It’s Saturday, and I’m single, at least in the eyes of the IRS. We signed the separation agreement this week, and he defriended me on Facebook about a month ago. It doesn’t get much more “single” than that these days, with or without a divorce decree or annulment!
So it’s Saturday, I’m single, and apparently I am smart. Last evening a friend told me I was “near genius,” a claim which I politely reject. Another friend has the habit of telling me, “You don’t miss a thing, do you?” and I haven’t figured out yet whether it’s a compliment or criticism. The other day my mom reported to me that my father was talking proudly about how smart his daughter is, and perhaps he is right; I recently landed a job for which I never would have believed myself “smart enough” even just a year or two ago.
The friend who called me “near genius” also called me “complicated,” and he meant that as a compliment. I’m pretty sure that’s because he is married and is not in a romantic relationship with me, because I can think of only one romantic partner who ever expressed delight, fascination or enjoyment of my complex and often contradictory mind. It’s a part of me that I’ve learned not to share in an intimate relationship because it hurts so much when that part of me is rejected, ridiculed or dismissed. Taking ownership of the “smart” part of me that “doesn’t miss a thing” is actually quite scary.
I’m feeling a little tender and vulnerable as I write this, because that part of me is one of my favorite parts of who I am, yet I consciously hide and even deny that part of myself in my attempts to protect it. How distorted is that?
It reminds me of one of my favorite musicals, Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim. It’s playing next week at a local high school, and I can’t wait to see it. One of the main characters is a witch who keeps her beautiful “daughter” Rapunzel locked safe in a tower to shield and protect her from the cold, cruel world.
She ultimately escapes, and sadly after her years of isolation, Rapunzel does indeed become a victim of the cold, cruel world. It’s a reminder to me that sometimes the actions we take out of fear often contribute to manifesting those very fears. I recently saw a quote, “Vulnerability is not weakness, and that myth is the most dangerous.”
So it’s Saturday, and I’m vulnerable, and smart. Not “near genius.” But I’m clever, analytical, and articulate. I’m complex and sometimes I complicate what ought to be simple. But the same complexity and contradiction that can tie me up in confusion is also what enables me to accept the paradox that is life. It’s what allows this otherwise “black and white” kind of girl to exist in and even embrace a world of gray area. The tool I’ve been using as a wedge between myself and the rest of the world is the very tool I can use to practice acceptance and compassion, starting with myself.
I need to embrace my “smartness” instead of shielding it from ridicule or being afraid of it. More than anything I want someone to love that tender, frightened and beautifully complex mind of mine. In order for that to happen, perhaps I should start loving it myself.