Hands are for helping and holding.
We use them to touch, and they allow us to feel.
You learn a lot from a person’s hands. Are they calloused, or manicured? Is there a ring, or a tan line or indent where one used to be? Do they tremble or are they steady and still? Is there an energy emanating from them drawing you in?
It’s funny how sometimes too many hands in the pot can muddle.
Yet, too few can feel empty, alone and overwhelming.
As a self-confessed control freak I often feel that there is a surplus of hands. But lately, I’d have to admit there are never enough. Something is always missing these days. I just can’t seem to juggle it all. And on those hard days, which are more frequent as of late, there is no hand to hold or reach for to help me up.
Not in the way there once was.
Is my smile convincing?
I have worked extraordinarily hard on this grin. I’ve straightened it, polished it, plucked it, and whitened it. I’ve learned how to use it, too. I’ve figured out that as long as you see it, you will not poke and prod me. You won’t look too far past it for anything deeper. If I’m being truly honest, it’s not even that I’m faking. It is more of a survival skill. It keeps me from falling apart just as much as it appeases you.
Does this outfit look okay?
I’m much too careful how I dress. I put a lot of time into this over the years. If my clothes are ironed and modest you won’t look too long. You won’t think I’m stuck-up, or sloppy. You won’t call me a prude or a slut behind my back. If I look good you will think I am doing well and feeling fine. You won’t know I spend days in the same clothes without showering when I’m depressed. As long as I am well put together on the outside, noone bats an eye. These garments, these simple pieces of fabric, are armor to me. They protect me from you. Your eyes, your thoughts and your judgments.
Is the pinterest-worthy organized home doing what its supposed to?
It is supposed to look like I’ve got this. I don’t. I really don’t. But does it look like I do? God I hope so. I wouldn’t want you to think I actually live here alone with a three and five year old. I don’t want anyone to know that I struggle to stay on top of it these days. In the extremely rare event someone comes here I spend hours stashing toys, scrubbing toilets, washing dishes and generally, hiding all evidence of life. You won’t get to see that this is hard for me. I’ll do everything I can to prove I’m just as good at this today as I was a year ago with an extra set of hands.
Does my voice sound right?
If I’m talking to you, I assure you I am working harder at controlling my thoughts and response tone than I am at listening. I don’t want you to hear that today my mind is racing, or maybe that I just finished crying. If I talk too fast, you’ll know. If my voice shakes, you’ll know. If I don’t respond fast enough you might know it’s hard for me to focus. You could figure out that I already forgot part of what you said because some anxiety slipped in and distracted me for just long enough to deafen me.
The effort it takes to project this shield to the outside world is exhausting. I’ve recognized it over the last year. Recently I’ve begun lowering it to some extent. At least with a few close friends.
Most the time, there is something, however small or large, that I do not want you to see. For my own comfort and safety I keep my insides in, and my outsides poised.
I’ve been telling myself for a year straight all of the reasons my marriage is over. All of the negatives. Almost inflating them in my mind so as to disconnect from the stabbing pain in my heart.
At first things were crazy. Trying to find our footing. Flailing around, wondering how this could have happened to our perfect life.
There was the initial pain. There was sobbing alone on the ground on my birthday last year, just not understanding how I could not have been enough. I would rationalize and tell myself there was no way it could be broken. That we would absolutely fix this and make it through just like everything else over the last 12 years.
I quickly learned that I did not have the power to put it back together on my own. I couldn’t force the warped puzzle pieces to fit the way they once had. But don’t kid yourself, I sure as shit tried my hardest.
Then came the part where I would try to tell myself it was all in my head. That somehow I was wrong. That I could live with this new normal so that I didn’t have to tear down the walls on the beautiful life we had.
Next I blamed myself. If only I had done this or that I would have been what she wanted. If I was more fun, more sexual, not so serious. If, if, if.
When we finally got to therapy I knew we would fix it. We would certainly not throw away all of these years, memories and love. All therapy did was explain to me why things fell apart. But even the best therapist in the world couldn’t make her choose me, us.
Then the realization that we were done. That we couldn’t put our story back together. We couldn’t unsee what we saw. And we couldn’t unknow what we now knew.
Those months were the most painful I have even walked through. I had support but nothing could take away the pain of losing my best friend. Even if I did know it was “for the best”. Having to keep it together inside these walls was excruciating agony.
Then she left. Fuck. I could breathe in my home again. I could sit on the couch. I could turn the corner without seeing the glaring reminder of all I ever knew.
I was now alone for the first time in over a decade. Not only alone. Lost. Heartbroken. And trying to hide it the best I could. After all, this was my decision. How could I bitch about it now? I couldn’t. I had to be solid. I had to keep it together for the two boys and all of the adulting left for me to manage on my own.
I told myself and others, “Look at me, I’m making it through without the breakdown!”
Im not. I’m down, and I’m broken. And it has come to mind that I need to honor that. I need to stop fighting it. I need to accept the fact that while I may be able to keep up with the day to day, that is clearly no indication of what is going on inside.
I can keep this show looking good on the outside. I can manage all the things. I can make sure noone thinks I’m losing it. I apparently successfully had myself believing that lie.
Today, on my birthday one year later, I am being honest. With myself, and anyone who cares to know.
It kills me that while we are still quite amicable, there is a lot of pain in this for me. I tell myself I need to set boundaries for her. They aren’t for her, they are for me. They are to keep my heart safe. As safe as it can be today.
We will continue to love each other and our son. That will never change. But if I’m going to get past this, I need to feel it with honesty. I don’t have to be a bad ass day in and day out. I’m allowed to feel hurt, even if I don’t always believe that myself.
Nothing is certain. Absolutely nothing.
I know this. I’ve been shown this time and time again. Yet, I continue to allow myself to get comfortable. I let myself feel secure and safe, when the reality is that anything and everything can be taken away at a moments notice.
The only thing that has been certain all of my life is uncertainty.
This year has been one long lesson. Teaching me, the hard way, that I truly have control over nothing. And once I think I’ve learned enough, the universe laughs and says “You wanna bet?”
I like to think I could never be the type of person to lose faith or to quit. That it’s just not in me somehow. But I’ll tell you what, give me one more thing that I am in love with that I cannot have, and I’m thinking I just might find out what it feels like to give up.
I have always loved with all I have. I’ve never learned how to tamp it down or hold back. I’m in, or I’m out. It’s not that I haven’t tried. I’ve always known that in the end I pay a price for it. But my heart and soul come in one piece, not just a little here and a little there. It kills me to feel now that I want to be able to filter it all somehow. To at least reserve some of it so that when the walls come tumbling down on this house I’ve built I won’t be obliterated.
I let myself believe I wouldn’t lose these things. I let myself believe I valued all of these precious gifts so much that they could never possibly be taken away. I left myself wide open for this. And again, there is no one to blame but me.
It is my belief that we do not get to sit back and simply let life happen. That’s not how it works. That right there is how we end up waking up, looking around and wondering where the heck we are and how we got here.
When we find ourselves in a world we aren’t meant for we are going to feel it. It is going to rip us apart like a wild animal caught in a trap.
We don’t belong here and our souls know it before we do. They start screaming at us from deep within. We may be able to muzzle them at first, but eventually the sound becomes impossible to ignore.
It is at this point that we can either choose to sit in this, or act. Accept it or don’t.
There isn’t a magic wand out there that will take us out of this. We can trust, pray and wait all we want.
What I have found is that action is the only way out of the hell our inaction has lead us to.
To be a writer and to be unable to put words to something is unfathomable.
It’s like dying of thirst whilst being surrounded by a sea of saltwater.
It’s like being enveloped in flames only to be doused by even more gasoline.
To have a feeling that I can scarcely form a thought around, let alone polish it into a perfectly posed prose, that is profound.
It’s elusiveness makes it all the more alluring.
I’ll take the thirst.
I’ll keep the fire smoldering.