I was worried.  About vaginas?  Well, no, actually.  I haven’t worried about vaginas in ages.  Not since Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues told me in the late 90’s that they come in every shape and size and color.  Participating in V-Day for years has helped me to believe that someday we will live in a world that is not so rife with violence against women and girls.  So, I wasn’t really worried, not about vaginas.  Not yesterday.

I had plans to see UNC’s production of The Vagina Monologues with some friends.  It was Natalie’s birthday.  She had sent out an email to a bunch of girls “Let’s go see The Vagina Monologues for my birthday!”  I cautiously suggested we see the matinee.  Groups of girls don’t go out for drinks and birthday shenanigans at 2:30.  But… I have this baby, see?  I know, I know, she is more than 13 months old.  But… bedtime. I can’t, I won’t be out at bedtime.  I just… can’t.  And they said “Sure.”

I had more than a month to think about it.  I was excited.

The Vagina Monologues changed me.  My first year in the OBX production I wore a black pants suit and a bra, no shirt, I was the Woman Who Liked to Make Vaginas Happy, the Moaner.  I drank wine after the show and laughed with my new girlfriends. I hadn’t ever been a part of a big group of women.  I have been lucky in life to have always had a best friend, a sidekick, a confidante.  But a tribe of women?  I’d never felt that way before. And it was fabulous.

In the years to come I would have different parts, I would wear pigtails and slouchy gaucho pants to mask my newly postpartum body.  I would sport electric blue hair to distract you from my sunken eyes from lack of sleep.  I would skip out on the wine because I feared the things I might say.  I would mumble to no one really in the middle of a rehearsal “I don’t think I want to be married anymore.”

The Vagina Monologues, these stories of women, they inspired me.  They moved me. They taught me that women are all the same.  I had always felt like an odd duck.  I was “one of the boys.” Standing on stage with a group of women I’d only known a short while I was one of a group.  I was part of a tribe.

And then I had a baby.  And I got stronger every day. A little over a year after Em was born I was in a rehearsal for The Vagina Monologues when I said out loud for the first time that I would be leaving my husband because it wasn’t working.  No one pitied me.  No one made the “I’m so sorry” face.  One woman said “Good for you.  There’s happiness out there for you” and I believed her.  It was ten months before I moved out but I started getting ready to go that day. 

20130302-193232.jpgShe was right.  Happiness.  It was out there.  I am Happy.  Most of the time.  Unless I am trying to get dressed.  Unless I am leaving the house all alone without my kids for three hours.  And then those old feelings of being the odd duck creep back in. And I am in tears in my closet, surrounded by clothes that don’t fit right.  I was planning to meet my girlfriends to celebrate being a woman and I was sobbing because I am thirteen months post-partum and I still feel like I live in someone else’s body.  We would be heading to UNC’s campus to surround ourselves with 20-somethings spreading a positive message and I was crying because my jeans are still too tight.  I could see the irony.  I just didn’t find it all that amusing.

I changed my jeans.  I swore.  I put on make-up and then washed it all off.  I picked a zit, I picked a fight.  I cried some more.  I said I wasn’t going.  I said I had to leave right now.  And then I got in the car and I went.  It was important.

I would paste my Pretty Kelly smile on my face and I would say “Happy Birthday, Natalie” and it would be fine.  I would introduce myself to someone I didn’t know and I would try not to talk about my kids at all.  I would just be me.

I opened Nat’s front door and steeled myself.  Game face.  I don’t know who I was expecting to see.  But I know I wasn’t expecting to only see people that I knew.  I made it exactly four steps in the front door before I burst in to tears. “I was afraid one of you would ask me why I was crying and I would have to be that crazy woman in front of someone I just met and say ‘Oh, because I get mad anxiety every time I leave my THIRTEEN MONTH old baby and I can’t get dressed and…'”

There they were.  Four women. A friend I have known since high school, a friend with two small children, a friend who has seen me at my lowest and a newer friend that understands more than her fair share about body image bullshit.  I spilled my big, bad ugly “I have my period and everyone hates me” guts and in moments it was over.  We laughed about how I was afraid to be “that crazy woman” in front of strangers, you know, strangers not on the Internet.

The longer I stay at home the harder it is for me to go out.  What will I say? Where will I park? What will I wear? What if someone asks me what I do? What if I start crying? Or I have a glass and a half of wine and am plastered because that’s all it takes?

I feel like if you prick me with a pin I will explode.  20130302-193239.jpg

Eve Ensler taught me that there are 8,000 nerve endings in the clitoris.  Sadly, it isn’t any of those that are making me weep with confusion and joy and fear and excitement lately.  I am not sure where exactly the nerve endings are that make you lose your shit in your closet while you get dressed.  Or panic because you don’t know where you are supposed to park when you get where you are going. But I think I have at least 8,000 of those, too.

I will keep going, out of my house, away from my kids. I will go even when and especially when I don’t want to and think that I will not possibly survive the torture.  Every time I leave the house there’s a good chance I will stand in front of a woman that has felt exactly like me, at least once.  Because we are all the same, all of us, at least sometimes.


29 responses to “Worry

  1. This.

    I remember this vividly: “The longer I stay at home the harder it is for me to go out. What will I say? Where will I park? What will I wear? What if someone asks me what I do? What if I start crying? Or I have a glass and a half of wine and am plastered because that’s all it takes?”

    Those days go away. You decided to go out. You blurt out a phrase. You declare a parking spot. You put on what feels right and you wear it like a boss. You tell them you are a woman first and a mother second because if you weren’t a woman at all you’d never be a mother. You will start crying. You will get loopy on half a glass of wine and you will recover.

    After 14 years I have ventured out. Last year: I learned out to scull; This year, I’ve gotten together with gals or all by myself and gone to museums. I’ve taken back my life. I’m tired of being afraid, Kelly. I know where you are. It will get better, the best part: it’s up to you. :) xo

  2. I found this blog post kind of sad–sorry!–but the writing in it was just beautiful. I think it’s one of the best things I’ve read on WP.

    • Well, jeez. Thank you. It was a sad day in a way. A lot of tears. All’s well that ends well, however. Thank you for reading. And well, thank you for telling me you liked it. That is pretty much my favorite kind of feedback. Ha.

  3. Glad you went and did it. Sometimes its that moment of pushing through our fears that our real truth comes out. And the tears, the tears not matter how old they are, the tears come out too. Thanks for sharing your moment :)

  4. It’s hard to comment because you remind me of my own pain. The fear of running into people who knew me “before”. The fear of looking shitty in my old clothes that make it hard to breath. The fear of getting winded after walking two blocks when I used to bike 8 km everyday. The fear of outside. Of judgement. Of being visible and invisible at the same time.
    Thanks for telling me you cry too, because you are cool and gorgeous and smart and funny and brave which means there’s a chance that I am too.

  5. I’m glad you were able to go and had fun. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone a few times lately, and it is terrifying, but I’m so glad I did it once it’s over. I’m in Raleigh and a coworker was in the Vagina Monologues show here a few years ago. Were you in that one?

  6. I’m still not a mother, so I can’t understand you on that level. But the parking situation at a place you’ve never gone to before…… THAT I understand. You’re on the right track, lady. You’re inspiring.

  7. Good one! Glad you went, glad you were able to spew about the worry along the way even in front of strangers. Vags unite!

  8. So powerful and so true.

  9. “I picked a zit. I picked a fight” is the perfect title for your memoir. Love it. Oh, and Piper loves your glasses. She’s sitting on my lap as I type. She says polka dots are all the rage. Who knew? If Piper said so, it must be true.

  10. Oh man, you are speaking my language. Glad you went.

  11. So I’m reading about you baring your my-baby-is-growing-up mommy self and thinking all the time how brave a woman you are – for a milion reasons. And you look fabulous in that red jacket. xo

  12. My kid is 12, so I can’t use that as an excuse, but I feel exactly like this sometimes. I lose my confidence sometimes & have to force myself to go out in the world.

  13. Boy, i i looked that good I wouldn’t have a worry, silly girl

  14. IdenticalTwinge

    I haven’t left my 18 month old for more than a couple hours and she was with her dad. Still made me feel hyper anxious. It’ll get better though. Right? I mean, my mom didn’t move into my college dorm with me so I assume it gets better. It has to… Or maybe you just finally hit menopause and it all evens out. Just wanted to say, I feel ya. Right there with you. Oh and I want your jacket and glasses.

    • “my mom didn’t move into my college dorm with me” – this is priceless. I let my seven year old ride her bike down the street and she stays gone for hours… I will let go. A little at a time… I will. BUT SHE IS MY LAST BABY!! Wah wah wah….. Jacket and glasses are yours, just need your address. ;)

  15. southernfriedinvegas

    I loved this. This may be my favorite of all your posts. You’re right…we all are the same. You weren’t just writing about yourself, you were writing about me.
    I have my first big girl’s night in a few weeks. I’m probably more nervous and anxious than excited.
    Did you have a good time? Did you survive three hours without your babies?

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