Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The trouble with being earnest

Growing up the youngest in a family of eight kids left ample opportunity for someone else to do things for me. I had brothers and sisters who taught me to tie my shoes,cheer me on when I learned to ride a bike (that was an all neighborhood affair)and learn my multiplication tables. It is family urban legend that not only my siblings were involved in naming me, but also the neighbor kids.  Throughout childhood someone always had my back.  Plenty of free reign was given and I ran wild in the 'hood with my posse of Big Wheel riders. But someone always had a close eye on our whereabouts.

As maturity increased it was only natural that I'd learn self reliance.  Mistakes were made along the way. Human nature is defined by such.  When my mother passed away in '81, maturity had to speed up.  Without digging through the trunk of broken dreams, I moved in with my Maureen who is 10 years older.  Though she didn't make much money, we managed miraculously.  I wasn't allowed to skate free.  A job was obtained at Monical's Pizza -- the best job I have ever had. period. Between that job and the escape the Celebration Singers (show choir) allowed, I maintained some semblance of order and sanity.

What my early struggles taught me that I had to take ownership of my life.  The one factor that would always be constant was my self-reliance. As the years progressed and I met and married Mancub's father, it was evident that I had to be the stable one in the relationship. Our marriage wasn't a partnership.  Increasingly, I began feeling more like a parent than a spouse and lover.

Our little family packed up in '97 and moved to Georgia.  It was meant to be a fresh start. A new beginning.  My spouse felt I relied upon my family too much for advice, particularly my sisters. They were the problem in our marriage.   Further evidence was given that family had been more of the glue.  WE were the problem.  Together we killed our marriage.  Yes, I do take some responsibility.  After all, it was I who walked down the aisle rather than bolting out the back door of the church when I had my chance.  Even my father suggested I make a run for it when the wedding was delayed over 20 minutes because the best man hadn't shown up. I jest, sort of. But Mancub's existence helps wash the pain away.

I digress.

December 1999 our divorce was final.  With a little help financially from my eldest sister, I rented a little house for Mancub and me.  It was quaint and cozy.  I left the past behind me and started anew.  Struggles haven't been few.  God knows that I ran into plenty of issues both personally and financially.  Relying on other people for help watching Mancub, for rides when my car wasn't running seemed to become second nature. I loathed asking for help and was always relieved when it was offered before pleading began.  I've made stupid mistakes in the face of fouled judgment.  When I felt I was on a party girl roller coaster, it came to a screeching halt and threw me.  After smacking into the proverbial wall, consciousness set in.  I was dazed to realize that I'd been living in a box.  Maybe it was denial as a means of survival, but it was surely not the life I had envisioned post divorce ... or ever, really.

Of the friends I had made, I kept them at arms length.  I never wanted to need anyone. Ever. If someone was part of my life it was based my desire to have them around.  Need wasn't part of my vocabulary.  My thought was that if I needed no one, in turn, no one would need me.  Not a soul would I be responsible for other than myself and my child. Nurture? Not on your life, bub. If someone required nurturing they (he) could go talk to  mommy. But not this mommy. With such an attitude, it became overwhelmingly apparent that I was considered aloof.  That wasn't part of my strategy, but it was a marginal benefit. I learned to walk away from people.  Cold hearted, I wasn't.  I just knew that investing completely in someone would have no pay off.  If I left first, then I couldn't be abandoned.  Though I have lamented curiously and repeatedly over my semi-solitary life, it seemed to leave me unscathed. 

Of course I now know my thinking is as clear as a mud puddle.  I didn't sit down and devise a plan. It's all part of a defense mechanism.  It took admitting that I needed someone (recently) to realize exactly what it is that I've been struggling with for so many years.  Needing someone is not a sign of weakness.  Though it is leaving me feeling quite vulnerable and struggling. In the face of that, I have a sense of personal liberation.  I'm not going whackadoo and thinking I am capable of leaping tall buildings in a single bound.  It's far from that level, but I could probably clear an ottoman.  Initially I wanted to run and hide -- cower in the corner and shut down. Again. Bail out before I could be hurt. The trouble with being earnest, my friends.

To my surprise, I've yet to be abandoned; left dangling in despair.  The exact opposite is occurring. I ask you to recall how the Grinch Who Stole Christmas reacts when his heart begins beating and expanding after Whoville isn't deterred from joyfulness in spite of his dastardly actions?  Yeah, it's something like that -- but less furry and green.

What's more important is that none of this diminishes the friendships I've made.  That speaks volumes for the people I'm blessed to be associated with.  I've come to realize that some people didn't buy the bullshit facade. Though I tried to keep people at a safe distance by remaining in a superficial state of mind, some of those people saw beyond the veneer. Or maybe I just assume too much??

Admitting that it feels good to be needed by someone is ... cathartic? I'm not sure that's the precise word to be used. I don't feel afraid.  Knowing that I make an impact in someone's life has opened up a doorway that I'd long ago locked.  The key was destroyed.  Yet, my attempts to keep it bolted were futile.

Perhaps when one door closed it isn't necessary to find another door to open. The key holder just needs to open it for you.


  1. I only know you from online. However I love who you are. You have a depth and a heart that are inspiring! Mwah!

  2. Dearest Marissa,
    Sunshine is flooding through your Heart. We are basking in it!!

  3. Dearest Marissa,
    Thank you for sharing your Key with me.

  4. Sweets,
    ...after all these years it's good to find a lock it fits



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