I was given a gift of saying too much.
An inability to keep my mouth shut.
An awkwardness in groups. Inept at a party. Small talk turns to revealing personal epiphanies.
A sure fire way to lose some friends or relatives is to write about the secrets. The secrets that examine the imperfections. People are not perfect and we readily admit that in the abstract- but there are many unwritten rules against sharing our failings. Yet, we all have them. We keep each other separate by not sharing. Our facade. The edifice. And underneath we fail and hurt. We put on out Burt’s Bees lip shimmer and our best Anthropologie sweater and we smile through the humiliation, praying everyone doesn’t know our mortifying mantra- “My love doesn’t love me. I wasn’t enough.” (This isn’t the truth when I am using wise mind. This is the truth when I am in the midst of the suffering and my eyes become myopic.)
Sums it up. I just can’t stop myself. When there is a lull in conversation I fill it. I come by it honestly. My grandmother Martha whose grandkids called Maw, was nicknamed Jibby her entire life. Jibby because she jibber jabbered too much.
I am also overly empathetic. I need you to know that I understand. That I have had similar woes. That I fail. When I was a child in class, I would sit and look at my teacher so she would know I was listening and I would raise my hand every time she asked a question so she wouldn’t feel ignored. I would give her eye contact and smile at her jokes so she would know I cared about her. I also wanted to be her favorite.
I’m a jibber jabbering goody goody.
As life expanded and I aged, I met hardship. A routinely and consistently loving childhood led to a wondrous early adulthood in which I married and became a mother of 5. Sometime in my late thirties, I started to encounter real difficulty. I charged through a lengthy arduous adoption process of a beloved baby with a severe disability who we wanted and planned for for years. Within a year, my oldest was diagnosed with anorexia. While parenting through disability and disease and the average joys and tumult of the healthy four, I forgot to notice that my husband of 19 years was having at least one long term affair and at least one short term affair. Or maybe I didn’t notice because he forgot to mention it.
After 30 something years of simplicity and family bliss, I was confronted with difficulty, anguish, panic, grief and pain. Some of it self assigned, some of it biological and some of it invaded my whole self and went to war with my heart.
Given that I am an open vulnerable empathetic woman with some major life experience, I share. I said “me too” before it was a movement about sexual abuse. I see you. I understand your pain. I see the superhuman perseverance it takes to be a parent of a child with a disability. I understand walking through life feeling lonely while your child is on the brink of death. I understand stomaching the pain of your love not treating you with love. I understand the questioning of life and frailties when your past and your future is crumbling. I’m here and I won’t hide my truth.
The end of my marriage and infidelity is part of my story and I won’t skip over it or avoid that painful truth. I hope that I write with honesty and include my Achilles heel and shortcomings. I pray that I grow in understanding of myself. I seek to become more loving and a fuller wiser human.
And I will acknowledge the awfulness of this disrespect I experienced.
The moment you put a stop to people taking advantage of you and disrespecting you, is when they define you as difficult, selfish or crazy. Manipulators hate boundaries.
seen on Adios Barbie’s Facebook page. Attributed to The Enlightened target.
And boy have I been reminded how selfish and crazy I am by writing on this blog and exposing what should remain private. My intent is to speak my truth. When I first realized my marriage was full of disrespect, I wanted to know where all the other women were who had experienced this common ordinary life flattening incident with a cement truck husband. Where were the surviving first wives? The ones who birthed babies and changed diapers and breastfed for years and schlepped carpools full of children who wanted Miley Cyrus on the radio. The women who lay awake trying to figure out why he was mad or dissatisfied? Who was telling the story of heartbreak and being made the fool? I found Glennon Doyle Melton’s blog Momastery but I wanted more. I wanted the devil in the details. I wanted to know what you wore to the marriage therapist so that she could sense you were the cool one and validate the Herculean effort it took to remain present when you wanted to die. I wanted to know how you woke up, packed the kids’ lunches and went to work. I wanted to know who you told first. I wanted to know if your children were going to be okay. And I wanted to know why. Did you tell him you loved him? Did you ever have sex? Did you disrespect him by never cleaning as much or as well as he wanted, too? Did your true love feel appreciated? Did he blame you? How long did he lie? When did he stop loving you?
All these women. All around me —- at school pick up, the grocery store, sitting in the church pews, or sharing an adjacent wall in our condo- have you been cheated on? Did your best friend and love of your life, disrespect you? And lie? How did you survive? How do you keep these secrets? Where are the answers?
Again I was alone in my dismay. Like I have explained in past posts, I tend to think I am the only one who has ever experienced this particular pain. I fall into the trap of believing I’m special. And yet at 45, I was starting to doubt this fallacy. Maybe I’m not the only one to struggle. Maybe I’m not the only one to doubt their existence in the sea of humanity. I can’t be the only one to have been duped. Misled. Fooled. I am not the first 45 year old to wake up and realize her whole life was a disaster.
But. WAIT a minute—
Why are we the ones hiding? Why does the “first wife” the one cheated on hide in shame? It is topsy turvy. Why aren’t we on top of the mountain instead of under our covers? We could be calling all the other wounded women to glory. Why aren’t we Time’s Person of the Year, the most watched Ted Talk, the author of a hilarious memoir? We could lift each other up. We could change the world with comfort. We could hold each other and share our grief. If all the women who have ever been disrespected rose up and acted as sherpas on this mountain of turmoil, we would be at the peak with huge smiles. Hugging each other and taking selfies. Planting our flag of bravery and love.
So here I am claiming my truth as just one truth of many. We are one. We are in this together. My pain is your pain and your pain is my pain. I have a child with a disability and even as a mom of six and a special ed teacher, I am exhausted by her emotional instability and intense needs. I have a daughter with an eating disorder that is so difficult to recover from and I fear for her health and future. I am a loving person, whose husband cheated, lied and left. I am a human. Imperfect. Awful at deep cleaning, providing home cooked family dinners, eating vegetables, not interrupting, planning ahead, prioritizing the needs of adults, talking on the phone, saving money, staying married, and matching socks. I have left wet towels on the floor and I have hurt people I love.
My writing- my truth doesn’t lessen anyone else’s truth. I can only write what I know. I aim to exalt others. Wipe the tears from your face and at the very same time, validate the tears that are falling from your soulful eyes. I aim to praise your humanity. I aim to be with you. I’m actually very scared of heights but I swear I will do my very best to meet you on an imaginary mountaintop and sing old camp songs around our waving flag and hug you so hard and long that our hearts mend each others.