I love fairy tales, but sometimes I feel like they let me down. I bought into it so hard, finding the man who who would rescue me from my dysfunctional family and help me build my happily ever after. Unfortunately, my prince didn’t want me once I was no longer in need of rescuing, the castle was a trap that cost me untold thousands of dollars and any chance of financial security I may have, and I realized that I’m really more of the evil queen type anyway.
I’m 37 years old, divorced, subletting a room, and working in an entry-level job with coworkers a decade my junior. This is not the life I imagined. But it’s the one I have and it’s so much better than what I was sold as what I should want. My least favorite brain weasel is the recurrent sense that I wasted over a decade of my life with nothing to show for it but my cynicism and a shitload of bad memories. I was an unfortunate combination of idealistic and stubborn, refusing to give up on the relationship that I had built my life around no matter how unhappy it was making me. I think back on how I used to feel like I just needed to accept that was the level of happiness I was going to get, how I submitted to the idea that “not completely miserable” was good enough. 20’s me really needed a hug and a kick in the ass.
Moving to Boston last summer was my big leap to move on to the life I wanted. I keep reminding myself that it’s only been a few months and I’m just getting started. To be patient and keep working toward my new goals for being self-sufficient and successful on my own terms. I’m still figuring out what that looks like, and it’s the type of life that doesn’t have many examples to draw from. My goals are not the norm. I just want a day job that pays the bills and funds going to shows and doing the things that I love. I don’t need to be passionate about a career, and I don’t want to destroy the joy I get from my art by relying on it for money. I have a network of partners that I love dearly, but none of us are the marrying (or even cohabiting) type. We’re figuring out our relationships from scratch, and don’t have the usual expectations to rely on. It has been really challenging to do this without the community I built in Vermont, but I am working on building a new one here. I get so impatient sometimes though, and it’s hard not to get discouraged about the fact that I’m basically starting from scratch.
One of the things that I’m also starting to reclaim is my sense of the future. I really didn’t have one after the years of divorce, unemployment, and everything going to hell. Moving was the first step, and now that I’m here I can start thinking about the long-term again. I’m still not sure what it’s going to look like, but it’s nice to feel hopeful instead of just a vague sense of dread. Sometimes I do wish I could get those years back, that I’d seen the signs and gotten out sooner. My life has a lot of holes in it, times that I just can’t remember or that I’ve actively blocked as a reaction to stress and trauma. I really don’t want to lose any more of it. I want my future to be free of that regret and to build a lifetime of powerfully happy memories to replace the ones I’ve lost. I’m still figuring out what that means, but I think I’ve got a good start.
In the meantime, I’m surrounding myself with people who love me and appreciate my devious ways. My nights are filled with glitter, music, and the new artistic community that I’m hoping to make my home. I’m slaying dragons, cuddling with my demons, and writing my own story for once. It may not be the happily ever after I was promised, but it’s more honest and a little jaded and still the most happiness I’ve ever had.