On one hand, I do pretty well every day.
I have a very nice house of my own. I get up. I get ready and I drive 45-50 minutes to a job I do not love. While at that job, I do my best to be a solid employee and do all my work well. It’s a thankless job and at the end of the day, I drive home for another 45-50 minutes. I am a safe driver and I obey traffic laws.
I’m obedient to the wheel.
…You know the one.
The one that we’re all yoked to when we choose to live in society like ours.
If you want a place to live, and food to eat, you have to work. And work is rarely rewarding or fulfilling, it seems. We do this crap on what feels like an endless loop, moving toward… what?
Retirement, I guess.
We can finally, hopefully, enjoy free time and go do the things we want to do…when we are old and our remaining time limited. Yay. That’s cool.
I have been thinking a lot about ‘remaining time’ these days, and feeling reflective. I look back on choices I have made and cringe almost every step of the way, these days. I have taken some strange paths that, in retrospect, make me long for a whole pile of do-overs.
I wonder how different things would be if I had been a better girlfriend with a couple of past relationships (I’m talking the early ones, back before I met X and began the Real Mistakes). I hadn’t learned yet to not be selfish, and to not be jealous. I was threatened by things like friends-who-were-girls, and friends-who-did-drugs-and-partied, and hobbies and work, back when I was under 30.
If I had learned to not be a jerk earlier, would I have married my high school sweetheart? He was the only one that, to this day, I truly felt intense PASSION with; the only one to drive me absolutely insane with desire. What if I had done things differently and held up my side of the relationship better? If we had stayed together, would we have had a kid or two? I’ll never know; I didn’t go down that path.
If I had not gotten it in my head that I needed to get out of New Jersey and live somewhere different for a couple of years, would I have walked away from a future in the film and TV industry? I did something pretty stupid while taking the placement test for the New York Directors Guild of America program when I was a senior in college… I purposely threw my answers so they wouldn’t pick me. I had AZ on my mind and that was where I’d decided I wanted to be. I didn’t want to be “stuck” working out of NYC for a couple of years. So, I fucked my own chances at that career path all because I was young and my priorities were out of whack. I wonder sometimes where I would be today if I had followed through. I imagine my life would look and feel entirely different. I probably wouldn’t have moved to AZ, and I would have been surrounded by creative people and working in an industry I was (once) passionate about.
Instead… I have been working crappy jobs for just about 20 years. Selling my soul for a paycheck. I used to be really bothered by the monotony, the lack of creativity and excitement, and the absolutely boring-as-FUCK industries I had to immerse myself in and write about. I had more than a few mild meltdowns in my 20s and 30s where I was just miserable because I wasn’t doing what I loved and was simply going through motions to get money to live in a decent place and drive decent cars and stuff.
Today, I’m kind of used to it. Resigned, is the word. I am resigned to the fact that I will never get to write about things I actually enjoy or care about. I am not on “that” kind of writing career path. I’m on the boring, ‘someone’s got to write this nothing-copy’ side of the writing world. Yes, I do get to say I am a writer, which is what I always said I was going to be… but I can’t allow myself to think too long or hard about the reality of what kind of writer I am, or I want to find a gun and blow my fucking brains out.
I’m so lost without my fiction characters. They kind of faded away and I don’t totally know why. I used to have stories going all the time in my head. I used to love long drives because I’d listen to writing playlists and just THINK about my stories and characters. God, I would do that for hours at a time. And I did it from the time I was in middle school and got my first Walkman, right up until the past couple of years when I would listen to my specialized Spotify playlists as I commuted to and from work, every single goddamn day. I had been “this way” for all of my teenage and adult life. I didn’t know how to be something else, until… I no longer was.
Wish I could point to a moment where it ended, but I have thought about it, and I can’t. It was gradual.
The weird thing is, as it was fading away, I didn’t mind. I was OK with moving on with my life and my thoughts… I was OK spending my commute thinking of political arguments and animal rights activism messaging, all of the sudden. And I was OK with spending time with my new boyfriend and finally feeling “normal” and loved, and doing things I didn’t get to really do as a long-time single person. My books became after thoughts, and I dropped out of my writing critique group. I figured it was no big deal to no longer want to write.
Maybe I’m not meant to be a writer, I’d think. And that’s fine with me. I’ve changed. That’s how life is.
But I wasn’t happy. I was something else. I’ve already talked ad nauseam on earlier posts about what went wrong with the last relationship and how I let it destroy me. So I don’t need to re-hash that, necessarily.
I wish I knew how to not feel like a traitor to myself. If that makes sense.
When did I just decide that going the easy route was ‘adequate’ and how the fuck did I convince myself that I just wasn’t destined to be anyone special at all… I was just another average person living an average life, never really committing to doing the difficult things, because chances are, I’m not going to get what I want, anyway…?
It’s funny how differently time moves when you’re young as opposed to its passing as we get older. Twenty years in AZ have gone by in a blur. I did have some great times, and I have some wonderful friends and I’ve had the pleasure of a number of amazing pets. I have a brother-in-law we never would have met if we hadn’t been in Arizona; and as a result, I now have an incredible niece, and a nephew on the way. I’m so damn grateful for all of them.
I just wish I had more of my own accomplishments to smile about.
I have severe issues with the reality that I am the end of my line… that I didn’t get to have a child. It’s the fault of two factors: one, endometriosis and the 75% probability that my Fallopian tubes were twisted and scarred to the point where egg fertilization wasn’t likely to occur without medical intervention; and two, I never was with a man long enough to be ‘ready’ to be parents with him, or flat-out didn’t want to have a child with that person because he was repulsive (X).
If I had met The One, and we were happy and healthy as a couple, I would have looked into my fertility a little more. There was a test I could have done to see how viable my f-tubes were. Hell, if I was serious enough, IVF was once a real possibility. However… HE never showed up.
And now I am 42.
I’m too old to be a new Mom now even if I found a way to get knocked up.
That makes me so, so, SO sad.
I really wanted to experience being someone’s Mom. I would have been good at it. I think about my kid-I-never-had on a regular basis. I feel so sorry I never found a way to make that kid exist. Not just because I’m alone and I will be very, very alone when I die… but because I am responsible for a person, or a couple of people, NOT being here. If that makes sense. It’s strange and trippy to really go down that path…
Anyway, Here’s the thing that happened tonight that got me thinking these sad, regretful thoughts:
Writer Ex and his wife did a live Facebook talk and I tuned in. In recent years, I have grown to think of him as “some guy I once dated back when I was really young” and it really feels like I was a whole other person when I was with him. I had to go through all kinds of phases over the past 15 years or so to get over him, to not be resentful of his success, and to finally just feel like I genuinely liked the guy as a person. And I liked his wife, too. It’s a neat thing to look at someone who is now basically “an old friend” and see him happy with his spouse and children, and not feel jealous or angry or ANYthing like that. I’m honestly happy for them. No joke. I would be honest here, of all places, if I secretly hated them. But I don’t.
Anyway, I saw them last weekend when I attended his latest book signing. It was nice. Yeah, a little awkward, because I always wonder what his wife thinks of me, really… but overall I feel like we’re all in a mature place and can trust things at face value.
So tonight I tuned in to their live discussion. The topic was the challenges of being married to a “creative.” The two of them talked about the struggles, the tricks they have learned, some insights into what works/what doesn’t, and answered questions. I asked a question, even, about how to deal with creative disappointment (bad reviews, not getting a part, that kind of thing) because it’s one thing my sister has had to learn to deal with in her marriage to her actor husband. I couldn’t ask anything personal to me, because… well, I am not married. Not even in a relationship. I have no true experience here. I tried not to think about that, though, at the time.
Until he said something about a “past girlfriend”… someone who didn’t understand what he was doing when he was sitting in his office staring into space. Someone who was selfishly unexcited about a theatre review in the paper, when he was very excited.
My stomach sank because… oh shit, was he talking about ME?
I like to think no, because he knew I was tuned in and would hear it. But the thing is, he didn’t date a lot of women and he only lived with two: me, and then his wife.
I don’t really remember a time when he came to my office to excitedly show me a review. But it could have happened, because I do know I was a crappy girlfriend sometimes back then. I was jealous and feeling unloved. I was not sure why he preferred spending time with his friends than with me, and it was super challenging to date someone who was agoraphobic and didn’t ever want to go out anywhere. We didn’t get to go on dates, really, because of his fears. (He’s since grown out of a lot of that stuff, if you’re wondering.) And, as I have mentioned on this blog before, he didn’t enjoy having sex with me. So, yeah, of course I had my reasons to be the way I was, but I still don’t feel great about how I reacted or behaved.
I feel sorry, if that WAS me he was talking about. I never intended to not respect someone’s passion and skills. I wish I had had a better handle on my resentment at feeling neglected or unappreciated, but I didn’t know how to do that, back then. I was younger and less experienced. I didn’t yet know how to compartmentalize and–as I stated when I started this post–get things done because THAT’S WHAT YOU DO as an adult.
The whole thing kind of threw me for a loop and now I’m feeling all shitty about being the non-supportive bitch in his past. I mean, people were commenting about how “wrong” that person was to not be a part of his happiness and that he was “better off” without that kind of negativity… no one needs that… and frankly, I just wanted to cry because it was a tough reality to consider.
Again, maybe he wasn’t talking about ME. Maybe it was whoever he dated right before me or something. (It couldn’t have been anyone after, because he immediately hooked up with his now-wife when we broke up.) Either way, this has been a strange and uncomfortable night.
I think I’ll go back to not connecting with them, again. I can still be supportive and even still like them as people, and as a couple. I just don’t need to engage, if that makes sense. If it stirs up regret and depression like this, it’s just not a good idea.
I’ve got too many things to sort through as it is. I have GOT to find a way to think differently about myself and find my characters and my motivation and self-respect. I need to focus on self-improvement, somehow.
After all, there isn’t much time left, really. I was just 22 not that long ago. I will be 62 in no time. This is IT. This is my life, and all that I get. I can’t keep on muddling through the mediocre slop for much longer. Somehow, I have to find the key to truly kicking my own ass into gear and MAKING THINGS HAPPEN. Find a way to have vitality and drive, to embrace the things about myself that are good and positive.
I’ll sleep on it, for now. Maybe tomorrow I’ll begin to feel like I see a path.
A path I WON’T regret, for a change.