So I’ve been going to the fucking gym. I’m writing a whole blog about the experience. I went to the gym tonight. Working out makes me feel, when I let myself admit it, like a strong, badass bitch who can do anything without limitation or regret.
But I don’t feel like a badass bitch tonight. I feel weak and emotional. Vulnerable.
I had a very ill-advised conversation with the Fella tonight. You remember the Fella. He was the Relationship I Wasn’t Looking For, the first person ever to dump me (at the ripe old age of 33–wut?).
A lot of time has passed since The Dumping. A lot of events have transpired. I have, sincerely, gotten past that.
And yet… for some reason, this week, my heart has gone back there. In a way whose intensity has built upon itself until I couldn’t ignore it anymore.
And probably ill-advisedly, I tried to ignore it. “It’ll pass,” I told myself. “It’s pointless to think about it.” I didn’t let myself Feel What I Feel.
I mean, seriously, that’s in the past. I’ve gone out with other dudes, one or two of whom I really liked a lot–and one or two of whom I definitely did not. The Fella wasn’t on my mind then. He hasn’t been on my mind in a long time.
But this week, for some reason…
Maybe that’s natural. Maybe that happens to everyone. Maybe that’s part of relationships and relationships’ endings, when you get dumped–maybe even when you do the dumping.
Maybe it’s because my divorce isn’t done, or because things with Lou, particularly where they relate to Poppy and Ace, can be confusing. It’s terrain I haven’t travelled. It’s feelings I don’t know how to feel–and his feelings I don’t know how to handle, or even face head-on.
Maybe it’s that I know the Fella loved me. In all of that confusion, I know someone loved me.
But… now I know he doesn’t.
I totally went to that horrible place tonight. That place I’ve advised people against traversing. That place where you cry and sniffle and ask someone why they don’t feel they way you want them to feel, even when it should be enough just knowing they don’t. That place where you feel a way you don’t want to feel, but if you’re being honest, you have to feel it. You have to, because if you don’t, you won’t get past it. It will come back, in weeks or months, and it will hound you and needle you in tiny ways and get from you what it wants whether you let it or not.
I made the Fella feel it. Or at least, I made him hear me say it. And that doesn’t make me feel very good.
I mean, I want to be a badass bitch. I want to be able to express myself, but also accept and internalize the feelings and actions of others. I don’t want to define myself by how a man feels about me–or how anyone feels about me. I want to be apart from that.
I don’t think it’s totally possible to be apart from others’ opinions, though. Not until we reach Nirvana. It will always matter, even if only in some small way, what someone else thought. Maybe eventually it will matter much, much less. Maybe you can get to where the amount it matters is only a tiny drop in an ocean of self-acceptance. So tiny you don’t notice it. But can it ever just not matter–not at all? I don’t know. I don’t think so.
The thing about the Fella’s rejection, months ago, is that it was wholesale. It wasn’t me, he said. It was the whole package. It was too “real.” My convoluted life, with a husband still tied to my ring finger, with children under my wings, children who are real, with personalities and love of their own to give and to take. He loved me, he said, but it was too much.
On a philosophical level, I still believe that love never ends. But it feels hard, right now, to believe in gibberish like “love wins” and “love conquers all.” If the Fella really loved me, wouldn’t he love the whole package? Wouldn’t he be able to get past the hard parts? Does that mean he didn’t really love me? Does the fact that I loved him mean that “love” meant the same thing to him that it did to me?
Maybe yes, maybe no. In the end, it can’t matter. I am a whole package: myself, with my faith and my religious hangups. My taste in music and television and movies. My past, with its relative lack of relationships except one really long one that started early and ended confusingly and still will continue in perpetuity because it brought into the world two distinct individuals who mean more to me than anyone or anything else in the world. Two people who are distinct from each other and distinct from me, yet connected unbreakably to each other and to me and to someone who at some point will be my ex-husband. Two people who will form their own opinions of anyone to whom I introduce them, who are ready to accept and love right now but who might not be forever. Two people who teach me about love every day in ways that are sometimes blissful and sometimes agonizing, ways I can only feel and not describe, who trigger feelings so profound I can only feel them–blessedly, thankfully, with grace.
If those two people are the part of the package that makes it too hard to accept me–then good. That’s ok. It has to be ok. It has to be ok if they make the package too hard for anyone to accept, ever, for the rest of my life, forever and ever, Amen.
And when I think of it from the perspective of my divorce, it is ok. That’s the biggest thing I’ve had to come to terms with, that I must continue to come to terms with. If I leave my marriage, is it ok if that’s just it?
Yes. It has to be. I have to be ok with who I am and what I bring to the table. And if the only one who ever joins me at that table is me, that has to be ok.
When things have been hard since I left Lou, I have heard a small voice ask, “do you regret it?” Do you regret leaving? Do you regret opening yourself up to this tragedy or that rejection? Do you regret putting yourself in the position where this unexpected and horrible thing can happen to you, or where that unpleasantness can stand up and smack you in the face and leave a permanent handprint?
The answer is always “no.” Sometimes emphatically, sometimes resignedly, but always no. I don’t regret it.
Because I know, somewhere inside of me that isn’t always accessible, that I’m worth something. Even imperfect and vulnerable. Even lazy and silly and emotional and inexperienced and open and wanting and loving and giving and selfish and needy–I’m worth something.
It may only be to myself and to God–and that has to be ok.
And it is.
And even on nights like tonight, when I come home from the gym still sweaty in smelly gym clothes, when in spite of my swagger I can’t access that badass bitchery I want to portray, I’m still worth something. It may be to somebody, someday. But even if it never is, that’s ok. It has to be. Even when I have to work hard to convince myself it’s ok, it’s still ok. Whether I believe it or not.
It’s better if I believe it. Of course. But I can remind myself that even when I don’t believe it, it’s true. This whole package is who I am. It’s ok. It’s great, even. It’s loveable. It’s gifted by grace.