Sometimes publishers like to change things up on us authors. That happened when 2016 Deb Abby Fabiaschi’s publisher changed the publication date of her fantastic novel, I LIKED MY LIFE, to several months after her Debutante year was over. But we Debs stick together! To that end, we are thrilled to be able to celebrate the launch of her book all week long! For our posts this week, Abby asked the Debs to write about what have earned from an agonizing life moment (grief, loss of a job, divorce, etc).
I LIKED MY LIFE is a heart-wrenching story that begins not long after a woman jumps off the roof of the Wellesley College Library building. Her husband and daughter are plunged into grief and Maddy, the woman’s ghost, hovers in the background, helpless to assuage their sorrow. I remember seeing another review about the book that said something to the effect of “How can a book be both so sad and yet so happy at the same time?” I thought that encapsulated much of this novel.
I LIKED MY LIFE is thought-provoking in a soul-searching sort of way. Do we tell our loved ones enough that we care for them? Which relationships matter the most? Are we good enough and kind enough in our lives? How do we, as humans, navigate the thorns of life and emerge on the other side?
A little over twenty years ago, I was a young bride, only a couple of years into a marriage that took place four months after I graduated from college. The man I married was good, he was kind, handsome, and he loved me more than any other man had ever loved me. He treated me like a queen, truly. In so many ways I did hit the jackpot in that regard. Plus, I thought that I was doing what a respectable woman should do – finish college, get married, then start having children. Except that I didn’t really want to be married and I didn’t want to have children. But I didn’t know those things at the time. I was just fairly miserable in my own skin. I loved him, strongly and deeply, but I wasn’t at all in love with him, and that was tearing me apart.
Two years after we married, I started second-guessing my decision in a more rational way. I started seeing a counselor to talk through my feelings. I remember telling her about a dream that I had, an extraordinarily vivid dream that woke me up in the middle of the night in a start, terrified that it was real. I dreamt that a UPS man had kidnapped my husband, taken him to the oceanside (we lived in Seattle) and killed him. I watched it happen and I remember (still to this day) running to the shore to his lifeless body, torn with grief as I fell to the ground and pulled his body into my arms, wailing my sadness to the sky. When I woke, I reached for him, and the relief that he was still by my side was one of the biggest emotions I had ever felt. I remember asking the counselor what it might mean. How could I not want to be married to my husband when I clearly felt so much for him? She told me that the dream wasn’t about him, it was about me. And that a part of me was dying, or had died, and I was deeply mourning the loss. I thought a lot about that and realized she was right. The part of me that could stay with him was gone. I had to be realistic about what I was feeling. It wasn’t fair to stay with him if I couldn’t give all of myself to him. It took me a long while to make the break, for a variety of reasons, but that dream stayed with me in the back of my mind. I mourned the dream of us, of what we were supposed to be. And I mourned the loss of myself, the person who was true to herself, who did not compromise, who wanted other things and felt too trapped to go get them.
We divorced and not long after, I was fortunate to meet someone who was the right person, who made the right kind of sense to me in a way that my previous husband didn’t. But for many years, I held such guilt within me for ending that first marriage, because I knew he didn’t want it to end, because I didn’t do it sooner, and because his overbearing mother got her way and I hated myself for giving in to that. He moved away right after we split up and 3,000 miles of distance made the break easier, but that seed of guilt still sat inside me, coupled with care and concern that he might not find the good things I knew that he deserved. A couple of months ago I did a cyberstalk on Facebook and when I saw that he was married again, with a young daughter, my heart sang with joy. And relief.
Like Maddy in I LIKED MY LIFE, I was able to finally let go.