One of the things I miss most about my 20’s is the self-centered naivety, the notion that I knew it all and whatever I decided was simply how it was, without question. I made no apologies for my spontaneous decision making, and I honestly never second guessed myself. Confidence preceded me (not necessarily a genuine self-assuredness but I certainly had myself fooled) and for the most part, I got what I wanted. As I close in on the end of my 30’s, the only thing I can say I’ve learned for sure is that nothing is black and white. The world is eternally polarized; “This is how it ought to be, This is how it is, Period.” This is what I believed for a number of years.
Nothing is actually as it seems. We exist in the grey area. Perceptions and ideals with not much solid data. A million varied opinions. Everyone thinks they know everything, and everyone thinks they need to educate one another. We are all blind mice stumbling around, attempting to find a clear cut path through the darkness. The path is there, but it’s anything but obvious. This is where I find myself at age 38, living in the grey, seeking out my path in a monochromatic world where the palette is recognizable only to the colorblind.
It’s so simple to distract ourselves from the truth that lies just under the surface of our presumptuous lives. I’ve written the book on how to busy myself to the point that issues are not just swept under the rug, but the rug is superglued, stapled, and permanently affixed to the floor, preventing so much as a glimpse of the truth from showing it’s ugly face. I’m a pro at telling myself “I'm good," and actually believing it. I think it’s a gift/curse many women have become proficient in to get through the day.
When my friend asked me to contribute to this blog, she had one request- to end each post on a positive note. I think I’ve done okay, but this is not that. I can’t continue to lead readers down a path believing every day holds a valuable lesson for me or that my children go to sleep content and confident in our family unit. They aren’t made privy to details, but children are tenaciously discerning, sensing dischord without hearing a word. It’s become increasingly difficult to focus on parenting, given the current state of my relationship. Over the course of several years, but most recently and most intensely the last few months, it’s come to my attention that things are not as they seem. I’ve always had those moments where things aren’t adding up, curiosities that get instantly shut down and flipped around, leaving me asking myself if I’m nuts. “Gaslighting,” as the professionals call it. So many professionals with so many solutions. So many books and so many authors. A myriad of self-help books to teach me who I am and teach me “self-care.” “Love is a choice,” they say. “It takes hard work on both ends,” they say.
And in the end, no real change.
People think they know, boy do people know what’s best for me and my children. With whole-hearted certainty. Do they? No one knows. I felt the same about my friends’ personal situations. I've made snap judgments. I was critical, only seeing the absolutes, the decisions that clearly needed to be made, not taking into account the trickle down effect on every life involved. I thought I knew the answers. They were glaringly obvious. I feel humbled now for being so self-righteous.
I know now that nothing is black or white, and I need to live in reality. I need to know who I married ten years ago. I need to feel connected and safe. And if I can’t, I’m perfectly okay to go it alone. I’m not fearful of what alone looks like. My self-care workbooks have taught me about boundaries. We can make requests of our partners, but demands and ultimatums hold little value. Requests and agreements are supposedly the healthiest forms of communicating our needs. If this is true, then I have a simple request, and I’m hoping God will oblige: “Please, God, when the truth is brought to light, show me a clear-cut path. A vision for what you know my life and the lives of my kids should look like. Please, God, give me clarity.” This is all I can ask, my urgent prayer in the midst of chaos, hurt, and confusion.
I so desperately want to live in that black and white world of fact or fiction again. Where lines are crisp. Where the simple words “yes” and “no” are true to their meaning. A world where I can trust those who have committed to honesty, and transparency, and all of the other qualities a relationship should consist of.
For now, I’ll accept my warm welcome into the rawness of a world where the rug and the broom have been banished, where I'm left to sift through the dirt and fragments of what I once thought was best left undisturbed.