I arrived at the doctor’s office fifteen minutes early as some kind of masochistic penance for missing my previous appointment. After cruising Instagram, posting photos, cruising Facebook, “liking” stuff, after changing the waiting room television channel from Court TV smut to HGTV, after doing side stretches and neck stretches and chair poses and squats and swinging the 40+ pound baby car seat with whimpering baby I finally met the doctor. He was beefy looking and I didn’t get a chance to use one of my snarky opening lines on him when he came in. Damn doctors, always taking control of the situation.
I had settled on some kind of getting-to-know me speech in which I told him that I am more informed and interested in my personal well being than the average bear and that I realized that there are extenuating circumstances causing me more stress than my system will silently bear. In no short order I was saying something like, “In November 2009 I moved to Washington with him. In December 2010 I gave birth to our son. In November 2011 we got married. In November 2012 I left him because he had been abusing me and in December 2012 I gave birth to our daughter.”
No shit, right? Dr. Beefy’s eyes were wide for a second. Whatever he said next might as well have been, “no shit?” In these moments I am humbled. If it weren’t for the unstoppable magic of my two kids I would say that I really, seriously, fucked up when I dove into it with my ES. In these moments when I’ve just summarized the story of why I’m here right now I find myself listening to it and thinking: Jeezus I am an idiot. I mean, really, I returned to the guy who had me submit to a lie detector test two weeks after we signed documents marrying us? I mean, really, I went back to him and stayed there for another year? Who was that girl?
I understand more now than I did. I am proud that I am a survivor. I am breathlessly thankful that I am a survivor. I am not kidding when I say that, really what I am is a thriver. I want you to join with me as I learn my lessons, speak my truths and unstoppably rise up. I want your lessons to guide me and I want your experiences to strengthen me when I need them (I’m looking at you single parenting). I want us all to do that thing that Oprah seems to have trademarked, I want us to Aha! together.
After I get the “no shit?” stare I tend to review, if there’s time, what happened to get me there. Here’s the first paragraph of that.
When I met my ES (estranged husband) I was 28 and was “at the tail end of a time in my life when sex felt more like theater, when I thought living meant merely saying yes to everything. I didn’t know anything about power or intimacy or trust, even though I played with these concepts continuously, recklessly, in private homes and sex clubs, with strangers I met online, and old friendships I needlessly complicated. Fear was something I thought I could talk myself out of, if only I had the right words. I knew so many words at that time, but I didn’t know what any of them really meant.” (Anna Pulley, Dominatrix for a Day) I wanted power, intimacy and trust, all those things I knew nothing about. I wanted to be part of something after going it alone in the world for a decade. I thought I would grow into those states over time. With him. After I said yes. I thought that was how long term relationships worked. I intended on this being the longest term relationship I would ever have. I always said I would never get divorced, it would be too heartbreaking.
I feel like I finally have a topic. My life, the lessons and magic I cull from it, has always been my topic, but I wasn’t able to ever able to specifically point out who I thought my audience was… until now. If I wanted to slap some labels on me they would read: divorcee, thirty-something, Gen Y, single mom, lives with parents, stay at home mom, unemployed, penniless, abuse victim, survivor, attachment parent, indigo child, writer, design junkie, fresh foodie, tumble dry on low.
I am not the only one who has been mentally abused by a partner. To be attacked and then told it was the other way around. To have the aggressor play the victim. And to live with that constantly shaping your behavior and motivations. That takes some undoing. I am not lucky. I am brave. I am brave and because of it I have three years of mental fuckery to unpack, not 13 or 30. I feel lucky though. I am not the only one faced with the task of raising two kids sans partner. I am not the only one who has had to move back in to her parents’ home and make a life there as an adult (and parent).
I am not the only so on and so forth. I plan to sew up the world, with all its geographical miles, to make it smaller and more supportive in astonishing ethereal ways.