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.

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?

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.

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.

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