It’s not necessarily her living there that’s the issue — I’ve come to terms with that, and if she wants to marry The Philosopher, she can have at him. Believe me — I was engaged to him three times and obviously could have sealed the deal if I’d wanted to. No, it’s more that on a daily basis I see the changes happening — the new patio set in the backyard, the flowers on the stoop, the interior decorating she’s doing, and (the hardest) driving by and seeing her playing in the backyard with Rebel. I suppose what it really comes down to is that she actually *is* the person The Philosopher always wanted me to become, and even though I’ve come to terms with the reality that any hope of me being or becoming that person was completely ridiculous and misplaced (on his part), there’s still a tiny little voice deep inside that — from time to time — peeps up and squeaks out, “You’re a failure because you couldn’t become that person.”
Now, I KNOW “that person” is someone that is not me — she wears sweater twin sets and gardens (wearing flowered cotton gloves) and has expensive matching furniture and highlights her hair and speaks in soft dulcet tones and wears size two jeans and is generally, well, sweet. “That person” is at home in suburban strip malls and shopping centers, and her idea of vacationing means hiking or antiquing or visiting Door County for the weekend. “That person” never has ragged cuticles, stray nipple hairs she forgets to pluck, dirty dishes left in the sink for a week, or adult acne, and she never goes commando because she hasn’t dropped off the laundry for more than two weeks.
You would think that “that person” is a figment of my imagination, but she isn’t. The Crazy Lady — despite her history of mental instability (which, I admit, tempers the above laundry list of seeming perfection a tad bit) — displays most, if not all, of the qualities of “that person” (I haven’t seen her nipples, so I cannot attest to any stray hairs). The end result is that while I most certainly do not have any desire to be with The Philosopher (sometimes I get nauseated just looking at his face), The Crazy Lady kinda pisses me off. Because while in the past I’d run around saying — to anyone who would listen — things such as, “Can you BELIEVE the person he wants me to become? She’s not real! She’s a caricature of a woman!”, I now run around thinking, “God damn if he didn’t find someone who’s exactly perfect for him.” Which is absolutely fantastic for him (he was starting to drive me bonkers with all the guilt-tripping about how he’d wasted his youth waiting for me to — poof! — magically change…), but leaves me feeling a bit, well, less than… if “that person” was possible, then why couldn’t *I* become her?
Face it, though. That’s a pretty stupid thought process. Thankfully, I am not (nor, really, have I ever been) particularly been known for my brilliant thought processes, so I suppose I can forgive myself for my crazy thinking. And it’s only one step past realizing I’m crazy-thinking to then step back, pause, and set myself on the right path, back on the beam, do the next right thing, blah blah blah. The problem, though, is that the thought process it took me 500 words to explain right now is something I face, oh, at least twice a day, when I drive past the house and see the flowers or the fancy patio furniture or the little froggy pinwheel in the front hard.
I’m pretty darn skippy happy about the person I am, ragged cuticles and stray nipple hairs and all. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will never, ever wear size two pants (unless I’m, like, dying of cancer, and that’s not exactly the ideal circumstances under which I’d be all, “Woo hoo! Wearing size two!”), hate sweater twin sets, DESPISE the suburbs, and speak in anything BUT soft tones. I’m not brash, nor am I a bitch, but I’m enthusiastic and intense and I have plenty of things in life I’d rather be doing than gardening, including dyeing my hair blue and figuring out where and when I’ll get my next tattoo. Reminding myself of how happy I am to have found my true self, though, is sometimes hard when — on a daily basis — I am faced with an explicit reminder of all the times I promised The Philosopher that I would and could change, and also of all the times I did not.
This isn’t really a matter of feeling guilty that I cannot be someone I am not, but instead realizing how difficult it must have been for The Philosopher, and how much I must have hurt him with my false assurances and misplaced promises. We both probably should have known from the beginning that I could never give him what he wanted and needed, which was basically a sweet suburban woman who would look up to him as a hero (and those were his actual words to me within the first few hours I met him). I knew from the very beginning I could never be that person — I have an explicit memory of being at his apartment in Knoxville, Tennessee, and going to the bathroom, where I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, “I will never love him the way he wants to be loved, but I am going to try, and I am going to ruin him in the process.” But I stepped out of that bathroom and proceeded to do just that anyhow.
At any point along the way, The Philosopher could have left, so I’m not sitting here saying “oh, poor him” and excoriating myself for my wrongs. That’s not the point — but it is pretty darn harsh to come to the realization of how much I did put him through. He might have stayed, and that’s his deal, but I still did some pretty horrible things that I always pushed aside or excused by saying, “Give me another chance. I’ll change. I promise.” He didn’t have to believe me, but I also didn’t have to make assurances I knew were empty.
And so, even though things are uncomfortable being so close to that situation, it’s good for me to remember on a daily basis that I am not a failure because I have not lived up to other people’s ideas of what I could or should have been; it is a sign of my strength and hope that I have the courage to be a different person, one who is honest and has integrity. Most of all, I’m grateful that I no longer hurt and lie to people and drag them through the wringer for my own selfish purposes. And if that means I have to go through this weird thought process twice a day for the time being, that’s fine by me.