<warning – this may be very much a rant with no conclusion. *shrugs* #notsorry >
What a confusing institution. As women in this western society (and maybe others but I can only speak to the one I actively participate in) and of a certain age – you’re GROOMED to be someone’s wife. I was. Learn to clean. Learn to cook. Learn to be demure and submissive. Learn to make him feel manly. Learn to identify the cues that show him to be a gentleman. Learn your place. Set your sights to seek him out. Find him. Lock him down. Make him think he can’t live without you. Turn him up; Turn him down; Turn him out. Be. The. ONE. Funny they never really layout what your odds are in that whole scenario of finding someone who might actually make you happy too.
The holiday season is not just one for festivities and caroling. A lot of sad, seemingly tragic stuff takes place too. A lot of deaths. A lot of suicides. A lot of divorces initiated. A lot of divorces finalized. End of the year makes people look back over their past year and over their lives and think to themselves, “Was it any good?” “Did I progress?” “What did I accomplish?” “How can I do better next year?” “Do I continue?” A real assessment of the bullshit you’ll continue to carry and what you’ll ultimately leave as baggage at the door into the new year.
Sometimes it’s only after you’ve joined an organization or establishment that all the ails are then revealed to you. Outside: a glittering shiny facade to which everyone who is a part of it seems to play the part and lend to the overall mesmerizing beauty of it all. Then you take the grueling journey inside. You go through trial after tribulation and you finally break through to the “promise land”…. only to find out that it looks…. a lot like where you just came from, which after going through all that bullshit – makes it seem actually – shittier than where you came from. Cause you fought so hard. You SWORE it was supposed to be better. I told one young AKA Soror of mine that she was waiting for the magical pink & green fairy godmother of AKA to descend upon her after she MIP’d and sweep her wand around her and make all AKAs love her just like a sister and make everyone get along and make AKA an oasis for sisterhood but she was just finding out that shit was hoax. She looked at me wide-eyed like I’d discovered the theory of relativity or had just straight up read her mind.
The fact is, everyone tells us “marriage is work”. Some folks even throw in the word “hard” to make it seem that they’ve actually varied it in levels. Pairing two of anyone together, after largely being independent beings; forcing them to cohabitate after being raised pretty differently; then throwing in raising smaller fledgling humans that depend on you both for insight and context on EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD (when you’re still just figuring it out) equals a pretty tense, tightrope situation. You hope that “love” is the common denominator. But no one tells you that that particular glue of love goes from being plaster of Paris, to rubber cement, to a heated epoxy, to peelable Elmer’s on any given day. Love isn’t unchanging. It’s strong in different ways. It HAS to be. Because as people we aren’t static. You just have to be actively watching to be sure that your bond is in the right position for when it shifts.
I have a beloved sister whose divorce, after much gnashing of teeth, has finally been approved. She texted me with the utmost excitement “I’m free… like really free…” For her, the marriage had morphed into a cage where she sat… wasting away. Unappreciated from the inside; no real way of understanding or convincing her husband of the worth she held. Grudges being kept against each other even at the onset. And while I mourn what I felt were really fairytale pieces of their story, my joy overtakes it because now she’s free from it. She can maneuver as she feels fit and wherever that means.
I read in an online magazine that a prominent blogger / urban talking head who I swear spent longer talking about the ramp up to her marriage in the years before the wedding took place recently announced the demise of her marriage:
I left my husband. That’s why I don’t wear my ring. I woke up on my birthday in July and instead of celebrating, I was thinking of ways to die. Our marriage had been in shambles for nearly a year. I think it’s tacky to drag a partner or spouse publicly, so that’s all I have to say about that. He didn’t beat me. I only mention that because a surprising number of people have asked, and upon hearing he didn’t, have encouraged me to work it out. Apparently being beat on is the only acceptable reason to leave your husband. So what if a woman is perpetually unhappy, keeping a husband is far more important than that. I chose life. I’m glad I did. I’ve been working on getting to happy. It’s been hard. I’ve been consumed with shame, embarrassment, insecurity and fear. Over the last five months, I’ve been told that having a husband validated me, that he gave me credibility and I will be nothing without him. I’ve been told no one will want me. I’ve been told my career as a life coach, dating/ relationship expert and author is over. Maybe if I had been in a better place, I wouldn’t have believed those things. I am in a better place now. I decided not to be held hostage by fear and shame, or hurt and regret and anything else that keeps me from living my best life. I decided not to waste my pretty. I go out, and I dress up, and I smile despite what I’m going through. I chant the lyrics to Anthony Brown’s “Worth” on the treadmill. I have a therapist. I read a lot of autobiographies and self-help books. On days I don’t feel good enough, I celebrate someone who I think is. I have friends who ask, “You ok, Sis?” Sometimes yes, sometimes no. There are days I still pull my truck over in the emergency lane and cry. I wish our marriage could have lasted. To do so would have required me to suffer in silence indefinitely. I tried and failed at that too. I don’t know what all the lessons in this are yet, but I am actively trying to discover them. One thing I’ve (re)learned is the truth of my grandmother’s words, “just keep going”. My world imploded and I faced all my worst fears at once. What I thought would destroy me, did not. I am grateful. #dontwasteyourpretty
And the ABSOLUTE FUNNIEST PART TO ME- was MY OWN reaction. “Well shit… it’s only been 2 years. What the hell??? She probably planned the wedding longer….” But then I checked myself. How long? How long is “ok” to suffer? Never mind that I come from the Olympian Schooling of Suffering. But how many more mornings was she suppose to wake up feeling like she wanted to die rather than deal with life in this marriage? How many more dead ended conversations was she supposed to have with this person not even trying to see her point of view? How many more of her own dreams was she supposed to quietly lay to rest so that she could remain and function in this marriage that would be considered ACCEPTABLE?? At which point, in my heart, I conceded. “Be free, Sis. Whatever that means to you.”
The crushing blow to this whole thought process tonight was watching the latest Season of Black Mirror. And episode Four, entitled “Hang the DJ” rendered me speechless. No spoilers but put this whole concept of finding “the one” in a context that shook me to the core. I cried for an hour. I thought at one point I might throw up. One of the pivotal characters during the episode submitted the following as it pertains to this rat race of finding “the one” through this system that has been engineered to help people find it (with at 99.98% success rate):
What if there is no scrutiny, it’s just putting us together in any old order and we all go along with it ‘cause they’re always telling us how clever it is? But how do you know they’re perfect matches? I mean, what if all it’s actually doing is gradually wearing us down, putting us in one relationship after another for random durations in a random sequence? Each time you get a little bit more pliable, a little bit more broken, until eventually it coughs up the final offering and says that’s the one. And by that point, you are so defeated and so exhausted that you just accept it. you settle. And then you have to live the rest of your life convincing yourself that you didn’t.
How true could that be in our own society, devoid of nearly infallible systems that guarantee you finding “the one”? Coupled with the social mores that have been beating us in the head since we were pre-pubescent girls all the way through to the dim statistics that in reality is 1 of them (straight, employed, single, not hung up on their mothers) to every 31 or so of us. They have the choice of the gambit and we’re engaged in a fight to the death over… what might seem to be meager pickings at times. But we do it so we don’t end up alone. Seemingly “unwanted” or “old maid’ed” cause that’s just the most horrible thing in the world. And God forbid YOU find your “one”… you may not necessarily be their’s. And there in lies an entirely new world of heartache.
According to this world – you simply can’t do right. If you get married and it’s to someone who doesn’t love you the way you respond to or fulfill what you need in life to feel whole – you’re an idiot for pairing with them. But if you try to divorce said person, you’re giving up on what could be potentially good if you just “worked at it.” OR if you marry someone who showed you one side of themselves and upon marriage they reveal someone totally different, giving you the bait and switch, you’re STILL supposed to find a way to make your life right with Mr. Hyde. All the way to the point that Demetria had to qualify that the man didn’t “beat her” because seemingly that is the only acceptable reason to divorce someone in this world. Is if they physically harm you.
But what about your emotional being?
What about your mental state of being?
What about your sensual being?
What parts of neglect, abuse and /or torment are measurable in this barometer of “harm” or “pain” and when is it enough?
When are you really sticking to it, being stubborn or just plain stupid?
Know that EVERY. SINGLE. MARRIAGE. is struggling. Not just the bad ones. The good ones too. Because it’s an every GODDAMNED DAY STRUGGLE.
Before you go shouting them out as your #goals or scrutinizing them for having a bad day when all they’ve ever showed you is the good. Because that’s all that is acceptable And take note of that when you embark upon your own.
ALL THE GRASS… EVERYWHERE… IS BROWN.