living out loud in some red, sparkly shoes.

Before I start, I want to share the website/organization information I was given to start the process of...dismantling...whenever I'm ready to start that process. Just in case anyone reading this or stumbling upon this is in a similar situation, go HERE: www.visionsanew.org. They have lots and lots of resources to help you.

Okay, that's done. Next!

I've put my underpants on backwards two times this week and three times last week, Internet, and not noticed until well after 9:00 AM. I left crucial items for science experiment lessons at home. Yesterday, I almost walked out the door with only one earring in. I think it's safe to say my mental state has been somewhat frazzled.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to formally apologize to every single one of you who reads this dreck. I'm sorry for all the existential bullshit your eyes and brain have had to endure over the last several weeks. If it makes it any better, please know it's not exactly been a wildly fun party on this side of the screen either. 

I'm just going to chalk it all up to Growth Phase Part 2 (Growth Phase Part 1 being when I initiated the separation). Let's all pray Growth Phase Part 3 is less fucked up AND I'm able to dress myself for public consumption more appropriately.

Have I written here about my most favorite movie for grown ups of all time, Living Out Loud? I think I have, but a long time ago and I bet it was very discombobulated. I re-watch/review it every time I need a reminder about what matters most in Life (foreshadowing: not what other people want). 

So the story is about Judith, a 40-something, recently divorced nurse, who gave up every dream she'd ever had to help her unbelievably douche-y douchebag of a doctor husband achieve his. And then he left her for a younger woman and that woman is having the life Judith dreamed about but was asked to sacrifice it all for someone else's happiness.

She meets Liz, a jazz nightclub singer, and Pat, the doorman of her swanky Manhattan co-op. She strikes up a friendship with Liz who teaches her about strength, and Pat who teaches her about true friendship. But ultimately, Judith learns how to love and forgive herself by making peace with the damaged child within, and when she does that she figures out who she is and where she needs to go next. And she does.

The story was written and directed by Richard LaGravenese, who has said it's based on two short stories by Anton Chekhov, "The Kiss" and "Misery." Film critic Roger Ebert (may his lovely soul RIP) loved it to pieces, and if Roger Ebert loved something, then I love it too. 

(Side note: if you write and/or love short stories, you should see this. Character and dialogue matter most, and every reviewer who's ever reviewed it always makes some comment about how it's like watching a short story in motion.)

When I first saw this movie in 1998, I was no where near married; I think Steve (he of the box of darkness) had just broken my heart, and so maybe that's why I was drawn to it. It was about a woman done wrong, and I most likely felt I'd identify. But sitting there in the theater, I remember thinking: oh. oh, this movie is going to stay with me for a long, long time. 

What's funniest to me about the fact this movie has meant so much to me is that, in 1998, I had absolutely no way of knowing that one day I'd be in situations like the one scene of the film where Judith is drunk, on the floor of a nightclub bathroom, telling Liz: "I am soooo tired of agreeing to things I never should have agreed to." And, back in 1998? I had no way of knowing that, one day, I'd be in situations where I'd have to make tough decisions and let go of things I never thought I'd ever have to let go of. Isn't that funny? How things like this are brought into our lives, and then they stay with us for unknown or un-thought-of reasons...and later on, we find out how insightful and meaningful they were all along? Things like this are what convince me Something Greater Than Ourselves is at play in our world; whether It cares or not is up for debate. But I do often feel like It's moving things along on Its schedule, as It demands they move if for no other reason than just to keep the order of things fluid and constantly propelling forward through time and space.

There are only two movies that have ever done this, that have stayed with me for almost a lifetime or half a lifetime, as Whatever It Is has propelled me through this life I am having: The Wizard of Oz and Living Out Loud. And I've been thinking, lately, about why that is - why THOSE two films? I decided it's because they're both growth movies; bildungsroman tales. (A bildungsroman is a coming-of-age story.) And what's most fascinating about THAT to me is that both of these bildungsroman tales are female-centered (which is very unusual in the world of bildungsromans - most of these stories are male-oriented) and both are stories written by MEN. And what's fascinating about THAT to me is that both of these bildungsroman tales written by men are about journeys, and finding out where your core center lies, and doing what's best for YOU...in the end. They are both empowering stories, full of the message: Don't listen to what other people want you to do or have or give...go do what's right for YOU. And that's big, because this planet loves to tell its females they're doing it wrong if they aren't constantly giving in, shutting up, and being a good little girl so others can be happy.

I've loved The Wizard of Oz since I was 7. I lived it, I dreamed it, I breathed it, and it anchored my soul all throughout my childhood. In my saddest moments, there was always the thought, the knowledge, that Somewhere Out There, there might be an Emerald City. The background music of my childhood is Somewhere Over the Rainbow and We're Off to See the Wizard. The colors of my childhood are technicolor yellows and greens and blue gingham. 

And I've loved Living Out Loud for almost 20 years, and have loved it long before I knew that one day I myself would be a divorced woman who'd be sitting on floors in tears, beating herself up over and over for agreeing to lots of things she never should have; who'd given up some dreams along the way to make other people happy or because she didn't really trust or know herself; who'd one day have to start picking up and re-gluing the fallen pieces together. And this would be HARD, Internet. Oh my god, this is so incredibly hard. I can't even tell you. (But I do! And I do it here! Airing out my dirty laundry, including backwards underpants, for all to enjoy on a regular basis.)


At any rate, that's where I'm at currently. My status update is: re-gluing together the fallen pieces. 

Sometimes you sacrifice things that make you happy so someone else can be happy; the world says that's what real love is. But I disagree, dear Reader(s). I think that's the worst kind of sacrifice to make; that it is not what real Love looks like at all. I'm not talking about not going on a fishing trip because your spouse broke her foot and won't be able to take care of a 4 year old by herself (or, you know, whatever...go ahead and go on your trip anyway, don't mind me. I'll just be icing my 5th metatarsal for 10 weeks)...I mean sacrificing what matters most of all to you, being asked to change your very essence and being told that's what people who love each other do. Which is a lie. 

Love is gentle and open, kind and honest. It's not demanding; it lets go when it needs to, because it trusts that whatever it let go of will come back if it's meant to be there and if it's not,then real Love just releases the object, the person, to the Universe and lets that bird fly free. Love is deeply wishing for someone else's happiness, even if that means you don't get to be a part of it. And that is not a sacrifice; that is simply...letting go. 

And so. If you are asking someone to sacrifice their own happiness so you can have yours, why not just go ahead and stab them in their soul repeatedly with a homemade shiv while you're at it? That's not love. 

Also: Love isn't heroic; it doesn't save anybody else. It doesn't fix anything. All the love in the world cannot unfuck up the fucked up. Love just IS. And you let the people around you fight their OWN battles, and stop trying to fix other people. I mean, you can hand them water and wipe the sweat off their brow now and then. But their fight isn't yours, and that goes for your children as well...let your children fight their own fights. You can only fix yourself; when the oxygen masks drop take care of yourself first - you're no good to anyone if you're passed out dead.

When Dorothy says after fighting to get back home, "If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I shouldn't look farther than my own backyard," I don't think she means: stick with what you know and is safe and give up; I think she means: listen to your own heart; be true to yourself. Because Dorothy always had the power to get herself where she needed to be; she just needed to learn how to do it herself. And I bet, I just bet, if Dorothy decided her heart's desire was still in Oz, she'd be on the next cyclone or traveling carnie worker's hot air balloon to go get it. Your home IS your heart. And that's where your power is. Take it with you; use it wisely.

This is what I have learned. Because when I reconciled with C in 2007, I remember thinking: Oh this is nice, I'm home, just like Dorothy; I'm not going to go looking further than my own backyard from now on. But that didn't really work out, did it? That's not what was actually going on, was it? Because, again, I was sacrificing to make someone else happy. And Whatever It Is that's driving this big boat we're all on was propelling me onward to where I am now, just as It's propelling me forward to where I'll eventually end up six months from now. And so I couldn't stay where I was, because I hadn't really learned what I wanted, or what I needed, or who I was, or what really mattered to me. And when I get to where I'm going, there will be more to learn, and more challenges to endure. Because this is the process of learning and growing, and hurting and healing. But I couldn't stay where I thought my home was, because my home was and is and always will be my own heart. And my heart was always sad, and still is, when it's in a home that doesn't fit it well.

And so here I am: Back at the beginning of the Yellow Brick Road, trying to figure out how to get to the Wizard...who's probably going to screw me over and take off without me. Sitting, drunk, on the floors of nightclub, in tears, smacking my forehead for once again agreeing to things I shouldn't have agreed to in the first place. Looking to other people or things to make it better, to fix it. Or! Maybe it's finally sunk in. And I'll just...let go.

Here is what else I have learned, Internet: In the end, there's really nobody but yourself who knows how to find your own heart's desire and nobody but yourself with the power to get whatever those desires are. And that's the central, driving theme to both of those movies that have stayed with me throughout my childhood and then my adulthood. My soul chose stories that are about longing, and journeys, and believing in your own powers.

(This is what I think I need to do, is what I'm saying, Internet. I think I need to figure out what my heart's desire is, actually, and then summon forth the power to go get it.) (If it involves a pair of sparkly red shoes, then awesome! And all will make sense, this journey of nearly 40-something years.)

I kind of like the idea of sticking my hands in my own gore
to make peace with the pain of the past.
I bet this would be like combining Halloween with Valentine's Day:
a dripping, still-beating heart in my hands, but with love.


  1. Your writing is very profound, Amy. Rest assured YOU are not alone. I too have experienced some of the things you have written about. There is ALWAYS a shoulder here to cry on or a friend to just listen. You know me as xxnavyguy445 on twitter. God Bless and remember things WILL turn around for you. Keep thinking positive.

  2. Thank you! This was sweet of you. I'll be okay. :)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.