It was over thirteen years ago that I stood in the aisle of Shoppers Drug Mart looking for prenatal vitamins. There weren’t any. Not a single one. When I asked the pharmacist, I was told they were getting new brands in the following week and didn’t have any in yet. Normally, I’m stubborn. Normally, I would have just gone to another store. Normally, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. Normally. But this wasn’t normal. And I remember thinking “Marlo, someone or something is trying to tell you something.” Something. I didn’t know what, and I didn’t know why - but for some reason, I listened. And I didn’t buy vitamins, and I didn’t get pregnant.
Several months later, all hell broke loose. My (now ex-) husband’s drinking had increasingly become worse. He was either getting drunk at home, or coming home drunk. He’d be gone all night and I wouldn’t know where he was. I’d cry myself to sleep. His work would call in the morning asking if he was coming in. I worried that he was lying dead in a ditch somewhere. That thought was soon replaced with “He’d better be lying dead in a ditch somewhere.”
Then one night, as I was in bed sleeping, I heard his truck pull into the driveway. My heart was pounding with a combination of anger and dread. I watched him stumble in through the back door and laundry room. He fell against the washing machine. He couldn’t even walk, and he had driven home. I stood there and said to him “I don’t care who you were with or what you were doing, but they must be really good friends to let you drive like this.”
The months after that were a blur. I’d like to say that was the end, but it wasn’t. Because I thought counselling could help us. I was hoping counselling could help us. And even if it didn’t, at least I would know I tried. But soon I was sitting in the psychologist’s office by myself. And quickly I learned no one person has the superhuman powers to make everything better. Not even me, the girl who was part of the crime fighting duo, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. I was Electra Woman, of course, because I’m six months older than my friend Christine. But how could I possibly know at age six that The Spider-Lady could never compare to the evil you encounter when you mix drugs and alcohol? Not even spandex and a cape and really big hair can save you from that.
I know sometimes things happen that are simply a coincidence. Sometimes, they’re an interesting coincidence. And sometimes, they are more than just a coincidence. They have to be. Because there’s no other explanation. And I think back to that day at the drug store. And I know now, even though I didn’t understand it at the time, when I made that choice to trust what I was feeling, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I’ve always wondered if it was my head or my heart that was screaming the loudest, but I’ve come to learn, more than anything, it was my gut.
As a child, I remember my Mom telling me that if someone gave me a bad feeling, I should trust it. But somewhere along the way, we program ourselves to not trust those feelings any more. Because we’re told we’re not supposed to judge people. Or it’s not polite. Or it’s someone we love and we don’t want to think they would hurt us. Or more than anything, we want to believe it’s okay. But I’ve learned, especially in the past few years, my gut is very much like the Frootloops’ bird’s nose. It always knows. And once again, I’m learning it’s okay to follow it. Thank you, Toucan Sam.
There’s just no way around it - things are still going to happen that make me wonder, or upset me, or make me confused. Things are still going to happen that make me doubt myself. Things are still going to happen and I’ll have to make a choice. And so I will remind myself to be quiet enough, and still enough, so that I will hear and feel what’s inside me. Time will pass, and maybe one day, the answer will be totally clear. Or maybe, I’ll never understand why. Or maybe there really never was any reason, except learning to trust that it’s simply what needs to be.