Last night, in preparation for my upcoming trip, I watched Under the Tuscan Sun. I’d seen the movie years ago, and don’t remember thinking much of it. But last night, it got me. While I didn’t recently go through a painful divorce, I am recovering from a relationship with an emotional abuser. And so I related to the fall and rise of the lead character, Frances. The thing that struck me most is that, like post-divorce Frances, I’d fallen into a deep depression and was in danger of staying there. And like Frances, I’m beginning to live my life in a way I haven’t, for a very long time. If ever.
Now that I’m emerging from this depression and am getting an idea of what it feels like to not be depressed, I suspect I’ve been sinking in and out of it for years. At least since 2006, when I got involved with the narcissist pedophile I met on eHarmony. (I do not exaggerate. But that is a blog post for another day.) He was a bad, bad man, and that relationship, followed closely by learning my brother-in-law molested my niece (his daughter with my sister), had me down deep in that black pit. I’d begun to claw my way to the surface when I met Mack, who sent me tumbling back down to the bottom.
But it wasn’t just the depression and the abusive men. I’ve always had a tendency to hold back when it comes to living my life. A lot of this comes from my mother. She was born in 1936, in the midst of the Great Depression. She grew up poor. A kind of poor I know nothing about. My mother is not an extravagant woman. She’s rarely indulged herself in any way. She’s lived her life as if she could end up back in the “poor house,” like when she was a little girl. If it wasn’t a necessity, you didn’t buy it and you didn’t do it. Instead, you worked hard, and you saved. While I’ve never wholly subscribed to her philosophy of living (or not living, as it were), I did let her fears control decisions I made for my life.
For years I’ve been living timidly. Fearfully. I don’t take chances. I don’t risk anything. And I seem to have been waiting for something to happen before I started living my life. A good boyfriend (or husband). A friend whose travel schedule synced with mine. My parents to be gone. Losing 20 pounds. The housing market to improve. My student loan to be paid off.
Fuck timidity. I’m not waiting any more. I’m living my life now.
I’m not just saying the words. I’ve taken real steps, this time. Here’s what I’ve got going so far for my fearless new life:
- I’ve booked a trip to Tuscany in May. On my own. I’m not going to wait for a boyfriend to travel with, or a friend’s schedule to sync with my own. I’m going now. I’ve arranged to join a gourmet cooking group (all strangers) and will stay the first six nights with them in a villa in the Tuscan countryside. The last three nights I’ll spend in Florence. Entirely by myself. Well, I will have my iPad and the plan is to blog prolifically. Hopefully I’ll have a wild fling with a handsome Italian. I probably won’t buy a villa, however.
- I bought Pimsleur’s Italian language CDs and have been learning Italian during my commute. Even if I don’t need it to get by there, I want to be able to use the language. And really, I can do better than speaking only English and a little Spanish during my lifetime. Maybe I’ll tackle French, next.
- I hired a decorator. I’m going to create the space I’ve always wanted. Right where I am. I’m not going to wait for the market to improve to sell my condo and decorate my new place. I’m going to transform the space I’m in right now. I met with the designer last week and she presented her plan. It’s stunning. The colors of a peacock. The drapes and accent wall are a deep teal. The base (including the sofa) is cream. (Unlike Annette Bening in American Beauty, I’m not going to let a cream sofa get in the way of romance, should romance present itself on my sofa.) New rugs and furniture, including accent chairs in peacock green. A flat screen tv. (Yes, I still have a behemoth old Sony.) A glass dining tabletop set atop two dramatic metal pedestals. Custom dining-room chairs. Light fixtures like nothing you’d ever set eyes on in Home Depot (from whence my current fixtures came). I’m having the oak kitchen cabinets painted cream, and putting in a teal glass-tile backsplash. I’m replacing the tile floors with hardwood. (It just occurred to me I should take some before and after photos and post them here.) I deserve to be surrounded by beauty.
- I have hired an accountant and contacted my financial adviser for a reevaluation. I’ve always been bad about hiding my head in the sand when it comes to money. As long as I can pay my bills and not live beyond my means so that I have to worry about budgeting, I’m good. Planning for retirement freaks me out. I keep secretly hoping some rich man who’s an excellent money manager will come along and take care of everything. I’m not waiting for him any more. I’m going to maximize my wealth regardless of whether there’s a man in my life. Oh, and I’m not going to buy a new car. My accountant impressed upon me that purchasing a big-ticket depreciating asset, like a car (when the one you have is paid off and looks and runs perfectly fine), is stupid. I may be many things, but stupid isn’t one of them. So I’ll keep driving the nine-year-old Audi.
- I’ve cut back working on weekends. Most weekends, anyway. I refuse to spend my life toiling away as if the next Great Depression is around the corner. And now that my brain fog has lifted from my personal depression, I’ve regained my focus. It’s a lot easier to get my work done during the work week with a fully functioning brain.
While I haven’t yet started living my life when it comes to romance, I’m beginning to feel ready. My heart is waking up. I can feel it flutter now and then.
I’ve done a lot of dying throughout my life. Now it’s time to live.
*The title of the blog borrows lyrics from The Rolling Stones’ Wild Horses off the album Sticky Fingers.