I haven’t been myself lately. I’m not being real or honest. I’m terrified of both.
The message I learned growing up is if I were a real and honest little girl about how I felt, then I would be confronted and told I was wrong. My pain and upset wasn’t real, said my mother, she loved me. Stop it, Hy.
The question now is do I have the skills to get honest? Or am I only good at leading up to honesty and dodging the pain — and change — that comes with it?
Until this year I would have told you I was pretty good at my life and honesty, but the truth is, I’m shitty. I rarely, if ever, admit to how I truly feel about things. I’m so scared of being handled roughly, of admitting when things might really be unsatisfying. In my marriage there were many things which hurt me deeply, but I never acknowledged it to him or me — it would shift the shape of our relationship — so I admitted to nothing. I lied.
My exhusband was passionate about all things dangerous. Small airplanes, mountain climbing, riding a bike with no seat, motorcycles, tightrope walking. He had his pilot’s license before he met me and long, sinewy muscles from clinging to sides of vertical rock. He also had a little yellow motorcycle.
I didn’t think much of any of this except to say I’d never do any of those things with him. My nurse-of-a-mother’s voice in my head about how many motorcycle crash victims she’d seen in her career wound through my head like a never ending snake. He didn’t seem to mind our tastes were different and I certainly wasn’t going to impose my own fears on him; he could do as he pleased.
But then we moved in together and he upgraded his little yellow motorcycle to some big, shiny silver crotch rocket. I placated myself with the fact that he wore full body gear despite it not being the law here. He loved that stupid motorcycle and drove it everywhere; used it as his main source of transportation. That meant no errands were run while he was on it, no flowers were bought, we couldn’t ride together to dinner with my parents and he wouldn’t have a glass of wine with us, no calling him up if I needed him or a favor. I told myself none of these things were a big deal, but what I was really telling the both of us was that my feelings didn’t matter, only his did and that I was a chickenshit.
His old Subaru station wagon finally died one day with a cough and a shake and he was a full-time motorcycle rider. By now Peyton was born and I had endured his 15-minute suit-up and suit-downs for months, maybe years. There was no easy way in or out of it. He knew how much I hated him riding that stupid fucking thing especially since having the baby — what if something happened to him?? I’d be widowed with an infant — but he was stubborn and I always relented, not wanting to pick a fight I knew I’d never back down or recover from.
So I never said a word.
Instead, I seethed and rolled my eyes, held my breath every time he called to say he was leaving the office until the moment he got home, and silently raged at how he could not help me with anything because he was on that goddamned machine. “I hate commuting,” he’d say. “It’s the only way I can make it ‘fun’.” I wanted to punch his face when he’d say that to me. “Get a book on tape,” I’d say back.
Tick, tock, the clock ate us up and we were living in separate homes.
Not only had I never spoken my true feelings about the motorcycle, but I had also never told him how I truly felt about numerous other things for fear my true feelings would destroy our relationship. In hindsight, those are exactly the kinds of reasons a relationship should end! It’s so ridiculous to me now that I feared my own truth so much I was willing to marry a man I probably should have only known for 3 months of my life, not forever.
Not until he was on his own caring for Peyton truly for the first time — not just when Mommy was out getting a quick pedicure during fucking nap time — and after the 20th person off of some message board he was a part of ate concrete and lost his life did he think “Gee, I need to think about someone else besides me,” and he hung up his helmet for the last time.
I never wanted to discuss the rates of death between a car and a motorcycle, it just wasn’t the point. That motorcycle epitomized what was wrong with my marriage, my relationship. It showcased his selfish, self-centered existence and my fearful, timid one. And because that was my nature — is my nature — I could never call him on it and voice a real need I had: that he be present, perhaps sacrifice something for me because I’m worth a little sacrifice, and participate in our lives fully.
Today when I think “truth” I think “pain,” unimaginable pain. I’d like to change that. I’d like to think “truth” and think “progress” or “freedom.”
I manage to share something with The Neighbor from time to time, but the truth lies much, much deeper than I’ve been willing to go and until I share it with him I believe I will be agitated, angry, hurt, resentful, suspicious and scared. There will be nothing authentic about us if I don’t grow up and share my truth with him. Jesus Christ that sounds so dippy.
TN caught me yelling at him the other night. I didn’t know he was in my home; I thought I’d seen him just pull up outside my window and as I stalked angrily back into my living room, stark naked from my shower, I growled, “That inconsiderate, disrespectful sonofabitch,” and the second it left my mouth I heard, “What?” I jerked my head towards the kitchen.
There he was, arms full of his overnight bag, two bottles of wine, and a goofy smile plastered on his face.
Knowing I was caught red-handed I angrily got dressed and yelled at him for making me feel unimportant, angry and stupid. “But I’m only 10 minutes late!” he started to protest.
I wagged my finger at him and said, “Don’t you dare quote minutes to me! It’s not important! I told you I had a need for you today, I told you to be here before a certain time, I told you how fucked up I felt about my family today. I did everything I could think of to distract myself, hoping you’d be here early to fuck me like we’d planned, but no, you’re late with a dozen excuses…” I ranted on and on as he poured two glasses of wine and shoved one in my hand.
I dumbly took it and sat down, defeated. “I am sick of you making me feel this way. STOP IT. IT’S NOT OK. I am not some crazy woman who does this! I don’t want to feel like this!”
The truth was out. And I didn’t even mean to tell him.
He owned it, apologized, lamented with pain in his eyes that any part of his mother might be in him. “I don’t know why I do this,” he whispered. “What will you do if I can’t stop?” He looked at me and I returned his gaze.
“Something you won’t like,” I said sadly back. And then to lighten the mood I added, “And kill you.”
But something important happened that day: I was forced to admit that my need was big, it demanded attention and care. If I hadn’t been caught yelling at him I might have stuffed it down and tried to talk about it calmly later, stripping it of its importance, its fire, its pain. My exhusband and I were masters at neutering everything, being intellectual and calm. It got me a divorce and a marriage shrouded in veiled lies and painful resentment. I wouldn’t recommend it.
We cuddled and kissed, went to our movie, but we did not fuck. I didn’t want him to touch me in that moment of rawness, newness. He asked to stay the night and I told him I would have to think about it instead of saying “Of course you can,” because for once in my adult life I didn’t feel like being a fucking liar. We fell asleep in each other’s arms.
I talk about authenticity and being myself, but the truth is I’m often a liar. TN doesn’t know what I’m really feeling because I’m too afraid to tell him; I’m afraid we won’t survive it. I have no faith. Which is so funny to me because I used to have so much faith; my sun and moon hung on the chance that he and I might be together.
Since my outburst Sunday I feel lighter. I don’t feel scared or suspicious, which proves to me that what I was feeling had little to nothing to do with his behavior (though still weird and sketchy in a typically dude sort of way) and everything to do with my own demons.
Monday night he came to me and I didn’t need to watch the clock. He needed me this time, not the other way around, and when he filled my line of sight I could see his pain, his awful day wrapped around him and I felt nothing but sugary lightness towards him. I held him and kissed his cheeks, rubbed his feet as he shared his story.
We cuddled on the couch and watched Game of Thrones, I stroked his temples and kissed him periodically. My heart full, open, soft, not a trace of resentment or anger to be found. Later, in the bedroom, I sucked his beautiful cock and he rode me to a passionate release where I groaned, “I’m going to cum, I’m going to cum, I’m going to cum!” and then released all over the both of us as he bucked and grunted into me.
Then again it happened between us Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning. The space between us suddenly gone with one honest outburst from me, like a colonic. The toxins removed; I am cleansed. A little.
Thursday morning the sun shone down on us, momentary celestial beings rutting like little pink pigs again, and we said I love you and kissed each other’s warm cheeks. When he left me later I fell back asleep and the cat perched on my head, angry at his empty belly.
When I awoke in an even bigger sunbeam I could still feel him inside of me, my pussy and my heart. I never considered being caught talking to myself as being a boon, but oh how it was. It shoved me off the cliff I’ve always stood on too afraid to leap.
This sea of fear isn’t so bad. It’s not blind fear, it’s honest fear. I’m being honest. Or at least starting to be honest. My paranoia has subsided because I’m no longer hiding anything. It wasn’t about him. Yes, he did some stupid man shit, but he’s trustworthy. He is. I’m not. Maybe that’s what I was feeling all along: that desperate grappling that happens when you’re trying to grip sand to keep from sliding off the face of the fucking earth, the feeling of dishonesty. I was hiding because that’s what I do and it made my belly churn and my eyes see too much of everything and nothing.
I don’t want to lie to him anymore. I don’t want to keep my real feelings hidden because I’m afraid he can’t address them. If I do, I’ll be stuck with another goddamned motorcycle in my life and I never want that to happen to me again. They’re dangerous.
So, into the light I go with all my ugly needs clinging to me like freckles. We’re one and the same after all. It’s time to stop pretending we’re not.