Survival

Some days are spent, in their entirety, holding my breath. Keeping things in.

I want to scream.

I want to run away.

I want to cry and sob.

I’m so tired.

Some days I just want to let go. I want someone else to take the wheel and drive this car.

I want to ask for help.

I want to not have to ask.

I want to rest.

I’m so tired.

These years have been the greatest of my life. They have been filled with endless joy and happiness. But those things did not come easily or free of pain along the way. They came with days and nights full of fear too. Living on edge afraid of losing my babies, my self. Many torturous lessons in staying in the moment, and letting go of control.

Today I am far better at both of those things. I’ve learned I absolutely have no power over anything outside of myself. And I have learned that if I am constantly worrying about tomorrow I miss the joy of today. I could see and hear those sayings all of my life, but I would have never learned what they truly meant if I hadn’t lived what I’ve lived.

I’ve perfected nothing. I am still in the trenches learning as I go. Today I am reminded that with joy can also exist pain, simultaneously. I know for me, it has given me a deeper appreciation for the ups in life, and a peaceful knowledge that the downs don’t last forever.

True, these years have been survival years. Truer still, these years will soon enough be a distant memory. So, for now, I choose to be present for all of this. The pain, the joy and everything in-between.

One year

I’ve been telling myself for a year straight all of the reasons my marriage is over. All of the negatives. Almost inflating them in my mind so as to disconnect from the stabbing pain in my heart.

At first things were crazy. Trying to find our footing. Flailing around, wondering how this could have happened to our perfect life.

There was the initial pain. There was sobbing alone on the ground on my birthday last year, just not understanding how I could not have been enough. I would rationalize and tell myself there was no way it could be broken. That we would absolutely fix this and make it through just like everything else over the last 12 years.

I quickly learned that I did not have the power to put it back together on my own. I couldn’t force the warped puzzle pieces to fit the way they once had. But don’t kid yourself, I sure as shit tried my hardest.

Then came the part where I would try to tell myself it was all in my head. That somehow I was wrong. That I could live with this new normal so that I didn’t have to tear down the walls on the beautiful life we had.

Next I blamed myself. If only I had done this or that I would have been what she wanted. If I was more fun, more sexual, not so serious. If, if, if.

When we finally got to therapy I knew we would fix it. We would certainly not throw away all of these years, memories and love. All therapy did was explain to me why things fell apart. But even the best therapist in the world couldn’t make her choose me, us.

Then the realization that we were done. That we couldn’t put our story back together. We couldn’t unsee what we saw. And we couldn’t unknow what we now knew.

Those months were the most painful I have even walked through. I had support but nothing could take away the pain of losing my best friend. Even if I did know it was “for the best”. Having to keep it together inside these walls was excruciating agony.

Then she left. Fuck. I could breathe in my home again. I could sit on the couch. I could turn the corner without seeing the glaring reminder of all I ever knew.

I was now alone for the first time in over a decade. Not only alone. Lost. Heartbroken. And trying to hide it the best I could. After all, this was my decision. How could I bitch about it now? I couldn’t. I had to be solid. I had to keep it together for the two boys and all of the adulting left for me to manage on my own.

I told myself and others, “Look at me, I’m making it through without the breakdown!”

Im not. I’m down, and I’m broken. And it has come to mind that I need to honor that. I need to stop fighting it. I need to accept the fact that while I may be able to keep up with the day to day, that is clearly no indication of what is going on inside.

I can keep this show looking good on the outside. I can manage all the things. I can make sure noone thinks I’m losing it. I apparently successfully had myself believing that lie.

Today, on my birthday one year later, I am being honest. With myself, and anyone who cares to know.

It kills me that while we are still quite amicable, there is a lot of pain in this for me. I tell myself I need to set boundaries for her. They aren’t for her, they are for me. They are to keep my heart safe. As safe as it can be today.

We will continue to love each other and our son. That will never change. But if I’m going to get past this, I need to feel it with honesty. I don’t have to be a bad ass day in and day out. I’m allowed to feel hurt, even if I don’t always believe that myself.

Inaction

It is my belief that we do not get to sit back and simply let life happen. That’s not how it works. That right there is how we end up waking up, looking around and wondering where the heck we are and how we got here.

When we find ourselves in a world we aren’t meant for we are going to feel it. It is going to rip us apart like a wild animal caught in a trap.

We don’t belong here and our souls know it before we do.  They start screaming at us from deep within.  We may be able to muzzle them at first, but eventually the sound becomes impossible to ignore.

It is at this point that we can either choose to sit in this, or act.  Accept it or don’t.

There isn’t a magic wand out there that will take us out of this.  We can trust, pray and wait all we want.

What I have found is that action is the only way out of the hell our inaction has lead us to.

Denial & Isolation

I’m in a heavy place.

I don’t particularly like the grief cycle as it is known. They say this thing has no rhyme or rhythm to it. It goes from phase to phase as it pleases with no warning.

I’m far too linear for this.

Wouldn’t it just be better for everyone if we could go through this is an orderly fashion? Come on?! Single file please!

I’m not sure that I have the capacity to go back through any of this again. I don’t want reminders, and I don’t want pain. My tub will overflow if there are any additional sobbing fits on the floor of the shower. I mean, that is so 10 months ago! It’s my feeling that I have had enough.

Guess not though, right? It would appear there is still more to learn. Some lesson left on the table.

I thought some wounds had scabbed over, but they hadn’t. This new-normal is so uncomfortable, and so goddamned lonely that I dropped some boundaries in order to numb it out. Problem is, my head isn’t healed enough to allow that, and my heart is still sliced right down the middle.

Luckily, I was reminded vividly why I am where I am, and was able to do an a·bout-face and go back to picking up the pieces.

You know what, on second thought, I don’t want those pieces. Why the hell am I breaking my back to pick up these dusty, broken shards and trying to put them back together? They will never fit the way they once had. Not even a little.

This empty space hurts worse than all of the combined pain from the first 33 years of my life along with any nightmare I could summon to my imagination. I’d sure love to stuff the hole closed with anything I can find and move on.

Although it may take a little longer to fill the void, I think I’m going to go ahead and build all new pieces.

Clean ones.

This go around, I’m going to take my time. No rushing. Carefully crafting and positioning them. A foundation built with my own two hands, that I can be proud of, that I know will last.

The Search for Words

To be a writer and to be unable to put words to something is unfathomable.

It’s like dying of thirst whilst being surrounded by a sea of saltwater.

It’s like being enveloped in flames only to be doused by even more gasoline.

To have a feeling that I can scarcely form a thought around, let alone polish it into a perfectly posed prose, that is profound.

It’s elusiveness makes it all the more alluring.

I’ll take the thirst.

I’ll keep the fire smoldering.

Actually

So, I write quite a bit about not exactly knowing who I am. But during a stranger that normal week, and with plenty of time to think, the thought has occurred to me that perhaps I do know.

Maybe I know exactly who I am.

The thought continues on to suggest that possibly it’s more that I’ve been too fearful to let her out. Afraid to show myself. Not just to you, or the rest of the world. But I’m kind of terrified of my own inner self.

I’ve spent an exorbitant about of time hiding who I am from everyone else, and even longer stuffing it all down, deep down. Not allowing myself to feel the things I knew damn well where there. Thinking I owed a piece of my soul to everyone and everything on the outside. Never taking into account the toll it was taking on my insides.

I feel free today. Maybe not entirely, but definitely more so than I have in quite a long time. Today, I owe to no one but myself. And what I am owed is liberation. From boxes, and cages and self deprecation.

Real

Was it real?

No, it wasn’t.

It is.

Nothing has ever been more genuine.

Something like this, no wait, that doesn’t exist. There is nothing like this.

No more truth has ever lived inside of a soul.

Or two.

It could never have stayed in a box.

There is no question.

Unforgettable.

Love well lived, lives on indefinitely.

Choices

Today I needed to go to the grocery store again.

I needed to make Easter baskets, and fill eggs.

I couldn’t have done that today without the help of my ex. She came here after working all day to watch the boys so I could get out and get the necessities, and then hide in the grocery store parking lot filling 100 tiny Easter eggs for the boys.

When I got home she kept them busy while I put together the Baskets and hid those in the car as well. She’s down in the basement doing her laundry and playing dodgeball with them as I write this.

I was sitting here getting some last minute work done and all I could hear was our son laughing his biggest laughs, and giggling so loud it was traveling up two flights of stairs and through just as many doors.

At first my mind started to drift and think about how nice it was to hear that laugh. How grateful I am that she is still able to be here and help us when we need it, especially right now.

My second thought was that I have ruined my sons life. I thought, how could the choice I made for myself possibly be the right choice for my son when I haven’t heard that laugh, that specific laugh in so long? How could something that is so hard on my child be the right choice?

I don’t have those answers.

What I do know is that if we can continue to work together as parents, if we keep doing what is best for ourselves, that will have to be enough. Those choices will have to show him that mommies love him, and will always come together to do whatever it takes for him.

We are lucky. We are gifted with what we still have. Twelve years doesn’t just go up in smoke. It evolves. It morphed into a new normal.

One in which we are all still learning how to navigate.

Today I am reminded that I married my best friend. And while much has changed over the last year, that friendship seems to pull through the darkness and continue to be a foundation on which we are able to write this new chapter.

#WhyIDidntReport

#WhyIDidntReport is trending on Twitter.

It is sexual assault awareness month.

The thing is, I did report. Twice. It didn’t make a difference, either time.

Drunken teenage boys are just kids. I shouldn’t have been at the party, and I shouldn’t have been drunk.

State troopers are, well, state troopers. I shouldn’t have been in the bar, and I shouldn’t have talked back.

Sixteen years later, and what I have learned is that speaking your truth doesn’t always get you justice. It was my experience that it brought me shame. Disappointment. More pain than the initial assault.

While I am eternally grateful that we have been given a much louder voice in recent years, I do wish that I would have had the same megaphone back then.  I wish I would have been stronger. Smarter. Quicker.

I’m an idealist. I thought that if I did the right thing, the truth would see the light of day.

It may not have been illuminated back then, but today, today I can at least shine what little light I have to try to make it a bit easier for the next person to speak up.

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