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The other day I was having a good ugly cry about I-can’t-remember-what divorce-related fallout—a swift
kick to the guts I receive on a daily basis—and I decided to take myself to
Barnes & Noble.
Large buildings stuffed with books have always comforted me.
I used to spend recesses stealing books from my library in elementary because
the one check-out we were allowed per week was never enough; I escaped the
chaos of my home as a teenager by studying at the library. No Internet then, my
time was spent equally between causing trouble with friends and writing reports
from heavy, thick encyclopedia volumes that I loved paging through. Nothing
pleased me more than being given a topic to research. I was fired from a
high-paying producer position at WABC in Manhattan once and, instead of going
home, immediately walked across the street to the Lincoln Center Barnes &
Noble because it felt right. It was
right as I happened upon a book reading and signing by one of my favorite
authors at the time. Buildings with books were the magic kingdoms of my childhood
and remain so now. They offer comfort and safety and stories and information
and advice and there is probably even a book in there somewhere called "Divorce for Dummies" with a chapter called “Stop Writing About Your Divorce” that would obviously
never find its way into my tall stack of purchases.
Buildings with books were the magic kingdoms of my childhood and remain so now.
So I wiped off mascara-streaked cheeks and got myself to the
bookstore. Upon entering that comforting whoosh of warm air at the entrance,
the wafting scent of brewing Starbucks coffee, smooth jazz on speaker and the occasional
hushed coughs of customers is always an immediate balm to my itchy soul. Once
inside, I immediately gravitated toward Amy Poehler’s new book “Yes Please,”
like it was what I set out to purchase. I’ve now been reading it for the past
few days. Being the badass broad that she is, doling words of wisdom for
women is Amy’s oeuvre, but the one sentence that keeps echoing around my mind is
"OTHER PEOPLE ARE NOT MEDICINE."
I have been attempting to plug the holes in my personality
with other people for my entire life. It’s high time for that to be over. I
need to accept myself for who I am and really
be OK with that or else decide what I can’t be OK with and work on fixing
it. I’ve had a negative monologue about myself running through my head for so
long I don’t know what’s real and what isn’t anymore. But I need to stop
seeking others to counterpoint the negativity and do it myself. Be my own best
friend. Accept myself and fix myself, if I can.
In the wake of my separation I could (and can) feel myself
thrashing around uncomfortably in the silence of having no one there. Flailing
mindlessly against the fear of wondering if I’ll end up old and alone. Sometimes
the voices in my head are angry and loud and mostly negative; like enduring
nonstop verbal abuse from someone who hates you. It can be hard to sit alone
with them. But I’m learning. Learning to hush them or listen to them and yes,
even have conversations with them. I might be losing my mind. Sometimes it
feels like I am. And then I try and write from an honest place but sometimes it
feels like my writing is holding me hostage, keeping me from moving on. Other
times it feels like it’s my salvation, the only way I’ll be able to move on. Do you see how messed in the head I am?
I have been attempting to plug the holes in my personality with other people for my entire life. It’s high time for that to be over.
But I am forcing myself to live in the pain now, each and every
excruciating minute of it, instead of wadding it up and stuffing it down, because
each minute lived through is another lesson learned, a minute closer to the
other side, whatever that is. I don’t know what the future holds, don’t know
that there is such a thing as true love, don’t know if I I’m capable of it or
if I even believe in traditional marriage anymore but even if I’m alone forever there has got to be better than Here, squirming uncomfortably under the microscope
of my own judgmental eyes, perpetual victim of my own negative monologue.
"When you are a
person going through a divorce, you feel incredibly alone, yet you are
constantly reminded by society of how frequently divorce happens and how common
it has become," Poehler says in her memoir. "You aren't allowed to
feel special, but no one knows the specific ways you are in pain."
Specific pain and no
one to share it with: Yes. I get that millions of people have gone through
divorce and each and every one of them struggled mightily with their particular
set of troubles and heartache but not a single one of them shares the specific
pain that is the result of dealing with the dissolution of my marriage with my
personality. So, while high numbers of people have experienced divorce it can
still be extremely lonely dealing with the circumstances of your own particular
situation. But I suppose even that notion is comforting. We’re all dealing with
our own very specific set of troubles but there is comfort in our mutual
In the wake of my separation I could and can feel myself thrashing around uncomfortably in the silence of having no one there. Flailing mindlessly against the fear of wondering if I’ll end up old and alone
Thoughts about my ex,
thoughts about our children—they slice through my mind at the strangest
moments and can reduce me to tears in seconds. I don’t think a single day of
2014 has passed that I haven’t cried at some point. Not a statistic I’m proud
of, but my loneliness and neediness has me constantly reminding myself of
Poehler’s stellar advice: "Other people are not medicine."
That’s not to say that
friends can’t be a great source of comfort—they can and mine have. I wouldn’t
have made it through this dark season of my life if not for a specific set of
sassy women who are funny and insightful and get me. What it means to me is
that I have to sit with my pain, understand it and learn from it, instead of
flapping crazily around and searching for someone to fill the void. It’s tempting
to accept attention from those giving it but thus far I have kept myself
removed from situations that felt as if I was only using someone to fill the
hole in my life left behind by the divorce explosion.