When my divorce began I promised myself I would not use this space to air grievances about my ex. A couple of months ago I reached a point where the only way to keep that promise was to stop writing altogether. I thought I’d be back before now–that the divorce would be done. But it’s not and I have to get some things out before they eat me alive.
My divorce continues, in torturing suspended animation. I feel trapped and I’m looking for new escape routes. I’ve seen this relationship dynamic play out for many friends over the years. In many marriages women work hard to bend, change and sacrifice themselves while simultaneously accommodating, babying, and placating the men in their lives; all in an effort to save a sinking ship. At some point we realize we’re the only one bailing water or that the holes are just too big, and we jump ship.
But wait! Suddenly he grabs our ankles and demands we come back aboard. Never mind that the bucket is well within his reach; he’d rather watch us drown than save himself. We tell him it’s too late, that the best we can do is save ourselves, but panic has closed his ears and tightened his grip. In an instant he is no longer our partner, the father of our children, or someone we hope to call friend someday. He is simply the thing standing between us and happiness, safety, and freedom. Our life becomes consumed by the battle to break his strangle hold.
And we do. Somehow, at some point, we find our way out. Most of us are well experienced in fighting for ourselves and our sanity. Yes, it’s 2011…but this is still a world where women are bought and sold, raped and molested, beaten and degraded; most often by people we know and should be able to trust. For those lucky enough to avoid these perils, other battles often linger. This photo floated around Facebook this week:
The Mermaid vs. Whale parable accompanied the photo. Among my FB friends, women from their teens to their 60′s posted and commented on this photo. The battle to love ourselves– in all our shapes, sizes, moods, colors, and stages of life– wages on.
Messages to be perfect bombard us in the media and seep into our relationships and psyches. I can and will get out of my marriage. I can choose differently for myself in future relationships. I can and (mostly) do boycott the bullshit airbrushed media lobotomy pill. But it’s hard, especially during times of extreme stress, not to reach for the “pills” of pseudo control. Old habits I learned as a teenager die hard and tempt me even, and especially, now.
I love the photo and the sentiment, but hate how this conversation always becomes so black and white: fat vs. skinny. What ever happened to healthy? That’s what I want to be. Healthy comes in many shapes and sizes (though rarely boney or obese) and is born from a love of oneself and the amazing abilities of one’s own body. Like your food and your fashion, but LOVE YOURSELF. That’s my motto today and tomorrow and for as long as I need it. Love yourself. Say it with me?