One of my favorite songs from Savage Garden is one I always thought had to be written about me, at some point. I’m sure I’m not the only woman to think that, either. But it strikes the heart when it feels like someone is talking about you and they’ve never met you, doesn’t it?
She’s taking time making up the reasons
To justify all the hurt inside
Guess she knows from the smiles and the look in their eyes
Everyone’s got a theory about the bitter one.
I’m not really going to go into what prompted today’s downward spiral, let’s just say it was a combination of things – health issues, personal issues at work, and a little too much introspection on my part (generally always classified as a FAIL) and going down memory lane, looking at old emails from old boyfriends. I often envision my world around me to be like this glass bubble that I blow, day by day, that protects me and shields me. Sometimes the bubble is tough and (nearly) shatterproof, like the Gorilla Glass on an iPad or cell phone. Others, it is as fragile as a soap bubble and just as easily burst, leaving me defenseless, naked, shattered on the ground in a hundred pieces. And dear God, when it happens, I might as well have had my skin flayed off with a thousand lashes – to the heart, it hurts that badly. The dam breaks and every pent up insecurity bursts forth. Suddenly I am reminded that I’ve never been “The One” to anyone I’ve ever been with. At least not that I’m aware of. Maybe I was to my ex-husband, I don’t know. He didn’t really act like his life was somehow incomplete without me, and I feel like I badgered him into proposing to me – we’d hit the two year dating mark and were living together, and I told him I wanted a ring or I was walking. So he did the right thing and we got married, but looking back I wonder if his heart was really in it or if he just figured it was something he was supposed to do. Sort of like I figured you were supposed to get married before you were 30, or good heavens, you’d end up an old maid forever, some scary spinster living in a spooky old house that all the neighborhood kids throw rocks at.
Prior to that, I dated a number of guys in college, or rather, slept with a lot of them and dated a few of those. The occasional one who did decide he was devoted to me usually didn’t decide to tell me so until after we’d split up and he’d gone home for the summer or the winter break and found God or had a lobotomy, and then came back and was a possessive psycho who wouldn’t let me out of his sight. Yeah. Just the Prince Charming I always wanted, a fucking stalker. After my divorce, I met and dated more than anyone’s share of men who had no problem telling me they were still looking on the other side of the fence for that greener grass, even though professing to me that I was the best lover they’d ever had. In some cases, they were even still living with that other lawn and mowing it on occasion, too – but oh no, they loved me also, and I was just being insecure and jealous by thinking there was anything wrong with that.
They’re saying, “Mama never loved her much
And daddy never keeps in touch
That’s why she shies away from human affection
But somewhere in a private place
She packs her bags for outer space
And now she’s waiting for the right kind of pilot to come”
And she’ll say to him
Realistically, I find myself asking again today, as I stand amid the shattered fragments of my heart’s bubble, trying to pull myself together once more, is that really what I want? To be “The One”, someone that got put on a pedestal, loved, worshipped, adored? In my efforts to attain that level of devotion, I have learned to mold myself to be just about any woman a guy would want, like human Play-Doh. I’m so flexible that I’ve forgotten what shape I started out as – even though I think that’s the shape I want others to love. But in all honesty, even when my brother (whom I love very much) tries to do too much for me, I find his attentions annoying, like a bee buzzing around me, and just want to slap him away and remind him that I’m a grown woman now and am perfectly capable of taking care of myself, thank you very much. Who’s to say I wouldn’t react the same to a man wanting to take care of me, as a man who really treated me like a cherished object would be wont to do?
“I would fly to the moon and back if you’ll be
If you’ll be my baby
I’ve got a ticket for a world where we belong
So would you be my baby?”
She can’t remember a time
When she felt needed
If love was red then she was color blind
All her friends
Well they’ve been tried for treason
And crimes that were never defined
Yet no matter how often logic stares me in the face, or damn near pinches my neck like Mr. Spock with his Vulcan grip, it doesn’t sink in. Somewhere inside me, that little girl who used to always draw crayon pictures of herself wearing a crown or a princess hat with the trailing veil, still reaches out, thinking every guy who finds her attractive or just wants to shag her is Prince Charming. Surely this is him. This is the one that I can give myself to and he will appreciate me for all that I am, he’ll realize what a prize I really am. I’m continually striving for something I don’t think I really want, but it’s the only behavior I know. The people that have known me for years have probably given up trying to understand why I can’t see in the mirror what is so visible to all of them – that I am a strong-willed, stubborn, independent cuss who would just as soon be hoisted on a pedestal as I would want a colonoscopy (oh yeah, I have one of those coming up too, as if life didn’t suck enough already).
“Guys don’t like women who are too smart.”
“You’re too independent, it’s a turn off.”
“Try being a little more helpless once in awhile.”
I’ve been told all of those. And more. And wonder why I still won’t let go of that protective shell. Yet somewhere deep inside I believe that if that bubble isn’t there to protect me, that I might not exist at all. I imagine myself to be this wisp of a soul, easily blown away in a strong breeze, dissipated like smoke, the particles never to recombine. That protective bubble holds me together. And keeps others out. Maybe those same others who would see me in that golden, glowing light of a woman worthy of perpetual worship. The very same worship I don’t want. It’s a small wonder at the end of a day that my head doesn’t explode when I actually think about this. Even worse when I run out of Ketel One. I was thinking recently that I really should write more for my kids, sort of an advice column from Mom, on all the stuff that our parents forgot to pass on to us. That’s another full blog (or a whole series of them) in itself. However, I don’t think my first one will start off with “You know kids, if I’d taken up drinking vodka years ago, I might still be married to your Dad.” Yeah, nice sound advice there. Let’s just book me my reserved space in the trailer park now, shall we?
Not to minimize the point behind the Ketel One comment, though. I think a lot of people do drugs to escape their reality or expand their imaginations out to somewhere they can’t go. I’m no expert by any means. But I will admit to knowing that alcohol is a depressant. I take antidepressants. You’d think if I just quit the one, I could stop the other, right? Except I was taking the medication long before the vodka, so I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. The latter serves the purpose now of telling my mind to STFU. The former? Keeps me from throwing myself off a bridge. So in that sense, I guess it’s an upper.
I used to argue with myself (and lose) over the notion of taking prescription medication for, potentially, the rest of my life. I started taking antidepressants in 1999, after my first son was born, due to what was diagnosed as severe postpartum depression. I can admit now that the diagnosis was accurate, and my therapist told me she was pretty close to just hospitalizing me, but I guess I responded pretty well to the three drugs she put me on at the time. It’s now 13 years later and I’ve been on the same one, one that I can say finally actually worked (the previous ones were adequate, but I wouldn’t say they gave me the rose-tinted glasses everyone envisions) since 2004. I wouldn’t call them rose-tinted, either. Maybe just glasses without as jaundiced of a view. The same year I split up with my husband and we filed for divorce, I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I think that was the year I finally tried to stop compromising, at least with regard to what I expected a committed relationship to be. And I think I’ve been looking and trying to figure it out ever since. For better or worse, I was going to have it my way.
Then I struggle with wondering what the hell I’m looking for. Take my current boyfriend. He is a delightful, funny, smart, sexy man. He is also still married, albeit separated for the last four years. He spoils me, at least in my definition of the term. I suspect he would probably gladly support all my needs if I asked him to, and I never will, because even the thought of him helping me out with my exorbitant medical bills is abhorrent to me. I hate the thought of feeling beholden to anyone. My former therapist Dr. Tam, whom I’ve seen since 1999, recently got back into practice again, so I started seeing her again, gratefully so, because my interim therapist, whom I really only saw for prescription refills, had that kind of Marty Feldman wall-eyed stare that always bugged the crap out of me … anyway, Dr. Tam knows me pretty well from way back when. When I told her my issues with having my BF offering to pay the occasional bill for me, she asked me, “Well, how would you feel if the situation were reversed, and you could easily afford to pay his bills, and offered to?”
Damn the hell out of people for throwing logic at me. Of course I would do that, and would expect it to be accepted and would expect nothing in return, all of which he does. But crickey, I’m still struggling with the fact that I used to make $90,000 a year and now I make $60,000 a year and my expenses have only gone up and my spousal/child support has gone down (the spousal support stopped last year), although thankfully Chase Mortgage did refinance my house as part of the whole whatever-it-was Act. Now you can actually say you know someone that benefited from it. Probably the only person you know. But hey, I’m grateful for it, it made a huge difference, even if it took forever. It allowed me to keep my house, which, I have to admit, is part of that bubble.
I can finally admit after several months of experiencing this, that it totally blows that my boyfriend doesn’t spend the night at my house anymore because of his dogs. Or his son’s dogs. Or his son’s dog and his dog. Call it however you want, but they sure as hell aren’t cats and they aren’t as self-sufficient as cats, either. I have five felines (yes, that is too many), but yet I can make sure I leave them enough dry food and I can be gone overnight and they won’t shit or pee all over the place and the world won’t end. Dogs aren’t quite the same. Anyway, I digress. The point here, if there was one, is that my home is my fortress of solitude, my strength. Just call me Kal-El. Being alone, even for an evening, serves to remind me of who I am. I think. (We’re assuming, for the moment, that I actually know who that is.) Being at home with someone else there is a close second in terms of fortifying me – hence the gripe about my BF not spending the night there. I’m not about to pass up the chances I get to spend the night at his place as I don’t see enough of him anyway … but maybe I need to rethink that on occasion and have a “me” night once in awhile. One that I don’t spend sitting around moping, that is. Right now I have a roommate, her lease is up at the end of March – she has been a part-time nanny for my kids since my separation from my ex back in 2004 – so that doesn’t help my desire to be alone. She’s a great roommate, but to be honest, I could have a mannequin for a roommate and it would still drive me crazy to know I don’t have the house entirely to myself. It’s not like I’m prancing around in all of the bedrooms at night wearing a tutu and clown shoes, either. But I might want to, you never know. And for that reason, it bugs me to have someone else there.
I love my house. I remodeled it in 2005, at a cost that was more than I could afford, after my divorce was final. It’s the same house that my ex and I bought in 1992 as our first house, and while it looks mostly the same on the outside, it is (at least in the upstairs area) scarcely the same house it was back then. Flooring, windows, entryway, back patio, yard, kitchen, master bed and bath have all been redone and replaced to my specifications. My contractor told me he’d never dealt with someone who knew so exactly what they wanted as I did. Why is it, though, that I can pick out tile and flooring and light fixtures but apparently not seem to settle on what it is that I want in a relationship?
Let’s go back to my boyfriend for a moment (he’ll hate this; he generally hates to be focused on) … I understand his reasons for still being married to his wife and accept them. And I ask myself if what I really want at the end of the day is to be married to him myself? Hmmm. Well, no, not really. I mean, yeah, I look good in a wedding dress and of course I love diamond jewelry and a good party … but that’s about the end of it. I love the romantic notion of marriage, at any rate, but I’m not the same woman I was 20 years ago who was deathly afraid of ending up alone. Twenty years from now, I may be singing a different tune.
Do I want to live with him? I love spending time with him and always feel comfortable around him, a real rarity for me. You’d think someone who has posed naked for amateur photographers and for Playboy would be always be self-assured in her own skin, but I’m about the most modest person you’ll find when I’m with someone I love. He’s probably the first person I’ve been with that I don’t continually find myself trying to cover up my stomach or other saggy parts when he’s in the room. But living together full-time? Aside from my tutu and clown shoes issue from earlier, well, it isn’t really practical at the end of the day. I can’t and won’t move my kids out of their current school district and I only have 50% custody of them, so I need to stay in San Diego’s East County. We live about 25 miles apart, so it is pretty impractical from a get-the-kids-to-school-every-morning standpoint, too. And I don’t think his two dogs (large and semi-unruly Labradors, albeit cute and adorable) would do too well with my five cats, so scratch that theory. Which leaves us kind of in the situation we are now, namely, I see him and spend the night most of the time when I don’t have my kids for the week, and he comes over usually once a week to hang out with me and my kids when I do have them.
Which leaves me stuck with this restlessness of the soul, this journey I don’t have a map for. Why can’t I just be happy?
She’s saying, “Love is like a barren place
And reaching out for human faith is …
It’s like a journey I just don’t have a map for.”
So baby’s gonna take a dive and
Push the shift to overdrive
Send a signal that she’s hanging all her hopes on the stars
What a pleasant dream …
What scares me the most is that I know I need to be honest with myself. I do everything I can to avoid it, because I don’t want to go there. Going there is exposing that wispy smoke of my soul to a category 5 hurricane. I’m not even sure I would know where to start – which is probably one of many reasons that I write this blog, because thinking out loud like this gives me clues. I know I spend a lot of time and energy on making myself look good to the outside world, because I always want people to find me appealing. Like a bad movie with a really good trailer – it’s rare that I ever let anyone see the whole film. Including myself.
I’m reminded of a lovely scene at at the climax of “A Room With a View”, when Lucy Honeychurch (played by Helena Bonham Carter) finally admits her feelings for George Emerson (Julian Sands). George’s father (the delightful late Denholm Elliott) confronts her and says to Lucy, “You love George. You love the boy, body and soul, as he loves you.”
Lucy: “But of course I do. What did you all think?”
Mr. Emerson: “Then …”
Lucy: “No. Mother’s calling. I’ve got to go. They trust me.”
Mr. Emerson: “Why should they? When you deceived everyone … including yourself.”