While driving around the other day, I was playing some old CDs I haven’t listened to in ages. One of them was the British singer-songwriter Dido’s No Angel which was popular around 15 years ago. (Dido, No Angel, Arista Records, 1999. CD.)
I remember playing the cd non-stop during a time in my life in which I was miserable, hopeless, and kind of clueless. Despite being comfortably married for 16 years, living in an impressive home in Florida looking like it came right off of the pages of House Beautiful with a pool in the backyard, a Porsche in the garage, and two precious, young sons, I found myself depressed and lost in my own life.
Notice I didn’t say happily married. I said comfortably. More like comfortably numb.
By that point, we were having major problems in the relationship and going to couples counseling. I was also seeing a therapist individually and just beginning to get real with myself. The illusory shell that I’d spent thirty some years perfecting so much so that I didn’t even know who the real me was, was breaking open with the flawed me oozing out of the cracks.
I was tired — damn tired — of rejecting, shaming, and trying to hide the parts of myself that my husband, and therefore I, considered “bad” and feeling guilty for being less-than-perfect. Dido’s song from that cd, I’m No Angel, became my anthem because I was finally ready to admit something I’d always known deep down: I wasn’t who my husband wanted me to be and who I’d tried so hard to become in an attempt to keep the peace. I was a completely different person with my own opinions, dreams, and needs that mattered, that longed to see the light of day, that needed to be heard.
I can remember singing along with gusto, pouring my heart and soul into the words as if she’d written them just for me.
’cause I’m no angel, but please don’t think that I won’t try and try
I’m no angel, but does that mean that I can’t live my life?
I’m no angel, but please don’t think that I can’t cry
I’m no angel, but does that mean that I won’t fly?
When I timidly began to peel back my shell to reveal glimpses of my true self in our couples counseling sessions, it became very clear very quickly that the real me was not going to be OK with my husband. It’s not that he or she was a horrible person. It’s just that she wasn’t who he thought he’d married.
Despite his rejection and disapproval, something inside of me knew that I was still a valuable person deserving of love, compassion, and happiness.
When Dido’s song, “Hunter,” came on the other day, I broke out in a victorious ear-to-ear grin and felt a surge of joyous energy as I remembered singing its words years ago feeling the longing, the ache, the pain of wanting to be free, wanting to live an authentic life, wanting to be me, and wanting that to be enough.
If you were a king up there on your throne
Would you be wise enough to let me go?
For this queen you think you own
Wants to be a hunter again
Wants to see the world alone again
To take a chance on life again
So let me go
I felt triumphantly giddy to be where I am in my life now, ten years on the other side of leaving the marriage and taking a chance at life again. Although the years since then have been anything but a picnic and life now is not without its challenges by any means, it feels great to be a hunter again. I’m still no angel, and you know what? That’s OK! 🙂
image: Michael Schaffner, Angel Of Grief, https://www.flickr.com/photos/mwschaff/