One of my hidden talents is the ability to tie a knot in a cherry stem with my tongue.
Believe it or not, it has taken me a week to come up with that in my search for anything that I might be able to refer to as a “hidden talent”. Of course, once I figured that one out I remembered a few others.
I can light a lighter with my toes. Once upon a time, I could also light a cigarette with the toe-lighted lighter, but these days I strongly doubt that I could get my toes anywhere a cigarette in my mouth. Meh, I don’t smoke anyway.
I can balance a stack of quarters on my raised elbow and then swing my arm around fast enough to catch them before they hit the floor. My record is twenty-one quarters.
I can break into almost any house, as long as I have access to a butter knife, something to climb on, and enough time to think about it. . . but not enough time to really think about it.
It says an awful lot about where I am in my life right now that I struggled so hard to find my own hidden talents for this week’s prompt. I’m dealing with so much in my life, and I know that it has taken a real toll on my self-esteem. Which was always a bit wobbly to begin with.
I’ve never been out of work before now. I don’t know what I’m good at. I know I’m not dumb; I just don’t have any real ideas of what direction to go, career-wise. I have limitations now that I’ve never had before, limitations that pretty much eliminate any kind of job I have ever held in the past. Or, as I whined to two old and dear friends last night, “I have no marketable skills!”
Let me tell you something about these old friends: they don’t take self-pity lightly.
I’ve known them since we were all eight years old. At times, we’ve gone years without seeing each other. At times, we haven’t really liked each other. But there is no one on this earth who knows me better than they do, warts and all.
They pretty much slapped me down, scolded my ass for feeling sorry for myself, and proceeded to remind me of all of the things I am good at. They reminded me of my worth as a human being, and they made sure to tell me that they love me.
They helped me remember that I need to love me too.
This morning, my husband and I drove to the county courthouse together to file the papers necessary to begin our divorce proceedings. It was an emotional experience for both of us; neither one of us wants to get back together, but taking this step feels like failure. It hurts.
It hurts to admit we couldn’t make it work.
It hurts to realize that it really, truly is over.
It hurts to look each other in the eye and say yes, I am sure I don’t want to be married to you anymore.
In the car, I asked him for help with this week’s writing prompt. “You’ve lived with me for eighteen years,” I said. “What would you say is a hidden talent that I have?”
“You can tie a cherry stem in a knot with your tongue,” he said.
My friends know that I can hand-quilt and embroider like a dream. They have faith in my writing, and they have ideas of ways for me to make money with it. They know I am a hard worker and that there is no job I can’t do if I set my mind to it. They believe in me, and they are going to make me believe in myself whether I want to or not.
My friends demand the best that I have to offer, and they will accept nothing less. They know that I have talents and skills that I haven’t even discovered yet.
My husband, the man I loved and lived with for nearly two decades, knows that I can tie a cherry stem into a knot with my tongue.
Somewhere between the county courthouse and home, I finally understood that my hidden talent has nothing to do with cherry stems or cigarette lighters or fine needlework. It has everything to do with this man that I used to love; this man that I tried so hard to share my life with. This man who never really knew me at all, any more than I really knew him.
My hidden talent is knowing when to walk away.