A Solitary Life

Life often feels like an endurance test. Maybe that’s not a bad thing.  I have dreamed of doing endurance riding. Maybe just look at it that way – the challenge, the training, building my strength, learning when to speed up and when to take it slow, knowing how to maneuver through obstacles, to come back from mistakes, and to get back on course when I make a wrong turn.

I’ve read a few blogs recently that have asked the question “How real should you be on your blog?” Of course, if you blog for professional reasons, the answer is that you are always professional. But if you blog for personal reasons, what then?

Bloggers tend to show their best life. That’s not just true for bloggers, is it? And is that dishonest or just plain smart? Or perhaps it is simply the considerate thing to do.

I commented on one blog that “Honestly, does anyone want to know how often I’ve been lying on the kitchen floor this week sobbing? I think not.”

My best self is depicted by showing that after a crisis, things do get better. I still believe they do or will. But this month I’ve spent a lot of time on the kitchen floor. Maybe I’ve been holding too much in with no chance to take off the clown suit.

I wonder if I’ll ever be able to live without watching myself, wondering what I’m doing wrong now. I probably spend too much time pondering why my life has gone the way it has. Was it because I let my guard down too much? Or because I didn’t let it down enough?

I am so confused by what’s okay and what’s not. What love is and what it isn’t. I am frozen to the ground with unknowingness. Afraid to breathe the wrong way, to say or do the wrong thing, to be the me that isn’t what people want.

I loved and believed. Was it a mistake? Was it all a mistake? Or just some of it? And if so, which part? Can anyone tell me?

It’s the combination of life events that gets to me. I look back and shake my head and wonder, “What the hell?!”

My X said the only reason he stayed with me as long as he did was because he felt sorry for me. That’s one of the statements that keeps rattling around in my head, like nails being shaken in a coffee can.
How did I go from the strong woman he admired to someone he pitied? How did I manage to pull that off?

I listened to the book “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett recently. The story is wonderful and the readers of the audio version bring the characters, the setting, and the time period to life.

It’s a story about living in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962. The narrator is a white woman in her early 20s who was raised by her family’s maid, who’s name was Constantine. As a child, the woman was often made fun of and after being called ugly by a group of children, Constantine tells her,

“Every morning, until you dead in the ground, you gone have to make this decision. Am I gone believe what them fools say about me today?”

I wrote this statement down and repeat it to myself when I hear the criticisms played over and over in my head. Sometimes it works. But often it’s not enough.

Trying to find words for what I want to let go of, I hear myself whisper things like “the hurt” and “the fear” and “the guilt” and I think that’s as much substance as I can give to my thoughts and feelings. Maybe a metaphor would help, something like “My thoughts are glaciers, dropping pieces of me into the sea.”

Finding the right words seems desperately important. Like if I can name it, I can handle it.

I’ve always been too much or too little. I’m not enough fun or not taking things seriously enough. I’ve been too hyper or too tired. I’ve been too outspoken and opinionated or I’ve been too quiet. I’ve been too open and transparent and I’ve been too cold and withdrawn.

I’ve lost track of what I am because I’m always battling dragons in the world of Too Much and Not Enough.

I’ve been sad and tired when times were hard. And I’ve been zany and funny when I’ve been in love and living the dream.

Neither extreme is me. And somewhere in the middle is not me either.

I may say to someone that “I’m not easy,” as if that explains it all. Or “I am what I need to be at any given moment,” which may be closer to the truth.

I warn people that I’m complicated. I feel I owe potential victims that much.

My life seems to be filled with an unusual amount of bad things happening. If you are around me, it can be a bummer. It can be stressful. If you don’t need to live like that yourself, why wouldn’t you leave?

When I lose hope, I cope by thinking of myself as a character in a story. I imagine what the Maery character of my imagination would be thinking or doing if she was living my life.

I try to imagine someone who has sought out and loves the life I’m living. Who has purposely set out to be just exactly what I now am, although I’m not sure that I can name what that is.

This Maery character is strong and confident. She is comfortable in her own skin. She doesn’t want to strip off the outer layer of self and run screaming into the night.

Hero Maery smiles easily, never worrying about how a smile brings out the wrinkles around her eyes and that her capped front teeth are ugly.

She says what’s on her mind and if it comes out wrong, she shrugs and tries to say it another way. If she makes a mistake, she simply tries again. No worries. No guilt.

This Maery gets up in the morning and decides not to believe what the fools say.

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  1. Move on, a divorse is just as final as a death. I’ve survived both! You’re into a new life. Try to find contentment with yourself. Forget about other people and their images of you. It doesn’t matter. Find who you are inside and be your self.

    PS..tears are healthy!

  2. There are some days that ya just have to psyche yourself into bein’ happy.

    I think it is a good thing to show different sides of yourself of the blogs. Nobody is perfect, nobody is cheerful all the time. If we present ourselves that way we are not bein’ true to ourselves or our readers.

    I’m generally a happy gal but if I present myself that way all the time I might make someone feel bad about feelin’ down and I sure wouldn’t want to do that. ‘Fact is we do compare ourselves to on another. I admire you for bein’ so bold as to just put it out there. Many of us are wimps in that department.

    Great read sweetie!

    God bless and have a fantastic weekend!!!

  3. Do not believe what the fools say. I truly think you are going in the right direction…there is so much quality in your life now. Nice drawing by Lain.

  4. Sally – It might not sound like it from what I wrote, but what you suggest is what I’m trying to do. But there’s a lifetime of stuff to make peace with as I rebuild.

    Nezzy – Aint it the truth. I’m there for anyone who thinks everyone else is doing great. I just hope that people don’t take it as I’m doing awful all the time because I’m not.

    Lori – Thanks. That’s my favorite drawing that Lain did as a kid. Forgiveness of myself and the fools is key, and remembering to write down the blessings that each day brings.

  5. Bad things happen to all of us and we all have those moments on the floor. It is what you learn from it and how you grow from it that matters. Confidence is one thing I struggle with and I find myself being timid because of that. Just kick the fools in the ass and out the door. That will put the smile back on your face.

  6. I love your complicated nature Maery and I love that you are willing to examine ALL the parts of you and not just the pretty ones. I don’t think I could truly be friends with someone that had never walked with pain, really walked with it. Those people have never had the ‘opportunity’ to find themselves and be proud of what they can accomplish when their backs are up against the wall or when they are simply ‘on the kitchen floor’ as you say. Isn’t there a part of you that accepts the pain as a force in your life ~ something that is alive and can take some of the emotion that you need to release. I used to view pain as a living entity, something that I needed to feed to keep alive and something that oddly enough, made me feel alive in a way. I think I have told you so often how much I admire you, that my words fall on deaf ears, but never doubt my sincerity and my depth of friendship I extend to you. You don’t scare me off with any of your pain or your fears of saying or doing the wrong thing. I have no expectations for you other than to just keep revealing yourself just as you are. I like all these layers and I think it is totally acceptable to be one thing one day and then to be something different the next day. I used to say to myself over and over, “I am right where I am supposed to be right now.” You are walking through the fire Maery and you are never alone:-) I promise you that! Lain’s drawing is amazing!

  7. Wow- powerful post, and, as always, Kathleen’s comment is a tough act to follow. I love how you are able to somehow get the complicated amorphous “who the hell am i?” nature of your pain and confusion on the page. I accept you how you are, just how you are, even if there is no name for it. 🙂

  8. Jill – Right you are!

    Kathleen – You’ve given me a lot to digest. I get angry with pain, thinking “OK, I’ve grieved enough now. Be gone!” I think it mainly comes back in waves when I’m stressed, when it’s a holiday or anniversary of something (including a death), when something happens that is similar to something from the past that brings not only the experience of “now” but all the experiences back in one big dump and you end up slogging through the whole big mess. Thanks for all those things you say. I need to start having those words rattling around in my head instead of the bad ones.

    Sue – Yes, it’s hard to top Kathleen. She’s always beating me to your blog also. We need to take her down. 😉 You guys are the good stuff that has entered my life. Thanks!

  9. Hi Maery,
    I agree…kick the fools in the ass. They are idiots.

    But…that being said…I think it is human for you to have some days on the kitchen floor…and I’m sure that some months will be worse than others.

    Just wanted to send a hug your way…I love you just the way you are 🙂

    Sue bee doo

  10. “My X said the only reason he stayed with me as long as he did was because he felt sorry for me.”

    What an awful thing for him to say. And I interpret it different. I believe he was a chicken shit. He knew that leaving the marriage would rock your worlds. And no matter who wants out, there is a sadness in that. But for him to say he felt sorry for you – no, he was more worried about himself. How would he feel about hurting you? Guess he has to face himself in the mirror everyday.

    You know, we all need some “kitchen floor” time. A good breakdown is good for the soul.

    Your post was very good today; writing superb.

  11. Sue – Nice to see you around a bit lately. I hope things are going okay on the homefront. Thanks for the hug. I appreciate it.

    Sally – Yes, I believe it was recorded and played on the radio for awhile back in the day.

    Tammy – I like your interpretation. And thanks for the writing compliment. The post was an exercise to find the right words in a way and to release something that’s been stuck and making me stuck.

  12. Thanks for sending me to that wonderful photo and story. You were right that I would love it!

    I think that being real in a blog is important although I sometimes worry about the melodrama in my own blog. You wrote your feelings vividly today. I’ve felt the same things although I’ve never gone through some of the things that you have.

    Please don’t care what those fools think. When I find myself going there in my own life, I purposefully think “F*** ’em”. I really do… Sorry for the profanity.

  13. I LOVED this post. I think you and I could be best friends if we were together…or maybe we’re too much alike and it would push us away? I don’t know. But it sure is a relief reading their are other women who just don’t fit the ‘normal, typical’ mold.
    And why would we want to? Just to fit in? blah.
    That’s no fun.

    “I wonder if I’ll ever be able to live without watching myself, wondering what I’m doing wrong now. I probably spend too much time pondering why my life has gone the way it has. Was it because I let my guard down too much? Or because I didn’t let it down enough?

    Your metaphor about the glaciers and your thoughts was incredible and perfect. You truly are a great writer. I could totally picture it in my mind. And what a great thing to put feelings into meaningful words. I have such a problem with that.

    These following words you wrote made me think about my life with horses:

    “I am so confused by what’s okay and what’s not. What love is and what it isn’t. I am frozen to the ground with unknowingness. Afraid to breathe the wrong way, to say or do the wrong thing””

    I keep getting hurt or having bad things happen to destroy my dreams of having my own forever horse and keep trying to dust myself off and keep going forward. I just want a drama-free, injury-free life with horses. Is that possible?

    Thanks for sharing and thanks for keeping it real. That’s why I keep coming back, my friend.


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