The Book of Life

This Is Your Life

It’s late, 12:30 AM to be exact. I know full well that I shouldn’t be out for an evening stroll because I should be in bed, it’s dangerous, I shouldn’t be out alone after dark, and all of the other reasons that my mother ever gave me for being safe inside at a reasonable hour. However, I cannot sleep. My mind has been completely overwhelmed and therefore restless as of late. There are far too many thoughts crowded what feels like an ever-shrinking yet ever-expanding head. Rather than resort to the vices I’ve come to know and love over the years, I go for a quiet, peaceful walk in the park near my childhood home. The quiet is the most refreshing and lovely sound I have heard in weeks. It gives me a chance to just be, and to not hear anything at all. I can think all of the thoughts that I want to, and being outside gives me the space to let them escape into the universe so that I don’t have to house them inside myself.

As I am walking, I come to a bench and decide to take a seat and allow myself to drift off into the expanse. Approaching the bench, I see a book lying there. “Ah, someone must have left this here by accident,” I think to myself. I can imagine them sitting there among the lovely trees, watching birds land and take off from the small pond near the bench while they lose themselves in a fascinating story, and I hope that they enjoyed their day. I pick it up only to see my name branded clearly across the front of it. At first I only thought it was a tattered paperback that someone had left behind. The outside was torn in places, parts of it had been taped together but looked like they wouldn’t hold up very well, and in all honesty it looked completely tattered. It looked worn out, like someone had read it a hundred times, chewed it up, spit it out, put it in a shredder and then tried to piece it back together again. The spine, however, was pretty well in tact. Confused and curious, I open it.

In the upper right corner of the very first page is written April 21, 1989, my birthday. The very beginning of my life, and it is detailed in this newly discovered book. My first few precious moments of life, the look of pride and happiness on my mother’s face, and the pure joy of my grandfather. I am reading it all from my own perspective, even though I don’t have any conscious memory of it. Fascinated, I keep reading. I read on and on, through my first crush (in pre-school), my first day of kindergarten, the time I got chicken pox. I make it all the way up to my fifth grade graduation when I realize that it is 3 AM and I am still sitting on a park bench in a semi-questionable part of town. I quickly and quietly scurry to my car and drive home. I try to lay down and get some sleep, but after about fifteen minutes of trying to get comfortable and calm my mind, I decide to just get up and read more of my life.

The experience is quite surreal because I am reading every event, every moment, every emotion of my life from my own perspective. It’s as though I kept the most detailed diary (no, not Facebook) and am experiencing everything all over again. My first kiss, my first love, the day my grandfather died. As much as I want to skip this part, I know I can’t. I didn’t handle it well the first time, and now I feel like I get to do it again. Experience every bit of that pain anew, allow it to penetrate my heart, and then accept it. Dare I go on reading? Yes. I get through high school and it’s just as unpleasant as it was when I was actually there. I move past it and get in to the questionable college years. I see every single bad decision and am amazed at how stupid I was. Why did I do that? Why was I friends with them? Ah, and then we meet my husband. Reading about him and our relationship from an insider’s outside perspective, I scream at the book. NO! Why are you doing this? RUN! Run AWAY! Don’t do it!!! Your Mom is right!!! Of course, I know what’s going to happen next and I can’t stop it. It already happened. Only this time, I see the writing on the wall. I see what was there the entire time and wonder why I didn’t listen to my mother…or myself. Soldiering on, I relive every tear, every fight, every time he tried to make it up to me, and then every time he only let me down again. I find that there were some happy moments there and for a second I want to highlight them. I change my mind, though, because it’s in the past and I don’t need to remember the good or the bad at this point. The divorce is spelled out here as well, for me to revisit, even though it’s still a little fresh.

Finally, I catch up to the present. Right this very second. The next page is a mirror. It’s thin and light just like every other page, but it is unmistakably a mirror. Doing what everyone does with a mirror in their hand, I hold it up to my face. Do you know what I saw? My reflection, obviously. I’m still here, alive. Pages and pages, chapters, years have gone by. Some ugly things happened in this book, but some very lovely things happened as well. God continues to wake me up every morning. I am still here, so it must be for a reason. If I had no more purpose, God would call me home. Yet every day, he grants me the present. I do what anyone would do in this moment and cry. A lot. It’s the kind of crying one does when you realize that you’re still standing, even though circumstances and people have tried to knock you down. After a while, I get up and make myself a cup of coffee. I haven’t exactly gotten an acceptable amount of sleep, and also need to calm myself a bit. All of these thoughts and memories are swirling around in my head, but it all feels so much better than it did before. It’s like I was able to truly organize every thought I’ve ever had, and my mind is clearer than ever. It’s a truly liberating feeling, and I don’t quite know what to do with myself other than enjoy the quiet for a moment. The cats come and lay down with me, and I slip into a nap for about 30 minutes. Upon waking, I see the book sitting next to me still.

It wasn’t a dream. I really did find a book of my life and read it. It’s even still open to the mirror page. But wait, there’s more after that page. I mean, of course there’s more. Obviously my life goes on. Is there anything written on those pages, or is it blank and waiting to be written? I take one last glance in the mirror and flip it over. There’s more. Flipping through the rest of the volume, I see that every single page is covered in text. My whole life is in here, beginning to end. Whoa, the end is in here, too. If it hasn’t happened, how can it be in this surreal diary? If I read it, it’s like looking in to the future. I would know exactly what happens in the rest of my life. I almost feel like that’s cheating, though. No one gets to know what happens before it happens. Only people in fantasy novels get to see the future. But, I’ve already read the past, so I might as well read the future, too. Making another cup of coffee, I sit down and prepare for another night of reading.

Words Unspoken

Literate for a Day

I’ve had you for three years now. Three lovely years of seeing you grow. At first, you were so small that I could just hold you in my hands, and now you sprawl across all of my upper body when I hold you. You have the most beautiful green eyes I’ve ever seen, and the shiniest black coat.

Other people don’t understand you, but I do. You’re just protective and don’t like approaching people you don’t know. I get it, and I always have. I always defend you when they say you’re mean because I see the sweet side of you. I see the you that always comforts me when I’m sick or when I have a migraine. You’re so gentle with me, and I know that you can sense my pain. You’re especially amazing when I’m sad, always knowing the perfect time to jump into my lap and soothe my sadness. Your purr is truly medicinal. I hate that no one else sees this side of you, but at the same time, I’m glad that you save it just for me.

You understand me. You know exactly when I need you most, and you know exactly what to do at the perfect moment. I will always appreciate that you sleep at my feet every night, as though you want to stay close to me but also respect my space. It comforts me to see you when I go to sleep, when I wake up in the morning, and especially when I wake up in the middle of the night. I feel safe when you’re with me.

I especially want to tell you that I’m sorry. I’m sorry if I sometimes don’t appreciate your kindness and unconditional love. Sometimes I just don’t know how to accept it. I’m mostly sorry for The Big Scary Man. I had no idea that he was hurting you, though I had a suspicion. I know that you didn’t want to be close to him at all, and that sometimes that meant you couldn’t be near me either. I am so deeply sorry that I ever let him hurt you. Please know that no one else is ever going to hurt you again. I will always choose you. I am your forever home, Zoey.

I don’t tell you that I love you nearly enough, even though you show me that you do every  day. I love you so much, and I am so blessed to have found you. I’ve had you for three years, yes, but it’s you that truly has me.

Love,

Your Human

Better Late Than Never

As someone who is very new to the glamorous world of blogging, I decided to sign up for National Blog Posting Month. More affectionally known as NaBloPoMo. I was so excited to be a part of a community that would be supporting each other in the quest to post a blog every day for the entire month of November. I thought that it would help me connect with other bloggers and also push myself to be creative. My biggest fear with writing is that I’m literally going to run out of words. I’m afraid that I’ll say everything that I ever wanted to say, all of the thoughts and ideas that I’ve ever had will finally be out in the world and I will have nothing left. I thought that this month would prove to me that I will not run out of words, that I can produce more and that I am more creative than I ever imagined.

I’ve said all of that to say that I have been frightfully sick for the past few days…since November 1st to be specific. My throat has been sore, nose all disgustingly runny, my whole body has been achy and I’m pretty sure that I had a low grade fever until about 11 this morning. I have not felt like blogging or thinking at all. My body is in so much pain all over that I can’t think about anything else. I have let myself down more than anything, and I can’t wait to get better so that I can finally jump in to the NaBloPoMo arena. It’s a good thing they don’t take attendance, right?

Resolved

As this year begins to wind down while simultaneously speeding up, I reflect on resolutions. This would normally be the time of year when I would begin to think about the resolutions that I would want to make for the coming year, and think about the resolutions I made the year before, and whether or not I kept any of them.

I’ve never understood how the year from October 31st to December 31st seems to fly by in seconds, while the rest of the year flows at its regular, meandering pace.Nevertheless, it’s the time when I reflect on what has already transpired in the year and look forward to what is to come in the next year. Everyone knows the common resolutions- lose weight, get healthy, be a better person, save money, quit smoking or drinking, and finish that book you’ve been working on.

Sometimes I make resolutions, and sometimes I don’t. I believe that there is no wrong time to make a “resolution.” There’s no wrong or right time of year to make changes to yourself, your life, your habits, and there is always room for improvement. You don’t have to wait for a new year to roll over so that you can be a better you. Change is a constant process that happens every day, a choice you make daily. When you wake up in the morning, it can either be a good day, or a bad day. You can make good choices or bad choices. You can be the change, or you can be the problem. Maybe your resolution could simply be to make good choices every day, to wake up and say “Today is the day that I make it. My attitude determines where I go and how I react and interact with people. I will exude positivity and be the light that I want to be.”

I’ve never consciously made a resolution and stuck to it for an entire year. Life is too unpredictable to say that I’m going to go to the gym 5 nights a week. I can’t make commitments that way. If that works for you, then I salute you. I prefer to work on myself as I see the need. When I reflect upon my behavior, attitude, and actions and notice that something needs to change, I change it. Right then and there, no questions, no excuses. One year, I decided in January that I wouldn’t drink any more energy drinks, I was ditching the Red Bull. In August, I broke down and had one. I didn’t beat myself up over it, and acknowledged that I had done a great job of not caving in for the previous 8 months. After that, I told myself that it was ok that I had had an energy drink, and that if I continued drinking them, to do so in moderation. After all, isn’t that the secret to life? Another year, I decided that I was going to give up eating fried food. That lasted for three days. Chick-fil-a, I will never be able to resist your delicious greasiness.

There’s no shame if you can’t hold down a resolution for an entire year, a lot of people can’t. The most important thing is that you work on yourself, and be the best you that you can be. Change is inevitable, so we should embrace it. If you’re not changing, you’re not growing. No growth means that you’ve become complacent with life, you’re stagnant. Stagnation is never a good thing, and that’s a good way to lose friends and loved ones that are close to you. Keep growing, keep changing, keep challenging yourself, and keep true to yourself. As the great Garth Brooks said, “life’s a dance, you learn as you go. Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow.”

Stroke of Midnight

3, 2, 1, Happy New Year! Except I am already asleep, and dead to the world. This is the first time in my life where I have been asleep at midnight when the old year passes and we seamlessly slip into the new. This year, asleep is where I want to be. Asleep and oblivious.

Rewind to Thanksgiving, a little less than two months ago. I have just learned that throughout the duration of our marriage, my husband of over four years has been hiding a pornography addiction from me. He’s also been hiding that he’s had cyber sex with maybe ten women since we’ve been married. I know, it doesn’t sound like a big deal. But this shook me to my core. A million questions float through my mind constantly, like waves crashing on the shore. They never stop, the intervals just change. What else was he hiding? Why didn’t he tell me? Did he have feelings for any of them? Why did he do this? Am I going to stay in this marriage where my husband doesn’t love me, or am I going to leave? I thought back to all of the time that we had shared together, and how much of myself I invested in the marriage. As much as he would disagree, I put myself aside in order to focus on him a lot. “Wives submit to your husbands.” the church says. He liked to remind me of this, too. I guess to him this meant “sacrifice every dream and desire you have ever had so that you can follow along behind me like a puppy dog and be there to cheer me on.” While I will always be his number one fan and cheerleader, somehow, I didn’t think this was what God had in mind when he told wives to submit.

He had lots of dreams, goals, and ambitions. He knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life- knew what he wanted to be, where he wanted to go, and who he wanted to be. For that, and that alone, I was jealous of him. I spent so much time focusing on him that I didn’t think a lot about what I wanted to do, or who I was. I put so much of myself into our marriage that I lost myself. A question that began to make its way to the forefront of my mind was “What about me?” I slowly, with the speed of molasses, began to realize that I could truly put myself at center stage. Now, I am a selfish, only child by nature so I will always put myself first. This putting myself first meant putting my own soul, spirit, and mentality first. It meant discovering what my own try happiness meant to me, and depending on no one else for it. I could finally find out what I wanted in life, and discover who I wanted to be. The best, truest version of myself.

As I began to ponder my life without a husband, I realized that being married had been, until that point, the only goal I hoped to achieve for my life. All I ever wanted to be was married. I aspired to marriage, and didn’t bother to think much past that. I thought back to when I wanted to be a singer; wanted to eat, sleep, and breathe music. School didn’t work out, however. It proved to be too much for my anxiety to handle. Then I remembered how I had wanted to be a professional makeup artist since I was 15 and had my first MAC makeover. Or maybe I would swallow my anxiety long enough to get a degree and then go into marketing. The fact of the matter was that the possibilities were endless, and I was excited. I actually couldn’t fathom the endlessness of these possibilities, never allowed it to fully consume me. There were so many options that I just couldn’t think about them all.

On the other hand, we’d been married for over four years- almost five. We were building a life together and had shared so much with each other. Of course we were close, I mean, how could you not be? He had just started talking about buying our first house which excited me beyond reason. Then, he started talking about having kids which excited me even more. We talked at length sometimes about how we wanted our life to be, the life we were building together. One cat, one dog, one house, two kids. He would teach them Bible and I would teach them music. My Mom would babysit and spoil them and have fun with them, just like she did with me when I was a kid. His parents would see them a few weekends out of the year and teach them about nerdy things. It was a perfect plan, so how could he hide something like this from me the whole time? Wasn’t his conscience tearing him apart? More importantly, could I really throw all of that away for something as benign as cyber sex? I mean, it wasn’t physical sex with another woman, but to me it was still cheating just the same. The betrayal was the same. The hurt and pain, I guarantee you, were exactly the same. I cried almost every day. I felt like I was mourning a loss, and I was. The loss of a life partner, a best friend, a mate, the life that could have been, and it hurt. I would go to work every day like nothing was wrong and just think, “shouldn’t there be some sort of bereavement time for something like this?” I felt like I needed time to myself to just grieve, but I knew I couldn’t do that. So, solider on, I did.

All of these thoughts and questions, amongst others, kept me awake all night. They distracted me during the day and kept me from focusing on anything else. I drank. A lot. Often. I drank because it was like a miracle elixir that shut all of the thoughts and questions off. It was the “Off” button for me, and I needed it. Everything was so overwhelming that I didn’t think I could handle it. It crushed me whenever I let it fully crash over me like an enormous, 100 foot wave during high tide. It engulfed and swallowed me and dragged me down to the depths of my mind and left me drowning in sadness. So, I have said all of this to say that on this particular New Year’s Eve, when I am all alone in my apartment and my friends, family, and husband are elsewhere, I am blissfully asleep.