In some ways the things I am going through at the moment are like a birth, or a re-birth if you like. As much anticipation and excitement as there is there is also patience and damn hard work to struggle with. I’d like a magic wand that could wave me about 6 months into the future when the preparation will be done and I can get to the good stuff. I am a big picture kind of girl and sometimes the day-to-day details can feel a little overwhelming. Still, there is a certain satisfaction in ticking things off my list and knowing that each step I take brings me closer to where I want to be.
Things are moving along, both within myself and externally. I’ve been getting rid of so many things. Things we’ve outgrown or don’t use or that were being saved for a rainy day. Each time I pack something or put it into a bag for charity it is almost as if I can feel a weight lifting off me. Here I’ve been surrounded by all of these things, pretty things, nice things but none of them held the key to my happiness. In fact the opposite seems to be true; they were part of what was holding me back. So much of this process is about letting go, and physically letting go of so much stuff has been cathartic. My sons are getting into the spirit, letting me list things they no longer use on eBay, in hopes someone else will have some use for their stuff, with the bonus of actually earning some cash. The bonus for me is feeling us pull together and work towards a common goal. It has been awhile since I have felt that this consistently.
There is no irony lost on me; that I feel like we are pulling together and working towards a common goal in the face of going our separate ways. When I last arrived home after being away I had some lengthy discussions with Son Number One about whether he still wished to live apart from us, given he now had some idea of what that would be like. Had the separation changed his view? If anything it strengthened his resolve, and his most recent word on the matter was, philosophically, ‘I would have had to move out someday, Mum!’ This is true. Things change. C’est la vie.
What else is changing? Aside from the physical changes from continuing to eat better, exercise more, and slowly lose weight ( I say slowly because I am an impatient bugger, and my progress feels slow to me, but it is probably actually realistic) there have been some changes to how I think about things and myself. A couple of weeks ago I asked ten of my nearest and dearest to share with me how they saw me. What they thought my strengths and weaknesses were. You can imagine how thrilled they all were, but they are good friends who love me, so they indulged me. There were a few things I learned from the exercise. Aside from the obvious; that I have VERY GOOD FRIENDS. It was interesting to note the similarities to things I thought about myself, as well as the differences. It definitely gave me some direction on things I need to work on.
The other particularly enlightening conversation I had recently was with a new friend of mine, who asked if I still believed in marriage – having been married 3 times, divorced twice and widowed once. It was an interesting question for me. My experiences with marriage are no reflection on marriage, but rather on me. So, it is not so much if I still believe in marriage but rather what it meant to me then as opposed to now. What had I believed about it to begin with? The 17-year-old me, pregnant with Daughter Number One and fresh out of Catholic Girl’s School, believed getting married was the ‘right’ thing to do. She believed she could build the type of family she’d never known. She set herself on a path of defining herself by her association to others. As someone’s wife. As someone’s mother. I believed it gave me an identity, which I’d not grown up enough to find and create for myself. That was definitely something I carried with me into my second marriage. That external and misplaced search for meaning and validation. After the rape and murder of Daughter Number One I felt as if I had been stripped of everything that defined me – motherhood, womanhood, everything. The marriage to which I had been committed for almost ten years a sham. Or if not a sham then what exactly? How do you sort the reality from the deception? I couldn’t. My third marriage, sadly, I entered into for similar reasons with regard to identity, but also with the added thought that if ANYONE was willing to take me on then I should be damn well grateful. I had no trust in my own instincts at all. I married for the third time not even three years after Daughter Number One died. To say that I was in a bad place in my life is an understatement. I do have Daughter Number Two to show for that union though, and for her I am thankful.
I no longer believe my only worth comes from being someone’s mother or wife. I am no longer seeking to define myself through someone else, their views, their happiness. I am still an all or nothing girl. If I commit to something or someone then I give my all. I can’t say that I will never marry again; I like to think I will. Hope springs eternal. It would be an interesting proposition to consider as the me I am now. I don’t think I believe more strongly in marriage, but I definitely believe more in me. I no longer place any religious significance on marriage and I’m not sure how much significance society places on it any longer, certainly I don’t need their validation. To me it is about hope and faith and love between two people. I don’t think you need marriage for those to exist. I do think that any way people choose to signify the depth of commitment between them, their faith and love in each other, and their hope for their future, can only be a good thing.
Which is why it really makes me angry that we do not have marriage equality yet. Here I am, with a less than stellar marital history, but with the option to marry again another dozen times if I so choose, simply because I am heterosexual. One of the MOST LOVING, HEALTHIEST, COMMITTED relationships I know is between some lesbian friends of mine. Despite their house and mortgage, the fact they each contribute financially and emotionally to each other, despite their CHILDREN they lovingly raise TOGETHER their relationship is considered less than Britney Spears running off to Vegas with Jason Alexander. Please. It is embarrassing and shameful to me that Australia is trailing in this regard. Julia Gillard as Prime Minister could not be a bigger disappointment.
Times they are a-changin’ though. For me, and around me. Maybe not as fast as I’d like but changes are coming. And that’s what I know for sure.