My friend Dan has provided an inexhaustible amount of encouragement, coaching, and sometimes annoying, pesky moments of truth I didn't want to hear as I have built a writing habit. His suggestion that writing a page-a-day was a reasonable addition to my busy schedule was the thing I needed to tip the scale from all my “thinking about writing” to finally just writing.
Dan factored prominently in my 31 Reflections of a First-Time Novelist series. Writing those posts without including him would have left big gaps in the overall story. A curious thing came to light as Dan made appearances in my posts. Some readers referred to Dan as my husband. It caught me off guard. It seemed clear to me that he was my friend. It was instructive. It taught me the importance of writing for the reader's clarity and understanding as well as my own.
It is not lost on me that Dan expressed more interest and encouragement in my writing pursuits than the one who once had the title of my husband. And maybe that's where the shock came for me when I read the comments about “my husband.”
To equate texts I sent to my writing friend with him being my husband felt like a leap.
“Well, you DO write about him with reverence,” Christa said when we discussed it.
“That would be because I DO feel reverent toward him and my people. I adore them and am so grateful they are my friends. It's natural that would come out in my writing.”
“I'm just saying that if people are new to your blog and only read your series, it wouldn't be so clear that he's not your husband.”
“Almost every reference is in the context of a text we sent. I hardly think I'd be texting my husband all these things. Wouldn't we be in the same room having these conversations?”
“Julie, married people text each other in the same room these days. That wouldn't seem out of the norm, either.”
“Well, that's just ridiculous,” I said.
But I digress.
These comments calling Dan my husband are innocent. They did no harm and caused no offense, but they did get me thinking and digging deeper about how I am feeling about where I am now. Truth be told, I'm a little touchy about the whole husband thing right now. Marriage, for me, didn't work out the way I dreamed or planned. I worked hard to put the train back on the tracks when it derailed, but my best efforts weren't enough. And while I'm happy and relieved to be on my own, the relief to be out of the confines of a mismatched union does not diminish the sadness for the things I lost or never had.
I want a relationship and I don't want one all at the same time. I want to prove to myself that I can be a part of a healthy, thriving couple. I want a hand to hold and arms to embrace me at the end of a long day. I also don't want to screw up again, and think that staying single might spare me more heartache.
I can't outrun heartache. It's part of the human experience. Really good things have come with heartache. Would I want to have missed out on those good things to spare myself the pain?
I am confused and the confusion weighs me down.
And then I remind myself to breathe.
Deeply. That's right. How about a few more?
Elizabeth Gilbert posted this quote on her Facebook page once: “Be OK with not knowing for sure what might come next but know that whatever it is...YOU will be OK.”
The unexpected comments from my write31days series are proving to be good for me. It's good to dig deep. To examine. To pause. To be grateful for what I have. To wait for what might come next.
And to remember: I am OK.