“How,” said one of my high school classmates, “did YOU get HIM?” She rolled her eyes.
Bitch! I was beginning to regret my decision to go to my high school reunion. Why did I think that things would be different? I was thirty pounds overweight and wearing this weird St. John gold cowl-neck sweater dress that made me feel like a gilded lima bean. My mother-in-law had bought me the dress, along with the gold pumps. I was wearing a girdle that dug into my waist and was creating a muffin top through my dress. So now I was a lima bean with a crease down the middle.
I don’t remember what I said in response (since I can’t remember, probably something lame and polite). This exchange happened five years and thirty pounds ago. But I remember THAT comment.
I get THAT comment a lot. “You’re so lucky to be married to HIM!” Ugh. UGH. UGGGGH!
My husband is an amazing man. He is amazing to me because he is a good person. He is amazing to me for things that don’t get listed in a job interview. He is amazing to others for his accomplishments and potential for future achievement. I am married to someone that people admire and people assume I admire him in the same way I do. It’s impossible for me to adore him in the same way–I adore him MORE than really anyone else.
The thing is, he deserves this admiration, but…not at my expense. “How did you find him?” people inevitably ask.
You mean, “How did we meet?” Ah yes, they say. How did you meet? And so then I will tell the sweet story with the Meet Cute and everything. Suddenly our relationship gets tons of credibility because I met him in college before all the “achievements.” We are…a partnership in their eyes. Not that it matters what they think, but at least I’m not annoyed anymore.
But there are days my self confidence fails me. And I wonder if I am the person some people think I am: a spectator in my husband’s life. Those are the days when my novel feels like ten years off, or story after story isn’t going well, or well, when my own writing puts me to sleep. What IS it that I DO?! I ask myself.
Oh yes, and it’s what the people ask me, too, “What do YOU do?”
I’m a writer.
“Ohhhhhh a wrrrrrriterrrrr. So he supports you.”
I could smack them. We’re back to, “I’m so lucky my husband supports my little hobby, so he can do the REAL work and I can dabble.”
Then I just put my shield up so I don’t smack them, and they can’t hurt me. I’m a writer. We just can’t churn out a novel a week. And people who don’t understand this be damned. Thank goodness this doesn’t happen with that much regularity–partly because the people we hang out with regularly ARE cool folks, and partly because I’m pretty good at excising poisonous people out of our social circle. Why should I allow any poison near my writing, near my person?
I’m lucky, blessed, fortunate.
One of my MFA professors obsesses over that. “You’re lucky. You have a husband who can support you–you work, and you don’t have to work.” She was jealous of me–she, the most talented writer I know!
I looked her in the eye. “Some people have incredible talent, but I guess I’m lucky in another way.”
It’s a weird dynamic, all of this. I was once at a writer’s conference and an acquaintance of mine dragged someone over to meet me. “Oh Jade, I wanted to introduce so-and-so to meet you. She wants a Sugardaddy to help support her and her writing, and then I told her about YOU, and I figured you would tell her all about it!”
This post could go on forever. This theme of living in the shadow of my husband’s achievement, yet benefiting from his achievements, yet basking with appreciation for the time and space I have to write, yet being advantaged when most writers are disadvantaged, etc., etc., etc. Some of this could make me really unpopular and it makes me scared to write some of this.