I am empowered by The Chicks new album. Every song rings truth. Women who know are such gifts to my soul.
You’re sorry but where’s my apology. And you know you lie best when you lie to you.
Wanting an apology. I wanted a real understanding of his knowledge of his own betrayals. I wanted the kind of apology that people in AA have to give as one of the steps. But Walt never went to AA. Amends. With me. Let me understand. Allow me the peace of knowing that he was aware and truly sorry that he had hurt me so much. I never got what I wanted- the amends. I have one long letter of the honesty and apology but it was from when he thought he could win me back- not because he really wanted me back but because he was scared of the divorce and wanted to see if he could go back to usual. He knew the words I wanted to hear but later recanted the letter that I had held onto for dear life. After time passed and hope for clarity bobbed back up, I asked for an apology, Walt quoted a Mary Oliver poem. I believe he tried to make me feel bad for wanting an apology by using a sacred beloved poet. “I don’t have to walk on my knees for a hundred miles through the desert with no water.” I’m not sure Mary expected to be quoted by Walt.
“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
― Mary Oliver
Gaslighter has lots of sweet similarities to my life with Walt –making me feel the gift of art. This reflects my soul. And how did they know what I was thinking. Can you tell my infatuation with Natalie? My crush on Martie playing the fiddle? And my obsession with the deep stares of Emily’s brown eyes into the gaslighter’s soul?
Repeating the mistakes of your father. We moved to California and we followed your dreams. I believed in the promises you made to me. Swore that night ’til death do us part. But you lie lie lie lied… Acting all above it when our friends divorced. What a lie lie lie. You’re such as Gaslighter, Denier. Doing anything to get you ass farther… Couldn’t take yourself on a road a little higher. Had to burn it up. Had to tear it down. Tried to say I’m crazy. Babe you know I’m not crazy, that’s you gaslighting. You’re a lie lie liar. Oh honey that’s you. Gaslighting. You made your bed and then your bed caught fire. Gaslighter. I’m your mirror. Standing right here. Until you can see how you broke me. Yeah I’m broken.
He did every single one of these things. The Chicks must have bugged my life and wrote my soundtrack. Still hard for me to shake out the truth some days. I am nervous writing this because what if he reads it and what of he confronts me and tilts the axis and I can’t stand straight and my words fall out and slide down the hypotenuse into nothingness. It wasn’t always like this. I wasn’t always like this. In a different universe, when I was pregnant with our first and we were new to living together, he approached me with a damp towel. “Umm. If you leave wet towels on the carpet, the carpet with get musty. Do you mind hanging up your towel?” Martee of 1996 replied, “Marry someone else” and walked away naked and grinning as he laughed.
Sleep at Night
“How do you sleep at night? How do you tell those lies? So caught up in your story- You don’t care what you’re ruining. Look at me in the eye. Living. double life. Not that you asked but i’m getting past everything. I’m doing OK. Just glad it’s not yesterday. You’re only as safe as your secrets. So I’m telling everything. Half of the shit, you won’t believe, but I know it’s not unique to me.”
Natalie tells a story of the woman coming to see her at one of her concerts. I met Hailey once. I met her when I had just adopted Mim. We walked into Walt’s office in New York to show them our beautiful baby before we took her home on a plane. Hailey saw our precious baby. I guess she didn’t care. How do they sleep at night? How hard was it to lie? I’ve wondered that a million times. Like when he was drunk did he almost spill the beans. Did he tell anyone?
Once his boss from New York and the whole crew from his old job were all in Atlanta for a conference and he was a nervous wreck about going to dinner with them- which was so weird because nothing ever frazzled him. I reassured him and calmed him. I didn’t know until years later what he was really afraid of. He was shaking in his boots because he didn’t know who Hailey had told. Did his old boss know that he was sleeping around? He was afraid of being unprofessional. He wasn’t afraid of being unfaithful. How did he relay the story to me so that I wouldn’t know the real reasons for his insecurity? Was it hard for him to lie?
My Best Friend’s wedding
Go it alone. Go it alone. Go it alone. I can see a wildfire coming. Burnin the world that I know.
Natalie knows wildfires. She has lived in CA and she knows the destruction and danger of an out of control fire streaming through the dry hills. I saw a wildfire once from our big van driving home on Interstate5 with the kids in the car. Scary and awe inspiring. Fire streaking lines on dark hills in the night. So fast and determined. Days later when it was all put out. Black scorched earth is left. No green. No life. Not a blade of grass. To compare Adrian (Natalie’s ex and Walt) to the wildfire is spot on. Raced through wildly, without a care of what would be lost. Leaving nothing but endings and overs. All beauty gone. But the miracles of the wild fire and the leaving of unfaithful men is the opportunity for new growth. Freedom to be new and fresh and in my simplest form. Me without you. “Go it alone.”
Tights on my Boat
I should have known you were trouble. Just save myself from all the trouble. You came to visit on tour and you made me cry. Wouldn’t speak to me for weeks and now I know why. And you can tell the girl who left her tights on my boat that she can have you now. Yeah, you can call her right now and tell her that she can have you right now. You’re gonna get what you got coming to ya. Just ’cause I’m singing, don’t let it fool ya. You’re gonna get what you got coming to ya. You are, you are. If it’s the last thing I see.
Thank you Natalie, Emily and Martie. Beyonce can write and sing Lemonade and The Chicks can create the Gaslighter album. Tights on my boat is freedom and truth. We aren’t secret keepers. I can tell my truth, my story, his infidelity. I love the details of the boat and the Hollywood Bowl, but I disagree with one thing. Forgive me Chicks. But I am not convinced he will get what he deserves. I wish I could rely on karma to ease my fury. But I’m afraid some people never get what they deserve. And that is a hard pill to swallow. The Chicks and Beyonce have money so maybe they can wield power differently than me. I don’t know. Life isn’t fair.
..Who holds me like he’ll never let go. It’s been way too long since somebody’s body was tangled with mine. Yeah, tangled up with mine. Everybody wants top market but I’m a little bit unraveled. Everybody wants the new model but I’m a little bit more traveled. If you got the strength I do then sign me up. If I’m not too much for you, then sign me up, sign me up.
I’m just not there yet. I am making progress. I no longer have throw up in my mouth and tears on my cheeks when I hear a love song. That there is real growth.
Riding home in the back seat of the brown Ford. Dolly drives and I have time to fall into the melodies and lyrics. Pass a barn as the light is shifting purple and pink- traveling backlighted layers as gray creeps in. Dusk. A huge white barn in an empty field. The roof of the barn is the Dutch kind and the barn is in a sunken patch of land settled in for a long nap. Eyes closed- doors are boarded shut. Dolly tells Mim to look at how pretty it is. We are on our way home from a sunset hike. On the way back to the car, I had to pee in a porta potty. Must have been an emergency. My seersucker blue and white pants are too tight to pull up while sweaty. So I sit in the backseat feeling the many folds and wobbles of my hips and my tumtum, juxtaposing the beauty of the clouds and countryside. Natalie Maines doesn’t have poochy tummy parts. She is fierce. She is the opposite of most of me. The woman who slept with her husband should have been scared. She is no one’s fool. Why do I regress back to being the fool or calling myself a fool when I make a mistake or when I think about Walt cheating on me? Why is that my self talk? Frida in the backseat with me. She is exhausted from the hike. I feel the top of her Bulldog head- a flat plate with ridges and ripples. I sweep my hand to the velvet of her ears. And down to the hairless underarms tucked into her middles- this skin is naked and untouched by the elements. Baby soft. I’m glad I can grow older with Frida. I look forward to her aging. She will be even more sleepy and cuddly and snorish. SO lucky to have her. I worry that she will die before I am ready.
Set Me Free
I’ve done what I know to help me move on. I’ve been sick from the hurt. I’ve cried alone. Why, oh why do you keep me tethered? You’ve taken enough from me. Untangle me from your lifeline. Why not just set me free? Don’t you feel you’re wasting time? You have the power to make it right. Decency
Would be for you to sign and release me, If you ever loved me then will you do this one last thing? Set me free, set me free. Oh, set me free
To have and to hold. Oh, the weight of this hate was exhausting. You risked my body, broke my spirit and still, I’ve let you go. Just because you’ve been a bad guy, I’ve seen it with my own eyes, there’s a good guy in there.
This is the last song of the album and it is about how Adrian should set her free, sign the papers, leaver her alone to heal. He wants all her money. He wants to mess up twenty years of marriage and family and then get paid for it with her money. I don’t have anything to take. Walt signed easily or so it appeared. I need to set myself free. Work to do. Letting go of hate and anger and deep sadness. “Set me free.”
Driving in the dark is saddening. It has been since I was a little girl. I think my sisters could sleep on late car rides and I couldn’t. I remember being reassured by watching the moon follow little special me as I watched it through my backseat window, but my dad said it isn’t following you. Passing the tall jail where the floors go up but the windows don’t . The windows are horizontal rectangles- just slats. Smaller than a head of a man. “Set me free” talking to me. I have to set myself free.
Natalie sings out the word “Decency” achingly, hauntingly, loudly and I sing with her. Reaching for the notes. Feeling every bit of the collective pain of women cheated. Is there any decency left? Such an honest Puritan word. Gone.
And the truth telling line “Just because you’ve been a bad guy, I’ve seen it with my own eyes, there’s a good guy in there.” This is what women have to do. See the whole picture. Attempt to raise children with this man. Forgive. Forget without apology. Search the whole picture to find the hidden virtue. It is there. He is human. He made mistakes. We all do. He did wrong. Yet, is there a way back to peace?
A U-Haul with five gold retro lights on the roof of the cab waits across from us at a light. Those tiny head lights illuminate in an old fashioned way that new cars don’t. Nostalgic and sad in a warm bittersweet way warming the tears in my eyes me as I dream of past lives and cross country trips with a husband and 6 kids driving through the everlasting desert. “I’ve been sick from the hurt. I’ve cried alone.”
Just six of the twelve songs. I’ll write more later. Peace. And listen to the Chicks.