My lack of sex was a complete non-issue to me. I had more serious concerns to worry about, like, finding another way to greet my day without saying “I hate my fucking life!”. Everyday I tried talking myself into believing I was happy when really I was scared, lonely and uncertain about my future. I didn’t even have the energy to search for happiness. I did have the presence of mind, however, to be grateful for my amazing friendships, my return to the performing world, and my unexpected career in the pole dance fitness industry. But there was still a dark emptiness inside. In shrink circles they might label it “abandonment issues”.
Moving out of the LES apartment I shared with my “sister-friends” amplified that sense of abandonment. That ramshackle apartment had represented more than just temporary physical shelter or my halfway house to becoming an Indie Girl. It symbolized the value of true friendship and my fundamental need for relationships based on unconditional love, open communication, loyalty, compassion, compromise and support. Their friendship was a consistently healthy support system and I certainly wasn’t getting that from the people I needed most; my parents. But perhaps after 40 years of marriage they didn’t have a concept of the emotional ramifications of separation and divorce. They didn’t know what it feels like to be abandoned by your life partner. Not even enough to call and check in periodically to see how I was doing. Not enough to ask how I was feeling. Not enough to ask what went wrong. Not enough to say “We’re here for you, honey!”. They seemed completely unfazed by fact that I was married and living in LA one day and single and living in NYC the next.
It was only during my married years that I felt we had a semi-normal relationship. The fact that they were devout Jehovah’s Witnesses and I had converted to simply “spiritual” definitely created a rift between us. But besides that, by the time I hit my early thirties, I think my life and life-choices were relatively tolerable to them. I was married (read: no longer a fornicator) and I had a respectable career as a Licensed Massage Therapist and Pilates Instructor (read: not an “overly sexualized” performer). So there were plenty of neutral topics for discussion where I didn’t feel compelled to conceal anything about myself in order to keep the peace. Well, besides the occasional slip about a birthday or holiday celebration, there were no red flags in my life that might spark a scripture-loaded lecture from my mom or the silence of disappointment which was sure to be followed by tears (hers, not mine). It wasn’t a lovey-dovey relationship filled with exclamations of “I love you!” or “I miss you!” but it still exceeded my expectations as far as a relationship goes with my parents.
But... when I absolutely and unequivocally needed my parents the most, our relationship seemed to have reverted back to the time when I called them from the pay phone at Broadway Dance Center to announce I had booked a gig to go on tour with a major pop star. In that one phone call they learned I was 1.) moving away from home 2.) leaving my job as a ballet teacher at the local dance studio I grew up in 3.) switching from my classical dance training to hip-hop and, worst of all... 4.) losing my religion! As much as I wanted them to be happy for me; in retrospect I understand their shock, disappointment, sadness and the silent treatment that ensued. After all, it was as if 23 years of hard parenting work had gone down the shitter. I’m sure my life made them feel like failures.
But did my divorce represent failure for them too? Is that why they weren’t emotionally present for me during this most dismal period of my life? Were they silently thinking “That’ll teach you to abandon the wholesome values we raised you with!” ? Did they seriously think that by forcing me to stew alone in my misery would make me come to my senses and become the prodigal daughter? Nope. It just made me value my “sister-friends” that much more. They became my family.