I slowly walked into the venue for my friend’s wedding reception, took a deep breath and put my sunglasses on. Relax guys, the venue was in a greenhouse, and it was an emotional ceremony, so everyone was wearing their sunglasses. It would’ve been weird if I wasn’t wearing them, alright?
Aside from a few close friends, it would be the first time seeing a lot of people from home since I had left. It would also be the first time since telling him I wanted a divorce that I’d be seeing him. Maybe a wedding wasn’t the best time for us to see each other for the first time after that conversation? Awesome, Jess, I’m really glad you chose this scenario to take a break from overthinking things.
But there I was, shades on, hoping I was looking cool as hell, but in reality, was shaking like a leaf, and grasping tightly onto my drink tickets…cause I wasn’t about to drop those little beacons of hope right about then.
The first conversation of the night started when an acquaintance walked up to me and greeted me with clear hesitation. Thank god for those sunglasses. Eye contact would’ve broken me.
“Hey! Jess! Wow, you look great! Are you….okay? Like, are you being healthy? You’re eating, right?”
Then a few conversations later:
And then later in the evening…
“God loves you. Don’t blame Him. So many people are praying for you.”
Um. Thank you?
I think it’s safe to say those sunglasses stayed on much longer than they should have that night.
While I assumed that people would be talking about my situation, it never occurred to me that they would also be talking about me. The sudden realization that I had been the topic of discussion over tea, coffee, or wine in living rooms, dining rooms, or bars, caused a hard knot of anxiety to form in my belly that started pushing its way up my throat like a bad bout of reflux. I forced myself to take sips of my Palm Bay (I never claimed to be sophisticated) to wash down the explanations I knew I owed no one but still felt obligated to give. Many trips to the washroom were made to reapply my coral lipstick, give myself mini pep talks, and high-five myself in the mirror, but by the end of that evening I knew I had to face a question I had been avoiding to ask myself for some time:
How do you stop caring what people think when you really care what people think?
A sad discovery I’ve made recently is that my life is basically just a long series of choices made based around trying to avoid upsetting, offending, or disappointing others, but when I take a step back to look at the big picture that is my life, all I can think is, “Well, shit.”
So what was it all for? Certainly not for me. Which is completely insane, right? Please tell me I’m right. I NEED VALIDATION!
The last ten months have produced an ever-growing list of challenges, but the one that I’ve struggled with the most is focusing on making decisions based solely on what’s right for me and my kids without worrying about the speculation that surrounds every choice I make. Even after all of that effort, thinking I was making the right choices, it turned out there were some who didn’t agree.
I’ve heard rumours about myself that have made me laugh out loud (I’m a lesbian?!), I’ve heard some that have caused me to breakdown and cry in the middle of Walmart while looking for frozen burritos (I knew about the scams the whole time and made him take the fall) (I also could’ve been crying over the fact that there’s no good Mexican food in Slave Lake. It’s hard to know for sure on that one.), and I’ve heard others that have given me instant diarrhea (I’m mentally unstable, an unfit mother, and trying to pawn my kids off on my parents). Depending on the day, hearing these rumours can either make me quietly chuckle to myself or lay me out flat.
It’s been a struggle knowing how to deal with the rumours. Do I keep my head down and hope it all blows over soon? Should I yell, “FAKE NEWS” and then run away anytime someone confronts me with one? Or would it help if I just started rumours about the people talking about me? I must say, those are all very tempting options. Ultimately, I need to just accept that people are going to talk whether I like it or not, but I figure if they’re going to talk shit, they should at least get the facts. So imma lay down some cold hard facts. For shit-talk purposes. You’re welcome.
Let’s do this in list format, because if you’ve learned anything from this blog, it’s that I love a good list. Or a bad list. Just lists in general! I live for lists. Ask me to make a top five list for anything and I’ll be your lifelong friend instantly. I’m such a sucker.
- Let’s just clear this one out of the way - I am not a lesbian! I did give my number to a girl one night at work though, but it was only because I was too shocked to say no, and I was secretly hoping we could be friends. She wasn’t into lists though, so we didn’t become friends. Whatever. Her loss.
- I do not have an eating disorder. Unless eating too much bacon is categorized as one.
- I’m not going through a mid-life crisis. Unless eating too much bacon is categorized as one.
- Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t wake up, find out my husband had an issue with gambling, pack my bags, and get the hell outta there. I begged, I pleaded, and I made useless, empty threats that I finally had to follow through with. Over the span of about three years, many chances were given. Too many, if you ask any of my friends/sisters.
- No, I do not constantly crap. I’m also going to call out my son for starting this one. I HOPE YOU READ THIS SOMEDAY AND REALIZE THAT LIES HURT, LUCA.
- I haven’t had any mental breakdowns. They’re called panic attacks. Edibles help.
- Yes, I said edibles. Bye.
- It’s true, I love Arby's. Go ahead and judge. I’ll be enjoying my beef and cheddar and living my best life while you do.
- I’m not mad at God, but I am mad. And don’t try to tell me it’s unhealthy to be angry. My anger is what pushes me forward most days, and has helped me be healthier and happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life. If that’s too much for you to wrap your head around, just take a moment to remember that I don’t care! I’ll wait.
- Just kidding, I wait for no one. Besides my kids. And those idiot customers who take ages to order their food. You know who you are.
- I am dating. You can find me on Tinder. Get over it, assholes.
- I do, in fact, write with a fist. It’s not a stunt for attention.
There. Are you happy?
I’m happy. And for the first time in my life I understand that while my happiness shouldn’t be my number one priority, making others happy should be even less of one. So, after all of that, I can swallow the fact that some individuals won’t be thrilled about a few of the details on that list, because none of those people have to live with my choices.
Why should I keep my hair in a mom bob just because someone once told me long hair made my face look too long and skinny. Excuse me, SINCE WHEN WAS THAT A BAD THING?! So the hair grows. Cause I don’t give a shit what you think.
Why should I not wear “winter” colours just because someone who read Colour Me Beautiful once told me I’m an “autumn”? First of all, what does that even mean? Second, I LIKE ICY BLUE OKAY? IT’S PRETTY AND I THINK I LOOK PRETTY IN IT, DAMMIT! So I’ll wear whatever colour I damn well please. Cause I don’t give a shit what you think.
Why should I censor myself on my own blog just because someone once told me I upset some poor fragile souls with my last post? Um, duh. It was supposed to upset people. It was an upsetting subject. I WAS UPSET. So I’ll continue sharing, or oversharing, or whatever you wish to call it. Cause I don’t give a shit what you think.
Why should I stay stuck in a sad, lonely marriage just because I’m afraid of disappointing people for breaking my vows? Sorry, but if you think that a piece of paper is more important than a person being valued, feeling safe, and being empowered to be the best version of themselves, then your opinion cancels itself out. Actually, I take that back. I’m not sorry. I don’t give a shit.
So, there it is.
I guess this should be the part where I write a nice conclusion that ties things all together with a powerful message telling you all to live your lives joyfully, not worrying about pleasing others, but I’m late for a date with a tall, handsome man who makes me laugh and for some reason likes the impressions I do of my kids, so just figure it out yourselves. Bye!