Do you remember that time when there was no gray area? There was only black and white. It was very clear the lines between what was right in the world and what was wrong. There were defined boundaries. Facts were facts. Dark versus light. Good versus evil.
All that shit.
I believe this period of self assuredness is referred to as adolescence. At least it was for me.
You probably think I’m about to get political with this. Nope. Come along friends, let’s talk about some other weird obscure shit. (You know how I do.)
As I age I find more and more of those lines blurring. More often than I’d like to admit I see gray, gray everywhere. “Is this ok, like morally?” you ask me.
“No,” I say, “Well, actually it depends. Tell me the whole story.”
This past summer while visiting family I was talking with my aunt and I told her that the older I get the less judgmental I become. “Really?!” she responded, “It’s usually the opposite.” She’s right, age usually hardens most of us. I guess that’s the difference. I exited adolescence like a stone. Thankfully my heart has softened with age.
But it’s not just that. It’s that little by little the people I love do things I would have judged before. They make poor parenting choices, they let their teeth go because they don’t have dental insurance, they are inexcusably self involved, they make unhealthy emotional decisions and then complain about the outcome, they disappoint me. They turn out to be human. As my husband once summed up about my general existence, “You expect a lot of people.”
I do, I really do. But each day I learn to expect a little less. This isn’t me submitting to reality, this is me embracing it. Me finding freedom in it. As a client once said, “Once we realize that people only really care about us in terms of how our lives affect their own, we are free.”
I’m going to be thirty-five in a few short weeks. Perhaps it’s an early mid-life crisis (please tell me it’s too early to be the middle of my life) but I’m done with people’s expectations. This didn’t happen overnight. Las year I made a resolution to “give zero fucks,” as the kids say these days. Little by little I have put all the fucks away. I’ve got no fucks left to give. Hell, I’m taking fucks back. Snatching them right out of greedy little hands.
I’m going to do whatever I want to do, because as it turns out I have always analyzed things way too much. Shocking, right? I have always been there for others entirely too much. I have been the glue far too often. The light in the dark. The nurse. The purse. Johnny on the spot with the bail money. The Mama, long before I was a Mama.
Can any other women relate?
I decided not to wait on anyone anymore. I decided my plans would no longer be contingent on the plans of anyone else. I started working out consistently again. I have gone to the gym every day for the last fourteen days. Right now as I type this I’m sitting in a coffee shop alone while my husband and children are at home sleeping. I stopped asking if my husband would be home for dinner. I never felt right asking him that question anyway. I never enjoyed calling him up like a 1950s housewife. I stopped asking him to come inside from the garage. I stopped caring if he drank a few too many beers in the evening. Somehow the brooding art school student from NYC that I fell in love with grew up to be the kind of guy who spends his evenings working in the garage, drinking PBR. I love him just the same, but I decided to stop expecting anything from him at all.
And a miraculous thing happened.
He started to want my attention. He started to want to be home. “You’re going to the gym again?” he says, “Oh, um ok. I thought we were going to watch TV together.”
He started wanting me around. It was fucking weird. And then I had a revelation.
I have become a man and it is AMAZING. Apparently being a man is like the best fucking thing on earth.
A friend of mine had been doing the same thing. Basically just taking care of herself and her children, not neglecting her husband but asking nothing of him. She was keeping busy. She was plugging through the way we do when we’re trying to tick off the days on the calendar like an inmate. The same thing happened with her husband. He started coming home early. He was buying her flowers. He was planning family day trips.
We had accidentally been using reverse psychology. I told her we had become men. “Holy shit!” she said. “Document this shit right here. This is the day.”
Ladies, I don’t know what I’m saying here. I’m not telling you to ignore your husband. Hell, after seventeen years it wasn’t even his attention I was after. It was me I was after.
It’s good to be the king.
But we already knew that, now didn’t we?