Do you remember what it was like to wake up in the morning and the first thought that would enter your mind would be something small and insignificant like; time to go make coffee, or gee, it looks like good weather, maybe I’ll wear the new skirt that I bought last week after having lunch at that great new Italian place, with my sister?
Instead of waking with only a moment of blankness, until your brain clicks (or clanks) on and surges into thoughts of the new life that you are trying to adjust to, or which insurance policy to change, so that it doesn’t include your estranged spouse’s liabilities, in anticipation that maybe your payment will decrease. Or, that you are now the only one who will ever make the coffee, or remember when the carton of cream is empty.
You are now the only one to shovel the walks when it snows 10 cm overnight, while you are sleeping (alone in your bed) and really, how the hell did he change the light bulb in the pendant fixture that hangs 17 feet above the main foyer floor?
Do you remember what it was like to look in the mirror, while getting ready for work, an evening on the town, a trip to the grocery store or out for a walk and to think; maybe I could use a haircut, maybe my brows could use a plucking, or, I wonder if a light mauve eye shadow would brighten my face?
Instead of avoiding direct eye contact in the mirror; with the puffy lids that hang over your eyes (which mercifully blot some of the shock of your morning appearance from your view) while fastening your hair into a quick pony tail, so as to evade looking at your dull skin (ruddied by a month or two of poor eating choices), as really who the hell will see you naked anyways, but unfortunately, you are what you eat, and the extra padding on your hips is not the only outward manifestation of your current, devil may care attitude toward nutrition.
And, because life is not fair, when you said as a teenager how lucky you were to never get pimples, you didn’t realize at the time that you would have to endure, in your late 30‘s, some sort of dermatological karma, and that there is such a thing as adult onset acne.
Will you grow old and alone, without ever again having a hand to hold, when you’ve had a crap day and want to stomp your feet and ball up your fists and grit your teeth, but his palm in yours somehow helps to stem the fury–even for just a little while?
Will you have a shoulder to rest your cheek onto, when your teenaged daughter tells you that she hates you because you are always mean; and your new puppy makes off with your new bra, that you couldn’t afford to buy, although you allowed the sales woman, with the sophisticated European accent, to convince you that a french bra would fix your back pain? (you also needed to make the purchase, because your old bras had fallen apart, and you hadn’t felt sexy or close enough with your ex to invest in a nice one, for a very long time.)
Do you have an ear to listen to you, as only another parent can, when your son says that he wants to quit university and your youngest child says that he only wants to be Batman when he grows up, and Batman didn’t need to go to kindergarten, so why should he? But, WHYYYYYY?
Do you remember what it was like to just be?
To feel comfortable with where your life was, and how you were proud of how well you parented, or wrote or nurtured, or made love, or even how quickly you returned your children’s permission slips back to school, because you were on top of things? All the time.
Did you ever have the luxury of simple thoughts?
Pre-separation, pre-child rearing, pre-resentment over who does what and who does more. If you back date things enough, do you arrive in your infancy?
It was mostly me that made the coffee, purchased the cream, shoveled the walks ( or forced one of the kids do it). It was the painter that we hired, who changed the pendant light, using a ladder that just reached the 17 foot distance between the floor and the bulb.
There was almost never a gentle mouth to press my lips onto. We became experts, on the most part, of the quick peck as we were often in the midst of a speedy escape from each other’s presence. When the estranged one was physically present, he was often exhausted, after spending so much time and energy, just managing his work and avoiding his Bi Polar demons- until they would overtake him.
I also know, that he did his best. Even if his best, at the time, could not keep him well.
There was just me, and four kids and an ache and a sorrow, that although has only just begun to lift ever so slightly, is an indication that it was not just life that kicked me in nether regions, rather it was sometimes my inability to climb out of the mess of my creation – our creation. It is impossible that all of our failings revolved solely around his mental illness.
And because over the years of living, and the loss accrued by death of loved ones and diagnosis of serious illness in one child and the neurological spectrum disorder in another, and the ups and downs of living with someone whom is Bi Polar – I became an expert at just functioning in a vague sense of shock and panic.
Adrenaline driven, I too had many demons.
I am learning to accept peace as a natural state. One that you can stay in when life is not sending you death and illness and tragedy. Which is often. Often, life is just so simple.
Lately, my thoughts have become a little more straightforward too. Just the other day, I picked up a fashion magazine and enjoyed, with overwhelming delight, the simplicity of wondering how my skin tone would work with the new spring colour palette. That same night, I even stopped on the boulevard, in front of my house to marvel at the moon ( in minus 23 degree Celsius temperatures, no less!)
Simple things. Simple thoughts.
So, although I sometimes worry over being alone forever – I will not go back to our complicated life together. Even though, I miss what we were together, once upon a time.We get along better now. The kids are not overjoyed about our separation, but at times, joy does over take them, and I know that they will eventually be alright.
Because we cannot go back, we are slowly figuring out how to go forward.
It is supposed to snow a cumulative total of nearly 15 cm over the next few days. I have; a walk to shovel and kids to pick up and laundry to do and work to finish and homework to supervise and bills to pay, and yet it is okay- in a simple and far less complicated way.
I believe that this is called living.