The Disappointing Lingerie Delivery

So there’s this bag. It arrived, stuffed in my mailbox. Hm. I’m not expecting a package. 

Disappointing lingerie

Upon removing it from my mailbox I glimpsed at the sender.

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All I needed was a glimpse, and I knew I was opening that fucker. Matter of fact, it was the first thing I did right after setting my son up with his iPad.

I tried moderately hard NOT to look at who it was addressed to. That way, if I opened it, and it wasn’t for me, I could legitimately feign ignorance and upon returning it, could honestly claim that I thought it was mine. I carefully bypassed looking at the addressee by turning the bag away while opening it. But then, in my strain from ripping the thick, rubbery package, I got a glimpse of an address that was veerry close to mine, but maybe… not mine? I blurred my eyes and kept ripping.

I did the same thing a week ago after I SWORE I sent the last pleading, begging (ultimately unresponded to) text message to my first, emotion-based, post-divorce breakup. You see, in the previous 9 months, I hadn’t memorized his entire phone number. I called him up only by his first name in my contacts. I just barely knew the first 6 numbers. So I knew that if I could delete his number without ACTUALLY seeing the last 4 digits, then all temptation would be removed to further send my dignity into a downward spiral by continuing to text a dead horse.

My fingers dialed up the contact. I trembled a little. I knew that if I caught one half of a peak at those last 4 digits, they would be seared into my frontal cortex like a branding iron on a Japanese Wagyu beef’s ass, and I would immediately, irrevocably send my self-control on a one way cruise to the Antarctic. It was 1st world life or death, people.

I paused. Took a breath. Called up the contact. Quickly found the menu for delete. And… done. But not before I packed my parka because that evil little gnome inside my head, the one with his thumbs inside the straps of his overalls and one cocked eyebrow, that fucker MADE me look at that number. Can a girl catch a break? Sweet African American Baby Jesus. 

Then, like the insane, emotionally unstable, crazy woman I had morphed into over the last few weeks, I immediately started saying random numbers in my head trying to trick myself into NOT knowing what I already, CLEARLY, knew. Six! Nine! Four-Six, Four-SIX! NO! DAMN IT it’s four-eight. It was an exercise more futile than a toddler’s red-faced fit over the last broken cookie.

But I was strong, for a little while before I texted him again and went skeet shooting with my pride. Don’t judge. Pull!

So anyway, this bag came. And it said lingerie. And my curious, impulsive, devoid of self-control self, ripped it open to find a sad, poignant metaphor on my life.

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You’re kidding me right now, right? No split-crotch lacy thong? No dangly tassel pleather-studded bra? No polyester banana-hammock with elephant ears?

A hoodie? Really, life? That’s whatcha got?

And not even a nice hoodie – a cheap, ugly, scratchy man-hoodie. Or maaaybe teenage-boy-hoodie that matches his private school uniform requirements. Fuck.

So now I sit here, with this possible man (probably private-school-boy’s) hoodie and I have to give it back… to someone. After I already opened it. With LINGERIE beaming off it in neon. Which might actually be a federal offense.

So my next thought is: A. Do I drive the street over and hand-deliver this disappointment? Or do I simply wait the 1, 2, 3, 4 weeks before I casually catch the mailman outside my driveway and saunter over with a, “Oh, hey. This was delivered by mistake and I accidentally opened it.” Because I did, you know, accidentally.

And suddenly, I feel the real possibility that I created a problem where there wasn’t one. Shit. Another metaphor.

Oh, no. I do not regret opening that bag. I’m 99.9% certain I’d do it every.single.time a package showed up on my doorstep with the words LINGERIE emblazoned on it in hi-def. You could set your watch to that fact.

And really, if I’m honest, the problem I created… to me… is sorta funny. And stupid. And ironic. And inspired. And I wrote this. And I can’t pretend that I care what the mailman or the neighbor really thinks, anyway. I’ve fought too many wars to give a shit about that kerfluffle. And so I should just stop procrastinating. And creating unnecessary problems. And playing little mind games. And do what I know I need to do. And write this fucking book.

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Oprah and Scars and Trust Issues

If you know me in person, you know that Oprah is my spirit animal. Since I was a teenager, growing up in a home where nothing was really talked about, Oprah came on television everyday and talked about everything.  All the things I so desperately wanted to have conversations about, there she was, talking. That dialogue with life changed me. It continues to change me.

I was madly in love with a man my sophomore year in college. I was 20, he was 23.  He was goofy and inordinately tall, 6’8″ next to my 5’5″. I used to climb the furniture to kiss him. He had already graduated from college and was a 5th grade elementary teacher. He took me, a little broken, a little dirty, he dusted me off, and he showed me some things. We were together for an impossibly short 9 months. The one Christmas we spent together he bought me red, plaid pajamas and an unauthorized biography of Oprah. It was 1999.

This man saw me. For a little while anyway, he really saw me. He inspired me to pursue a second major in communications, he convinced me to stand up and have confidence in what I knew to be true about myself. He showed me how deeply flawed even the really good people can be. He taught me that, and then he was gone. I knew he cared for me back then, and in a strange way, I know he still does although we don’t speak. And what all these years have taken away in memory, I remember something about him quite vividly. He had this long worm-like scar that ran down the center of his left knee. It was from surgery to fix what basketball had broken. It was smooth and wrinkled and felt like a silky soft, well, worm. As I ran my finger down it from time to time he’d tell me to stop. It felt weird because the tissue surrounding the scar was numb. He knew I was touching him, but could not necessarily feel me. I loved him so much it took me over a decade, and well into my marriage, before I could bear to part with those thread-bare pajamas.

Right this minute I am crushed by losing someone else I love. He too, has a huge scar. It’s on his right shoulder. While going through the law enforcement academy he was injured in a take-down drill. He had to have surgery to fix what it had broken. After surgery he contracted a major staph infection which ate away at the incision site and left a deep indentation of missing bone and tissue and a pretty big scar. He almost died. This painful tragedy manifested in scar-form was one of my favorite parts of his body. Laying in bed, always, my fingers would work their way toward that scar, sometimes unconsciously. He’d ask me why I did that. “I guess I just like scars.” I’d say. “It means you’ve lived.” He said that was funny – but what I think he meant was ironic – because he said he was self-conscious about that scar. But now it was one of his lover’s most favorite things. Our only Christmas together he bought me a collector’s book which was actually signed by Oprah. But that wasn’t all he gave me. He taught me something, too. In losing him I finally knew how to trust myself.

Because when we met I was very broken, filthy, battered from head to toe. I was in the midst of nasty divorce, and on my way to trial. Snaking your way out of a toxic relationship there are always landmines just in the periphery of where you know you need to go. A lot of my landmines looked like trust-issues. I didn’t just not trust him, I didn’t trust me. How could I ever be sure of any decision I ever made when I’d made so many MAJORLY horrible ones thus far? I played this dance with him for 6 months where I’d push him away, skeptical and crazed with fear, and he’d pull me back just before I jumped. This happened so many times, the pushing, pulling. After 6 months the fulcrum on our relationship tipped. I was the one pulling, and he was the one wanting to jump. Then he did. It all took 9 impossibly short months.

But I saw him. I did. And I think I still do, although, as he fades away his outline gets fuzzier. It’s hard to tell where he ends, and where I have reshaped him in the hazy hindsight of lost love. And now, my only wish is that I taught him something, too. Because I do not want to take more from this life than was so generously given to me in the way of incredible, loving people. I have met so many. I have loved so many even if I didn’t know how to show it, or name it, or trust it.

But I do now. Or at least I’m much closer than before. And even if I never see him again, I know that I am capable of trusting. Because he taught me that, and I will forever be grateful. I’m sure it will take me many years before I bring myself to put that collector’s book away, where it’s not always on my shelf, in my periphery, continuing to remind me to listen to that still, small voice, the one that urges me to keep talking about everything even when I’m afraid. To keep loving the scars more than the memory of the hurt that caused them.

 

Lessons on Loneliness, Translations and Bedtime Stories

Because of shared custody, full-day Kindergarten, and a busy schedule, my daughter and I usually, truly connect during the week on the nights I get to put her to bed; which is approximately 53% of the time. That’s what happens in divorce, you only get a percentage of your child’s life.

I lay with her before she falls asleep, and her inner thoughts and worries come bubbling to the surface like secrets. She tells me as much as she is able to understand, and I translate the feelings she does not have the words to say. Two nights ago she cried big, heaving tears about a recent birthday party where two girls, whom she’s been friends with for about three years, wouldn’t “follow her.”

These three girls spend a lot of time together because I’m also friends with their moms, and we like spending time together, too. These two friends of mine are two big reasons I was able to survive this last year of divorce. They supported me, included me, made me feel like I was not alone in this city where the only family I knew stopped speaking to me the day I filed for divorce.

But lately, I haven’t felt so included. For a variety of reasons I feel a rift between me and these two friends. They are both married. They have two children who are the same ages, and all their kids are friends. They aren’t limited in their plans by shared custody and “weekends off” and the ability to pass the kids off to a husband for an impromptu shopping trip on a Saturday afternoon. When we get together their husbands idle off to the side with their beers and talk about husbandy things. I watch. I listen. I see the updates on Facebook when they go on “date nights” and I have no plus one anymore.

I’ve been feeling this distance and the accompanying loneliness and it hurts pretty bad. So when my daughter cried to me two nights ago about not being “followed,” I cried with her, because I knew she was trying to say she felt alone, and left out. Usually, I’m not at a loss for wise words of motherly advice translated into 5-year-old speak, but I was this night. I just layed there and said, “I know, baby. Me too. Feeling lonely and left out is miserable and it’s okay to cry. I’ll cry with you. Okay? Because I’m feeling pretty left out too.”

Then I remembered this book I bought a couple of weeks ago at a spiritual bookstore. It is a book for kids called, On My Way To A Happy Life by Deepak Chopra. I love this book. I gush over this book. Because I gush, they groan when I try to read it at night, but I read it anyway. And by the end, they are always rapt with attention. It’s one of my favorite things right now.

Deepak Chopra On My Way to a Happy Life

As we lay there crying I asked her if she remembered what the book said about getting the things we want in life? I reminded her that it said she needed to give away the things she wants. If she wants her friends to “follow” her, she’s got to follow them, first. If she wants to be heard and seen and included, she’s got to hear, see and include others. And the best way to do these things, is with a giving spirit, and a happy heart. It was truly advice for us both.

I think I might be a professional loner. I move away from people, I alienate them, I build walls and hide behind them every single day. I choose people who are cold and distant so that I don’t have to thaw my icy exterior. Truthfully, this blog is my alter ego. My everyday self only understands so much, and the voice in my head that writes here is my wiser self that translates what I do not have the words to say outloud.

I justify these things easily. Because life has not been kind to me in the ways of love and so I have grown a heart of thorns. I have been told (more than once) that I am not easy to love. And I’m not. So scared am I of the pain that seems to always follow the fall. So terrified of the vulernability and weakness I’ve laid on the table the moment it all goes to shit. It seems a thousand times easier to stay walled up in my self-imposed cage. This is the part of my disintigrated marriage that I own. I am not easy to love.

But I know I’m not impossible. I did try really hard in my marriage. But sadly, that was a lost cause for many reasons. And I am all the more frightened from it. But I can’t give up, right? I have to keep trying. Somehow, I have to find the wisdom to keep turning toward the light. I know this now. This blog helps.

But it’s too late to change what has already happened. It is too late to go back and impart this wisdom on my 23 year old self, my 27 year old self and my 36 year old self. But it’s not too late today. Today I will choose to do the scary things, like trying to give away pieces of me without being frightened how they might be treated. And I will do this by taking the pieces that others give me, and caring for them like they were my own. I will give away what I so desperately need. To be seen.

We always hear that our children mirror our emotions. My daughter and I crying together over our shared loneliness of these same friends in our lives has never illuminated this more clearly for me, and thus, it has never been more clear what I must do.

There are only two people on this planet I have never held back from loving. They have had all of me from the moment they were conceived, and I hope they always will. These two are my greatest translators in this crazy world about the meaning of love, and if for no one else, (actually, I can’t think of better people) I will try for them. I will do the scariest things just to show them what happens when you’re brave enough to expose your heart.

And so, even though everytime I open this page I’m scared, I will continue to open it. Even though I am terrified of loving another again, I will try. Even though my unwisest self pulls me into the shadows behind my walls and thorns, I will continue to step out into the sunlight. Because they need to know a world with that kind of warmth. And we will be each other’s translators of that kind of love.