this one managed to rip my heart out. Even more so than the husband. But he left too, five years ago and I hadn’t heard from him since. Until last Tuesday.
My first thought was, what the fuck does he want? But the second thought was even better. I don’t feel a thing, not a thing. And that brought an even better realization. I am not the person I was.
Growth at anytime is hard. Growth in middle age, in post-menopausal middle age, is even harder.
I remember deciding after this last boyfriend that I was done with high maintenance, I-expect-you-to-put-yourself-last kind of men. And it was the longest, most painful lesson to learn. Or unlearn, as it were….
And it was an unlearning. I mean, this is shit my parents taught me. I grew up on a steady diet of women are inferior, women’s needs don’t count, my father is the centre of the universe, my brother is prince, and the only thing that matters is what Dad wants. And I’d love to let my mother off the hook here, I loved her so much, but really, she was a big part of reinforcing this debilitating crap.
So, in the summer of 2015, after one more short-term foray with a less than grown-up man, I made the decision to no longer play the game. At all. And I haven’t had sex since. Geez… that was pathetic. Not really, I’m laughing out loud as I type. The monastic life hasn’t been tons of fun, and a really poor fit for a nice Jewish girl like me. But it hasn’t been without its perks.
Since making the promise to myself to only date viable, healthy, I’ve-done-my-own-self-actualization-thank-you men, the so-called pond (it’s a pond at my age…no longer the sea that my mother said was FULL of fish!) has dried up. Add to it my desire for a fellow Jew as partner and well, you can maybe understand why G-d gets a lot of my frustrated conversation. I’m in the desert here. Please.
By the way, I do pray, and actually think I’m talking to someone. And most of my pain, aka anger and childish misery, has been directed upwards, as well as heaped on a few long-term, well placed girlfriends. Quick tangent, I just noticed… Wow I’m kinda religious! Or spiritual at the very least, and yet I can swear like a truck driver (do truck drivers swear?)! My kids know this about me, and somehow still know I am pretty intentional about the relationship with the Big Guy (the male reference yet another holdover from my childhood). Oh well, a bundle of contradictions. Aren’t we all….
But I digress. Tuesday didn’t turn out to be such a bad day after all. Even though there are little jabs that come along every so often to remind me that my marriage didn’t work (my daughter is visiting, and I can’t be with her 24/7 because she has to divide her time between her dad and me), pain hasn’t turned out to be the perpetual asshole I thought it was. It will take all my attention, in a searing, agonizing sort of way, but it opens things up to really valuable opportunities and there are doors open to me now that I didn’t even know existed before.
I’m happy with my life. Right now. I’m not longing for anything or anyone that might make it happier. I notice I am happy at many moments throughout my day. I am incredibly blessed, especially by my two kids who are now adults. Well, almost adults, or sometimes adults. Gee, they’re a lot like me. And I’ve worked for and earned a great life.
So this is the beginning of a new blog. More personal, even more honest. I am what I am, to look for reasons is beside the point, as Joan Didion would say. The art will continue to seep in and out of here and of course take over at times as well. Work, kids, errands, cooking, cleaning, paying bills, seeing a movie, having dinner with a friend, helping my son with a term paper, on the phone with my daughter… all of it will find its way onto these pages. Because all of it is me.
Because it isn’t just the art that is my art.