Thursday, October 7, 2010

Do You Know Who I Am?

That's Me around January of 2004 at Nolan's baby shower. 

My X looked after the kids for me this Saturday night while I went out to dinner with my writing mentor Laurie Block who was in town from Brandon. It worked out well because he, concurrently, had an event that he wanted to take the kids too out at the Corn Maze which was going to involve fire pits and hay bales and general all-round muckiness. Ten minutes prior to arriving at my door to pick them up he calls to say he is on his way and, Are they ready?

He'd talked to me the day before about rubber boots and splash pants and jackets and the like for the event because as it is when you don't live in the same house and the kids live in both places, "stuff" inevitably gets divided. So I had Emma's rubber boots and he had Nolan's, he thought, and neither of us were sure about the existence or whereabouts of the splash pants issue.

Well I've asked Emma to put on dark coloured pants because she is wearing beige pants right now but so far she hasn't acted on that, I tell him. I'm doing this for him, you see, I would never get this uptight about what they choose to wear.  And Nolan is wearing jeans that have a rip in the knee .....

Simultaneously over top of each other:
.....which will be perfect for this kind of thing (says me).
.....well those will have to be changed (says he).

Sigh. As usual we are on a vastly different wavelength and have a different opinion. 

OK, I know I just put his wind pants in the wash and they are in the dryer now so I will go and look for them.

But of course the load of laundry I did was HUGE and the pants I was looking for didn't magically align themselves at the front of the dryer. A short panicked dig didn't get me anywhere and I just decided that the only way about it would be to start removing items one by one. And this is where I still was when he got to the door and the kids let him in. I could tell by the tone of his voice that he was in a rush and running behind. I find the pants and up the stairs I go and I am greeted to:

Do you have an older sweatshirt for him?

He's helping our son into his brand new sweatshirt, and really, at this point. I'm wondering why he is so worried about the kids getting dirty. They are going to get dirty and laundry will need to be done whether the clothes they are wearing are new or old, ripped or not.

I don't know and I don't know that I would be able to find it right now. And it doesn't matter if he gets that dirty. Laundry can be done.

Oh. OK, says he.

And it was done. The multiple "requests" for me to find them different clothes were then shrugged off like they were never a problem and it occurred to me then that these requests were not because he wanted them or was fussy about this stuff, but because he was walking on eggshells for me.

Which means he doesn't really know me anymore. Was I the kind of wife that would have "flipped out" over the kids getting their clothes dirty? Did I ever "flip out" about anything? Do I "flip out" about things now?

(I admit quite regularly I flip out if someone pulls the rug out from under my feet. Sets up one expectation and delivers another.)

And my next thought was: Does he find it strange to see who I am now? Because I don't wonder that about him at all. As far as I can see, he's exactly the same as he always was.
Am I seriously wearing lipstick? 

Now, in all fairness, he couldn't have really known me during the time we were married. How can you know someone who doesn't really know herself? I've been in therapy for about 4 years now because of the circumstances surrounding the end of my marriage. My visits are more scant than they once were but I clearly remember one session very early on in the process that had me telling my therapist that I had been flipping through an old photo album of pictures of myself from around the time I got engaged into the early portion of my childbearing life and I felt like I was looking at a stranger. I barely recognized the person in the pictures.

And I can still look at a picture and instantly know which era of my life it is from. Like the time I showed one of my post marriage boyfriends the photo on my Costco card and unfairly asked him if he would have dated that woman. I was pregnant with my son  and swollen in the face and had long straggly hair when that picture was taken. I wouldn't have dated me either.

What can I say... I had varied tastes in TV watching from the West Wing to......

.....Veronica Mars my favorite teen super sleuth.

I watched a lot of TV, for one. My life used to revolve around what night of the week it was and when the shows I liked to watch were on. I had to give up something when I started writing my book and it was TV that went and its never came back. For all intents and purposes, I don't watch any TV at all now. Although I spend extraordinary amounts of time on the computer probably equivalent to or exceeding my former TV watching time.

I didn't drink coffee and I hated it. Coffee drinking started also when I started writing my book but started more slowly before that with dessert drinks like cafe mocha and caramel macchiatos and Bailey's Coffee (because all things are better with Bailey's). Now I drink way too much of the stuff. There was a time when a large was big enough in the morning. Now an extra large is too small.

I was more terrified of spending money. There is no way in hell that 5 years ago I would have spent $4000 on a bike. I was the teen who greedily maintained that $1000 minimum balance on my bank account and that lasted until, well, I actually was earning money and living on my own and working and being a grad student at the same time. There was a time that I went to the bank and paid cash to pay off my car loan but I wouldn't spend $2000 to fly to Europe. The days of feeling like I have money are only a dream of now. Divorce + Carpe Diem = DEBT.

I didn't drink alcohol. Rarely. I've often joked that divorce and the threat of it are the sure way to bring your alcohol tolerance back to what it was when you were 19. Now -- I drink more -- enough that in certain circles I feel like I drink too much. But I also have circles that can drink me under the table handily so I figure I'm sorta average. But from rare to average is a lot of drinks.

The melding of my "lives": Me playing baseball in my cycling clothes. I was actually pretty good at this sport. Most "Triathletes" I know claim that they always sucked at team sports.

I didn't exercise. I thought about it a lot though. I tried to talk my now-ex into doing things like going for a walk and taking a bike ride. We played baseball in the summer for beer and pizza (part of the "rare" drinking).

I used to sit down with recipe books and plan out my meals for the family for the week. This was when I was on maternity leave. Who was I kidding? I don't care about cooking. And I didn't then either but I sure thought I was supposed to.

The scary thing is that I was actually  kinda good at this. And Yes, sigh, my daughter really did put nail polish hand prints on the wall. Isnt' she talented? She was not even 2 when she drew that stick figure in the basement office.

I used to Scrapbook -- one of the other things that I quit when I started to write. It was relaxing and I enjoyed the artistic outlet but at a certain point I became overwhelmed with the ridiculousness of it. I had some pages that used to take me 3 hours to complete.

Here's another example: Set to serve two purposes because this is me at the fattest I got after having kids. Before I started running which would have been about 4 months after this picture was taken, I weighed in at about 149 pounds. Now I am around 131 (on a skinny day).

Me at the skinniest I've been post children. At the Police half marathon April 2007 and probably about 120 pounds. Not to be compared with today as I am a different muscle mass ratio now.

I was pretty fat after my kids were born. Fat for me anyway, who's high school weight was 99 pounds. But the funny thing is that I joke about being fat now but I look at those pictures and I have no memory of being as fat as I was in them. 

But those are all just functional things and it is more than that. I have my theories, of course. I can talk about feeling like I was stifled and trapped. I can talk about how I felt like I had no options other than to be what others felt was the path I should be on. I can talk about fear. I can talk about being afraid to show people who I was. I can talk about feeling emotionally dead but unless you've experienced this, you will not know what I mean.  I can talk about that sense of unrest I had and the little obsessive thought that kept returning to my head, wondering if I could write an entire book on my summer vacation.

And then I did. And everything changed.


Tavia Corkum said...

Amen. Well said Kim.

Terri said...

Life sure does change some things about us, doesn't it? I'm realizing that now more than ever.

Lisa said...

Sometimes I think life is a series of self-discoveries. With many marriages you move on similar paths yet in a state of constant change…with others, change comes at different speeds and in different directions and before you know it you are in what seems like two separate countries speaking different languages with no recollection of how either of you got there. That’s what happened to me…