Thursday, December 5, 2013

He asked me for fiction...

Anyone who reads my blog knows that I'm all about reality. What you might not know is that I'm tragically bad at fiction.  When my friend and fellow blogger Lance Manion asked me to write a bit of fiction for him, well, I gave it a shot.  Here are the slightly disturbing results in case you're interested: http://www.lancemanion.com/guest-post-the-elitist/

The Elitist

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

It's all in your head


Sometimes it’s hard to write when you know people are reading it.  People you know, that is.  There’s something horrifying about writing everything you’re thinking for anyone to read, including your husband, friends, and family.  I try not to let it stop me, but all of a sudden after I got married, it was on my mind.  I think it’s been a couple of months since my last entry, which is unheard of for me.  In fact, I haven’t dropped off the face of the blogosphere since I became pregnant with my daughter 4.5 years ago.  So what happened?  I need to figure it out.
It’s easy to say I’m busy.  I’m wrapped up in being a newlywed and taking care of my daughter and adjusting to whatever I’m supposed to be adjusting to, but it’s all crap.  I’m always busy.  I travel around more than anyone I know. I’m always doing something with my family and in the middle of some shenanigans.  The entries I haven’t been writing are still in my head.  I think I have two or three of them stuck in my brain, screaming for me to write them down, but I haven’t.  I think maybe I’m afraid of what writing down some of this stuff will mean for me.  Being judged or having someone’s feelings hurt now that it’s all too public who I am to some people.  Not writing down exactly what I’m thinking makes the whole blog inauthentic and therefore pointless.  I won’t do that.  I refuse to compromise, change, or side step around the things I’ve been thinking.  So out with it, already!  Maybe I’ll feel better if I just put my blinders on and write my private journal like I always have.
I’m so frustrated with the medical community.  After being dragged through numerous tests by my primary care physician, have the results examined by several specialists, then getting more tests from an outside holistic doctor, and taking supplements, nothing.  There’s nothing medically wrong with me, apparently.  All body systems are functioning, organs firing, responses responding. I’m really healthy.  I paid for genetic testing to see if any unusual marker would show up for any disease or disorder.  Nothing.  What do I do with this? One of my doctors asked me if it was all in my head and if the hormone therapy I had introduced through birth control to raise my blood pressure was maybe a placebo effect.  I may have swung at her had she not been pregnant…the one thing I’ve convinced myself that I want to be.  Isn’t that what this whole year has been about?  A baby?  I feel like I came home from Esalen in February determined to get married and have another baby.  I found my husband, got married, and now what?  I can’t take out my birth control because my blood pressure is too low to support me walking around.  But there’s nothing wrong with me, right?  So I’m imagining it.  Yes, of course I am.  I’m deciding to pass out every time I stand up.  Why didn’t I think of that?  So the birth control remains in place for now.
Is that really why I decided to get married?  The day before I left for New York to get married, I saw my counselor.  He asked me point blank why I wanted to get married.  He said he’d never heard anything other than I love being single and free and making the executive decisions that rule my ever day life.  What was I doing?  I immediately told him that I wanted to have another baby.  I’d never wanted my daughter to be an only child and this was the plan.  I was ready.  He said he wanted to make sure I said it out loud.  Sort of a shitty thing to do when I think about it.  It made me think that all I wanted was a baby and I was using my husband to get that.  It bothered me on my wedding day.  If all I wanted was a baby, I could get a donor…or an unsuspecting 20 something male to cooperate and not tell him the baby was his.  It’s not like I’m in the business of having kids to live off the child support.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m fucking crazy.  I’m hard to love.  I don’t ask for help, if my husband says something stupid, I seem to be compelled to prove to him that he’s wrong even if he feels terrible about it, and for some insane reason I can’t seem to create a space in my head where it’s safe to just be vulnerable all the time.  When did I get so damn hard?  There are days when I tell myself that I like it this way.  I like doing things myself and I don’t need him or anyone else and I’m fine, just fine, dammit.  Holy defense mechanism.  You want to know how I can tell I really do love my husband?  When he doesn’t text me before lunch, I get scared he got in a car accident on the way home.  When we argue about something the night before, I still wake up at 5:30 am half asleep and wander out to the kitchen to hug and kiss him goodbye because I missed my kiss goodnight.  When I consider the possibility of us not being able to have more kids, either because of him or me, it doesn’t make me unhappy because he is enough of an addition to my life and I’m not searching for anything else in the world.  There are days when I wish I was still single.  There are days when I wish I’d come home and there was nobody else to bother me.  But most days, I look forward to coming home so I can spend 30 seconds with my face in his neck and be warm and safe.  I think that might be the most vulnerable thing I’ve ever typed in this blog and it scares the crap out of me.  My first instinct is to type something about how I’d be fine without him and whatever. Yeah, yeah, we all know I can do it on my own.  When did it become a crime to love my own husband and be happy to see him?  I don’t know.  Something is still broken in my head and my heart and I’m not sure how to fix it.
I feel like part of my problem is I have these preconceived notions of how I’m supposed to act in certain situations.  When I was married before I treated my husband a certain way, I had a certain image, and I did certain things.  Then once I was divorced, I became a totally different person.  Now that I’m married again, I had it in my head that I had to act how I did before.  Just writing that and rereading it feel moronic to me, but it’s what I was thinking.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately and I realized something: who I am and what I do or how I behave has nothing to do with my relationship status or age.  This is just me.  How I acted 10 years ago is who I was then and I grew.  I changed.  The woman you see today has little to do with who I was back then.  10 years ago I was still very much a young girl, as I was supposed to be in my early 20s.  When I got married, I lived for my husband.  I worshiped him and his happiness was my happiness.  Being divorced in my early 30s opened up another chance for me to get to know myself.  I was able to have my good girl gone bad adventures and be wild and inappropriate and explore that part of myself.  When I got married again, I don’t know what I expected.  Was I going to no longer dress sexy or make inappropriate comments?  Should I not take sexy pictures anymore?  Was I no longer attracted to men and women that I encountered in the world, even if I didn’t have the option to act on it?  What happened to my girl time?  How about the time I spent with my daughter or my family?  These past few weeks I’ve been wrestling with all of it trying to get a hold on something.
I realized that I’m still me.  Even though I’m married again, I won’t ever go back to the girl I used to be.  Instead of going to a bar and making inappropriate jokes with the guys about taking one of them home, I go to the bars and make jokes about going home early to do inappropriate things to my husband.  I’m still one of the guys when I want to be.  I still dress sexy and take sexy pictures, it’s just now directed at my husband and I like knowing who I’m going home with each night.  I suppose the bonus is that I also have someone to hold me tight when I need it, even if I don’t know how to handle it.  There are still some nights I stand across the living room from him or don’t want him to snuggle with me in bed.  I used to be SO snuggly when I was younger.  Do I just want more personal space now?  Is it because of my last divorce or maybe just because my daughter is always on top of me and I just want space now? I don’t know.  I’m not even sure I’ll be able to answer all of these questions.  At least I’m ready to say some of them out loud and that’s progress.  I feel like I still have a lot to think about as I try to figure out how to be married again and learn what a real life partnership is like and what that means to me.  For now, it will have to suffice to say that the winds of change are blowing and I’m not running inside to hide from the storm.  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Happy wedding day to me

Blog to follow soon :) Here's me and my daughter in the dressing room window at The Waldorf Astoria in NYC on Oct 13, 2013.

Monday, September 30, 2013

#intimacy

I feel like we're always trying to run away from our pasts.  Close the chapter, tie up loose ends, heal the wound...or whatever metaphor you want to adopt for the process.  But you can't run, you can't hide, you'll never be able to leave it behind, and I'm not sure we ever really forget.  Over the past years, I've spent a lot of time talking about walls and scars.  There've been so many people, haven't there?  All of these men. Boys.  I remind myself over and over that my past has led me up to my present.  It's all necessary, right?  I had to go through all of it to get to where I am today.  My defense mechanism was sex for a long time.  When that is disabled, humor prevails.  You should hear me joke about sex and men with my fiance or my girlfriends.  Maybe I'm ok with it because it's on my terms.  I control what comes out of my mouth and when.  Tonight I watched Don Jon and I felt like I was punched in the gut. Joseph how could you do this to me when all I did was love you? There I go with the humor again...
The story is told from the male perspective.  The young man trying to figure out his life and relationships and who he is.  He finds an emotionally damaged older woman who through friendship forms a bond with him.  The sex is meaningless, but it's not meaningless at all.  He talks about how much he loves her, but he's not thinking about marriage and babies and all that crap and neither is she.  She can't.  The words echoed in my head after I heard them: she can't.  I felt like he was talking about me, back in someone's bedroom.  Someone I cared about and who I knew very well.  Do you ever feel the walls closing in on you?  Do you want to know how that story ends?  She gets better.  They stop being friends.  She looks back on him and smiles at the boy trying to be a man and hopes he's doing well, but doesn't take the time to really find out because it's just not proper anymore.  Nobody is confused here and there are no bad guys.  Just a memory of someone you once felt love for, even if it wasn't the romantic kind.  At least I'm not asking my girlfriend to take my phone from me because I might text him to check on him.  I'm past all of that.  Too old.  Not naive enough.  Too unwilling to backslide into my old dark corners.
But even in my darkest memories, hope will always surface.  Becoming emotionally distraught caused my heart to pound.  Seems like a logical thing to happen to someone when they're upset, but I am not your usual person.  I started seeing a doctor who has degrees in internal medicine, holistic sciences, and chiropractic care.  I came to her after three years of frustration with the medical system I was currently part of, which was unable to help me with my medical issues.  You see, I want to have another baby and that means I need to be healthy enough to try and get pregnant.  My new doctor earned her non-insurance payment by telling me that she suspects my adrenal glands are damaged.  Apparently my abusive childhood may have caused them to not function properly, and while my married life provided me with a happy sanctuary, the moment my then husband left me, it turned my house into a warzone once again.  However now as an adult, my adrenal glands were not able to function in the emotional turmoil and two weeks later I was checked into the hospital.  They told me it was unrelated.  How could it be such a coincidence?  Today I've been taking adrenal supplements for one week.  Prior to tonight, I couldn't remember the last time my heart raced from emotion.  It would just beat irregularly and then I'd faint.  Saying something is starting to happen would be an understatement.
When I went in for my appointment, I'd originally asked my ex husband to come with me.  The only reason I could really pinpoint is that he's got 10 years of medical history and experience with me.  Aside from that, he's been with me 10 years through good, bad, and ugly.  We share a daughter together and we've seen each other in pretty much every state and mood that two people who were married as long as we were should see each other.  I think the easiest way to describe that is intimacy.  Divorce is so strange when you have children.  You trust someone with your secrets and the very nature of who you are.  You give them your soul.  What happens when that is betrayed?  I don't know what's supposed to happen, but I'd be lying if I said that all of a sudden I wasn't comfortable around him.  Yes, we have different lines in the sand now and it's certainly not like when we were married, but he still knows me.  Well my ex couldn't make it.  Instead, my fiance came with me to the appointment.  
I sat in the office while my doctor asked me personal questions.  Questions about my childhood, family, and health.  She covered bowel movements to emotional abuse and I answered them.  Most of this information was new to my fiance's ears.  He didn't make a sound.  I had figured this type of questioning was coming and I had tried three times prior to the appointment to discourage him from coming, but he wanted to be there for me.  Of course he did.  That's what good partners do.  I got through the appointment, paid for my supplements, and we drove home.  I then sat on the couch with him and tried to explain why I didn't want him there.  I felt like it was too much too soon.  When is the right time to discuss how I was emotionally abused by my mother?  3 months? 3 years?  I don't know.  When are you comfortable talking about your miscarriage or the relationship with your babydaddy and how that impacts your health?  I think the answer is I don't know.  I think these things come out naturally as relationships move on when they're ready to be expressed.  It's intimacy.  Instead of carefully peeling back the petals of an artichoke until you reach the heart, it was smashed with a sledgehammer.  That's not how intimacy works.  In fact, that exactly how you build animosity and resentment.
I wasn't about to let that happen after my appointment.  I was grateful we'd taken separate cars so I could cry in peace my hour drive home.  When we got home I tried to explain and he quietly listened.  It's not a "keep out" or "not welcome" sign.  It's a "please wait" sign.  He told me that these things take time to build and he didn't mean to make me feel violated and he was sorry.  So I dropped it.  I don't drop anything, ever.  I tend to harp on things until they drive everyone insane, but I'm working on stopping that toxic behavior.  It doesn't help anything.  I see it as evidence of the damage that's been done to me.  What happened to the girl who knew, and I mean KNEW, that her man would never do anything to intentionally hurt her?  What happened to the wife who didn't punish you for your sins, but forgave you immediately and loved you for being brave enough to share those secrets?  Some of it I think is just innocence and immaturity that falls away with age.  Some of it is a natural distrust that follows me around when it comes to all people.
I can tell you one thing I've learned 100% and that's to ask for help. When I feel myself slipping into bad habits or states of mind, I text a girlfriend.  Even when I think there is no way I'm wrong or I'm going to stop the way I'm thinking, I do it anyway.  The funny thing is that I usually get talked out of my destructive behavior and back into my normal self.  I'm fairly positive that my friends have saved me from as much heartache as men have inflicted upon me.  The best way I know how to say thank you is be there for them in the same way, if I can.  I think the one thing I try to do more than anything else is express my appreciation to those I love.  I feel like we don't say it enough.  We don't tell the people in our lives how important they are, how much we love them, or how amazing we really do think they are.  Maybe we write it in a birthday card.  Maybe we wait until they are struggling to tell them we care and remind them how strong they are.  I would rather just tell them the moment it pops into my mind.  And yes, this sounds like a fabulous excuse for me forgetting all holidays and birthday for everyone I love, because I do, but it's not.  If it's important to you, I will write you a birthday message so you can read it when you want and know I love you, but I'm more likely to forget your birthday, buy you a random present, and tell you how amazing you at a random moment.  Because you're amazing at all moments, really, even when you feel weakest.
When I sit and think about me and what I've been through and how I feel about it, I think the biggest change I can see is my perception of strength and weakness.  I feel like I am stronger now that I can admit to having feelings.  That sounds insane, but it's true.  I can say that I had a mirror help up to me tonight and it scared me.  I saw back down a path where I had been and I didn't like what I saw.  There was a time that I was proud of all the relationships I had with different men and how they all loved me.  I can see how broken I was back then.  I don't want that sadness washing over me, not now.  Not ever again.  That well of sorrow had dried up and I no longer soak in it and look up through the black night at the stars above me.  Today I walk in the sun with my daughter where I belong.  If my skin does get wet, it's from the cool waves at my feet as we walk along the sand, her laughter in my ears and the hot sun on my back.  I can tell you that I'm never going back and there's no determination in that statement.  It's just a fact.  I feel like I've grown out of a phase in my life.  I'm not fighting the demons I hid within myself any longer.  Maybe they left when the well was filled and sealed.  There is still a twinge in my heart when I walk by that place, but I don't live there anymore. 
And now what? I'm going to go and find my fiance who is waiting for me in the bedroom.  We're going to fill out our marriage license online for our wedding that is less than two weeks away and I will undoubtedly talk to him about this night and the movie and what I am feeling.  The function of his kindness is apparent.  Kindness is a trait I used to mistake for weakness in my youth. I thought it meant that you could be easily taken advantage of.  Today, it is the greatest strength for my freshly healed heart and it tries to find it's way to a safe place where it will one day beat strong with love and determination again for a family to thrive once again in a place where I call home.  If I close my eyes and sit very still I can almost hear it--the clanking of dinner dishes, the baby cooing, and lots of laughter in a place where I belong, am loved, wanted, and feel safe.  Please wait for me.  I'm coming, I'm coming. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Raspberry and plum

I find myself making endless revolutions around my condo.  Picking up things, reorganizing, making piles of things to put away, then changing them into new piles.  The endless cleaning I'm used to. The extra stuff I am not.  I have this three year old who stalks about my house, following me from room to room, and leaving a trail of food/clothes/debris/dirt and anything else you can think of.  Miraculously I also have this thing called a fiance that follows us both around and cleans up most of the trail.  This morning on my way to drop my daughter off at preschool, I went to grab the trash to take it out and stared blankly at the clean trash liner that was mysteriously in my trash can.  I was about to smack my hand against my forehead because I had not put the dishes away, yet my kitchen was clean.  My patio has been swept clean and organized.  All of my laundry is folded.  What the fuck is going on around here, people? 
I've always hated the idea of being a nag.  I figure that if I have to tell you to do something around the house five times, it would probably be faster to just do it myself and move on with life.  Then everything gets done and all that's left is some resentment for you being worthless and me doing all the work.  That totally sustains a relationship long term, right?  Or maybe not.  In fact, not at all.  Now I know I've alluded to my health issues on several of these posts, but I try not to go into too much detail about it all the time because, well, it's depressing and I don't want to deal with it to start with.  Everyone has aches and pains and issues and we all know they come and go.  Unfortunately I have things like irregular heartbeats and dangerously low blood pressure and dehydration issues that literally leave me on the floor.  I have arthritis in my hands that stop me from doing simple things like starting the washing machine, opening jars, and tying my shoes when it's cold outside.  I don't know how to begin to explain to someone that I love that I have these issues.  How do you tell them that they're there and expect them to accept that you have these limitations and love you regardless?  How do you expect them to pick up the slack and not resent you for it?  Honestly, that's all I've ever known.  So I try to keep it to myself, push as hard as I can, and not ask for help.  It's one thing when it's you.  It's another when you have kids.
The other day I was exhausted.  My heart was not beating normally and I couldn't get myself exercising to help regulate it and I found myself in bed with hot/cold flashes and sweats, unable to move for an extended amount of time.  Normally in such an emergency, I would've called my daughter's father to come pick her up. I would've begged him to bring me something to eat or just not had dinner that night and prayed to feel better in the morning.  I would've cried and felt alone and depressed and thought once again that maybe this world would just be better without a useless person like myself that can't take care of her own child.  Instead my fiance made us dinner.  I laid in bed and listened to my little girl laugh as they tried to do cartwheels in the grass outside of my bedroom window.  Once she was in bed, he curled up with me and told me about his day and how much he loved me.  I looked carefully into his eyes and I didn't see any resentment there.  And while I have never, ever wanted to rely on anyone for help, that night my heart was peaceful.  All of a sudden it didn't feel like someone apart from me helping my family.  It just felt like my family working together.  The tears that night were grateful ones.  I let them slowly slip down my cheeks while I laid in bed listening to two of my loves play together.
I've frequently wondered why a man, any man, would want to take on a woman with a child.  To add health issues on top of those is beyond me.  Would I do the same?  Would I be so loving and understanding?  Why would I even put myself in that situation to start with?  I guess these are questions I can't answer.  When I ask him, he smiles the way you smile at a small child who doesn't understand.  And I don't.  What I can see is that he seems to think this life is the one he wants and that must include me and my daughter.  I couldn't ask for a better step dad for her to add to her collection of adults that treat her like a princess.  I sit and wonder what I've done to deserve a love and dedication like this.  And more importantly, what I would do to keep it.  Pledge my life to it?  Give my life for it?  It sounds extreme, doesn't it?  But for a person like myself, I do live for my family.  I sacrificed my life to have my child and I will do the same for our next baby.  I feel like the risk is well worth it.  Every parent knows the indescribable joy a child brings into your world.  There's no way to tell you the magnitude of that impact.  I can't tell my fiance.  I hope I can show him. 
So here I am sitting in my fiance's comically large bed in the very small room of our condo.  To my right hangs 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, given to us as an engagement present from our dear friends. I read it every day and it makes me smile: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." There are days I feel like he's been here for years and times when I forget I'm not alone.  I think in the end I've come up with this mixed bag of treatment that can only be classified as the behaviors of an insane single mom who has gone though hell and managed to fall in love again.  I remember a time when I never lost patience with my husband.  I never spoke badly about him or thought negative thoughts.  I couldn't imagine my life without him.  Then he left and I felt so cold and disconnected inside.  After being alone, I had no tolerance for men.  I didn't want to compromise or include anyone in my life. By some miracle I've fallen in love again and what does that mean?  You have a woman who will listen to you and go on adventures like a best friend, cook you dinner and wash your clothes like a mom, and fuck you like a one night stand.  I have no idea what that means, but here it is.  All I can hope is that by picking someone who is in the same stage of life that I'm in, I've given myself a chance to be with someone who can really relate to me and understand why I act the way that I do or have the priorities I have.  Test run on living together, sharing finances, running a house, and parenting complete.  Next stop courthouse and if I'm lucky, baby booties one day too.  It's for these things I pray.
Dear God, thank you for giving me another chance.  Please give me the strength to let go, the wisdom to see what is really important, enough faith to try to have another baby and know I'll survive to raise my children, the patience to receive what I have sown, and the gratitude to really appreciate what I have been given.  Because wedding colors don't matter, love is what keeps me warm at night, and my value doesn't come from hours worked, items purchased, or from how many mistakes I've made.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

It used to

Escrow on the house I shared with my daughter's father is closing tomorrow.  My fiancé and I went there tonight to pick up one last load of my things to bring back to the condo that we will share starting August 1.  On the drive back, Katy Perry: Wide Awake started playing.  Felt appropriate.  Just for good measure, I put on Lupe Fiasco: The Show Goes On, which was the song that came on the radio almost exactly two years ago when I left the house right after I'd filed for divorce.  There was a part of me that was happy my ex was still living in it these past two years and my daughter got to spend time where she was born and learned to walk.  Now an empty house, I walked through it one last time.  I remember agonizing over the color of mint green to paint her room and the care I took picking out the pink glass door and cupboard handles.  I stepped into my tiffany blue bathroom with deep soak whirlpool bathtub and remembered my nightly luke warm bath I sat in with the jets going to help my back while I was pregnant.  The perfect mother of pearl fixtures.  It's not mine anymore.  I said good bye to the lamp hanging over the kitchen sink and the one that hung in the staircase in the hall.  When I stood in the backyard, I remembered so many times two very tired and new parents had cracked jokes out of desperation and uncertainty.  I looked behind me and saw my ex watching me from the downstairs window.  I told him I bet I could hit the street if I threw a lemon over the back fence and he immediately laughed and remembered our private joke told so many years ago.  Then I started to cry.  I told him I was sad to leave the dwarf pomegranate tree that my dad had given us that was planted in the backyard and he promptly dug it up and put it in a pot for me to take.  It was not a small act of kindness.
And now I'm sitting at my desk in my newly redecorated room with my fiancé's furniture, crying and eating a Hostess cupcake.  It all feels so different now, but it's really not.  Not much has changed.  I feel like we've added some new people to the family, but everyone is still together, aren't they?  This past week I'd gone to Virginia to meet my fiancé's family and fell in love with his mother.  She told me that she considered me her daughter and she wanted to be my mom and I cried like I was 6 years old again. We took a trip to Washington DC together to meet my younger sister and her family who now live in Pennsylvania and the new resident mom and dad took care of us all and my heart was so full.  I flew back early to get my little girl and my fiancé flew back a few days later.  When he arrived, my ex picked him up and my fiancé helped my ex move.  The next night, my ex and his father helped my fiancé move in with me.  Yes, you read that right.  And of course I got to listen to the boys laugh and tell me how much they like each other the next day.  One big crazy family and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Although the night my fiancé's furniture was being moved in, I had fallen asleep early and as the men were moving in the furniture, I heard my ex's voice in my dream state and I thought I was still in Laguna Beach with him suffering from my concussion.  I started to panic.  Was it all a dream?  Did I not have a daughter?  Were we still married?  Had none of the past 4 years happened?  I struggled to open my eyes and saw him walk past me.  I closed my eyes and a part of my brain was comforted by the sound of his voice.  Wasn't he the one who kept me safe?  I opened my eyes again and saw his dad walk past me in the dark (I was sleeping in the family room as they were moving furniture). Just then my daughter woke up and started calling my name from her bedroom and I snapped back to reality and ran to her room to comfort her.  I'll admit I stayed in her bed to stroke her hair for a few minutes until she was asleep and we were both calm.  The next day I went to my ex's new apartment with his girlfriend to have his sign some paperwork for the sale of the house and nearly had a panic attack walking back into the same apartment complex we used to live in.  The couches were there in the same spot.  The same bed frame and comforter was in the bedroom.  It's strange how things can have an impact on you when you think time has healed them.  Maybe it's because we were so happily married when we were in that apartment together.  It was the golden years of our marriage.  But I think that's a good place for my daughter to stay now with all of that positive energy. She was conceived there, after all.
I'm not sure what I want to say now.  I'm feeling overwhelmed by so many different emotions.  I'm relieved to have the house sell, but sad to see it go.  I'm excited to be engaged again, but scared of history repeating itself and having my new husband look at me one day and tell me I'm ugly and he doesn't want me anymore and I don't act the same when I'm pregnant.  But I can't let fear stop me.  Instead, I'll sit here by myself and cry.  Cry because I'm sad and scared and disappointed.  Sad because the finality of the house selling feels like a weight on my chest and it should be a burden being lifted.  My love keeps me warm.  My daughter remains the light of my world and I'm so excited to give her a little brother or sister one day soon.  I am still adjusting the love I have for my future husband and how considerate and generous he is towards me and my daughter.  I think I'm still adjusting to my relationship with my ex, which still has love and a deep understanding for each other, even if that includes being separate and respectful of our different choices in life.  We are still united for the sake of our daughter and I'm so grateful we try to be flexible and considerate with each other's schedules as well.  When you have kids together, there really isn't a redo button, is there?  You remain together and you attempt to redefine your relationship under these new terms.  It's a task that feels impossible, but we are doing our best to make it happen.  I think we're doing a pretty amazing job.  I think we are the most functional dysfunctional group of adults I've ever met.  Same team, right?  Same team.
But now I have a new family to adapt to and I'm dealing with my own struggles there.  My wireless network "NoBoysAllowed" no longer applies.  The bed that kept me safe the past two years now belongs to my cousin and my fiancé's enormous Cal King now fills the floor space in my room, along with his monstrous dresser.  A few months ago he replaced both of our couches with new ones, but I kept my dining room set.  He even bought my daughter a new bed.  It doesn't even look like my house any longer.  I guess that's the point, isn't it?  It's our home now.  Soon we will take engagement photos and those will hang on the wall along with pictures of me and my daughter and me and my sisters.  Every time my eye is caught by my diamond ring or I go to take out the trash or fold the laundry and it's done, I'm reminded that my life is so different now.  It's changed and for the better.  I just need to take a deep breath, appreciate what I have, and move forward.  I've been alone so long that I'm struggling trying to remember how to be with someone and depend on another adult.  How funny that two years ago I was struggling with the exact opposite situation.  Looking ahead I wonder what I'll be struggling with in two years...a new baby?  I smile just thinking about it.  We can hope.

Monday, July 8, 2013

I like my cucumbers with sugar and vinegar

I never seem to tire of marveling at how life moves in cycles.  Go to brunch with your girlfriends some time soon and just listen to what everyone has to say.  I'm single, my boyfriend lied to me, we broke up, we're happy again, mine is pissing me off, I had a fight with my husband, I'm happily married.  Me? I'm engaged again.  I'll let that "again" echo in your head for a moment.  How many times does this make for me?  Well, it's the third I said yes to.  Maybe fourth if you count that first promise ring when I was 21.  It was a pyramid of tiny diamonds and he bought it for me in Vegas one weekend after a big win.  Next there was a marquise cut 1.5 carat blue sapphire.  Then I got a really pretty princess cut diamond promise ring set between two sapphires--a ring I saved for my daughter for her 16th birthday.  My engagement ring that time was a really pretty .80 carat princess cut blue diamond.  Not that a handful of jewels and gold ever brought me any good luck.  They all took their turns using me and ultimately leaving me in the end.  Now I have a beautiful one carat cushion cut diamond in a halo setting with a ton of tiny sparkles around it and down the band.  Same color and higher clarity than the diamond I'm saving for my daughter, but twice the size.  I wonder why I keep all of these memories in my head.  They don't do any more good than the rings ever did.  So here we go again, right?
I don't know how I feel about all of this.  There's something mixed in with the supreme court decision on gay marriage that's bothering me.  I've been married twice and I'm working on number three.  There should be some shame in that, shouldn't there?  That I've been such a miserable failure at picking men in my life, but somehow because I'm straight and willing to sign the legal documentation again, it's ok.  I'm forgiven.  My friends are willing to throw me a shower and I'll spend a bunch of money on a wedding again and we'll pretend I belong in that white dress and this time it's going to last forever and nothing and nobody was a mistake.  What a nasty word.  Certainly my daughter wasn't a mistake, was she?  Does it make it better that I'm still friends with her dad?  Lord knows I try to act as though it does.  When we have lunch together once or twice a month, I look into his eyes and a part of my heart still cries for what happened to us.  This last time he looked at my engagement ring and told me how pretty it was and we talked about him proposing to his gf that he's been with for over two years now and I wanted to cry.  I don't know why.  I like his girlfriend. I love my fiance.  Hell, I still love him, but not in that way anymore.  But the cycles of life continue and here we both go, just like 10 years ago when we met and I was engaged to my first husband and he was sleeping with some teenager.  I guess some things don't really change.  Except now there's a little brown eyed girl with wavy auburn hair that looks suspiciously like both of us.
But I've found a new man to love me and my daughter and now everything is supposed to be ok.  Everyone says he's an upgrade, which I'm sure is supposed to be a compliment, but manages to piss me off when I hear it.  Like I'm investing in a product instead of a person to better my life or situation or some shit like that.  I don't know, it just sounds like someone is being insulted here, whether it be me for my previous bad taste in men or my exes for not being good enough.  If anything, we were all just young and stupid and I know there were so many good intentions that when someone insults my ex, I still feel my lower lip tremble and I want to punch someone, but I'm not sure who.  I can tell you that my ex is one of the smartest guys with the quickest sense of humor I've ever met who has flawless taste in everything and can fix pretty much anything electronic.  My future husband has the biggest heart and ability to relate to people that I've ever encountered and has showed me the kind of love that I thought only children were capable of, all while managing to be attentive to his job, family, and friends with careful consideration and thoughtfulness that would impress women of any age.  They're just different.  But maybe I'm different now then I was 10 years ago too.  Maybe instead of looking for someone to make me laugh and be an asshole with, I need someone to love me and be considerate of my feelings and what I need to be happy.  Not that anyone is happy all the time.  I argue with my current man just as much as I argue with my ex.  In fact, I was joking with my ex that I like him just as much as I did when we were married.  He said he hates me now and then and I laughed and said, well, we hated each other plenty when we were married too.  That's just relationships for you.  The difference is that my fiance's interaction with me is voluntary, but I suppose my ex's isn't if he wants to see his daughter.  I like to think he still cares for me and likes me, though.  Maybe it just helps me to think it all wasn't a waste if we can still be friends.
I wonder what everyone would've thought if I'd had fallen in love with a woman instead of a man this time around.  It's been a very interesting few years for me.  I did a lot of watching a listening.  To my horror, I found that it was more acceptable to be a complete failure at marriage than to be gay and be with one person my whole life.  What a double whammy to be divorced twice and end up with someone of the same sex.  I don't talk about being bisexual very often because of the stigma that society puts on it.  I like to say that my biggest secret is that I keep secrets, and I suppose this is one of them.  I think the part of sexuality that scares people is the threat it can pose.  When you're a straight woman, other females may be concerned that you're going to steal their boyfriend of husband.  When you're bisexual, they become concerned that you're going to be inappropriate with them.  I've never heard anything more retarded in my entire life.  Honestly, who do people think they are that they're so concerned that all of a sudden women are going to start groping other women just because they're gay? Get over yourselves.  The same rules of attraction apply to the opposite sex as the same sex.  The interesting part for me is that I'm attracted to a larger variety of men than women.  I'm quite picky when it comes to females.  I remember being pregnant with my daughter and being almost exclusively attracted to women and craving cigarettes and vodka (none of which I indulged in).  I like to joke she'll be a biker lesbian (unlike her lipstick lesbian mom?).
Honestly, it must be so hard to be gay. I feel lucky that I'm attracted to both men and women.  I met a really special woman who happened to be married.  What if she were single and I had ended up with her?  Would the world be tolerant if we were engaged instead?  I doubt it.  But because a man put a ring on my finger, it's ok.  I get to have another baby and my white dress.  I feel terrible that instead of being happy for finding someone special in my life, I'm busy being angry for all of those people in the world who do not have the chance to celebrate and be encouraged.  I sit and think about who I'm attracted to and how I view people and I know 100% that it's not up to me.  I don't know why I'm attracted to certain men or women.  I can't control it at all and I wouldn't want to.  It's such a hard thing to figure out who you are and accept that.  Imagine having the world tell you that you're wrong.  How you feel is wrong and what you want is wrong.  There's that urge again to want to punch someone but I'm not sure who.
Sometimes I feel like I don't respond to stereotypes and categories well because I don't belong in any.  I'm half white and half Persian.  My baby has a hispanic father.  My fiance is black.  My first husband was Jewish and most of the guys I've slept with were white.  I feel like my vagina is representative of the UN.  Go ahead and laugh.  I don't see people as color.  I don't see gender either.  Whatever part of me that was supposed to parse out the population into boxes for race, religion, age, sex, and preference somehow didn't develop and I'm glad it's missing.  I remember the day my female friend told me that she was transgendered and would be a he from now on.  I told him I loved him, no matter what name or pronoun he wanted me to use.  He was a sexy bitch either way. And I still believe it.  When I sit down and try to compare my view of the world against most people's, I find that mine doesn't quite match up.  I'm more unconventional.  I don't think I want to apologize for that.  Most days I think people should lean a little more towards my direction with some blurred lines.
I'm writing this thinking about how difficult it must be to date me.  After all of the things I've been through and all of the things I've seen, I have some unique opinions about the world and my place in it. I think it's perfectly normal to give my ex a key to my condo and have him pick up my daughter.  I smile when I hear him and my fiance joking around while they wait for my daughter to wake up and I work in the other room.  Most days I don't care what anyone else thinks of me, but there are times when it's refreshing to hear one of my friends make a comment about my personality and know that the real me does shine through all of the facades and grand productions that have gotten me through the last few years of my life.  Since I've become engaged, a few of them have expressed excitement that their married friend was going to return to them.  Apparently while the single Elitist was a hot partying mess of good stories, the married version was much more comforting with home cooked meals, hot chocolate, cupcakes, and movies on the couch.  While it was fun posing as Samantha for a while, I am certainly Charlotte deep down (although I do write like Carrie, don't I?).
I'd like to think that through all of this, the one thing I've learned is that you don't exchange personalities or habits for others based on your relationship status.  Your path to happiness comes directly from figuring out who you are and accepting that, period.  It doesn't matter what anyone thinks about the world or your place in it.  You need to follow your heart and make choices that make you, and you alone, happy.  Learning to love yourself is the hardest lesson I've ever had to learn.  From my sexuality, to how I feel in relationships, raising my child, making friends, and dealing with my place in the world in general. I want to tell you that I'm happy.  I deserve to be happy.  I'm in love and I'm going to get married and hopefully have another baby.  I look at my beautiful ring on my finger and feel very grateful I have such a caring man in my life, but I'm struggling.  How do I truly celebrate when there are so many people out there who do not have the same chance to experience what I am?  Don't we all deserve the chance at a heartfelt proposal, white linens, toast, wedding cake, diamond rings, and all that nonsense?  Even if we've had our hearts broken.  Even if we love the same sex. Even if you're a different color.  I do.  We all do.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Love letter

Dear sister,

I'm sitting here tonight in the dark thinking about you and your family on a plane to the other side of the country, ready to start your new life.  I've been trying so hard not to cry and put on a big smile for you and our kids.  There's a part of me that feels like I'm getting divorced all over again.  All of a sudden I'm alone on my couch again with my daughter sleeping in the other room and the family I once knew has moved on to a new life without me and I'm left wondering where I fit in and what I'll do on Sunday when we're not together.  Yes, I feel very small and selfish saying that and feeling that way since I know your family and decisions you make have very little to do with me.  But I guess that's the point.  I feel so very grateful that we've gotten to spend so much time together in the past few years.  I've seen you almost every weekend since you were pregnant with your daughter up until now.  I tried really hard not to take you for granted and all the times we spend together.  Every pan of brownies made me laugh.  Every shopping trip just the two of us was a victory.  Each time we jumped in the pool was the most fun I could remember having in that moment. 

I hope you know how proud I am of you and everything you've accomplished in your life.  I respect you as a person, a mother, and as a career woman.  I used to worry that you thought you were trapped in my shadow when we were kids.  Today, I smile thinking maybe I'm trapped in yours.  Look at the two of us and where we are in our lives.  You've been with your husband 11 years, you're a doctor, and the mother of two amazing children.  When your husband lost his job, you were brave enough to imagine your life another way.  Who travels across the country alone with an infant and 2 year old?  And I thought I was crazy for taking an 18 month old on a business trip.  You're strong, yet manage to be graceful.  You're calculating, yet act with love.  You take care of business, yet remain thoughtful and considerate.  It takes someone really special to cry and laugh then stress and be comforting at once.  I will certainly miss walking through your house each weekend with my daughter in tow, watching your family live out their everyday lives and being part of it.  Believe me when I tell you that nobody is more proud of you than I am.  Nobody supports you more and nobody loves you more.  I say this with such certainty because I've stood behind you your whole life, whether it was 6 inches away, 300 miles, or now across the country.

You were always such a gentle soul.  I think you were scared of your own shadow as a child.  My earliest memories are of you hiding behind something and peeking out with enormous eyes and bouncing curls.  I see so much of you in your son.  Such a darling lamb.  I remember when our parents divorced; I felt it was my responsibility to protect you from the world, even at ages 6 and 9. I guess a part of me never let that go.  One of my favorite stories to tell is still of that little boy who hit you in the head with a frisbee at a school picnic when you were in first grade and I came running up and threw him up against the wall and made him wet his pants in your defense.  I remember when I had gone away to college it was so strange not having you to talk to every day when I was home from school. I would drive home every Friday to pick you and your two best friends up and drive us to Del Taco to get Toppers.  I think about it every time I drive by a Del Taco.  Do you remember when you moved up to Northern California for two years and we ran up our phone bills talking almost every night?  We used to watch SNL every Saturday on the phone together.  Eventually those two years were over and you lived with me again.  Nights spent at 24 hour Fitness, wandering Walgreens, eating out, fresh blackberries, and cracker Thanksgiving still warm my heart.  I remember being so poor that we hung twinkle lights on a bookshelf one Xmas that we couldn't afford a tree, but I was never happier.

I know you're not my child, but I feel like I watched you grow up.  I was proud of you when you left me to start a life with your husband.  I'm a firm believer that proof of a successful parent is how quickly your child leaves you.  I can only pray my daughter does as amazingly as you did.  You never moved back in with me.  You never borrowed money.  Your credit was great and you made smart decisions with your life.  You took care of yourself and I was lucky enough to be friends with someone as smart, bizarre, creative, and hysterical as you.  When I think about it, you've really been my best friend my whole life.  I call you my soul mate for a reason. I really do believe that we'll be together in this life and the next.

Do you remember when your husband got a job 1.5 hours away from me and we sat on the phone and cried?  It seemed like so far away back then.  We were so young, weren't we?  We had time to sit and cry together and promise each other that we'd make an effort and see each other.  I could indulge in such things.  I feel like real life has hit us both really hard since then, don't you?  Between our kids, taking care of houses, my divorce, your husband losing his job, and the harsh realities of what it takes to maintain your sanity in the workplace with children, I think our perspectives have changed quite a bit.  For the better, to be honest.  We didn't sit and cry this time and promise to see each other all the time.  I didn't need to tell my little bird to find her wings and leave me.  I didn't reassure you that you have been blessed with the same brain as everyone else and you are just as capable, if not moreso, than everyone else who has ever faced this situation.  You've heard all my speeches before, haven't you?  Perhaps I gave you a gentle reminder here and there that your path will find you and that you just have to be brave enough to follow it.  Maybe a reassurance that it all works out in the end when I saw you flounder a bit.

The point is that you simply don't need me the same way you did as a child, rightly so.  I don't have to tell you that you'll never lose me because you already know that we will always be together.  I don't know how to deal with the reality that I can't get in my car and see you if you need me in an emergency--whether you're in the ER or just sad and need to jump in bed together and talk.  I will have to learn to deal with the fact that you are just a plane ride away and I can still get to you if we need each other.  I think we deny ourselves a lot of happiness by thinking that things won't work out as well as they always do in the end.  It seems arrogant to think we know how the story ends when it has just barely begun.  You haven't even set foot in your new house yet.  Our babies are still so small, and some not yet born.  Believe me, sister, when I tell you that I know this is not the end, but just another beautiful beginning of so many adventures for all of us.  I don't know if you'll stay in your new home for two years or for 20, but I do know that I'll be there for you to talk to and laugh with every step of the way.  While I may be sitting here crying because I'm scared to imagine my life without you near me each week, I'm also excited for the new paths our lives are about to take.  I know that we will cry many more happy and sad tears together.  Luckily, our happy ones seem to far outweigh the sad ones.

This next year is going to be so hard for you.  I can't imagine how stressful it will be for you with two little ones in a new state and home with no family close by or a support system to fall back on.  I promise you that I will always be a phone call or text away, and if needed, a plane ride.  If there's one thing I've learned over the past few years, it's that the world is a small place and love and family don't know any distances or time zones.  My heart and mind are forever tied to yours and your husband and children.  I want to tell you that our yearly family vacations will be more special now that you're gone and our visits more precious, but that wouldn't be true.  They were always precious to me and always will be.  I already miss you terribly, but my heart knows that you are doing the right thing for your family and I feel that you need to go on this adventure on your own, whether you move back in two years or relocate indefinitely.  I think you needed to see that your adventures are not done.  Not even close.  I know you already know this, but I'll tell you one more time just in case: I love you and no matter where you are or what you run into, your big sister will always, always be standing behind you just in case.

xo

Friday, June 14, 2013

Momentum

I find myself nesting and I don't know why. I'm combing through my pictures and ordering prints of the most meaningful ones to hang on my walls: one of me and my daughter when she was four months old after nursing in my bed, one of me with my younger sister on our way to a baby shower all dressed up, and one of me at Esalen looking out towards the ocean.  I'm surrounding myself with good memories.  Maybe I'm trying to protect myself.  If you couldn't tell, I'm a Type A personality. Controlling, dominant, and basically petrified of the unknown and having someone else be in the driver seat, no matter how good their intentions are.  I used to think that if I were in control, then there would be no mess.  Turns out that's not true at all.
Today it feels like the momentum of my life is stronger than I am.  I feel swallowed by my projects at work and helpless to do anything about them.  My financial obligations strangle me.  My sister moving to a new, better life seems more than I can bear.  Somehow, at some point, it seems like everything spun on without me.  Why didn't I get a say?  How come nobody asked me?  I'm just walking along, shuffling my feet, and it feels a lot like it did a few years ago when my ex left me.  I'm just standing here, except this time there's nothing bad or negative going on.  I'm lucky to have my job and be a part of important projects.  Lord knows my new boss is amazing and goes out of his way to book me for conferences and force me to take time away from work to make my daughter a priority and even gym time or getting my nails done.  My sister is moving on to a better life.  Her husband got a better job and she will have more financial freedom, the ability to buy the house of her dreams, and really start her career on the East Coast.  I feel like they had every reason to move and I'm the only reason to stay, which is no reason at all.  I'm not angry or abandoned or resentful.  Of course I want what's best for her, but I feel very small all of a sudden.  I know I can function without her near me. I just don't know how yet.
My house is finally in escrow.  My ex came over tonight to sign the first set of disclosures, so we each had a glass bottled coke and got out our pens, just like when we bought it.  Do you remember when we were the buyers and we inspected the owner's signatures?  Who do you think the buyers are this time?  Isn't owning a house such a pain?  We laughed.  Then we looked at each other for a brief moment and the sadness was there.  Are you ready to move on from this?  We're already done, but now we're going to be done-done.  Done.  Do you want to talk about a plan to move our stuff out?  Neither do I.  At least the Coke was just as good as I remembered it.  I didn't even know how to sign the damn papers.  They're in my married name and that's not me.  I don't know who that is anymore.  Is it weird that we still care about each other so much?  That he knew I was sitting at my desk all alone for my birthday so he came to pick me up because my boyfriend works too far away and my birthday is very important to me?  We talked about my birthday and what my boyfriend had done and his girlfriend's birthday and what he had done for her and we smiled and laughed.  Like it never happened?  Like we pretend we wish it never happened...except I hand him his Father's Day card handmade by his daughter, who we both love more than anything in the world.
He asked me if I thought it was smart to start an engagement with a man that didn't know me well enough to know that I hated surprises (and nearly ruined my bday over it). I smiled and reminded him that we got engaged after just a few months.  He points his finger at me and says "bitch, we're divorced!" and we both laugh.  But it took him years to get to know me and lack of knowledge of my personality certainly is not what caused our divorce.  When I met him, I was sure he was someone special. He promised me we'd always be there for each other.  I remember screaming that promise broken to him when we were getting divorced and he assured me we would still always be together, just not how I thought.  And it's so true.  I think you can look into someone's eyes and see their heart. Their soul.  I certainly can do that with my boyfriend.  I'm not afraid to start an engagement with him for that reason.  I know he'll stay with me based on who he is and the amount of love and respect he has for me and our relationship.  It's my protectiveness over his good heart and our new bond that will keep me vigilant over our relationship.
There are days it seems strange and others it's completely normal that he's with me.  I've started to rely on him on a daily basis.  Taking out the trash or hugging me when I'm sad.  I feel those protective layers slowly falling away from my heart as I let him see that I do like to snuggle and I'm the kind of woman who will grab you and hug and kiss you in the middle of the street if the mood hits me.  It's nice to see my heart is still young and happy underneath all of the damage.  It's as if the scab is slowly falling off to reveal the soft, new skin beneath it.  I don't daydream about babies any longer. I plan for them.  It's yet another momentum that I'm not scared of, but I can feel.  This one date turned into a relationship and is fast becoming a forever.  I feel very fortunate to have been given another chance.  Maybe one day I will buy another house and watch my kids play in the backyard and ride their bikes down the street.  I'll have my family portraits that include a dad.  I'm not sure how all of this modern family stuff is supposed to come together, honestly.  I'm so used to me and my kid traveling the country and being on our own that I still don't understand how to invite someone else most of the time.  She helps me, though.  That's the thing about kids: they know how to follow their hearts.
I feel like my daughter is my emotional salvation.  She shines the light for my heart to see the way.  When life is moving too fast, she insists on resting her head on my chest.  I close my eyes and just listen to her breath. I smell the shampoo in her hair, touch her soft skin, and enjoy the weight of her in my arms.  She shows me that my primary job is to love and use my heart and I do my best to listen.  There have been nights, like tonight, when she got out of bed and told me I needed a hug, so I sat with her on the couch and held her until we were both peaceful and she returned to bed and immediately fell asleep.  This past weekend she told my boyfriend that she was thinking about his very small house and how he is alone there and it made her sad. She told him to sell it and move into our house since there was plenty of room and he could be a family with us.  How do you not cry when your daughter proposes to your boyfriend?  She always articulates the words my heart cannot.  When we were leaving my sister's house for the last time before their move, she hugged her auntie and uncle goodbye and told me not to cry.  She reminded me that they are just a plane ride away.  Life is so simple in the eyes of a three year old, but maybe it's for the best.  Aren't they just a plane ride away?
People rob themselves of happiness by believing that things will not turn out as well as they will.  If everything has to work out in the end and nothing is in place, then it's not the end yet.  It can't be.  The heartbreak from my divorce has faded.  What I have left is a friend that I love and respect as a parent to our child.  As painful as it is to sell the house for both of us, it must be done.  We joked that we'd rent until we were 55 then move into a retirement community and launch marshmallows at each other from across the street.  It's funny because it's entirely possible.  I find myself newly in love and in a relationship going through the same getting to know you aggravations that any couple goes through.  There is peace in my heart seeing myself with a man who is willing to get to know me and be a real partner in my life and family.  My sister is moving to the East Coast to a better life.  Not a life without me, just further away.  It still makes me cry, but it is nothing for me to change.  Just adapt to.  So it looks like I will be making quite a few trips back East to visit, which is probably for the best since my best friend lives on that coast, as does my boyfriend's family.
So here we are, right in the middle.  I wouldn't say I'm standing in the eye of the storm exactly.  I feel a calmness in my heart, even though the winds are blowing.  Today, my world is certainly in flux and we're nowhere near the end.  I've waded this far in.  I might as well take a deep breath and find my way out the other side.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Countdown

Fuck if I know how to be in a relationship anymore.  It all seems like faded memories of another woman.  Considering someone else's feelings and agenda.  Caring what they want to do or what they've been through.  Taking the time to find out who they really are and what they want out of life.  It can be exhausting, especially when you've spent the past two years killing yourself trying to figure out who you are and proving that you can stand on your own two feet.  I used to think that I needed to be in a relationship to be happy.  I know now that's not true.  I'm complete alone.  I'm fulfilled.  I don't know what to do with these facts, but I can tell you they swirl around in my mind. 
I have sharing problems.  This little angry girl stomps her foot in my head and yells "I don't NEED you! I do what I want!" when I realize that my life is changing and I can't do things all my own way on my own agenda anymore. 
I'm sitting on a new couch tonight.  My boyfriend ordered new couches for my condo and a new bed for my daughter and they were delivered this weekend.  That means that the couches I had in my condo are now gone.  I bought these couches before I married my first husband.  I gave them to my second husband, so my daughter still sees them, they're just in daddy's house now.  Seems fitting in a way and I'm content that they're still in the family, although clearly confused about who constitutes my family since he technically isn't part of it anymore.  The thought has run through my head that if we break up, I'd be in trouble since I no longer own couches, but I'm not supposed to think like that, right?  We're not going to break up.  We're going to live happily every after--get married, have babies, and that whole bit.  My daughter also wouldn't have a bed.  I'm really not good at sharing my daughter.
It's been interesting watching my little girl get attached to another man.  I watch how she hugs him, involves him in our lives, asks him to spend the night, and tells him she loves him.  I'm trying to listen to my heart when it sings instead of my brain that screams in fright.  If I plan to marry this man, then it's necessary that she loves him.  I struggle with the idea that she is my priority and he has to understand that he will never really come first because of her.  How dare I expect anyone to love me and put me first knowing they will never be first with me?  Even if we have another child, that child will inevitably come before him.  Am I supposed to put my kids above my husband?  Do I feel differently or more protective of my first born versus the child I have with my current husband?  Who has these answers?  I sure don't.  All I can do is feel my way slowly through all of this and I mostly feel confused.  Walking into her room to see her beautiful new bed or sitting on these cartoonishly plush, large couches doesn't help either.  What has happened that I'm feeling dwarfed by the idea of a couch in my own damn livingroom?
I think I'm feeling like I'm losing my personal space.  When he moves in, which is inevitable at this point, my bedroom set will be replaced by his.  Logically it makes sense: it's newer and nicer in every way.  But this set was the set I moved out of my house in.  It's been my safe haven where I feel safe alone every night.  It's the place where I snuggle with my daughter and watch cartoons and eat muffins.  I bought the sheet sets when I was sad and they cheered me up.  Soon hopefully they will bring comfort to my cousin when I pass them on to her.  It doesn't stop my heart from feeling sad that it'll soon be gone.  All that will be left of me is the china cabinet and dinningroom table set that I bought with my second husband.  He hates that set.  To this day he curses it and I still laugh, filled with funny memories of him moving it over and over again.  It's funny how memories, even ones that should be bad like me moving out of our family home, still make me laugh, even when I'm crying too.
On nights like tonight, I don't know what to do with my past.  I feel like it's normal to have this full disclosure period in relationships.  You tell each other everything you've done and been through.  Your family tells embarrassing stories, your friends are happy for you, you reveal your regrets, and confess your past sexual escapades.  What if I don't want to tell?  Why can't my past just be my past?  Do I care how you've screwed members over of the opposite sex or how many people you've slept with in the bed you want to bring into my house?  I do not.  And I don't want to tell you about the things I've done either.  Here's the thing: most people's "bad" stories happened long in the past.  In their teens or early 20s.  Mine have all taken place in the past two years.  That means two things: 1. My stories happened with a lot more thought and experience.  I didn't hurt people because I fucking knew better.  All things I did were as an adult.  2. What I've done is still who I am now. I wasn't some reckless or careless kid whose grown up and learned a lesson.  It all feels like a current event.
So I find myself realizing that yet again, I'm the anomaly.  Maybe people are programmed to care about each others pasts. I don't know.  I can tell you I don't care.  Keep that shit to yourself.  I don't want to hear about any raunchy details from your college years, I'm not looking for confessions, and I've already done all the confessing I'll ever do here, so I hope you like to read if you want to unearth mine.  I'm not keeping any other secrets.  It doesn't mean I don't have some moments I'm not so proud of.  I'll always feel grateful to a certain boytoy turned real friend who was there for me and I could have been more considerate of.  It doesn't matter how many times he told me everything was fine, I feel bad now and I'll take his refusal to answer innocent "happy bday" or "how's your day" texts as evidence that I have something to apologize for.
Aren't these things supposed to be in the past?  If I stand perfectly still I can hear the clock ticking in my head, counting the minutes, hours, days, and months to the new path of my life that is slowly moving under my feet.  Soon all my furniture will be replaced or shared.  My room will be ours, my kitchen packed, and my bathroom shared.  I will not have my own space.  Soon a ring will be on my finger and a wedding dress ordered.  My last name will change yet again and I will have a new family to get to know and hopefully be part of.  One day my daughter will become a big sister and I will move into a new home with a bigger car for me to drive to work.  I asked for this, right?
I guess the trick is letting myself admit that just because I want something doesn't mean I know how to go about getting it or handling it once it's here.  I couldn't ask for a better man in my life.  So full of love and sincerity and consideration.  He's also from a different part of the country with a different upbringing and experiences of his own.  I'm struggling with the integration, no matter how much I want to do it.  Tonight when he told me he loved me, I heard myself answer "why?".  My mother's words coming out of my mouth.  I left the room before he could see the tears.  They now belong to the dark and my new couches as I write in the middle of the night.  Each day I'm realizing I still have a lot of work to do on myself as a person, a mother, and now as a partner to someone else. 
From the light of the computer screen I can barely make out the lettering on my Moulin Rouge DVD. So appropriate.  The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Clarity

Everyone always says that hindsight is 20/20, but I never quite feel like I’ve reached the end of anything, so it’s hard to look back.  Every time I feel like I’ve figured something out or am standing on solid ground, the earth inevitably shakes again and I find myself hopping from one foot to another and attempting to grasp something that seems to be anchored better than I am.  I know things have changed, though.  That much I’m sure of.  The past two years have rushed past me at a constant speed.  Not because the world was moving, but because I was running.  These days I find that my pace has slowed down considerably and I’m spending more time looking around me—side to side, peeking down the path ahead, and now cautiously looking back over my shoulder.  Today the sun warms my shoulders and I can feel the soft grass beneath my bare feet.  The soft breeze carries the twinkle of the ice cream truck over the next hill and each time my daughter tugs on my hand it jingles the quarters in my pocket that will buy us strawberry ice cream cones.  As I watch her auburn curls bounce each time she giggles and dances around me, I’m filled with thoughts of how I will explain our lives to her one day.  I will have to explain to her all of the things that I’ve been through and what I’ve found.  Dark, moonlit nights and faint stars with icy sleet and tornadoes that dissipated as fast as they touched down couldn’t have led to this, right?  But they did.  Two years ago I never would’ve believed that I’d open previous entries of my blog only to gasp and shut them because I didn’t want to remember what I was thinking or feeling a year ago.  I didn’t want to read about those who had hurt me or how I had hurt myself.  But bruised knees, bloody lips, and broken heels led me to this.  Maybe diamonds are hiding in the gutter and if you wash that white dress enough the mud really does come out and it will dry soft and clean in the sun again.  I found more truths in the past two years than I ever knew I was looking for.
I found peace.  My daughter came to me the other night and asked me where my mother is.  She wanted to know her name, what she looked like, and why we don’t see her.  I had no anger in my heart.  I quietly thanked God for not letting the tears run down my cheeks as I told her that my mother looked just like me with blond hair and blue eyes, but she lived very far away and didn’t want us to visit her.  It didn’t hurt when I heard my mother’s name on my daughter’s lips.  What did hurt was when I tried to explain that my own mother didn’t want to see me and watch my three year old struggle with the idea that there were moms out there that didn’t want their children.  I assured her that I would always want to see her and that while there were good moms and bad moms in the world, I was certainly a good mom.  As she sat in my lap and I slowly traced the jaw line that she shares with me and my mother with my fingertip, I knew for certain that what I was saying is true.  I will always, always want to be with her.  Where anger once dominated my heart, a calmness now resides.  That is one candle I will never mourn being extinguished.
I found gratitude.  I remember feeling such a sense of entitlement in my 20s.  I deserved a big house, money, vacations, designer jeans, and anything else I wanted.  I realized how much all of those things don’t matter in my life.  The material things I felt I needed were replaced by the things that you can’t measure or see: when a friend reaches out to me to make sure I’m ok, knowing I’m welcome at my sister’s house when I feel lost, the look of love and recognition in a baby’s eyes when they see you, and how much comfort I can bring my daughter when she’s sick.  Today I know the joy of little surprises given to you by those who love you and the emptiness of expensive gifts given to you by those who want to use you.  When I really sit back and think about all of the places that I’ve lived, it wasn’t the biggest or the most expensive that made me happiest.  It was the people I lived with that filled my heart with love and contentment.  In my youth, the happiest I’d been was living in a shitty two bedroom apartment in Huntington Beach with my sister where we had no money, but more laughs than I can count.  That apartment only comes in second to the condo I now rent for me and my daughter, where there is more love and closeness than I felt possible in my life.  Do you know how it feels to sleep in on Sunday mornings and watch cartoons snuggled in bed with your daughter before you wake up and bake muffins in matching aprons?  If not, I hope you do one day.  For me, there is no feeling better in the world.
I found comfort in loss of control.  Hey, you. You can’t control the world.  You can’t make things happen on your own timetable exactly when you want.  Do you want to know what happens when you force a decision you’re not ready to make?  You make things harder.  You make the situation worse.  For type A personalities like myself, the hardest thing you can do is sit still when all you want to do is fix everything.  Do you know what you need to fix?  Yourself.  There are things in this world that are beyond your control.  Some decisions are not for you to make and there are times when you must wait.  I learned to sit still. I learned to wait.  And I learned to do both with a still heart.  Make decisions you are able to make and learn to put down and walk away from those things that you cannot.  It seems impossible to think about anything else when the weight of the world is on your shoulders and there is more pressure than you can bear, but you must.  You are missing the beautiful day outside.  You are missing your children’s giggles and daily accomplishments.  You are spending time lost in anxiety that you could be enjoying a snack.  Sounds silly, doesn’t it?  But it’s the truth.  I could’ve had a nervous breakdown over the past couple of years with all the variables that I could not control.  Instead I decided to do yoga, walk away, and of course dance.  No matter what is happening in your life, for God’s sake, dance.
I found that other people matter as much as I do.  It’s easy to be selfish, isn’t it?  Ignore people who love you, need you, and want to spend time with you because you’re stressed or tired or mad at the world for what it has let happen to you.  That’s all self-entitled crap if you ask me.  I don’t think that the universe makes mistakes.  We all have things happen to us that are supposed to happen.  It’s your job to learn from all of it and take what you should from every experience.  Learn your lessons or you will continue to repeat the same mistakes and suffer the same consequences over and over again.  If every person comes into your life for a reason, then you came into theirs for one too.  What is it?  Every time someone needs my help, I carefully remember how many people I leaned on through my darkest hours and where I would be if they were too busy with their own lives to sit and talk to me for the countless hours that I needed them.  I have my own problems and my own struggles, but I will never be too busy to talk to you if you need me.  Afterall, you are just as important in the world as I am and we are all here for a reason—good or bad, I’m listening and I hope you’re listening to me too.
I found forgiveness.  There are no perfect people in this world.  I am a person who keeps no secrets.  I don’t judge anyone.  I realize that we are all damaged in our own ways and we all make decisions and mistakes based on that damage.  Look what a mess I made.  Look at it.  Please look for me because I don’t like to look back myself. It would be very easy to believe that I am not worth finding a person to love and marry me and have babies with because of some of the things I’ve done.  But I don’t believe that.  I don’t think that someone who is raped is dirty.  I wouldn’t call a woman who likes sex a whore or one who likes to talk about their feelings needy.  I want to believe that we are all on our paths to be the best versions of ourselves.  Certainly some move slower than others and we all make mistakes, but in motion or standing still, we stand on those yellow brick roads.  I love who I am.  If I had to go back to who I was three years ago, I would be so disappointed.  Look at what I’ve become because of my struggles and mistakes.  If beauty is attained through struggle, then lotus should be the international symbol of the heart because it represents pure beauty as it grows up through the mud.  So here you sit, atop your own pile of mud.  One more rain storm and you’ll be washed clean again.  Enjoy the dew drops in the morning light and blow the stars hello kisses with me tonight.  You’ve made it.  You’re fine.  And if you haven’t made it yet, then keep pushing towards the sunlight.  It’s there. I promise.
I found faith.  Such a simple concept that gets interpreted into so many forms.  Faith in God, faith in the universe, in people you love, and most of all yourself.  Over these months and years trying to figure out who I am and what I believe and what I can always put faith in, I realized the person I trust most is myself.  I trust myself to see the truth, to trust the right people, to cut those out of my life who want to hurt or use me, to stand strong when I must, and to cry when I need to.  I’m told so often that I’m the strongest person anyone has ever encountered.  They don’t know how I made it through or dealt with what I have.  I was able to do it through faith.  Even in my darkest hour, I knew that I could always take care of my daughter.  I knew I could carry on.  Whether I was looking forward a month, a week, the end of the day, or praying to survive the next hour, the voice in my head was always present.  Encouragement has to come from someone.  Someone must tell you that it’s going to be ok.  I’ll tell you until you believe it the way I’ve told myself over and over again.  Have faith in yourself to deal with any situation.  Know that you can handle it.  That people will be there to catch you.  That you will make the right decisions for your heart, your family, and in your life.  Trust yourself above all else and anyone else.  Meditate.  Pray.  Sleep.  Write.  Find yourself and what you believe and don’t ever let go of that.  Because through all of this, that is what I learned.  It’s what I came to at the end of all of this—the pain and suffering and love mixed with despair, hope, and darkness lit by the stars and planets above.  It was a faith that no misfortune could truly ever kill.  It was a candle that would never go out and will never go out.
I found myself.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

She'll always be Gemini twins

It's hard to figure out where you belong in the world.  We build these structures and absolutes around ourselves to protect us.  To insulate us from the world, but one day we have to realize that everything is temporary.  You can lose your job, your spouse can leave you, your parents die, and people you thought would be there forever leave you.  I feel like my whole life has been a lesson on reminding me not to depend on anyone or rely on anybody but myself.  I'm the only thing that's constant.  That mindset doesn't do much for my sense of belonging or family or finding my place in the world.  It only ensures that I'll be alone.  Competent and functional, but alone.  I think the hardest thing for someone like me is to not be in control of situations in all aspects of my life--family to work and my love life too.
I always say that there's no power struggle in me, but I've been thinking a lot about what that really means.  I'm a passionate person.  I have strong feelings and opinions on pretty much everything.  I like to joke that I don't have time in my life or space in my heart for hatred so I either love you or I nothing you.  I nothing a lot of people and things.  It's just a fancy way of saying that I don't care.  I know I can survive any situation. I know I can do it all on my own.  Does that mean I should not care about most people and situations because I can get away with it?  I'm thinking that's just another way that I protect myself from letting someone be part of my life and having people impact me.  If someone upsets me or disappoints me, I'm good at turning my emotions off.  I go dead inside and emotionally retreat.  I remind myself that I don't care and I move on.  But there are some people I can't deny that I care about and there are situations that are beyond my control that impact me whether I want them to or not.  I'm struggling with relearning how to deal with all of these emotions again.  It's ok for me to feel hurt, betrayed, helpless, panicky, desperate, and just sad. I'm sad.  I guess there are times when I see myself and have to acknowledge that no matter how much progress I've made, there is still a long way to go.  I will forever be a work in progress and that's ok. 
I don't think the universe makes mistakes.  I truly believe that you have to trust the world to help you fall into place.  When you get into a bad situation, the walls will crumble around you and they will keep crumbling until you find where you belong.  Doesn't everything always work out in the end?  I went through the hardest two years of my life, but I'm here on the other side happier than I had ever been.  That must be proof.  I'm also in a very different situation than I thought I would be in: I'm a single mom renting a condo with her kiddo.  I spend the nights that she's away from me miserable and wanting her.  I go in late to work to spend one more hour in the morning with her.  My happiest moments are the ones where I hear her voice and feel her hand near mine.  I have felt stronger love being a mother than I ever believed I was capable of.  That goes for my child and my sisters' children as well.  Speaking about my kids is the one trigger that will always bring me to life on an emotional level.  They are the one thing that truly matters and always will.  But they are not all mine--my sisters are their mothers and their lives are not governed by my choices.  It's a hard thing to know that I cannot always be there as a source of comfort to them as things change in their young lives.  It's a burden that should not weigh heavily on me, but it does.  I have the urge to protect their parents as much as I want to protect them.  It's the one place in my life that I cannot go dead inside.
It's the duality of this situation that strikes me.  How can I love some people so much and separate from others?  Maybe nobody can separate completely from the world.  Maybe we all have our soft spots for people that we can't shut out.  If I was going to make any exceptions, certainly family would be one of the best ones.  But your family is not always blood related, is it?  There comes a time when you decide to pick a spouse and share your life with them.  There's a tremendous amount of trust associated with that, especially with my child involved.  There's also the compulsion on my part to retreat from emotion and operate on the plane of logic that I seem to take so much comfort in.  That behavior is not conducive to a healthy relationship and I know it.  I'm struggling with so many variables trying to date someone seriously as a single mom.  You don't just get me.  You get my kid, her dad, my parents and sisters, my nephew and nieces, the best friends, the ex boyfriends, my coworkers, even my cat.  I make the decision that this person is worthy and I introduce him into my network.  I'm acutely aware that if he betrays me, he fails everyone I know, including my daughter.  Clearly my protectiveness of my family, especially the children, makes it extremely difficult for me to let someone in.  I shouldn't nothing men that I date and bring home to my little girl.
So what happens when you feel like someone you've given a chance fails you or disappoints you?  I remember why I wanted to be single for so long.  I think about how simple my life is without a partner.  I make a mental list of everything they contribute to my life.  Then I sigh.  I wonder if I really believe in true love and I wonder if the damage that has been done to me will be too much to overcome--it'll cause me to nothing you and allow you to stay near me, but not really allow myself to have an emotional connection again.  Seems like such a pathetic failure of an experiment to me.  Everyone seems to want their relationships to appear perfect.  We don't want to admit to mistakes or shortcomings.  The people we love should appear perfect, even though they hurt us or act stupidly or selfishly.  I started disliking the institution of marriage just because I felt like I had to hide my ex's behavior.  I worried what everyone would think of me for staying with him after the things he did or said to me when I felt that I'd done nothing to deserve them.  I don't ever want to be in that situation again, but there's a part of me that understands that it's inevitable.  People disappoint you and you don't want to talk badly about your spouse, so it ends up a secret.  I'm not sure how to resolve that.  The idea of it just makes me sad.
Maybe I've been single long enough to forget what it's really like to be in a relationship.  Maybe I've come to lean on people in my life so much that I don't know how to function without the idea of them being with me.  I think I'm just sad tonight and I haven't felt this way in a few weeks and maybe that's why I haven't written until now.  I can tell you that I've traveled this country and thought really hard about who I am and where I belong over the past two years and I do believe that I'm a California girl.  I belong at the beach.  I've lived here for 14 years and I love my friends, family, and coworkers dearly. I couldn't imagine leaving and I feel justified in my decision to stay.  I wish I owned a home so I felt more permanent, but I can't do anything about that just yet.  My house I own with my ex is on the market and I pray daily for it to sell and that final string to be cut.  I need that burden to be lifted from my chest because I don't know how much longer I can support it without suffocating.  I feel so empty these days. So detached.  Like I've been dancing in the clouds and I can look back and see my footprints in the pink fairy dust, but one gust of wind and they're gone.  I still don't have anything concrete to rest my head on, except my own hands or my daughter's head when she's finding solace in the sound of my heartbeat.  I suppose I'm finding comfort in the sound of hers as well.
Maybe I just expect too much of myself.  Maybe I give too much of myself away to my friends and family who need me.  I still sit alone and cry my selfish tears.  I wish someone loved me enough to put my feelings and needs first sometimes.  I would love to feel that one day.  I try so hard to give myself and love everyone as hard as I can so they know what it feels like to be respected and valued and supported.  Today I'm feeling drained.  Used up.  Take a picture of my footprints in the fairy dust.  Maybe catch some in a pendent and hang it around my neck.  I'm afraid whispers in the dark won't do any longer and neither will prayers.  I need some proof.  If things are not falling into place as they should and always do in the end, then I guess it's not the end yet.  I just hope it comes soon.  For now, sleep with have to do.