Saturday, August 25, 2012

Perceptions and Deceptions

                                                         Perceptions and Deceptions

  Having spent the whole of my life pretending that my life was perfect, it was no wonder that people believed it. They did not see me as I was. Broken. Lost. Small. I had made myself so small. In order to fit the mold that others had made for me. I spent my life being what was expected of me. No matter how far from the truth it was. I gave up all of me to be accepted, to feel loved. It was a poor trade off. I had to redefine myself. To see who I was. To actually put myself first for once. It was daunting. There is something comforting in knowing someone else is responsible. Or at least that is what I had told myself. Now I found that I was so far from shore with no way to get back. And again, I asked myself "how did I get here?" I had allowed myself to drift in someone else's wake. Never entertaining a care as to where we were going. I just wanted a family, a house, a good life. I had never bothered with the details. I had not realized that there were different degrees of marriage, what is acceptable and what is not. That I could set my own standards was a foreign concept. Now I had all the power. The control over my life and I had no idea what to do with it. I started small. I repainted the house. I bought a new car. I changed my hair. I picked up new friends and set other ones down. I was still editing though. I was still hiding from truths that I did not want to face and I knew surly no one else would want to know. People like happy endings. There is a comfort in knowing that things are right and good in the world. I was still hiding the ugly truths with the beautiful lies  People did not want to know the truth. They did not want to get that close.

  I could get away with a lot of deception if I just let others fill in the details for me. I said that I was married, technically I still was, they would assume happily so. I would say, when asked, that my Mother lived 20 miles away. They assumed we were close. There were a thousand little ways to skirt the truth, without telling a lie and I used them all. It kept a buffer between me and other people and of course most importantly from reality. I thought that if I just did not speak it, if I ignored it, than it would go away. Float away from me. Isn't that what is supposed to happen to things abandoned? They drift away. It is easy to create such a great work of fiction that you fall victim to it's allure. I lived there a long time in that fairy tale bubble where I was normal and undamaged by the stark reality of my past.
I was still folding my corners inward. There is another burden that came with those hidden truths. I felt obligated to keep other people's perceptions of my life going. I did not go so far as to say positive things about my Mother or Husband, but I did not say negative ones either. People just filled in the blanks for themselves. It was easy.

   My children, who had wanted my husband out of the house, had a hard time excepting the reality of it. There was a different tone to our home. There was less tension, but somehow less joy as well. We were in a funk. Having been together for so long, it was difficult to have the extra room that one less person brought. One less dinner plate, coffee cup, pair of shoes by the door. They were all reminders of the failure we had become. They all proclaimed the death of so many hopes by their absence. It was all a part of letting go. It seemed like there was always something to mourn, that it was always the grieving season and it left me longing for things never known. I missed what I had never had and what I had held onto so briefly. Shadows of a life I once dreamed of. For the first time in my life I had no one to answer to. And the thought made me sad. My kids were in their late teens by now and pretty self-sufficient. I had somehow lost the underpinnings of my life. My touchstones were gone. I would have to make new ones.

   I took up hobbies. I gardened and I learned to shoot. There had been a string of assaults on real estate agents and in fact one had been killed. I got a gun. I loved shooting and I was good at it. I practiced at our local range often. This of course brought the attention of the males there, but I was pretty good at shutting them up with my marksmanship and I earned their respect. And when some new guy would come waltzing in offering to teach me "how it is done" the others would hang back and chuckle, just waiting for it. I would listen, very wide eyed, shaking my head while being schooled by a self proclaimed expert and then, I would simply let my shooting do the talking for me. It became a kind of inside joke and I always had a man or two waiting to walk me to my car at the end of the night. But, I leaned on that one lie, well really a mistruth....I always pointed to the ring on my left hand which proclaimed me taken. It was not my wedding ring. I had shed that long ago. It was a rouse. To make female clients feel comfortable with me calling their husbands over contracts, over men who wanted to get to know me better. I did not want to know me better, there was no way I would let anyone else.

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