Hands

Hands are for helping and holding.

We use them to touch, and they allow us to feel.

You learn a lot from a person’s hands. Are they calloused, or manicured? Is there a ring, or a tan line or indent where one used to be? Do they tremble or are they steady and still? Is there an energy emanating from them drawing you in?

It’s funny how sometimes too many hands in the pot can muddle.

Yet, too few can feel empty, alone and overwhelming.

As a self-confessed control freak I often feel that there is a surplus of hands. But lately, I’d have to admit there are never enough. Something is always missing these days. I just can’t seem to juggle it all. And on those hard days, which are more frequent as of late, there is no hand to hold or reach for to help me up.

Not in the way there once was.

Outside In

Is my smile convincing?

I have worked extraordinarily hard on this grin. I’ve straightened it, polished it, plucked it, and whitened it. I’ve learned how to use it, too. I’ve figured out that as long as you see it, you will not poke and prod me. You won’t look too far past it for anything deeper. If I’m being truly honest, it’s not even that I’m faking. It is more of a survival skill. It keeps me from falling apart just as much as it appeases you.

Does this outfit look okay?

I’m much too careful how I dress. I put a lot of time into this over the years. If my clothes are ironed and modest you won’t look too long. You won’t think I’m stuck-up, or sloppy. You won’t call me a prude or a slut behind my back. If I look good you will think I am doing well and feeling fine. You won’t know I spend days in the same clothes without showering when I’m depressed. As long as I am well put together on the outside, noone bats an eye. These garments, these simple pieces of fabric, are armor to me. They protect me from you. Your eyes, your thoughts and your judgments.

Is the pinterest-worthy organized home doing what its supposed to?

It is supposed to look like I’ve got this. I don’t. I really don’t. But does it look like I do? God I hope so. I wouldn’t want you to think I actually live here alone with a three and five year old. I don’t want anyone to know that I struggle to stay on top of it these days. In the extremely rare event someone comes here I spend hours stashing toys, scrubbing toilets, washing dishes and generally, hiding all evidence of life. You won’t get to see that this is hard for me. I’ll do everything I can to prove I’m just as good at this today as I was a year ago with an extra set of hands.

Does my voice sound right?

If I’m talking to you, I assure you I am working harder at controlling my thoughts and response tone than I am at listening. I don’t want you to hear that today my mind is racing, or maybe that I just finished crying. If I talk too fast, you’ll know. If my voice shakes, you’ll know. If I don’t respond fast enough you might know it’s hard for me to focus. You could figure out that I already forgot part of what you said because some anxiety slipped in and distracted me for just long enough to deafen me.

The effort it takes to project this shield to the outside world is exhausting. I’ve recognized it over the last year. Recently I’ve begun lowering it to some extent. At least with a few close friends.

Most the time, there is something, however small or large, that I do not want you to see. For my own comfort and safety I keep my insides in, and my outsides poised.

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.

Uncertain

Nothing is certain. Absolutely nothing.

I know this. I’ve been shown this time and time again. Yet, I continue to allow myself to get comfortable. I let myself feel secure and safe, when the reality is that anything and everything can be taken away at a moments notice.

The only thing that has been certain all of my life is uncertainty.

This year has been one long lesson. Teaching me, the hard way, that I truly have control over nothing. And once I think I’ve learned enough, the universe laughs and says “You wanna bet?”

I like to think I could never be the type of person to lose faith or to quit. That it’s just not in me somehow. But I’ll tell you what, give me one more thing that I am in love with that I cannot have, and I’m thinking I just might find out what it feels like to give up.

I have always loved with all I have. I’ve never learned how to tamp it down or hold back. I’m in, or I’m out. It’s not that I haven’t tried. I’ve always known that in the end I pay a price for it. But my heart and soul come in one piece, not just a little here and a little there. It kills me to feel now that I want to be able to filter it all somehow. To at least reserve some of it so that when the walls come tumbling down on this house I’ve built I won’t be obliterated.

I let myself believe I wouldn’t lose these things. I let myself believe I valued all of these precious gifts so much that they could never possibly be taken away. I left myself wide open for this. And again, there is no one to blame but me.

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.

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.

Self

I wake up with a spiked paddle in my hand.

From the moment I get up off my knees I silently beat myself with that thing all day.

Yes, I know better. Doesn’t matter. The damn weapon has been attached to me for almost as long as I can remember.

Some days I am distracted long enough to whereas I forget to beat my own self down for a few hours. I can assure you I will pay for it at night, in the dark.

Not sure if there is much difference between this self flagellation and my many former vices.

I’ve put in some work over the last several months to allow myself to lesson the beatings, but they still come.

With all of the added silence that comes with this new isolation, I am finding myself having to constantly put the paddle down. Instead I reach for the phone, or a book, or busy myself with endless cleaning.

I try to remind myself to treat my own self kindly, to use positive words when I talk to and about myself. Sometimes this works, and other times I just tell myself to shut up.

Can we please open the world back up now?

Life Raft

When the main vessel capsizes our only remaining hope is the life raft we may have been lucky enough to find. Maybe we had to build it with our own two hands with anything and everything we could scavenge up for materials.

That dingy becomes our most prized posession. It’s the one thing keeping us from a cold, dark, agonizing death. We rest our head on it when our body’s collapse as the adrenaline leaves us. The rafts firmness gives us a sense of security in an otherwise morbid sea of fear.

But what happens when our lifeline springs a leak. First we fill with panic all over again. We may even become angry that this one thing that had allowed us to feel so safe and secure and whole, could fail us too. Next comes the thought that we are going to die out here, all alone in this frigid water.

If we are lucky, I mean really lucky, we find hope. We rummage around for anything we may have brought with us that could repair the damage. And with all we have left we replace the fear with determination to live.

Just as we ourselves are wholly imperfect and needed that raft to keep us afloat, it too has weaknesses. We just have to be willing to set aside the initial gut wrenching, immobilizing fear in order to put in the work needed to fix it.

Now that we’ve done this, now that our life line has been restored, we can rest assured that when the next leak comes we will survive that too. All the stronger for it.

PLEASER

If a situation brings me to shaking tears in a matter of moments chances are I’m missing a boundary somewhere in there.

Fact: I am going through a ton of stuff right now.

Our whole lives are changing. Good, Bad, and indifferent. But Change is hard no matter what the motives. And change with children is exponentially more difficult.

Fact: I have a lot of fabulous, healthy support.

For others to believe I am “enough”, just as is, it’s out of this world. These people are helping me in ways I wouldn’t have believed I deserved. They guide, but do not make decisions for me. They don’t tell me mine are wrong either. The thing is, I think they believe in me. I’m not just some F*** up to them.

Fact: I have a terrible habit of people pleasing.

If you tell me I’m doing something wrong, my first instinct is to believe you. And next, my head spins with hatred of myself for not seeing something, for missing a “T” or an “I” on the list. It never crosses my mind until too late, that you could be wrong.

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