Like I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been listening to a lot of Neko Case’s music lately, which I used to listen to years ago when I lived in Atlanta, in a big house with a garden tub in an expansive bathroom that was bigger than my bedroom now. That’s because, like Texas, everything is bigger in Georgia, and much cheaper than Maryland, and also I made a lot more money back then. I was rich, really. I don’t even remember how much money I made at the time. Maybe 65 grand a year. But I wouldn’t have told you I was rich. I’d have told you I was in so much debt, because I was, and I had so many bills, that I couldn’t make it on my own, blah blah yada yada, poor me. But you better believe I got my nails done every week, and I bought myself nice clothes, and I can’t even tell you how much money I spent on alcohol. I calculated that it must’ve been somewhere around a thousand dollars a month, when you factor in all the nights I went out to eat (and drink), and I have no idea how I managed to scrape up that kind of extra money, except that it wasn’t all my money, especially in my first marriage, when it was in fact mostly his money. And no, I couldn’t have lived in that house alone, but I absolutely could’ve had roommates or probably even my own studio apartment. But at the time I didn’t believe that. And that’s what matters.
Today I make about $23,000 a year, which is not a lot in the US—it’s barely more than a thousand a month. But my bills are also significantly lower, and I live off my student loans, which I’ll be paying off for decades, possibly until I die, which is worth it to me. It will be like a house payment. I’m investing in my future and I absolutely do not regret it one bit. And just about everyone in America has debt. It’s the American way. My plan is to live a simple life and enjoy what I do every day—working to live, instead of living to work.
But I digress. What I wanted to write about was how much this song reminds me of my first marriage.
Someone told me a while back that sometimes when we grieve the loss of one person, we grieve all our losses before then, especially if we didn’t properly grieve for them at the time. My first husband, who I’ll call Ryan, really loved me. And I played games with him. I would ignore him and play hard to get so that he’d chase me even harder, and it worked. I did and said the meanest things I could come up with to see how far I could take it, to see if he’d stay with me, and he did. The only thing that could make him leave me was if I cheated on him, he’d told me, so finally I cheated on him, and he changed his mind. He said he was willing to try to work it out. But by that time I’d fallen for another guy, who became my second husband.
When Ryan and I got engaged I knew in my heart I didn’t want it, but I was nearing 30, and thought I was getting old (hahaha!), and that if I wanted to have kids I should probably go ahead and get started. Funny thing is, I didn’t really want kids. What I really wanted was to love someone, because I felt incapable. And I was at the time. I couldn’t even love myself. Yet everything was about me, and how I’m going to get mine. And at the time I bumbled along doing whatever landed in front of me, because I did not know what else to do, or rather, how to do it. How to follow your heart? Fear of failure drove me.
It’s hard not to feel bad today for how I treated Ryan. In many ways I treated him the way Steven treats me now, except that Steven doesn’t get drunk and throw things at me or punch my arm and verbally abuse me. So yeah, pretty different (lol), but similar in that he’s self-centered and self-loathing.
And if you’re feeling sorry for Ryan, don’t. He’s a good-looking guy who owns his own business and lives in a $750,000 house and he drives a BMW and of course he has a girlfriend. Not that those things are what make a person happy—they certainly wouldn’t make me happy, but what I’m getting at is that he gets what he wants. He has two dogs who he loves and I’m sure he has no problem attracting women. Probably young gorgeous women happy to jump in bed with a good-looking rich dude.
That just sounds so depressing to me though. I need meaning in my life. Ryan could really use God in his life. When I would talk about how I needed to quit drinking, he’d say, You don’t need to quit. Just cut back. And don’t go to AA with all those religious Jesus freaks.
What is the point of this blog post?
Really just thinking about how now I know what it’s like to get my heart broken, the way I broke Ryan’s heart. All the money in the world really doesn’t matter if you can’t spend it with or on someone you love. Relationships, cars, houses, none of that matters without true love. I do hope Ryan is happy today. He’s not one who delved deep into the meaning of life the way I like to, so I believe he is happy. Different strokes for different folks. I can say he needs God, but it’s not up to me to say he needs God or a higher power. The important thing for me to remember is that I need God. If I didn’t have faith in God, the Universe, Buddha, a power greater than myself, whatever you want to call it, I would not be here today. I would have committed suicide or drank and drugged myself to death.
Which reminds me of another gorgeous song by Neko Case:
I don’t know why the universe or multiverse is here, or why I am here, just that I am. And I want to live this life the best way I know how while I’m here. And I am so grateful for my life today, even though Steven broke my heart, and even though Mom died suddenly without me getting a chance to tell her how much I love her, and that I am not resentful at her for growing up with my sisters and me instead of beforehand. Hey, some parents never grow up. So you did pretty darn good, Ma.
I’m on my way in a couple hours to Mom’s house now so I guess this is all weighing heavily on me right now. I want to write so much more, like about how I was raised by a pack of wild, self-absorbed teenagers, at least three of whom turned out to be angels who I’m so grateful to have in my life (my mom and my sisters), but I’ve got to get ready for this nine-hour drive, and I’m the kind of girl who likes to pack everything I own, just in case. You never know how you’ll feel that day, right?
I apologize if this was a tearjerker of a post. I mean, I know I was crying there for a minute, but I never know how it comes across to my readers. I will try to be funnier in the next one but I can’t make any promises. It’s hard to try to be funny. You have to just do it. You have to just be yourself.
Peace and love,