I stare up at my sink. Above the facet and the remarkably unfilled basin stands a wooden plaque, painted with the words, “and they lived happily ever after.” My godmother, gave me the sign as a gift at a much younger age. I displayed it in my home after relationships fell apart even against my belief that there was any sort of, “happily ever after,” in the first place. At a much more bitter time, I couldn’t imagine why such a saying could even exist.
I touch my stomach. I’ve been waiting for days for a glimpse of his sweet face or tiny, newborn hands. The doctor says he’ll grace me with his presence soon, but it’s hard to imagine. I talk to him, inside my mind between the kicks and the pushes with his determined feet. As much as I’ve begged him to come out, I understand why he’s stayed in. He almost says, “Wrap your head around the other moments first. Then I will arrive.”
And so I do. I recognize you aren’t supposed to write so openly about these things; the pain in adjusting to a new life, the fear in wondering if I’ll be alone and the realization that my iPod will quite possibly be my companion for his birth. You aren’t supposed to say, “sometimes, it doesn’t work out.” I think in the past I tossed up a quote or a song, pleading that someone would realize the inner workings of my mind and wanting to say, (if only to myself,) “you were here and it was painful.” I want to mark my life like I mark the pages in my favorite book, turning down the corners to remind myself of powerful words. I roadmap my life with milestones so I can look back and recognize the emotion and power behind situations and their outcomes. Topsy-turny is the road, I was here and it was painful, that is the truth.
I break the rules often. Sometimes, I’m baffled by the way we are conditioned to hide our emotions. I’m not scared of vulnerability, I’m terrified of not moving past the present to a brighter future. Sometimes, we falsely believe that to be strong and powerful, we need to be perfect or model an effortless life. Life, if lived correctly, is by far the most dramatic, passionate and excruciatingly-painful experience that we will ever have. I am here to live, not to be a mannequin of someone afraid to show her insides. Here are my guts, out loud. My strength lies in my ability to diagnose the pain, reflect on the lesson and push forward to the future. Simply stated and so much harder to live out, I think that’s been my secret recipe to not holding my breath and passing out. I have too much to accomplish, yet to allow myself to hide and fade into puddles of self-deprecation or doubt. There will be more pain. The rules are for those that aren’t willing to let go and feel. Screw the rules.
Ring the bells. Leonard Cohen’s famous song has been playing on repeat for an hour as I survey a pack ‘n play, soft snoring from a little girl upstairs and a plaque that spells out the truth. The house is quiet and I am alone. I did live happily ever after, but it was almost unrecognizable. Mick Jagger once spoke, “you can’t always get what you want.” Truth comes from the strangest of sources. Happily ever after, doesn’t negate the struggle or the pain, it glorifies it. Happily Ever After is a battle cry to no hide behind wanting to portray a false sense of perfection. I think the words were a greater gift than my late godmother realized, they’ve taught me to find serenity and hope not for a solution to the dilemma or pain, but for the strength to concur and move forward.
Brilliant words. Cohen said, “forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything.” Our light shines brighter when we are real and human. I couldn’t possibly be less for failing when failing is the only thing that has led to true happiness. I’m not sure what tomorrow brings but I know somehow, the truth above my sink speaks louder than the pain or confusion. We will live happily ever after, because what other choice to we have? There’s too much to touch, feel and experience to become hard, molded plastic. Here are my guts, now I just need the grace.