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.

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.

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.

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.

22

Twenty Two.

That is how many drafts I have sitting in a folder that I can’t finish, can’t publish, can’t get quite right.

I want to write something joyful. I want these words to not always read so dark and deep. Sometimes I wish my mind, or heart, were lighter. There is no doubt I am grateful for my life, my children and the many blessings I have. Those are the things I think of first. That’s how I start my day, grateful.

But today, being back at work during this time, is strange to say the least. The office is empty compared to normal, and there is no-one to talk to, and if there were we still wouldn’t due to social distancing protocols. The café we normally use is half operational at best. There is sanitizer EVERYWHERE. Everyone is walking away from you instead of toward you. At first it was good to catch my breath, have some adult time. I needed to have time to sit in peace and quiet to actually get things done.

I can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to getting back to work today. Two weeks felt like two months without my routine. And while today I feel more grounded than I have in weeks, I wish I could sit here and tell you what an amazing day it’s been.

That I am feeling great, things are great, life is great.

But I don’t want to lie.

I needed to run errands on lunch since I haven’t been able to get out to the stores being that I have at least one of the boys with me at all times. The thing is, I don’t know when it happened, but at some point over the last several years I developed a fear or going out alone. I have mentioned it before, but today it was worse than it has been in a while. I have been on lockdown for two weeks. Maybe it only took that long to go back to being the scared little girl I started out as this summer? I don’t believe that, no. That can’t be.

I’m thinking more likely that the anxiety over current events has my regular fears heightened, escalated. It amazes me how real they feel. A quick trip to Home Depot and the Grocery Store had me lightheaded and clutching my chest to breathe by the time I pulled back into my parking spot at work. If it wasn’t absolutely essential that I get what I needed from the grocery store I would have put the car in drive and high tailed it out of there. Instead I put my head down, clutched my keys in my hands and quickly walked in and out.

I don’t always know when it’s going to hit. I freaking love the hardware store! Go figure! I know in certain environments where there are a lot of men and a lot of eyes, I will ultimately be more uncomfortable. But the thing is, I haven’t been out in the world alone in a very long time. It is so easy to forget that my ex and I did everything together. I barely left the house without the crutch of her being there. Then I could be comfortable. Then I could be in our little world and never even notice anything or anyone around me.

I hadn’t noticed the people around me for nearly a decade. And now it’s like someone walked into my head, took off the blinders, and turned the volume all the way up past ten. I can’t stop seeing people. I can’t stop hearing words I don’t want to hear. I can’t push away the uncomfortability no matter how hard I try today.

Not for long anyhow.

It always seeps back in as if it were just waiting for me to step outside of my bubble.

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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