“Crap, crap, crap!” Margo grabbed the table steadying herself before she fell over. While she succeeded, she managed to drop the bags she was holding onto —now the contents spilled out onto the hardwood floor near the front door of her condo.
“I hate my life,” she screamed out knowing that she did not have time for this. Her meeting was in 30 minutes and she knew that she would not have time to clean up this mess.
“Ugh!” She bent over and grabbed her black purse, a knock-off of a Chanel bag with DREAM – JOY— and LOVE insignia all over it. Always looking for accessories to remind her of what she wished for most in life, dreading being late to her appointment, these reminders would not do the trick today. Her life was definitely not what she had pictured it to be. As a little girl, she loved getting lost in fantasy. She still had the tiara that she played with as a kid reminding her of a time long ago when she imagined that she came from royalty and her friends addressed her as queen. She laughed to herself that she brought that memory to life – she and her daughter exchanged a “Yesss Queen” whenever they felt like they needed a boost.
And, today Margo could use that boost. She woke up in a bad mood knowing that today was the day. About three months before, she finally made a decision to end her 20-year marriage. It was time. Hoping that it would finally bring her some relief, somehow the finality of things tugged at that most sensitive part of her soul—that place where the memories of good times gone by lived. She stopped herself from breaking down in tears. She promised that she had enough crying for at least 10 human beings and would not get emotional today. Any hope that could replace her dominant feeling of not being truly loved was gone. She felt like she was finally starting to heal and would protect that process with all of her might. But, regret eeked in as she looked at the legal documents waiting for their signatures laying on the floor. She could almost hear Javi’s voice—it takes two to marry and one to end it. Sometimes, she thought she saw a tear fall as he said it, witnessing any feeling from him would be a nice surprise. But, he always followed it up with some cold behavior that proclaimed a tough exterior. Of course, he proudly boasted that he never cried as if it were a marked achievement. Margo was not sure why he thought that was a good attribute. She had always valued a person who had empathy hoping that Javi would learn some over time. Then again, he was quirky. He also said that he never takes naps. Not sure, who he was trying to impress—but Margo always thought he was doing his best to let the world know he was worthy. Definitely, a characteristic of an insecure man. Boasting about how smart he was, or what kind of deals he did, she grew tired of this display. She just wanted to build a life with him and dream together. She gave him everything she had, she even hoped that her two complicated pregnancies would be evidence of how she was committed to fulfilling her promise of creating a family with him. But, somehow facing real medical uncertainties she felt more alone than ever as her tiny babies grew in her womb.
There is only so much of a pass one can give another. Margo used to laugh that her emotional bank account with Javi was depleted. At one point, she hoped that he would get tested to see if he was on the spectrum so she could feel that there was a reason for his lack of—well lack of compassion and love. But, she concluded that it was just a poor coupling and that their marriage was over—flawed and in disrepair. She needed to love herself more now than ever. She felt like she sacrificed too much. She was not starting all over again—she had done that already when she gave up her legal career because she hated the toll it had taken on her so much. She still hoped for future happiness for her. Putting aside her own desires and sadness, she wanted to please him for so long. What happened was a full-on taking for granted of Margo, an assumption that she would always be there for Javi and their kids. She knew that she deserved better and it was time to return to the glory of her more majestic days. She actually thought that she might go grab the tiara that sparkled like a diamond-encrusted piece covered by butterflies to wear today and passed.
“He thinks I am crazy enough as it is,” she muttered out loud. “Don’t want to give him something else to turn our kids against me. How did everything that started off with such promise get to this place?”
Such a free soul, she believed in magic and hoped that her journey with Javi would be all that she wanted. She loved a good movie and always hoped for the best endings where the fairytale and dreams come true. They did fall in love long ago. She was in the best place of her life.
She knew that today would be difficult. It had been many months since they were officially separated. The raucous fighting had outweighed any attempts at reconciliation, Margo tired of always feeling like she was the one who had to suck it up and tolerate Javi’s ongoing bad behavior. And when it felt like many years of holding her breath knowing that her expectation of better would never come to fruition, it was time to exhale and move on to discover what the next chapter of her life had to bring. That last “wake-up call” was just the final straw—Margo came upon a strange text on Javi’s phone that led her to believe that there was something going on that he wasn’t telling her. At that point, she no longer cared for an explanation. They had already lost interest in the other’s day-to-day. And, the pandemic made living conditions worse. Stuck in quarantine together, the world stopped and she was not able to network for her business or go to the gym and meet up with her best friends, it became very clear that Margo lost a lot of what she loved most about herself—her optimism. She never thought that her husband would be her everything—she had Ellen and Elyse, her best friends since high school that was always there for her. But as the life journey continued, she realized that she was less willing to tolerate so many of his issues and idiosyncratic behaviors. She was just getting the worst version of the man she thought she would play with for the rest of her life. Not sure what changed. She knew that he always had something to prove and found his identity in work. She thought he escaped there—many times it felt like he was having an affair. But the text just confirmed that there was more than met the eye. And, those days he would go into the office while Margo and the kids stayed home hunkered down, it felt more like he was becoming everything that she most detested in a man. Controlling and dismissive, Margo was STILL a beautiful woman, with such a dynamic personality even in her 50s it was not over yet.
Many suitors sought her company over the years. She did not trust readily and rejected many proposals—she agreed to marry Javi because he felt safe. That safety was not there anymore, she knew there had to be more in this for her. And, ever since she had kids and sacrificed a lot of her personal ambitions to raise her beautiful babies, she felt like she lost more and more of herself year after year and was made to feel bad for missing who she was and the potential that was there. When she spoke up and shared her needs, Javi just put her down over and over again. She always tried to justify that things would be different when… fill in the blank. This went on for far too long. But the pandemic left her feeling like it was not them against the world. She felt alone and when the kids were grown and left home, she realized that it is now or never to dance a new dance or sing a new song. She still loved the idea of what they built together. Not sure why? He would say things that made her feel worthless and she cried more days than not—she actually had quantifiable evidence setting out in her journal precisely that. Maybe old habits die hard. But, this man was not intrinsically woven into the fabric of her life anymore. They spent much of their time apart. Javi had long since made Margo feel like a priority, and Margo returned the favor no longer caring to be one.
Something changes in a person when they give up on life. Margo stared into the mirror that hung over the credenza and fixed her hair and rubbed off the black eyeliner smudged at the corner of her lower lid. Spending at least an hour getting ready, she knew that there was still a spark in her—that passion for living was there, even as she faced what she believed was a huge failure in her life. But she also knew many others who walked this walk and started again anew. If they could, she knew she could too. Not sure why this was so hard– setting out on a spiritual journey for some time, she believed in past lives. Maybe she was royalty a long time ago, maybe she was a man who treated others just like Javi treated her. Maybe. . .
Avoiding her reflection most days, she could not pull away from that soul looking back at her and attempted a smile in solidarity inquiring, “How did we get this old? How did we get here?”
Then she closed her eyes and held her hands together as if she were praying and softly stated, “What I wouldn’t give to start all over again knowing what I know now!”
She opened her eyes, and looked down at her watch, “oh no, I am definitely going to be late—Javi would just love rubbing that in my face.”
Margo bent down to grab the bag that had a drawing of the Virgin of Guadalupe on it and started to push the most important legal documents back inside. This morning, worried that she would be too anxious she did not eat or have her morning espresso. As she started to stand up, she felt light-headed. She moved quickly to grab her keys when the room started to spin. Trying to gain her balance, she grabbed for the table in front of her to anchor herself, but to no avail. She hit her head on its corner and felt like consciousness was being swallowed up by an opening in the floor. Then, everything went pitch black.
Copyrighted 2022 Meg Nocero
“Your greatest responsiblity in life is to learn to set yourself free.” Meg Nocero