Exactly a year ago I stayed in on a Friday night to read Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (which was a tad too predictable for me). However, I did read a line that I loved, and I loved it so much I wrote it down.
“The thing about being catapulted into a whole new life … is that it forces you to rethink your idea of who you are. Or how you might seem to other people.”
I never noticed how much I was bothered by people’s perception of me until I met one of my girlfriends in college. The day I met her I looked like I walked off the cover of a GAP catalog. I was wearing khakis, a white button down and a v-neck sweater. We made plans to go to a frat party the next night and I showed up in leather pants and a crop top. Her eyes got big and I knew she couldn’t believe it was the same girl, the look she gave me was the same look I got from most people. They were always confused about who I was and they had no idea how to take me. Well, I had no idea who the hell I was either, all I knew was that I HATED confusing people and it happened all the time.
I spent a lot of time beating myself up about not being able to figure out if I was the girl in the khakis or the girl in the leather. I would constantly tell myself to pick one, pick a version of me and stick with it. Unfortunately, I always wanted to be both, but I didn’t know how, I didn’t think it was ok. So I forced myself to pick.
Married me was the girl in the khakis. The suburbs, the Pinterest dinners, early nights, the couple’s events.
Divorced me was the girl in the leather. The city, the fast food, late nights, bars.
When I got divorced I wanted to escape my old life as quickly as possible, so I ran as fast as I could in the other direction. The only way I knew how to leave it all behind, was to become someone who was the exact opposite.
But then one day, I hit a wall. Because what I learned was that when you’re living life at opposite ends of the spectrum, it’s not really you, it’s an extreme version of you. No matter how quiet or how loud the life is that you choose to live, in any extreme, it’s exhausting and one day it all becomes too much.
It took me over a decade to realize I didn’t like only being the khaki version of myself. It took me three years to realize I didn’t like only being the leather version of myself. The scariest part about my new life was that I didn’t know who to be when I could no longer see the future that I thought was ahead of me.
So, I have found the hardest part about being divorced or newly single isn’t figuring out what to do next. It’s finding a balance between the old you and the new you.
The people that bother me most are the ones that fail to understand that just like there are two sides to every story, there are two (or even more) sides to people. They judge, they criticize, they tell you how to live your life, but there’s one thing they don’t do. They don’t ask questions.
My blog makes me an easy target and after people started reading it the comments followed. “Of course she doesn’t have a boyfriend. All she does is hang out at bars and make out with random guys.” Aside from the fact that that sounds pretty amazing, nobody ever bothered to ask WHY I do what I do.
I’ll get to the bar later, but I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve made out with a guy at a bar, I’m becoming a real disappointment, I’m also completely over it. I can tell you that when I did do that I was after validation. I didn’t get the attention I wanted when I was married, so when I got divorced that’s what I was after. I needed to know that I still had it, that I was still pretty and kissable and appealing to guys. When I had a ring on my finger I was invisible, I didn’t want to be invisible anymore.
But you never asked.
Having professional athlete friends was the fastest thing I learned to shut my mouth about. People’s comments were disgusting, incredibly hurtful and disgusting.
Aside from meeting Freight Train on Cinco de Mayo, I lived in the same building with a lot of them, we were all neighbors! Believe it or not, hanging out with athletes SUCKS! It fucking sucks! If you go out in public it’s a production, people follow you around and they want to join your group, they actually don’t just want to join- THEY DO! It’s BIZARRE! Not only that, the amount of fake people that come around blows my mind, everyone wants money or something for free, everyone wants to get more followers on social media and everyone has an idea for a clothing line that they need help starting (insert MOST dramatic eye roll).
I didn’t get shoes, clothes or free gifts. I never asked for anything and any time we went to dinner or had a big night out I always offered money.
Roomie and I declined plenty of invites to attend parties or get-togethers, we didn’t understand their life and they didn’t understand ours and on a lot of days we had to keep our worlds separate.
But you never asked.
People always tell me I need to do something different besides going to bars to meet guys. (Face palm.)
My mom and grandma spent most of their time in the kitchen and they would pride themselves on the meals they would make us. My grandpa built a huge bar in his basement and I loved hearing the stories of the parties they would have and looking at the pictures. From my earliest memory, the kitchen and the bar were places that people enjoyed coming together, everyone was happy. People go to restaurants and bars to come together, to unwind from the day, to relax and enjoy the company of other people. If we’re supposed to meet someone doing what we love, then you’ll find me at a bar or restaurant. I have met TONS of amazing people! I may not meet the man of my dreams there but at least I’m still doing something I love. So no, you’re not going to find me joining some kayaking club in a desperate attempt to meet someone. When it comes to the outdoors, I’m a fucking liability.
But you never asked.
If guys would go out with me they would say, “Can you not blog about me?”
First of all, if you’re telling me you don’t want me to blog about you, all I’m actually hearing is, “I would love to know what you have to say about me, but I only want you to write about me if it’s good, don’t write about me if it’s bad.” THAT is all I hear.
Second of all, I’m not Taylor Swift, but things really worked out for her so maybe I should rethink what I’m doing. I’ve maybe written about two guys, which I kind of regret, not because I said anything bad about them, I was honest, but because I’ve learned a lot- mostly about myself. I may have bitched about the crappy things they did, but they knew what they did, I didn’t need to point it out. I mostly wrote about it because I didn’t get my way and rejection is the worst! Placing blame on them was way easier than admitting the real reason why I was pissed.
Third of all, my blog is about me. I wanted to help myself and figured maybe what I was saying would help other people too. Turns out, it’s working out pretty damn well. Not only is it a great release for me, but people tell me their stories or say thank you because they’re glad someone else feels the same and has the guts to talk about it. For the record, my blog has over 35,000 views.
But you never asked.
I get told I’m a party girl (which I’m assuming mostly means I’m an alcoholic).
Ask my grade school friends, high school friends, college friends, Cleveland friends and Roomie how many times they’ve seen me drunk. They’ll struggle to recall a single time. I just like being out and I love being around my friends, I enjoy drinking and I of course love doing shots of fireball! However, I do not love looking sloppy, slurring my words, or looking like a hot mess. I also can’t drink a lot, for being Irish the gene that’s supposed to enable me to hold my liquor completely skipped me. I typically won’t get drunk around people I don’t know or people I’m uncomfortable with, and if I’m getting too drunk I either go home or I go to the bathroom and dump my drink, the vodka soda quickly becomes a water with lime. Cats out of the bag.
But you never asked.
This past December my niece was born and we were thrilled to have her home in time for Christmas. My mom took a picture of me holding her and put it on Facebook. Within minutes the texts starting coming in, “You with a kid, please,” “Replace the baby with a bottle of wine,” “You with a baby is the funniest thing on my newsfeed.” I completely understand the humor in the post, the problem I have is with the people that actually believe I’d be a shitty mom. I’ve always been good with kids and I thought that I’d have two or three by now, but I don’t. I could sit around and dwell on all the things I don’t have but I’d rather have fun and focus on what I do have, because I have a lot of good things. If I meet someone and we decide to have a kid, cool, but if I don’t I’ll believe it just wasn’t meant to be. I can’t dwell on what life could be, I can only make the best of what it is.
But you never asked. Because nobody asks questions they don’t want the answer to.
This past winter I was at Flying Fig and I started asking the bartender about his tattoos. He told me the stories behind some of them and when I told him I didn’t have any he asked what I would get. I had no idea, but I told him it had to be something really meaningful.
A few months later I was lying in bed staring at a large metal ampersand I have on a shelf. I thought about the conversation I had with the bartender and I wanted to run back and tell him I figured out my tattoo, it would be an ampersand and justice scales (obviously meshed together in a really cool design, duh).
The ampersand is a unique character (it was actually the 27th letter of the alphabet). The ampersand can stand alone, and when it does its beautiful and distinct, but it also has an important job. It connects two things. It has taken me so long to figure out that I’m not just one thing, I’m 1,000 different things and I’ve finally figured out a way to balance all of it. It was balance that was key and now I’m a perfect combination of khaki & leather.
I have finally freed myself of the burden of having to choose a certain way to act or be and it feels amazing. I’m completely confident and happy with who I am, which makes it easy for me to take the things people say and let it go in one ear and out the other.
Until it gets to the point when it all becomes too much.
I get tired of feeling like I have to justify myself to people who’ve made a half-assed attempt to get to know me or who say they’re my friend but certainly don’t act like it. They make their comments, and I can take it because 99% of the time I know it’s coming from a place of jealousy, fear or some insecurity and I know it’s not worth me fighting back.
I watched an interview with Princess Diana and she said she wouldn’t be queen because the family she married into wouldn’t allow it. She went on to explain that people are afraid of someone who’s strong and confident, especially a female. When people can’t figure out why you’re so strong and confident, they begin to fear you. It’s that fear that drives them to take you down.
For the most part I choose not to say or do anything because I believe in taking the high road, but lately it’s been getting to the point where taking the high road looks and feels a lot more like avoidance. Since I believe so firmly in balance, I think it’s about time I change lanes and cut some people off to let them know they can kiss my ass.
You can continue to do what you do and say what you say, but know this. The lane change is coming. When you make negative comments about me and my life, you’re opening a door, a door that I can walk through too. And we all know if there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s how to make an entrance.
You don’t have to like my blog, or me, or the way I live my life. I think I’m just embarrassed to admit I’ve spent more time than normal wondering what I’ve done wrong and what I’ve done to make people say such awful things.
So, the thing about being catapulted into a whole new life was that it did force me to rethink my idea of who I was, it took some searching but I found out. I found out that it was never me with the issues.