Dead Heat

It is, undoubtedly, a standoff.

A most peculiar standoff at that, as we have both laid our souls out on the floor before us.  Standing all bare bones and wide eyes, our hollow voices resonate:  “here I am” in both tones of mocking and assurance.

To the untrained eye, it would seem there is little left to risk; vulnerability abounding as we have already been stripped down, bearing raw emotions and bleeding hearts.

But nevertheless here we both are, poised in cautious stances; making moves and counter moves. Sideward glances. One step forward, two steps back.  A stalemate; showdown, as we each act with counteracting trepidation.

Who will surrender first?  It seems only natural I champion this cause , when it is I who has been the most outwardly restive from the start.  Yet, you act in sly and silent defiance, only proving that our guards are one in the same.

Who wins a war like this and is there something to actually be won? Or perhaps rather, it is a truce that we are seeking. A truce to aid in the selling of our vulnerability.  An agreement that concessions must be made and compromises are inevitable.

One thing is for certain: little progress can be made in the way of our current patterns. We are standing in stagnant waters.  So we must choose: to crumble and rebuild; together! Or stand our ground with our castle walls strongly surrounding us each in an emotional fortress, staying completely immobile until inevitably we both must turn away.

So, I have made my choice.  I am silently standing down.  With great taciturn, I am ceding slowly, but ceding nonetheless, opening the door for you.

Go ahead, it’s your move now.   In earnest, I am ready for checkmate so that better things may come.


I Wish

I wish I was one of those people.  One of them.  Who know exactly who they are, what they want, and where they are going.

It just seems so simple for some; the ease of their life paths, so denoted and convicted.  Or at least social media makes it seem that way.  I constantly sift through photos of people in my feeds; people I know in real life, or have known over the years, and they all seem to be living without debate.

I wish it were that easy for me.

I wish I could just be one of the women who has always known that they wanted to be a mom, who has accepted a simple and domesticated life without a second thought.  Or one of those people who has unwavering love and conviction in their choice of life partner; a divorcee’s who is not so scarred by their dissolved marriage that a few short years later  I could be found in the throws of a new marital bliss.  I wish I were a person who, since I was small, has known that this career was meant for me, or that field is absolutely my passion.  Or that person who blatantly just knows that conventional lifestyles are not for them and finds a career where their creativity can flow, travel is easily accessible and they are never in the confines of a 5″x8″ cubicle.  One of those people who has known since high school that their destiny is not in their hometown, and so they move across country without a second thought because it’s where they fit; where they are meant to be.

It’s not even so much that I am jealous of the lives (seemingly) being lived by my social media companions, because I know that their lives are not without flaws, and more than anything, I truly don’t know if I even want some of these things (a baby, a husband, an unconventional job, thousands of miles between family…).  The real envy lies in how easily these people seem to fall into their lives.  How they find jobs or lovers or talents and hobbies seamlessly.  How they move along this logical life path. My boyfriend/husband/partner is the best thing to ever happen to me!  Oh look, I’m engaged even though I was divorced not two years ago!  Now I have this great job that fills all my passions! Look at all this fancy traveling we do!   How exciting is it that we are planning our first child!   I want to just reach out through my screen, grab them by the shirt collars with shaky hands and ask them “HOW DID YOU GET HERE?  HOW DID YOU KNOW THIS WAS WHAT YOU WANTED?  HAVE YOU NOT HAD PAST EXPERIENCES THAT MAKE YOU THINK TWICE ABOUT THINGS?”

Instead, to the contrary, I live every single day with incessant debates lobbing back and forth in my head:
Do I really want kids?  How could that work? Would I be a terrible mother?
Could I bring myself to get married again? Do I even believe in marriage?
What career path am I meant to be in?  What are my talents and passions, exactly?
Do I want to move out west?  Would I immensely regret leaving my friends and family?
Am I a giant coward if I don’t ever take the plunge to move out of this town?
What do I *actually* want to do with my life?  

And then comes the overwhelming worry about how long I have to make these choices before I run out of options or years of life.  I keep notebooks of pros and cons and lists of possibilities that I am afraid to act on.  It has become an obsession that renders me immobile and helpless.

The thing is, my life is so far from the course I charted all those years ago.  And while that detour has decidedly become OK with me, it makes me anxious about my future and at times, leaves me with a tinge of envy as my life seems to have gone backward; so confident and sure of what I wanted at 22 and now at 29, entirely unsure about every facet of life.

Of course, I understand that I don’t truly know the inner workings of my social media people’s real wants and desires and that social media is just for show, often portraying things not as they really are.  But still.  It would be nice to feel that I weren’t in a constant state of panic over my life; as if I am trudging uphill, blindfolded with peeks of sun coming in through slits, leaving me guessing at what I just saw.

Left, Right, Left

Why does it always happen like this?  Everything.  At once.  Always.  No room for deep breaths or slow transitions.  No time to percolate your thoughts, assess new situations or gain a slow understanding of changes.  Instead, a fervor of life defining activities, events, or decisions, that demand to be seen and heard, come all at once like the torrent of an unexpected rain storm .  A rain so hot and blinding it, very well, may render you momentarily catatonic as your emotions rise and fall at a moments notice and without abandon.

Everything I once knew is now questionable as I struggle to grasp what is now my inevitable reality.  What will life be like when my father is soon gone?  When did my darling puppy’s face get so white and his eyes so clouded?  How did I not notice the abundance of grey hairs adorning my head?  Where did some of my dearest friends go?  Why do we not speak? When did my relationship go from anxiously new to comfortably established?  Where did the last three years go?   How have I not noticed; not taken stock of the days ticking by and cherished each one more than the last?

All at once, my life is not my own; distant and unrecognizable.  In a maddening flurry of realizations, I feel things slipping away from me: the presence of loved ones, relationships, ideas of the direction of my life, norms and routines that I cherish.  Time itself is elusive.  I am overwhelmed in my helplessness of life’s progression and hyper aware of my limited time with all I hold dearest and makes my life what it is.  This is how it is, I think.  This is life.  And life does what it always does: it marches it’s sweet, militant, march.  On and on and on; unsettling as it may be.

About that Throwback Thursday…

About that Throwback Thursday

One thing I know
I’m not the same girl
​I couldn’t speak
You were too loud in my world
But just because you make noise
You’re not powerful

I’ve got the last word
Slow down, slow down, slow down
I’ve got to be heard

I’m asking for air
Don’t let me suffocate
This isn’t love
The world that you have created
I’m standing my ground
While the earth shakes

The Ultimate Throwback Thursday

Today is the ultimate Throwback Thursday.  It is ultimate (ish) because it is also my 4 year wedding anniversary. At least, I think you still can call it an anniversary because whether or not the relationship still exists, the past event being marked still happened, right?

I wonder if I will ever go through a July 9th and not be reminded of my wedding day.  Part of me feels like it is a date ingrained in my brain forever.  But another part of me feels that it’s possible that someday I may forget.  After all, just a few years ago I wondered if I would ever go through a July 9th and not want to crawl into the fetal position and/or drink myself into a nice numb oblivion, and today I don’t particularly feel like doing any of that.

Instead I feel…OK.  Not super great, but not overly emotional.  Maybe a tinge of emotion and nostalgia here or there but functionally speaking, I am doing just fine- sailing through my work day and looking forward to seeing some friends tonight.  And I feel like that really is a testament to how far I have come in 4 years; how much more balanced I am these days, emotionally.  In fact, I like that I still feel something on today’s date but at the same time, I can carry on with my life just fine.  It feels good; stable and human.

In light of all this change and even dare I say- points of clarity?- I have pondered the question: what would I tell my 25-year-old self?  If we were in a room together right before walking down the isle, would I stop her?  Would at the very least warn her? Or do I say, C’est la vie! Everything happens for a reason! Live with no regrets!   To figure it out, in true cornball, fashion, I wrote a letter.

Dear Jo,

Look at you today: so calm, cool and collected, acting like it is just another day, even under the weight of that heavy white dress. I know you hate that dress. I would like to say that in retrospect you will tell yourself “you looked better than you thought!”  But no, four years later you still hate that dress.  And your hair.  And your makeup.  What I can tell you is not to worry, because over the next four years you will grow into yourself, both in spirit and in body.  Even though today you may yearn for your 25-year-old metabolism, by the time you are almost 30 you will feel more put together and comfortable in your skin than ever. Over the next few years you will learn that you actually *are* beautiful and that this beauty is completely independent of your current weight or the amount of make up you wear. In fact, you can be down right sexy- and it’s OK to admit that- it is not pretentious, bur rather a human right and the foundation of good self esteem.

But enough about that.  

Perhaps most importantly, you need to cherish all the good in today.  When you are out there today surrounded by loved ones either on the dance floor or maybe when you are eating your cake, take a good look at everyone to your left.  Then take a good, hard, look at everyone to your right. Feel all the love you have from them, because nearly half of them will no longer be an active presence in your life come the next four years.  

Surprise!  You’re not married anymore.  Surprise! Your soon-to-be husband is not the wonderful person you thought him to be.  Surprise! You, yourself, are not who you thought you were.  In fact, pretty much nothing about life will be as you thought it was.  It all crumbles to pieces in the wake of your divorce, and you are left to rebuild everything in your life from your physical home, relationships, self worth, and understanding about the world at large.  

That all said, I am not going to stop you from walking down the isle.  It’s a part of your path and who you are meant to be.  Yes, truly, this sucks- no one wants to be labeled ‘The 26 Year Old Divorcee‘ .  It will be incredibly embarrassing being only married a year before your separation, and it will totally fuck with your finances.   But your divorce is an incredible force that will push you to find out who you are and what you want in life.  It will also force you out of your perfectionist ways. Once you are pushed into the middle of what might be considered, the ultimate fuck up, you must pull away from your obsession with being seen as the perfect child/friend/employee since you are irrevocably and indeterminately tarnished.  Yes, this hurts and it is hard, but it is for the better.  You need to lighten up.  There are better ways to live your life than checking things off your To-Do list and keeping every ounce of your life seemingly perfect.  

Today, when you arrive at the wedding site, you will feel nothing.  No excitement, no fear, no happiness and no dread.  This is because you are shut off inside.  Recognize that.  Hang on to that feeling.  While you feel nothing and nothingness can be a viable way to exist- that void of nothingness sucks.  Remember this in the depths and dankness of your divorce.  Remember this when you inevitably find yourself at 1 am, on a random Tuesday, in the fetal position, in complete hysterics when you can’t fall asleep because the pain and loneliness feels never ending and too great to bear.  In those moments, you will wonder why you left, why you purposefully incited all of this carnage.  You will feel like the world’s biggest idiot for walking away from the ‘perfect’ life and the most horribly selfish human being for hurting so many others along the way. You’re wrong.  It’s just the loneliness talking.  Use that numb, empty feeling from your wedding day to get you through it.  Deep down, you want more.  You need more.   Someday, you *will* have more.    

Someday the sun will shine again and you will feel calm and happy and loved by both friends, family and a partner, and most importantly, yourself.  And even then, there will be times when the clouds eclipse the sun and again you will be left with that feeling that life has gone stale and you start your yearning for more.  There will always be more, little Joey.  But don’t be ashamed or afraid of wanting more.  Wanting more is what keeps us going.  Wanting more is what keeps life from being boring.  Don’t settle.  Don’t feel wrong or selfish for wanting more.  Those who truly love you will want you to have more and will want more right along side you for themselves, as well.  

Today is wonderful.  Today you will feel so loved by so many people.  Today you will eat, drink, dance and be merry- and as you should.  Today is a beautiful memory.  Treat it as such.  Even when, years down the road, you start to resent it, even when you become ashamed by it, even when you wish you could take that day back.  Don’t.  You may never get to dance with your father at your wedding again.  You may never see some of those people ever again.  There may never again be such a wonderful learning experience.You will never be you in that moment again, and each and every day, every piece of you and every moment you live through is beautiful and worthwhile.  Take the good and walk away from the rest.  Everything will be OK.  There is always more to life than you see.