Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Watch a nest full of baby birds. As they grow, they jostle for position; they squabble over the best tidbits carried to the nest by the parents. The biggest and the loudest get the best food, the most nurturing. The smaller, less aggressive nestlings are ignored—often to death. Those tiniest birds must learn at a very young age to be clever enough to get what they need to survive.

As the youngest of a family of five, I grew up as the smallest nestling. I know exactly what it’s like to crouch at the back of the nest and devour scraps left by my bigger siblings. I made the most of every morsel. And I survived. I can’t really blame or resent my family for my birth order. It was what it was. But it also made me what I am.

What I am is a mass of contradictions. I crave attention, but squirm when I get it. My natural habit is to fade into the background, because that is familiar territory. At the same time, I have a keen intellect that clamors for some kind of outlet. It’s like I’m screaming , “Hey! Here I am!” But when somebody looks, I freak out and run away. This serves to make me appear erratic at best…at worst, schizophrenic.

Back in the “nest,” I was the person of least importance. Early on, I understood that if I had opinions, desires or issues, they were negligible—at least to the people who were my entire world until I was well into my school years. I navigated my formative years mostly on my own. Fiercely independent…reliant upon no one but myself. But lonely. Very lonely.

And then I met my husband. My “soul mate.” The one person in the world who saw me, who loved me. Who heard me. It was a gift from the Universe so far beyond my expectations that for the first two decades of our partnership, I regularly had to pinch myself to believe it was real. Here was another human being who actually listened to the things I said and acted as if they had value. The person who would stand next to me and say, “Hey! Here she is!” And then hold my hand to keep me from turning tail and running away.

Someone with whom I could share the banquet of life, rather than hang in the background and wait for palatable scraps to fall my way. I knew it was probably a mistake to allow so much of my happiness to rest in the hands of another person. But I couldn’t help myself.

Which is why it was such a disaster, such a betrayal, when I realized that I had, at last, been relegated to that dog-under-the-table status in my marriage. I think this is a direction that most long-term relationships take at one time or another. People without my history understand this and take it in stride. They call it a “dry spell,” walk along on their own for awhile and trust that their paths will intersect their mates’ once again somewhere down the road.

But for me, it feels like losing my last friend. My only friend. Because that’s exactly what it is. I don’t want to buck up and go it alone. I have been there and I have done that—even if it was more than three decades ago—and I do not want to do it again. I think this might be why I am so “stuck” right now. Why I can’t seem to choose a direction and go there.

Because I know if I go, I’m going alone. And I just don’t want to.


  1. Sometimes one just does not know what to say. I was watching the Geo. Harrison thing that martin Scorsese did and they asked Olivia what the secret to the longevity of their marriage and she replied "You don't get divorced!" I thought that was very simplistic considering and then I realized that is it, you just wait for things to change....again. That which drives us away from each other may also bring us back together.

  2. there is some truth to that statment - "You just don't get divorced.." But also, truth in your yearning for your friend and soul mate to come back. That is fair enough. I hope it happens.

  3. You are right, ladies.. "You DON'T get divorced." But I had begun to believe that the remainder of my marriage was going to be a matter of two separate entities living under one roof and going their separate ways. I really though I had accepted this. But I haven't, and it looks like I don't intend to. Now, I just have to figure out what IS going to happen...

  4. Ouch. I have no wisdom. Just wanted to honor that I hear your words.

  5. I'm divorced and I've never had "divorce remorse"; my ex and I are better at being friends to each other than we ever were at being husband and wife. But that said, it sounds like you had something really special, Lisa. Have you considered trying to find a good marriage counselor? Good ones are few and far between, but I've seen friends find their way back to each other with a lot of hard work and the help of a good counselor. I wish you the best.