Psuedo World

Gritty

My folks chose not to come to my second wedding. After all, it might have resembled getting my life back together. If I married Mr. Right they could no longer cast themselves as heroes, taking responsibility for the daytime care of my one and only son from my first marriage, as though he was their own. In real life, they had four daughters, no sons. So I had something they wanted. And they didn't want me to change it.

My parents liked that I was a screw-up by their definition, so they could cast themselves as my saviors. It created a life for them. They never really had a life. But then that is another story.

What my parents failed to realize was their own inability to give up having us in their daily lives. They became so desperate they began a destructive campaign of threats. We will never speak to you again. We will attempt to gain custody of our grandson. By then, he was not mine anymore, according to them.

They had their reasons. It didnít take a statistician to recognize the bad odds for me as Mr. Rightís third try at the altar. I found my second husband in a classified ad. "A perfect 10," he described himself. "Swash, hard driving, man about town, entrepreneur, loves to dance and hold hands on moonlit walks." Standard-issue romantic ideal. And it was mostly true, so rare in such cases of self-promotion. I liked him from the start, and I made a quick decision to marry him. Too quick.

Fast forward to now, seven years later. Seven years, I hear some of you sneering and snickering. Letís not even go there. Lesson learned: there is no romantic ideal.

I moved out a few months ago. I am living in my own apartment with my son from my first marriage. I can move back to my second marital residence (enter lawyers) anytime. It is now less a home to me than a place where my second husband runs a business and his employees run in and out all day. I let him build his dream on top of mine, and lookee there. They ran me off.

My husband says he still loves me. So what? Even if that is true, I am still on the lam, as they say, homeless, alone, and jobless. I like being on the lam, defined in the Encarta dictionary as "a hasty escape, especially to avoid arrest." Yeah like cardiac, or of judgment, or of development.

My second husband now seems like a bad date I canít get rid of. How did I get here? I was his beautiful wife, we had a beautiful house, and we had a good life sort-of. And my parents, well, how could I have been so dumb? They are now banished to a private Siberia of enforced silence. My sisters, in a rare act of solidarity, no longer call either. So I am mostly loveless, too. Such loss is balanced by reduced social expectations and the assurance that things cannot get much worse. With people like this in your life, who needs enemies? And I have learned that bad people in your life beget more bad people in your life. It becomes a neverending-cursed-family-legend in which you bear the big-L legacy like some psychic-bad-karma-sign-on-your-forehead. I have learned to accept the truth about the wages of betrayal. You got it, more betrayal.

Iím catching my breath after months of revelations from interesting characters. An adopted adult stepson who spent most of his adolescence and four years of adulthood in prison. A step-grandchild born to this ex-con stepson and his scummy porn-queen girlfriend who at age 21 had already brought four illegitimate kids into the world. An ex-boss who sold me out to the new owners of the company where I worked the past twelve years. His wife, my ex-attorney and a local prosecutor, who sold out my sonís child support case against my first husband. Now that's another true tale of marital betrayal...guess who introduced my ex-boss and my ex-lawyer who subsequently tied-the-knot. Remember no good deed goes unpunished. And realize that a sleazy cast similar to the aforementioned can show up unexpectedly in the best-educated and most-successful families. If you think you have a sure-fire amulet against all harm, guess again. Better to pay attention and beware.

Given my present circumstances, Iíve had many chances to ponder this whole married versus single thing. It reminds me of a poltergeist. Dead things from your past rear their shrunken bobbing heads. You just thought they were dead dust. They reinvent themselves and come back to haunt you in ways that remind you of an exorcism.

There are definitely two sides to every story, and two ways of thinking about the whole matter of living as a single or a married person. Am I up to sharing my life and home, maybe my whole being with someone I now know well enough to distrust? Or am I just as happy watching reruns of Law&Order and eating Healthy Choice dinners while I exercise more and dream about finding another someone who will be Mr. Right after all. Do all relationships end up in betrayal and unforgivable events? If so why open a vein? Or does hope which springs eternal, truly refresh everything in the end, because we couldn't stand to give up the notion that everything we do turns out for the best? I know our family values had a solid grounding in the philosophy of Disneyland.

I look at things a little differently as a pseudo-single, and I notice married women look at me differently now that I am pseudo-single. I am a weird hybrid...married or single, a little of both, not purely either. Am I now a threat? Hmmm. Within the bonds of matrimony, I am not a threat. In the free world of dating, I become a threat. Bondage or freedom, is this for real? Out, in, in, out, I am the same person. Or am I different? Why are peopleís eyebrows furrowing up and down? Or is it just a nervous tick?

For starters, neither Confucius nor Jesus ever married. Single life was seen as a more holy lifestyle by St. Paul in the New Testament, although Jesus described marriage as a sacred sacrament, a true vocation. All of these wise men agreed that we should "Do unto others as you want done to you." And I do not think they were talking about the most satisfying forms of sex, as some of you he-men try to make us women believe, that sex is the only way to your hearts. It is the worst and last reason to be in a relationship, and women and children know this is true.

At this point in my life, I donít have time for metaphysical altruism or Zen balance. Thank God, I have a strong belief system. Eveyone needs one. Given my particular alternatives in life, I felt I had to the make the most of the few opportunities that I was able to recognize in my micro-middle-class-cookie-cutter-don't-question-anything world. I had to believe in me. I still do.

Placing myself apart from my second husband, I suddenly realized what I have gained. The luxury of embracing fantasy or misery...my choice, all by myself. I do not have to accept the spin and spit the world casts on my life story. I can make it up as I go along. I can be strong with or without a mate.

As I contemplate my fate on the fence, at a proverbial fork in the road, I deliciously ponder my future. A dramatic turnaround, marriage as I choose it, with equality and respect and partnership on my terms in some alternative arrangement? Or the new independent adventure, my way on the highway, with variety and new risks and new chances for experience and knowledge?

I think itís time to think outside the box about the most defining choice any of us make. Your tax status and mine: married or single? We shouldn't be in denial, a parrot in a glass cage, let's-smile-and-pretend-everything's-all-right in a marriage. Or bitterly soul-searching, clicking away in the chat rooms thinking about the one who got away, with nobody permanent who knows our psychic zits, boils and all, who will share our ups-and-downs at the end of the day.

Future explorations of Pseudo World hijinx will include real life stories about dinner, block, office, client, and family parties; business meetings and travel; and other examples of social hell, where the dual worlds of singles and marrieds bump into each other. With the holidays approaching, youíll be sure to tune in for the next installment, wonít you? You wouldn't want to miss out on a potential insider tip, which could mean the difference between enjoying the main course or being the main course.

So for now, thatís all the cold bare naked truth in the hard core cruel world.

Email Gritty at: Gritty@hybridmagazine.com 


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