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April 7, 2010

Y’all, he asked me to move in with him.

And, after three months of dating and traversing the three hours between us every weekend, I’m actually considering it.



Guest blogging.

March 31, 2010

For some wild and crazy reason, one of my favorite bloggers, Kathleen, asked me to write a guest post for her blog. So I did. Go check it out!


March 25, 2010

I have the day off.

I’m sitting here in my bathrobe at 10 a.m.

I’m drinking really strong coffee.

I’m blogging.

I’m listening to Nick Drake’s Pink Moon on vinyl.

I slept all night with the windows open to listen to the gentle spring rain.

I have an interview at four for a job I think I would adore.

I’m going to see NYEG tonight.

I am in love with my life.

I’m probably the LAST person who should be giving marriage advice.

March 22, 2010

But here goes.

A while back, on my old blog, a (not-really) anonymous blog that caused lots and lots of problems in my life and in the lives of others, I asked my readers to ask me any question, and I’d answer them all as honestly as I could. I ended up answering most of them before shutting that blog down, but there was one that, for one reason or another, I was never able to bring myself to answer.

A good friend of mine (who doesn’t appear to be blogging anymore) asked “What advice about marriage would you give a young woman who just got engaged?”

The other day when I was cleaning my apartment, I was thinking about this question, and I began to have an imaginary conversation with a faceless, nameless young woman who just got engaged. These are the things I told her.

1. Don’t settle. Don’t settle don’t settle don’t settle. I’ve come to believe that the reason the divorce rate is so high is because most people view marriage as something they’re entitled to; however, not everyone finds the kind of love that a happy marriage requires (and I specify “a happy marriage,” because some people are perfectly okay with being in a humdrum or even unhappy marriage). But most people make do with the person they’re with when they decide they’re at the age society tells them they should be married by, and sooner or later, they realize they’ve married the wrong person for the wrong reasons. The old adage, “don’t marry the person you can live with; marry the person you cannot live without” is so, so true. Although it’s easy to talk yourself into not being able to live without someone if you’ve never actually found someone you cannot live without.

2. Have sex before your wedding night. To some of you, this might be the biggest no-brainer you’ve ever heard, and to others, this might be the most controversial thing you’ve ever heard. I was raised in a conservative Christian church that made sex both too important and not important enough: too important in the sense that, outside of marriage, it is one of the most destructive sins (it’s not), and not important enough in the sense that, inside of marriage, its main purpose is procreation (it’s not).  Anthropologists say that humans are not created to be sexually monogamous–it takes work to commit yourself sexually to one person for the rest of your life. And you need to know before you make that commitment exactly what you’re committing to.

On a business trip when I was engaged, the topic of sex came up, and I told a coworker that I was saving myself for my wedding night, as had been my plan since I was 13 (and was told at church that I should do such or else I would surely get knocked up or die of an STD or disgust the man who wanted to make me his wife or just plain earn God’s eternal scorn). The coworker asked me, “Well, how do you know you’re sexually compatible?” I answered that I knew we were by the way we kiss and touch, but I knew in my heart that the reason it had been so easy to wait until marriage was that we truly weren’t sexually compatible.  Of course, it would take me years to be able to admit this to myself. I spent these years blaming myself and thinking I’m simply not a sexual person (I am).

3. Know your needs. Our needs drive our compulsions and our actions. When our needs are fulfilled, we are happy and content, but when they are unfulfilled, we can grow depressed and withdrawn, which could cause us eventually to act out in ways we never imagined possible.

My main need is to be understood and accepted, but I wasn’t being understood or accepted inside my marriage. I began to starve to have these needs met, and then, when I was very nearly dead, I found a way to meet this need outside of my marriage. Of course, I had no idea that this is what was going on. Getting my needs met outside of my marriage saved me in a way, but it was unfortunate that it had to get to that point. If I had known my needs, perhaps I would have been able to get them met by my husband before I caused such irreparable damage to our marriage, to others, and to myself.

4. Know how to communicate your needs. Of course, just knowing your needs is not good enough. You also need to be able to communicate them to your partner in a way that is honest, heartfelt, and productive for both of you.

5. Make sure you are accepted. It’s better to be alone than to be married to someone who doesn’t accept you and love you for everything you are, vices and virtues, flaws and qualities. Don’t marry someone hoping to change for them, even if you think it would make you a better person. You are fine just the way you are, and you should be loved completely just the way you are. The inverse of this is also true: don’t marry someone hoping they’ll change, but, at the same time, you’ll need to love the essential being of someone enough to be flexible when and if they do change. It’s a tricky balance, to be sure, which is why everlasting love is something to be celebrated. It truly is a miracle.

Be in Love with Your Life List

March 17, 2010

Do y’all know Mighty Girl? She’s pretty much the awesomest person ever. Definitely lives up to her moniker. About a year ago she decided to make what she calls her “Mighty Life List,” which is a list of 100 things she wants to do in her lifetime. She has had the fantastic luck of getting her list sponsored twice by companies who are inspired by her life and her list. Basically, I’m really super jealous of her.

Anyway, she urges all of her readers and friends to start their own Life Lists. I’ve thrown around the idea for a while, but I haven’t ever actually sat down to write mine. Until today, when I was researching the Vernal Equinox and thought of something I so desperately want to do that I had to write it down. Thus, a list was born.

These are my first ten:

1. See the sun rise while standing at the Sphinx on the day of the Vernal Equinox.
2. Adapt a novel into a screenplay.
3. Speak French fluently.
4. Earn my M.A. in Linguistics.
5. Live in a foreign country for at least a year.
6. Stay at the Lisbon Lux.
7. Touch the Roman Coliseum.
8. Hear Big Ben chime.
9. Read Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey” while looking at Tintern Abbey.
10. Conceive a child in love.

What would be on your Life List?

The reason I’ve been silent.

February 26, 2010

Last week, STBEH called me and asked me if I had written anything about him on my blog recently, because one of my friends e-mailed him some kind words about the divorce. He wouldn’t give me any specifics about the friend or the words, except that I “just don’t get it,” and, boy, it really must be difficult for him, putting up with me. Something like that.

I supposed it was my previous entry that did it, so I e-mailed it to him, saying maybe that was it, and I was sorry, but I didn’t think I maligned him in any way, I was just being honest.

And of course he was mad. And we had the same argument about my writing that we’ve had a million times: it hurts him that I write about him, but I feel that my experiences are my own to write about, and he’s a pretty big part of those these last few years, the most formative years of my life, and so I inevitably end up writing about him. I feel pretty confidently that as long as I’m honest and try to keep from saying anything especially nasty about him, I should be able to continue to write about him. But he’s a rather private person, and he dislikes details of his life being broadcast on the internet.Which, honestly, is pretty understandable.

But why he ever married an aspiring writer is completely beyond me. Maybe he thought everything in our marriage would only go well, and I’d say only the utmost loving things about him, whenever I did write about him or our marriage, which, hopefully, since I love him and respect him, wouldn’t be that often.

Obviously that’s not how it worked out. To our chagrin.

I ended up telling him I’d just never write about him again on my blog. And then I spent the next while simply not writing at all. One of my least favorite things in the world is ignorance, and I’m keenly aware that when I write I can’t help but reveal my ignorance. I don’t know everything. I never will. And if I wait until I do to write, I’ll never write. No one ever would write. It takes courage to write in the face of these things, and incredible vulnerability, and sometimes someone comes along and sticks an arrow right in the middle of that vulnerability, and it hurts. Bad. It takes a while to recover from that.

But the fact that it’s a friend of mine who called me out on my ignorance, and not even to my face, but to my ex-husband, in an attempt to commiserate about what a pill I am. That hurt even more. And the worst part is that I don’t even know who the friend is. He wouldn’t tell me. So now I suspect everyone. I’m hurt by everyone.

I’m not sure what it is that pisses people off the most about my story. That I had an affair? That I felt it was okay to divorce my husband because I feel he doesn’t love me the way I deserve to be loved even after I told him about the affair and he still wanted to be married to me? That I refuse to look at the whole situation with an incapacitating amount of regret or guilt? That I still find beauty in my terrible, reprehensible actions? That I’m willing to share that beauty with others even though they may only see the terrible reprehensibility of my actions?

A couple of days ago, a good friend of mine posted a video of one of my (our) favorite writers chatting about writing. I saw said writer at a reading a few years ago, where I told her that what I love best about her writing is her honesty, and how does she do it? She told me then that it’s really not in anyone’s best interest that I become a writer, and it is tricky, figuring out how to write about the characters in our lives. And that most often I just have to go with my gut. And also maybe let the people in my life read what I write about them before I publish it. But I don’t have to. It just depends, really.

In this video she spends a lot of time discussing this same question. And she says something that has inspired me to once again put words down and share them with people, regardless of if they think I’m incredibly ignorant, or selfish, or stupid, or silly, or frivolous, or any of the terrible things I sometimes think about myself, the things that I hope to God no one ever thinks of me. But they still do.

She said, “I need to tell the truth as it’s come through me.”

This is my truth. I’m sorry if it offends you, or bothers you, or makes you uncomfortable. I’m still learning. I, hopefully, will always be learning. But these are the things I know right now. It’s not much, but it’s something. And it’s mine.

On being sweet.

February 11, 2010

A few months after I began dating Soon-To-Be Ex-Husband, it became clear that what he was looking for was a sweet girl. Someone who’s meek and pleasant and humble and kind. Someone who would never impose her opinions on someone else, even when asked, and certainly not in a way that would ever have the potential to offend anyone under any circumstances. She would never, ever want to do that. She’s a lady.

I recognized that I very much was not this, but, for whatever reason, maybe because I liked STBEH so much, I decided that I wanted to be. That I would be a better person if I were. A better Christian. A better friend. A better girlfriend. And, eventually, a better wife.

So I tried. And tried. And tried. But no matter what I did, my opinions just became more solidified. I became more confident in them. I became more clear-eyed. I became more extroverted. I became more, well, myself. But STBEH didn’t like it. And by this time he had already married me. So he closed himself off to me. And because he closed himself off to me, I closed myself off to him. Not consciously, or on purpose. It’s just what happens when who you are, who you are becoming, is rejected by the one person who’s supposed to love you most in the world, the one person who’s supposed to love absolutely everything about you. Cherish it, even.

I was not cherished. I was backed away from. I was held at arm’s length. I was something to be feared.

And you know how the story goes. I found someone who did cherish me. Who saw the good and bad things about me and embraced all of them wholly and lovingly. I didn’t have to be sweet, I realized. I could be myself, and that could be a wonderful thing in and of itself. I loved this person this way too. And it seemed like a miracle for a while. But he was also married. With several children. It would not work out, however much we wanted it to, however beautiful our love, however miraculous our pure acceptance of each other. Though I hope we were both restored a little bit, even in the midst of all that pain. I think we were.

That love, the love I never knew existed but hoped with all my heart it did, the love I’ve come to realize I should never accept any substitutes for, NO ONE SHOULD, showed me that STBEH would never love me that way. So I made the very difficult decision to leave.

NYEG and I are still talking on the phone every night. These conversations last usually about an hour and a half and cover a myriad of topics ranging from the utterly shallow and the very mundane–the weather, what we’re going to do this weekend together, our dogs and our days–to the deep, scary, secret stuff of intimacy. Our fears. Our desires. Our memories. Our hopes. Occasionally I say something in these conversations that causes NYEG to observe aloud, “you’re so sweet.” He doesn’t necessarily mean it to be complimentary; it’s just a fact, and it’s drawing him closer to me. It’s a fact that he clearly likes very much.

But the word “sweet” sets a loud, whooping alarm off in my head. I don’t want him to think I’m sweet. I don’t want him to be attracted to sweet. And, mostly, I don’t want to BE sweet.

So I tried to counter his exclamations of “sweet” by telling him stories of how rough and tumble I’ve been known to be. Like that one time I almost got in a fight with a drunk guy and his girlfriend at a Ben Folds concert because he WOULD NOT stop rubbing his disgusting frat-boy body against my ass. I recounted to NYEG how I put my arm on this guy’s chest, pushed him away from me, and told him to back the fuck off. And how he started yelling about how I was touching him, and then his girlfriend showed up yelling obscenities that made my ears bleed, and I turned my focus to her and said, “EXCUSE ME?!” And then the situation was diffused by the other members of the crowd, because, seriously, Ben Folds, guys, let’s just mellow out and enjoy the music.

I wasn’t sure this story made much of an impression, though. NYEG laughed a little, probably at the idea of me and all my 120 pounds trying to take on a drunk guy and his girlfriend, and we moved on. And the “sweet”s continued.

Finally, two nights ago, after he observed my sweetness aloud AGAIN, I stopped and said, “I am NOT sweet.” And he laughed again, perhaps because he thought I was being humble, which is a defining characteristic of sweet, and said, aw, of course I am. So I asked him how he defines sweet.

He said I’m a sweet person because I’m kind and thoughtful, and though I don’t really hold anything back, I do it in a gentle way, because the last thing I would want to do is hurt someone I care about. Or, really, hurt anyone. So I’m sweet, but in an unrefined, non-saccharine way, kind of like, maybe, sugar cane. You know, the kind they have to burn fields down in order to grow.

This sufficed.

And now he calls me his “sweet sugar cane.”

I kind of like him.