Monday, November 19, 2012
Oh Blah Dee-ing, Oh Blah Da-ing
"You just said you had a baby," Iliana responded, barely looking up from her dinner plate.
Rewind. . .
"When I was pregnant. . ."
. . . I guess I did. . .
"I did have a baby. Gabriel. He passed away when he was ten days old." And I launched seamlessly into my standard speech. "We were very lucky to have ten days. He wasn't expected to live that long. Do you want to see his pictures?"
Iliana regarded me with sympathetic eyes but they both viewed his pictures anyway.
"You and your husband split up after your son died?" David asked.
David waived his hand at the shot of Jameson that the server had just placed before me at our table. "Is this you 'coping'? Because, that's okay."
I grinned. "This is me taking advantage that you offered to drive."
Not everything I do is to cope. I blog to cope, or eat cheese puffs to cope, or mother the dogs to cope. But most of what I do is just adjusting. I thought my life was going to be A, and now it's B. I'm just trying to adjust to life as B.
The photos were not me coping. The photos were me reclaiming myself.
A year ago near my 30th birthday I announced that I was thinking of having photos taken.
"I'll take them," offered my brother, the aspiring photographer.
"You don't want to take these."
"Why? Will they be of the dogs?"
"No. Boudoir photos. Of me."
"That's disgusting. UUUUGGGHHH! That's gross. If you want, you can call my friend Ande. She does those." And with one last shudder, "Gross."
I was proud of where I was at 30, though. I had lost all of my baby weight (which I later went about putting right back on), and insistent that I needed to do this right then, before I had more babies. The stars never aligned, there were no more babies, and it was a year before Ande announced again that she'd be scheduling photo shoots at a local boutique hotel. This time, I was quick to sign myself up.
"Aren't those usually for a husband or boyfriend? What are you going to do with them?" someone asked.
The notion that these photos should be for Ben or anyone else hadn't really occurred to me. I was simply wanting to gather evidence, preserve the record so that someday, if I had to, I could prove that I used to be 31 years old, that I used to be whatever else I'm not when I'm 100 years old. I just want something good for the obit.
Standing in one of the stylish, one-of-a-kind rooms in the recently renovated Padre, barely covered and quite aware of every one of my phsyical flaws, I listened to Ande talk casually while she adjusted her lights.
"Someone commented on your blog that you should write a book. You should."
"You read my blog?"
"Yes. I used to feel like I shouldn't. I didn't realize you were so open with it. Your blog is good. I read a lot of blogs, but yours rates high." With that, I relaxed, suddenly comfortabe and confident that I do something well, and there should be no reason why I couldn't just do this too.
"I bet you never knew you had this sex kitten somewhere inside of you," Ande commented as I began to melt into the atmosphere she had created.
But I did know I have it in me. I'm quite aware that part of me exists, and what she is capable of. She is determined and knows what she wants. She scares me, though, because she's a loose cnnon. She wants acceptance, and love, and to be valued and appreciated, and she will readily abandon reason to find it.
She is afraid - Of being rejected, of being abandoned. . . of violence, still.
After all of this time, eleven years after the assault, I find myself thinking of it more than usual, and thinking about the impassioned, needy girl that would spend her time with people like that in the first place. At this point, it's unusual to think about it much at all, until very recently. I guess that's because I know I won't ever let it happen again.
To say 'Let it happen again' implies I had some sort of control over it, that I 'let' it happen in the first place. I know I didn't, I know it's not my fault, but I guess telling myself it won't happen again gives me confidence and security. I'm just not that same girl I was then. That girl was weak. I hardly know her anymore, and I resent her for trying to sneak back into my life.
I'm reluctant to admit tha tmaybe being married, having this man, this protector in my life, gave me a sense of security. Could I be that old-fashioned, that needy? I didn't feel unsafe when I lived alone, but I felt safter when Marcus moved in. But still not as safe as I felt when I belonged to someone, when I was someone's wife. I don't feel unsafe when I close the bar. But I felt safer when someone was waiting for me to come home.
Those thoughts all come on the heels of my parish priests's recommendation that I wait a year before applying for an annulment. The thought of being married in God's eyes for one more year, for all the security it once gave me, shakes me to my core.
I loved belonging to someone. I loved being someone's wife, being someone's mother, and having them belong to me. I say "my husband" or "my son" as much as I say "Ben" or "Gabriel." For all that I didn't like feeling like someone's possession, branded by a ring, I loved the sense of unity of belonging to each other.
And I can think of no reason why I should belong to my ex-husband, who was so unwilling to belong to me, for one more year. I see no reason why I should not be free to seek out someone who wants to make me his, someone who wants every part of me, even when life is hard, even when I'm afraid. Even when I'm weak. I don't see why I should be held to a partner who didn't hold me.
"You need to heal!" I can almost hear the reader's response as they shake their monitor. Maybe they even think that things like Jamesn and boudoir photos and a new car and a shredded t-shirt are "coping" mechanisms. It's a fine line. When you're getting divorced, people will reason that everything you do is because you're getting divorced. When your kid dies, people will reason that you're getting divorced because your kid died - like we would ever tell a couple that they're getting divorced because their kid lived. Sometimes, you're getting divorced just because you're getting divorced. And you do what you do, whatever you do, because you just can't stand still.
I tried standing stil. I tried holding on and holding back. It didn't work. Everything seems to work out a lot better when I just move.