The Things I Do Instead


Instead of spending lazy Sunday mornings with a Paul Simon soundtrack while he fries up eggs and I watch from the kitchen island thumbing through magazines, I run. I tear through the streets of my childhood stomping grounds listening to driving beats, willing myself to run towards that place in the future where there’s more pleasure than pain. Sometimes I think I’ve arrived. Sometimes I realize there’s a long way to go.

Instead of stolen moments covered by iTunes playlists before a sweaty little boy clambers into bed between us, I now live a half-life with hours and hours to spend in bed, uninterrupted. Maybe some day I’ll be able to sleep through the night again. Sometimes there are interesting ways to spend those sleepless hours.

Instead of sending him that article I found, that new album I discovered, that crazy indie movie I saw a trailer for, I’m building a trove of treasure to enjoy in my own way, in my own time. My friends tell me that some day this won’t feel so lonely. That I’ll relish these new discoveries that I can enjoy all by myself.

Instead of texting him to tell him just about anything beyond pick up times and changes to the schedule I write it down. Occasionally, I write it here. Every once in a while I’ll send that text, but only if I’m sure I won’t regret it.

Instead of asking him for help, I am helping myself. I have more resources than I realized. Maybe it’s not always the best way, or the cheapest way, but it’s my way. It’s important that I realize that I don’t need anyone else.

Instead of wondering how she was able to completely erase me, not speak to me, not ask me about how the future should look, I sit quietly and wonder if I should still be waiting.

Instead of sobbing, I shed the occasional tear. There are plenty of reasons to be grateful and those tears won’t change a thing.

Instead of anger, I look at the worries I am moving away from. I’m responsible for everything now, and most of the time I feel like I can manage this.

Instead of wanting, I listen to new music at loud volumes while I drive. This fills me with the profound reassurance that just about everyone has felt the way I do, and many of us can turn that into something beautiful.

Instead of thinking about writing, I am writing.

Instead of fearing solitude, I sink deeply into it, like the way I settled into the cushions of that futon. The cover often slips off, but it’s easy enough to straighten it up.

Instead of getting everything all at once, I am combing carefully through thrift stores and garage sales for just the right pieces. Every time I get an itch to hit up the closest shop, I find a perfect something.

Instead of worrying and wondering, I am being. This is the greatest lesson from these last ten months. Life has tried to tell me how little control I have over anything beyond my own responses. I am finally learning to accept this.

Instead of wanting to change what happened, I am living my life. This new, strange life is full of possibility and enough shadow to make the light almost blinding some days.

Instead of mourning my family, I’m building a new one with my three beautiful children. The pack is smaller, but the love feels bigger somehow.

Instead of working, I lie on the beach sometimes.

Instead of dwelling on what has been taken from me, I am exploring everything that is now on offer. Some of it fits, some of it doesn’t, but everything feels worth trying.

Instead of feeling like I’ve failed, like I’m not gentle enough, or beautiful enough, like I’m not worthy of love, or family, or commitment…I’m folding my heart tenderly into me, managing it’s occasional fluttering before releasing it to the open sky again.

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