The temptation to be That Chick who just posts statuses on Facebook that are YouTube links to the Soundtrack of her Really Sad, Tragic Life is really strong these days, but I’m 37 and I like to hope I’m a little too old for that stuff, even if I do kvetch too much and need to trim my friends list of a few ex-boyfriends and high school people who seem to have contacted me simply because they have noticed that “Married” is not an active part of my profile– and also people who really no longer active parts of my life– for whatever reason. I have a hard time letting go, though– I am nothing if not romantic and sentimental, idealizing my relationships with and expectations of people and hoping for better outcomes even as I pretend at being pragmatic and then being disappointed and bitter and keeping it all to myself only to explode– or implode depending on the mood of the week/day/minute.
(Except, yeah. I’m just going to do it. Most of the links here are my self-pity soundtrack. Feel free to ignore them unless you’re looking for emo-dump songs.)
Still, though– I try to keep those posts to a minimum (for me and my blathering fingers) and I remember I have a blog. So, I start to write a post. It then devolves into something I hate– or more specifically, someone I hate, by which I mean me, and then I just let the thing linger in my hard drive while I stare at it and mull and just let the thoughts spiral– then go downstairs and bake something for work.
I figure it’s active, even as I know it’s full-on sublimation, thank you. My compulsion to feed people, because I can’t just say “Thanks for putting up with my shit, for telling me to smile and telling me that I look pretty today, for telling me to breathe when I look stressed, for understanding implicitly and explicitly that I am horribly, horribly depressed about something that was my own damned decision.” It’s a bed I’ve got to lie in and I’m thankful they don’t push me about it, tell me horrible-funny stories about their divorces, go drinking and dancing with me, and are as much misfits as me in their own special ways and so– baking– yeah. I can do that, sometimes, and when I can’t, there’s always clementines or the Gluten-Free and Vegan baked goods aisle at the Whole Foods at the start of the plaza. (People really like clementines, I have found.) I may not eat the baked offerings myself– sweet things taste pretty disgusting after half a cookie unless it’s the store’s red velvet cheesecake, so bad for me but I eat it, regardless– but I can at least bake for somebody else and they can say mmm and aah and I can feel loved, at least for a bit.
The fact is, I feel like crap. I feel physically crappy, exhausted from work because it’s physically tiring, arthritic because of the change in seasons and the lack of fat padding/weight loss (as well as because I’m being really self-sabotaging and not taking all my supplements and anti-inflammatories, nor am I eating right and avoiding all the gluten I should, even though my wheat intolerance really does seem to be blossoming into full-blown Celiac, complete with nausea after a wheat-containing meal)– and just when the store rebuild seems like it’s done our DM has one more idea (and there’s more to be done after Christmas) and of course, I’m relatively new at my job, so I screw things up.
I hate, hate, hate that I’m not doing things right. Hate it. Hate me. Hate everyone, really. I cannot describe the depths of loathing and nausea and anxiety dreams I have about a store that is at the same time my happiest place. I’m used to being the Smartest Girl in the Room. We’re too busy (like, 10-20% over planned business and understaffed most days busy) for my co-managers to explain things to me and I feel stupid and useless and I get resentful and we don’t always have the best groups of personalities working together even as I really do like all my co-managers– but … a thousand times but. Everyone’s human, everyone’s stressed, I’ve got extra issues on my plate that I bring in with me, and I’m hair-triggered to want to curl into a ball and just … slit my wrists or take all my medication at night because I set up an endcap the wrong way or someone moved my
cheese mission table to a different part of the store.
I feel badly that I will occasionally go off and work on a project and pout in my way and bitch about whoever’s “earned” my wrath du jour, but that doesn’t stop me from doing it in the moment, from needing to do it– teary-eyed, usually still pretty productive, inclined to be brusque and slam things, and as my co-worker said in effect yesterday, “I can always tell when you’re upset, you stomp really loud.” I demurred in my way, made some crack about being Stampy the Elephant reincarnate (doesn’t it all come back to the Simpsons, that or Monty Python?) but– that didn’t stop him from making jazz hands and trying to get me to smile on the way out, he who’s even more of a grump than I am. That there’s a Frank Sinatra CD on constant replay in the store that’s full of songs my husband used to sing to me and at some point, the singing, it stopped and I never asked why until later, too late– well. It hasn’t helped. (What? Me? Make teary-eyed retreats to Receiving every time “Fly Me to the Moon” or “Come Fly With Me” comes on to break down some boxes or hurl something into the dumpster out back? I don’t know what you’re talking about.)
I know that I’m really fooling no one. Everyone, from the co-workers I don’t get along with to the ones I go drinking and dancing with, all know exactly how messy and graceless my heart is. They’re just kind enough to play along because everyone there, they’ve got some kind of story, you just don’t always know what it is. The store is full of people who get up and come into work and are on second careers or on “I never finished college” or “I’m taking a break from X” kind of trajectories (career pauses? ask me about being a lawyer, really!)– we don’t ask, we let each other tell. I try to give thanks and praise for jobs well done (or hell, even completed, it’s one more thing off my list) if I can stop long enough to take a breath (and sadly, my friend who used to tell me to breathe got promoted out of the store and now I’m feeling doleful because I have to remember that, too.) We try not to be too hard on people who show up five minutes late and sometimes flake on their shifts so long as they perform when they’re here and they’re trying, goddamnit. Sometimes I feel like we’re the last Isle of Misfit Toys and if we can’t be kind to each other among the inter-familial snarling and sniping brought on by dumb customers and Just Too Much Work, then there isn’t any safe place. I have other friends, outside of work, who have also been wonderful– real rocks, but I don’t see them every day. I need to remind myself to reach out more but damnit, every effort’s hard, like slogging through cement. (And yeah, every teardrop’s a waterfall, too.)
I know I’m depressed. I upped my meds so the passive-to-active like a turbo-charged racecar suicidality would regress a bit but… that done, I still feel lots of sadness, regret, self-loathing, doubt. All of that shit. Anger– at me, my husband, every stupid customer who can’t write the name of a book down or keep their toddlers from hurling toys or just watch where they’re going, much less stop offering to hold my food while I’m on break so I can go fetch them a book rather than wait the two minutes it’ll take for someone to help at customer service. It’s the usual short temper (exacerbated on occasion with a little manic-depressive rage, but hey, I’ve got pills I carry for that) of someone who’s terribly lonely when it’s her own doing and she doesn’t feel like making her bed anymore. (Or of doing much anymore, frankly. My therapist asked me what expectations I had of my meds, of other people, of hopes for the future… I had to answer– “Not much.” Still, I do try to get out, make plans, try not to go to bed before 9, and sometimes, I even have fun. I understand the concept of Faking It Until You Make It, Smile Like You Mean It, all that Oprah-esque shit that still holds some water.)
I was talking to my husband the other night after a party I decided I would try to go to– I lasted ten minutes, right until someone asked me how/where he was, and then I had a panic attack as I answered that he and I were no longer together. I always tell people that we both had changed and weren’t able to find a way to reconcile those changes– when I called him like the stupid hysterical melodramatic Movie Cliche that I am prone to being these days (in the car, on the drive home, no less) and asked him how he handled those questions, he said he usually took the blame.
It made me feel awful, even more awful than I usually feel, because as much as there are days when, if we ran into each other on the street (and I felt even more awful when he said he’d seen me driving and I hadn’t seen him, as wrapped up in getting to where I was going as I had been), I’d throw hard objects right at his head because I am so fucking lonely and exhausted right now and just want someone to give me that ridiculous, unobtainable Unconditional Love (oh, and on-demand cuddling and footrubs and an adorable cat and lots of backrubs and sex and a sack of unmarked thousands while we’re at it) and be psychic and know all the things that I am still incapable of articulating (this writing, it’s easier than the talking, almost always, except when I can’t even write, but still, even then)… the fact is, I really do believe what I said, which is that we both changed and that we couldn’t make it work out once we started really talking– something that took us too long to do, for reasons so complicated that the Gordian Knot’s a cakewalk, even without that pansy sword shit.
I don’t want to just be ok (though that would be nice).
I want to feel silly, stupid, ridiculous goofy love and not have to have the bittersweet worry and wonder I know now by heart. I don’t want to wonder if we’re going to stay together until we die. I want to let myself have romantic faith in my partner, learn what that might mean. I don’t want to look at or unpack the sentimental things I almost randomly chose when I moved (and I’m still mooning over the things I miss but that I left behind for my husband, since I was too choked up at the time to ask what he might want, since I was afraid that the answer was All or Nothing, nor did I want to be That Evil Bitch who took everything), nor do I want to feel this dumb and maudlin and swoony forever. I have to look away from the pictures my Dad has of us up in the halls because I’m not ready to ask him to take them down, even when this was my choice– I would still rather be alone than pretend that everything’s alright. I’m scared as hell– I may never figure it all emotionally out, may never get my financial feet under me ever again, may be a retail wage slave forever. I feel hopeless and hapless and stupid most of the time, and I know no one said it would be easy, but I didn’t know it was going to be open-heart surgery without anesthesia every day, either.
I look in the mirror (when I look in the mirror at all because I don’t like to, because I don’t know what I see there, morphologically, emotionally, all of that shit) and I never know the answer to “What are you doing?” I don’t know when I will know.
I know fully well I am flawed. Broken, even, maybe beyond repair for the sake of being with anyone, much less my husband. We thrashed through to a point where it became clear that the things that I think that I need are things that he just can’t do, not and be who he needs to be. That isn’t an issue of fault, whether he believes it or not, even if it is an issue of both of our flaws and not being able to make them mesh any more.
I know I am fragile, prone to hair-triggered reactions, that I can’t take criticism at all because of the way my Dad rarely had a nice thing to say when I was a kid, that I can’t accept people taking or offering to care of me because my mother’s narcissism made all her caretaking attempts about her and therefore inherently useless and suspect, that I avoid confrontation and would rather cut off a limb than get into a fight with someone I love because of the way my parents fought (unless I’m in a real or imagined position of power and then, ooh, watch out for my mighty powers of condescension).
I know that my need to try to be perfect and my need to make things perfect and to avoid being seen as the flawed, occasionally really crazy and often lacking-insight-into-my-feelings person that I really am contributed to the way my marriage fell apart– I know that I take on too much over and over until I just crash, my responsibility and nurturing kinks crashing right into my resentment over having to “always” be the one to take care of myself and everyone else. I want someone to just psychically know the things that I need– I don’t want to ask, because my emotional history “tells” me that even if I asked (and understated the need for help, more than likely, because years of not getting help has trained me to only ask for a little help and do the rest on my own…) I wouldn’t likely get a response.
But the fact is– still remains– that I really don’t feel like it’s his fault. It’s ours. Just like our marriage was ours. (And yes, he knows about this blog. He might read this, though there are times in the past where he treated this blog and earlier versions as “private” to me, one of many differences in our understanding of one another that we couldn’t resolve.) There were a million things I could have done differently if I had been wiser, braver, bolder, known myself better at a younger, saner, something-er point in our marriage.
But we don’t get do-overs or slingshots around the sun or Tardises, do we? Just regrets about fights, confrontations, fuck-yous, fuller-soul searching I could’ve, should’ve done at some earlier point before I thrashed my way through to a realization that I didn’t feel like me any more, just some fake, plastic, worn-out version of a simulacrum wife that had to get out or she’d lose whatever vestige of herself was left and try to either find some old joy or make some new version– and in the meantime, trying to work it through with my husband once he agreed there was something to work on and half the time feeling enraged for his reactions/inactions during the process and half the time feeling like I was the villain and putting him through torture. He said as much– therapy wasn’t his thing, the talking cure was like bamboo under his nails, and I regret like hell that it took me so long to figure out how unhappy I was and that I couldn’t make it any cleaner than it was, though who knows if it’s ever possible to be clean about these kind of things? Anyone who had a heart would turn around and break it, it turns out, even as I’ve got him deep in the heart of me and any attempt to move on would be a disaster even if that was something I wanted right now. I don’t know what I want anymore. I only know what didn’t work anymore, and that we couldn’t agree on anything else.
It was all I could/can still sometimes think about, cry about, rage about– and my urge to confess to everyone all the time was something I squashed except to a few friends because how tedious, really, how fucking pathetic. I also hate/d being the recipient of the looks of pity, frankly, preferred the looks of interest from people who only saw my whittling waistline (they didn’t know I wasn’t eating because I wasn’t taking care of myself and my mood stabilizers make me anorexic, yet at the same time was so relieved when some friends expressed concern and asked if I was okay) and the haircut I halfway got because my husband said not to get it and fuck him, I’d cut my hair if I wanted and I’d enjoy the Gaze I would get at work and soak up the compliments/flirting and dress up for my co-workers until it became uncomfortable and I felt awkward because– yeah. I don’t know what to do with this body because nobody’s done anything with it in so long, including myself. I hate it– me– more than a lot.
I left when I did in large part because I wanted to go before I started to feel something like hate for my husband. I wanted to leave while I still felt love– compassion– only occasional anger– for him and all of our problems. So far, I’ve been lucky that that’s been the case. Whether it makes a difference to anybody but me– to his family, to the adorable nephew I no longer see– well. It’s my problem, really, but hey. Most of them are.
So for now, every day– I’ll take my meds. Comb my hair. Eat my breakfast. Go off to work. Know this is changing me. And hope that it will save me. I would take back hurts to my husband and his family that I’ve caused by accident or on purpose because I do love my husband– miss him– still care. It’s so easy to remember how we started as very good– really, best friends– and how we’ve laughed over the years, but as for the rest– I’ve got to learn to stop beating my dead emotional horses, even as they feel like wild ones that want to stampede me or make me swim until I can’t see land. And maybe, just maybe, one of these days, I’ll get it all figured out.