A Solitary Woman

Michael has been in Kansas City for a few days, visiting his brother Alex. So this weekend, it’s just the girls (Isis and me).

I miss Michael a lot when he’s gone, and we talk on the phone/Facetime with a frequency reminiscent of our long-distance dating days (that is to say, a lot). But this time, I’ve been enjoying my time alone in the house, too– just a little. Because there’s something beautiful about being a solitary woman. Not a single woman, but a woman, alone.

Sometimes when I’m by myself, or especially when I’m alone in public, I think of that Margaret Atwood quote— the one that says “you are your own voyeur.” It’s one that’s stuck with me, that I’ve remembered when I catch my reflection in the mirror, mid-chore (cleaning the toilet or whatever), alone in the house, and find myself judging my appearance. Wishing I had put makeup on. So I wouldn’t have to look at my own face. Somehow I’m always seeing myself as if I’m an outsider to my own body.

I should note that I do this to myself; Michael never does. When I ask him his opinion on clothes or makeup, he most often will ask how it makes me feel– regardless of whether he personally thinks what I’m wearing is “flattering,” or if he actually hates the way my lipstick leaves marks on all our glasses (sorry babe)– what he likes best is when I’m feeling confident and most like myself. I got a good one, guys.

Anyway. As I’ve become more aware of these prejudices I have against myself, I’ve begun to make changes, little by little. It might sound like a silly thing; maybe it doesn’t make sense to you at all. It’s not about self-esteem, it’s about thinking of myself as a human and not an object… The way I’d generally like other people to think of me, too. It’s easier now, when I’m alone. It’s lovely, somehow, to be quiet all day, aware of how I am in my own skin, in relation to no one but myself. When other people and I aren’t in our tight orbits around each other, I can be still. I can just be.

So yesterday, when I got back from my long training run, and let Isis give me a kiss on the forehead, then looked in the mirror before my shower, I could laugh. Because my face was red and sweaty and baby hairs stuck straight up where Isis’s tongue met my hairline, and because I was happy and proud of myself, and felt good in my body. And I hadn’t talked to anyone out loud all day, and so my laughter was the first sound in the house, and it was only for my own ears.

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