Recently I’ve been at my wits end trying to figure out how else to fill my time these days. Some days I am really good at it and others not so much. Some days I am up and at it, early, tackling every task on my list. And other days, I just lay on couch and watch endless hours of TV, and eat, and nap.
This week was a struggle trying to think about what I wanted to write because quite frankly I am a little tired of addressing COVID19. There are so many conflicting news reports that I am just tired. And it seems at this moment, that this is going to be the rest of our lives. Right?
The other day I decided to purge one more bin of paperwork, as if I haven’t purged enough and I found a bin full of journals and essays and writings going back about 20 years ago. Crazy right?
I started to read through some of it and I came across something I wanted to share with you that I wrote during a pretty low time in my life. I know am not alone when I tell you that as a teen and young adult, I struggled with depression. It followed me into my adulthood, but it wasn’t something I really knew how to articulate. It wasn’t something that was spoken about or even understood. But I have spent years going to therapy on and off to deal with general life issues.
Anyway, I was at a really low point in my life when I wrote this. I was feeling restless as you will read after having reunited with my husband after a three-year separation. I was confused and had this overwhelming sense of feeling like I just didn’t belong in the life I was living.
It didn’t have a title, so I am just going to share with you….
“I don’t know how I got to this – sitting in a motel that fits the perfect description of “seedy”. Come to think of it seedy might be too good of a word considering the dingy, faded yellow brocade comforter, the veneer TV stand that reminded me of something in my mother’s house growing up, and the carpet that had the ever so slight smell of mold mixed with disinfectant. I keep picturing an undercover operation and narcs busting through the door and me getting arrested for prostitution just because I am here. It’s that sort of place. But in my sadness and desperation to just get away, I just drove and drove and I ended up here. Tears in eyes, a heaviness in my chest and pen in hand.
I keep trying to retrace my steps – you know, how I ended up here, at this point in my life. How did I end up in this place, this motel, this sadness, this drunkenness, this dark hole that is threatening to swallow me whole?
I mean not too long ago I was living my life – the day to day mundane – going through the motions; being a wife, a mom, working and going to school. Hosting get togethers, writing research papers, cleaning and cooking and putting on a happy face. It was a routine that was all too familiar, so familiar, I could probably get through my days with my eyes closed. At times complacent, at other times overwhelming, but always routine.
I knew what to expect, all day every day. Speak when spoken to, pay bills, clean up when needed, have sex at least once a week, show the right amount of affection and reaction to not let on that I was barely awake. When I went out in public, I smiled and showed enough interest to keep the speaker talking about what I thought was an endless list of nothing. And tried really hard not to let the sadness, the depression take over me.
At night, when everything gets quiet and all I hear is the sound of the cars driving by, I lay there and think about my life and try to thank God for everything I have, my children, my loving family, my health and home, food and clothing -you know all the things I am supposed to be grateful for.
But once in a while in the midst of all those jumbled thoughts, in those quiet seconds in between wakefulness and drifting off to sleep, I’d make a wish. I’d wish that maybe tomorrow I’d wake up in somebody else’s shoes. I’d wish that maybe tomorrow I couldn’t carry the burden of so many people’s happiness. I’d wish that maybe tomorrow I wouldn’t wake up. I’d lay there with my eyes tightly closed.
When I went back to school, I swore it was to get an education, you know, so I could be a role model for my girls. I sacrificed many nights with my kids, school activities, or just down time at home. And though I loved school, I sometimes think, that I don’t know, subconsciously I used it as an escape from my everyday life. My escape from a life that at that moment didn’t feel like it quite fit; an escape at a time that I wasn’t even sure what I was escaping. It’s funny I never realized how our psyche knows just what we need when we need it.
My husband and I have been back together for five years now after a brief separation. Five years ago, it seemed the right thing to do. Get back together and raise our kids. Yet tonight I am not so sure. Again. Somewhere along the way the reasons I fought so hard for, to get my marriage back, became blurry, not so clear, other people’s reasons, not mine. Making my mother and in laws happy. My daughter’s happy. But I feel suffocated and I feel like I am drowning.
As I sit here writing, I wonder how many other women feel this way. Feel as if all the choices they’ve made weren’t really for themselves. Feel guilty for changing their minds, not feeling the same. Feel as if they are living a double life? You know the type – on the outside we seem to be leading a perfect life; happily married with great kids, a beautiful home and fulfilling career.
Sometimes I look at my married friends and wonder, “Are they as happy as they seem?” “Is this what they envisioned for themselves when they were little?” “Is this what they daydreamed about; being married with kids with a white picket fence?”
I think it’s funny because for a long time I thought that was a Latina thing, you know, being raised to believe that marriage was the end all be all. But, as I expanded my circle of friends, I realized that most, if not all little girls are brought up to want the “happily ever after” back then. It seemed that even if we achieved everything – a house, a great career, nice car – if we didn’t have a man, well there was just something wrong with us.
I mean that’s the way it was with me, even though mom raised me on her own and sent all these implicit messages about being strong and independent, she still made sure to plug in there, as often as possible, that without a man I wasn’t enough. In not those exact words. But you know what I mean.
Even though she did it on her own. Immigrated to a new country, woke at the crack of dawn to commute to work, sometimes worked two jobs, and sometimes brought work home from one of those to finish. She purchased her own home, her own car, we always had what we needed and wanted. And STILL, she kept insisting and instilling in me to be a good woman so I could get a good man. (Insert thinking emoji here).
Why didn’t she find a man? I mean why did she choose to struggle on her own? Struggle she did.
Here I am writing this, feeling guilty because I don’t think I want the husband or white picket fence anymore. I feel overwhelmed and scared. I feel antsy. I know my mother only wants what’s best for me, as all mothers want for their kids.
But how could she teach me all those lessons about independence and being in control, taking care of myself, and not giving in to a man’s demands and yet make me feel that if I walk away, I won’t be enough.
And now I feel this restlessness, this agitation tugging at my insides, this rebellion. I hate the fact that I don’t feel satisfied with what my mother said would be enough. Or that I have what so many other women wish for. I mean what more can I ASK FOR? I scream this out loud forgetting I am in this motel room.
I don’t know how I ended up in this dingy, seedy motel room, but I know that for now I need to go home, and be a wife, a mother, a caretaker.
I don’t know how long these feelings will last or if I will just give into this oppressive heaviness in my heart. But I do need to go home. And tomorrow…well…who knows what will happen tomorrow. Like God tells Liz Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love, “Go to sleep, Liz. Go to sleep.”
After reading this, I started to reflect on how back when I wrote this piece, I never thought, those feelings would pass. I never thought life would get better. I never thought I would feel better. I remember feelings of complete and utter helplessness.
I eventually did get divorced even though he was a great guy. We co parented our girls, who are adults themselves now with lives of their own. I went to therapy. Still go to therapy, because at times I feel that overwhelming sense of sadness, for other reasons in my life. I was in a couple other relationships after that, built a great circle of friends, worked in a career for years.
What I learned after reading this is that all things pass. Time is the one sure thing that is guaranteed to keep going. And though way back then sitting in that dingy motel room, I couldn’t see past that moment, fifteen years later here I am. Lots of questions answered, some still linger, but I am still here. Wiser and older.
For all those of you everywhere who get “stuck”, depressed, sad, overwhelmed, remember with the right support, this too shall pass.
Stay safe and healthy.
I am a 50-year old Latina divorcee who has been on a spiritual journey for, yikes, a really long time. Though I am not where I want to be, each day I do get closer to who I am meant to me.
I co-raised two young ladies and am a grandmother of two spunky, smart and funny kids – Max and Esme.
Education has been my niche for the last 20 years and I don’t know why. I wish someone had given me a career survey in high school or college to realize that #1- I am NOT a morning person and #2- I don’t really like kids, not even my own. So, I am searching for my passion. Not sure what that is yet. But there are a few things I am exploring, writing being one of them (that’s why I am here).
I have issues with commitment, not so much relationships but committing to my goals, putting in the work and seeing things through. But I did commit to making my 50’s the best decade ever. So far so good. I love yoga, traveling and writing; but mostly wine. Yes! I love wine.