Tag Archives: single

Attraversiamo

“I crossed the street to walk in the sunshine.”
– Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love

(I wrote this nine years ago and never showed anyone. It has been on my mind lately and I decided it was time to share it.)

***

“Attraversiamo.”

With this last printed word, meaning “let’s cross over” in Italian, I close the book and stare through the tears at the wood-paneled wall before me. Sitting alone on a Friday night in my small newly acquired two-bedroom mobile home, my thoughts are consumed with the book I have just read.

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Just a random bookstore purchase, like so many before, yet this one has changed everything.

I am 30 years old and my second marriage has just ended.

My children from my first marriage—two adorable, bubbly redheads who are the only lights in my life—are at their dad’s for the weekend. I have no distractions, no bedtime baths or tuck-ins to take my mind off the nagging lessons that Eat Pray Love has instilled into my brain.

I’ve messed up. This thought bursts forth before all others and refuses to be ignored. I look down at the closed book on my lap and those three words are all I see.

I’ve messed up.

In Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert documents leaving her life to travel for a full year. Could I do that? Could I travel the world in search of the “me” that got lost in those last two marriages? Would a plate of Italian spaghetti or an Indonesian medicine man fix everything for me like it did for Liz?

Of course not. I’m a mother. A broke, divorced mother. I can’t leave.

So what then?

Prior to my second marriage, I was what some would call a fireball. A fiery, spirited gal, with red hair to seal the deal, nothing could get me down. Even my first failed marriage, painful though it was, did nothing to stop my headstrong determination. The same spunk that entered that marriage with me trailed along after me as I left. I was still the same, just a little broken-hearted and slightly off course. But that would soon ease and, with a little time and forgiveness, both my kids’ dad and I would see the split for what it was: necessary. We would soon learn to co-parent and eventually even call each other friend. I was going to be okay.

And then I met my second husband.

I wonder what it was that had drawn me to him. Although my feisty personality gave off the aura of independence, the truth was that I wanted someone to take care of me. I didn’t want to be worrying about bills and packing school lunches alone. I wanted a partner. Then suddenly, there he was.

Hindsight is always 20/20 as they say. In retrospect, I see the red flags I overlooked then. A controller can easily be disguised as a caregiver. He wanted to do things for me. For a tired, overworked single mom, this was a welcome turn of events. Little by little, he began to take care of it all, making decisions for me to help clear my heavy load.

Then came the other changes. What clothes I wore, how I kept my hair, what friends I could keep. Others seemed to notice what was happening, but not me. It just felt so good to be loved. To be noticed.

This couldn’t go on forever though. One morning as I sat in my doctor’s office trying out yet another depression medication, my doctor said something I would never forget. She pulled her chair right over to me, sat down and looked me straight in the eyes. “Melissa,” she said, “I do not have a medication that is going to fix your marriage.”

Fix my marriage?

Armed with that old redheaded stubbornness, I marched out of that doctor’s office with the certainty that she was a quack. If she wouldn’t give me a different medicine, I’d find another doctor who would. Something was wrong. It was chemical, I was sure of it. My life was great.

Really.

But later that night, lying in bed beside my snoring husband, the doctor’s words kept running through my mind. I needed to talk to someone. But who? The only friends I had now were my husband’s friends. I used to have friends from work, but my husband had convinced me to take a job in a smaller office where there weren’t so many annoying office functions and parties to attend. I cut contact with all of them at his suggestion – moving on was easier if you would just forget.

Maybe one of my old theatre friends? I once loved community theatre so much. It had once been such a huge part of my existence…where had it gone? Ah yes. My husband didn’t like the time that it consumed. My place was at home with him and the kids, not out doing God knows what with God knows who. It was time to grow up and be a wife and mother. Isn’t that what he had said? So no, the theatre friends were out. I hadn’t talked to them in so long, I couldn’t call them up now in the middle of the night.

I had some friends from a women’s church group that my husband allowed me to go to on Monday nights. Maybe I could call one of them? No, I couldn’t. He told me that talking about my problems in that group was only asking for trouble. He made it clear to me that our business needed to remain private and was not to be shared with a bunch of busybodies who wanted nothing more than to spread the news throughout the church.

So, who could I call?

Mom.

I snuck out of bed and walked into the living room. I pulled out my cell phone and just as I had her number keyed in, my husband walked into the room. Of course, making a phone call in the middle of the night could only mean one thing. I was cheating on him. I attempted to show him the number I was dialing, tried to prove that it was only my mother, but he wouldn’t listen.

I had to be stopped from making that call.

And I was.

I packed my bags the next day.

Now, here I am only a few short weeks later (many bruises healed, many to remain), closing the last page of Eat, Pray, Love and sobbing like a toddler.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s words fill my mind.

“If you’re brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting – which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments – and set forth on a truth-seeking journey… then the Truth will not be withheld from you.”

Where is my Truth, Liz? Where is it?

“If you’re brave enough…” Is that what I was? Was I brave to leave my husband?

Just like that, I receive my answer. Somewhere deep inside me, a fiery redheaded community theatre actress screams, YES!

Yes.

This is it. This is why this book has gotten to me. Today is the start of my journey. It may look like a little rented, singlewide mobile home, but to this lonely, lost sojourner, it is the first step towards the journey of freedom.

Attraversiamo.

I head to the telephone to call my mom.

***

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V-Day Giveaway

“A bell is no bell ’til you ring it,
A song is no song ’til you sing it,
And love in your heart
Wasn’t put there to stay –
Love isn’t love
‘Til you give it away.”
~Oscar Hammerstein, Sound of Music, “You Are Sixteen (Reprise)”

Ahhhh.  ‘Tis the season for romance, right?  Chocolate hearts, teddy bears, lovey-dovey sweet nothings….

Blech.

I know, I know…I’m very happily in love and should be happy about Valentine’s Day, right?  Well, I am happy that I’m in a relationship with such a wonderful, amazing man.  Don’t get me wrong.  But the idea that it should all be centered around one day?  Eh.  Pardon my French here, but I just think that’s a bunch of BS.

And besides, I haven’t always been deliriously happy on Valentine’s Day.  As some of you may remember, this wasn’t the case for me last year.  Richard and I had split up.  (And, believe me, Richard just loooooves when I bring this up….).  I wrote a blog (a year ago today actually) about how I had attempted to see Valentine’s Day in a different light that year.  And it worked for a while.  It really did.  But then, a few days later, you’ll see the blog I wrote on the day after Valentine’s Day.  (Aptly titled “The Day After Valentine’s Day…” Man, I was creative back in the old days…)  I had psyched myself to get through that day, and then felt the sadness all over again once it was over.

So, again, yes, I am much much happier this year.  I’m so grateful that Richard and I made it through the hurt and sadness and found our way back to each other.  But regardless of my status this or any year, I still hate the thought of the turmoil that Valentine’s Day puts people through.  I know many people who are recently single who are bracing themselves for the dreaded V-Day just as I had to do last year.  And why is that?  Isn’t every day hard enough on the brokenhearted as it is without having to rub their faces in it once a year?  And if you’re not amongst the brokenhearted and are in a loving relationship now like I am, should you really need one particular day a year to remind you to be good to the one you love?  And do you really need to be pressured into buying expensive gifts to prove said love?

Well, I certainly don’t think so.

So…with that rant out of the way…let’s get to the point of this particular blog.  I decided that maybe I should do a Valentine’s Day give-away of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book that my story is in.  While, yes, it is a book filled with happy love stories, it’s also a book filled with real love stories.  And some of them, just like real life, don’t necessarily have such happy endings.  The book is divided into subject headings and one of them is entitled “Let’s Forget this Ever Happened.”  Another is called “It’s Not Me, It’s You” and contains a story called “Worst Date Ever.”  Anyway, you catch my drift right?  These stories are real.  And I think it’s important for us all to remember that there are a variety of “statuses” out there on stupid stinky ole Valentine’s Day.  If you’re not one of the ones in a happy relationship, don’t sweat it.  When we’re in a place of sadness, it’s easy to get it into our head that we’re the only one feeling this way.  That everyone out there has a partner and we’re the only one who is alone.  Well, you’re not alone.  Ever.  And here’s how I want to show you that.

If you read this blog, I want you to comment below.  (If you’re reading this on Facebook, you’re welcome to comment there too if you can’t figure out how to comment on the actual blog site).  I want you to tell me what your relationship status is, and how you plan to ‘celebrate’ Valentine’s Day.  And I want all the stories.  From the good to the bad to the ugly.  If you’re happily in love and plan the sweetest V-Day on the planet, go ahead and tell us about it.  We’ll try not to gag.  And if you’re miserable and hateful and spiteful and grumpy – I want to hear your thoughts too.  Really.

Why am I doing this?  I want people to read the variety of answers that I hope to get.  I want people to see that in the answers to this question, there probably lies someone out there in the same position you’re in…as is always the case, no matter the circumstance.  We are just never ever alone.  Really.  We’re not.  Will my plan work?  Eh, I don’t know.  But I’m willing to bet that if people participate, it’s at least going to be entertaining to read, don’t ya think!?  And keep in mind, I don’t want an essay or anything.  Just one sentence will do.  Whether it’s “I’m single and I plan to curl in a ball and cry into the wee hours of the morn,” or “I’m deliriously in love and plan to chronicle ever single moment of my dinner/dancing/smooching lovefest on Facebook for all the world to see,” we want to read them all.  Well.  Sort of.  😉

Chicken Soup Dating GameAnd, then, on the dreaded V-Day, I will put all of the commenters names in a hat (or bowl or scattered all the floor, whatever) and I will draw a name at random at 3:00 p.m. and will send the winner an autographed copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game.  Check back here on my blog for the winner’s name and instructions on how to claim your prize.  If you’ve already purchased a book from me, enter anyway!  You can give it as a gift, maybe even with a copy of this blog so they know why you’re giving it to them.  Or, you may even opt to participate but not accept the prize and allow me to draw another name.  Either way – you’re a winner.  Right?  Let’s spread the love, people.  (And if I wasn’t a struggling, broke wannabe writer, I’d give you something better than a book, but hey – you can only give what ya got, right?…)

So.  We good?  You understand the rules?  Ok, then.  Let’s do this.  Ready, set….comment.

Seriously.  Show someone they’re not alone this Valentine’s Day.  That may just be all one person out there needs to know.

***

“If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love.”
– Maya Angelou