I grew up in Quebec and enjoyed the picturesque landscape of the Laurentians. My mother and I were spending the day at the lake, I was eight years old, and it was there that I experienced my first label. As I watched a woman with her kids my mother proceeded to tell me she was a single mother, a rare occurrence in those days compared to today. I guess my mom had no idea I was a woman of words and how powerful her speech would resonate in my life.
She said “you need a man Gail, if you don’t have a husband you won’t be complete, this woman is all alone and if you don’t find someone to marry when you are older this is who you are going to be.” These weren’t her exact words and she said it in French but it is the message I remember.
The next incident of labeling came when I was thirteen, I had lost weight and I was finally getting over the bullying and being called Jell-O for most of my childhood. I started wearing tight jeans, makeup and poofing up my hair. Again my mom indicated my wrong-doings by pointing out I looked like a slut, much like her over-sexed sister who had a child out of wedlock she explained and used to doll herself up similarly.
When I turned seventeen and lost my virginity within months I was pregnant for the first time, after an abortion I was told I needed to have, I got pregnant again. I waited three months before telling my Mom and her words at my daughter’s birth were that if the baby father didn’t want me I would end up alone for the rest of my life.
At twenty-one years of age after (4) surgeries I was forced to have a complete hysterectomy. Now I wasn’t just a single mother and a slut but I also couldn’t bear any more children….my options of finding a man according to my mom’s ideologies had dropped to Nada.
I became everything she predicted I would become; I guess I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I naively believed that my worth was determined by the fact that I couldn’t bag a man, akin to the caveman who would knock out their choice of mate with a club; it seemed my only chance for happiness was to knock out some helpless sap and somehow enslave him to me.
I carried this view of myself through my twenties, thirties and part of my forties until I finally realized that a man on or off my arm does not define me.
The only reason I could possibly want to be with someone is for love, hopeless mad love that makes every song come alive, the kind where even an accidental brush against my knee makes me shiver from head to toe. The kind of love that makes me scream Oh My God during love-making not because it was the best sex I ever had but because the connection brought me closer to heaven than I could ever hope to attain. The kind of love that would make you crazy if you lost it. The kind of love I had for a brief moment in time and will look for until I find it.
I might never get nominated for wife of the year, I’m not Michelle Obama but just maybe the Lady by the Lake was waiting for love too. Some people find their soul mates at a young age; others are like ships in the night constantly passing each other by.
The New Year is about starting fresh, a clean slate and here is my prophecy for 2013. I will find love. In the meantime I will continue to enjoy life, learn from my mistakes, forgive myself and others and stop competing to be like everyone else. If by chance I failed to accomplish some sort of “woman’s worth” then so be it, I base my worth on something other than a better half…I base it on myself.
It is tough at times to watch friends and family members who are paired up and appear to be happy together especially during the holidays, valentine and lying in bed at night but I would rather wait for Prince Charming and in the meantime I can work on being ready when he shows up.