Saturday, March 14, 2009
Raincoats and Empty Chairs
Tonight was supposed to be the group dinner for my 12-step group. All day I battled with myself about it. After all, Ashley* practically begged me to come. She said she was sure everyone else would still love me, just like she did. I am not so sure of that.
Mentally I scanned one face and then another. Either a green light would go on - indicating they would still be "for" me - or a red light would go on - indicating there was trouble and judgment behind the scowl. In all honesty, I don't have to tell anyone else, but then that defeats the purpose of a 12-step group in which we are supposed to share honestly, certain of the love and support of our group. The genie is out of the bottle, and she's not going back in. Even if they didn't know, I would know. I would always be censoring myself and trying not to say what my soul is dying to talk about.
So I dragged my husband out to the mall. He's still my husband, yes, of course, and I'll keep calling him that. In Maryland, we must be separated (living in different residences) for at least a year before a divorce would be granted. There is no rush (unless he wants to rush things, which he doesn't seem to), and it will be a long process. Mostly this has been about me becoming who I really am, not so much about kicking anyone out, you know.
So I took him to the mall. I needed to get out of the house. We ended up doing so much window-shopping that my feet and legs hurt, my back hurt! But I found two delectable t-shirts (on clearance), another pair of Levis 505s (my personal favorites) on sale, and a raincoat. It's the first "girly" raincoat I've had since I was a child (see photo), and I deserved it! Oh, and I found the cutest pair of green espadrilles to go along with my green mood. It was retail therapy at its finest.
But when we headed to the car, I looked at the missed call on my phone, the one from the group leader wondering where I was, undoubtedly, and my mood darkened. I suddenly felt so angry! So upset! All of these feelings started pouring from my mouth and then the angry tears came. I blubbered all the way home while he did what he does so well - he listened. I told him that I felt like a fool for believing these folks were any different than others I had encountered, that I knew he never wanted me to get so involved with them and it's like he knew I would get hurt. He just shook his head and said there's no way either of us could have known and that I shouldn't be so hard on myself. I said, "How could anyone presume to decide for me and every tenth person you meet who we should love? I've been living a lie for most of my life. When do I get to just be me?"
Of course, the answer to that is that I've always been me, but I've had a double life. I've had the me inside and the me outside who panders to what people expect. Frequently that outside me tries to remake the inside me and the conflict begins. That's when the anxiety starts and the tears come and the depression sinks me into the blankets.
Still. There was a part of me that was so broken by knowing that the friends I've made over the last year were sitting down to dinner with an empty place where I should have been, most of them not knowing why I haven't been around. They may even be worried, but Ashley would never tell. She takes confidentiality seriously. I figure eventually they'll stop wondering where I've gone and will complete the 12th step without me.
My anger will fade, along with those strong emotions I've turned in on myself for so many years. And life will go on. It always does.
Meanwhile, I want to say thank you to all of you who have been so loving, supportive, and amazing to me during this turn of events. I'm a lucky girl. I may even find myself singing in the rain, you think?
Peace - D
* not her real name
[photo is of the Women's SunShower Raincoat at LandsEnd.com]
[photo credit, Van Gogh's Chair @ the National Gallery]