I would never have imagined a life where I don’t write.
And yet, my last Medium article was published over 6 weeks ago.
It’s not just that I haven’t been writing on Medium. I haven’t been writing. I’ve been saying that I “can’t” … that there aren’t enough hours in the day … that I am struggling for inspiration.
But that’s all stupid bs.
I got disenchanted. Disgusted. I know some things about myself and one of them is that I walk around with an overdeveloped sense of justice and too often choose being right over being successful. Sometimes I wonder if it’s my supposedly “autistic” brain. Other people see nuance where I cannot. They see grayscale and I’m all black and white.
I don’t know why I do that — or why it feels so fucking good to stew in my (self)righteous indignation.
I’m working on figuring that out, but my feelings about it don’t really matter.
The truth is this: People will let you down and f*ck you up.
They will say one thing and do another. They will swing their arms with zero regard for where their fist ends and your face begins. And there’s not a goddamn thing you can do about it.
The only thing you can do — the only thing I can do — is take responsibility for my reaction.
The first time someone asked me to take responsibility when I felt betrayed, I was pissed. Like crazy pissed.
It was almost 3 years ago and I had filed for divorce from my ex-husband. My sense of victimhood leeched from my pores. And for good reason. At 16 years in, I found out he was cheating on me. With prostitutes. He was hiding money and sneaking around, essentially living a double life .. and he had been for years. And when I kicked him out and wouldn’t take him back, he consistently withheld support payments and refused visitation with our four kids to attempt to leverage control over me and leave me a penniless, exhausted single mother. He waged a smear campaign against me with my former family. He threatened and cajoled. He tried to strip me of any resources that would allow me to be even okay.
And it’s true that I was divorcing a real piece of shit. That was never in question. But it wasn’t about him.
“You want me to what??? Take responsibility???”
How dare anyone blame me for his bullshit??? I was a model wife and mother. I sacrificed everything for my husband and children. I set the best, most powerful thing about me — my brain — to ‘hibernate’ in order to be a maid, chauffeur, cook (albeit a terrible one), zookeeper, admin assistant, bookkeeper, and sex worker, among other things. And I did it all for him so that he could take his associates degree that took him 7 years to get and land a job that I got for him making well into the six figures. All the while, I sat at home with my 156 IQ scrubbing toilets and changing diapers so that he wouldn’t have to. And I’m supposed to take responsibility for this shit show????
He was lucky to have me. Hear that??? Lucky.
F*ck you, telling me to take responsibility. F*ck … you.
Said my internal monologue.
And then, in a torturous, blood red, claustrophobic moment when I couldn’t see through my tears and my heart was asphyxiating in my chest, and I was selling furniture to feed my kids and I was more scared, confused, betrayed, bewildered, angry, frustrated, and broken than I’d ever felt in my life, my friend had the nerve to say, “How’s that mindset working out for you?”
A scream of “F*CK YOU!!!!!!” caught in my throat. I choked on it.
I couldn’t get it out.
I managed a barely audible, “It’s not.”
And then there was quiet.
And the tiniest taste of peace.
It wasn’t about blame.
I stuck my toe in the water with one, “What if …”
What if I was somehow responsible? At what point did his behavior truly become unacceptable and what did I get out of staying?
Me taking responsibility had zero to do with him. It didn’t affect his past or future choices. I didn’t excuse his behavior. It wasn’t about getting him to do anything.
It was about Me.
It was about being honest with myself and admitting what I got out of the whole thing. It was about being honest about the reasons I let it continue for so long — and it wasn’t because I was such a loving and devoted wife.
It was for my own convenience and to get my own needs met. His touch made my skin crawl, but I wanted a lovely home to raise my four daughters in. I didn’t want the burden of having to do it on my own so I gave him every incentive to not leave me.
When I was able to take responsibility for my participation in the shitshow and the deception that I carried out, irrespective of his choices, the indignance let out of me like a deflating mylar balloon.
There is so much fucking peace in this place. No anger. No resentment. There’s quiet in the corner of my mind that used to host a cacophony of angry voices.
Because I can’t change him.
But I can change me.
There is no one on this earth who can take away from me the drive to support my girls. I will not depend on their other parent to do it. I will struggle and fight and be brave and work hard. Those are things he can’t take from me.
There is no one of this earth who can steal my voice. Sometimes it’s shaky and weak and struggles to be heard but the more I repeat myself, the stronger it will get. People may not like what I say, but no one will keep me from speaking up.
And there is no one on this earth who can take away from me the impulse to pour my liquid heart and viscous soul onto paper. I take responsibility for my writing. There is not a single person in this world who has anything else to do with it.
I will have the courage to be different and exist in the margins because the margin people are my people.
I have no business in the fat part of the bell curve.
Where there are fewer resources, there is more community. There is more sharing and growth. There is genuine connection.
There is resonance.
And that’s what I write — and live — for.
This post originally published on Medium.com and is republished with permission of the author.
Photo credit: Ramdan Authentic , Unsplash