Now that the weather’s warm and inviting us to sit outside, I’ve taken a look…
There’s me and then there’s the other me. I’m not sure which version to give more life to.
We have some things in common, her and I. We feel deeply. We give until we are empty.
The me I have prioritised is kind, compassionate, generous, thoughtful, and empathetic. She has always longed for the life she’s been told to want. The husband, the home, the children, the family dinners, the family pet, and the security that married life has to offer.
The other me is strong, desirable, wild, talented, clever, and mysterious. She has always longed to throw herself naked to the crowd. To live every piece of life with reckless abandon.
I have straddled the worlds that exist between these two women for as long as I can remember.
I know it reads like a poorly written soap opera designed for quick consumption on a streaming platform, but this is my 29-year long story and my reality. I live between two worlds and I don’t know if those two worlds can ever properly merge or even if they should.
Before I can remember, I have always been acutely aware of how people perceive me.
I have agonised over sentences and paragraphs that have had the potential to cast shadows of shame in my wake. I know that this is a normal part of human existence, but I have allowed these shadows that chase me to forge and shape the person I have become.
I have run from them over and over and now that I finally have the life that I promised I would give myself, they are growing bigger in the corner of my world. They are morphing into little pieces of life; experiences that I seem to be subconsciously steering down the path of that other me. She is desperate. Gasping for me to give her air. She is pulling me under to save herself.
My therapist once asked me “What do we do when we are unhappy in our lives, but we don’t know how to make it stop. How do we force a pause for ourselves?” We self-sabotage. It’s not all conscious sabotage. Sometimes we aren’t even aware that we’re doing it.
Both of these women have been desperate for someone to hold them, pull a blanket over them, rub their back and sing to them. To be taken care of. It makes sense then that I sought comfort in a sexual experience with two people I love and respect, when all I truly wanted was for someone to come and hold me and kiss me without any aspect of sensuality.
I don’t remember much of that night. I remember dancing, eating two handfuls of mushrooms and taking whatever bumps were offered to me. I have no concept of how much I did or even if what I did was a safe amount. I didn’t care. I just wanted to lose myself.
The whole night plays like a rollercoaster with the peaks being vivid memories and the rest being a whir of neck-breaking turns and troughs. Like an old VCR in fast forward mode, where you get brief moments of visual clarity and then the rest is just gone. A mess of warped images and static.
My therapist gave me permission to believe that, while it wasn’t the best thing I could have done, it also wasn’t the worst thing. This experience has echoed through the worlds of both of these women.
It has threatened the very foundation of the secure and neat little life I’ve crafted for the me that exists in the foreground. The other me feels elated. She wants me to catch the momentum she created and run from that life; fully embrace her with open arms. To smile with her and be grateful that I have the body and mind that allows me to participate in life. REAL life. The highest, most authentic life that I would want my children to live.
I have two young babies. They are everything to me and my connection to them is the strongest emotion I have ever felt. I love them more deeply than I ever could have imagined and yet, I don’t like the life that being a mother has dealt me.
I mourn the loss of my former self. This other me that I have ignored and shushed since at least my early university years. That girl with an unnerving gleam in her eye. I would have been so attracted to her if I had met her in another body.
The me I know and some, if not most, of those that know this docile me, this domesticated me, would have judged me for having even a thought about wanting her or wanting to be with her.
The judgment that comes from wanting to be irresponsible for a few days and throw myself head-on into something reckless that makes me feel alive is exhausting. The monotony of everyday life is nothing like I expected it would be.
Where is that heart-rush you feel in your bones when you catch the eye of a stranger from across the room and realise that there is a whole realm of potential that could unravel with just one conversation with that person? The head spins that come from the potential that life can offer. Where you feel truly awake.
I wake up. I get my kids and myself ready, put on a load of nappies, drive to daycare, drive to work, work, drive home, make dinner, put the kids to bed. Repeat ad nauseum.
Am I ungrateful for wanting more excitement than this? The me I know wants me to think I am. She wants me to feel guilty at every loose or even fleeting thought that excites and invigorates my mind. She wants me to work harder at being a better person, a better ally, a better wife, a better worker, a better creator, a better mother. Achieve, achieve, ACHIEVE she screams at me.
And that high achieving part of me is the part that others see. The driven part of me that expects absolute perfection of myself. To them, I have it together. I am cohesive. I am integrated.
The other me wakes up in the morning and loves on herself in her mirror reflection. She is comfortable in her skin and grateful for the body she was given.
You can see her confidence and self-love in every breath and mannerism as she moves through the world; always aware of the eyes that track her path. Those looks that fill her self-adoration cup.
She feels desired and gives herself the space to just be; to just exist unapologetically. She can make mistakes, make love to someone and not feel the shame others project onto her.
She knows that she is human and that life is messy and fucked up and beautiful all at the same time. She leans into her sexuality and explores every part of herself that makes her feel good.
Music, art, passion, food, lust, sunshine, peaceful quiet, moments alone and moments with strangers. She soaks it all up. She absorbs the way everything feels and turns it into something beautiful.
There is a sadness in her that would break stone but she wears it with pride. She embraces and honours it with every part of her being. The way you feel about yourself when you’ve done something you’re proud of. She is proud of it all. The mistakes she’s made; past and present. She is enough.
There are so many things I adore about both of these women. It is my greatest wish that they could be friends, life partners, even. That they can, paradoxically, be reckless and responsible, curious and satisfied, outrageous but secure.
Here I am, caught between them. Caught between both worlds that they each exist in. Swinging from one to the other until the end of time.