I guess, that despite the fact that I think I have this all in hand, the outside voices are telling me I don’t. I guess that I am failing, somehow to meet the expectations of others. Isn’t it funny how I have this role to play, and I should win an Oscar, because I am really good at this role. But I want out of this role, this role of open criticism. This role of needing to be fixed. This role of not being good enough. No I should not win an Oscar, an Oscar is for people who change their role whom you do not recognize on screen for their transformation, this is type cast.
Do you know that I bought a car once, to impress a guy? I was embarrassed of the car i was driving. Do you know that I went out and bought glassware, because I was embarrassed of the plastic cups? Glassware always breaks, and I was tired of wasting money on glasses, so i bought nice plastic cups. I loved those cups, until I was embarrassed by what others would think I still have those cups and even though I have nice glasses, I often drink out of them. Because I don’t need glassware to feel good about myself, when I am by myself. Do you know I bought an iphone, which I had eschewed for years, to impress someone? My other phone was not working, i would try to call someone and I would press the little green phone repeatedly, and when I gave up, and threw the phone down, five minutes later it would call. Or it would call me back after I accidentally dialed 911 without ever touching the phone. I know now the difference in quality, none the less…….Do you know that it embarrassed me that I am too poor to buy an ipad? I bought a Kindle instead, because I could afford it, even though it isn’t charging really good right now, and I may have to return it.
Do you know that I said something stupid and awful to cover up my embarrassment? My mortification at not being up to someone else’s standards?
Do you know that when you live alone, or at the very least are pretty much completely responsible for both the inside and outside care of your home, all the bills and the sole bread winner of a family that you are incapable of being lazy, and yet people think you are? Does it have anything to do with the fact that your work is never done, and you cannot ask someone to run the vacuum while you run out to get groceries? That while you are mowing the lawn, you are also scooping up the dog’s leavings, and when you are done, there is no one to make your dinner, and no one to trade off the dishes with? You do it all. And when you finally get a break from it all you just want to sleep, and read, and not be responsible for anything? Is that lazy? Maybe.
Do you know that I love my child without condition? She is mouthy and angry and strong and she does what she wants, and I admire her for most of it. And I accept her anger, do you know what this life has been like? Do you know that she is embarrassed too? That she watched her dance friend go to Spain and get flamenco lessons and come home with an outrageously expensive flamenco dress, and was chosen over her for a dance company, because of her privilege? No not my imagination, the dance teacher told her, “We chose her to join our troupe because she has been to Spain and has that dress.” Do you know how devastating it was to her to have her natural father turn his back on her and not speak to her because she had her boyfriend and now husband with her when she went to see him? Do you know what it was like for her to watch me crash and burn and have to pick up my pieces and help me glue them all back together when I died on the inside? Do you know how angry it makes me when others judge her, and I without understanding what we have had to do to get through all those years? The sacrifices we have both had to make for emotional and financial health? No. You don’t.
I am indignant.
And that is okay. I am good with it. Believe it or not, I feel pretty damn good about myself. How often do you hear me talk other people down? Really? How often do I express my love for others, my gratitude for what I have been given? How often do I express my contentment for where I am, for the life I am living? Do you know that i love my job, yes ok the last two years have been rough, do you realize what they have been like? It isn’t negativity, it is the reality. Do you know that I sit in my little living room and sigh with pleasure? Do you know that when I can hardly move after stacking four face cord of wood that I have a smile on my face? Do you know that I am looking forward to moving the stones because it will make me strong? Do you know how I sit playing an instrument, repeating the same phrase over and over until I have it right, how it feels to have my finger tips ache from overplaying, and I press them and feel it and love it? Do you know that I would rather watch a roller derby than discuss the right temperature of wine, and I love that about myself? Do you know that when I go to a play or a classical music concert or a fancy restaurant I feel like I am crawling out of my skin and cannot wait to leave? That if I am in a pub, or at a book talk, or at an outdoor concert, or playing cards at home with friends swearing and trash talking, I don’t ever want it to end? Do you know that I buy clothing for my students? Do you know that I let them sleep on the floor in the hall even though the fifth grade teacher walks by and yells at them to get up off the floor, and that once school has started, I take them to the nurse and get their little brother and the nurse lets them sleep in her office because the kid trusts me enough to tell me they are sleeping in a car and she has to share the seat with her brother? Do you know that one of the mothers calls me at home, and when her child is struggling at school, and a behavior plan is put in place, the child is told to come to me, because I am loving and kind and I get the pain this child is going through. Because I have gone through it, because I am honest about the situation at the school, because I am faithful and loyal and protective.
Do you know my students know I am snarky and sometimes sarcastic and sometimes loud, and I always make a joke about myself, self depreciating to put THEM at ease. That I am like the person operating the curtains, wiping the tears off the actors faces, picking them up off the floor dusting them off and pushing them on stage, I don’t need to shine. I don’t want to shine. I shine from the inside.
Do you know how hard this is? Have you ever had to do this? This transition, and how I am struggling to get it right, because I want to do it correctly, because I don’t want anyone getting hurt, because I don’t want to do it the way it was done to me, because I am just trying to figure everything out? And that I trust you with the details because I think you are a person who cares, who understands my struggle or at the very least are a person who will listen without judgment?
Or do you?
What do I have? What don’t I have?
I choose this life. I agonize over every choice.
And I love you. And I always will.
And I am agonizing over what you said to me, because I think maybe I am missing something.
What is it I don’t have?