Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It's Not Just Me.

Yeah, yeah. I started school a couple weeks ago and pretty much forgot I had a blog. Forgive me.


When I first left Agent M's Dad, I only knew a couple other parents who didn't "make it". Literally, like, 2 other people. I felt like a failure, but I also knew that what was going on was not right and that if I didn't leave, it would only get worse. It was a decision I had to make and I am proud that I had the strength to do it.

I still felt like I was on uncharted territory for the first few months though. I'd silently scan crowds of parents for other parents that were "solo-looking". When celebrity marriages crumbled, I took note and consoled myself that even with their beauty, money, and star-lit lives, they didn't "make it" either. I needed to know that it wasn't just me or that I had not done enough.

Slowly, over the past couple of years, I have seen and heard of more and more friends and friends of friends unhappy in marriages and figure that is just how marriage is, or cheating on each other because they are unhappy but don't want to go through the divorce process, or separate temporarily and get back together years later, and even a few who divorced in record time. I don't know if it is just that I am more aware, slightly tuned to notice these things more than the average person would notice, but I notice it and let the news linger each time. No matter who the "bad guy" (or gal) is, I still feel for both sides usually. It's not a fun process, it's painful, and it brings up a lot of uncomfortable questions. It makes me think of my own still on-going divorce, and wonder over what I could have done differently and what lies ahead still.

For some silly reason, celebrity breakups get to me. I am not a celebrity stalker, I don't own a t.v., and the most "gossip" I get is from reading magazine headlines at work, and then maybe an article or two if I see someone I think is talented mentioned. So I'm not talking about the Bachelorette-known-you-for-8-months breakups. I mean the big ones. Heidi Klum and Seal, John Mellencamp and his wife Elaine, Shakira and Antonio de la Ru. People who had built long standing lives with each other. When it was announced that Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed were separated, a friend and I sent messages back and forth to each other that there was no hope for love in this world if those two couldn't "make it".

But even more of a punch comes when it is closer to home. When it is someone who is a real person, but still slightly above the rest of us. Local well-knowns, bloggers that I have read for years. So, it was with a lot of sadness when I read last night that Dooce is the latest one hit with the baseball bat to the stomach that is separation/divorce. See, she is in that borderland between "everyday person" and "celebrity". She is famous to me, and many others, and yet, she is totally human at the same time. She is real in her posts, doesn't hide the gritty stuff, and celebrates the joyous. She is someone I can picture waving to or chatting with here and there if our kids went to the same school. I feel for her because I know how hard that bat hits, and how hard it is to pick yourself up when it keeps swinging. Having someone "like her" announce that now she is part of The Club brings it closer to home. The reality that no matter how awesome two people are, no matter how great their lives might seem, sometimes it just doesn't work.

It makes me scared to let myself fall in love again. Things are a little choppy between the Swede and I right now - between school, work, and time zones, it is hard to chat with each other some days, we have had a couple big hills to overcome lately, and we have some big things to talk about on the horizon. The reality of us is that one of us would need to plan to move to another country if we want to make a decent go of this - and until Agent M is 18 years old, moving out of country is probably not going to be an option for me. That leaves the ball in his court and the idea of asking someone to move across the world for something that might not work out terrifies me. I have a horrible habit of wanting to flee the relationship when things feel this serious, but, I have to say he is a trooper and he does not let me give up. I adore him for it. (I also slightly question his sanity, for putting up with such a nutty American girl...)

I think it is harder after you have been through the heart-wringer to trust that you can do it again. When you have ripped out your heart, or had it ripped out in a fit of rage, or had it quietly shattered, or just had the flame in it go out, it is hard to even want to pursue someone again. I have craved being part of a cute, happy family, but I am terrified to have another ten years end up in a mess of his-debt/her-debt and resentful words spoken behind backs. The small comfort I find is in the others who have been there and tried again, or who are figuring out how to pick up the pieces with me. Seeing that is not just me, that this can happen to anyone, is a reminder that there are things out of our control at times and love is anything but controlled in the first place. I know it is not just me who is hesitant, scared to let someone get that close again. I know that even with the bills paid, the house clean, and the kid well-fed, at the end of the day it comes down to the two people involved. And with that in mind, I just keep hoping that every time I get scared, The Swede will still be there to tell me I am being silly.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

January 4th, 2012

I made it through the 4th with out biting anyone's head off, eating a tub of ice cream, screaming curse words, mentally tearing apart The Ex Hubby, or drinking myself to sleep (which I would not have really done anyways because Agent M was home and I don't have alcohol anywhere near me or the house when he is here).

It would have been our 8 year anniversary. Instead, it was the 1 year anniversary of when he filed the papers for our divorce, without my knowing. I was less than one month out of my shoulder surgery and in the process of moving down the street from one apartment complex to another, to an apartment that was twice the size for the same price. It was a whirlwind of a new year already, and I had no clue what else was coming my way.

I didn't know that in the coming weeks, Agent M and I would come home from running errands after school, and there would be a stack of papers sitting on our doorstep. I didn't know that it would hit me so hard that I gasped for air once I realized what the papers were, and I would continue to gasp like a fish as I told Agent M to unlock the door for us, and to go inside while I called Nana. He played upstairs in his room as I choked back unexpected sobs and begged my mum to come over. She only lived a mile away, not more than a 5 minute drive even if you get stuck each of the three stop lights between us, but I still swear if felt like she was there in 45 seconds. (Further proof that nothing will stop a mother when her daughter's barely healed heart is shattering all over again, and that nothing will stop a Nana when her grandson needs to be distracted from how sad the world can be at times.)

Even though it has been about 2 years since I left our home together, and more years than that that we did not considered ourselves a couple, this year hit a nerve. The Swede and I had been having a tough couple of days, and when I asked him, "Are we ok?", reading his typed reply of "Yes, we are ok.", just wasn't the same as getting a reassuring hug or kiss on the forehead. Valentine's candy and decor have been spring up at the store I work at, a reminder that I will be at school on V-Day evening, not having a night of movies and cuddling with The Swede (or even a night of Monopoly and cartoons with Agent M). Work had been busier than usual already that week, plus everyone was edgy after hearing about a former co-worker who took is own life at the start of the week, leaving behind a daughter and wife. I didn't know the man other than by name and a couple hello's, but it still had an impact on me. It made me think more than usual about where I am at, and where I want to be. I've been in that sad, lonely, dark place. Where you don't see things working out for the better. At that time, I was a stay-at-home mum, and had the house, the husband, the two cars, two cats, and happy kid. Now, I work as many hours as they'll give me to have the money to keep the car, have an apartment (not complaining, it's pretty nice) and my ex-husband would be perfectly happy to label me as The Bad Guy and never have anything to do with me again. But thankfully, the kid is still pretty happy. If I can lose so much and still keep my head up as I struggle each month, why couldn't he find his way out of that dark place? Those thoughts swirls in my head and jumbled with the what-ifs of "What If - I had stayed longer?" and "What If - I end up old and alone with no one to hold me on cold nights?" and on and on. I listened to love songs on the way home from work and wondered if anyone would ever fall in love with me again, and if I could ever let myself fall in love with someone again.

I was a pity party waiting to happen, really.

But, I made it though. When Agent M went to bed that night, I got a little teary for a moment...then went back to looking up costs of textbooks for this coming semester of class and watched an episode of NCIS before I fell asleep. It was a rough day, but I have had worse. A friend made me smile when I turned to him with pleas of "When I am old and alone, come take me to a movie once a month! Don't let me be a hermit old lady with a walker and no one to check in on me from time to time!". Agent M gave me big hugs that day, and I really do like our apartment, in some ways more than the house. And, lucky gal that I am, a couple days later I was sitting in a KFC with a friend who is another single mom who is juggling work and school to make a better life for her and her sons. She was treating me to lunch because she had gotten approved for a student loan and wanted to celebrate. As we joked about living it up on cheap chicken meals and talked about the men in our lives, I realized that those rough days make all the other days just that much more wonderful.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Thank God for the figurative end of a another year. I am so ready to be done with those chapters and move into the next book of the series.

This is my year to break down the walls. As a rule, I generally don't put much of myself out there to other people, unless it is on accident. But the last few months of letting in friends a little more has been wonderful. I know a great group of people who are each funny, talented, inspiring, and just make life a little bit more sunshiny when the clouds are closing in. I feel really lucky that they have drug me out of my little hermit shell a bit, and shown me that even though I have been burned in the past, there are people out there who are worth trusting.

Speaking my needs, but also holding my tongue and speaking with a purpose. This year I will continue to find my voice, but that doesn't mean I have to be a bitch about it. I will keep learning when to speak up and when to wait my words until I can see a bigger picture. When I say something, I will be sure it is what I mean, not just me being mouthy and snarky. But, when I feel snarky and mouthy, if I can't hold it in then I will find the right place and time for it to all come out - and then I will leave it. Let it all go. I will live live with more love and passion and not hold it all back out of fear.

This year will bring more time for long showers. And reading books. Painting my toe nails and putting on lotion. Doing floor exercises at home. These things make me happy. They are good for my mental and physical health, and it only snowballs into much worse when I neglect to tend to myself.

I am ready to refocus on the parent I want to be. When Agent M was young, the group of friends I hung out with referred to me as the "zen mama". I was a rock in a storm - be the storm people whose beliefs where against breastfeeding, doctors trying to force us to fully vaccinate Agent M, or simply just a small, pudgy little guy who was teething wildly. But for the past couple of years, it has been hard to find that permanence and hold true to what my parenting beliefs are. I get lazy and resort to "because I'm mum" more than I ever wanted. For the first three years of Agent M's life, I was a co-sleeping, breastfeeding, slightly-crunchy mum. I had wooden toys for him, kept our house free of chemicals, and we played with art supplies daily. I miss that and feel so far from it, those ideals of living a life that is filled with simple purpose and healthy living. This is my year to get back to that and find how it works with our life of superheros and zombies.

Studying will be something I plan out and work on continually, just like my body and getting an etsy shop going (no, really!). Every minute will have a purpose, and what I find to be useless in my life will go. My time will be spent on things that I love or the things that will bring me joy and happiness for Agent M and myself in the long run - this life is far too precious to just waste on being angry or doing things that are empty of purpose.

My patio, the river, and the parks are all close by and free. I will spend more time at them, even if it is just while crocheting or studying or walking. There is so much beauty in the world and being out in it is good for the soul. I want Agent M to learn this too, and what better way to teach him then by my example?

My divorce will wrap up this year, and I am confident that I will get what is right and fair out of it. I will take the hurt and the fears from my marriage and it's unraveling and I will acknowledge them as the past that they are. The major relationship I had after I left my husband hurt me more than any other and left me broken and defeated feeling. But they are done. I will put them in a place in my heart to remind me of how far I have come and how strong I can be. I will take those fears and scars and no longer let them hold me back or keep me from being the woman I want to be for the man that I want. I will take the wisdom that comes from the ashes of the pain and turn it into a love for the life I know I can make for myself and Agent M.

Happy New Year - here's to making it beautiful!