I took the dog for a walk this morning and had a thought—what if this is all I’m meant to have in this life? I mean, there’s got to be a reason why nothing ever works out for me. There’s a reason why I’ve been single for ten years. There’s a reason why I have no passionate feelings for any career. There’s a reason why I can’t even write anymore. I am numb. Completely devoid of any joy, any passion, any motivation. I exist. And maybe that is some sort of karmic hell I am predestined to have in this life. This is the thought that I’ve been mulling over all day.
Somewhere around mid-afternoon, I found a song sticking my head. Collin Raye’s “Little Rock” from the 90s. I used to listen to a lot of country music when I was married. Now it repulses me, but there are still some songs and artists that I get nostalgic for. I don’t know where this song came from today, but snippets of it kept popping in my head. I climbed into bed for a nap, and pulled up the YouTube video. It made no sense to me, because it’s all about a drunk guy whose wife kicks him out and he has to rebuild his life with a job selling VCRs at a Walmart in Little Rock. (I told you it was an old song.) It is an uplifting song, but not exactly pertinent to my life right now. But then I remembered. There is a line I always thought was so brilliant: “You know your daddy told me when I left / Jesus would forgive / But a daddy don’t forget.” I had played this song over and over during the 9 month battle of my divorce. The day my marriage ended, my family had secretly driven 6 hours overnight to pack me up while my ex was at work. I took a lot of the good furniture, dumped piles of crap on the floor, hid 200 pictures from our wedding in places he would be finding for years, and took my 3 dogs he didn’t get to say goodbye to. About 4 hours into the journey back to my parents’ house, I got a series of voicemails. I played them for my parents when we arrived home, and they were blistering, scary, expletive filled rants about what a bitch I was. My father said if he ever laid eyes on my ex again he would kill him. And that’s what I needed to hear in that moment. Not my mom praying the rosary that we would reconcile. No, daddy wouldn’t forgive and forget, and neither would I.
So, what was the message in this song? I think that I needed the reminder that the only person in this world who fought for me was my dad. And that’s where my fight came from. Good, stubborn, French-Canadian genes. He backed me up when no one else would. If I was mistreated, or underappreciated, or challenged, he believed in me and his inner Marine was going to war behind me. He made me believe in myself, whenever I started to listen to the naysayers (often in my own family) and want to quit. He thought I deserved the best of everything. And his voice is the only thing that keeps me from falling into the abyss at times. But he’s been gone 6 years, and his voice is fading from my memory.
Three months before he died, right after he was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer, he suffered a stroke. Luckily they were able to reverse it in time. But with everything else going on, we didn’t know if he would survive the first 24 hours. I told my boss at the time – an awful drug addict with anger issues – and he was less than sympathetic. So I quit in a letter and went to the hospital. My dad’s response was, “Good. Now the asshole will see what he lost. He’ll be sorry.” Even though I ended up being unemployed for a year, it was a blessing in disguise. I tried to think today of what he would say about my current work situation, and I think he would say the same thing to me today. I can’t go on just collecting a paycheck in a career I hate where I am exploited and underappreciated. I just need the courage to move on.
As for my love life, I’ve been asking for his help for a while now and he doesn’t seem to be listening. I keep telling myself that maybe he just doesn’t think there’s anyone worthy of me. I gave him crap for not turning the limo around when we arrived at the church for my wedding. Maybe he just doesn’t want to make the same mistake twice. I keep asking for his help though. There must be one guy on this planet under the age of 50 who will be my champion like he was. That is what I am missing. I’ve never thought of myself as being really depressed, not for more than a couple days at a time anyway. But today I am close to the brink. I am a decision away from quitting my job, defaulting on my student loans, eating my feelings until I gain 600 pounds and am physically unable to leave my house, and able to cut myself off from all human contact. It is incredibly tempting.
I find myself tonight drinking 3 glasses of rose and watching “Eat Pray Love” for the 342nd time since my divorce. And the line “You don’t need a man, you need a champion” is resonating with me. That was what my dad was. The only person other than myself who believed in me, and thought I was a force in this world. Since he’s been gone I really struggle with that self-belief. I failed the bar exam? He knew it was a fluke too. I failed it a second time? It was my ex-husband’s fault. I got divorced? He was secretly gay and a con artist. My boss is mistreating me? I can do better. His voice is fading, and as the years go by without anything positive coming into my life or any dreams coming true, I start to doubt if it is going to happen. I miss having a champion to keep hope alive. And I’m afraid if I don’t find one soon I will be consumed by the dark side.
I’ve booked a vacation to Greece in the fall, and one terrifying thing I planned is to go paragliding. I’m afraid of heights, but also believe that my vacations are meant to push me out of my comfort zone. My dad loved to fly, but my mother was terrified of it. I know it is something he would do if he had the chance. And I know he’ll be right there with me. Unless I shut down before then and cancel the trip for one reason or another. It’s a minute-by-minute battle right now. I’m listening very hard to hear his voice tonight.