Once upon a time, I met someone.
He was very impressive, very handsome, and very grown up. He had a collection of letters after his last name that I couldn’t keep up with. I immediately felt an urge to stir up his life.
I fell deeply in love, but I wasn’t enough the way I was.
I couldn’t bear the thought of losing him.
He’s right, I thought.
I’m too childish. I should grow up.
He doesn’t eat Lucky Charms. Or read comics. Or watch cartoons. Or like messes.
He doesn’t cry or laugh or talk passionately about things (unless they’re important adult things).
It’s time to grow up, Kat. It’s time I got my head out of the clouds and became ‘realistic’ about life.
So, I put my comic books away. I stopped talking about music and art. I tempered my excitement about creativity. I talked instead about business strategy, logistics, and scalability issues.
I became a very impressive person.
I wore a suit to work every day.
I became an executive.
My relationship flourished.
Sometimes, though, if I listened very closely, I’d feel this terrible ache—this unsettled stirring in my gut. It made me weep with loneliness, and yell in rage.
Whenever I’d indulge in this part of me, we’d fight. The horrible static that hung in the air for hours after would weigh on my chest. I’d feel shame.
I’m ruining the relationship. I have to stop acting like this. I need to be more disciplined and more practical.
So, I would tighten the vice on my heart and change again.
I was so practical that when we got married, I didn’t even have the wedding I had dreamed of my whole life.
I was so disciplined that I never let him know about my faults or my past, and he never would, because I edited my life into crisp, concise anecdotes that I fed him at every turn.
I had completely changed.
And when that other, messy, unruly, passionate girl would try and get out, it was so much easier to control her now.
Because I was now his wife.
I did everything that a good wife is supposed to do.
I did everything I thought was right.
I gave up my career. I helped him with his business. I made dinner every night. I did the laundry. I stepped back, so he could step forward.
Then one day, I became a mother. I had a beautiful little girl. And the walls came tumbling down.
This little girl ignited the wonderment in my life again. Her reactions were pure and unfiltered and beautifully real. She cried. She laughed. She acted out.
She reminded me to live in the moment. To ask, "Why not?" I could feel life trickling back into my heart. I started writing again. I started seeing in colour again.
And when I did, I started seeing that things couldn’t stay the same way.
For a long time, I fought my feelings. I tried to be happy with the way things were.
But that passionate, creative self I’d buried deep inside kept coming to the surface. She kept saying and doing things differently. She challenged everything. I hated her so much for ruining everything, but at the same time, I realized how much I’d missed her.
I tried to fight the inevitable changes that were coming, but they had their own momentum.
The more I accepted myself and grew to love who I was as a whole, the more my relationship with my husband suffered.
And then it broke.
He was a good husband. He was happy with the way things were. He had only ever been himself.
His dreams had all come true with this person—this person who wasn’t actually me.
It wasn't his fault. It wasn't mine either.
If I could have only actually been the person I was trying so hard to be, I could have saved the marriage.
But I couldn't.
Knowing that made separating one of the hardest things I’d ever done.
Someone recently asked me if I still love him.
I care greatly for the father of my child.
I love what he represents—the stability, the security, the balance, the logic and order to the world.
I love that he meant safety and a clearly defined future.
I love that I had a clean slate. That I could recreate myself.
I loved the way he loved me. Even if I wasn’t myself.
But I love myself more.
Once upon a time, I met someone.
She is messy and wild, creative and awkward, and incredibly imperfect.
She reads comics, and has a dark side. She is impractical and loves to laugh.
She loves with all her heart.
She is finally realizing that life might just be about learning and growth.
And she’s not changing who she is.