Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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The Dream Is Over/I Just Believe In Me

Throughout my life I've heard women proudly issue the statement "My kids are my life." But it always bothered me, this reduction of womanhood to that most basic female notion: bear children and devote your life to them. Being a woman is so much more than motherhood and for many, motherhood isn't involved at all, so why limit yourself with such a sweeping statement about the meaning of your life? And don't you need to be a fulfilled woman to be a solid mom? It always seemed to me that making your life NOT all about your children is paramount to parenting well.

I love women. Strong, smart, confident women trigger happenings in my heart and mind that no man has been able to inspire and womanhood, I'm beginning to realize, is a kind of superpower you learn to harness as you advance though life. This isn't meant as an affront to men in any way, they have different superpowers and do I really need to guide you down the path of explaining man powers? I just mean there are some things women inherently do better by nature of being female.

Let me put it this way; if you're sick, who do you want caring for you? There's something about the gentle yet assured touch of a compassionate woman that makes everything better. Does that sound sexist? I don't mean it to. I just mean, generally speaking, women seem to excel at taking care of others. It's why we all want our mommies when we're sick. I like being able to soothe my children within seconds or offering a particularly feminine brand of comfort or calm reassurance to someone in need. Being able to take care of people in that way is a superpower. I also like being a motherfucking badass who doesn't shy away from a challenge. To effortlessly swing from one extreme to the other, soft caregiver to a kickass broad who doesn't take shit, is one of the things I like most about being a woman.

All this to say that lately, I am feeling like... Wait for it... My kids are my life.

For a long time I was searching for someone. Someone to replace the dad that left when I was 5, maybe. A solidly grounded rock amidst the landslide that was my childhood, a chaotic upbringing that will reside forever in my mind causing this endless search for calm and stability even when I've convinced myself I'm not looking, that I don't give a shit.

I wanted it so badly. It was the dream. It's some of the reason my marriage went bad. I was subconsciously requiring him to be something or someone I didn't realize I needed at the time. He wasn't that person. It's not his fault or mine. You get married for this reason or that reason - some you're aware of and some you don't discover until later - and then stack days behind you and learn what is important to you and what isn't, what works for you and what doesn't. One day you realize what you desperately need from someone, take an honest look at yourself, an equally hard look at the person you're with, and realize that you have to let go to hang on to yourself. Sometimes you have to let go to survive.

Romantic relationships are a concept by which we measure our success in life. And it's all bullshit. I'm done subconsciously looking for someone to fix or complete me. The dream is over, which is to say that I want nothing but will expect anything because not knowing my future has been one of the most exciting (and terrifying) parts of divorce. I'm going to be the heroine of my life now. Simone de Beauvoir once said "No one knows me or loves me completely. In the end, I have only myself." It's that notion that's been roaring loudest lately. And I'm listening, dammit. I'm finally listening.

I just believe in me. My kids and me.

I would far rather be alone than try to force something with someone who isn't right and have to work, work, work at making it work. Once or twice in my life I've briefly experienced right. Connections with people who put everyone else to shame. A flow so intense it caused me to believe in true love even when I spend so much time in my mind deconstructing that ideal. So how can I go forward in anything less? I just can't. I'd rather be alone. I want it all or nothing and I don't want to settle for anything less. There is nothing lonelier than being in a shitty relationship and I won't do it again. Ever.

Men come and go and I don't place much stock in any of it anymore. But not because I'm jaded or pessimistic. I love men. God, I love men. I've met some beautiful men in my life. Men who get it. Deep-thinking, curious, smart, compassionate, cool-ass men who aren't afraid of connecting but are equally happy alone. Men who genuinely care what I think about things and who like to talk about anything and everything. Men who read. Men who have an eye for beauty in everyday life. Men who aren't caught up in ego and ambition and money and career. Men who enjoy simple things. I am a sucker for these men.

So many variables come into play when it comes to puzzling together a relationship with someone. I'm at a point where wading through the bullshit to attempt to dig through the layers we all present to each other is fucking exhausting. Give me genuine or fuck off. When I was younger I had a high tolerance for bullshit, specifically bullshit of the opposite sex. Hell, I was attracted to bullshit. Now I get one whiff and I'm over it. If it doesn't flow, if it's a struggle at all, I tap out pretty quickly. And I'm finding that intense flow is as rare as a successful marriage.

So here I am, living out my third year as a single woman and mom and feeling like maybe I'm in a pretty cool relationship... With myself. And my kids. I find myself convincing myself that I could live out the rest of my days alone but as happy as anyone in a relationship. Men are beautiful and I'll keep an open mind because who can resist men? Certainly not me. Just running my hand over a stubbled jaw or eyeing that little valley where hip swoops into stomach and strong hands or eye contact that causes your heart to lurch and conversation that's as good as any sex I've ever had... GodDAMN.

I'm still afraid of being alone. Only myself to rely on. But fear doesn't control me. It excites me and I feel empowered. It's liberating. I'm scared of the future even as I'm unbelievably excited about the idea that we never know what's around the corner, do we? Who knows what new person is waiting in the wings and will have a massive impact on who we are and who we're becoming? And in the end, that's all it's about, right? Connections with people. I'm open to anything and anyone. But I'm no longer looking or waiting.

In the end, we only regret the chances we didn't take,
relationships we were too afraid to have,
and the decisions we waited too long to make.

Reader Comments (5)

It's OK to be scared! Life is nothing but a series of unknown events that are occurring every day--who on earth isn't scared about that?

It's quite awesome to read your writings and watch you realize/learn/evolve. Thanks for letting us in on your journey...

June 15, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterH.

i have no idea how you do it but the conclusions you have come to have taken me years. I am much older now and just got to that place of being enough for me. Thanks for sharing some really good meatnbatataz.

June 15, 2016 | Unregistered Commentergina

I happened on your site 'thegirlwho' while looking for a name for a character in my next novel. I was pleasantly surprised to find YOU!!! Your site is powerful, to say the least! I was enthralled with your posts and your perspective on life. Are you a writer? If not, you should be! You have a wonderful insight into the human psyche. I LOVED your bad names for women and your best names for women. I think I am going to go with "Ruby" for one of the sisters in "The Front Porch Sisters." I shall NOT lose the connection to your site now that I have garnered such a lovely name to use in my upcoming book. Your site is delightful in every way. I' m so glad I stumbled upon something so very worthwhile. My best to you!!! Sue

August 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSue Chamblin Frederick

I read this post and your last couple, the ones on heartbreak, several times now, because I've been in both places too many times, with the same guy again & again. It's a loop. Get friendly, get flirty, get close, I fall in, he pulls away, I resolve to stay strong and just do me, he returns. I always think the next time he nods my way will be the time I can just be his bud, and see. (Cuz he doesn't lie about dating other women,& I have my own situation.) It's starting again, for me, but I know it's gonna hurt. i don't want to be so scared of falling that I lock myself up but I think this person is just going to keep making me feel bad, even if he says he doesn't want to do that. I'm not sure I have a point. I just wanted a place to vent to someone who seems to get it.

August 24, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterbl

This post was written on my birthday and couldn’t be more spot on as to how I am feeling and what has been going on in my life! I can relate to it all and your words are putting it all into perspective and make it so clear. Thank you for this blog and thank you for letting me
Know that I am not alone feeling all of this!!!

August 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSusi

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