Thursday, June 17, 2010


This weekend is my sister's ten year high school reunion and this week also marks a special, ten year anniversary for me.

It has been ten years since I left Atlanta. It has been ten years since my horrible breakup with Evil Ex. It has been ten years since he got another girl pregnant and sued me for my house.

This week, ten years ago I was crying constantly and not eating or sleeping. This week ten years ago, the process server knocked on the door of my parents' house with a lawsuit for me. I was being sued for my own house. I had nothing but a suitcase of summer clothes. I had left behind my cats, my childhood photos, my furniture, the cottage house I loved, my friends, my car and two jobs that I never wanted to quit. All I had was that suitcase because I had left in a hurry. Seven cop cars had been involved in my leaving. I had sat in the Atlanta airport for eight hours waiting to get standby on a last minute flight to South Florida and I remember every minute. I ate a lukewarm Domino's, individual pizza and wasted as much time as I could in the bookstore. I bought Conversations With God because I desperately wanted a sign or some wisdom or something to tell me it was ok. Mostly I cried in the bathroom. Then I went and sat at the gate and cried. Strangers asked if I was on my way to a funeral.

Back then I didn't write yet. I had an AOL account, which I barely used. I didn't even have a cell phone. I'd never dated because I'd been with Evil Ex since I was 19. I was shy, scared, uptight and nervous as a squirrel. Everything terrified me.

I didn't want to go to Florida. In fact, it was the last place I wanted to live and I really didn't want to live with my parents. With a GED, I had no education and no real job skills at all. I had worked in a pottery studio and a private kindergarten for hippies. There was no way I'd find a job making enough to support myself and live on my own.

Mostly what I wanted back then was someone to come and save me. I daydreamed constantly of a True Love who would find me and whisk me away. I wanted to be with someone to prove that I was lovable and to prove that I was special enough for someone to pick me. I wanted someone to fix everything for me. I also wanted someone because Evil Ex had someone and it seemed so deeply unfair that he, a bad person, a lying, cheating, stealing, mean, bad person, could have love and be starting a family, when I, a good person, who really deserved that life, had it stolen away from me. I could never reconcile that in my head.

I wish I could go back in time and find my younger self crying in that airport and tell her that everything was going to be just fine - better than fine even.  I don't think she would have believed me if I told her that in ten years she'd have been happily married for five years, that she'd be having a daughter, that she'd have a new cat, go to Paris, go lots of places in fact. She would never believe that she'd go on to become an English professor or a published writer (in real books that are in the bookstore right this minute).

"I don't write," she'd say, "Maybe I could teach kindergarten, but I'd never be able to get through school. I'm not smart." 

She would probably tell me that she was ugly and unlovable and that she would never get married and never have children.

"The psychic told me."

I think about this a lot. On several occasions throughout my life I had encounters with people who called themselves psychic. I only paid for a reading once. The others were at parties or friends of friends. Every single one of them, separately told me that I would never marry and never have children and for a long time, this certainly did appear to be the case.

"You have too much karma to sort though honey, "one psychic said, "The Universe has closed off these possibilities for you in this lifetime because you need to work on other things. Maybe in your next life you can find love and experience family. Take comfort in knowing that you've been married and had children in other lifetimes. You just don't remember them."

Well, I guess the Universe changed its mind. Except, I don't like to see myself as lacking the will to change and control the circumstances of my own life. I hate the idea that everything is predestined and we're just here playing out the whims of a higher power; that we have no choice or power to alter our outcomes.

I don't believe the Universe changed its mind and "allowed" me to find love, success and family. I changed my own mind. I was the one preventing myself from finding what I sought and frankly, I was being pushy and impatient about it and the more pushy and impatient I was, the more desperate I felt and the further I set myself back.

I had to put a lot of effort into making myself into someone lovable and someone who would be a worthy partner, because ten years ago, I confess that I wasn't. I was a disaster of neediness, desperation and childhood baggage. I'm still putting effort in now. I have to work as an equal partner in my marriage. I didn't marry a man who'd whisk me away and do everything for me. I married a man who values independence and autonomy in a relationship. He doesn't, thank God, want a partner who can't think and act and decide for herself, and I'm glad for this and I'm not that girl anymore.

I have to put effort into everything - career, writing, teaching, all of it. I am having to put an unbelievable amount of effort and work into starting a family and I know this is just the beginning of that. This is the scariest and most physically and emotionally demanding thing I've ever done and it scares the living hell out of me every second of every day.

But the most important thing here that I'm trying to say is that I did it. I created it myself. Ten years later, I am in control of my life and my own destiny and for that I am so thankful.

Every time I get in the car and hear that Kevin Rudolph song "I Made It" when I hear the part where he sings "I used to dream about the life I'm living now" I always start to cry because I know just how he feels.  I guess he probably means that he used to dream about a life of fame, women, cars, money, expensive cognac and hanging out with Lil Wayne, but all I ever wanted was to love someone who loved me back, to have a family of my own and to be able to accomplish something that I could be proud of.

I know that I can't go back in time and tell my younger self what was in my future, but one of the many reasons why I blog and tell all these stories is because I always hope there are people out there reading who might be going through their own personal disasters, just like what happened to me ten years ago. I would like to tell all of those people that their lives are going to be ok too and that they have the power to make their lives ok, even if it seems right now like they don't. You can change your own life. You can change everything about yourself. You can change every bad habit, break every negative pattern and rid yourself of all your toxic relationships. Lord knows, it isn't usually fun work and it takes time and effort, but you can do it. I did it, so I know.


Mamie said...

Awesome, excellent, fabulous post... had me in tears, because I've been there, too. It's amazing what can change in 10 years, isn't it?!

You go, Girl - keep writing and growing and reinventing yourself. Baby Lawns is going to be so fortunate to have to for a mom and as a role model!

Anonymous said...

Dear Miss Lawns,

It does make a difference.

Hopefully, in ten years I'll be where you are now. Until then, I'm 26 and continuing in school until I finish my bachelors in English Literature much to the dismay of my military family. (After all, what's the use of a degree in literature to a soldier?)

With Much Respect,
Little Fish

JDogg said...

I remember well that trip with the Lincoln and the Saturn, getting the things that we could out of the house.

It has been an interesting 10 years.

Maria said...

Wow Wide Lawns I got emotional reading this. Thank you thank you!!

Green said...

This made me all teary. I'm so glad Mr. Lawns saw the potential in you, and that you also have taken big leaps of faith for your own future happiness.

A solidly good and happy life is definitely something you deserve.

MtnMama said...

Absolutely! I did the same thing - I took the garbage life handed me, confronted it, and built something infinitely better.
And I did it by being determined and believing in myself and not giving up.
I have a beautiful 6 year old daughter, a degree, a great job, and independence and peace. It is possible, it is doable, and damnit, its a crying shame if you DON'T finally take the bull by the horns and make your life worth living.

Holly at Tropic of Mom said...

Now that was inspiring.

Good for you!

Tiffany said...

Wow, that was really inspiring. You should be really proud of yourself for realizing this and being able to tell others about your success. I've still got a long way to go in life to get where I want to be. I had been feeling down about it, but I feel more determined and motivated now. It doesn't seem so impossible. Thank you. =)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post, it came at a good time.
I am right in the middle of changing in my life and am always doubting that I am making the right choices. I am trying to make a huge decision to move across country (away from people and my history) and it really helped today hearing from someone else that went thru something similar and that it will all turn out alright if I keep making good choices.

Jocelyn said...

HIGH FIVE!!! Great job and congrats on the last 10 years. You earned it.

Miss Kitty said...

This is one of your best posts ever, WL. It truly is. (((BIG HUGS)))

I'm so glad you chose to start writing no matter what anyone had told you in the past about your writing ability. As you've found out, writing well is like any other skill: you have to start it and keep doing it to get (and stay) good at it. Yours is easily one of the best blogs out there today.

Thank you for sharing your journey with us! And whenever you're next in Millpond, drop me a line. Perhaps we can meet halfway between there and Small Town. :-)

To Little Fish: Please drop by my blog and leave me your e-mail. I'm a college English professor and would be happy to help give you some ammunition to use next time your family gives you grief about a degree in English Literature. (BTW, some of my BEST students are former soldiers. LOL!)

Melanie said...

Thank you SO MUCH!!! You'll never know how valuable your blog has been, nor how many people have been helped by your encouragement.

mcgrimus said...

You get what you concentrate on, I always say. Good for you, for being able to see beyond your situation and imagine a new life for yourself. So many people love to complain about all the horrible things in their life, playing the victim, etc. It takes guts to look past all that, and make changes, big and small, that add up to quite a lot over ten years' time.

But don't stop now. Keep focusing on making your life even better. Your self in 2020 will appreciate it!

FreeDragon said...

Great post, but I have to confess- I visited your blog to see if you wrote about the Miami woman who left most of her estate to her dog.

Fancy Schmancy said...

Wow, I really needed to hear that right now, thank you. I have tears in my eyes because I'm floundering about trying to figure out what to do with myself. Transition takes time and it's hard, but I'm on the right path, I just need to stick with it. You are an inspiration.

Sandy said...

Hello there, WL! I found you through Miss Kitty. Ive seen you comment on many of her posts so I finally got curious and followed you here. I'm glad I did. Your post is fabulous!

Anonymous said...

Actually, when I was working with a psychotherapist, she told me that one of the most effective ways to resolve past grief and pain IS indeed to hug your younger version.

My therapist told me to sit down,
- Close my eyes
- Imagine my younger self with as much detail as possible
- Me now with as much detail as well
- And have the current self hug the younger self and tell her she understands and will always be there for her, always, no matter what.
- And just sit and focus on that, for as long as it feels right. One may cry (I did), and any emotional reaction is perfectly normal.
- And when opening your eyes, one needs to look at how she is feeling in that moment before resuming everyday life.

I really found this helpful, and later on, whenever I thought of painful memories, I would be reminding my younger self again that she always has me.

All the best,

Suffer Kate said...

Madame Lawns, you have quite revived me with your ability to gorgeously describe what must have been devastating [at the time - definitely not so much, now]. I remember reading earlier about that evil ex, and here's hoping he's now reaping what he's sown. Life truly does come full circle. Cheers!

JoeinVegas said...

Further congratulations on your ability to change (in the right direction I think)

Steph said...

What a beautiful, inspiring post.

Thank you for sharing.

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