Hard Things

This has been a hard few weeks.

But my Father whispers, Beautiful girl, you can do hard things.

Hard things are first-world problems like my plane getting delayed and then delayed again and then canceled and then rerouted and the rerouted plane getting delayed and delayed again so that the connection was nearly missed and it was the last flight out to NYC for the night yet I finally arrived…5 ½ hours late and thinking the tide had changed…until my bag didn’t arrive and the massive delays and ensuing back up of flights resulted in an hour ½ wait for an Uber.

Hard things are sitting with a precious friend who had been excited to join her husband the next week on a little getaway before she faced a major surgery…until she discovered a social media posting by her husband’s former-but-not-so-former-lover at that same getaway place using all kinds of hashtags that made the illicit relationship clear.

Hard things are hearing my aging mom struggle with her purpose at this stage, saying that she wishes she was with my dad and that she lays in bed at night wondering why she is here.

Hard things are knowing that dear friends with whom we have shared a lifetime of marriage and kids and holidays and prayers and graduations and weddings and hopes and dreams are now considering those dreams may be over and watching the rippling out of pain across generations and places that they can’t really see because they are in the center of the storm.

Hard things are anniversaries of finding out the life I’d lived for just about the entirety of adulthood was based on illusions and lies and being triggered to uncertainty and doubt and knowing that double life is done but wondering if the triggers will ever go away. Completely.

But my Father whispers, Beautiful girl, you can do hard things.

And so can you, beautiful girl. You can do hard things.

Beautiful Girl Can Do HARD THINGS

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Not Paddy’s Day. Pedicures.

I’m not a woman who lives and dies for my weekly nail appointment. Don’t get me wrong…I don’t begrudge those women or those practices…it’s just never been my thing. Not just the act, but the whole ritual around it.

not-doing-that-sorry-girly-girl-funny-contour

When HUSBAND and I used to go to conventions for his business, the spouse package for when the men were off “getting the kill” of meetings and breakout sessions nearly always included a spa day. That’s why I chose to use the gender term here of the men since the spouse activities were always geared more to what the women would find interesting: spa day, fancy lunch and some shopping. Only problem for me was that I didn’t find those things terribly interesting…I don’t love the girl-rituals generally and especially not with women I don’t know…so instead I would rent a car, find a killer area to go explore, or a nearby town that captured my imagination. At dinner on the first night of the convention, inevitably one or two wives would ask where I’d been that day during the wife outing. When I shared my adventure, and where I was headed the next day…I almost always had a full car of co-adventurers.

brave souls

But that isn’t really what this post is about. It is about pedicures.

Now that my feet are a bit more tired, and those pesky callouses try hard to form. Now that my cuticles are more prone to grow closely to the nails. Now that I have time and a real reason, I get pedicures.

feet

I’ve not had THAT many, and I go months apart, but I do love them. The way my feet feel younger when I leave, and my nails are evenly cut and smooth and shiny. The way my toes and calves feel tingly and invigorated. It really is lovely.

The last time, I walked into the local shop where I’ve been enough that they know me but not enough that they REALLY know me and after telling my preference I proceeded to the chair. I had a young technician this time, a young man with a friendly face and a strong accent. As an aside, when I sat down my iphone fell immediately into the foot pool and he quickly snatched it out, dried it off and voila! It worked! He began the process…which you likely know…the soaking…the cutting…the filing…the scraping…the buffing…the sea salt wash…the massaging…the lotion…the painting.

Meanwhile, I watched the majority of people in the salon. I watched them on their phones (mine was working fine). I watched them be able to expect this service. I watched how they were completely detached from the human-being sitting beneath them offering them this service, a really intimate service in all reality. I watched them talk to each other, with hardly a word or a glance toward their technician. I knew that if they got the basic pedicure, they were paying $22 for an hour of service, of someone literally sitting at their feet. For someone to put their hands in and out of water and touch their toes and massage their feet and ankles and calves…to use various tools and salves to treat them and to make their very steps through life feel better and look more attractive. I began to be uncomfortable, and then I started to ask my technician some simple questions about his life, what he enjoyed, what his goals were and in answer to one question, he told me he worked 7 days a week. I encouraged him to find rest time for his own mental health. I shared that scarcity can create an environment to increase prices, and that most of us would pay more for the services…thus allowing them to be closed one day a week. The man tending to the cool and detached woman next to me started getting in the conversation, and within minutes revealed he had spent time in a refugee camp in Thailand while awaiting permission to come to the US from his war-torn country many years ago. A refugee camp…yet all he could do was be grateful for his life now. His life, sitting and serving at the feet of people who couldn’t even see who he was.

pedicure

I was so humbled. We just never know the backstories of the people around us.

I asked my technician if he had ever gotten a pedicure. If anyone ever gave to him the service I was paying for.

He looked shocked, and answered no. The tech next to him looked surprised, also. And then they broke into huge smiles as they shared it would be really nice, but they both would like a female to work on their feet, and we laughed together.

So now I have a dream. A dream that one day I will take a group of people who aren’t afraid to see in to my little salon, close the doors and lock them, and we will sit at the feet of these amazing people who day, after day, serve us. We will put our hands in that water, and use the tools, and apply the salves. For me it is a pretty challenging thought, and will take courage. Meanwhile, I am overwhelmed with all that I have learned about really important things from my techs. I can only hope to achieve such greatness one day.

humility

Anatomy of Infidelity, Part 3

Just looking back through the life of my infidel…looking at gaps and patterns and moments and experiences and ways-of-living that could give us both clues into how. Into why. This isn’t a treatise for explaining cheating; rather a process of working through for both of us…so we never end up there again.

diggingdeep

Prepping for college included the requisite compiling of necessary things (laundry detergent and personal hygiene items; clothes and underwear; school supplies). But for HUSBAND, that summer also included other prep. It included sex with a married employee a few years older than him who just wasn’t happy in her marriage…all fun and games until she indicated she was starting to have feelings for him…and then he ran far and fast. It included sex with another older woman that he knew from a local vendor…and lots of drinking and smoking pot and altercations with other drunk and stoned people.

alcoholpot

College. The young man, HUSBAND, was smart – having clepped several classes – entered university with one semester credit. He sees now that his dreams were not so much, rather, not-at-all, of achieving academic success or getting a degree, but pushing the limit of freedom and pushing his body beyond what it had known in the past.

He pulled a roommate with a similar goal and together they, and some of his childhood friends, found plenty of drugs, sex and rock ‘n roll. They partied from morning til night, got into drug/alcohol induced fights, interacted with campus police, interacted with girls in their dorm room, in overnights at the beach and anywhere else it happened and hit every concert that came to town. What he didn’t do was spend much time going to class, or studying. HUSBAND didn’t delve into relationships, just sex. Often sex numbed with drugs. The end of the first year brought the harsh reality that the university wasn’t excited about having him back. He was on disciplinary probation. He was on academic probation. The Dean told him he could not return to the school until he had obtained his associates degree elsewhere. And so he left.

If there was any recrimination from his parents, HUSBAND doesn’t remember. He doesn’t remember either of his parents being involved in his college decision, his college year, or his college failure. He doesn’t remember any consequence, or deep conversations or confrontations at the end of the year. He just kept going, and was shuttled to one of his branch offices 150 miles away where he moved in with a relative. A relative that was married, but only a few years older than HUSBAND. A relative who also enjoyed much of the wild life, and the college life basically continued on for him in his early professional life. Once a week, HUSBAND had to return to the home office for a specific job duty, and within six months, was called to return full time to headquarters.

HUSBAND and a couple of his friends found a rental house in a low-end area and moved in. The house quickly became party-central for his old friends and his new friends and friends-of-those-friends. People came and went, bringing their individual brand of fun and there was always something and someone to share an imbibed moment with. HUSBAND remembers one day sitting in his room, smoking a joint and listening to music while a few friends partied outside in the common areas. The door to his bathroom opened (it was also accessible through another bedroom) and a girl from his home room class walked in. She walked over to his bed where he was sitting and started talking about inane happenings. Then, she said, “You know, I’ve always wanted to jump your bones.” And so they had sex and she got dressed and left. She wasn’t the only one during that time period, and that wasn’t the only time with her, or with others. No interest in relationship, but lots of interest in sex. That characterized this period for him.

house-party

Eventually HUSBAND desired a little nicer space, and less constant company and he found a better townhouse in a better area and moved in with two friends. There was still some serious partying, but less of a frenetic pace inundated with known and unknown partakers. More of the semblance of a home. All three roommates were hard working, although the pot smoking before work continued, and usually after work, too. But they saw themselves as moving up in their respective jobs, and beginning to look toward growing up.

About that time, HUSBAND had some tense moments with members of his family. In somewhat of a rebellion from what they envisioned for his personal life, he went out with friends, and mentioned he wanted to find himself a “rock ‘n roll girl.” He ran into the former girlfriend of someone he knew…a beautiful girl…an available girl…a wild and exciting girl…and they came back to his place where they explored every part of each other’s anatomy. It was sex on steroids for him, and he was hooked.

rocknrollgirl

The story continues…

 

Faces…of Betrayal

Who is she, the betrayed? It never really mattered to me before. It was never more than a passing moment of surprise, or I’m not surprised. It used to be I thought maybe they’d brought it on themselves, or were the cause of the wandering because they were too demanding. Too controlling. Too harsh. Too weak. Too (fill in the blank). Or maybe there were not loving. Not supportive. Not fun. Not sexually willing. Not (fill in the blank).

HerFault

But it wasn’t me, or my kind.

It wasn’t women who were smart and engaged and read books and prayed and went to counseling and talked openly about relationship and were willing to try things in bed. Women who carried the load when other’s in the family couldn’t and always got the laundry done and made sure the family had matching clothes on Easter and Christmas Eve pajamas. Women who made time to talk to their husbands and cared how they looked and ran companies and volunteered with their husbands and invited people into their home for family Bible studies. Women who opened their home to long-term visitors from countries all over the world and invited elderly parents to move in and got comments from people over and over about how great their marriage was. Women who’d had the opportunity to consort with men during their marriage and yet would never have dreamed of doing so. Women who believed that love was not just a feeling, but a choice and a decision and were committed to it for the long haul.

valueloyalty

No, it wasn’t me, or my kind.

I remember reading stories online or hearing a snippet on tv about women whose husbands had been found to be living double lives and thinking – how dumb is SHE? How could that EVER HAPPEN…she must have ignored the signs. Because it couldn’t be me, or my kind. We would know, we would have seen, we would not have stood for that.

But it was me. I am the face of betrayal.

I look around at the faces of the women of betrayal that this scourge has opened my eyes to. I see lovely young faces. Old, wrinkled faces. I see dark skin and light skin and mulatto skin. I see women from all nations and all faiths. I see bone thin women and large women. I see stay-at-home-moms and working moms and business owners and non-profit leaders. I see women in the lines of local and state agencies, and women serving those women. I see me, and I am so incredibly humbled.

The faces of betrayal. They are all of us. And they are beautiful, oh so beautiful.

facesofwomen