Thursday, April 29, 2010

Overtures *

It occurred to me after the other night's fiasco that perhaps if we put as much effort into eachother as we do into other people that maybe we might be able to salvage this marriage-or at least reinvigorate it so that there is something there worth salvaging. So I suggested to my husband that he start flirting with me. He said he already does-but his idea of flirting with me is to look up in the morning, say "I'm a lucky man" and go back to bed. Sweet but hardly earth shattering or bodice ripping banter. So I suggested we should try flirting online since he clearly is capable and comfortable saying naughty things and making racey overtures to other women, so why not me? I personally enjoy a bit of innuendo myself and sometimes blatent and slightly vulgar suggestion. And I know it isn't the same when I'm here every day. Hardly seems worth the effort. But I pointed out that it would be nice if my own husband got my pulse racing so he grudgingly agreed.

So yesterday, I sent him an email with "Where's my sexy email" in the subject line. The email consisted of just one line-"it's after lunch and I'm feeling a bit...naughty".

He wrote back-just one line. "My email is monitored." Oops. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Facebook *

Dear and patient reader,

I promise to return to the present soon and to offer up some fun and titillating details of my ventures in entering the adult world but this is where my mind is today. I apologize for the gravity but I need to take a moment to wrap myself around it.

Well, I guess my discretion is unnecessary since once again my husband has decided to air our private lives in Facebook conversations. Sigh. And I am once again to watch him dally amidst our friends as I remain uncomfortably ensconced. He says it is unfair for me to expect him to move outside the group because he doesn't meet people. He is very good at hurting me. He has always been good at it. Together, I think perhaps we are experts.

There was a time when we first dated that he skipped the opening night of a show I was starring in to spend the afternoon at the beach with another woman. He showed up to the cast party that night wanting me to feel sorry for him because he was so very sunburned. I didn't really even understand what had happened. I was 16 at the time. At another point, he thought he would have to leave me to marry the woman who claimed to be carrying his child. She wasn't but does it matter? I was 17 at the time. When I was 18, after we had broken up and I had dated and then left Mr. Darcy to be with him again, he proposed to me. I was the fifth woman he had proposed to. He married me because I said yes. I have always known this. And I said yes, because he needed me. He was a mess. A philanderer and at the time, completely bankrupt. He is an amazing musician, have I mentioned that? He put me in his band-at that time he had dated and/or slept with every female member. It was I who asked for the open marriage, not he. I thought maybe if we already had it in place, then when he cheated it wouldn't hurt. I never expected it would be me who would have an affair, if you call it that in such a situation. And I always thought if he had that freedom, at least he would choose to be discreet. But instead he publicly courted women amongst our group and got reinvolved with women who had already taken great pleasure in hurting me. And he complains that my presence causes his lack of success because our female friends like me too much to do something they worry would hurt me. Perhaps it is time to get out into the world.

I like to be in the company of men. It doesn't mean that I sleep with them. It doesn't mean that I don't. I simply like being around people and particularly people who find me interesting and attractive and enticing. I delight in the ambiguity of my life which affords me the opportunity to be amongst people without having to worry too much what it means. But he does not like to go out. He does not share my interests. He does not want my company.

I don't wish to paint such an uneven picture of the man and I know a great deal of time has passed since my teen years. We have had some wonderful times together and I would hardly call myself a victim, because not only have I allowed myself to be injured and scarred, I have stayed, left and returned. And I too have drawn my share of blood. My husband is at times a good man and a better man for me in his life as arrogant as that sounds. But he is often a stupid man. And immensely thoughtless. And very hurtful. It sucks.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cyberdating *

I recently set up a coffee date with Mr. Darcy but we realized that actually getting together wasn't going to be terribly feasible or productive. Rush hour, time crush, too much travel, too soon and so on. But rather than just canceling outright, I had the idea that we both go to our respective coffee houses and just meet up online. This was prior to actually getting a webcam so we were just meeting on chat. I have to say, it was quite delightful. I had my chai, my pastries, the super comfy chair by the fireplace and time to think about all that I wanted to say. It was kind of a breakthrough and quite frankly, I felt a bit like a rock star for even coming up with the idea. Better yet, it was like TV during sex. If I got bored with the conversation, I just opened up another chat window or went on Facebook or bought shoes.

I know that this age of texts and emails and instant messaging can make us callous and thoughtless in our exchanges, but for the single married girl on her quest for her inner awesome,it made me feel safe. I had control of the situation. I had an exit strategy. I had chai. And I had the luxury of not having to face the man I loved so very much, face to face, heart racing, face flushed, tongue tied, eyes welling. Instead, I just spent the time laughing. Out loud. In public. Online. How's that for a great first date?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Back Story-Part 2 *

I'm going to back up a bit from where I left off. If you haven’t read Back Story-Part 1, you should before going on. I want to return briefly to my high school days. As difficult as things were, it was also when I met some of the people who would change my life forever; in particular, my English teacher. She was not well liked by most students, but I adored her. And she was my solace and my saving grace. She knew, just knew, what I was going through-I still don’t know how, and she gave me a forum for finding help. I joined Forensics, which of course locked me into nerd status for the remaining tenure of my high school life, but I didn’t care. You see, she created for me an independent study where I did nothing but research and write, for an hour a day, which of course expanded well beyond. But here is the really cool part. I told her I wanted to do a speech on “Dysfunctional Families” because dysfunction was the new black, at the time. Everyone was talking about it, all the cool kids came from dysfunctional families, Married with Children was a top rated show and I was just doing it as a writing project, right? Oh, she saw right through me.

Now, what you should understand is that my family did not hide their dysfunction. We are a family of storytellers and poets and we wear our scars proudly. My parents used to joke that we put the “fun” in “dysfunction”. That’s what was so weird. As messed up as things got, we were always a family united against the world, no matter what was going on in the household.

So I was “researching” my “writing project” and for research, where does my teacher send me? Why, a counselor, of course. I come in to interview her with my little list of questions-entirely hypothetic, of course, and within half an hour, she has me on her regular docket. The problem? I have to get parental permission for counseling. Sticky that, given my unique situation. So I keep coming to see her, and about once a month she asks when my birthday is and did I get the permission slip signed. Finally March rolls around and she tells me, she has got to get written permission from my parents if I wish to continue. But I’m eighteen, do I still need permission? Well, of course not-no problem then. This is honestly what got me through high school intact. But it is also when I really started to unravel. It was in the course of my research that I discovered all the lovely labels that go with dysfunction-like, the scapegoat-that would be my brother. Or, terrifyingly, the lost child-I was determined that would not be my sister. And, in the most classic definition, I discovered my own label-the ENABLER. It is still hard to stare at it head on. I was 17 when I first made this discovery. I had already met the two great loves of my life who have remained in my life to this day. This thing that I had been doing for so long, listening to my mother, giving marital advice, getting my sister to school, dealing with the creditors-all these things I had done to try and help my family-they were the worst thing I could do. I knew then the best thing I could do to help my family and myself, the only thing, was to leave. So I did. I took the school in New York. I left my sister, I left my then fiancĂ©-yes, I was already engaged-I left my brother and my father and hardest of all, I left my mother. I knew that everything would fall apart and I was not wrong. I knew my sister would suffer and I was not wrong. But still, it would in the end be for the best.

I want to take a moment to talk about my mother. It is such a complex relationship and, I suspect common experience to love someone so much and admire them and yet hate them for what they do to you. My mother was the most amazing person. I say was because we lost her a year and a half ago. She was funny, and brilliant, unconventional and beautiful. She used to sing to me when I was little and she used to pull us out of school for “mental health days” to go to the movies, or a museum or the zoo. She never believed that education happened strictly in the classroom. She was an absolute force to be reckoned with if you dared cross her or threaten her family in any way, especially her children. She was sweet and lovely and hilarious and plagued by demons from her past and her present. And she would reinvent herself every ten years or so. She was immensely generous and would create a business, find someone who needed it and simply give it to them.

So when I left, I was so conflicted. I didn’t want to lose my mother or my family. I didn’t want to see them fall apart or hit rock bottom but I had done too much damage as it was. And I was to learn that sometimes you have to fall as far as you can before you can start the ascent. I’ve told you about college, but what I didn’t say was that after two years I left New York. I left New York because over Christmas break, my father informed me that there was no more money for my education and I would have to leave at the end of the term. I was furious. I had sacrificed so much already, I had for years given all of my paychecks to my parents because they were in debt. I had no savings and not much choice. As the end of the term drew near, I tried to make the best of it, convincing myself and my friends that I had really outgrown this program and that I would be happier back home anyway. I was in a show that my family was coming up to see but the day of, only my father and sister came. They told me Mom wasn’t up for it and they ended up doing a one day round trip. I was to return home the following week, although I wasn’t really returning home, I was moving in with my fiancĂ©. I called the day before I was to leave school, and my sister answered. I asked if Mom or Dad was picking me up and she said Mom was still in the hospital. I had no idea what she was talking about. Turns out she had gone into the hospital with 24 hours to live suffering from kidney failure, alcoholic diabetes and other complications as well as an allergic reaction to the meds. And no one told me. I wouldn’t actually understand why until many years later. They just said they didn’t want me to miss finals!

Now before I lose you to this maudlin prose, I want to tell you the twist. It got better. It got much better. It got wonderfully better. It took about two years, during which I continued and finished school at home out of my own pocket since I’d lost the full ride I would have had had I started there two years before. But two years later, my mother was clean and sober, healthy and herself once again. My parents had worked to rebuild the family estate into something rather formidable and I was planning a wedding! It is amazing to me how quickly things can turn around.

My senior year, I had to do a project-a one person show-on any topic I wished. We all of course wrote shows about our life experiences. Mine was about my mother and how angry I was. I wrote this angry show, because I was so angry and so full of anger and I just wanted everyone to understand my level of rage. And when I read the script which I had drafted, it was terrible. Really awful. Self-pitying, self-indulgent crap, to be precise. It took me a while to figure out why, and then I realized. I wasn’t mad. I was on the other side of mad, looking at angry in the rear view mirror. I had been through all the stages of mourning and now I was sitting smack dab in the middle of acceptance. So I rewrote the show. I turned it into a black comedy all about this complex relationship with my mother. I played a circle clown and all of my stunts and tricks would go array when my mother would interrupt. There was even a moment when I was trying to hang myself and my mother called and interrupted my suicide. Dark, but funny. So in preparing for the show, I invited my family as I do for everything. And as they do for everything, my parents came. I told my instructor that my mother would be coming, and she freaked out. She asked me why I would do such a thing and was I sure that I wanted her there and wasn’t she going to be devastated or was I planning to ambush her. Now, my mother knew what I was writing about and what she was coming to see. But I got kind of nervous thinking I was doing something awful. The day of the show arrives, my mother is there in the audience (my father couldn’t make this one) and of course, at the end of the show, everyone is looking at her for her reaction, and she is crying. She comes up to me at the end and says, “Thank you. That was the nicest Mother’s Day present you could have given me.” And she buys me a little clown pendant to commemorate the show. She got it. She knew that we were ok. I told you she was miraculous.

I wish I could just end the story there. I wish I could say that all’s well that ends well and happily ever after, but since this is real life and not a fairy tale, you know that to be untrue. And I feel the need to honest. But for now, I shall stop here for it is late and I am teary. There is much more to tell and many adventures still be relayed and even more to be had. For now, I can only say things can get better, even wonderful, even if for a fleeting moment.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Intriguing *

I’m taking a short break from my life history to ponder something that has been in the back of my mind swirling around and germinating. This week, no less than three people have called me intriguing. They are not alike in any particular way. One is a personal contact, one a professional contact, and one probably qualifies as both. Although I am somewhat titillated by the announcement that I am intriguing, I am very much perplexed and quite frankly confounded by it. First of all, let’s take a look at definitions, shall we?

The definition of intriguing is “arousing great interest or curiosity.” I believe this most likely was the usage intended. However, there is another definition, a verb. “To engage in secret or underhand schemes, plot.” And if you look at the root word, “intrigue”, it is an ironic choice in which to flatter, particularly to flatter me.
1. a. A secret or underhand scheme; a plot. b. The practice of or involvement in such schemes.
2. A clandestine love affair.

Ah, ha. Now we are getting somewhere. I do not even know if they are aware of the irony. It just made me wonder what I was putting out in the world, previously and at present. What shift in my behavior has occurred to allow for the expression of thoughts, feelings, even desires that have lain dorment, apparently for years in some cases? I am suddenly on the receiving end of compliments, flattery and offers which did not previously exist and have materialized seemingly overnight. Now, don’t misunderstand. I am enjoying the attention. It is nice to feel wanted and desirable. I am indulging in delightful conversations and I have confirmed what I always suspected-that boys are really dirty sometimes. But, I do not understand how I could be intriguing. I have always felt I was the epitome of average. I am average height (or at least I was until they changed the scale-I’m still pissed that we weren’t grandfathered), average weight, even average age-ok, maybe a bit beyond average.

What’s really weird to me is how my own friends react when I say this; like it is some huge surprise that I feel this way. I described myself thusly, “You know that hot girl that everyone always fawns over? The one everyone wants to dance with, to date, to screw? Well, for 20 years, I’ve been the one standing next to her holding her purse while she danced.” Ok, a slight exaggeration but not much. I really have never been that girl. But it appears that I am now. And that I am inciting some very passionate feelings which is also disconcerting.

Moreover, for the first time in a long time, I feel passionate. A friend of mine once called me a sexually powerful woman and I really thought he must be talking about someone else. Maybe he misread the email address or thought he opened up a chat window or something. For the last many years, part of my role was to not want sex. When it happened, it was great. Really great! But it was never my role to want or desire it, and I trained myself not to desire it during the long droughts that followed my marriage. Besides, I was still being satisfied, ok, really satisfied by Mr. Darcy. And then I wasn’t. It was my fault, but I wasn’t and I tricked myself into believing that was ok.

I do not know what I am going to do with this information or with the harbingers of intriguing. I have bourn secrets for so long; I don’t even know how to be honest. I don’t have the will or the time to be the caretaker of anyone else’s feelings right now, but I don’t want to be celibate either. So I guess I am intriguing, in every sense of the word. (And I think I might be a little cyber slutty too.)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Back Story-Part 1 *

Ok, I suppose the time has come when I need to tell you a little bit about how I got to this place. I don’t want to bore you with my drama but I do feel like you might need a little back history to understand how all this came to pass. First of all, I was a very happy kid. Unremarkable, I know. What is remarkable is that I was a very happy kid despite the fact that my parents whom I love were the best parents they could be at any given moment but sadly, that isn’t saying much. My parents met too young, married too young and had kids way too young. As soon as my mom was pregnant with my older brother, their marriage happened and as soon they had my brother, Vietnam happened and although my Dad didn’t get shipped overseas, he did have to go into basic training.

I don’t want you to misunderstand though. My parents were great-the best they could be based on the models who had come before- and very non-conventional. But my mom was an alcoholic and my dad was probably one as well, but was definitely an abusive husband and father. (Not to me, but most definitely to my brother). The strange thing was, it was really common in my very middle class new family neighborhood. I didn’t even recognize there was a problem until I was in middle school because my parents were no different from my friends’ parents. It’s like we were some weird abuse cluster or plagued by bad parenting models. I used to lie in bed, covering my ears so I wouldn’t hear them fighting and pray that my parents would get a divorce.

The thing is, I knew they loved me. I knew this family meant the world to them. I never questioned that they loved and wanted us. And as tumultuous as our upbringing was, I could always tell my parents wanted to be good at parenting. They came to everything. Supported us in all endeavors. Drunk or sober, they were there. Now, I had the role of the middle child, the mediator, the peacekeeper and (although I didn’t come to realize it until high school), the enabler. I was the protector for my sister, support for my brother and sounding board and confidant for my mother. Dad was always working and was my pal on the weekends. I think this is when I started really honing my chameleon-like skills for morphing into whatever the situation required, which we'll discuss later. My mother and I had a particularly difficult road because we were in some ways the best of friends and in some ways, poison. Ok, she was poison to me. She just needed me so much and as a kid, you feel so honored and privileged when you are needed by your parents, you don’t see the danger such a role reversal can present.

But many family barbeques and camping trips and beach vacations later, I found myself in high school looking at the possibility of college. My mother was drinking straight vodka at this point, my father had given up on helping, my brother was angry, violent, and bi-polar and my sister…well, she was a fighter but she had me there to protect her at all times. My parents were looking at financial ruin and I was taking the calls from the creditors, talking to the school, making sure my sister got out the door and on the bus and dealing with the day to day chaos.

I wanted to leave so much. My mother and I were constantly fighting-she could be so mean because she knew what would hurt me the most. But she didn’t mean it; I mean, she meant it at the time, but she didn’t mean for it to land, to stick. I once used the analogy of a row boat tied to the dock. My mother would shove me away as hard and as swiftly as she could and as she watched me drift away, the fear would seize her again and she would grab the slack rope and pull with all her might. No matter how far I might drift, I was always going to be tied to that dock. So I made the decision. I had to leave. I had to move away. I had to desert my family and let them sink or swim.

What does this have to do with how I ended up here? Ok, some of that might be obvious. I was pretty damaged by high school, strong but damaged. And I met the two great loves of my life at this point. They both were so absorbed in the ugliness and moldering carnage of my life that the old “knight in shining armor” poured forth. Though neither was really much of a knight. Two more damaged souls looking for someone to love, someone who needed them as badly as I did. And I, having spent my life as an enabler who needed to feel needed was looking for my newest project. I found it in my future husband. He was so handsome and sexy and talented. And did I mention, twenty-six? Yup, eleven felonious years between us but what did I care? He wanted me! They all wanted him, but he wanted me! It was the same way with my ex-whom I’m just going to start calling Mr. Darcy because, my “ex” isn’t wholly accurate either.

There is something so intoxicating about being wanted by someone everyone else desires. It’s like a drug, especially for one as average as me. I was an excellent student, but not particularly popular, except with the already disenfranchised who, strangley enough, followed me like a god. So when I had these two older men (for Mr. Darcy was also of a felonious age, though not so scandalous as future husband), I was rather beside myself with joy and for a while transported from the repulsiveness of my home situation.

I made it to college; in New York, far from the troubles back home, but every day I would mourn leaving my sister behind. Every day I would recieve multiple phone calls from my mother, crying and begging me to come home. Every day I would assign myself the task of finding five reasons why I would not end my life on this day, and I knew the day I couldn't give myself five, I wouldn't see another sunset. I didn't want to die. I just didn't want to suffer anymore. But I would find five reasons, and I would delete my answering machine messages. (My poor roomate. I didn't even listen to them. Her family probably thought she'd forgotten them entirely). And I would get dressed, smile, go to class, go to rehearsals, go to bed, and start the whole process over again.

The thing they don’t tell you in the stories is that everything truly can get better, but then it can also get worse and that you can drift back and forth between the two-the pendulum may barely vibrate or it may list back and forth at a dizzying pace. And it takes such a brief amount of time for such transitions to occur that just as you adjust to the one, you are already in the midst of the next. And that in the eye of chaos, there can be great joy and growth and angels on earth who simply offer help and guidance at the faintest of calls. That you can function, every day, under the radar and no one will know what is really going on. I often say to my friends in my “coming out” as it were, regarding this double life I’ve had, “I seem so normal, right?” You just never really know.

I feel that at this point, I must stop for the sake of my readers. There is much more to tell, and much of it is quite pleasant and amusing, but I thought it would help to understand how ensconced I was in these relationships. They were far more meaningful and intense than any fifteen or sixteen year old girl should experience. But now I will give you a respite from strife and tell of happier and more current tales. We shall come back to this in future.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Email & the Mantra *

So, I am posting things a bit out of order because I have much to tell you and at some point I feel it necessary to fill you in on the last few years, but for now, I just want to share some fun anecdotes before I start delving too deep in pathos. I’ve been very bad about my blog and have been quite neglectful which is foolish as so much has happened. But for now I am only going to write about now and I promise, I'll catch you up later. Just know that my identity crisis is an ongoing challenge but that sometimes, you just have to put it aside and treasure the day you are in. I had just the most lovely morning with my dear friend and her little one and then a most enjoyable drive into work, with the sunshine and the anticipation that comes with the first effervescent burst of spring. I was so excited, I started to roll down my windows. Then I thought better of it when I realized how cold it truly was outside. The funny thing is that now that I am dating myself, I realized I had no one to share this wonderful feeling with. My friends were not online and I couldn’t get a hold of anyone over the phone. As the day wore on, I started to become quite melancholy at the absence of anyone even in my email. And then I thought, well maybe since I’m already taking myself out on a date these days, I should just send myself a message about what a wonderful day I was having. At first it was just an exercise but the most delightful message came out of me with little thought at all. I chose not to reread it because after I hit send, I closed my email in the hopes of forgetting it and getting to re-experience the nice things I had to say to myself. I find I like myself more and more each day. But I will share it with you now.

Just thought I would send a quick hug and a snuggle to let you know I was thinking about you. We had a fire drill today and it was such a lovely diversion to just stand outside in the sunshine in relative silence. I am so excited about the coming of spring and it makes me want to find time to take you to the park. We haven't been out there in quite some time and I think we might be overdue for a little R&R. Anyway, hope this brightens your day a bit. See you tomorrow on the treadmill. Have fun tonight at dinner. Can't wait to hang out again-call me if you are going out, but no pressure. Love you, girl!

I know it is no great new convention-there's a whole industry dedicated to motivational speaking and self affirmation-but I still have to say, I highly recommend dropping yourself a line on occassion. I mean, we anthropomorphize our pets and various inanimate objects and no one thinks we're odd (well, some do, but who cares what they think, right?), so why not the occassional email from the best friend who is your better self?

I also found a TO DO list that I had written a couple of weeks ago and I intend to review it once a week because once again, it was extraordinarily insightful for something I just jotted down in an unguarded moment. I realized upon rediscovery that this was not so much a TO DO list as a long mantra. Here is an excerpt from my list:

Achieve balance and centeredness

Learn to view self as a friend

See myself as others see me

Find and explore my skills and attributes while adding to repertoire of talents

Spend more time with family and friends

Do not obsess on a man or lose myself in someone else

Travel min 4 times this year.

If you feel like they are worthwhile, please take what you need and leave the rest. Like those little penny containers at the drug store. If you have pearls of wisdom, please add to the list. It's an ongoing exercise in growth and change and I'm sure I and many can use all the help we can get!