Having It All

Recently, I asked a friend of mine how many breakups he endured before he got married.

He thought for a moment.

“About eleven,” he answered, matter-of-factly. “I remained friends with just one of them.”

My heart sank. A couple of months ago I ended my second post-divorce relationship. It was a good, brief courtship that simply could not withstand distance. It didn’t end as dramatically as my marriage, or as passionately as things did with my first boyfriend. There was no fight, nothing. It just went away with a phone call.

Afterward, I dutifully prepared myself for a roller coaster of emotions and the five stages of grief. When it finally hit, I felt (in no particular order) relieved, frustrated, listless, sad, depressed, numb and raging angry. I burst into tears on sidewalks and airplanes. I had put everything into this new relationship and it didn’t work out. I cut myself off from social media. Then I cut him off. I deleted any and all evidence we existed as a couple. That was the saddest part.

I now feel resolved.

And, for the love of God, I cannot imagine having to go through this nine more times.

*****

I just so happen to be in Los Angeles for the album release show and party with Louis Prima Jr. and The Witnesses, so I figured I’d pay a visit to my shrink.

I’ve been seeing my therapist five years now – from the initial discovery of my husband’s affair(s) to the very day my earthly belongings left on a moving truck across the country. She’s seen it all. Lately, our visits have been jovial and celebratory.

“I’m really proud of you,” she told me in March. “You’re a miracle.”

This morning, I sat in the center of the familiar floral couch and shared the latest news: gorgeous apartment a block from Central Park, breakup, Japan tour with Brian Setzer and new album and tour with Louis Prima, Jr. I verbally processed how, since moving to New York over a year ago, my lifestyle has become less stable (for lack of a better term), but I now have a solid home base in the city I have always wanted to live.

I have been greatly hashtag blessed with my home, career and community. One thing is still missing, however. I want to share my life with a partner.

“I just don’t know how I will ever meet anyone,” I mused. “I am on the road a lot. I refuse to date online. I did it for years and hated it. I tried a long-distance relationship and it crashed and burned.”

My therapist nodded her head.

“My hope for you,” she said, “is that you’ll meet someone who has his own thing going on, and, at the same time, is flexible and supportive.”

I hummed in agreement, but left thinking, No such man exists.

*****

There’s a huge part of me that is annoyed and angry that I am such a dynamic and talented person. It feels weird to write that without sounding narcissistic, but it’s my truth. For example, if I weren’t so passionate about — and good at! — singing, I wouldn’t be on the road so much. If I were less independent, opinionated, divorced or foul-mouthed and a bit more submissive, googy-eyed and/or mousey, I might land a date with a guy from Christian Mingle who isn’t threatened by my accomplishments, or very presence.

Perhaps if I had a “real” job I’d have time to join a community group at my church in NYC and finally meet someone in the city, get married and have babies. But I won’t do it. I won’t quit what I love just because it’s what everyone else is doing. Other women my age are corralling their two toddlers while the newborn sleeps soundly in a sling tightly wound against their breast. Their husbands still gaze after them adoringly and actually write Facebook posts about how much they love their wives of two, six, 15 or 20 years.

Interestingly enough, neither my ex-husband nor two ex-boyfriends ever acknowledged a relationship with me on social media. No photos. No kissy-face pictures. No adoring posts. Nothing.

The bright side is this: it took less than a minute to erase the relationship and “unfriend” these men I loved. Realistically, I do not believe in the staying power of acknowledging relationships over social media. People come and go, which is why we should all choose our “friends” carefully. As C.S. Lewis says, “Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.” I’m talking to you, serial Facebook-relationshippers.

A true relationship doesn’t need social media to acknowledge, strengthen or sustain it.

*****

Today, I do not believe I can have it all. Based upon experience, I do not actually believe I can have a successful career as a singer and have a family at the same time. It only realistically works for Gwen Stefani and Beyonce, and they were already rich and famous before they met their also-rich and famous husbands.

I am not sure if I believe, at present, there is a man in this world capable of being my partner. Dating is like playing a game of darts with a bunch of squirrely teenagers. They keep trying to hit the bullseye, but their aim and technique is staggeringly immature; unfocused. The result? Consistently off-mark. And I lack patience for the players to become skilled at the game.

Perhaps I still have a lot of work and self-reflection to do. Well, go ahead and throw all the clichés and Christianese talk in the world at me. Tell me how much you think my life is cool. How hashtag blessed I am. How the grass is always greener. I will not argue with you. Yet, at the end of the day, I go to bed alone. My eggs are dying. I am starting to feel jaded. I certainly feel duped. At the same time, life does not owe me a damn thing.

So, right now, if I had to pick one, I choose my career. It’s all I’ve got. Christian Mingle can go fuck itself.

*****

Where is God in all your complaining, Leslie?

Listen, I don’t mean to complain. I prefer to think of it as verbal processing. I try to encourage myself with phrases such as, “This, too, shall pass.”

Jesus never said that, by the way. It’s just another cocktail of Christianese to numb the pain.

I’ll take a double, please. Neat.

Here’s what I do believe today:

  • God is in control. He has never abandoned nor disappointed me. I am not going to live anything less than a full life, even if — or when —  I want more. God is like the ultimate chiropractor. If I’m willing, He’ll adjust me so I’m walking straight again.
  • The two relationships I had post-divorce were real, beautiful and worth every moment, even the breakup grief. I am finally learning you can love someone and let them go. You don’t have to marry every person you love. It’s an amazing concept. I wish I had grasped it years ago.
  • I’m most likely 100% wrong about not having it all. You can have it all when you surrender your hopes, dreams and desires into the capable, loving hands of God, Himself. He may not give you what you want, when you want it, but He knows what you need. He can change your heart. He can mold your desires. You just have to be pliable.

I don’t think I’m ever going to stop desiring a successful career, a partner in this life to love, honor and cherish me (and I him!) and a family. It’s okay to want those things. Hope (and humor!) is what keeps me going. Even if that day comes and I meet a good man who will choose to lead me on the dance floor of life, I guarantee I’m going to continue to want more (I’ll start with a Grammy, please!).

After all, it’s what makes me endearingly human.

14 thoughts on “Having It All

  1. Julie Cox says:

    Really excited to read your book when it comes out. I love reading your posts.

  2. Sonja Bachl says:

    Dear Leslie, I love how you make room for the struggle and the blessing – side by side. That is exactly the way I experience life. If you are ever in Switzerland, let me know. I’d love to go and have coffee together!
    And, Marco On Sax’s words are just precious!!
    Thank you for sharing some of your life with broken and beautiful people like myself, Sonja

  3. Phoenix says:

    You’re a bad ass bitch. You’ll be just fine and so will I. 😉

  4. Marco On Sax says:

    Dear Leslie, as one of the 9 merry men you get to travel with on tour… I don’t even know if I’m allowed to write on this site as a guy! But for what it’s worth… I vow to take care of you and support you throughout this journey and together we’ll hope to find that person who has their own thing going on and can balance life with us. 🙂 This is such an exciting time in our career, and even if time passes us by… I say we use it for that self reflection thing while we climb this mountain. Thanks for your words. Thanks for your kindness and your honesty. I don’t think either of us have the manual on how things are “supposed” to be, but even through the pain, it’s still fun to be learning and writing our own path and history.

    See you in Hollywood!

    ~Porko Malos 😉

  5. Michelle Fennell says:

    “Perhaps I still have a lot of work and self-reflection to do. Well, go ahead and throw all the clichés and Christianese talk in the world at me. Tell me how much you think my life is cool. How hashtag blessed I am. How the grass is always greener. I will not argue with you. Yet, at the end of the day, I go to bed alone. My eggs are dying. I am starting to feel jaded. I certainly feel duped. At the same time, life does not owe me a damn thing.” And “Christian Mingle can go fuck itself”

    Leslie, you put so much of how I feel into words that I cannot express myself. Thank you!!! Please come to northern cal soon!!!

  6. ecn says:

    I will not throw any Christianese at you, because I’ve heard it all myself. Just here to say I sympathize with your struggles and have my own that I wish I could write so articulately as you do. People love to tell me that it will happen for me, but they don’t know. No one knows the future and even if statistically most people get married, I could be the odd percent that doesn’t. I have desires to write novels and sustain a living off that, to fall in love (I never have) and have a family and grow that way, to be even closer to God because right now, He seems distant.

    It seems that only two of them (writing & God) are goals I can work on. The falling in love seems like lighting strikes…unpredictable.

    So, all that to say, we’re not in the same boat, but I do relate to your hurts and I hope that my words can be a safe place as your words are one for me.

  7. Sidna says:

    Leslie, what you have with you, is an amazing woman that loves and loves and loves again. Your writing is exquisite. Your pain is felt, and your passion is seen (and felt) in your music. Your music is top quality. Keep it coming. You probably have the envy of many women who don’t follow their dreams, and decide to “settle.” I was one of the lucky ones that has a husband who loved me through it all and is a wonderful partner/lover in life, going on 47 years ago. Thank you for sharing your heart and your spirit with your readers. I can guarantee that many things you express and feel resonate with them.

    • Sidna,
      You and Ray are such an inspiration. I am so thankful for your encouragement and friendship. You are, indeed, blessed with such a good man and great marriage. And Ray is lucky to have you! 47 years! WOW! I am in awe! God is good. 🙂

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