The other day I met my cousin in a cafe to go over some edits we needed to make to a screenplay we wrote together. I asked her about her relationship and life and next thing you know she was basically summarizing (accidentally) all of the hard things I’ve been thinking and feeling lately.
I’ve noticed that both my age and motherhood have triggered some things-ambition like I’ve never felt before, a zero tolerance for bullshit, and clarity in areas that have always been foggy for me. These things have me examining my life in a way that is both scary and a little heartbreaking. I’m scared and confused and unprepared.
Growing up, I always thought that love was the thing that kept people together and falling out of love separated them. If I could just find the person who completed me I’d never have to feel that unbearable sting of loneliness. The same loneliness I’d felt for much of my life as the daughter of young parents who were always trying to figure themselves out and therefore couldn’t really take on my emotional needs too. Love was there, yes, but I never felt I could count on them for much and I still don’t (even though we are relatively close).
I didn’t even realize how desperately I wanted the safety and security that love might bring until I met my husband and felt for the first time that I could really be vulnerable with someone and be a team and have kids who would come home from college over the holidays and we’d laugh around the dinner table (because we would eat together and talk and I’d listen and they’d feel heard and safe and loved). It had never occurred to me that love, as important as it is, could not be enough. That love could still be there, while somehow, everything disintegrates and you have love mixed with resentment which, my friends, makes for a very bitter cocktail. A confusing one. It’s like anything with gin in it, honestly.
On one hand you love this person so much but on the other hand you cannot for the life of you see an ending where you work out. Because you’ve given too much to too many for too long and you can’t do it anymore.
I’m almost forty. I feel like so much of my life has been wasted in fear and filling voids. I spent nearly two decades afraid of failure and afraid of vulnerability and so I didn’t write the books or submit the stories, or do the film projects or audition for roles or sell the paintings. And now I’m full of regret and worried that I made too many mistakes and it’s too late. I spent twenty years grasping desperately for something that would make me feel less alone. Let me tell you, vodka and meaningless sex, and chocolate are great but they can’t get rid of that empty feeling that you get from being unheard and unseen during your formative years. Trust me, I’ve tried. And it was fun. A lot of fun. But in the end it didn’t get me anywhere I wanted to go. And then I found love, real love, and dove in head first only to find myself where I am now: Sitting at a crossroad trying to find some way where we can be together and be happy. We do not want the same things, not even close, and I’m supposed to choose between what makes me happy and what I want in life or what he wants.
We are so different. We have opposite goals and dream of totally different lives. My dad once said, “cross cultural marriages don’t work.” And I rolled my eyes and thought “wanna bet?” Because there is love.
Unfortunately I’m learning that love does not conquer all.
While we are not over or breaking up, yet, we cannot seem to figure out a future where we are both happy and together. I don’t know what this means only that it’s hard and I’m sad. We will try therapy for sure (therapy for everyone!!!). Wish us luck. We need it.