Friday, April 15, 2011

Deb and Barb Have A Three-Way

Deb and Barbara Have A Three-Way With Rayna

Deb and Barbara found Rayna’s wonderful blog, Coffee Rings Everywhere, and were instantly hooked. Rayna writes in “drabbles”: essays or stories written in exactly 100 words. It’s a fascinating format and Rayna is a compelling expert at it. She drabbles about everything from writing, to life in India, to raising her two (ridiculously cute) kids. And her photos are gorgeous icing on her blog cake.

Rayna: The first thing I noticed was her book; Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird". The train was almost empty, but I chose the seat directly opposite her.

She was in her late twenties, though the severe hairstyle made her look older. Her clothes were too big for her­­––perhaps she hoped to cover the excess fat, but she only looked shapeless. I noticed she was using a boarding card as a bookmark––definitely a professionally qualified executive.

She must have sensed my scrutiny, because she looked up. I met her eye, and smiled.
"I was looking at your book", I said. "I have exactly the same copy."
"It's one of my favourite books,” she confessed. "Must have read it at least a dozen times."
"Me too." We got chatting.
Rayna running
"Who runs?", she asked, looking at my backpack with the logo of a marathon.
"Me. I've done four half marathons, and one full."
"W-O-O-W", she drew out the syllables. "I can't even dream of running 5 kilometers."
"Why don't you try? You might surprise yourself. That's what I keep telling my kids."
"You have kids? You don't look it."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You're so slim."
"Well, I do work out."
"I wish I had the time."
"You can always make time." I knew how superior I sounded.
"I guess so! But tell me", she said, changing the subject. "Is motherhood all it's made out to be?"
"I can't imagine not being a mother", I replied. "But have kids only when you are ready to put your life on hold for them."
Rayna and her beautiful boys
Her station came. "Been great meeting you. Hope to run into you again,” she said grabbing her bags.

"We will." I reassured her. "And one other thing. Harry Potter. Do start reading Harry Potter!"

I don't understand why my friends are dreading turning Four-Oh. My twenty-nine-year-old self had not recognized me, and she was clearly impressed by what I had become. How many more surprises are in store as I advance further into the best age––the middle ages.

Deb: My younger self was a good girl. A very good girl. I was a good friend, daughter and sister. I cared about people and championed them when needed. Just as now, I woke up happy and smiling, and I loved life to bits.

I had a small period of two years where I went off the rails for a while. It was the 60’s, after all. I lost my footing, my focus, my MIND.

But I came back, I like to think, better than ever and ready to chew each bite of life 100 times.

So why is it that I feel such shame about this DerailedDEB? Why can I not shake her? I was in therapy ten years ago––menopause––and was trying to solve some serious issues I was having––menopause––and my therapist said to me, between my sobs–menopause––“Why do you refer to this teenage self as if you are talking about a stranger?” I said it was because this DerailedDEB seemed like a stranger to me, doing things that were not Good Deb or Kind Deb and I refused to acknowledge her as a bonafide full-fledged Deb. She was a pretender to the Deb.

My therapist gently told me that until I made friends with DerailedDeb, I would not be truly happy.

So I started to look to DerailedDEB for lessons that Good Deb could learn from. Not enough hours in the day for that however. I tried delving in and thinking everything through and rationalizing and making amends with Derailed.

But it just didn’t feel right. Too much focus on something so long ago. And then something dawned on me. What do they say, “The best revenge is living well?” I realized that living well in my own skin is exactly what I had been doing ever since those days.

So I decided that whenever I thought of DerailedDeb and felt shame or panic, I would simply say, “Hey D.D. it’s okay now. We made it.”

Barbara: No quiet bookworm here, no DerailedBarb (in Deb’s sense), but I’d like to talk to my 37-year-old self. The one sobbing in the corner as she found herself in one of a long series of crises. The me that was bereft of energy and will and courage, who wondered weakly how she could ever survive it. That Barb was sure she had done everything right. And well. And in a goodly way. That Barb held hands, wiped others’ tears, cleaned house. That Barb worked hard on her acting whenever the chance came along, hadn’t yet re-discovered her writer self, and always felt she was hitting a wall. Banging her head on not just a glass ceiling, but hemmed in by glass walls all around her. Cubed in by life. That Barb couldn’t bear the unfairness of it all, the randomness, the cruel irony.

I want to tell her that it will get better. It will take a while, but the tide will turn. It’s a midlife crisis––not the kind triggered by oneself, but the kind triggered by outside events. And as much as that Barb went through self-pitying wallowing (even when righteous, wallowing makes for an uncomfortable bed), she will learn a shitload of stuff. Really really useful, life-changing stuff. She will “find herself” because of it. And she will learn to protect that self with fierce determination and gentle support.

So I’ll let her wallow and cry. I won’t sooth her out of it. I know from experience that she needs to be there for a while. Sorry, kiddo, but it’s ‘cause I love you.

Thank you, Rayna, for one hell of an interesting look into the past!!

Rayna Natasha Iyer is the Founder and Chief Evangelist of the "If enough people wish hard enough and long enough, will the day actually have 30 hours?" movement that most of you wish you could be a part of. She's a mother of two boys now in primary school, is obsessive about the non-profit she works for, and tries unsuccessfully to make time for running, photography, reading, writing and gardening. She dreams of being a published writer, someday! Rayna can be found at her blog, Coffee Rings Everywhere, her photo-blog, Snapshots of Bombay, at the blog of her Writer's Group, Borrowers, Books and Balderdash, or at the Burrow website.

PS come back tomorrow for a new Deco Tip and Easy Recipe!


  1. Great idea to have a conversation with your younger self. Next up, what would eighty-year old you say to you now? Hmmm....

  2. Oooh, Hollye, great food for thought!

    And thanks, Lyndsie!

  3. Thank you for hosting me, Deb and Barbara. I really loved writing that little piece, because there is so much I wanted to tell my younger self, but ultimately the only thing I did tell her was to start reading Harry Potter, because that eventually led me to a whole bunch of people without whom life would be less meaningful (you know who you are, you lovely ladies, and two gents).

    @ Hollye- that is a thought. Maybe we should do a blogfest around that!

  4. This has been fascinating. I’ve actually been thinking along these lines lately. Pardon me while I ramble a bit. In less than 10 years time, I had 5 children. All personal time and dreams were shoved deep into a closet as I focused all my energy on my kids. Now, my youngest just turned 3 and I’m finding I’ve got more free time than I’ve had in 13 years. I’ve been pulling out a few of those old dreams and airing them out. I’ve been thinking more along the lines of “what if….” Still, I haven’t done much more than think about these ideas. I’m so afraid to fail. So afraid.

    But after reading this, I’m thinking myself 20 years from now would be saying, “Molly! Why didn’t you try and make those dreams come true? So what if you fail at one thing, it’s not the end of the world! But think how great it would be if you succeed!”
    So, today I will begin the preliminary plan to make one dream come true this summer. If I succeed, I’ll let you know. Thank you for the shove!

  5. Wow, Molly, thanks so much for this! And that's the beauty of looking at your present life through the eyes of your older (wiser) self. S/he will NEVER give you shit for trying and failing. But guess what s/he WILL give you shit for???

  6. I'm not sure that I'd tell my younger self anything... I think all my experiences - the good AND the very bad, have lead me to where I am today. There are times I think: 'I wish I hadn't [insert regret here]', but then I realise that if I hadn't, then I wouldn't have gone on to [insert positive outcome here :P] - it's all about cause and effect. I learnt from my mistakes and am a better person for it.

    One thing I probably may say to my 12 year old self is to keep up with the guitar lessons (since I've gone back to it recently and feel like I'm right back to square one sometimes), but 12 year old me probably wouldn't have listened to older me anyway lol... I've always been pretty stubborn like that haha


  7. It is an intersting topic to explore, and I think all three of you did a great job with it.

    I don't know that I'd have anything to tell my younger self, mostly because I still haven't figured out a damn thing. But it does make me wonder what the older and wiser version of myself would have to say to me now...

  8. wow, i loved this, all three parts of the three way. I, too, finally tanked a few years ago, had three years of less than ideal Gae. I learned a lot from it, and changed a lot because of it, and realized more than ever who I am -- and always have been- because of it. Also, made some demands because of it. DeRailed Gae is my best friend, even though I never want to go back and visit her.

  9. (and, OMG, are those little boys scrumptious!)

  10. Thanks, Gae! It's too bad we learn our best lessons from the hard stuff, waaaah. But the process also needs a healthy dose of introspection, patience, and motivation to keep pushing out of the muck. Thankfully, we can share that experience not just with our younger selves, but with our younger friends.

  11. Loved the three way.


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