Monday, March 29, 2010

The First Date *

I did it. I took myself out on an actual date. Planned it out, paid for myself, though I didn't pay for my own drinks as this is one of my new year's resolutions. I actually am calling them my New You's Resolutions. I know it is a bit cheesy but it really is making an impact on my new found freedom. It's funny, I actually made the statement about not buying my own drinks as a joke. Sort of. But I think I knew I was on to something. I don't know what it is; if it is a societal thing or if it is simply a fact of being a woman, but I have spent the last 12 years or so feeling guilty about accepting a drink from a man who is not my husband. Worried that I would be making some sort of false statement or opening a door or misleading in some way by accepting an offer. But I think, maybe that was just ignorance or arrogance on my part. They were only offering a drink not a ring, not a bed. Why would I worry so much? But I digress.

So, my date. I went to hear jazz. A group of my friends, actually. I even got dressed up because I wanted to make a good first impression on myself. I was a little nervous about the whole thing and feeling very exposed. I don't know why exactly; it's not like I'd never gone to see this group before and quite frankly, my husband had never gone with me. Anyway, the strangest thing happened; I had an amazing time. I discovered I love going to little jazz cafe's and hanging with my friends but without the aid or crutch of a man to complete me. Don't get me wrong, I love company but that wasn't what tonight was about. Also amazing, I got hit on. I know it doesn't sound like a big deal, but I don't get hit on. I send out the "don't even bother" vibe, I think. But I am tired of feeling guilty excepting a drink from a stranger or a friend because I'm married. So I wore a nice "you can't take me home, but you can buy me a drink" outfit. A little racey, a little tame. Lots of leg but very little cleavage-to be honest, even on the best of days there is very little cleavage, but you work with what ya got, right? And that is exactly what happened. I got a tequila, which the band sprang for, 'cause for some reason they think it is hilarious that I like tequila, paid for my own dinner (but luckily I am apparently a very cheap date) and then I was walked back to my car by one of the band members. I felt like I had had some great adventure and to be truthful, it wasn't that different from previous times I'd gone to see them. I almost always go alone. I've never gone with my husband, who has no interest in such things. But it was still so different. It was the first time I've ever gone with the intention of having a date with myself; the first time I didn't feel the absence of another person. It was the first time in a very long time I felt like a whole adult woman out for the evening for no other purpose than to please and know and entertain herself. I have to say, highly recommmend it!

The next day, I called myself to thank me for a wonderful evening. Figuratively speaking, of course. I'm having an identity crisis not a breakdown.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Yardsale *

I am simultaneously studying the harp, bellydancing, silks (the kind you hang from like Cirque de Soleil) and pole dancing. I am excited to go to the library to start and not finish the complete works of Sherlock Holmes. I feel as though my senses are being assaulted with new and wonderful experiences that I neither expected nor want to process. I am on a quest to find the fun again without actually getting too distracted to make progress personally or professionally. I have been more satified with my dates with myself than I have been satisfied with my relationships in years. And I have had the most delightful FB chat exchanges with longtime friends who's humors have renewed my spirits and who's love of the absurd so clearly mirrors my own. Today I decided I would speak as though I was in a Jane Austen novel and I called my ex Mr. Darcy, which seemed fitting. I am going to a Privateer Feast on Saturday so me thinks at least one day this week needs to be talk like a pirate day. I am trying to work this all out but in the meantime, let us make merry! I have started a list of challenges for myself based on the fact that I haven't actually made a decision in years. No, it's true. I never pick the restaurant, I just narrow it down to 2-3. I never pick the movie, I just narrow down the choices or pick the genre. I read what is recommended and I realized I have even started certain activities for the people in my life so I have been systematically categorizing my activities based on whether I did them for myself or for someone else, and, more importantly, do I continue them for myself or for someone else. I did discover I started Tai Chi for ex and quit for him, but now I have begun again for me because I miss it. Which means that it must be for me. But I started a book on CD for someone else, and it doesn't speak to me at all. At first I thought, "it's a book on CD, where's the harm?" Ah, but that is insideous, is it not? This is the danger of such a slippery slope. Next you are just laying there because it's easier than hurting his feelings. OK, maybe that's the extreme, but I felt quite empowered to "just say no" to the book on CD! I am treating my life like I am preparing for a yard sale. If it doesn't fit anymore or I haven't used it in a year or more, will I really miss it? Time to let it go to someone who will really love it. And who knows what I'll get with the money from the sale!

Introduction to my Journey *

Hello dear friends and welcome to my adventure. I invite you to share in this journey of self-discovery as I figure out who I am many years into a marriage which seemed happy but couldn't be satisfying so long as I refused to engage in my own life story. This whole thing began rather as a sociology experiment of sorts. To fill you in, I met the two great loves of my life at the ripe old age of 15. Not fair, by any stretch. I married the one who asked but continued to love the one who didn't. You are free to judge me; I've no desire to enter a debate about the validity of open marriage, but then I would recommend you continue on because we have so very much to share. The crux of this is that I tried to be all that I could be as a wife, a girlfriend, a lover and a friend. And one day, my entire life changed. Oh, of course it wasn't really in one day and on some level I knew for a great time that my relationships were in big trouble, but the one ended and, very nearly, so did the other.

What did I discover from this complete painful, heartrending, unraveling of my world? That, holy cr*p, I have spent my entire adult life defining myself as a wife, a girlfriend, a lover and a friend. Do you see the problem here? Every definition is a part of "us" or "we" and at no point did I ever define myself as I. I tried a couple of times, but to no avail. My husband thought it a bad idea or my boyfriend was threatened by my independence. Ironic, that! No, that isn't the whole truth. The truth is, I was scared. Because when everything fell apart and I finally had to take a cold, hard look at my life, I realized I didn't know who I was, what I liked, what I wanted or even what I had to offer. So herein begins the journey. It started with a simple post on Facebook-"I took myself out last night. Very liberating. Think I might ask myself out again." And my whole world changed again.

There is much more to tell but suffice to say, I found that my crisis of identity resonated on a level that I could not have imagined. I was fortunate enough to have friends who came to my rescue as I lay prostrate on the floor with no idea what to do. A little care package including Eat, Pray, Love came to my aid. And inspired by the book (which I highly recommend) I began writing. This is the first thing I wrote.

I’m going to try talking to myself and see what happens. I don’t know how to be comfortable in my own skin. I miss my old life but more than that, I need to be fearless enough to find a life by myself. I can’t keep defining myself by my relationships.

Today is the first day of the rest of my friendship with myself. I need to end this horrible painful friendship and this very unsatisfying marriage. The honest truth is that I know I deserve better and I have allowed these men to convince me otherwise. I will not do that anymore. I need to write-every day until something good appears on the page. No need to focus. Just let it flow.
And did it ever. So join me as I learn to love myself on this sometimes amusing, sometimes weird and sometimes very awkward trip through the world of man and woman as I answer the question, who is this single married girl?

Monday, March 22, 2010

-- Welcome -- *

Welcome to my blog!.....and podcast!

Written by Chicago native, Laurel Spears, with accompanying audio podcasts narrated by Heather Bagnall.