Stranger in the market

The look on a face when you purse your lips, squint your eyes, and wrinkle your nose. Slightly clench your teeth, in familiar disgust. You tense your eye brows and gently suck your cheeks in, fluidly all at the same time with no effort at all. I'm reminded of this women from seven years ago standing behind me and my future husband in the small local grocery store in our run down, old-world neighborhood. The streets there, stained with layers of overpopulated use. The stench of sewer and exhaust fumes. The absence of children, young people and foliage. Nothing green just dankness. Seemingly my story had started where hers was finally ending. She was at the end of hers and I wondered to myself if I would someday stand behind a young women in a grocery store with deep lines of bitterness on my face warning her of 20 years of, regret, sadness and desperation.
I was in the checkout line with my husband commenting on how I wanted to make shish kebabs with the long wooden sticks I found, when I heard an English voice behind me say, "Yes those are good for what you want to do". I was surprised to hear English and quickly started a friendly conversation with her wondering if she could be my first friend I make in Italy. Her reply to my question of, if she lives here in the area was, "I'm finally moving back home to England, after being here for 20 years married to an Italian man". Then she said, "My son has grown up and left home, so I'm almost officially divorced and leaving in a few weeks". The whole conversation lasted a minute but it's one of the only conversations I've ever had that replay in my head more than any other. Her manner and body language touched me so deeply. I saw anger, contempt, disgust, desperation, regret, sadness and even relief from her. This complete stranger gave me so much honesty and emotion in our exchange, that I felt saddened and happy for her all at the same time. I thought to myself I hope I don't end up like her, but in all the words she didn't say about her past 20 years here in Italy, I can clearly see it's happening to me.



Hey there. I can relate with what you are saying. For years I haven’t been able to look at myself in the mirror. Just didn’t like the face there. Seemed to be taunting me by saying; you can try to hide from yourself but I’m still here aging regardless. But for me it wasn’t the aging so much as the constant weariness that was changing me. I had given up on myself and was lying down to let life just roll over me. Then I was forced to snap out of it. In one sudden, violent instant. After a few days in the hospital, I was helped onto the couch by my son and father. Couldn’t even sit up for a week a or cross my legs. Constant pain. But then lying there feeling sorry for myself, the miracle happened. For years I had been feeling like a victim of life. Like things were being taken away from me without my consent. So then, realizing that it couldn’t get any worse, I made the very conscious decision to reclaim my life. Put the cable box in the closet and started reading. Not books for distraction but self help ones. The same ones I might have scoffed at subconsciously a month before. How to improve confidence, yoga, spiritual guidance you name it. And books on marriage and improving relationships. The one I started with and am rereading is on fear. Where it comes from and how to learn to remove it, not repress it. Mindfulness breathing was and is the first building block. With it and meditation and yoga (had to start slowly of course) I have begun to love myself again. And, finally, admit painful things about myself so I could take full responsibility for my own happiness. Something I had forgotten how to do. And it has for the past six months it has truly felt like a switch was flipped in my mind and more importantly, in my heart. I started feeling again. And it’s been like breaking the dam. Emotional release that is changing how I see myself and the world. But I could go on for a while about this. (you should see the notebooks I’ve filled) My point is that when I take some quiet time for myself now and meditate, I focus only on breathing and imagining my ‘original ‘ face. The one I had before I was born. The face that had never felt pain or the stress and hardship of living. And this helps me relax. I can feel the tension in the muscles relax. Every day. Now that I have regained my body I meditate as I walk also. People ask me now how do I look ten years younger. I just smile to myself and give thanks for the path I have chosen. Because it is a choice I have to make everyday. Am I going to let life roll over me again or roll with life. The later takes more focus but it’s a lot less painful. And this is when an unexpected miracle happened. My wife (LL=love of my life) has noticed the changes too and is starting to alter her perception of our relationship. In 25 years we have never felt closer. She is warming up to my new excitement on life. I hold her every chance I get. (when I sense it’s a good time) And at first she stiffened up (@purplekipper, I get the pulling away) but as the months have gone by and she sees that this change is who I am now, the intimacy is growing. Beautiful. I had to let go of everything I had been doing wrong (not loving myself) to allow love back into our relationship. And now when we talk we are really present with eachother. And when she laughs I get a rush of happiness because I am watching the cares fade from her face too. She has been feeling for a while,and describing herself, as the woman you mentioned. She doesn’t believe me yet when I tell her she’s changing too. That’s something we all need to find for ourselves. Ok. I will write chapter two on my own post. LOL. Maybe.