The day love started drifting away, conformity made its way through the door.
She was sitting on the red kiddy table set against the wall, sipping on a scorching cup of tea and nibbling on a cheese roll, while he rambled on about something or another that she couldn’t keep up with because she was drowning in her own head. She kept staring at him, nodding her head every now and then so it would look like she was actively participating in the monologue. But she wasn’t. She was drowning in her own head, realizing how severely fragile their relationship was. She always referred to it as holding water. No matter how hard you try to keep it between your fingers, it always runs away, leaving you empty.
It was this same water that was swooshing in her mind. She knew this, so much, that when he stopped in his tracks and asked her what was going on, all she could say was:
–mmm, nothing, nothing really
–but you look as though something’s on your mind
–there’s always something on my mind
He had moved into the apartment a few weeks before. It was a two bedroom apartment on the last floor of the building. It had an open floor plan with high vaulted ceilings that made it look bigger than it actually was. The lack of furniture made it seem even bigger. Like a pair of pants two sizes two big that not matter how much you try to keep cinched to your waist, they always end up falling off. A sectional sofa they selected together in Rooms To Go, the small brown TV unit they built together from Ikea and a king size bed that was heavier than a dead body – which they barely carried up three flights of stairs – were the only furnishings decorating the place. Scarce could be the word, but the real wanting in there wasn’t furniture, it was decision.
Uncertainty hung in the air like a weak ceiling fan, creaking as it turned feeling nauseated from so much spinning. It was so palpable she could’ve sworn she felt it go through her entire body, as if she had been coated with haze. Life, for them, always depended on something or another to which she had no power over, no control over, no saying over. That night, she went to bed knowing there was nothing left to do but to brace herself for what was coming.
She began going through the motions of everyday, breathing deeply every morning, knowing with certainty that the day was coming, she just didn’t know when or how. The impending arrival of her very own dooms day weight her down, but she moved swiftly, stepping carefully over each egg shell. She succumbed to what was written.
*photo credit: https://www.schuminweb.com/photo_features/empty-apartment/
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts and presents aren’t always promises and you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes ahead with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.
And you learn to build all your roads on today because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers
And you learn that you really can endure, that you really are strong and you really do have worth and you learn and you learn
with every good-bye you learn.
“Houston, in the blind…Houston, in the blind…”
Sandra Bullock – or her character I should say – desperately looks for a signal back to earth in the middle of nowhere in space. Gravity. She’s looking for gravity.
I’ve been looking for gravity. Floating out in space like a lost satellite. No signal. I got on a bus and forgot to get off on the last stop. I’m roaming, constantly moving somewhere but don’t know where to.
Gravity. I lost my gravity. Houston, in the blind.
A message comes through and I sit, for days at a time analyzing every word, every letter. And nothing makes sense. I make a list of all possible reasons why this message arrived. But I never answer. I dissect it into small segments. Read it. Read it again. No answer.
Houston, in the blind.
If we are all bound to be attracted to something, the way gravity pulls us to earth, why are we still so lost? Floating, roaming, spacing out and not getting any signal. Sending messages out in the blind? Receiving them. Not answering. Not listening.
Houston, in the blind. This is the Ugly Duckling.
I keep moving. Constantly moving, going somewhere. I don’t know when and if I’ll make it there. But the bus never stop. The satellite continuously transmits a signal that nobody receives.
Houston, in the blind. This is the Ugly Duckling. Houston, in the blind, searching for gravity.
- not acknowledging or expressing regret.“he remained unapologetic about his decision”
A few weeks ago, in the midst of one of the toughest heartbreaks of my life – not that I’ve had many, although one is enough – I decided to tattoo the word “unapologetic” on my right arm. As it is customary for me, I simmer on the idea of a tattoo for a long time before I actually decide to mark my skin permanently with something that could potentially be a temporary emotion.
Therefore, I must clarify – although I don’t need to offer explanations to anyone but myself – that even though this tattoo occurred in the midst of emotional turmoil, I had actually given plenty of thought to this one single 12 letter word for a long time, before branding it on my skin.
Unapologetic is a harsh word. It’s often misunderstood and thought of as that person who point blank does not care about the damage or pain that his/her actions may cause to others. I do what I want and I will not apologize for it.
Far from it.
In this journey called life, more often than not, we become this mixture of who we want to be with what we think others want us to be. We abide by society rules, follow the teachings of our families and we end up being very, very…unhappy. I was an unhappy human. I still am. I struggle daily with the choices that will either make me or break me. But I have a strong desire, above all, to be ME. I want to look back in life at 87 – if I make it there – and say: I became the human I wanted to be.
At some point in the past two years, I began changing the human I was for the human I long to be. I stopped caring about others’ opinions of me. No, I did not turn into a rebel, I just don’t allow myself to make decisions based on the opinions of others. I put me and my own first. I prioritize my life and my needs not only in the order where it makes sense, but in the order where it makes ME HAPPY. I started what I called the project All-About-Me.
Oftentimes I found myself apologizing for my feelings, as if, my feelings were germs. I’m sorry if I’m asking you to give me what I deserve. I’m sorry I feel frustrated. I’m sorry I feel insecure. I’m sorry I’m disappointed.
I am not sorry at all. Feelings are a consequence of an action, and yes, although they occur on a very cellular and personal level, feelings are also an external responsibility. Some feelings, are inevitably provoqued. And no one, and I mean NO ONE, can make you apologize for something they caused. As you are responsible for the way you feel, you are also responsible for what you have made others feel. Let’s start wearing our big girls and boys pants, and realize, you are responsible for the way you treat others. Period. No excuses.
When you start putting yourself first, you also realize that there is a level of freedom out there that you have not fully reached, but you are well on your way. The freedom of not letting anyone dictate your life. I won’t say the process has been easy. I’ve found myself questioning everything I do, and asking people for their opinion, more than I care to ask. But there is an immense field of potential when you realize that no matter what you do, the world will continue turning.
So I gave myself this set of rules/questions to live by and those I use everytime I find the inevitable fork in the road:
- Does it add positively to your life?
- Does it harm you or anyone in the process?
- Is it legal, moral or ethical? (Note, morals are purely a personal concept. Use yours, not your neighbors’)
- Is your child, or family, fed, cared for and in a comfortable position?
- Does it make you feel happy?
If the answer is Yes, by all means, DO THE THING! Whether is a tattoo, a new car, a piece of clothing, food, ending a relationship, letting go of a friend. Whatever it is. If it’s not adding constructively and positively to your life, DON’T DO IT or LET IT GO.
I have made myself the promise to live unapologetically. What does that mean to me? Easy. If I lived a truthful, loyal and caring life for me and mine, I’m simply not sorry about anything.
I am and will be Unapologetically Me.
“You have a stress fracture in one of your vertebrae.”
I’m staring at the X-rays of my back hanging from a lighted metal box on the wall. My ears are buzzing. What did he just say? A stress fracture? What does that even mean? I look back and forth from the wall to the doctor’s face and back again. My bones are so pretty. All lined up in a perfect row. And broken.
-“So, can I run?”
-“No. No running of any kind. No high impact sports. No jumping. No pounding of any kind.”
Gulp. No running. Now you’ve done it Ugly Duckling. How did you fracture your spine anyway?
For a few months now, I’ve been having all kinds of back pain, headaches and hip pain. Every time I ran during training, I was in a lot of pain. Subsequently, I would limp for about a week or two because I couldn’t bear putting any weight on my hip, or else pain would inevitably follow. So I decided it was time to reach out to an expert and find out what was wrong with me.
As I sat in the doctors office, occasionally walking back and forth from the x-ray room – they took at least 7 images from my back – I couldn’t imagine he would say something was wrong. I was already envisioning starting my training for the two races I’ve signed up and paid for in October. I even heard him say in my head “you’re fine, you have nothing to worry about”. But when he blurted out the words fracture and vertebrae in one sentence, something hit me in the gut.
I can’t run. I can’t do the only thing I’ve been fighting so hard for. What else are they going to take away from me? Doughnuts?
So, now I’m looking at – at least – three weeks of therapy, an MRI, a possible herniated disc and God only knows what else. So what? Therapy? Bring it. I don’t care what it takes, I want to lace up my shoes again, safety pin the bib to my shirt, wrap my bandana around my head and pound that pavement. I will look at the Finish line in the face again, and tell it: You’re mine bitch!