We get lost in the dialogue of who we think we should be, or how others think we should be.
It's not a failing. It's part of how we learn to be stronger, to hold true to ourselves.
Sometimes, this lesson comes later in life than it does for others.
May you learn it, as quickly as possible, with as little loss as can be had.
I gave away my kitchen table.
I was so proud of it, I’d bought it with money I’d earned myself, from one of the few jobs I was able to find after I was married and moved to GA. Jobs for cooks, especially military spouse cooks, are few and far between-well, the ones you’d actually want to have, anyway. Not to mention, there’s not much in the way of options when you don’t really have regular transportation except during deployments and you’re outside of Fort Stewart.
It wasn’t really a “kitchen table”, it was a little sofa table, the sort that you place behind your sofa, or in the entry hallway-long and narrow.
What drew me to it, though, was the fact that the top was actually two leaves that folded out, with clever little arms that slid inside when not being used to brace the expanded width.
I could seat 4-6 people at it. It was perfect for what I wanted.
When I was growing up, all meals were eaten around the kitchen table. While they rarely were happy meals, it was still a part of what I’d been raised to believe that homes had.
Everyone I knew, growing up, had a kitchen table that they ate their meals at.
The dream of a happy family, everyone gathered together, enjoying the meal as a family.
Having holiday meals.
It was just what you did. What you aimed for.
There were a few, a very few meals at that table. Shared with a small handful of my husband’s team members, or other couples from the unit.
Mostly though, we’d sit in the living room, on the sofa, the floor, etc.
When it was just my husband and I, we’d eat in the living room, watching tv or a movie.
I still dreamed of it though.
In the years after I left my parent’s home, before I was married, I had never owned a kitchen table. I’d always eat at my desk, or on my sofa, generally reading while I ate. I never saw the need for it.
The dream of a happy family around a table wasn’t something that I really was looking for, or wanted, or even needed.
And then I was married.
It was as if a switch was flipped in my head, and I suddenly felt as if I needed a kitchen table of some kind, any kind, in order to actually build a proper home.
I was so proud of that table.
After my divorce from my husband, I carried that table with me.
It followed me into a tiny, 350 square foot studio, to a 4 months brief roommate situation, to my current space.
At no point, in the almost 5 years I’ve been divorced, have I actually used it as a kitchen table.
It’s been an excellent cat lounging space, a spot to drop items rather than put them away, a silent reminder that I failed to create the home I realized that some small part of me longs to believe I want.
A few weeks ago, I was gifted a lovely steamer trunk by a friend who was downsizing due to a move.
I knew almost exactly how I wanted to set it up in my apartment, what I was going to use it for, and how it would change to flow and feel of the space it was in.
And then I realized that the only way that it would work would be if I moved the table.
But I didn’t have any place to move it to.
And then, as I sat there, considering how I was going to move everything around to suit myself and the space, a little thought popped up in my head.
Why did I still have that table?
I’d never really, truly used it in the manner I’d hoped to.
There is nothing in my life that requires a kitchen table.
I’d never really, truly wanted the sort of life that I felt required a kitchen table, I’d only felt the urge to do what I’d been taught was “proper”.
So why was I holding onto something that did me no good, took up space, and, quite honestly, reminded me not only of my ex-husband but also the sadness of my childhood and the demands of “propriety”?
The exact moment that I realized all of that, I took the bolts holding the top to the legs, and posted it for pickup in my buy nothing group.
It was gone, 6 hours or so later.
My heart has a small, rectangle shaped hole in it, the loss of something missing that was familiar, the ache of the death of a dream I was told I should have.
I can feel it filling back up, though, with the pieces of myself and my own, actually my own, dreams and knowledge of who I am, a person who does not need a kitchen table to create a home, to feed others, to bring them together.
Growth and rebirth are always painful.
Welcome back, to one more part of myself I hadn’t even realized that I had lost.