Oh Cheryl Strayed. Oh, Elizabeth Gilbert.
I want to be you.
I want to strap on a backpack or grab a lone suitcase. I want to hike remote areas and jet to foreign countries where no one speaks the language. I want to immerse and cut loose and challenge and break down and rise triumphant to stand at the top of a vista and know I've earned the scars and worn my bones and skin with passion.
But see, the problem is...I have kids.
Wait - I shouldn't use that word. My kids aren't a problem. They're a complication.
No. Wrong word again. My kids are amazing, fantastical creatures that are a serious cause of joy in my life. But the fact is, I can't do any of what you did because I have them.
I have them, and they need looking after. And their Dad lives in another state, you see. So when we got divorced, I got primary custody and that means I can't just pick up and leave.
I couldn't spend a year in three different countries finding myself. I couldn't hike a thousand miles and push myself and work through my pain. I had to live my pain here, between these four walls. I had to get up in the morning and put a different face on to cover that pain while I got the kids up, and made breakfast.
I got to wallow a little in pain on my commute - which has to be done in a car, not on a hiking trail, unfortunately, and then I got to work through my pain at my desk, around a thousand other things I had to do each day.
I didn't get to run away and face myself. I didn't get to not see his face. I saw it. Twice a week, I saw it, sneering or coldly contemptuous, or vacant, never meeting my eyes as we handed off kids.
Once, when my son was in an accident a few months after he left, I sat there in the E. R. waiting for the CAT scan, a nervous wreck, and when he walked in the door to meet us there I ran into his arms, not even thinking. This was our son. This was our son and I was terrified.
He stepped back and patted me on the shoulder. All those years we were a couple, married and before-married, and this was our son. And I got a pat and an uncomfortable look that made me feel like less than nothing.
And I got to drive my kids home and work through all of that - and all the other crap that goes with tearing your life apart and starting over with less than nothing - right here in the house where we built our lives in together.
But no one will want to read a book about all that. No one will want to make a movie about that. There are too many of us. Too many, too mundane, too much a reminder of how your life can go to crap around you and guess what? It still goes on.
So I'll never write that trailblazing memoir that will be the movie that will star Jennifer Lawrence or Scarlett Johansson. No one will pay me to show up at book conferences or ask me to be their keynote speaker, most likely. I've made my peace with that.
Sometimes I think about taking an interesting road trip of self discovery. You know, a weekend. Because that's all I get. A weekend to myself here and there. But then, that takes money and money is in short supply. Writing about my jaunt to Wegmans where I people-watch in the cafe and write long-winded blog posts isn't exactly inspirational.
I'll never be famous. Well, not unless I finally snap and they find me naked in the middle of the turnpike, throwing pancakes and singing show tunes or something. It's a distinct possibility.
Until then, I'll just keep buying other people's great memoirs. I'll read about how they faced their pain, and find the commonality that defines and uplifts us all.
Even those of us who don't get to go anywhere.
|Ellie DeLano spent four years as the Divorce Blogger for Woman's Day Magazine, chronicling her transition to single parenting and mid-life dating after decades of marriage with poignancy and humor. What she learned from her readers and her own experience was invaluable, and she shares it here with a straightforward guide to the things you really need to help you move forward after your divorce. |
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