I’ve always written about myself in the past. Of course, that’s not going to change. They say you should write about what you know, and it seems my experiences were relate able to most of my readers. Plus, I have a giant ego and a flair with words and humor, so why stop now?
Marriage, children, family, aging, introspection and all that goes with it has been a reoccurring theme in my books, as well as divorce, illness, death and rebirth during my fifty-nine years. Albeit some of them were self-published books as many of my critics are not too silent in pointing out, as if I was not good enough for the traditional publishing world, but I am published just the same. It matters not how I got my thoughts out to you, the fact was that I did it and you liked it. My books have always done well, even being published in different languages.
Working for a couple of newspapers, interviewed by magazines and attending books signings all over the northeast the last 10 years has been helpful – moving all the way to Wherethehellarewe Idaho was not.
This time last year I was publicly bashing my spouse, the man who I thought I would be married to forever, who had cheated on me once again (read four) and felt no remorse, only justification. As I had written about him in many of my columns and several stories, the humiliation was more than I could bear. The feelings associated with betrayal and revenge were overwhelming, and they leaked out of my pen onto the page like toxic waste, overflowing and bubbling with hatred and despicable rage. I understood the power of temporary insanity and the need to hurt someone so badly to take away your own inconsolable pain.
I knew there were people who could relate to that as well – but that wasn’t really me. It isn’t who I am. I was not going to let this horrendous experience define me.
On April 1, 2012 I packed up a rental car with four suitcases and my pride, said goodbye to some truly good friends and drove east. It was brutal, it was hard and it shook me to my core. I wrote about some of it, but couldn’t even bear to put the words to paper that this, like my other marriages, was really over. I had failed again.
It wasn’t until many months went by, safe in the cocoon of my family and friends, daily check ins with Facebook (which I believe aided greatly in the healing process) that I thought about venturing out into the world again. Forget writing about anything other than generic feel-good crap, I was careful not to tackle anything that might bring an emotion to the top and make me feel.
Safe in the solitude of my little house on the lake, the house we had shared together and had cooked so many meals, had so many parties, and cried so many tears, I made myself look forward.
I dated here and there, nothing permanent and certainly nothing serious. My son got married to a wonderful girl, and I walked him down the aisle alone, just like the bride’s father escorted her. It was a beautifully kind gesture suggested by my daughter to be. My son’s father and his new wife were there as well, along with most of his siblings, and we all beamed with pride as the tradition of marrying and committing oneself to another continued.
Just as I had resigned myself to being alone, to realizing that perhaps I really never was meant to be committed to ANYone, the Bear showed up.
Sitting alone in a local restaurant, a mutual friend introduced us. I was not friendly and certainly not interested in conversation, but he never stopped talking to me. He searched my face to make me look at him, and his hand would brush against mine to get my attention. He was big and cuddly, not a huge man in stature, but large in personality and charm. He told really bad jokes and smelled like a man. He complimented me sincerely and told me it was okay to shine, when I apologized for wearing so much jewelry, a prerequisite of my retail job.
He made me laugh, and touched my heart when he said that one of his favorite things to do was slow dancing in the kitchen. Grabbing my hand one Saturday afternoon, he pulled me close to him and we swayed slowly together, cheek to cheek, in my little kitchen. It was a comfortable rhythm with the promise of intensity if we wanted it.
There was no music, it was all in our own heads, a softly playing melody somewhere off in the distance that must have sounded the same to both of us. The dance in the kitchen lasted for quite a while, for neither one of us wanted the song to end.
It was then that I realized I could write again, that there was still so much more inside of me to share and to bring back out into the world. The novels I had started but had never finished, the short stories waiting to be polished and presented, and the experience of loving another once again made themselves known to me. I will look at life and love differently now; not with cynicism or a jaded eye, but with more awareness of its delicacy.
One of the best reviews for one of my books came from a critic in Idaho, of all places. “Her message is clear” the paragraph began strongly, with the rest to follow in bold type. “Never give up, because everything is worth it.”
I heartily agree. I don’t know where this new stage of my life will take me.
But I’m going.