Pandora

On bad days, or more often nights, lying in bed unable to sleep, I climb down into the darkest corners of my soul, where I hide in an over-stuffed closet and remind myself that I’m a failure at life and a horrible person.

My hard-earned degree in English and French (highest honors) hangs on the wall of my childhood bedroom, while I spend my days stocking bananas and bagging other people’s groceries.  My marriage lasted less than a year.  Apparently, I’m so incapable of finishing what I start, that my body couldn’t even commit to an unplanned pregnancy.

I cheated on my ex-husband – I was emotionally out the door and attached to Doug long before we had officially split – and said and did horrible things to him to get him to end it; I didn’t even have the guts to break up with him myself.  And then I wrapped myself up tightly in the cocoon of my new relationship, so that the cheating and the leaving almost became things to brag about, because what they’d led to was so much more exciting than dealing with the pain of the divorce.  During that time, I was being bullied by the other girls at work in the way that most girls are bullied by the other girls in junior high and high school: people ignored me, said horrible things about me, and tried to get me in trouble (and occasionally succeeded) for things I didn’t do.  My brother called me one day to tell me what a terrible person I was, and that if he ever saw Doug again, he would kick his ass.  Then he hung up on me.  I went outside and cried and tore up my knuckles hitting the stucco wall.

And then I ran away.  I took all those bad feelings about my divorce and its consequences, put them into a box, understated-ly labeled it “Shame for Making People Come to My Wedding,” and buried it in that dark corner of myself.  I moved to Washington, and refused to talk to my friends and family, because I didn’t want anyone to go poking around in those shadows.  I waited until the dust on the box was so thick that no one could even see it anymore, and then I reopened the lines of communication with my people.

In the meantime, I had Doug telling me I didn’t need any sort of counseling.  “I can make you happy,” he would say.  “You don’t need therapy when you have me.”  And I believed him.  He also genuinely feared that a therapist would tell me to break up with him, because he was “just a rebound,” and an imperfect person in his own right.

After we’d moved to Seattle, I decided that he was right: I didn’t need counseling; I needed a fresh start.  I needed to pack all those memories and emotions away and never think of them again.  And so began the blissful poverty I described at the start of this blog: my world had room for no one but myself and Doug, making a life for ourselves from scratch.

And then disaster struck in the form of a miscarriage: God giveth, and God taketh away.  And I started to think, what if this hurt and unhappiness is deserved?  Didn’t I giveth to and taketh away from God, when I made the “sacred covenant” of marriage in His ostentatious, peach marble church?  Was He getting me back?

I wanted to take all my feelings about the miscarriage and pack them away as well, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t shut this new box.  There simply was not enough room in that dark corner anymore.  So I’ve been suffering, openly, but in a confused sort of way.  The emotion that rises to the top most often isn’t sadness, but anger.  I am angry all the time – at my ex, at those coworkers who bullied me, at pregnant women.  I think, “Why couldn’t, or can’t, these people see that I’m hurting?  Why would they do these things to me?  Why are they existing to spite me?”  And then I get angry at myself for admitting that I’m hurting, because I still believe that everything that has happened to me is my own damn fault.  The anger will not let the sadness to the surface.  I can try to say it’s unfair, what happened to me, but deep down, I see it as a just injustice.

Now that I’ve been unpacking that open box of feelings about my miscarriage, I’m getting dangerously close to the dust-covered, closed box underneath.  This morning at work, I had a sudden urge to cry to my manager about how horribly those girls had treated me (three years ago, in a completely different store), because shouldn’t they get in trouble for that?  At the time, at what I’ve already concluded was the lowest point in my life, I couldn’t defend myself.  Although I wouldn’t have admitted it then, I was convinced I deserved everything I was getting, from my ex, from my friends, from my family, and from these strangers.  But really, looking back, there was no good reason for the bullying at work.  If these girls were doing it because I had cheated on and left my husband…  Fuck them.  It was none of their goddamn business.

In an email exchange with Monica the other day, after analyzing, as per the usual now, the remains of our friendship, she said, “I don’t think much about that period of time anymore, I’m much too busy and prefer to just enjoy the present.”  And I told her that I’m sure this is not news to her, but I still do think about that period.  There is no room in my soul for enjoyment of the present, or anything else really; it’s too cluttered in there with anger and cobwebs and boxes of repressed feelings that, until a few weeks ago, I couldn’t even remember packing.

I feel like I’m on the verge of a break…  through?  Down?  I didn’t realize it going in, but this project is going to force me to unpack those memories and emotions from my divorce, and finally deal with them.  Because it’s not two years of unhappiness I have to make up for, here; it’s three years of straight-up self-loathing.

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5 Responses to Pandora

  1. Dawn says:

    The perfectionist in you makes you too (much too) hard on yourself. We all make mistakes, 50% of marriages end in divorce, and there is a whole lotta cheating going on in the world. The twenties are when you grow up. You’ve been a kid and not dealt with your decisions but now as an adult, you’ve made a choice to deal with your most difficult challenge head on. I want you to be proud of yourself for all that you have overcome and instead of spending every day in the corner crying, you’re spending most of the day facing life. That is something to be proud of. Hold your head up sister!

    • Christina says:

      Yeah! I second Dawn. There’s nothing left for me to add, except for that what you’re doing takes courage in the greatest form. Good luck in your journey.

  2. Saundra says:

    This feels like a break-through. The only one who can psychoanalyze you is you (and perhaps a paid professional you trust), but while you’re digging around there, I BEG OF YOU: have sympathy for that person you were and the kind of pain that led you to do the things that resulted in self-loathing.

    You were young when you got married. I know this because I’m your age, and I was there when you got married, and when you were getting married, I was running around and making mistakes that horrify me now (for the record: I liked your choice of groom, but think that perhaps you just weren’t ready for a groom. Which seems to be what you’re saying).

    Culturally, there’s this paradox that if you do everything right and get to old age and don’t have some wild stories to tell, you missed out. But then if you do have these experiences (some more painful than others), of course, you suffer for them.

    I like the phrase “I’d rather regret the things that I did rather than the things I didn’t do,” but you know what? Unless you have a bad memory, that phrase unleashes a lot of upset stomachs, troubled sleep, and hefty therapy bills.

    I am sorry for the lack of support you got. I’m glad you’re able to start processing the sequence of events — not how they’re karmically connected, but how they might be psychologically connected for you. I love your honesty.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    My thoughts, in no particular order of importance or relevance:
    1) I lol’d at “Why are they existing to spite me?” I frequently ask the same question when I’m behind some little old man and his hat driving at 6 miles/hour in a 45 mph zone. Le sigh.
    2) You have accused, tried, and convicted yourself of emotionally raping your ex-husband and sentenced yourself to to a psychological prison. I take issue with the monopoly of decision-making power in your justice system, not to mention your lack of an attorney.
    3) It’s going to be ok. No, scratch that. It *is* ok. Let it be ok. And if you do go breaking through down, I want to make you promise to come back up.

  4. Pingback: Loneliness | Bakery Closed Until Further Notice

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