This is my hand

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It’s a hand that does dishes (or at least loads and unloads the dishwasher).
It’s a hand that has raised two children.
It’s a hand can play the flute.
It’s a hand that has written eight novels.
It’s a hand that looks its age; that has a little arthritis starting in the wrist (broken twice while rollerblading and cycling).
It’s a hand that, for half its life, has worn a wedding ring. And now it doesn’t.
I like it fine.

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A good start … I think

So here are some things I’ve said ‘Yes’ to since I decided to start saying ‘Yes’ to things. Some of them are very small. Some of them might not even seem like things at all to some people, but they do to me. Small steps. In no particular order.

  1. I got a ticket to see Lou Reed. On my own, initially, and that was fine, but I mentioned it on Facebook and now I’m meeting a friend there.
  2. I agreed to plan a series of writing workshops for groups to be set up in local libraries. I may end up delivering them too, but I’ll have to be very brave and talk money. Realistically.
  3. I applied for a part-time job that I probably don’t want. And I’ll probably go on not wanting it until the moment I’m rejected, at which time it will become the only possible job that would really make me happy. If this happens (likely), please remind me of the fact that I don’t really want it.
  4. I went into the British Library and had a look round the (free) Treasures exhibition. (Did I mention I’m trying to do things on the cheap where possible, simply because I’m just not sure what my financial situation is going to be in the next few months, and I’m trying to be sensible?)
  5. Tomorrow, all on my own, I’m going to see Purcell’s opera The Fairy Queen, broadcast live from Glyndebourne, and screened at my local cinema, and I’m going to get membership of said cinema at the same time, because it will totally pay for itself as I continue to immerse myself in culture!
  6. I have a applied to do an A-level – adult-education ting, over 2 years. There are a number of subjects I’m kind of interested in, all on a Tuesday night, and the timing should work out just right for me to go there straight from work. Here’s the catch – the administrator said that last year, the one I really want to do was cancelled because of lack of interest so, in a pleasingly aleatoric way, I’ve registered my interest in four different subjects and I’ll allow fate to decide which one I enrol for. This is rather in the spirit of buying whatever is reduced in the supermarket and making a meal out of it. I do that too.
  7. I will be seeing a number of undeniably fabulous friends this week. Some of these meet-ups have been planned for a while, others are more spur of the moment. This is exactly what I want to embrace. This, and the friends too, of course.
  8. I had a cull on my underwear drawer. I’ll draw a veil for now …

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The Year of Saying ‘Yes’

Here’s the thing I don’t want to do: carry on living my life exactly as it was before, but with the sense that something is missing. Like – oh, I don’t know … let’s say, for example, a husband.

That’s what I’m not going to do – go on the same but with a husband-shaped hole.

Because, to be honest, that would be a ridiculous waste of time and endow the absent one with far too much significance. Whereas, quite obviously, the important one here is me. And the important two is my children. And the important three is me and my children. So, it’s a new life for me.
Brave words, eh? And, strangely, it didn’t take me too long to come to this momentous decision, but carrying out my resolve is going to take some thinking. (All suggestions gratefully received, btw.)
One reason it’s going to take some thinking is because, after 28 of marriage, I’m not really used to thinking about what want. Like most women of my age, I’ve felt, for some time, like the jam in the sandwich, being slowly but surely squeezed on all sides until I’m spread so thin. I’m virtually invisible. I know what I am to other people – a lift, a meal, a pile of clean laundry, a secretary, a bank, a counsellor, a personal shopper. But what I am to myself is more of a mystery. 
So here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to try to change my habits. I’m going to alter my thinking. I’m going to try to work out what my instincts are, and follow them.
I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to go about this, but the first thing I’m going to do is say, ‘Yes!’ and see where it leads. I’m not even sure yet what I’m going to say Yes to, but I’m saying Yes to that too. I’m going to say Yes for a whole year, even when I don’t feel like it, and I’m going to write about it here.
Yes, I am.
Feel free to join me. 

The Sorrow and the Pity

A couple of days ago, a woman I like immensely but rarely see got in touch out of the blue and, after a very few texts, we’d arranged to meet for brunch. Lovely. Then I went all paranoidy and started wondering if she knew, somehow, about my situation and was only asking me because she felt sorry for me.

This has become something of a habitual thought pattern for me over the last couple of months, since I found out about my husband’s affair. Anyone who was particularly nice, anyone who said, ‘How are you?’ in way one reserves for the particularly unfortunate, anyone who appeared to look at me with concern, I immediately assumed they knew and it would throw me into a spin. My major concern, at that point, was preventing my children finding out and, of course, the more people that knew, the greater the risk that it would get back to them. That was part of the reason it bothered me – and that sounds rather laudable and unselfish, doesn’t it? But that was only part of  it.

I hate – absolutely HATE – feeling like the object of pity. Maybe everyone does. I don’t know. To be honest, I’ve ever asked anyone. Maybe I should. And I think my freakishly calm reaction to this whole being-dumped-after-so-many-years-of-marriage thing has been conditioned by that sentiment. I’m all, ‘I’ll be fine. Of course it’s very sad, but I’ll be absolutely fine. Don’t you worry about me!’. Pride, you see. It’s the original Original Sin. And it comes before a fall, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s why I’ve ended up in this situation.

Anyway, it’s almost time to come out in the open about my situation, and anyone who doesn’t know, will know. And there’ll be plenty of ‘How are you?’s. Plenty of kindness and concerned looks and invitations out of the blue for brunch. I’ll be an object of pity. Of course I will. I’m the betrayed wife. The one they made a fool of. What could be more pitiable? But I’m learning … I hope. I’m going to shift my point of view and park that stupid pride for a bit.

Because how lucky am I, in the midst of all this mess and heartache and sorrow, to have people around me who care enough to pity me? Who care enough to invite me for brunch, to ask the awkward question, to text me just to check how I am, to see past my stupid glib assurances and my pretended strength.

Very lucky. Very lucky indeed.