Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Walking Away

You know, your hair will always do "that thing." Don't bother even trying to smooth it out.

I feel the hard bristles of my brush press against my tender scalp. Harder. And harder still. I hold the brush under the tap and run in through my hair in one more meager attempt to smooth the twisted and knotted pieces. The pieces that remind me I will never have the hair I see in glossy spreads in magazines I really shouldn't read (my fragile ego begs me, pleads with me not to).

I turn on the faucet, cup my hands underneath the flowing water and angrily splash it on my hair. I forcefully pat my hair down into flat, lifeless piles. The kids at school would expect nothing less.

And I walk away.

You aren't that smart. You've worked on it long enough. Give up.

My pencil taps on the book while I suck on my finger, readying to bite the nail that never was. I pray for some whisper of an answer to appear. But nothing does. My mind stops. Freezes as my empty stare falls on the calculator I have no idea how to use.

Calculus. It it nothing but jumbled letters, numbers and lines on a page. I squeeze my eyes shut. I try again. Again. And once more to no avail. I got nothing . . .

My fists tighten, I ball up the blank paper in my hands and throw it to the floor.
I push the book and calculator across the table and wait to hear them both fall hard to the floor, bent and broken.

And I walk away.

Really? You think he actually likes you? Why would he ever like you?

I can see him from across the large hall in the center court of the mall. His crooked smile, the way he shuffles his feet and shrugs one shoulder when he talks. He can't see me. But I see him. Everything he does. I hear everything he says. He wouldn't know me if he stepped on me.

I get it. I know it. But I just want that moment, one simple exchange. If I could just get him to see me . . .

That would be stupid.

I don't make any attempt to get his attention. I just go back to making drinks at the fruit juice stand that sits squarely in the court. Without warning, there he is--standing only a few feet from me. I smooth my apron, conscious of the orange pulp and slimy banana smeared on the front. I push my hair behind my ears and tip my hat down just enough.

"Hi," he smiles as he says this. Half shrug.
He leans across the counter. He stares and waits.

Don't get any ideas. He's just being nice.

"Hi," I say.
My chest filling with small shiny pebbles of hope.

He just wants a drink, stupid girl. This isn't about you.

And I walk away.

One day he's going to hate you. You're going to screw this all up and he's going to hate you.

I swing him in my arms and bring him gently to the ground. He jumps from one sockless foot to the other in time with the music. "Spin, spin, spin," I shout to him.

He spins as his eyes try desperately to stay focused on me. His heavy laughter rises and falls as I pull him to me, lift him in the air and we spin together.

His hands reach around my neck and his cheek presses against mine.
The music stops but we do not.

He's just a baby now. But wait. He'll have you figured out in no time.

This time I smile. No walking away. Not anymore.
My eyes focus on him. His eyes, the tiny lashes and deep sea blue that peaks from beneath.

I lift him up as he reaches down for my face, cupping my cheeks in his hands. The music streams around us, the beat catching our feet.

Her words have echoed in my head long enough. It is time for her to just . . .

walk away.

* * *

My own voice. I could be so cruel with the inner dialogue. I tortured myself with an endless barrage of criticisms.
I still do, sometimes . . . don't I?

I wasn't good enough. Smart enough. Pretty enough.

I was never ENOUGH. Yet. All along. I was just enough.
Go figure.

I just had to shut
her up long enough to figure it out. And I am STILL figuring it out . . .

I am my own worst enemy. For so long, I was the one who snatched victory out of my own hands, tossing it to the ground and then stomping on it for added drama.

I could spend thousands for a therapist to tell me the why and how. But I just want her gone. I can probably take a stab at the why and how anyway. But therapy? Why bother?

I just know I hate the bitch who whispers in my ear. Which is why I've told her (and I have to tell her again from time to time, since she is like an unwanted relative with nowhere to go who insists on mooching my Thin Mints and Swedish Fish) to get lost. Take a hike. F*@% OFF.

I'm curious. Am I the only one who stares in the mirror from time to time, reasoning with the face that stares back? Telling her that she'll be OK? Telling her to have faith?

Telling her . . .

NOT to walk away?

Edited at 10:45 AM: I started writing this post in the early morning hours. For some reason, it is when I become drenched in reflection. I'm blaming the hormones, the all-cereal diet, the inescapable reality of motherhood and taking stock of where you've been, where you are and where you just might be headed. What a freakin' crazy ride . . .


flutter said...

you are worth so much more than you give yourself credit for.

stefanie said...

I have plenty of those moments stored away. You're not the only one.

ConverseMomma said...

First this needs to be said, you are one of the finest women I know. And, you have become one of my very best friends. You are also one of the finest writers and mothers. Laura, let me be your mirror for a moment, okay?

You know you are not alone in this, all those talented writers bringing you their angst, and you always find a way to talk them down.

We all have this ache. What sets us apart, what makes us special, even with orange crush on our shirts, is our ability to put it down raw and honest.

You will not fuck it up with your children because you are not afraid to open yourself up to the wound, to reflect, to give more because of it. They will not always see perfection. That is not necessary.

You ask yourself in this piece if you are enough. You are more. So much more than enough.

I will never stop being here to tell you that. I will never walk away. Neither will you.

All love!

p.s. sorry for the novel.

tracey.becker1@gmail.com said...

God, I have conversations in my head more than I have in real life. I go through an entire conversation sometimes, only to realize that I never actually SAID a word, so the other person never really answered... So I never found out how they actually felt.

I wasn't always like this, actually. I actually used to be that girl that WOULD talk about anything to anyone with all of that "confidence" that some teenagers have. Somewhere along the line, my confidence has changed. Not disappeared, because I still feel it. But the essence has changed and matured. And my inner voice hasn't always matured as quickly...

Lovely post, hon. THIS is something you should realize: you can write and write well.

Hope you're feeling fabulous.

Karen said...

You are the only You in the world. Nobody else can measure up to what you're created to be. Now go be You, and enjoy it.

Unknown said...


I feel like that is how I have felt my life, growing up...but I do, I do know better now...and even though I still hear that voice in my head, it only pushes me to STAY and prove the bitch wrong. :)

Midwest Mom said...

I'll tell you what my own parents have always told me...

You are not alone.

All moms wonder whether we have it in us to do this thing -- this monumental thing called being a Mom. We take it day by day, pushing our shoulder against the relentless downcurrent of life, and we keep our heads above water.

You are doing it. And your blessed child loves you with a love that will not be broken. So just reach inside for that tiniest scrap of strength you can muster each day.

You can do it. And you will.

{{hugs}} - Julia

Woman in a Window said...

This is what we live, isn't it?

I just wrote a little bit with this question in mind, and you know what I've found? I was surprised. Just last night as I was walking around this town I realized that I'm glad I've doubted myself, questioned myself, at times hated myself. It grounds me, gives me a vantage point of appreciation for when I realize in a moment that I am alright.

You, my dear, are alright too.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

You're not the only one in the world or O magazine wouldn't have so many articles on this. You might want to look up Martha Beck--I know she's written articles and maybe a book on reprogamming the voice.

I'm with you on the therapist--I'd rather just make a change than delve into the whys and wherefores. Good luck.

As Cape Cod Turns said...

Are you the only one? Ha ha, I would take a strong bet that every one of us has a bit of that bitchy talking back woman in us.

I love therapy. Honestly, it is the one place where I can say whatever I want to and my therapist doesn't tell me I am crazy (like sometimes I think I am).

So stand tall girl, you have too much going for you to "walk away"!

Kat said...

That sounds a lot like me. I've gotten so much better over the years. I think I just started "acting" like a confident person and then it became second nature. I still put myself down, but far less than I used to. And I am much more accepting of who I am and who I am not. I am okay with my flaws because I know everyone has them. I think when I was younger I just tried to compare myself to other people too much and that held me back. Now, I'm just me. And that's okay.

Great post!

Karen MEG said...

I've had the other voice in my head for so long it hurts... but I don't know if it's old age and I'm just getting harder of hearing, those voices of negativity seem to fade as I become more comfortable being a woman, wife, mother...

We'll have to revisit it again, though, when my kids hit their teens.

Wonderful post, as always. You have a real gift, you know that don't you? And your children (yup, including the little peanut!) are blessed to have a mama like you.

Cecily R said...

Once again your way with words is amazing.

Oh, and I SO have the voice...I chat with myself way more often than I care to admit.

But you ARE enough. More than enough for your kids. They know that already. Even the lima bean. :)

tiarastantrums said...

. . . I feel transported every time I read you . . . your words are so beautiful and poignant!

Aracely said...

NO WAY LASIKGAL!! Did you work at Orange Julius?!?

I've already told you about my inexplicable over confidence, you don't want to hear that anymore ;)

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