To Be or Not to Be – Regardless, the Sauce is Everywhere

They tell me I’ve been writing this stripper memoir for 50 days straight now.  And that is why my mind feels like a  massive plate of spaghetti- a mountain of random thoughts askew, piled up on top of each other, some even stuck together- the occasional meatball to chew on for a while and feel some satisfaction while I swallow and digest but then there’s the sauce.   The bloody sauce is getting ALL OVER EVERYTHING.    That sauce is leaking into my life.

I’ve had this pall over me for most of this journey.  I keep an old manuscript beside me and thank God that I had the (audacity) good sense to write it 13 years ago.  Close enough that I could still remember so much of what I have now forgotten.   The memories slowly churn up like a rusty old hand crank is at the ready.  For example, today.   I was remembering the time when I starting dating my first husband back in 1987.  I’ve always remembered the date but I had forgotten until today that he had actually cooked dinner for me first and how impressed I was by that at 19 years old – and that made me remember how Cosmopolitan magazine was literally my bible at that time of my life.  The handbook for the modern woman  I so wanted to be.  Literally one of my teachers of adulthood. And that got me thinking about my other teachers.

The memories are indeed dripping through everything but they are just a part of it.  The dredging of my entire life and straining through my brain comes at a time where I am pushing through thick, thick, endless fear, my hand the only thing coming through yet, but reaching, knowing I’m taking the steps to be.  Knowing that I can’t stay in the fog forever.

It makes me feel sick to my stomach some days while others I feel strong.  Today I had a strong day.  Today I felt.  I had some clarity and courage so I made a decision to do what I had to do to be real in my waking life, not just in my writing life.  Most of the last 50 days have been those “I think I’m going to be sick’ days.  Or worse, the possibility that my feelings don’t work anymore and all I have left is blankness in my heart-white paper- only mind, the wheels turning, just a machine.  Crank that machine.

Some of that emptiness is defence I’m sure, as I write about most of my life’s incidents, a journalist watching from the sidelines.   I document the facts for my daughter so she can understand.

But some of it  does make me feel sick to my stomach, and then I just get angry thinking, ‘oh for God’s sake, haven’t I DEALT with this shit already???”  Let’s get ON with it!  Are those the times I’m actually feeling?  Is that all I have left to feel?  I can’t wait to be done!  Maybe it’s just the emptiness of my head and my heart at the time I’m currently writing about.  My own shallowness was staggering.

So I feel like there is this faint trace of poison in me and luckily I’m inoculated but it has to run through my veins until I’m finished.

And this is just draft one.  The writing is so cold and mediocre I can barely fucking stand it.  Blech.

But.   Through all this, I’m still making connections, seeing patterns, backing up, having ahas, allowing myself to BE.  Etre.  To be.  To be is to be free.  If it’s to be or not to be, I’ve chosen to be.  I’ve given up things that I don’t have the mental and physical energy for right now like Toastmasters, which I once loved passionately.   Like the structure of home schooling.  I’m  drawing in, cocooning for the winter drawing upon courage of others so I can simply be and be free.

I left the Catholic Church this year.  I still go to Mass for my husband’s comfort – still take my daughter and still listen to the homilies for the wisdom that I know can be there but I am gone and my marriage has ridden the biggest, scariest waves of its 13 year existence.  The worst since our first year and we barely made it out of our first year.

And still I will be.

The pressure I have felt to be someone other than me has been lifelong and heavy.  IT has been the real poison, but not just in my veins, I breathe it.  I’ve breathed it for most of 47 years.  It has shaped me.  It has needled me almost to death in a thousand tiny ways.  The stress of the farce, the lack of joy and passion, not even able to stare into a drop of water in the sun and marvel at the rainbow in it.  I will be.  I want to be excited by the miracles again.  I have but one life and right now at this moment, this strong day, truly, I want to live.  I want to live as honestly as I can.  I want to truly, without fear, be.

To be this year I’ve had to rip scabs off  and create open pulsing, bloody wounds that have bled through every facet of our lives.  And I only know my own pain.  My husband and daughter have their own crosses.


The telling of my story and my truth comes at a time of emotional and spiritual turmoil.  The timing is not coincidence.  They will ride together and that is part of the healing and there will be some peace in my mind when the story is told.  When I have finally let myself be.

Paula Howley stripper memoir

“Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer blah blah blah…”


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2 comments on “To Be or Not to Be – Regardless, the Sauce is Everywhere”

  1. chelsea @ the new wifestyle Reply

    i read this on the plane and wow you have such a way with words paula. keep doing what you’re doing (as you are). it sounds like a very transitional moment for you and i’m glad you are embarking on that sometimes rough journey. you are a light in this world so i’m glad you are sharing your story and your truth!

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