By Suzanne Strazza
This has been the year of discovering myself.
I spent 15 years losing any sense of myself in a bad marriage. By the time it ended, all I could say for certain was that I was a person who cried a lot. Not what I wanted to be when I grew up.
Then I became the person who mistakenly thought she was in love, and shortly thereafter, I became the person with the broken heart. Then I was a terrible, neglectful mother and lousy employee.
Even lousier friend.
So, when I finally got my feet back under me, it was like starting with an almost-clean slate. I was none of those people any more, yet I had no idea of who I was, so it was time to start figuring that out.
A few things remained: mother, boater, writer, and still the person who cries a lot.
So I’ve spent this time trying new things, seeing what fits and what doesn’t.
I tried socializing. I tried to drink wine. Tried to be outgoing.
Didn’t suit me – although now I can say that within the last 25 years, I have stayed up past midnight.
I’ve gone to the desert, a lot, alone. Put that on my list of things that do suit me.
I have become (once again) a runner. Love that.
I embraced “single-mother”; that’s really working for me – except for the part when I actually have to admit that there is another parent involved.
Discovered that I am probably not a skier any more, given that after five months, my head is still pounding.
I love my friends, love being with them, but can’t tolerate craziness any more. So one for the list of “Who I am” and one for “Who I am not.”
Apparently I am also a cold-hearted killer.
Slaughtering sheep, skinning, degutting, butchering, bagging, eating. All without batting an eye.
Then there are the prairie dogs. I could justify the sheep as “sustenance,” but shooting cute little pop-guts? Not so easily justified.
The first time I went, the first time I killed, I could write it off as, “One more piece in the exploration of self.” The second time I had to admit that I had explored and embraced.
Except I didn’t kill anything that second day.
Might be because I was tired after a day of branding; trying on “ranch hand” for size.
One piece of myself that I can easily say I didn’t lose during the marriage years was my extremely soft heart – especially when it came to innocent, highly discriminatedagainst little creatures like prairie dogs.
That vanished after the divorce, the nervous breakdown and the recovery.
I explored celibacy and cougarhood. Both of which have their pluses and minuses.
Someone said to me last night, “You’re not a mountain person – you just tried that because that’s what you thought you were supposed to be.”
At first I tried to deny it – but guess what, he’s right. I realize that besides the bits of me that got lost in the fray, there have been many things that I tried to be for so many years.
I have figured out that “wife” doesn’t really work for me, especially if you attach the word “house” to that.
I like to be comfortable – no more living in garages or tents; I want floors, roofs and walls. And electricity and plumbing.
I can actually be a decent employee when I am not rushing into work, late, after yet another major blow-up at home.
I prefer being funny to being mean, but I can say that I gave “biting” a really good effort.
I tried really hard to be the person who likes power-struggles but have since discovered that that’s not really me either.
They say that short of having a lobotomy, people don’t really change. So maybe I haven’t; maybe this is just the stuff that’s been stuffed coming out. Maybe it’s springcleaning for the things I am not.
Who knows? All I can say is that I am still a desert-lover, writer, single mom, killer, I don’t cry nearly as much and I am a for-shit housewife.
Suzanne Strazza writes from Mancos, Colo.