Last year, I transferred the contents of my safety deposit box from my old bank to my new one.
On the car ride over, the girls sifted through the bag of bond certificates, birth certificates, cash, heirloom jewelry and passports. “Mommy, look!” My youngest daughter held up her hand in the rearview mirror, my wedding band slumping around her index finger.
“Here, put it on!”
With reluctant curiosity, I slipped it over my nail bed, only to reach the blockade of my knuckle. It didn’t fit anymore. That was part of the physical proof I needed. Like the visual exercise I’ve done for those suffering from body dysmorphia (a common pathology that can develop when people lose a significant amount of weight); they don’t see themselves as they are. Instead, they see themselves as they used to be. I lay them on a giant sheet of paper and trace their shape. Dive bomb, reality.
It’s dangerous to exist in an alternate universe: in a construct of the past, not the present. I know how harmful it can be; I’ve lived it.
“I can’t picture you as someone’s wife, or as a wife at all.” A friend said to me years ago, shortly after my separation. I took offense to that statement. I hoped, in time, I’d meet someone and settle in behind a mahogany door with a deadbolt, no longer exposed to a life of ‘tables for one’ and the occasional tryst. So, I put myself out there and tried to secure myself to the heart and hip of others; others with loose hinges and closed hearts.
I’m meant to be a wife again! Fit! Fit! I stuffed myself into a lifestyle that I thought still suited my figure, only to cut off the circulation to my soul.
After my last relationship ended, I lay down and traced the true image of my being. When I got up, I saw it and something in me evaporated: the delusion, the illusion that I have to be something I am not, that I want something I really don’t.
Sometimes, I still take one of my rings and push it over my knuckle. I hold my hand out and examine it. But, it looks awkward. It constricts around my bones, so I twist it off and put it back where it belongs, on my middle one.
Maybe I’ll read this years from now and look down to see a simple band gleaming back at me, but for now, being alone suits me best. My friend was right; a wife, I am not. ~Rebecca