Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Meditations on an Emergency

"One day, you're there. And then, all of a sudden... there's less of you. And you wonder where that part went, if it's living outside of you? And you keep thinking, maybe you'll get it back. And then you realize... it's just gone."
- Peggy, Mad Men

I had thought we were talking about apartments. There was this bizarre almost-argument about who does more work around the house, and dancing around feeling put-upon. There was something to do with... I just don't remember anymore.

What I do remember is the concept of "needs not being met" coming up in the conversation. "Ray used to muse on how I had such a hard time getting my needs met," I told G in the car, somewhere in the course of the conversation. "We talked about my jobs, my singing, the operas, the church... I always seem to slip through the cracks, and things that everyone thinks ought to come my way just pass me by. I just miss them by a hair.

"And yet I have a life full of wonderful things, and always have. And I spend so much time counting my blessings that I don't feel I have any right to ask for anything more. Because the minute I show the slightest bit of ingratitude, it's all going to fall away!"

G watched the road, his hands gripping the steering wheel loosely. His brow furrowed. The world was a blur passing by the car windows at 70 miles an hour.

"If you're in a place where you're counting your blessings, that's a bad sign," He said.

"It's like when I was in school," I babbled, "And we'd get this huge box in the mail from my Aunt Delores. It was clothes that my cousins had grown out of. They were well made and expensive but several years out of date and not anything like what my classmates were wearing. And Mom would say 'You don't know how lucky you are!' And she'd guilt trip me into wearing them and tell me what an ungrateful child I was for being so fussy and unappreciative. And I'd go to school and they'd shred me to bits over and over and over... and only BAD GIRLS wanted the things I wanted! And HOW DARE I not appreciate what I was given? And I should be ASHAMED of myself!"

I was hysterical, sobbing and shouting. "And I didn't care! And I was a bad girl, and fuck everybody! Fine, I'll be an ungrateful bitch, take it all back! Send it all back to Aunt Delores or wherever the hell it came from! I never wanted this! I never wanted any of it! All I ever wanted was a little apartment in Chelsea and my cat and a plant and a singing gig in a night club and I never asked for any of this!"

I just sobbed. And G drove. And I cried and cried, halfway across Connecticut. He just kept driving, and I kept crying, until I was done.

"Well, that felt kinda good," I finally said, blowing my nose.

"I think you needed to get that out for a long time now," G said.

We rode in silence again for awhile.

"The thing is," I said, "...so what." I wiped my eyes and looked out the window at trees and highway that looked exactly the same as it had 100 miles ago. "What's gonna change? Nothing. What can I do about it? Nothing. Big deal."

G said "I love you. I want to make you happy."

I said, "I don't want you to make me happy. I love that you want to, but it's not your job to make me happy." I gently tugged his left sleeve, which was riding up over his middle deltoid. I ran my finger along the edge of the muscle there, aware of this external manifestation of the incredible strength and power inside this man, this man who loves me, and wants to make me happy.

"If I can think of something you can do to help me, I promise, I'll tell you," I said, smiling. "But I think this is something I have to figure out for myself."

I don't like feeling weak. I don't like feeling pitiful. I'm afraid that when I feel these things, that I'll look that way, and G (And anyone else around) will no longer respect me. I'll be seen as a victim who wallows in her sadness, a pain in the ass.

Some people have exited my life because I was too needy and depressive and just no fun at all. My ups just weren't worth slogging through my downs, and they left. Others have cruelly exploited my vulnerabilities. I've caught myself on several occasions expecting G to act like some of my exes - in some very awful ways. I just forget who he is sometimes, and my memories turn into fears.

Eacj time I've caught myself doing this, I've told him about it, and apologized. He says it's natural. He reassures me that he is NOT doing those things, and he tells me how he does feel, and what he wants. And it's good.

We communicate well.

I never sing anymore, outside my apartment, or the occasional karaoke joint. Over the last year, all the karaokeing I've been doing has been at this place. It's great to have your own room, and not have to wait for 20 other drunken patrons to warble through "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" and "Before He Cheats." But I realized recently that Duet 35 isn't satisfying to me. It's too private. I miss the audience. I'm still only singing for myself and one other person, whose heard me a million times.

I like the bars better, even if I have to wait. I want to perform.

This is the monkey I can't get off my back, this singing thing. I hate it. I wish I could just forget about it, stop caring, get involved in other things.

Well, I did for awhile. I did a pretty good job at filling my life with two jobs, massage school and then the spa, planning and executing a wedding, cultivating good friendships, and basically taking every opportunity that came my way to be busy. I don't have time to sing anyway, I'd tell myself, and anyone who asked. "That was something I did for awhile, and it's flowed out of my life."

I am wracked with guilt that being G's wife and mother to his children, and living in this beautiful (albeit small) apartment in this town that people are dying to get into with this incredible view, and my parents are healthy, and my friends are awesome, and my cat is healthy and loving, and I have a killer wardrobe and a million shoes, and G and I take awesome vacations and he gets me virtually everything I ask for... is not enough.

I am an ungrateful child! HOW DARE I not appreciate what I have? I am SO ASHAMED. I feel such shame. I don't deserve any of this. I am a spoiled ungrateful brat.

And now he knows. So what if he were to act like my mother, or like Earl? What if I were to get the silent treatment for weeks? What if his eyes darkened and I never saw them sparkle again, if his love turned to disgust, disappointment, dismissal? What if our relationship became a litany of cutting remarks and resentment, because I'm not happy after everything he's done for me? What if, tomorrow morning, I were to wake up in an empty apartment?

I am a survivor. But the real question is, what would I want to do?

The same thing I always want to do.

I don't know if this is good for me or bad for me. If one more person gives me shit about how awful it is that I'm not using my G-d given gift, I'll slug 'em.

When did I quit trying?

Have I really quit trying? Is the fawcet really off, or is that a slow drip?

G will not leave me. I know this. I know he and I are in this together. But I haven't quite figured out how to do this with someone else, this whole chasing dreams thing. After all, it's not his dream, it's mine. He shouldn't be burdened with it.

G said "I love you. I want to make you happy." It's not a burden to him, making me happy. I remember the look on his face the last time he saw me happy, enjoying life, enjoying the world. He was radiant. His smile was enormous. A smile for me. The smile that someone has when they are happy because someone else is happy. A smile that says, I love you. My happiness is his joy.

When has anyone ever loved me like this?

Would this be in my life if I didn't deserve it?

What else do I deserve?

How can I... what?

"I've been thinking about everything that's going on. And I thought... who'd care if I was gone? I mean Trudy would care, but she doesn't know me. But you do. And I know you. And I think... you're perfect."

I am not afraid. And that's step one.

It's a new Moon.

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