November 5, 2011
I woke up in my forties astride a Harley, and realized I had done everything wrong.
Every shred of potential I ever had, squandered. All the amazing people who cared for me over the years, systematically pushed away. Huge opportunities for personal growth, ignored.
These days, I power-down when I’m not around other people, but by the same token, being around others wears me out utterly.
I don’t know how to be a person.
When I’m sad or depressed, I cannot look people in the eye. I feel autistic, I can’t make myself do it, and I don’t know why. I haven’t looked at my husband in over a week. He notices.
There have been points in my life when I’ve been happy – they are typically fleeting. I didn’t grow up “a happy” child; I was “an excruciatingly self-critical” child. Hyper-aware of every move and expression, thanks to my mother’s exacting judgment.
At age 10, she taught me to start hating my body by encouraging me to bleach my arm hair when I became self-conscious about it. She could have simply reinforced a positive self-image, but she was too far gone down the rabbit hole of society’s expectations. She gleefully foisted those onto me.
When I was 12, she began forcing me to let her tweeze my eyebrows, lest they be too thick and unfeminine. Heaven forbid I end up “another Brooke Shields!”
In high school, she had me shove my C-cup breasts into minimizing bras.
She forbade me from wearing tucked-in shirts because they were unflattering to my high waist and oddly-shaped hips.
When I was a size 8 in high school, she wanted me to diet.
She made me hyper-conscious of every possible physical flaw – something I never outgrew.
These things, and so many more, crushed my young self-esteem and joy into coal, stopping short of diamond by fathoms.
But wait – I started out talking about the Harley. I bought that Harley after one test drive because of that moment of awakening. I was connected at a spiritual level with that machine… and I hoped it might make me feel alive and awake all the time.
I tried to prepare my husband for the purchase I had already made in my heart. Rather than buy it outright, I put down a deposit and made my case to him. He didn’t really seem to have strong feelings one way or the other, but wouldn’t commit to a “yes” or a “no.”
It was a futile gesture, really – I was going to buy it, regardless. And I did. One day he came home and it was parked in the garage. He was so livid, he stormed down to his office basement and called his mother. I didn’t realize this until I picked up the phone to use it myself and heard him speaking to her.
Rather than come to me and hash it out like an adult, he ran to his mom.
That is a theme unto itself, though – he and I cannot communicate. We just… don’t. We co-exist, we cuddle up at night, and we carry on with our dreary, frustrated lives.
Motorcycles break me out of that foggy existence. It is nearly impossible to be riding a motorcycle down a road and be dead inside. Two wheels and a twisty country road make my soul hum in tune with the engine.
He does not understand this at all. He resents me for riding, I think. I resent his resentment.
So it goes.
Now that I’ve had that moment, is my life going to be radically different? Changed forever?
Not yet. I’ve had the bike for several months, and while I’m Awake riding down the road, I am in twilight still at home. I’m not sure what catalyst I need to jolt me into full-time Humanness, but the Harley was just a stepping stone on the path.
But at least now, I can perceive there is a path.