My story

All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don’t mean anything
When you’ve got no one to tell them to
It’s true … I was made for you
~ Brandi Carlile, The Story

I’ve been obsessed with this song recently. So much that Colleen learned all of the words to it and now we sing it in a mother-daughter duet. We’ll never be mistaken for the Judds, but don’t be surprised if you get to see a performance some day – probably from the back seat of your car.

The first time I heard the lyrics to this song, it made me melancholy. Although I feel very good most of the time these days and I have mostly positive feelings about my future, the break up of my marriage is still exceptionally raw and I’m working through a lot of issues related to it. One of the greatest things I sometimes feel I have lost is my friendship to my husband. We knew each other so well that we could tell each other’s stories from before our time together as if we had witnessed it ourselves. Of course, our stories from the time of our first date until recently were exceptionally intertwined. But moving forward, those stories share only a small link that will, I’m sure, grow weaker over time.

I feel that one day I had a best friend and the next day I didn’t. I’ve never had that experience before with a friend. I’ve certainly had good friends drift away and, when I would think of them and think back to our shared past, would feel sadness that they were no longer a part of my life. But what I’ve found most often with friends is that we’ve grown apart, then reconnected over something for a while, then maybe moved in different directions again. With real friends, there can be an ebb and flow of friendship that I imagine can go on for a lifetime.

So, at first, these lyrics reminded me of the loss I’ve experienced. It was hard to hear. I would listen to it when I wanted to feel sad.

These are simple lines, I think, with very obvious meaning. So, even though I don’t think the meaning changed, the interpretation in my life certainly did.

All of these lines across my face

In the last few months, I have really embraced how healthy I’ve been feeling. I know it shows in how I look. I don’t have much explanation for it except that I feel less stress than I’ve felt in ages and I finally feel like the day-to-day drag of cancer is behind me, hopefully forever. But if it is not behind me forever, then I damn well better make the best of the moments I have. I’ve been looking great. I know this, but thank you for telling me anyhow! When I look at pictures of myself six or seven years ago, I can tell you I look and feel younger now.

I’ve been mistaken recently for being as young as 28. That’s eight years younger than I am. Eight years. I’m not actually a person that cares too much. I’ve always felt like as long as I’m not mistaken for a lot older than I am (you know, who cares about a few years either way?), then I’m doing ok. But to be mistaken, by more than one person, for being in a whole other decade of life is pretty freaking awesome, I must say.

Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am

Goodness gracious, I think, if these lines on my face are talking, what the hell are they saying?

How do you ever tell anyone where you have been and how you got to where you are? How can you ever express it and make someone really understand?

I’ve been meeting a lot of new people recently and telling them about this blog is one of the greatest dilemmas I face! Some people know about it through one person or another before they meet me and it’s often disturbing how they react to me. People have treated me like a minor celebrity, which is just strange. People often will read the whole blog in a short amount of time, then when they meet me, treat me as if all of it is still happening. So, I’ll get all of these “regrets” from them about all of these terrible things that have happened to me. “Regrets,” while I’m standing in the middle of a party I’ve looked forward to for a week or at a kid’s party where I’m trying not to get a headache from the racket. And I want to say – and sometimes I must – “look, this happened, it’s over. Yes, I know it was all in the course of less than two years, but that’s the way my life rolls. I’m totally on to something else now. I’m not dwelling there because, well, what good has that ever done me? Shit happens. I know it. If you don’t know it, then figure it out. I have other things to worry about right now. Thank you for your concern. Have a nice day.”

I feel like giving someone my blog – someone I want to meet for the first time – is like handing them an autobiography – at least of the last two years. But I have the urge to do it because I’m generally so open about everything. It seems silly to hide the blog from people, yet I find myself doing it. Then, of course, sooner or later, will get myself in trouble by blurting out a comment about it or having someone who reads it mention it in a group. Yet, how many people in this world have the advantage of getting to read about the life and times of a person they’ve met? So far, not one darn person I’ve met recently has offered me his or her blog for me to read!

Also, it’s such a slanted view of my life. I barely mention work, which, as it does for most people, takes up 1/3 of my breathing hours. Also, out of respect for myself, my daughter and Troy, have only briefly mentioned my marriage meltdown, even though that is by far the most significant thing that has ever happened to me. What does that leave? Cancer. A lot of emotions without a grounding for WHY I was so emotional that day. Some more cancer. And occasional bright ideas like doing the Mini.

Which brings me around to thinking, you know, I need to just write the darn book and get it over with. If “the” book were out there, then I’d have no choice in whether I told people about my life or not. It would be out there. And then when they would come to me and think they knew me, I would say, “You know, it was just a book.” They would look all bewildered and I would haughtily walk away with my glass of red wine held high in my hand and go find one of my real friends and we’d poke fun at the wannabes.

Maybe I’ve thought about that scenario a little too much.

But these stories don’t mean anything
When you’ve got no one to tell them to

I do agree with these sentiments. I do think everyone has a story that needs to be told and we hold the primary responsibility for telling it ourselves. I think one of the greatest sadnesses in this world is how people hold back from others, not sharing their secrets, not trusting others with their stories. I’ve always been an outgoing person, but as my story got more and more complicated over time, I eventually became someone who couldn’t freaking shut up. I know it can be annoying, but I also know it makes me very likeable in most cases. The thing I hear most often is that I am genuine. I’ve also heard, stated very nearly the same way by different people, that despite all I’ve been through, I have an engaging, youthful spirit.

It’s very strange to me to be mentioning those things – feeling like I’m bragging. Just know that I’m not. I know I try to be genuine. I think a complete genuine nature is one of the greatest qualities a person can have. It’s difficult to find people like that, though. A lot of people are very guarded – and, honestly, I think it’s for no damn good reason. They are just living life scared and, well, I have to tell you that takes a hell of a lot more energy than living life fearless, in case you were wondering. A lot more people have no idea what truth is, constantly spinning around in a reality they’ve created for themselves. Although I know I’m not completely genuine, I find that the more crap that is thrown my way, the more my soul is laid bare. Then, the more I feel like “fuck it. What does it matter? Just say what you mean and mean what you say.” Frankly, it saves time.

When people have told me that I’m engaging or youthful, I always have a small moment where I think, “they don’t really know me.” But I’ve gotten very good these last few years of giving myself credit where it is due. And you know what? I do have a youthful spirit. With everything that has happened to me, I could have curled up and died. I could be ugly and hateful. I am certainly bitter at times, but I know I am and I know I don’t want to stay in that place, so I’m working on it. I get tired at times. I certainly get sad and feel rundown. I imagine in those moments, those people wouldn’t immediately describe me as engaging and youthful. (Ragged and bitchy, maybe.) But those are just moments. Most of the time, I want to be engaged in life. And, if you are choosing to do that, I think you automatically feel youthful and probably seem it, too.

It’s true … I was made for you

This is the line that took me a while to get past – the point where I’d get the melancholy blip even when I wasn’t listening to the song in order to feel sad.

I have always wanted to believe that couples were “meant” to be together. There is a romantic in me that has always tried to make the relationships with men I’ve fallen in love with into something “otherworldy.” However, I decided against that idea long, long ago. Long before the breakup of my marriage, so it has nothing to do with that. It just ultimately seemed dumb to think that in the 6 billion people on this Earth, that each individual has one mate. (It’s statistically unlikely. It’s probably more like we each have a million or so potential mates, if that’s what we want.) The belief I morphed into was that it’s hard to find people in this world that you can just completely “click” with so, when you do, hang on tight and cherish your moments together.

But with Troy, I really felt like I had something extraordinary. And even though I had long ago decided against “there is one person for everyone,” I had decided in favor of “we were made for each other.” I thought we were lucky to have found each other. And I often wondered (before I had cancer) what I would do when we were 70 and he kicked off before me, as men often do. I usually came to the conclusion that, while I would be devastated, I would eventually move on and there would be some lovely 60-year-old man waiting in the wings who would follow me around and make me happy until the end came.

But me and that guy I was so made for didn’t make it to 70. So, this line was hard.

And then one day I realized this: I was made for a lot of people.

Like you. And you. You there. You, you and you. And you over there. You with the baseball cap. And you reading this blog naked. You in the corner at Starbucks. And you right there … no not you, YOU.

The best thing I’ve ever done for myself was have a therapist who told me five years ago I had isolated myself from people and that’s why I was so depressed. I reversed that trend, surrounded myself with friends, and continue to do so today. I learned to be more open and loving, both acts I feel like I am going to have to continue to practice until I’m really, really good at it. All of these people – my close personal friends, my extended family, my loving blog readers, even the ones who THINK they know me – have helped me through the most difficult days of my life.

I know that Brandi Carlile is singing to one person, most likely a lover. And I know from interviews I’ve read with her that she processes the emotion of her life through writing music. She tells her story through her craft of writing songs.

But when I sing this song with my sweet Colleen and her 6-year-old off-key voice, I’m singing to you. And since my singing isn’t all that great either, I’ll save you from it most days and stick to writing. I was made for you. All of you. And as long as you are reading, I’ll keep telling you my story.

I do hope that you will find ways to tell people your story. I do believe that denying the world your story is a great tragedy. It’s good for you to tell your story. It is good for us to hear it. It normalizes the world when we realize that other people have stories that can be so very similar to our own.

Author: rosie

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1 Comment

  1. You definitely have a gift for telling your story. Maybe you really SHOULD write your book. 🙂

    Again I want to tell you how happy I am to read that you are feeling so very healthy. I’m pretty sure you’ll have a nice 60-year old wandering around with you when you reach that age and the two of you will be very happy. How could you not? Look at how you glow!

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