Believe Me, Too

Last week, at the pinnacle of the viral #metoo movement, I shared an Ebony article on Facebook. It was a passionately-worded piece wagging its finger at all of the #metoo hype, as if to say, “Hey! We’ve been saying this for a decade and the movement was started by a Black woman!” While the article did feel a bit ragey, with its give-credit-where-credit’s-due feel, it highlighted several things:

  • Black women are overlooked
  • Black people’s problems tend to *stay* Black people’s problems
  • Celebrities with high-profile scandals have a vast reach
  • White celebrities can get ish done

I even wrote a disclaimer on my article-share, warning my friends and followers to not be turned off by the title and tone. I urged my friends to read it. Read it becausmetoo snipe hey, this isn’t new. This is all races, all sexes, all genders. And it’s a whole lot easier to ignore abused people – especially when we’re shouting from the margins.

Well, I had a friend. That one (sometimes three) friend(s), that did have to say something about – by my own words – “playing the Race Card.”

He expressed his thought that justice is great, why bring race into it? Just be grateful this is getting attention! 

I saw red. I saw flames. If I had laser eyes to shoot at his fingers on the keyboard via the inter webs, I would have aimed and fired. We went back and forth a little, but then he did something amazing that I never expected. He took it to the DM.

And it went down. But it went down beautifully.

He asked me to explain how we missed each other, why his challenge to my article-share insulted me, and how he can be a better ally.

Yeah. He asked how he could serve me

And by the time we exchanged stories, we were both in tears.

We saw each other. We heard each other.

He asked …how he could be a better ally.

This is my DM response to him, (some parts edited for this blog and names removed), and it’s   something that all well-intentioned white people should read before they roll their eyes at yet another angry Black woman that makes everything about race and gender:

[TLDR Version: Privilege is real. We live in a constant state of gender and race humiliation. It happened to me, too. Believe us. Whether its racism or sexism, believe us.]

 

PRIVILEGE

The first time I ever saw white privileged was when I was going through my divorce. Yeah. I know it sounds weird. My first time. But when you’re Black in America you only see the negative attitudes towards your own race and not the actual privilege of being white. That’s not our side of the story. When he and I decided to split, I was the one that was depressed and miserable in the far burbs so I was happy to move.

But I had spent the majority of our marriage as a full-time mom/student with part time gigs. I didn’t have a resume, savings or a sustaining job. Every day while I was still home with the kids, he would come home and say: did you get a job yet? How many applications? Any interviews? How about an apartment? When are you leaving? The pressure was maddening. I wanted to punch him and throw up and run away crying all at once. Every. Day. I felt unwanted and lazy and rejected.

But then I realized he wasn’t deliberately bullying me. He just had no idea. He didn’t have a resume. He’s never had to sell himself on a piece of paper to strangers. He’s never asked strangers for a job and he’s never not gotten an offer for a job he asked for. He lives in a bubble of privilege where he’s never had to go without or rely solely on his own talents. He’s never had to worry that he wouldn’t get an interview because his name sounds “exotic” or “weird.”

He’s never had to worry that someone would look at him and think “a man can’t do this” or “a dad can’t do this.” That is privilege. But people always think a woman can’t do this or a mom isn’t as committed as a childless person. These are things I choke on daily.

He had no idea how difficult it can be to get a job especially when you’re not a white man.

HUMILIATION

You aren’t humiliated by others for the color of your skin.
I just got a lotus tattoo for my birthday. Beauty and blessings springing forth from the mud. X— made some mud comments about me in sixth grade. Again, not your reality. Not even on your radar. But it was stinging and humiliating. It made me feel ugly and less than and unlike and unaccepted and rejected and reminded me that I will never be one of you.

My new ink is my peace with that. I know now that I am beautiful and talented and radiantly intimidating. In first grade I had to change for gym class alone because my changing buddy’s mom found out she was undressing with a black girl and didn’t want me around her daughter. And that, too. All the time: Black girl. I hate it when people say, “so this Black person — no offense — was talking…” Why is “Black person” offensive? I’m not sorry I’m Black. Does my Blackness offend you? Why are you apologizing? I am Black! Say it! Black isn’t a bad word. N** is. Black isn’t. Neither is white. Say it. We are our colors and we all deserve to be seen.

BELIEVE ME

With all of that said, it is SO crushing then, when I say to someone, for example, a white significant other, “Babe I had a weird experience today and I really feel like it was racially motived,” and he says, “nahhh I don’t think so. Maybe you did something wrong.” That’s the most devastating thing. When people in the majority point fingers at me and accuse me of playing the race card.

When I experience something and feel sad and violated and discriminated and someone that couldn’t possibly be able to relate blows me off and says they don’t believe me — it’s a terribly crippling feeling. It’s gaslighting. It’s crazymaking.

If I say “this feels racist,” BELIEVE ME. Please. This is my world, not yours. Please believe me that something hurts and it’s not fair. What if we went to the doctor complaining of illness and he doc says, “Mmmnah I don’t think so. Stop whining!”

#METOO

The last place I worked my coworker rubbed my knee under my dress when the two of us were alone in a conference room. Later he “brushed” past me rubbing his body on my butt. Twice. And then when we were leaving that hospital site, we were alone in an elevator and he stroked my face. Twice. Because I looked tired. I wanted to slit his throat and set myself on fire.

When I reported him to HR, the woman said,” nahhh I don’t think so. That doesn’t sound like X—. Maybe he meant…”

By this time I was numb and tuned her out. Here’s a woman WHOSE JOB IT IS TO TAKE MY REPORT and she didn’t believe my story. #metoo

This happened to me! And she didn’t care. Now, sidebar, there is another dynamic between women where unsolicited sexual advances by an attractive man are not crimes but compliments. Part of me wonders if she was jealous that X— was flirting with me and not her?? Who knows. I don’t care. The point is that she didn’t believe my experience. But she’s not me. Don’t tell me my truth is not true. Now this part is for you and your brilliant girls: when they come to you, and they will, and they say, “Papa someone made me feel weird today,” BELIEVE THEM.

Don’t ask what or if they did anything to deserve it. Don’t tell them “nnnnnno I don’t think it’s like that. Why are you forcing some issue into this?“
Don’t assume they’re just girls making things up or being dramatic or being emotional or too sensitive or being [insert negative idea about women here].

Listen. Believe them.
They will need you to just believe them. And hold them. And validate them. And tell them it’ll be ok. And tell them you’ll do something.

And then… do something.

~OR

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Dating…with Children PART 2: The Childless Other Person

So, you’re smitten with a parent…but half of those kids’ chromosomes are not from you. Yikes.

Wait…

Not yikes! Shame on you! We’re awesome!

OK, no shame, really. It’s totally acceptable. In my opinion, any aversion to dating a single parent is just as superficial as being primarily attracted to a certain skin color or body type. And the stigma of single parenthood is just as archaic as Jim Crow laws. Unfortunately, the philosophies still prevail today; they simply lurk under different headings  <ahem bathroom & gender ahem> [don’t get me started]  or are introduced with false acceptance such as, I’m fine with it, BUT...

Save your big but.

Abstaining from single parents is simply your preference. It’s also something you can get over – if you want to. But the cool thing about dating is that you get to date who you want. So if you’re likely to avoid dating a parent, that’s OK. This article is not for you. You can also jump onto chats like these and connect with your fellow brethren.

Ok ok ok, maybe I’m a little bitter. But still. I’ve been burned. I’ll venture to average about 90% of men I’ve dated since my divorce that either went ghost or ended things because I’m a mom have come back, regretting their judgmental rush to rule me out. Well, as I’ve said before: 1. I’m awesome (along with many other single parents) and 2. I will not be back-burnered while you look for something better. Because when you come back feeling silly and want another try, this is what I’ll say: Nope.

And I might sing this song.

And I might make this face.

comeback

On the other hand, if you are brave enough to think about entering into a relationship with a single parent or if you are already in a relationship with a single parent, here are some things to consider:

  1. It’s OK to say you’re not ready. So, yes, you are head over heels for a single parent. Praise Baby J. But you’re terrified to meet the kids. What if they don’t like you? What if you don’t like them? What if they’re naughtier than you expected? What if xn?

Remember, you have a voice. If things are moving too fast for you, just speak up. Slow does not mean no. No means no. Asking to slow down isn’t rude or rejecting; it’s valid and healthy – especially for the kids. The same way kids deserve two happy and healthy parents, they deserve the happiest and healthiest version of YOU as the significant other. If you’re really with your Best Match, they’ll understand and respect your pace.

Asking to slow down isn’t rude or rejecting; it’s valid and healthy – especially for the kids.

  1. Acknowledge what you’re in for. I’m reading this incredible book right now called Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them by John Ortnberg. A section in the very beginning stood out to me and will stay with me forever:

A friend of mine was ordering breakfast during a recent trip in the South. He saw grits on the menu, and being a Dutchman who spent most of his life in Michigan, he had never been very clear on the nature of this item. So he asked the waitress, “What exactly is a grit?”

Her response was a classic. “Honey,” she said (in the South, waitresses are required by law to address all customers as “honey”), “Honey, they don’t come by themselves.”

Grits don’t exist in isolation. No grit is an island, entire unto itself. Every grit is a part of the mainland, a piece of the whole. You can’t order a single grit. They’re a package deal.

“Call it a clan, call it a tribe, call it a network, call it a family,” says Jane Howard. “Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” It is not good for man to be alone. Dallas Willard says, “The natural condition of life for human beings is reciprocal rootedness in others.” Honey, you don’t come by yourself.

 

None of us come by ourselves. Even if you’re an anti-single-parent dater, you still have to deal with your lover’s mother(s), father(s), sisters, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents, cousins, best friends, work friends, kinda-friends, dogs, cats, lizards, fish…germs. Everyone comes with an arsenal of people and connections and microorganisms that you’re going to have to navigate anyway. So kids aren’t going to be that much more added to the circus for which you’ve already bought non-refundable tickets.

Kids are a lot of work. They’re needy. They’re loud. They’re rude. They’re dirty. They’re messy. But they’re also hilarious. Compassionate. Honest. Adorable. Gentle. Affectionate. And they’ll teach you more about life than any fancy professor with a ton of letters after their name. You’ll feel drained, overwhelmed, terrified, uncertain, and you’ll probably doubt your decision at least three times a day.

But children are, unfortunately (or fortunately?), temporary; just like any season, phase, and quite frankly, all of life. So enjoy the ride. Savor the moments. Take pictures. Smell the rain. Remember how tiny their hands are in yours. Remember how soft their fingertips are as they touch your face. Remember that joyful giggle.

As I mentioned in PART 1, the kids will grow up, move out, chase their own dreams and start their own families. At the end of the day, you’ve just completed one of the grandest adventures with your Best Match and Life Partner. Isn’t it amazing what you two can accomplish together? It will be worth it.

Remember how tiny their hands are in yours. Remember how soft their fingertips are as they touch your face. Remember that joyful giggle.

  1. Remember what we’re NOT. Single parents are not charity cases. We don’t want your pity. We don’t want favors. We are strong, resilient and dedicated. We are fierce and driven. We’re survivors. We don’t need you to be our hero because we’ve already become our own heroes –for ourselves and for our children. Please don’t date us thinking we need you or that karma is going to come rain goodies on you because you’ve taken in what others have kicked out. Remember that we’re just souls hoping for passionate unconditional human love like any other single person. If you think you’re doing some noble deed by dating a single parent, please leave us alone.

Remember that we’re just souls hoping for passionate unconditional human love like any other single person.

  1. Know your role and know your value. You are engaging in a partnership with someone that could be – or is – your Best Match. Your role in their life and family is their Best Match. You are not a substitute parent (and PLEASE don’t even entertain the temptation to compete with or one-up the other parent). You are not a babysitter. You are not a disciplinarian. If you feel a lot of pressure to fill roles outside of significant other, speak up. Of course, joining in a lasting partnership involves sharing some responsibilities, but take a step back and consider how your presence lands in the kids’ world. It’s better to slow down and limit your time with the kids than to impose and confuse them. Remember that your presence might make them feel guilty; like they’re cheating on their other parent by enjoying your company. More on the kids point of view in Part 3…

Your role to the children varies, depending on their age and developmental stage when you enter the scene, but you are always meaningful. As your relationship with the kids grows, you can be a huge asset – especially to older children. For teens in particular, you might be their preferred adult confidant and listening ear; they might open up to you more than they would their biological parent, trusting that you will guide them without shaming them. You can be a very powerful positive influence for them when they need a consistent and reliable presence the most; something really meaningful, filling a unique space between friend and parent.

Joining in a lasting partnership involves sharing some responsibilities, but take a step back and consider how your presence lands in the kids’ world.

  1. Communicate – comfort level and expectations. I personally hold to the One Year Rule. When you have kids and you’re dissolving a marriage in the state of Illinois, you’re required to take an online course and pass an exam on successful co-parenting. It was actually very practical! (High Five, State of IL!) When it comes to significant others, the course recommends the One Year Rule; that you and your significant other have been consistently and officially dating for at least one year before making introductions to the kids. This is to protect the children – from confusion, from having too many inconsistent people coming in and out of their home, from getting attached and then getting heartbroken when you break up, from setting their relationship norm to a standard of “shallow” and “temporary,” and so forth.

If one year is too long – or not long enough – speak up. As I mentioned in another article on starting a relationship off right, holding back your fears or reservations only plants seeds of resentment. Communication is the foundation to any relationship, no matter how intimate or minuscule. So speak up. Discuss. If you’re not comfortable sleeping over, say so. If you don’t want to watch the kids, don’t. If you’re not ready to be alone with the children, let it be known! Your successful and loving relationship with your significant other’s kids revolves around you being comfortable enough to be your Best Self. Those adorable kids deserve to receive the best version of you when you’re together.

At the end of the day, you’ve just completed one of the grandest adventures with your Best Match and Life Partner. Isn’t it amazing what you two can accomplish together?

So talk about the big things with your partner and check in to make sure you’re still on the same page. Coordinate schedules, make sure you have date nights, make sure your interactions with the kiddies are balanced – neither imposing nor scant – and if the other parent is in the picture, you’d better figure out how to cooperate with them, too! Grits, man. Amirite?

 

Check back soon for PART 3: The Kids.

~OR

How to Cure the Single Blues Like a Boss

Whether it’s just my peer group or simply the common thread of adulthood, the daily tidal wave of couples, engagement, marriage and anniversary photo collages on social media is overwhelming. The only remedy is the equal abundance of cynical e-cards and memes mocking the romantic posts perpetually shoved down our lonely single-people throats. And to finally push us loners into a spiral of independent agony is the digital dating industry and their persistent ads telling us that being single is not acceptable. Swipe this, meet here, and connect on that to find your mate, your match, your partner, your other half. What if I don’t want to? What if I’m already whole by myself?

Tell the Ghost of No Significant Other Present to back off

Well, if you’re feeling the negative weight of solitude and the grasp of singleness is tightening around your wrist, tell the Ghost of No Significant Other Present to back off. Stop swiping, searching, and then rolling your eyes at your dating apps for failing you, and try these ways to enjoy your shining solo self:

  1. Do that one thing. You know, the one thing you said you’d do if you only had the time, money, opportunity and then reserved it for, well, maybe when I retire? Yeah that. Stop waiting. Do it now. You can’t control when your life partner will stroll into your world, but you can control how you maximize your Me Time. Since you’re not on any hot dates, schedule in whatever it is you keep putting off. Maybe it’s writing a book, going back to school, learning a new skill, visiting place #38 on your Bucket List – whatever. Stop making excuses, and do it. Do it for you.

  2. Date yourself. OK, confession time: I love reading and writing in crowded bars and restaurants. Weird, I know. Somehow, it’s energizing for me. The hum of voices, the array of fashion, the smiles, laughter and awkward body language of strangers…it’s actually pretty entertaining. When everyone else is out with the squad looking to pick up a date, or couples that are actually on a date, I somehow feel even more empowered to be anti-that. So go to the movies, go for a walk, rent a bike, drive to somewhere you’ve never been and have a picnic. The possibilities are endless. Just because you’re alone doesn’t mean you can’t leave home and experience life.Fine. Whatever.

  3. Join stuff. If you’re uncomfortable with too much of yourself, then it’s time to get out and meet people – without romantic expectations. Just meet other humans with similar interests. Join a social club, volunteer at a non-profit, take a series of dance, art or cooking classes, get active in your place of worship, purchase membership to fine arts circles, find a book club or lecture series. Heck, start your own group if you can’t find one you like. Make sure it is something that meets regularly – weekly or monthly – so that you can begin to cultivate new connections. You never know; you might just find your tribe.

     


  4. #Friends4Lyfe. Being an intentional friend isn’t something that came easy for me. I didn’t realize until my own marriage was over that I had no close friends left of my own – everyone that had been a “friend” was actually closer to my once-spouse. (FYI, don’t be me. You need friends and your friends need you.) I had to rebuild friendships and find ways to make new ones. Schedule time for your pals and do things together. Even if it’s a phone date or just meeting to go shopping or work out together. You need each other.

  5. I know I will find you; I already love you. This is a line from a dear friend’s song that she wrote when she was single. She was longing for love and sorting through the feelings but didn’t have the person to receive all her adoration and affection. So she sang about it. If you’re confident in the love-to-come and just can’t stop the excitement, then don’t fight it. Write your future partner love letters, songs, create a photo album of yourself to give to them. If the passion is already there, let it speak; your person will be there soon.

  6. Don’t live with your parents. Just don’t. Even if they’re supportive. Even if you’re saving money. Don’t.

Cheers to loving yourself first.

There you have it. If you want to be in a relationship, just hold tight. Don’t dwell on your boredom or loneliness – you’ve got yourself – and yourself is pretty awesome. I’ve seen some extremely interesting couples out there, and if they can find each other, there’s hope for you yet. There’s hope for all of us. Cheers to loving yourself first.

~OR

So, this is Christmas.

So this is Christmas. And what have you done? Another year over. And one just begun…
> John Lennon

Last year I cried as I wrapped gifts on Christmas Eve. I knew it would be my last Christmas with all five of us under one roof. I knew it would be my last Christmas in the only home I’d had in Illinois. I knew in a year things would be drastically different. And they are.


Christmas 2013:

The Good Pastor was at church while the boys and I unboxed gifts, fighting with theft-(and parent- and child-)proof packaging and wrestling with neverending twist-ties. I spent a solid 45 minutes building the TMNT secret sewer lair and shoved tears down into the pit of my stomach. If you don’t know me, I hate crying. I’m not a crier. I’m seldom negative-emotional. But at the time, it was hard to keep those feelings at bay.  The Good Pastor came back, changed clothes and said,”Ready boys?”

“Yeah!” They cheered. “Mommy?” All three pairs of eyes of varying shades of brown, green and blue gaped at me.

Mommy wasn’t going to Christmas dinner. I told them with a smile I was too tired from building toys. They didn’t need to know I would never be joining them again at their grandparent’s house.

The tree was beautiful. The gift-mess that hid the floor from sight was glorious. But without my children, my house was horrendously silent.

My phone chirped. I had a new text from someone I met online. It had been three weeks since my husband made it clear trying to save our marriage was pointless and we officially labeled ourselves as separated. He gave his blessing to me jumping in the dating pool. I waded in. With waterwings. And a life preserver. I didn’t know how to date but I sure as hell needed the distraction. Anything to keep me from dwelling on being forced to drop out of the graduate program I spent four years getting into. Anyone to take my gaze from my reflection, which disgusted me. Anyone to say anything kind to me.

The text said how’d the kids like their gifts?

Loved them. 

Still playing?

No they’re gone. At Christmas dinner to which I’m no longer invited. I’m sitting here watching my tree. Drinking wine. 

Well we should drink together! I have an idea. I’ll call you around 9.

Cool, I thought, with no particular enthusiasm. I’m a mom of three and I’m going to go out on a date on Christmas with someone who is not my husband. Whoopdiefreakindoo.

But. Anything.
Anything was better than sitting at home alone examining my worth as a human.

And I couldn’t wait til 9. It was too far away. I’d drink myself to sleep. I texted my friend. The only friend I knew that would also be alone on Christmas and might be as depressed as I was.

Come over, she said. I’ll buy you some Knob Creek.

Somehow this was more exciting than the date proposal.

I met her at her boyfriend’s house and we drank and laughed and whined. And then I broke it to her. That my divorce was inevitable and really happening. Her eyes looked down as her eyebrows rose and she gave me that he dun messed up expression. I laughed.

My phone chirped. Date time. My friend wished me luck, told me to have fun, and also said that if I text her PINEAPPLE she will find me and be ready to shank a N*. Noted. Thank you.

I hadn’t been to a club in…at least five years. I hadn’t been out and not worried about how much it was going to cost in…probably fifteen years. I hadn’t done either on the arm of a man…ever. And there we were. In a dark warehouse basement place with green lasers and beats thumping so vigorously, it could realign stalled cardiac impulses. Cajmere was there — you know, the It’s time for the percolator guy. Santa hats were abundant. I couldn’t wait to dance my heartache away.

And dance I did. I hadn’t danced like that in perhaps a decade. People stood back and watched. Whether it was because I was a mass of carefree limbs flailing in sync with the bass or because I was the best damn dancer they had ever seen, I did not know. And I didn’t care. I’d catch a stare. Someone mouthed beautiful. What?! Not me. If he only knew I’d birthed three children, he wouldn’t say that. I’d been told just a few months beforehand by someone very close to me that I’m damaged goods. All those kids — no one will want you. Accept it. I did.

I felt a hand on my back. I looked up without missing a beat. Some stranger. Wow he said. I think he said that. I couldn’t hear. Maybe I imagined it. I didn’t care. He left when he realized he couldn’t keep up if he tried. I was having the deepest therapy session of my life right there on the dance floor.

My date interrupted with a drink. “You look like you needed that,” he yelled into my ear.

“The drink?”

“The dance.”

I laughed. I did need that.

We started moving to the music together. I forgot what it felt like. I forgot what to do. I put my arms around his neck and our bodies flowed. He leaned into my ear and said, “I want to kiss you so bad right now.”

Yes, it was a good thing Cajmere could restart a myocardial infarction. Because my heart indeed stopped. I was terrified. I held onto his shoulders and ignored his comment. But he went for it. He kissed me.

I hadn’t been kissed like that in ages. I couldn’t even remember the last time The Good Pastor and I kissed, let alone like that. It felt amazing and sickening all at once. For the first time in years – YEARS – I was desired. I was sexy. I was wanted. But I was also torn. Conflicted. Why was this ok? Why was I dancing at a club and letting a man I’d known for three weeks kiss me on Christmas? Why didn’t my husband care that another man wanted me more than he did?

And then I kissed him back.

Maybe I liked it. Maybe I wanted it. Maybe I was just hurting. It was just a kiss, I reasoned. I certainly wasn’t going to do anything else with him. Besides, I knew I had to go back home to the suburbs. Back home to my children. Back home to the couch that had become my bed, in the basement that had become my apartment. Back to the one empty Christmas stocking in a row of five; the other four overflowing with toys and treats. Back home to the daily inquisition of how many jobs I’d applied to and how long until I moved out. Back to feeling homeless. Back to feeling rejected. I angry kissed that man to the tune of DJ Cajmere on Christmas. And somehow I felt victorious.

And I never had to say PINEAPPLE.


Christmas 2014:

I’m not quite where I thought I’d be, but I am glad I’m not in a club this time. I did get a job, although I’ve already left that one and started another. I did get an apartment — a beautiful one that I can barely afford anymore since changing jobs. I still have very sad days, knowing I’d be more than 3/4 of the way done with my MMS in medical research. The same couch is still my bed this  year, since mommy dearest financed Christmas — her generosity has many strings, including my bedroom, but I’m grateful. And even though my stocking is empty again, my heart is full. I hate to say it, because I avoid being excessively sappy, but the best gift I could ever receive is being with my children.

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And I have it. I’m with my children. I’m with my mini-me’s. I’m with the most precious little souls I could ever have imagined. It quite literally sucks the air out of me when I think too long about how I do not see them all the time. But I see them half the time, and feverishly try to make those moments last forever. And they are here now. We are here together. And we are full.

They don’t understand everything that has happened since last Christmas — and frankly, neither do I. I’m still piecing together my own emotions, thoughts, sanity…life. But today, we are basking in the spoils of Christmas. We made Puppy Chow (AKA Muddy Buddies) and we smashed that delicious pile of sugary-peanut-buttery-chocolatey-coated corn cereal in record time. We sang Christmas songs and we laughed til we cried. This kind of crying I long for. We tuned a guitar and learned a new chord. We danced. We cha-cha-cha-ed through the kitchen. We started a band. We played Super Mario and were in awe with In-the-middle’s skills as Luigi (until we realized Luigi plays automatically and our In-the-middle isn’t actually a video game savant like The Wizard — and then laughed some more until we crumbled to the floor). And it was so incredibly grand.

I thought I’d be fully relovered by now — one year seems like a lot of time — but that type of recovery, I’m learning, could be a neverending road. I’m learning to enjoy the journey. Be patient. I’m taking the scenic route, rediscovering myself and redefining my priorities. I’m learning to appreciate the landscape and never mind the potholes.

The present is the home of my being…today I will release the past and its burden of wounded dreams

> Deepak Chopra

Merry Christmas. I hope you all find the joy that is already surrounding you.

~OR

wait, who said marriage is forever?

“marriage is for how long you can hack it. but divorce? just gets stronger like a piece of oak.” – Louis CK


 

While I tried for weeks to compose something coherent on the thought-swirls in my mind, I really couldn’t refine the random slur to follow. It is perhaps painfully raw…

 

My friend watched my last webisode and sent me a text:

You said ‘failed marriage.’  Just because it didn’t work out doesn’t mean you failed. You’re not a failure by any means.

Interesting.

Wait, I’m not a failure?

Interesting.

 

So then I began to think,  why am I carrying so much guilt around being divorced? Is it because I was a preacher’s wife? Is it because I look at other married couples and think, if they can do it, why couldn’t we? Is it because I was raised that divorce is for horrible sinful quitting heathens? Is it because I feel like I screwed something up by being unlovable? Undesirable? Un-wifey? Or is it because I feel so good being divorced?

Probably a little of all of it. A big burrito of guilt. Guilt Burrito.

I was raised Catholic. Then I went to a Lutheran school (which was awful for other reasons…we’ll put that story in the parking lot for now…). Then I went to a Christian School and barely survived that one.

One of my first conversations in 6th grade at said school went something like this:

Them: You should date Rocky.

Me: But I don’t wanna date Rocky.

Them: You should tho.

Me: Why?

Them: Because you both have brown skin! ((cuutee!!))

 

The next conversation went like this:

Them: You’re…CATHOLIC?

Me: Yep.

Them: But…are you…SAVED?

Me: From what?

 

And yet, somehow, my faith in God is what has always kept me together. Rather than blaming God for making idiots, and rebuking God, I clung to God, certain that God is way more loving and forgiving than these strange humans I share space with. I refuse to believe that God made us in God’s own image and gave us the gift of free will, beautiful earthly bodies, gleaming, heavenly souls, a plentiful land to thrive on, and then we go and make rules to abstain from all of it, reside in guilt, blame others that aren’t as miserable as we are, and then ask God to reward us for being cranks. I don’t believe in that God.

 

((bear with me — I also don’t believe God should be limited by gender-specific pronouns))

So if we eliminate all that good ‘ol Christian/Catholic guilt, who said marriage MUST be forever? Was it God? Or was it people?

Me thinks to meself, good Christian woman that I am, I’ll consult the Bible.

+++backfired+++

I mean, honestly, the Bible paints a very lovely picture of very lovely marriages when they are very lovely and holy and pure and pleasing in God’s sight. But what human is holy and pure? Right.

If you really want to read everything the Bible says about marriage, go for it here.  Truth be told, some of it is really discouraging as a human being — no, as a woman being. The woman is forced into adultery if her husband divorces her. Oh and how about this one from Proverbs:

It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.

Dude. Really, Bible? Really? Are you serious? What if the man is the whiner? Then do I get a pass?

Over and over and over again, it is the woman that is shamed and humiliated and sinful if a marriage ends. Doesn’t really seem fair, does it?

((flashbacks to Christian Feminism with Dr. Lynn Japinga at Hope College))

So I closed my Bible. It’s not God’s fault the Bible didn’t comfort me.

And then I prayed. I talked to God. We had us a lil one-on-one. And what God placed on my heart was a sense of peace.

Octavia, its OK. Believe it or not, you’re doing everything right. OK, maybe not right right… just not-wrong.

Interesting.

I’m not certain these were God’s exact words. But I know that a gnawing anxiety over my divorce left. My soul was well.

I was watching some late show one night a few years back, just when I started to doubt the foreverness of my marriage. Olivia Wilde was on. She said nearly the exact same thing that night that I pulled from another interview posted online:

“In Olivia Land, relationships can legally only last seven years, without an option to renew. That way it never goes stale,” she explained.

Read the rest here.

 

I was like hahaa that’s dumb.

But she was already where I am now. She had recently ended a marriage that began in one place and ended up in another that was just a stone’s throw from Misery, USA.

If marriages had time limits, would we be more hopeful? More patient with each other? Would we enjoy each other more? Would we start looking at our spouses less like cinder blocks pulling us daily one inch closer to the cemetery plot and see them more like mystical fleeting blessings that we must cherish and hold on to for the short time we’re together?

I wonder.

I had to add the next part purely for comic relief…insert laughter below.

As for me? Well, truth be told, I am enjoying my divorce. Yeah, I said it.

While all the life logistics of starting over are excruciating, I’m a stronger individual. I’m a stronger woman. Emotionally, spiritually, mentally and honestly, physically, too. I’m gradually pulling my confidence and self-worth back from wherever I stashed it, and forming it into a pool of bright light that guides me through the darkest of days. I’m letting go of whatever it is I spent a decade convincing myself I should be, and started embracing who I’m really meant to be. I’m a better mother. I’m a better friend. I’m a better daughter.


 

Well, my friend from above concluded her text saying:

…you both learned what you needed to and therefore it was a success.

 

Moral of the story: yes, I’m divorced. And my marriage, while not forever, was indeed a success.

#andshewillflourish

 

~OR

 

Pilot Webisode!

Yo, check it. New Youtube channel all for us. I’m still trying to figure out how to record and edit video on my iPad, but hey, not bad for my first attempt… Enjoy!

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/roadtorelovery

~OR