Personal History, The Inner Landscape

Things I cannot say

I used to write about the events of my day — let’s say going to the 2008 Democratic Caucus — and reflect on the world and the family and maybe the weather and frequently, though not always, reach some sort of artistically-rendered conclusion that I hoped made it sound like I had it together.

(Except for the times I wrote about not having it together, artfully, I hoped.)

On that political occasion, I ended up standing in line in the snow with my interested-in-the-process 12-year-old and both husbands (then current and former), and on the way I called both boys (one at boarding school, the other at college) to tell them about it, whether they wanted to hear it or not.
I marveled at how much we had in common, “Yes We Can” Democrats, all.
This morning The Father of My Children told me he is going to the other caucus on Saturday (What?!?!!!), and the other husband is so far out of the picture I don’t know where he lives (well, I have his address, for the forwarding of things that won’t stop coming here, but I have no picture in my mind of where it is), and there will be no attending a caucus for me, and I only hope the boys, who are men now, will remember to vote in the fall and be what I think of as right-minded, and I have to look back at what seemed so winsome — our multiply-located family that was somehow of one mind — and recognize that it was an illusion.
It was fanciful, by which I mean a creation of my fancy, and it was purposefully  sweetened, because I couldn’t bear for it to be bitter. I couldn’t bear it.
Worse, it was falsified. 
I wrote a story of our lives based in what I dearly wanted, and it may be that some parts were true, at least the parts about the kids. And the dogs. Dogs are inherently truthful.
I wrote a story of my life based on what I knew, but some things were withheld from me, and I created a narrative out of my partial knowledge. 
I wrote a story of my life, long before I was a blogger, about who I thought I was supposed to be, because I could not see myself for who I was, and it never occurred to me that seeing something other than what other people seemed to want was an option.
I have to look back and remember that every cozy picture I painted was layered over my anxiety about the shaky reality of my day-to-day life, as if someone found a canvas portraying a woman having a nightmare — I had the most terrible nightmares and woke up sobbing, often — and painted over it a woman living a full and contented married life. 
When I wrote more about my life, I had a lot of rules and followed them, mostly. 
  • Don’t blog anything you wouldn’t say in a sermon. (Even though there are plenty of things I’ve blogged that aren’t sermon-worthy.)
  • Don’t be unkind about the former spouse even when he’s bugging you. (Especially because he used to read the blog, as did the boys! But people, we could NOT live together. We parent well together, reasonably, but we mostly do NOT get along. This is no secret. And if he’s still reading, well, there it is.)
But the unwritten, unacknowledged rules mattered more to me, and I internalized them. 
  • Don’t say how hard the current marriage is. 
  • Don’t admit how anxious you are. (I had a secret blog for that. Thank God for the friends who read it and accompanied me through the whirlwind.) 
  • Don’t admit to yourself that the words for your relationship and your feelings are bereft, barren, desert, empty, starving, thirsty, the words for a wilderness walkabout lasting far longer than 40 days.
The truth is, I am stubborn, and I held on until there was absolute, brutal honesty, even though I really didn’t want to hold on anymore. I suppose I needed words as sharp as a sword’s edge to cut me loose.
There are still things I cannot say here, but when I look in the mirror now, I know what’s true, about my life and about my heart and about my self. 
Life is entirely different than it was on caucus weekend four years ago.
And the nightmares have gone away.  
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25 thoughts on “Things I cannot say”

  1. Oh, Martha. Your courage and authenticity and heart never cease to amaze me. I think I follow similar rules in my blogging. Certain things that used to be really hard have gotten much better, and I go back and read the chipper posts I was writing at the time… sigh.

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  2. I think about revealing "purple" and then I remember the comfort of being able to share at a more vulnerable level from "purple's perspective". I can count on my fingers the number of people who know who purple is…

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  3. I think I understand. Part of the reason my blog has been dormant so long was/is the painful unbloggables. I am beyond grateful that you are finding a better, nightmareless way. (((Martha)))

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  4. Loved what you wrote. I remember a time in my life where I was living according to other peoples approval and dreams. It was when I was true to myself that I found true happiness. Be happy friend, it is a long time coming.

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  5. "Life would be easier if we could all be more honest with each other and no body got hurt."Maybe that's what we discover in the Next Phase: how to be honest without hurting others…

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  6. I think that maturity has something to do with it. There is a place and a time in one's life where that 'dreams of what we want ourselves to be' and 'the reality of who we are' converge and then integrity, which has always been there, begins to take over. It took me until I was 60. I am thankful that you are there earlier and can live more fully into it. It is the most freeing thing that can happen to us. It isn't because we don't give a s**t like Maxine, but it is more like we find out that we connect as human beings when we aren't not all buffed and powdered. Thank you for your friendship. And let her rip, Sistah+!

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