unmarried. a blog
"Tell the truth about what it's like to be human."
- Cheryl Strayed
44 on 4.
On 6-4, I'll be 44.
Birthdays have become a reflective practice. It wasn't always this way. I used to party upon their arrival. I'd later dodge them. Now I reflect.
There's been so much change. So much shift.
But more importantly, I'd like to point out something that has been a continuous thread.
My writing has been the only constant throughout this life-ride however exhilarating and tumultuous. It's been a pathway to enlightenment, controversy, connection, celebration, and love.
It's because of my ability to better articulate myself through written text that I have been able to turn an art form into something that actually works. Not only for me, but for others.
Not many people know I started writing before I knew how to actually write.
At age four, I would tell my mother stories that she'd transcribe onto index cards that were later illustrated with crayons.
In second grade, Mrs. Koenig loved my "ugly witch" story and later Mrs. Magnotti captured my talent with publishing parties and a full range of open-mic opportunities at the measly age of ten.
She championed me from fifth grade all the way up to her death in my late 30s.
But, it took the death of one of my own students to process life. It was published in the New York Times.
And it took the birth of my own child to understand postpartum depression that was later published in Salon.
It also took many foolish dating fails to celebrate ignorance then featured in New York Magazine, YourTango, and countless other media outlets to understand how the coupling game went.
I wrote about being a wife.
That experience birthed a book and television exposure.
When writing about my marriage struggles openly at the onset of the 2023 year, I received more feedback than any published piece in any famous outlet.
But all correspondence aside, I spotted a note from a childhood friend.
At first I chalked it up to another pity email. Certainly polite, but certainly not wanting to dive deeper into what I was going through.
Or so I thought.
But his check-ins became constant.
His check-ins became everything.
He genuinely cared about what was happening to me.
And this gave me further permission to understand that what I was going through wasn't residing only in my head.
When he later revealed he was going through something similar I was surprised. But only because his razor sharp focus was on me; he was selfless.
His persistence to be an amazing friend.
His persistence stemming from being an amazing father.
His persistence of making sure those he cared for were cared for.
His persistence became something I wanted to be a part of.
In my case, the arena currently consists of three life events happening, in concert, simultaneously: divorce, new job, new house.
Yes, I'm ready for a nap. And a vacation to a very distant land.
But, not yet. I'm still surveying the playing field in the arena.
The arena? Yes, the arena.
As in the place people go to duke it out and fight. Except...I'm not fighting anyone. I'm simply in the ring to battle personal demons, nay-saying thoughts, and ultimately, fear.
I read somewhere that if you want to do something but you're in fear, do it anyway despite being afraid.
Afraid? I can be afraid.
Coincidentally, the concept of afraid doesn't scare me as much... I guess because my whole life I was fending off "being a p*ssy" because being that meant being what I was: a girl.
That's a whole other post.
Well, I'm learning that if there's ever to be change in one's life, we must step up, step INTO the arena, and be brave enough to face uncertainty.
And, for me, there's PLENTY of uncertainty to go 'round.
But, also for me, that's A-okay.
Because, really, settling for what WAS was just that: settling.
And, like you, I'm not hardwired to simply settle.
If you're a Gen X-er like me, you started working around the time of 9/11 when you graduated college, then got married and had a couple kids sometime later, only to experience a global pandemic mid-career. And, if this doesn't ring true for you, you're simply here for the ride and the story.
Either way, you may proceed.
Because why wouldn't world terrorism and a planet-wide sickness be interesting?! It's borderline dystopian and, quite frankly, it's worthy of popcorn.
At any rate, I digress.
Honestly, even after the uphill battles since the world's changes in 2001, I've been trying not to quietly quit altogether.
What is Quiet Quitting you ask?
Although quiet quitting is known as a job reference, I can't help but think of how it's spilling into everyone's everyday being.
I mean, recently I experienced someone else's quiet quitting when I went to Panera Bread and was greeted by an employee with a, "What's up."
I turned around, thinking the millennial saw a friend standing behind me, but no.
He was greeting me.
"Do you mean, How can I help you?"
He looked at me as if I'd lost my mind. (Little did he know, I was about to.)
This was my first experience with quiet quitting.
But now I get it!
So many Gen Xers were taught a stolid hardcore work mentality. But now I wonder, for what? And, the more pressing, why?
As much as I don't want to quiet quit my existence, this frame of mind has me questioning my unrelenting work ethic. The wages suck, they've always sucked, and do not warrant the back-breakingness of our being.
I think the quiet quitters are teaching us not to kill ourselves for the almighty dollar. And they're right. Although I don't agree on mincing integrity on the job when I'm there (there will NOT be a "hey, what's up" greeting from my lips), but I will recognize my on-the-clock-hours from the time that is not clocked in.
This ^^^ was something I actively sought after in my teens and twenties.
This ^^^ was something I cried about not having in my thirties.
I crave that ^^^.
Being alone and being lonely are NOT the same things.
Actually, for the most part, I've been a pretty solitary person. I steered clear of sororities in college, maintained friendship circles without any deep commitment, and always made time for myself.
Since the age of 19, I've vacationed by myself. I've taken myself out to dinner, to the movies, concerts, you name it.
AND I CAN'T EFFEN WAIT TO DO IT ALL AGAIN!
Recently, a person whom I thought was a friend (a mom who had a daughter in the same grade as mine) and who's house I'd been to before, had befriended me on Facebook, then deleted me on Facebook, then sent me another request, only to delete me again. At first, I thought, hmm, that's odd, maybe The Book deleted us by accident.
Fool me once...
After the second deletion, I laughed. I literally guffawed at the screen when I saw a third request about a month or so later.
I'm too old for this sh*t.
I'm also too old for the "friends" who say they "champion" your success, but do absolutely nothing to actually champion your success.
Snore. Go back to bed. Bye Felicia!
Being alone is a privilege. I enjoy my own company. I am my own best friend.
After the divorce, my plans include taking myself on a honeymoon. No lie. I have made this an absolute priority.
Because being alone and being lonely are not the same things.
And befriending your self is the best gift you can give yourself.
Surrender isn't giving up, it's giving over.
Read that quote again.
Let it sink in.
Then, after about three more times, read this:
"It isn't about letting go of all of your options or giving up your dreams, but rather giving over your agenda, your timeline, your control, to the presence of the Universe."
My agenda. Ah, yes. The very timeline that runs my life day in and day out. Sometimes to positive effects, oftentimes to a self-created misery.
When experiencing a divorce (which is the slowest break up humanly possible even when both parties are amicable), all of your next steps resemble that of getting on a treadmill only to find that the forward-moving button is broken.
So, as you stand there, you try to remedy the situation, maybe pushing the button several more times, but the pace you want just isn't happening. And, if you're like me, this is where you *might* resort to smashing down on the button with every effort to get moving.
With divorce, this looks like me patiently waiting for calls, emails, smoke signals from lawyers. With selling a house, this looks like me frantically cleaning the house for showings and waiting, again patiently, for calls, emails, smoke signals from real estate agents. With buying a house, this requires all the necessary paperwork that's contingent on all of the above.
AND I HAVE NO CONTROL.
Then this quote pops into my life and the synchronicity is uncanny.
I must surrender the agenda, the timeline, the control. Because, really, this entire process involves many moving parts that are simply out of my jurisdiction.
So I'm giving the situation over to the Universe. Let the process play out the way it has to. As much as it's driving me bat shit crazy, I know it's my only option.
In the meantime, focusing on other important things (there's always a laundry list of something that needs tending to) will be the focus.
It's not giving up.
It's giving it over.
It's funny. When someone breaks their silence and finally admits that things are wrong, it creates a ripple effect. It's as if that proverbial vail has been lifted and suddenly you see anew. Whether it's been painfully obvious or pretty discreet, it's there in all its visible glory.
The last few weeks of my "coming out" as a soon-to-be-divorcee has welcomed, or shall I say re-welcomed friends into my life. Some for lunch. Some to commiserate. All to connect. And what have I learned from being open and honest with myself? That many are stuck living with their secrets.
Listen. Deep down I'm scared shit. That was, and still is, my fear of this transition. But it's no longer a secret.
Deep down so many people are staying married because of this same fear, this secret.
It takes balls to admit that things are wrong, someone recently told me.
To which I replied:
If the queen had balls she'd be king.
The if is the problem here. Many people sadly choose to suffer through situations then find themselves (later on) sitting with an if. Plenty of us have an if hovering above. An if could look like this:
If I only finished college.
If I would have saved more money.
My ifs were making it uncomfortable in every way. Mine were:
If I stay, knowing what and how I feel, how will that impact my kids and their perception of love?
If I could finally live a true 50/50 co-parenting situation then...(insert neglected desires here.)
My ifs were too loud for me to ignore any longer. And I asked myself this: how is living this way comfortable? Why am I choosing to stay in something that is no longer serving me in the way that it should? Isn't that false advertising?!
I'm not here to promote divorce. I am here to tell you that life is too short to remain in your ifs.
Face your secrets, face your ifs, and do something about them.
Don't wait until you're on your deathbed thinking, "Huh, I shoulda did things differently. If only I had more time."
The time is now. Really.
People like to own things: cars, houses, clothing. People will go out of their way to own these things by way of making money. Work, gambling, scheming.
What people don't like owning is their person: behaviors, words, feelings. People will go out of their way to avoid these things in an effort to unown them.
For example, yesterday I took a hit of the lowest kind. Regardless of the irrelevance of that person's existence in my life, it was still hurtful. And I reacted. Mama bear mode was in full effect.
I also let it affect me in ways that it shouldn't have. The lesson for me here is on ownership. Yes, I own a house, and yes, I am selling said house. But, putting material objects aside, the true thing that I own throughout any process, especially of the buying-and-selling kind, is that of my reactions (proactive or otherwise.) Should I have cried, kicked, screamed to process and allow myself to feel all the feels, of course. Should I have posted a rant on Facebook, probably not, but I'm a writer and writing is my way of processing.
Now that I'm on the other side of that situation and those feelings, I can proudly say that I handled it much better now than if this were my younger self years ago. I'm still a work-in-progress and, by the looks of it from yesterday's ordeal, so are many others.
I’m a Gemini. And, like any Gemini would, I study the rules. Immerse myself in the rules. BECOME the rules.
Only to break them.
Now that my life is taking on a new form, with all its persistence, I’m creating a new set of rules.
Rule one is to remain healthy. Note: I hate exercise. Like, really loathe it (my favorite anti-exercise saying is, “The only thing I run is my mouth.”) But, in true one foot in front of the other fashion, I must keep this body of mine in decent condition. Being forty is fickle. Especially now that I'm three-years in.
So, I signed up for yoga. It’s the only thing that I can somewhat connect with. And this class isn’t your average ooohh-ssaaaaa ooommmm experience, it’s yoga tone. The tone part is anti-yoga. More along the lines of a militant “drop-the-fuck-down and give me twenty” after you’ve just quietly mastered balance in a tree pose. It's a bipolar paradox. I love it. My sessions start this week.
Rule two, no wallowing allowed. To be honest, there was a time in my marriage when I was taking antidepressants. At first, I took them for postpartum. But a couple years after the births of my children, I began to realize that I was still depressed. And it wasn’t because of them. I loved them. did everything for/to/with them. Still do. But the sadness wouldn’t go away until I recently realized why. After some deep conversations with myself by way of journaling, I finally admitted what was going on, which was the hardest pill to swallow: I was taking antidepressants to suppress the very thing that was making me depressed: my marriage.
So naturally, after deciding enough is enough with both the pills and the marriage, I prescribed myself with laughter as the medicine for a more desirable lifestyle result. My current way of accessing the funny will be through, Humor is the New Black!, an online writing class that studies comedy. Guess what? This writer can’t effen wait!
Rule number three. Well, I don’t have a third rule. Three is too many. I guess that's why they say three’s a crowd.
If you "adjusted" the rules you currently follow, what would you change? Just food for thought.
At the start of every year, self-help gurus encourage people to choose one word instead of an entire resolution. The purpose is to reduce the stress that'll occur when said resolution fails. After all, let's be honest, most resolutions do fall by the wayside by February. But a word, a single, little utterance of a word could be just the thing to catapult a person into the actual doing of something bigger than them. Something positive. Or, at the very least, something forward-moving.
That was my word for 2022. This year my word is persistence.
What's your word? Think about it. Or not. There are no rules here.
Your second life begins...with the ring.
I stumbled upon a saying, "Your second life begins when you realize you only have one," which is also the title of a fantastic book by Parisian author, Raphaelle Giordano.
In the novel, main character Camille earns lotus charms varying in color as she achieves certain levels of success on her quest to a happier life. Each color symbolizes an elevation in rank.
For me, transforming the engagement ring into an independence ring is the indicator of my journey. By removing the diamond, which will later be gifted to my daughter in a different form of jewelry, and replacing it with onyx (black = the highest achievement), the ring will be worn on my right hand, my dominant hand, as a reminder of the hard decisions I had to make in order to regain my self.
If you're here reading this because you are going through a similar situation, ask yourself what thing could represent your journey. If not an object, then maybe a word...