my occasional musings on life, love, art, perfume ... what else is there?


of Substance

Now I think I'm actually doing homework to keep from writing a substantive blogpost.

Substantive. That's actually what I wanted to write about. Substance.

I spent six (of my best) years once and twice a week in a psychiatrist's office talking about how insubstantial I felt.

I was a writer who wrote insubstantial copy about (at varying times) hospitals, buses, health insurance, ultrasound imaging, cardiologists, health insurance again, buses again.

And I was pretty sure I accomplished nothing with that golden prose. But the energy spent trying to convince myself that it all was worth something would have lit all the bulbs in a mid-size city.

So much energy devoted to delusion. That my marriage was worth it, that my work was worth it, that my life was worth it.

Looking back now, over the vast distance spanning who I am now and what I was then proves ... that nagging sense that none of it was worth anything ... was the truth.

I lived a shadow life. I knew it, but yet I struggled to hang onto it for so long. So long that, in the case of my marriage, my psychiatrist actually asked me, more than once, "Why? Why did you stay so long?"

Because sometimes you are so afraid of what you don't know that hanging on to what you do know means survival. And I was fighting to survive.

I'm one of the lucky ones. Whose mentality shoved her past subsistence. I could not get comfortable in life. I could not rest within my skin, until I shed that skin.

And I knew it was going to hurt plenty. And I knew it was going to be ugly. And I knew I would have to let go of everything that kept me warm, and that I would be alone, and in the cold, and alone. Alone.

I cracked. The skin shook loose. And slowly, slowly, I stepped out of it, as one would walk out of clothes you'd just discarded.

And it was cold. And I was alone. And I was terrified a great deal of the time.

But I was becoming alive again. And slowly, slowly I began to get more of a sense of my own substance, however scarred, however flawed.

And I was hurt by some, and comforted by some, and protected by some and ... eventually, loved again, by some.

Tonight, as I spill these words onto the digital page, I am more solid than I have ever been. And if you're reading these words, and you feel, or have ever felt, less than solid, please take comfort from what I am saying. You can crack, and shed, and step away and step back.

Believe me. (And I wrote this to remind myself.)

sculpture: constantin brancusi


Blogger cjblue said...

Beautiful, inspiring words. Thank you for sharing yourself, M! We all have our demons, our reasons for staying too long, but you're right: usually the main reason is that the known, no matter how unpleasant, is often less scary than the unknown.

This is why women stay with abusive husbands. Why so many people stay in unsatisfying jobs, especially in an uncertain job market. Why we make so many compromises in our lives that eventually we forget who we are and why we're doing any of it.

Thank you for reminding us that change, although scary, is possible and often positive.

7:08 AM

Blogger Tan Lucy Pez said...

Wow. I'm in awe of this writing!

Excellent post. You could submit this for publication as an essay.

7:29 AM

Blogger Kate said...

Wow. Very well said.

8:37 AM

Blogger Kyahgirl said...

this post reminds me of all the things I love about you.

9:11 AM

Blogger still life said...

Beautiful beautiful piece, this writing is heart-wrenching! Going out into the cold is a very difficult thing especially without clothes. But in the end, you are here now warm. Wonderful M!

10:04 AM

Blogger Jemima said...

People must sometimes think that if they shed their skin there will be nothing underneath. Nothing is what you have when you stay the same.


10:20 AM

Anonymous sarasotagirl said...


10:22 AM

Blogger Fred said...

Nicely done, Mireille . A wonderful reminder that climbing a mountain, any mountain, is possible.

1:23 PM

Blogger Urban Chick said...

thank you for that


2:43 PM

Blogger actonbell said...

Wow. Great post--and congratulations for making it out there and then making it back inside your OWN cozy place:)

2:47 PM

Blogger AP3 said...

What a great post! I can relate to what you're saying on many levels. I'm glad you've found your way to a better place.

4:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I stumbled onto your blog and find these beautiful, hopeful words. Tomorrow is my divorce ... a day that will be sad for many reasons and (perhaps)promise for a new life. I too invested way too much time in my marriage but how true it is that sometimes the familiar is the reason we stay. Thank you for your inspiring words and for allowing me to type these few words...C.

7:56 PM

Blogger mireille said...

anonymous ... C ... you're welcome. I'll keep you in my thoughts tomorrow. xoxo m

8:02 PM

Blogger Dan said...

Climbing a mountain is easy. Just put one foot in front of the other. If you want to do it, you can. In fact, if you want to do anything, you can. The question for me is always do I want it?

So... the operative question in my mind is do I want to move to Austin? Do I want to take a job there? What do I want?

I know I want to be happy and fulfilled. I just don't know how to get there.

8:03 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your well wishes, M. It was a bittersweet day. A day of tears ... memories ... uncertainty... and hope for better days. Again, thank you for your lovely post and kind words. The only reason I posted anonymously is because I don't know how to post Merci ... Connie.

5:40 PM


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