We need a word in English for the shady past of a married woman.
See, doesn't this post just feel ILLICIT? Already?
I once claimed the role of a bad-relationship survivor. I loved someone who could neither love me back nor let me go. After several years of the two of us finding our way in a big new city together, it got really stupid as I clung tighter and he turned to liquid and disappeared. It has been so easy to tell only the end of that chapter to highlight my personal triumph and healing. It's the stuff of chick lit novels and girls' nights out--single girl loves charming guy, whole thing gets so ridiculous even lovestruck girl finally sees, girl taps strength from deep inside she didn't know she had, girl escapes, girl marries guy who appreciates her. A compelling coming-of-age story that I could construct easily without embellishing even a little--I sobbed in the bathroom at his brother's house at a family gathering. I burned the letter he sent after we split without reading it. I thought if I was interesting/charming enough he would finally claim our relationship publicly, then I looked up and years had passed. I dreamed we were in a sinking lifeboat together and when he got out of the boat it floated again and knew that I would live. I lost myself.
I'll get all woo-woo here for a moment and say that during that time I had several unlikely lizard sightings. One running into my path on a city street, a kava kava tea-induced "vision" (ha) of one crawling up my bedspread. It was all very odd. So I looked up the power animal stuff about lizards and a recurring theme was their ability to sever the tail to escape from danger. It was a powerful image that helped me cut off (get it??) the relationship with the faith that I would regrow what I left behind. And for years, YEARS if I mentioned that relationship (which I mostly felt I should not) I would say I had to practically cut my arm off to get away. But I wonder now--did I? Was it really so dramatic? It hurt like hell and it turns out the heart can break. But did I really--really, Nora--leave anything so precious behind? And if I even did, where is it now?
So the wounded heroine narrative (cookie, please, for the word narrative--I didn't even major in English) has not been fitting lately. A lot of the experiences I find myself wanting to tell on this blog and to my single dating friends (while I make them clean my house) are from..you know...THAT time. And why not? They were adventure-filled years, and they are mine. They were fun and travel-filled, full of excitement, hope, and independence. They shaped me and gave me the peace to invest fully in family life now certain that it is my deeper, more satisfying path. But I resist telling because they are from...you know...THAT time and it seems somehow improper.
I now suspect that my tail or my arm or whatever is not with him, where I always thought I must have left it, but in my silence and refusal to think about those years with any complexity. I'm charged with raising a boy into a man here and pondering the importance of that--OH MY GOD--it's not enough to say I'm going to raise one of the ones that's like Jeff and not one of the ones that's like the other guy. That would be stupid anyway but also hypocritical because guess what--I have loved both kinds and loved them well.
And anyway I suspect the "kinds" are not as different as I needed to fit my story with a big lioness-roar ending. To tell a more mature story I have to sit with complexity. I have to acknowledge both the lessons I am still learning with Jeff and integrate the good about the previous chapter. I have to sit with the tragedy of love lost.
Or maybe it's so complex that it's actually simple. I loved one flawed person before I was ready to start a family, and then I loved another one when I was.
I still think we need a word in English for the shady past of a married woman.