Fishbowl

Unexpected events happen all the time, only we typically expect them to happen to other people. Somehow, we are the ones removed from the unexpected, the life-changing,  or the devastating news. Other people get those phone calls, not us.

And when they do happen, we have to somehow fit in the recent upheaval or tragedy into our lives. There it is now. The new, unwanted circumstance inserted unskillfully and abruptly onto the neat page of words we had been typing. It’s big and ugly, and somehow, we have to help it go unnoticed, to surround it with as much normal sounding filler as possible. That’s what people want, right? Not to see the big, oozing goop inserted onto your clean page?

 

Without going into unwanted detail for a casual reader or for someone who opened up this link unprepared for the messy grit, you might at least relate to this part. After the thing, whether it is a death or a divorce or something equally as devastating, you must somehow return to your normal life again. There’s the first day back at work, when the building will take on a new hue, when your coworkers will seem out of step with you, and when your important files will seem oh-so-drastically unimportant.

Or maybe you relate to this idea: the pre-news you who assuredly held the color and shape of the world in her palms. The one who left as swiftly as cutting off a lock of hair (which I would not recommend doing yourself in times of trouble; trust me on this one), leaving this post-news person holding a palette of very dull shades and tones and a very dried out paint brush.

Grief knocks us into a surreal dimension where we’re suddenly living life in a fishbowl that the rest of the world can’t see. We trace its walls of glass as we rise again to get a breathe above water. Sinking and racing drastically back to the top, to push our head above water once more. This is how we know we’ll come out on the other side. It’s this very drive for life at the top that keeps us beating on, one day at a time.

 

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It took me a long while to consider the title for this blog. I wanted something that defined me both as a person and a writer. A name that would also perhaps speak to a particular audience. Why “The Astronaut Wife?” Since my early days of blogging, I have leaned toward more of a confessional style of writing, to some degree. I write as much truth as I can muster at each phase of life. In addition, I also come from a conservative Southern family, and I have grown very far from those roots. You could say I have rocketed to the moon in terms of my upbringing. I have rocketed away from debilitating family dynamics, from worldviews that held me beneath a rock. In my thirties, and now my early to mid-forties, I have learned to live more comfortably with both sides of the moon and write just as much about the raw, dark places as the light ones. Don’t quote me on that, though. It’s quite likely I will lean more heavily toward one or the other depending on which way the wind is blowing. Then, we get to the wife part, and quite frankly, this is where the feminist in me bucked and brayed. Identifying myself as “wife” has felt simply stymieing, particularly since becoming a mother six and a half years ago. But if the truth is going to be told, being a wife to my particular husband has altered my entire shape and has given voice to much of the inner deep. So in fact, becoming a wife was the singular most life-changing moment for me in my journey to the moon and back. Fellow travelers, you can feel safe and comfortable here. What matters more than what you might “get” about me is what you might take for yourself.

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