Happy Mabonâ€”and Lick My Boots!
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Truth.
I am utterly happy. And do you know why? Oh, itâ€™s not what I thought either….
â€œNow repeat Â after Â me,â€ Â my Â friend Â says. Â â€œâ€˜Lick Â my boots, worm!â€™â€
She pronounces Â â€œwormâ€ Â like â€œVeeeerm,â€ and I start giggling. Yes, I am 44 and giggling like a little girl. We are in the midst of wishing each Â other a happy Mabon, or Autumnal Equinox, when things are in balance Â and the harvest season here begins in earnest.
â€œNo, Iâ€™m serious,â€Â she says. â€œYouâ€™ve got the boots.
Youâ€™ve got the bras. Now if youâ€™re going to explore your dominant side, youâ€™d better learn to tell men to lick your boots.â€
I explain that I donâ€™t think I can. After all, if I really like a man, Â Iâ€™m Â not Â going Â to callÂ him Â a worm. Â Other things, maybe, but not a Â worm. Though thereâ€™s much I want to explore, telling a man to lick my Â boots isnâ€™t so much Â me. Â Besides, Â wouldnâ€™t Â saliva Â ruin Â good Â leather? Think of the bacteria! However if he wants to volunteer to kiss my feet, I probably wonâ€™t stop him….
â€œIf you canâ€™t talk mean to him,â€ she says, â€œthen pre- tend heâ€™s your ex and call him a worm and tell him to lick your boots.â€
Strangely, that doesnâ€™t work for me either. Itâ€™s not for the reasons I would have thought. Itâ€™s because it wouldnâ€™t be worth my Â effort to call him a worm. As of today, I suddenlyâ€”honestlyâ€”feel that Â he is so far beneath Â me that he doesnâ€™t deserve even that much from me.
And then I start to laugh. It strikes me as so incredibly funny. I am suddenly so overwhelmingly happy that I am not Â married Â to Â him Â anymore. Â I Â cannot Â stop Â giggling. Tears roll from my eyes. Itâ€™s like the residuals of years of
angst are finally making their way out and the last of all the pain is…these tears coming out with the uncontrollable laughter.
Four years Â ago, Â I Â wanted Â to Â die. Â Anti-depressants, sleeping pills, counselors, night after night of keening on the front door steps at 4AM so I wouldnâ€™t wake him or the girls. No matter how many dreams I gave up and how much of myself I lost, there was just no way to be what he wanted me to be: happy being something Iâ€™m not and never was.
Three years ago, I wanted to hope. I wanted to hope that things could get better if heâ€™d go to counseling with me or if heâ€™d just try, just make an effort, just do any one of a bazillion things to show me he cared, but they only got worse and the reprieves were less and less until I either had to slit my wrists or leave.
Two years ago, I was in the midst of a divorce and numb and still responding to every new man I met with the very high expectation Â that he would yell at me, criticize me, withdraw from me, Â or otherwise Â treat me like shit.Â Â Â IÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â wasÂ Â Â Â soÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â insecure that I could barely make Â eye contact with anyone on the street. I didnâ€™t know how to respond to anyone sweet because I heard everyone elseâ€™s words through the voice of Â the past. The wounds from my marriage werenâ€™t fresh but they were so Â deep. Even though the gaps had grown back together, inside was still torn and tender.
A year ago, divorced and independent, I was still testing the waters, feeling the thin ice in front of me, deciding whether Â to Â inch out a little farther or pull back or reach for the hand of a friend who may or may not have my best interests at heart, and trying to regain Â my self- worth while praying that making it on my own wasnâ€™t a fluke.
This Mabon, itâ€™s different. And Iâ€™m still not sure why now instead Â of a yearÂ ago or even Â two years Â ago.Â Itâ€™s taken a lot of written words Â to work through all those years of living in shadows.
This year, I am suddenly stricken with the realization that I no longer have to be with any man whom I must beg for Â affection, plead with to share his thoughts, kick myself Â for Â daring Â to Â think Â that Â he Â might Â nurture Â my dreams.
I donâ€™t have to watch the clock at the end of every day with a knot in my stomach Â because Â I donâ€™t Â know what kind of mood heâ€™ll come home in, whether Iâ€™m going to be yelled at or put down in a more subtle manner. No more feeling good about something just to have him blow up out of the blue, often on a holiday or…the last time…Motherâ€™s Day in front of the girlsâ€”and then expect me to be happy in public immediately afterward and for the rest of the day.
I donâ€™t have to put up with a husband who doesnâ€™t respect my religion and my beliefs, whether he agrees or follows them or not, and takes every opportunity to denigrate my spirituality and my intellect because I donâ€™t have to have scientific proof for everything Â for it Â to be real, who professes to be an atheist but goes to church when he needs the advantage of the image of the good church- going-man-who-used-to-be-married-to-a-(gasp)-witch- and-isnâ€™t-that-terrible. Â I Â donâ€™t Â have Â to Â put Â up Â with Â his comments why would anyone ever want to read anything I write, the crushing blows that make a novelist want to give up forever.
I donâ€™t have to endure being told repeatedly Â that his addiction to certain online sites is my problem, not his, and that he has nothing to be ashamed of and actually try to debate me on a subject thatâ€™s tearing me apart because geez, thereâ€™s a real live woman begging for your attention in the next room but the fantasies Â are much more fun than the real thing. I donâ€™t have to tell him I need anti- depressants to get through the days and be told I hadnâ€™t asked him about it first and how bad it makes things for him when Iâ€™m the one dealing with the brain-zaps, brain- fog, weight gain, and inorgasmic side effects.
I donâ€™t have to put up with frequent reminders of not being good enough at a zillion things that his gay friends were better at Â or his partying and dancing with his gay friends or sitting alone at a New Yearâ€™s party at the stroke of midnight while his attention was on his male friends. I no longer have to be second-rate on my husbandâ€™s list of most valued people in his life.
I donâ€™t have to be called bizarre or fanatical or Â weird in front of my children by man I call my partner in life. I donâ€™t have to go through life wondering when my turnâ€™s coming and whatâ€™s wrong with me and what can I possibly do to convince him to love me, including Â changing into Â everythingÂ Â he Â wants Â and Â itâ€™s Â still Â not Â enough. I donâ€™t have to do any of that because Iâ€™m free. It strikes so hard and sharply on this Mabon that I…am…free.
I hadnâ€™t wanted to get divorced. Iâ€™d just wanted to be loved and treated well. Now, looking back, I canâ€™t believe how I used to live. It has taken so very long to get to this point. The point where I feel free and totally content with who I am, what I believe, and what I want. Â Itâ€™s truly a moment of harvest, of taking my power, of being happy with myself.
I guess two years ago, I wasnâ€™t so sure. I could dream of this, but I hadnâ€™t experienced it. And a year ago, I hadnâ€™t been truly independent long enough.
Gods, it feels like the heavens will open up and Iâ€™m about to walk into a whole new world. Ah, so this is what it feels like to be happy.