Short Story: Beauty is a Fading Flower

I’m not sure when it begins.  I am certain I know when it ends.

As young ladies we all think we hold our destiny in our hands and control every aspect of our lives.  We think and believe this because it helps us escape.  The fear, the anxiety, the sadness, and constant waves of all three.

We think we control men because we shout for equality and still expect them to hold doors open for us, to pay for everything, to treat us with patriarchal action, but only expect what we’re willing to give, not what they deserve.

And when we’re young we get attention.  And when the one we pick doesn’t gives as much attention, in the simplest way, in the most meaningless situation, we try to ruin his psyche by moving on to the next man we get attention from.  Because somehow, it’s all his fault that we feel the way we do inside.  It’s not possibly our fault.  It’s not our responsibility to take control of our battle inside, it’s his job to magically cure us of what ails us.  Because his love is supposed to fulfill us like a bespoke suit does them.  Tailored reactions and thoughts are their job, not ours.

As we get older, we still think we’re in control.  If we get too angry one day, we can file for divorce and break them mentally, emotionally, and financially.  We can flaunt other men in their face, while we fight over the house, we can continue to emasculate them like we have always done, to fit our comfort.  Because we can never be comfortable with the confident man that found us staying that way.  We need to defeat him so we can continue to avoid what’s truly ailing us.

We may still hold our beauty on the outside, but what we don’t know is that our beauty is being shredded on the inside, which slowly takes it toll until to exposes itself on the outside.  And yet we continue to tell ourselves we’re in control.  That we’re special, and unique, and that it’s our standards the world must achieve, not what we have to do to temper the flames of the internal conflicts with ourselves that rage like a California wildfire.

We are owed. That is all there is too it, and there is no telling us different.  After all, we are special.  We are unique.  That is what our parents told us our whole lives.  That we were owed.  Men owe us.  Society owes us.  Our employers owe us.

We never need to self-reflect because we are perfect.

But as I get older, I realize how silly all of that is.  Divorce rates has long surpassed marriage rates.  Lawsuits in the workplace continue to grow, with the overwhelming majority being settled without reviewing the facts, because employers don’t have time to fool around, and would rather let insurance companies charge them higher premiums than listen to complaints from anyone, including us.

And in the process of all that we get older.  And the pain and anguish still linger inside.  And it grows.  Into skin conditions, and advanced aging, and diminishing mental acuity, until we appear well aged beyond our years.

And meanwhile all those men who we felt mistreated us, or more accurately made us think about what was wrong on the inside, which we reacted to in anger, because how dare they have so much insight into us when we haven’t even shared that with them.  How dare they try and provide insight into us, like a bespoke suit.

And before we know it, we’ve lived a life unfulfilled.  Not because we didn’t have wonderful children.  Not because we had the dream of so many, yet so few get to have.  Not because we we’re secure, comfortable, and taken care of the whole time.  No, in our final moment of truth we realize just how much we avoided ourselves the whole time.  And all we have left is the memories of torment and abuse we visited upon everyone in our circle all because we couldn’t stand the person in the mirror.

Our children are now adults, removed from our hypocrisy and relentless neuroticism.  The men in our lives have long left, at this point with their own problems and goals, lives that are being productive.  The occasional card on birthdays and Christmas come.  But no anniversary dinners, no vacations, no memories that last beyond fleeting seconds.  Not before the grief, and sorrow, and the feeling of being a victim.  And this victimhood runs deep.  Deeper than any of the times you tried to say in court he was abusive.  Deeper than any of the times you said to mutual friends he cheated, or that he hit, or that he stole, or that he abused family members.  All those ridiculous claims are remembered for what they are, the delusions you told yourself to justify the anger you had inside – the anger towards yourself – that you never dealt with.  It was in you, the whole time.  And you let vanity hide it from you.  But they were all smart enough to know what was wrong.  And you abused them because they did their job as husband.  They tried politely, assertively, and with due care, to tell you something was wrong that you needed to conquer.  But inside of being brave, instead of being smart, instead of being a powerful woman, you chose the anger, the loathing, the sadness, over them, the greatest people that were ever in your life.

It’s infuriating now.  What you let control you, instead of what you allowed yourself to control.  You allowed yourself to be at your worst and allowed people to accept that was all you were capable of.  When you are young, it’s embarrassing to have photos that appear like you have an extra chin.  But at this stage of life it’s more embarrassing to realize how much of a jerk you allowed yourself to be in front of everyone.  Oh, what they must think now.  It’s no wonder the children don’t come around.  It’s no wonder you don’t see the grandchildren, save for the rare invite to a holiday gathering.

So many things I wished I did in my youth, would have been a better investment in my life than all the make up I used in my lifetime.  The emptiness I gave everyone in this world and acted like I was being supportive leaves me twisted like I’ve chugged a gallon of rot-gut whiskey.  And forget mentioning the alcoholism that was on full display in this life.  Yet another thing I could have fixed but didn’t.  Because I had my looks, my appearance, my beauty.  And that meant the world owed me.

It truly is a fading flower.

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