Change seems to happen so quickly now. When, on Monday morning, I look back on Friday, I think, "It seems so long ago, and I was a different person then." It's hard to grasp how long 23 years is, and how long I lived as that person, that Husband, and how strange it is, now that I've been out for a few months, stumbling back into that house again, that house where I was Husband, and finding it so foreign and inscrutable.
So I thought I was going to tell you about my weekend, but I don't want to now.
I want to tell you about me.
I want to tell you about the things I'm learning.
It's been 7 months since the word "divorce" was first spoken aloud. Within days, I quit drinking, and I haven't had a drink since. Not because the drinking was the reason the word was spoken, but because I knew for years that it had to be done, and instead I had put it off. Suddenly, it felt like there weren't years left. That word, "divorce," was a big part of the push that let me finally stop. I also sought help, most importantly and lastingly and profoundly from my friends and family, whose outpouring of love and support has overwhelmed me and changed me in its own ways. But also from a professional. I found a counselor that I loved, and who was damned good at her job. She listened well and asked the right questions at the right time, helping me find my own way to the path I'm on now. We parted ways with a hug, in full agreement that it's a great path to be on. I also went to my primary care physician to talk about medication to bust me out of the depression that led up to that word, a depression that oddly didn't evaporate on the destruction of my marriage. I'm off those meds now, and moving forward, thinking and talking and writing a lot about who I am now. There's nothing more exciting for me now than finding out who that is since it's not who I was for all of those years.
That in itself is a difficult thing to understand, how I am and am not the same.
I've been thinking of the negatives about myself that I've lived with for decades and struggled unsuccessfully to change. They were key to the failure of the marriage, character traits of which I was ashamed, but never enough to really change them. Now that I've seen that which was most important to me detonate, in part because I would not or could not change, I'm beginning to see those traits as central to my character, and not as hated flaws.
We were married young, and neither of us knew who we would be 20 years later. I, and perhaps she, saw the struggle as an act of love, trying hard always through the years to be what she seemed to want, and always, or almost always, failing. And trying more and more, especially through the last half of the marriage, and definitely always failing, to get her to be what I wanted. I failed to love her enough to be the person she wanted and deserved, and I thought she didn't love me enough to be what I wanted and deserved.
But now, I have deep and profound gratitude to her for seeing that it had to end and for having the courage to persist through all of my objections and efforts to save it. It wasn't salvageable, and that's OK. She set me free to begin the journey that I'm on now, and I will forever owe her a debt of gratitude for that gift she gave me.
It hurt like a motherfucker, though, and it still hurts. Not because I'm sad that I'm not with her any longer, but because there is so much history and emotion piled up that it's hard to sort through. And because we both said things intending to hurt each other, and the memory of the hurt is almost as painful as the hurt itself. I don't always understand what it is that I'm feeling, just that I'm feeling it on all cylinders and can't do anything with it but to cry.
I couldn't think of the word I wanted, so I consulted the Oracle at Google, and found myself at the Wikipedia entry for the concept of "reappropriation." I'm sure that it's terribly racist and sexist, and probably other ists too, for a heterosexual middle-aged American white man to apply reappropriation to his own situation, but fuck it. I'm doing it. That's one of probably several hundred new mottos and maxims and philosophical tropes that I've adopted as guides to my new life: "Fuck it. I'm doing it." Or, "Kiss my ass, I bought a boat." I am reappropriating these hurtful definitions of me, and making them my own. I suppose it may seem like venom, repeating the words that were said about me out of anger and frustration, but it's not. It really isn't. I'm done feeling venomous.
I never could keep my fuckin' mouth shut.
I've decided what I want most of all in the world to be is honest. Simple. Straightforward. Direct. I want always to seem to be what I actually am. I certainly can't control other people's perceptions of who I am, but I'm telling you right now: if you have interactions with me, believe I'm not working you. I'm not playing any games. I am not manipulating. I'm not acting in such a way that you will be forced, tricked, or otherwise induced to respond in a certain way. I am being me for my own sake. If I want something from you, I will say it out loud, probably using too many words. If you want something from me, just straight out ask me, because I'm not committing any more mental resources to trying to figure out what you want, and if, when you did this, you were actually trying to say that. That shit's exhausting and not good for my self-esteem, so I'm not doing it anymore. I'm just going to be me and expect you'll be you.
And I will talk about it. Best believe. I will always overthink it, and analyze myself in endless circles. And Facebook it. And blog about it. I'm not secretive, is what I'm saying. I think. I am. I do. And I talk about it. A lot. I think out loud. This is who I am. If it's not something you particularly like about me, well... Sorry (not sorry), as the kids say today.
I do want to be better at keeping secrets, though, and not talking other people's business. Because I do that, too. More than I should. I will be talking my business though. And if yours and mine overlap, you might want to know that from the start. And don't confide anything to me unless you make it really, really clear that you want me to keep my mouth shut about it. I mean, I told a kid once what my brother was giving him for his birthday, and I haven't really gotten any better at it since.
I'm a lazy piece of shit.
OK, not the piece of shit part. I know with certainty that I'm not a piece of shit. I'm an amazing guy, and the more I get to know that guy, the more I like him. But it's a fact. I'm lazy. At least when it comes to things that I don't care about, which I'm thinking of less and less as a character flaw and more and more as just pretty normal, actually. I do not prioritize housework above very many things. I cook and wash dishes and do laundry and such, so that the household operates just fine, but I do not choose, for example, to sweep and mop the kitchen floor over, for example, going kayaking. Or reading a book. Or playing video games. Or sitting on the porch listening to music. Or staring off into space. Or anything else, really, until it reaches the point that it draws my attention every time I go in the kitchen.
This used to make me feel like a terrible person. This used to be a constant struggle, to transform myself somehow into a person who wanted to sweep and mop the kitchen floor. I made schedules for myself that I didn't follow. I set up Outlook reminders. I put a dry erase board on the kitchen wall. And then I wouldn't do it anyway, because there was always something else I'd rather do. I was angry at Aerie that it seemed to matter so much to her when it didn't matter to me, and I was angry at myself that it mattered so little to me when it seemed to matter so much to her. Now, I have my own space, and it's a source of joy. I walk around naked when Thumper's staying with her, and I clean when I find myself thinking, "Gross, dude." As a parent, I will have to balance this with teaching Thumper to take care of business, because ain't nobody 'round here his servant. But my own standard of acceptability is just fine.
Re-reading this, I realized that the fact that I walk around my apartment naked when no one else is there has nothing to do with anything. But like I said, I overshare. You're welcome.
So there you go. That's what I'm thinking about today. I am who I am. I will continue to work to improve myself, especially as it relates to diet and exercise, because I want to and not because it will make me who I should be instead of who I am. I like me a lot these days. I don't hate me for not being someone else. And I don't hate her for wanting me to be someone else, for marrying me before she knew who she was, or who I was, or what she wanted from herself or from someone else. That's what I'm learning. That's what I wanted to tell you. I'm a lazy piece of shit of who never could keep his fuckin' mouth shut, and I'm pretty happy with that. Is that the wrong thing to say? Fuck it. I'm doing it.