It’s Ash Wednesday and I’m one of the few without a marking on my forehead; a symbol of something greater, a powerful belief.
I joked with a friend, (I think we did it to ease each other’s guilt and trepidation that we hadn’t any ashes,) and we remarked on each person who walked by in the sky-way about whose cross was too large, too small, too smudged, and perfect, just like the clickety-clack of their stilettos.
When I was in high school, we joked that our Hockey team gave up ‘losing’ for Lent. We all gave up something: chocolate, blow-pops, or giggled that we were going to give up sex. (Which never really happened, anyway.) I remembered giving up silly things, then serious things, and the last few years I’ve tried to ‘DO’ instead of ‘GIVE UP,’ but this year, I thought for sure- even though I wasn’t following the rest of the traditions, I wouldn’t be able to find something to give up.
Going out to eat? Donate the money to charity instead? We don’t eat out. Stop buying frivolous things and donate the money to charity? … you get the idea. It wasn’t until this morning as I got into work and read an email from a hormonal, menopausal, bitchy, boss that I singled out a coworker friend and demanded to know where the hell some people got off. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Baby- you gotta be Teflon.” I was angry then. How dare I have to change my entire life around for someone who has no compass for manners or morals, or anything remotely to do with humanity. The woman is ice, and layers of scalding, hot, brutality. Surely- I WASN’T THE ONE WHO NEEDED TO CHANGE. I listened to her words, and partially because I’ve been looking so desperately for something/someone to believe in, and partially because without my morning caffiene, she resembled Christ- I looked deeper.. into who I was. This person, who has only known me a little over a year nailed my psyche. She said, “You carry everyone else’s burden. You let it affect you. You are offended and then you try to right it- you stand up for yourself in situations where everyone is too busy to care.”
“You are Velcro, instead of Teflon,” she said. And I listened.
I feel like that’s my life. A web of complicated strings all attaching the bad and the good, and the questionable so close to me that I can’t see through it all. The bad intentions and the well-meaning-intentions are all lumped together. You can’t differentiate when everything is in the same bowl. Who has time to dig through?
Approval. Love. We’re all searching for it. Even tonight, after a blistering 2 day argument with a friend, I still tried for his approval, to complete an un-completable circle. Going to catch balls without a mitt. Square peg, non-existent hole. You get it.
My whole life- from my mother to my bosses, to my partners. I have such a need to feel wanted and loved, that it consumes me. It’s like fire- the want to show everyone that I’m not the 18-year-old that I look like. The want to be taken seriously, treated with respect and not thrown out with the bathwater. I stopped fighting in some of the right areas, but forgot about the others. Do you feel this way, too?
I started a letter to myself, that I told myself when I started typing I wouldn’t share. I loved it. So I’ll share.
You see the lights coming in from your window of all the cars driving by. You still look for his, and you still feel the muscles in your chest tighten when you think of him being happy, or sleeping in the bed you bought, (giggling all the way home,) or the table you begged him not to bring in the house- your ghosts consume you. You ‘moved on’. You pushed yourself to the extremes of life and met people, left people, and allowed yourself to be humiliated, forgotten, vindicated and powerful- in very, small, doses. With every car accident, you wonder- if it’s him, or how you’d feel, or if you’d be eyed and snickered about while you walked up to the casket. You imagined yourself there, in something tasteful, and black, and you imagined the demons you’d be faced with- and wondered why you were thinking of it all, at all. You’ve even let his happiness affect you. As though that means you were worth leaving. You didn’t want to race. You didn’t want to scream that you loved someone faster than him, because that meant you won, and you had successfully bled that part of him out of you. You were cautious- you hurt and you were hurt in the process. You let every piece, every lie, every minuscule, stupid, idea, or memory, or word cling to who you were, and you desperately tried to fight it. You lost. And you won- and you often smile as you look around your home- with the furniture in each room, memories built with your, two, hands- that it all meant something. I’ve said it before: Your pain means nothing. Let it go.
You’ve made interesting choices lately, haven’t you? Suddenly the girl who couldn’t live without lattes and pedicures is eating ramen and marmalade sandwiches, (though not together,) and finding indulgences in moments simply spent alone. You’re battling time, and age, money and the game of bills all to keep something still so young. A baby apartment- that still smells new to you, and holds promise. You pray desperately that you’ll make enough to not have to worry about what magical fund will pay the bills, or save for Ava’s future- but in the meantime, you thrive. For the first time in your life- there is no chair up against the door, or lights on in the hallway. A beautiful, pitch, black fills the interior of your home while you sleep. You’re not afraid to wake up to your own muffled screams, or hands grabbing under the covers. 9 years after, you’ve finally shined light on the fear of what happened. You dream often of running, or being attacked, but there’s very few times you wake until morning. I know you want to control the other aspects of your life as you control inside your dreams. Give it time. You’re doing, just fine.
For all your ‘failed’ relationships lately- none of your friends mind. They call to check in- even though they know you’re ‘busy,’ and they email a note of encouragement, and text their love. They aren’t worried that your biological clock is ticking, or that you’ve had the 2,000th fight with Bre, or even- that you had to blow them off for a night of sanity. They are worried that you don’t understand where you’re back-stepping to, or that your worth is more than you’ve envisioned. You tell them the same things, and the flag of doubt seems to pass back and forth as each of you battles the 20-something-beasts of the dating community. You beg them not to give up, and you promise yourself to keep your chin up, a tight-upper-lift, and eyes straight ahead.
For all that you’re doubting, and envisioning everything that isn’t happening as you’d like- have you noticed your own strength?
So? For lent? I give you the promise to myself, and the God I pray to- that I can learn from what I take in- but filter quickly, and react painlessly, if at all- to what’s going on around me. I pray to be a smoother, surface, incapable of holding onto all the negative, or the worry.