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June 14, 2006

Power of self-reflection postscript

I liked reading all the comments to this post. I forget sometimes that this online writing thing is iterative, it changes when you aren't just doing a monologue but actively inviting folks to contribute. Sometimes I am surprised by how much the comments mean to me (and yes, I do read every one, and click click on your links if you leave one, and peer into your lives, too.)

Another surprise was how different we all are in terms of need, want, desire. I'm more of a hermit than anything else, I do love my personal space, my time alone (contemplate that bellybutton!) and yet it's only since I got divorced that I realized I'm not bad company, that my time alone is time well spent.

Because in all this time alone during the past almost two (!) years, I have never felt as lonely as I did during parts of my marriage.

There were dreadfully unhappy times when I was married and wanted out, wanted it all to be fixed, or to never have happened, desperate for happiness and terrified of leaving. I truly thought being alone was worse than staying married. How would I do it? How would I move, who would I be if I were not his wife, if this wasn't my role, what was there? I knew it would be something, but it frankly scared the shit out of me. The logistics alone, disentangling, telling people, it felt like panic.

So I worked harder to make our marriage work. I tried everything I could to change it. We moved to a new place, I lost weight, tried counseling, stopped drinking, started drinking, made our home as nice as possible, tried to be a better listener, tried what I could to fix it. Then he left anyway.

And here's the thing. I know there is at least one woman out there right now who is just as scared as I was, who knows what it's like to come home at night and lie in a bed next to her husband or significant other, and she feels completely alone. There's only so many ways you can write lonely, and I have tried them all. Nothing feels worse. You can't sleep, it's 3 a.m., you look over at him asleep on the pillow and wonder why he is so far away, an unreachable distance.

And I can also tell you that you do make it through the other end of a thing, and if your life changes and it doesn't go according to plan, you make a new life for yourself and it can be a really good life. It can be a happy life. Every night I go home to my little tiny house and my herd of cats and the night is mine, mine to do with it what I will. Mine to invite someone into if I choose, sit on the patio with a friend, mine to figure out who I am now. The scary parts are still there, but you just wade through them. And sometimes you cry, or drink nine-tenths of a bottle of cabernet, or look at old photos. And sometimes you paint your toenails or read a good book or call an old friend, or a new one, and sometimes you go to dinner with someone who looks at you like you're pretty, and it doesn't mean you lose yourself. You're just finally showing up for things, truly present the best way you know how, and it can be really, really nice ... even if it's just one moment, one small glance. You enjoy the choice. The opportunity to be yourself, whoever that is, and feel a hand around your waist, a kiss on the collarbone, not because you can't be without it but because it's so warm and inviting, because it's lovely to spend time with others when you're in your new life, the one you were never sure you'd have.

(Apparently, someone saw me at the restaurant, and thought my date was a hottie.)

Posted by laurie at June 14, 2006 11:25 AM