Happy Mabon—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, it’s not what I thought either….
“Now repeat after me,” my friend says. “‘Lick my boots, worm!’”
She pronounces “worm” like “Veeeerm,” and I start giggling. Yes, I am 44 and giggling like a little girl. We are in the midst of wishing each other a happy Mabon, or Autumnal Equinox, when things are in balance and the harvest season here begins in earnest.
“No, I’m serious,” she says. “You’ve got the boots.
You’ve got the bras. Now if you’re going to explore your dominant side, you’d better learn to tell men to lick your boots.”
I explain that I don’t think I can. After all, if I really like a man, I’m not going to call him a worm. Other things, maybe, but not a worm. Though there’s much I want to explore, telling a man to lick my boots isn’t so much me. Besides, wouldn’t saliva ruin good leather? Think of the bacteria! However if he wants to volunteer to kiss my feet, I probably won’t stop him….
“If you can’t talk mean to him,” she says, “then pre- tend he’s your ex and call him a worm and tell him to lick your boots.”
Strangely, that doesn’t work for me either. It’s not for the reasons I would have thought. It’s because it wouldn’t be worth my effort to call him a worm. As of today, I suddenly—honestly—feel that he is so far beneath me that he doesn’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 married to him anymore. I cannot stop giggling. Tears roll from my eyes. It’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.
And laughter is such a healing thing! This isn’t what I expected. Why now?
Four years ago, I wanted to die. Anti-depressants, sleeping pills, counselors, night after night of keening on the front door steps at 4AM so I wouldn’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 I’m not and never was.
Three years ago, I wanted to hope. I wanted to hope that things could get better if he’d go to counseling with me or if he’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 that he would yell at me, criticize me, withdraw from me, or otherwise treat me like shit. I was so insecure that I could barely make eye contact with anyone on the street. I didn’t know how to respond to anyone sweet because I heard everyone else’s words through the voice of the past. The wounds from my marriage weren’t fresh but they were so 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 to 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 my self- worth while praying that making it on my own wasn’t a fluke.
This Mabon, it’s different. And I’m still not sure why now instead of a year ago or even two years ago. It’s taken a lot of written words 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 affection, plead with to share his thoughts, kick myself for daring to think that he might nurture my dreams.
I don’t have to watch the clock at the end of every day with a knot in my stomach because I don’t know what kind of mood he’ll come home in, whether I’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…Mother’s Day in front of the girls—and then expect me to be happy in public immediately afterward and for the rest of the day.
I don’t have to put up with a husband who doesn’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 don’t have to have scientific proof for everything for it 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-isn’t-that-terrible. I don’t have to put up with 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 don’t have to endure being told repeatedly 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 that’s tearing me apart because geez, there’s a real live woman begging for your attention in the next room but the fantasies are much more fun than the real thing. I don’t have to tell him I need anti- depressants to get through the days and be told I hadn’t asked him about it first and how bad it makes things for him when I’m the one dealing with the brain-zaps, brain- fog, weight gain, and inorgasmic side effects.
I don’t have to put up with frequent reminders of not being good enough at a zillion things that his gay friends were better at or his partying and dancing with his gay friends or sitting alone at a New Year’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 husband’s list of most valued people in his life.
I don’t have to be called bizarre or fanatical or weird in front of my children by man I call my partner in life. I don’t have to go through life wondering when my turn’s coming and what’s wrong with me and what can I possibly do to convince him to love me, including changing into everything he wants and it’s still not enough. I don’t have to do any of that because I’m free. It strikes so hard and sharply on this Mabon that I…am…free.
I hadn’t wanted to get divorced. I’d just wanted to be loved and treated well. Now, looking back, I can’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. It’s truly a moment of harvest, of taking my power, of being happy with myself.
I guess two years ago, I wasn’t so sure. I could dream of this, but I hadn’t experienced it. And a year ago, I hadn’t been truly independent long enough.
Gods, it feels like the heavens will open up and I’m about to walk into a whole new world. Ah, so this is what it feels like to be happy.