Tuesday, December 9, 2014

It's just a wall in the maze

Two weeks ago my husband accidentally dropped our 8 week old son on his head, causing a skull fracture.  I saw the whole thing and it was completely an accident.  I had to talk to two social workers after, one who came to my home and insisted on meeting my daughter.  She hung out with me for an hour and told me I should have my own radio show.  As if making jokes and being charming were normal things to do after your baby's head injury.  My husband wore our son's hospital bracelet for a week.  Every time I close my eyes, I see him hit the floor again.  I'm amazing in an emergency, but the truth is that I never recovered from the accident.  My son is doing amazing: eating, growing, developing as usual.  I don't think I ever calmed down.  Over the last two weeks I've felt so overwhelmed, incompetent, anxious, and incredibly guilty.  I've felt like I can't care for my own children and I don't know what to do with that.  Yesterday I was smart enough to get some help.
I'm extremely lucky to have a counselor that I see regularly.  I started when my last husband left me and never stopped going.  Why would I? It's an amazing feeling to have someone to talk to who knows you and your history and doesn't judge you. It's their job to be impartial.  As soon as I walked in and began to tell him something was wrong he pinpointed the accident.  He said I never left that state of mind and I'm suffering from PTSD.  I used to think that was something that only deployed soldiers had.  He said I have to finish the story...my son fell on his head and has a skull fracture and he's ok.  And he's ok.  He's ok.  Just because I handed my son to his father who dropped him and I couldn't save him doesn't make me a bad mother.  It doesn't mean that I can't take care of either of my children.  Apparently my confidence shattered when he hit the floor as well.  It's funny, just knowing what it is makes me feel better.  Of course I'm upset from the accident!  Why wouldn't I be?  Why did I think the single worst moment in my parenting experience would have no long term affect on me?
So now I'm chemically imbalanced and I need to do something about it.  I've been told that I need to do 150 minutes of cardio a week, which is probably a good idea anyway, but also to go for medication counseling immediately to take something mild to get myself back on track.  I've never taken any sort of medication before and I'd be lying if I didn't admit I was scared to death.  I don't want my mood controlled or changed.  But then again I take birth control synthetic hormones and that does just that, doesn't it?  Today is a new day.  Today I will take my son on a walk out in the sunshine and start to feel better.  Tomorrow I will leave him with his dad at night for an hour and go to yoga.  In two weeks I go back to work and I will go on a walk, exercise at my desk, and one day make it back to the gym twice a week for power yoga like I used to.  I guess a lot has gone off the rails in my life since I had a baby.  I'm home, not working, and just thinking myself crazy.
I don't think there's anything worse I can do for myself than to sit alone and think with no interruptions.  I will roll a thought or scenario around in my head and examine it from every angle until it doesn't make sense anymore.  Like when you were young and you used to say the words "ambulance" or "dracula" over and over until they didn't make sense anymore.  That's my life right now: it doesn't make sense anymore and I don't feel like myself.  So I'm going to start exercising again and I'm probably going to take some sort of drugs my dr prescribes me because I need to get better.  I'm contemplating stopping nursing as well, which is also causing me to feel extremely guilty. I nursed my daughter for 6 months and the thought of stopping with my son after 3 makes me feel like I'm depriving him of something, which I know is nonsense.  There are plenty of formula fed babies who are healthy and happy.  But if I can't get ahold of how I'm feeling because my hormones are making me insane, then I won't be doing anyone any good.  I have been reminded that I need to take care of myself.
Now that I know that I've hit a wall, I can find my way around it.  I have learned the hard way that repressing my feelings and not asking for help always end terribly. I'm resolved not to ever be that person again. I'm going to get better.  I'm worried that my husband is unfortunately avoiding his feelings and pretending that he is fine.  I can only imagine how terrible he must feel being the one who dropped him.  All I did was watch.  But I've also learned with him that you can't force him to talk about his feelings or make him get help.  He told me that he doesn't even want to go and see our couples counselor anymore, which I feel is a huge step backwards.  It's proof to me that he's running from whatever is going on in his head.  I think the accident itself was terrible enough.  I hope that both me and his father can get past this and back into a healthy state of mind.  Today is day 1.  It's time to start feeling better.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The struggle is real

I don't know what it is about Christmas that I've always disliked.  My family used to drive from Camarillo to Palm Desert to see my grandparents when I was a child so that everyone could hate each other face to face.  It was always a miserable time in my family and somehow the year that my mom's aunt died from alcohol-related complications it just seemed fitting.  I remember looking out the window at the xmas lights hung from the roof.  That was my happy time.  I used to pretend I couldn't sleep to sneak a peek at the adults filling the stockings.  When I got older, the loud arguing made the rouse not worth it.  Now Christmas is about sales and shopping and trying to decide how much to spoil the children.  Lots?  Aren't they already spoiled?  I don't really believe in presents for holidays.  Life is hard. I do presents for surviving.
These days, life is especially hard.  I'm going back to work in two weeks and I can't decide if I'm happy or sad about that.  A part of me wants to stay home with my baby and the other misses my desk. Naturally I use the times I want to return to work to tell myself that I'm a bad mother.  Who would want to leave their baby?!  One that feels overwhelmed.  Let me tell you how I do postpartum depression: I guilt myself for not being good enough.  I know so many stay at home moms.  They have multiple kids, manage to keep the house clean, bake, and smile from time to time.  Me?  Not even close?  I'm completely out of my element.  I nearly died with one, never mind two.  I have no idea how to give my daughter attention and care for my newborn.  And my daughter will be 5 in three weeks.  My God. FIVE.  Have I been at this mommy game that long?  Seriously, why haven't improved?  Let me tell you what happens these days.  Wednesday and Friday night roll around when my daughter is with her father and I breath a sigh of relief for having a break.  And then I cry.  I cry because I miss her. I cry because I am relieved she's gone for the night.  I cry because I feel like I'm not good enough and my kids deserve better.  Why won't the baby go to bed so I can give her story time and some attention?  Why can't I get through an evening without losing patience and yelling at her?  It's vey hard for me to believe that I'm good enough these days and I hate that.  I hate guilt and I'm guilting myself.
I've managed to let the weight thing go.  I'll get back on weight watchers and live in yoga pants after the holidays.  I'll consider it a win if I get to work, stay awake the whole day, and manage not to embarrass myself professionally until the baby is a year old.  I know there are some limitations to what mom can accomplish in a day and I'm ok with some of those.  I guess I just don't know what is normal and what is not.  What should I really be expected to uphold in the realm of motherhood when it comes to raising two kids?  I don't know.  I can tell you the idea of getting them both up in the morning, to daycare and preschool at two locations, then myself to work seems impossible.  Then I have to pick them both up at a reasonable hour, nurse the baby, make dinner, do the dishes, bath time for both, stories, and bed.  Can I do that?  Yes I have a husband who can help me some, but he works late with his new job and can't be there as much as we expected.  Luckily my daughter's dad is willing to help pick up the kids with me.  I'm so grateful for the help and I feel like shit for not being able to do it myself too.  It takes a village, right?  Except I seem to be the other one who needs the whole damn village on speed dial.
I don't remember how I was hormonally after my daughter was born. Her dad tells me I blamed myself for everything and resented her.  Something else to feel bad about.  I don't resent my son.  In fact, I love him to death and I'm grateful he's here.  But I worry I have screwed things up for my little girl by giving her a brother when I was trying desperately to do the opposite.  I had him for her.  I want them to have each other for a lifetime.  My sisters are the cornerstone of my world.  I couldn't make her an only child, even though my younger sister did point out that we both failed to give our little girls sisters...just brothers.  I don't really think either of us knows what that means just yet!  We've always had each other and the brothers came later when we got married.
When you have a baby it changes everything. We have all heard this over and over.  I guess I thought it wouldn't be so bad since I already have a child.  I was so wrong. I think about how I haven't traveled since last April.  I never go out anymore and see any friends--no dancing, no brunch, no shopping.  I'm home all day taking care of the baby and it's a lonely life.  This will change when I go back to work, but not much.  I look forward to my next trip this upcoming April when my sister has her baby.  The funny thing is I will leave my situation to enter into the same one there: home with the new baby.  I wonder why I'm so excited to go there, but unhappy here.  Maybe because it's not my everyday life.  I don't know.
At least I'm not having identity issues this time like I did last time. I'm Mom.  I started that way and I wouldn't change that.  I just don't know what sort of mom I'm expected to be or where those expectations come from.  Should we smile while we carry our burdens? Are we allowed to cry?  Do I still deserve time off and help when I've had two monsters now?  I don't know.  I don't know if my daughter understands that mommy is stretched thinner.  I don't know if she prefers her dad's house now to mine where she has all of the attention.  I sit home and think and think and cry and make myself insane.  And I can't stop.  I've always been the kind of person to sit down with someone and listen to their troubles and tell them it will be ok and mean it.  I always have the answer.  Today, I'm not feeling that way.  I'm feeling so overwhelmed and lost and alone.  The greatest fear I have is failing as a mother and role model to my kids.  It's a slippery slope and I feel my feet sliding.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Jane says

I feel like I've been having a lot of conversations with my mom friends lately about how they feel about themselves, their kids, and how they act in their relationships.  I'm compelled to respond en masse.  These days it seems like I've got all the time in the world to think seeing as how my waking hours are around the clock to feed my little one.  Raging hormones and sleep deprivation are not the most clarifying factors for logical arguments, but I'll be the first to admit that not all things are based on logic.  Some need to override your head and come from your heart.  Sometimes you need to believe in something whether you have proof that it's true or not.  Sometimes all you need is permission.
I give you permission to feel sexy.  So many of us don't like what we see in the mirror.  We are too old, not the right shape, covered in stretchmarks, too short, too fat, and so many other terrible labels that we put on ourselves.  Going through a pregnancy and dealing with a post partum body seems to only amplify our insecurities.  What if I told you that you could be pregnant and feel sexy?  You can walk through a room and have everyone turn and look at you and feel like the fertility goddess that you are.  It's a choice, I promise you.  You can put on that bikini, feel good about the life inside of you, and strut around in your skin tight cocktail dress and heels.  I did.  I was surprised by the amount of men who continued to hit on me during my pregnancy.  I guess confidence is the ultimate aphrodisiac.  It's ok.  You don't have to look the way you're "supposed to" to be sexy.  You just need to be you and strut what you've got.
I give you permission not to live up to your expectations.  My dear, you need to give up on the idea that you're never going to disappoint anyone.  You are allowed to be too tired, to miss that deadline, to not do the dishes, to cry because everything hurts and you're frustrated.  You can ask for help and not have it be a shortcoming.  Lean on your friends and family.  Haven't you ever noticed how good it feels to help someone?  Let someone help you and go home knowing they made a difference.  Everyone wins in the end.  Trust me, being perfect is overrated.  I'd much rather embrace my fallibility and shrug it off and get on with life.  Chances are the only one who is really keeping score is you.  So maybe put down the score board, cut yourself a LOT of slack, and go have a drink/take a nap/go shopping.  You get it.
I give you permission to put yourself first.  Think about the safety card in an airplane.  When the oxygen masks fall, you put the mask over your own face, then help your kids. If you aren't taking care of yourself, you aren't any good to anyone.  Dead, resentful mommy is not a happy mommy.  Mommy who ditches their kids to go out alone or on a date comes home happy to see her family.  You know what?  Your kids will get over it, I promise.  They probably won't even remember you being gone for a night here and there.  But I bet they will remember their happy mom who loved them.  Don't forget about yourself.  Your family will ask for every last drop of blood because they don't know how to do anything else.  Look out for you because nobody else will if you don't.  I don't mean that to be a criticism of your partner or children.  It just is what it is. 
I give you permission to change your mind.  Remember you are never backed into a wall or routine.  You always have a choice in how you live your life and how people impact you.  If you are heading a direction and it's not working for you, stop and change directions.  Why are people so afraid of failure?  It's ok to try again.  You can start over.  Let it go, seriously.  Remember that scoreboard you put down?  Let's leave it on the ground...this is no time to beat yourself up because you decided a course of action wasn't the best one afterall.  Try again, chances are all that's going to happen is things will get better.  We can't all be right all the time.
I give you permission to be happy.  Happiness is not the result of a magical formula of things, money, and people in your life.  It means different things to different people and you can get it from so many things in your life.  Don't be afraid to celebrate the little things.  Don't dwell on things that make you miserable.  Don't let your expectations become so high that you lose the ability to appreciate what you have instead of wasting time wishing you had something else.  Most importantly, don't rely on someone else to make you happy.  You will just set yourself up for disappointment.  There are times I get lost and forget these things and I find myself depressed and hopeless.  Then my daughter struggles to pronounce a word and lose myself in laughter.  My son sleeps 3 hours in a row and I don't feel like a zombie.  Lean to celebrate, people!  Don't waste your life wishing for something you don't have, waiting for a vacation to make you happy, or hating your daily routine.  You have control of all of this--how you see it, how you respond, and the changes you make. 
I give you permission to write your own ending.  Life doesn't have perfect fairy tales wrapped up in a bow for each little girl to pick up and take home and carefully unwrap.  There are no fairy tales because there are no perfect people.  We are all a product of everything that has happened to us. We are a bunch of jaded people doing the best that we can.  So I ask you to believe the most positive truth about the person you are with when you question what is going on in your relationship instead of letting your damaged past assume the worst.  See the good in people and try to be the best part of yourself.  Try and try again.  Sometimes it's a day to day effort and sometimes it feels hourly.  Not everyone is willing to try and not everyone is willing to believe the best in someone.  I think we all take turns demonizing each other.  At the end of the day, you will find your own path to what hopefully amounts to happiness instead of sabotaging ourselves by being too proud to let people in or too scared to be who we really are.  To me, there is no bigger loss than hiding your true self.  My sister once told me that kids can keep their young love and she'd rather have the deep love that comes from years of trials.  I couldn't agree more.  The love and respect gained from years of honesty and openness is worth so much more than anything you get from a new lover.  And don't get me started on how good it feels to have someone truly know you and love you for it.  It's what dreams are made of.
This is your life and you are allowed to live it however you want.  Be yourself, find your happiness, feel good about yourself, and don't apologize for dancing to your own happy tune.  Hug your babies, go put your heels and lipstick on, turn up that music, and drag your partner out to dinner, make out in the car, and leave your responsibilities behind for just a few hours.  Not possible?  Just try one little change and you'll thank yourself later, I promise. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Tiny toes

Introducing 8 day old toes :)

Turn it up

I've been sitting in silence for too long.  This past week I decided it was time for music to make a comeback in a major way in my household.  I got out my new speaker and cranked it up. Kesha, Dev, Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga, and anything else that is loud and happy and makes me dance around the house with my son.  I welcome all the memories that come flooding back to me of my single days running around listening to this music at all hours.  It was the soundtrack of my travels around the country.  My wild and free days.  Kesha: The Harold Song still makes me cry my eyes out.  I can almost taste the whiskey and cigarettes when I hear Dev.  I'm trying to figure out how I feel about all of this.  Do I miss that life?  Maybe parts of it.  Would I trade my new life to get that one back again? Absolutely not.  I think I needed a few wild years of freedom to heal from my divorce and figure out who I was.  What I came up with is that I'm a mommy deep down and what I truly crave is the stability of a house and family.  I think I move through natural cycles of being social and being a homebody.  Maybe a three year cycle of freedom has concluded and now I'm content to sit still. I'm not sure.  I think it's more than that now. 
I started out as a person who had a husband who a best friend and we were a very exclusive club of two.  When he left, I was alone to the point of panic.  I ran.  Granted I only had 2-3 nights a week to run because I had a daughter and she came first, but on the nights when she was with her dad, I completely let go and lost my mind.  I was like that for a long time.  After about two years, I became tired of my intentional split personality disorder and I wanted more stability.  I got married again and had another baby.  Now what?  There is a part of me that misses flying to a different state every month and visiting so many people's lives.  I honestly don't know how I moved around so much so often.  It sounds exhausting just thinking about it.  How did I even afford all of those plane tickets?  I guess when it's something that you need to do to figure out who you are, you find a way to make it happen.  And I needed it.  I know deep down that I couldn't have found myself without that adventure.  I am eternally grateful to all of my friends and family who were there for me and welcomed me with open arms along my lost, wandering days and nights.  We did make some crazy memories, didn't we?  Naked mineral baths and yoga in Big Sur, family vacations to beach destinations, drinks and bars in cities I don't remember, and weekends with almost boyfriends.  I got plenty of use out of my luggage.  Not to mention all of my local guys and friends who came over, went out with me, and met me with our boots on for a shot or two and dancing all night.  I was so aware that my condo was temporary. I felt so free. So dislodged from life. 
Now I've bought a condo. I have another baby, who happens to be in my lap sleeping as I write this in bed and wait until I can pick up my other little one from school.  It's mad science day at her school, didn't you know.  I have to have her fundraising in by Friday and I donated new magna-tiles to her classroom.  Because I'm mom and this is our home.  I'm still working on figuring out how to join my life together in a way that works.  It's unstable ground for me, but it's coming together.  Turns out we all sing Katy Perry and dance around while we make dinner.  I teach her to line dance and she wears mommy's cowboy boots and heels.  My dancing friends exist outside of bars and loud music.  They come over, hold the baby, bring me food, and make me cry grateful tears because I don't know how things always come together.  But they have to, right?  One day I'm sure I'll make it out dancing again, but I doubt I will ever be picking up kids in their 20s again. 
I don't know why I did so much of those kinds of things--the drinking, traveling, and sex.  Was I mad that I missed out on all of the partying in my 20s because I was always in a relationship?  I didn't think it would make me younger.  It wasn't going to take away any hurt or betrayal.  I certainly wasn't trying to punish or hurt anyone, myself included.  Maybe I was just lost and it made me happy in the moment.  There may not be much more to it than that.  I look back on it and smile.  I see all my well loved spiked heels and mini skirts and I can't help but laugh.  Look at those tiny bikinis that led to way too many inappropriate selfies on facebook.  How obnoxious, especially with all of these stretchmarks.  And then I just turned around and got married and pregnant like I had every right in the world to change my mind on a dime.  Well I did, didn't I?  Don't I deserve to do exactly what I want and what I need to in order to be happy?  I think so.  Maybe I'm just trying to find my way back to wonderland.
Today the keeper of my heart and stealer of my sleep is my son.  The man who has no insecurities, needs my help, and loves me intensely for simply being near him.  Ah the thankless job of motherhood that really has every award imaginable and every hardship as well.  And I'm so in love with his little face, his wide eyes in the middle of the night, and the way my daughter looks at him.  So I sing Miley Cyrus: Adore you to him and I cry happy tears because it's finally true again.  I never thought I'd love a man this way again and to be honest, I love him much more than I've ever loved another male in my life.  In the midst of loud music, unpaid leave, fast food, breasts swollen with milk, sleepless nights, and healing stitches, that love is what puts solid ground under my feet and brings me peace.  And with that, I think I'll go nap with my son.  I think I'll let the music play in the background.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Circe

Circe has always been one of my favorites mythological personas.  Exiled for killing her husband, she turns men into animals and keeps them as pets.  Swine, docile wolves or lions...whatever she chooses.  A self-professed English nerd, I've always happily declared Homer's Odyssey as my favorite epic and Circe's appearance certainly plays large role in that.  There's a sign outside my door that says "The witch is back". It can't all be a coincidence.  I ordered my new iPhone 6 plus to take pictures of my son in the highest possible quality and he decided to show up before my phone arrived, premature at 37 weeks.  I aptly named my new phone Circe.
Today my son sleeps in a carrier to my right and I'm finally sitting on my bottom typing out some of the hormonal fury that governs my much more complicated life.  He was born last Monday after 45 hours of labor and 15 minutes of pushing.  Can you tell I wanted him out?  I've been a basket case ever since.  So much so that I'm not sure where to start, but I know I need to say something before I completely lose it.
When you have a new baby, people tell you to rest.  Sleep when they sleep, ignore the laundry and cleaning.  Clearly they are talking to parents of first borns.  I, however, have a child that needs to get to school on time, three meals prepared, laundry clean, and a home routine to remain intact.  I also am in a situation where I have two different dads for my kids.  Apparently there is no set instructions available for how to navigate this situation, so let the games begin.  I don't just want to sit here and complain.  I have a lot to be grateful for and I feel like I need to start focusing more on that to save myself from slipping into certain depression.  First off, I have two healthy kids that I love more than my own life.  I sing love songs to them.  I feel my energy run through both of them, connecting us.  When I see my daughter comfort her little brother, my heart fills to the point where I think it will burst.  This is what life is supposed to be--love, togetherness, and understanding with way more patience than I thought I would ever have.  Patience for my children and I'm still learning patience for myself, especially in healing from child birth and figuring out how to take care of two children at once.  I think I waited 5 days after birth to take both of my kids to the park by myself.  I think we can agree that I was pushing it too hard, but that's not a surprise to anyone who knows me.
I love my new condo.  It feels like home.  I feel so lucky I drive a new Volvo to protect my kids.  I couldn't be more grateful for my job and work family who support me constantly and send me encouragement in any way they can.  Even my doctors are amazing.  I was having trouble nursing and the lactation clinic rescued me from despair and got us both back on track.  My sister flew in from PA once I went into labor with zero notice to make sure she was there for the birth of my son, even though she has two little ones at home.  When my son was born, she held my left leg, his dad held my right, and my coworker/big sister held my head and shoulders.  How many people does it take to birth a baby?  Apparently four.
I couldn't have felt more loved when my little boy was welcomed into the world.  It was exactly what I'd always wanted and I feel like I finally understand what love at first sight feels like.  It took me a long time to warm up to being a mom and fall in love with my daughter.  I loved my son before I ever saw his sweet face.  I don't mind getting up in the middle of the night, the sacrifices seem small in exchange for him doing well, and I'm happy to stay home for a bit and bond with him knowing that my job will wait for me.  I have left someone off of this list: my baby daddy #2.
Originally my plan was to just have another baby. I had no interest in getting married.  In fact, even before I left for NYC my counselor asked me one last time why I was doing this when I don't like being married and I am such a single person.  Ok, first off all, it's not that I hate being married.  I was with baby daddy #1 for 7 years. 7 happy years, as in even if we were fighting, I was happy to see him.  I was with my best friend and someone I loved, respected, and liked hanging out with. I know what it's like to be happy in a relationship and happily give yourself to someone every day.  Did I overdo it with him and lose myself? Yes, it wasn't the healthiest of relationships.  Today we are good friends and I am very glad that I still know him because it reminds me that I have been happy and our daughter is a perfect representation of that love and happiness.  I don't look at her and miss her father, but I do see the joy in her heart and know I had it in mine once.  Really, I think I should give him more credit than I do.  He helps me so much and has managed to not become jealous or insecure with me getting remarried and introducing a step father into his daughter's life.  That isn't easy.  I know because I feel it with him being engaged to his girl, who will eventually have a step mother title as well.  In the meantime, they both basically threw my baby shower for us and we all go out of our way to make our daughter feel like she has one big family.  It's not easy, ever, but it's always worth it.
I think my current husband is struggling and he doesn't know how to deal with it.  He has this insane possessive and jealous streak, mixed with insecurities when it comes to relationships and children.  He doesn't seem to see anyone's point of view or feelings over his own suffering.  I know it's hard to put someone first, but kids really do need to be in that position.  The difficult part is that I'm asking him to put his son and my daughter there, when one isn't actually related to him.  I know he's waited a long time for a baby, but that's not an excuse to not want other people to see/hold his son, visit me at home, spend time with us, and be insecure that some other man will take his place as dad.  I seriously don't know where any of this is coming from.  What I can tell you is that it makes me feel like a possession when he gets mad because he thinks men are hitting on me, makes me feel like I have to ask permission to have visitors, and devalues what I've been going through in general by complaining about how tired and stressed he is, as if I wasn't the one who just gave birth and is nursing.  It's more than frustrating.
Let me be clear when I say that I need people in my life to help me.  I am not shy about asking for help and I worked hard to get to that place.  When there is someone that I trust, I don't hesitate to take advantage of generous offers to help.  I will admit, I don't know how these family structures are supposed to come together.  All I can do is try and explain the best I can to all involved that we're just family and so we stick together.  The same blood and energy that runs through my being also holds my kids close to me.  There is no "half" or "step" in my vocabulary.  Those are my kids, 100% and anyone related to them is my family, period.  Both of them.  That means if I trust you to watch one, I trust you to watch both.  It means that if you love one, you will love both.  Or you will go away.  Believe that.  I have zero tolerance for anyone who treats my kids differently, and that includes from any dads that are around.
#2 has been struggling with the idea of #1 helping watch his son.  Our one year wedding anniversary is on Monday and he had wanted a date night.  The people who make the most sense to stop by for a couple hours to take care of my daughter and hold the baby are #1 and his fiancĂ©.  Obviously because they know how to take care of our crazy kindergardener and are familiar with newborns.  This crosses into interesting territory for me because it's turning into the feelings of the husband vs the protective instinct to make sure the kids grow up in one family where everyone loves them both.  I can't do that if we create separation.  Now I'll admit, I'm an asshole.  Hearing #2 say he's worried that #1 will replace him makes me insane.  It sounds completely illogical to me because #2 literally replaced #1 and it's #1 that should feel threatened.  Fearing your son will call someone else's dad "Dad" is beyond retarded to me.  It's like he's never had a friend with a father before.  Did he not grow up with cousins who had a dad that he called Uncle?  How is there a threat of confusion?  I could literally beat my head against the wall and it's causing me stress and making me depressed.  I feel like he's trying to rip the family apart that I've worked SO hard over the years to stick together.  Nothing has changed since we had a son.  The rules are the still the same and so is the situation.  We talked about all of this prior to getting pregnant or even getting married.  I hate feeling regretful over things like that and I don't mean to sound threatening to anyone, but my kids come first and I'm going to come right out and say that if you try to marginalize one and ignore someone's needs, you will be dismissed.  As nice as the idea was of getting married and having a traditional family setup for one of my kids, I don't care about it enough to emotionally damage anyone.  My kids come first.
Having said that, couples counseling continues.  I keep trying to be nice through my hormonal rage and be a wife and not just a crazy mom.  It's just very hard to keep that up when you feel constantly attacked for who you are friends with, how you look, and how people respond to you.  I don't know why I'm feeling bad that I've lost so much baby weight so fast.  The husband makes me feel bad about it, like I'm flaunting myself around when I'm just trying to survive.  I have literally had no control over my weight this entire pregnancy and I think that's ok.  I think it's amazing that #1 made me feel as ugly and gross and #2 makes me feel sexy and desirable, even if it means he's jealous.  Pregnant is pregnant, right?  Apparently not.  Those two men are so different it blows my mind sometimes, which is ok.  Honestly I love that #1 is just my friend again and really wish #2 would acclimate to the husband title and become more secure in that so I could be more grateful than frustrated by him and his presence.  What I can say is that he loves his son to death and he's already turning out to be a completely fearless and competent father.  Always good for my heart to see.
Today I am focusing on the little toothbrush that sits next to mine.  I am grateful every time my son latches on successfully.  I am taking it one day at a time.  Hormones have to eventually settle and people have to adjust.  I decided a long time ago that I was not going to let anyone take my happiness from me, no matter who they are and this is no exception.  I refuse to feel like I have to ask permission to have visitors and I don't care who they are.  I am not a hostage and my son is not property.  There are no dotted lines around children and the second you give birth, you no longer own them.  I am committed to letting everyone love them who wants to and being a secure, welcoming, loving mother.  After all, I'm Mom.  Nobody can take that from me.  Same goes for Dad, guys.  Own that shit.  Take it from me, you can handle the world on your own, but it's so much better when you ask for help and focus your time and energy on enjoying the good stuff.  

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sorry I'm not sorry

I've been helping my 16 year old niece read Emerson: Self Reliance for her high school English class this past weekend.  Sometimes I forget how much he's infiltrated my brain over the years.  All of a sudden I felt the familiar speeches coming back to me that I had given my younger sister over the years--not caring what people think of you, being your own person, thinking for yourself, and being a good person for the sake of your goodness.  But this time, they are colored with years of experience. A decade and a half of growing up, you could say.  It's been a long time since I sat down with my little sister and tried to tell her everything I thought she needed to know to do well in the world and find herself.  I was a child myself.  By some miracle, we both ended up strong, educated, successful women by most people's standards. Not that I ever gave a shit what anyone thought of me or my journey to finding out who I am or what I stand for.  As any of my readers know, the journey continues full force.  I have felt for a long time that there was a small hole in my heart where my little sister used to look to me for advice.  Don't get me wrong, nothing thrills me more than seeing her not need me to make big decisions in her life.  I've always thought that the goal of having children is to raise adults who are strong enough to leave you.  And really, she never left me.  She just joined me as an equal adult.  If that doesn't deserve a gold star, then nothing does.
I have met quite a few young women over the years who could benefit from some big sisterly advice and I was very proud that they had picked me to listen to.  When I became pregnant with my daughter, I knew that one day I would be giving the same speeches to her.  I can't tell you how happy it makes my heart to have more young faces look up to me and listen with rapt attention to my advice about the world.  My nieces have always been a large part of my life. In fact, when I was 19 I moved to Orange County to take care of my little baby doll and soon after her sister.  I think you pay closer attention to your actions and how you present yourself when a pair or two of small eyes are watching.  A few years ago, the talks we had were still fairly light hearted.  We've had many conversations about boys, love and sex.  We daydreamed about cars and college.  I reminded my girls that jr high and high school with be some of the most trying times in their lives so far and made them promise not to do any permanent damage to themselves because one day it would all be very small in their memories.  Mostly, I promised to always be there for them, whether they needed a midnight rescue, a talk about something uncomfortable, or just someone to listen.  I don't take these promises lightly. 
I was grateful to have the opportunity to give my oldest a car for her 16th birthday.  I was so proud when she got her first job, and I couldn't be more excited to take her an her sister up the coast of CA for a tour of colleges this upcoming weekend.  My baby doll, as I've called her for 16 years, told me she plans to leave after high school to start her life at college.  She reminded me of the advice I'd given her when she started high school.  "Get good grades so that you can get into any college you want.  That is your ticket to freedom.  You are in control of your life, just stay focused and you can do whatever you want." She listened to me.  Damn straight and I'm going to help her get there in any way that I can.  She's a lifeguard now, giving swim lessons and responsible for other people's lives.  My little girl who once ate so much spaghetti and chocolate milk that she threw up on my bathroom rug.  She carries herself with a calmness and confidence that reminds me a lot of myself. She's also the spitting image of me, but shorter with much prettier eyes.  These days instead of taking her and her sister for a weekend once a month, they help me watch my 4 year old while I sit on the couch pregnant and tired.  I've also noticed how much our talks have changed the past few months.
She wanted to talk about the shooting in Isla Vista and violence towards women this past weekend.  I was lucky we had a couple hours alone uninterrupted.  Let me tell you, there hasn't been a more gut wrenching talk that has happened between us thus far.  Well my darling, my first born little girl who I love like my own, let me tell you about the world we live in and what you are up against now that you are driving around alone and at night.  This is a world where men will hate you for being a woman.  Men feel entitled to your body because they are men and you are a woman.  This is an epidemic that spans every city, every age group, every single place you go, every single day of your life.  And I can't protect you.  You can't protect you.  In this world, the woman is told how not to be raped or attacked.  We are shamed for being assaulted and expected to feel damaged, dirty, and ashamed.  You will be faced with two choices: you will admit defeat, cower and hide from all men, good and bad, or you will stand tall and fight back.  This is a silent fight and it will be the hardest one of your life because it never ends.  Not all men are bad.  Not all men will hurt you, but princess, you have no idea when one will and which it will be.  Stranger on the street, the boy you are dating, friend of your best friend who happens to be in the same room.  You will be verbally abused, threatened, and possibly physically assaulted.  By her age I had already been raped.  I hope she is one of the few who this doesn't happen to.  I told her that I go where I want, I roam the country freely, and I am not afraid.  I am aware of my surroundings and am as safe as possible, but I do not hide.  I refuse to be ashamed of how I look or falter in my right to say no to any man who wants me that I do not want back.  It's not fair and goddamn it I can't protect her.  I can't protect any of my nieces, my daughter, my friends, or even myself.  She looked so sad as I talked to her, but I saw the flicker of defiance in the back of her eyes.  I live to be the example for her to follow.  This is about strength, little one.  Stand tall and don't stop living your life because something bad might happen to you one day. 
This speech has changed so much over the years.  I guess a mother in her 30s sees the world differently than a 21 year old sister who is trying to find her way.  As it should.  I wish I had a better story to tell, but I'm glad she's asking me to tell it.  She tells me that nobody else talks to her about this stuff.  Then I'm exactly where I should be, aren't I?  I reminded her that it will be her job to look after my little girl and be there to give her the same talks and she smiles at the responsibility in front of her.  We're all here to take care of each other, aren't we?  That's what your family is, blood related or not.  As we've been reading Self Reliance together, it's spawned so many more talks that need to be had and I'm smiling to myself thinking of the things I want to says to her.  I'm laughing at how those words of wisdom have become so much wiser since my sister was 18 and we had talked about the very same subjects.  Ah Emerson, you're like a gateway drug to amazing conversations between parents and their children.  Maybe that was the plan all along to assign difficult reading to kids so that their parents would have to explain it to them.  I'm lucky that I was the "parent" picked for this assignment because I have plenty to say.
As it turns out, my mind is still as full of questions as ever when it comes to who I am and what I stand for.  I've ironed out the basics: I know I'm a good person who values being fair, doing the right thing, and being honest above most everything else.  I know that the notion of goodness and honesty is universal and cannot be ascribed to one religion or way of doing things in any part of the world or at any time in history.  I know how to put my children and family first.  I know that I am in control of my own happiness and with it comes benefits to everyone around me.  I have learned that the only opinion that counts in my own.  I have been accused of being many different things over the years, whether they were said by people close to me or not.  I know that being true to myself if more important than becoming the witch in anyone's witch hunt.  These things are worth fighting for, repeatedly.  It's the details I get lost in, which is why I still need to write so much I think. 
So much has happened to me since I was pregnant 5 years ago.  More changed in my life than I ever could've anticipated, including my ideas of what I think it means to be a mother, what sexy is, and what makes me feel good about myself as a woman and in a relationship.  Turns out I'm the kind of woman who believes in sending her man sexy pictures.  Can I do that pregnant?  Well my husband went to East Coast to visit his family and I gave it a try.  Apparently I can still make the blood drain from his head with a pic of my backside.  Feeling sexy while pregnant is a completely foreign concept to me, nevermind actually having sex.  I remember trying to figure out how to be a sexual being while I was a single mom. Now I'm doing it while pregnant.  It's something to adjust to.  I find myself much happier and much more proud of my body and what it's doing this time around than last time.  I'm 22 weeks pregnant and I've gained 7 lbs so far.  I find myself not wearing a lot of maternity clothes, including my bikini in public, because fuck it. I feel good, so I don't care.  I wonder what will happen after my son is born.  Will I feel compelled to wear a one piece again or will I take out my super sexy bikinis?  I'm betting on the latter, because it's a whole new me. A more evolved one with a better understanding of who I am and what makes me smile.
I want to tell you that I've grown up and I've got it all figured out, but that sounds a bit egotistical for the age of 34.  What I can tell you is that I've learned a lot so far and I'm looking forward to learning more.  I know now that loving someone is not enough to keep a marriage together.  I'm nothing but grateful for things like counseling that keep me learning more and more about how to make things work between myself and my husband who may literally be from a different planet, if not just side of the country.   I'm writing, thinking about how one day my daughter will be a teenager and her brother not far behind and wondering who I'll be at that point.  In four years, I've learned to eat better, exercise more, turn off the tv, not look at my phone unless it's through the camera lens when my kid is around, and dedicate myself to developing her brain academically and emotionally.  I do my best to lead by example.  When you see the benefits bloom in front of you, it doesn't feel like such an uphill battle anymore.  It seems more like a walk down the beach with no end in sight. 


Friday, May 30, 2014

Hope is my happy word

I think it's easy to get focused on the wrong thing.  I had gotten it in my head that I wanted to buy a condo before my son was born.  My husband has some issues with his credit report that he's working on resolving, so I ended up prequalifying on my own.  I qualified for almost the exact same amount that I had with my ex when we bought our first house together.  I don't know why that's so noteworthy in my mind, but it is.  I automatically went shopping in my old neighborhood.  Not for a free standing house, but for a 3 bedroom condo.  I got it in my head that I had something to prove.  I could move back into the neighborhood that I picked 5 years ago for my daughter while I was pregnant with her.  She could play at her old park and I could plan once again to have her attend the elementary school in that neighborhood.  I was out to conquer some invisible demon and, well, I don't know what.  I was so stressed when I put an offer in for this ridiculous condo--on the golf course, across the street from the lake, in a gated community.  I think I'm so fancy sometimes that it's retarded.  I gave them asking price.  Someone else offered cash and my offer was rejected.  I was devastated.  I had failed at, well, I wasn't sure yet. But I was sure I had FAILED. 
I needed to take a step back.  I think I'd lost the true spirit of resurgam and I hold so close to my heart.  I had risen back to the point of affording a home in my old neighborhood.  I could put down a realistic bid and potentially move back there and I could do it on my own.  I'm proud of that.  I don't need to do it.  I don't have anything to prove to anyone, including myself.  Who am I showing off for exactly again?  Certainly my daughter doesn't give a shit and my husband doesn't look impressed.  We really just need a third bedroom for our son.  Our healthy son, might I add.  I had my anatomy scan ultrasound and saw his tiny face.  Mouth moving open and closed.  Tiny fists opening and clenching.  Hey little man, are you ok in there while mom has a stress induced meltdown?  I hope I'm not impacting your brain development with my selfish parade of trying to prove something to everyone who is watching and keeping score.  Meaning nobody.  I also found out that my cervix is in rockstar shape and I'm not in any danger of losing the pregnancy.  All genetic testing came back indicating a very healthy little boy.  Can I start celebrating all of the blessings I have now, please?  Because who the fuck gives a shit about a condo when I have a healthy son?  Not me. 
I'm still house shopping. I have two more weeks to find something that will fit our family and then I start looking for rentals.  You know what?  It's not that big of a deal.  Nothing bad comes of renting a condo.  My rental today has been an amazing home for me and my daughter and I'm extremely grateful to have it.  In fact, I'm grateful I don't have to sell it to move.  Sounds like another stress saver to me.  I'd like to credit yoga with my perspective switch.  My counselor helps me tremendously as well.  I think I can hear his voice in my head when I can't figure out the right direction to run in.  But there is something magic about prenatal yoga.  I focus intently on my baby. I feel his little kicks and send him all of my love and energy. It's our special time together with no interruptions.  He reminds me to count my blessings and not put material things about the health and happiness and of my family.  It should be so obvious and it's embarrassing to admit that I often forget. 
I found out recently that one of my friends has cancer.  Not my silly precancerous cells need to be removed cervical procedure.  But I had a chest port installed for chemo treatments cancer.  It is a man who I care for and respect very much, who I've been friends with for a few years now.  He was in the unique position of having an actual friendship with me to the point where he met several of my friends and my daughter, as well as happened to sleep with me a handful of times.  Were we dating? Who knows.  It hardly matters now.  I'll say this, it is few and far between to meet a person with a truly good heart.  My daughter saw it immediately in him and I did too.  There is something terribly devastating in learning that they have to fight this sickness.  My first compulsion was to try and help, although I had no idea why.  Should I drive from CA to AZ to give a hug and show support?  Not really realistic. Can I send a mutual friend to give him a hug from me?  Pretty random.  As I saw him start to sell his belongings to pay his medical bills, I was so outraged.  This too?  Yes, people get sick.  Yes, it's just material possessions, but fuck it's not fair.  When his friend set up a fund me account and I was able to make a small donation of $100 in what amounted to a couple thousand, it reminded me that we are never really alone. We are just ill equipped to ask for help.  There are always people there who are willing to be there for you if you are strong enough to ask, emotionally or financially.  Don't we all deserve to feel some of the love that we all so badly need? 
I went to my first counseling session with my husband the other day.  While I've seen counselors on and off my whole adult life, he had never been before.  I could see his discomfort and really appreciated how much he must love me to try something so new.  Nobody is going to step in and solve your problems for you.  They can help you see where you can make improvements and it's up to you to decide if you're going to make changes.  You're in charge of your own happiness, aren't you?  So my husband has issues communicating and me, being the over communicator, basically terrorizes him in an attempt to get information so I can understand.  We get nowhere.  So we said it out loud and now what happens.  My job is to back off and his is to be brave enough to express how he feels.  Sounds easy, doesn't it?  Well there are lots of things to think about on both sides.  As usual, I've been doing a lot of thinking.  Here's what I've come up with so far: People tend to dislike traits in other people that they dislike in themselves.  Is it possible that I feel so hurt when he makes decisions without me and doesn't really consider my feelings because that's what I'm doing to him?  There was only one way to find out.  Being a talker, I started talking.  I talked money, houses, dreams, and what I wanted and what I thought he might wants and how we could make both goals happen.  And something amazing happened: he started to open up.  Baby steps, people.  He looked relieved, so I think I'm getting somewhere.  I'll take what I can get. 
So now I'm seeing my regular counselor and I'm seeing a couples counselor and I'm feeling very Orange County over here.  At least my cat doesn't have a therapist.  Instead of being embarrassed, I'm typing this because I'm grateful that during a time when I need support, I have the insurance to pay for it.  I have a husband who is willing to try it, and I have the common sense to reach out before I'm drowning and all you can see are my fingertips above the water.  The only thing I'm really afraid of is history repeating itself.  I don't want to buy another house while I'm pregnant and then lose my husband.  I don't want to be a single mom again.  I don't want to feel lost or used or unloved.  I'm determined to ask for help, take time for myself, enjoy my kids, and keep my priorities straight.  I also feel like I have an army behind me to keep me moving forward and on solid ground.  How can I feel anything but hopeful in that situation?  I am quite literally one of the luckiest people I know and I have so much to be grateful for.  Forget my past, I don't want to talk about stupid material things we all seem to measure ourselves by, and I'm not interested in punishing anyone for my or anyone else's mistakes.  I'm learning my lessons.  The goal is to let go of the fear and hold onto the hope.  I'd much rather be in the sun instead of the shadows anyway.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Same song, different beat

I finally ordered a custom license plate for my Volvo last week. It took me over six months to become inspired to pick something that I felt represented me as a person.  When I earned my BA, I bought myself a Nissan Sentra and picked the license plate Enraptured, meaning powerfully and emotionally involved.  It was so me back in my 20s.  Really, I can't even say the word without smiling.  I was so emotional and wrapped up in the world and where I fit into it.  After my divorce, I drove my little Mazda Tribute SUV to my new condo and ordered Elitist, which was a tribute to this blog which I had restarted after two years of silence.  The Elitist had been born again in her second coming and her voice was her freedom.  I think I saved myself from my own nervous breakdown by shouting my thoughts to the world.  I found myself with my fantasy mommy car, a Volvo XC60, pregnant, married yet again, and unsure of what I really felt represented me in this stage of my life.  It seemed to be yet another incarnation of me, different and in many ways the same.  I was whole this time.  A mommy, a companion, a career woman, and a writer.  As I thought about everything that I'd been through in my 33 years on this earth, the answer became obvious to me.  I had used the word in two blog titles here and it had caught my attention years ago when I had first read Jane Eyre.  Resurgam.  Latin for "I shall rise again" or you could say resurrection.
I've thought a lot about what this word has meant to me in my life.  It's what I've used to describe my triumphant return, after crisis, to a state that I recognized as myself.  After my first husband hit me and I failed my first try at the masters exam, I took a year long leave of absence to find what piece of my sanity I had lost.  I scheduled another test and walked out triumphant without knowing if I had passed or failed.  It wasn't important.  What mattered what that my confidence and faith in myself had been restored in my time away.  I was me again and pass or fail, Resurgam was a promise that I would prevail.  I would rise again.  In the aftermath of my second husband leaving me, I found myself lost, broken, and questioning everything I knew about life, love, and myself.  I did much soul searching, attending hours of counseling, breathed yoga every moment I could, and posted entry after entry on my blog.  One day I found myself, whole and stable, in a condition that I had never known as me.  While I was not married, settled, or doing anything that would visibly indicate I had recovered, I knew that the million tiny pieces I had shattered into had managed to come back together again.  I posted another Resurgam post, knowing that my path to healing was drawing to an end and my path to growth after disaster was ahead.
I don't know if this is the third coming of the Elitist.  It seems silly to break my life into measurable pieces based on relationships and school, but I can tell you that I am in a new form once again and still very much trying to find my way.  I've been through a few months of emotional turmoil and feel as though I've finally made a sort of breakthrough within myself.  I felt the word echo in my mind once more and the promise is still there: I shall rise again.  I'm starting to think this is the way life is meant to be.  We are not meant to live in a straight line that has temporary breaks which we strive to fix as quickly as we can.  I think we are meant to jump from mountain top to mountain top, backsliding, getting lost, ruining our progress, and starting again--always ending up higher than we started.  If I'm growing all the time, doesn't it stand to reason that I'll always be looking back and down on where I was before, no matter how big the fall?  I think so.
The next big change is upon me.  I was making dinner with my daughter the other night, marveling at how much time has passed in this condo.  In the blink of an eye, she went from a chubby little 18 month old to the bright and strong-willed 4.5 year old that I'm so proud of today.  I can't believe we've been here for three years.  It's even harder to believe that we'll be leaving this summer.  To where, I'm not entirely sure, but it will certainly be a whole new world for me as a family of four.  I still can't wrap my mind around the fact that I'm going to have a son.  I feel his finger tip-sized kicks and try to imagine holding him in my arms.  He'll look out of new windows, learn to crawl on a new kitchen floor, and look up to my husband as his daddy, and probably my daughter's dad as his uncle.  Talk about ways I never thought my life would work out.  As for me, I'll be mom, same as I ever was. 
There are days I don't remember not having kids, to be honest, even if the memories of being miserable with a newborn and still painfully fresh in my mind.  I am optimistic that this time will be different.  I won't let anyone rob me of the joy of my baby.  Looking at my daughter, I'm reminded of how fast it really does go.  Every time she cries to be in my arms I'm grateful I have those moments with her.  It seems like she'll be off and doing her own thing without silly mommy soon enough.  It kills me that I don't have memories of her until she was two weeks old.  I was so sick and miserable trying to recover from childbirth.  I won't let that happen again.  I want to enjoy little toes and midnight feedings and being the only person in the world to make it all better.  It's one of the few finite things in this world I can really count on.
My sister told me that trying to plan out your life is just setting yourself up for failure.  Plans should be glorified daydreams and nothing more.  Then it wouldn't hurt so badly when they fall apart.  There is so little in this world you can really count on and control.  When you really think about it, it seems silly to plan out so much.  So my lease expires end of July.  I can tell you that I'm moving, but not where.  I'm not entirely sure where my next vacation will be or when.  These days I don't even feel like I can count on what my husband is doing or that he'll spend time with me once I'm off work.  I've thought for some time that high expectations make people miserable.  It's one of those things that seems like a double edged sword: if you don't expect anything then people get away with not trying or helping, but if you expect a lot, you might both end up miserable when someone's best isn't good enough.  Heavens knows I've lived through both of those scenarios in my life.  I think I'm still learning to refocus on myself and not make the same mistakes of my last marriage.  I need to not put all of the weight of my happiness on someone else's actions or treatment of me.  Instead, I need to realize what I need and work towards making that happen at the same time as developing healthy communication and getting to know someone that I'm in a relationship with.  Easier said than done, of course, but that's what couples counseling is for I suppose.
What I can count on is that my kids need me.  Mom needs to go to work, earn money, give baths, lots of love, cook dinner, be available for midnight soothing, and still find five minutes to herself so she doesn't lose her mind.  These times are also short and I have to find enjoyment in even the physically and emotionally demanding parts.  So I go to yoga once a week for some special bonding time with my son who is doing his best to grow inside of me.  I make sure I read stories to my daughter every night and snuggle her before she goes to sleep and tell her I love her as many times as she need to hear it.  And I figure out how to be a mom to two little kids because it's my newest and most important responsibility and I feel incredibly fortunate for that.  My newest rising, and hopefully my happiest and most fulfilling one yet.    

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

I'm in need of some magic

I'm not going to lie; writing during pregnancy is not my strength.  Anytime I find five minutes to myself, I usually opt to sleep.  Having said that, I'm trying really hard not to have another two year silence, especially with all of the turmoil that has been going on in my brain lately.  I don't know what it is about being pregnant that makes me feel like a victim.  Maybe it's the depending on someone else.  It's like I wait for the impending resentment and abandonment.  I'm certainly not surprised.  It doesn't stop me from crying or feeling miserable when I'm ignored or neglected, but I'm still very much aware that men are men and somehow I'm devalued now that I'm not the strong, independent woman that I used to be.  It's like they conveniently forget I'm carrying their child.  It's a boy this time.  A boy.  I'm going to raise a man...as if I have any clue on how to approach that.  What I do know is that every mom of a little boy tells me that it's a special bond and that little man steals your heart.  I've always been of the opinion that everything happens for a reason, so maybe I'm having a son because I need to fall madly in love again.  I think I need to lose my heart in a way that I have no control over and that I don't want to have control over.  It might be the only way to recapture some of the magic that I feel has left me.
I think there's a qualitative difference between relationships when you're younger versus as a single mom in your 30s.  I think back to when I fell in love with babydaddy #1.  There was nothing I could do to stop it.  I would've thrown my whole world in chaos for him.  Honestly, I did.  And I wasn't sorry.  I'm still not.  We spent our 20s together and those were magical, passionate years.  I lost myself inside of him somewhere and when he left me, I almost died.  It's taken a long time for me to come to grips with the fact that I had wrapped myself so tightly inside of our joint identity that when it was taken from me, my heart nearly stopped beating.  Losing him was sincerely the worst thing that could happen to me in my mind.  It was my 9 month old daughter that pulled me through my darkest hours.  It was the love for my child that I realized was unconditional.  I fought for her.  I still do.  My children are my whole world.  I used to put purpose onto relationships and these ridiculous romantic encounters.  Now I see that these were childish fairytales...true love and dying for someone that you can't live without.  I would die for my child.  It's not magic anymore--this is my life. 
When you find yourself all of a sudden on the other side of hell, what exactly do you believe in anymore?  Do you believe in magic and love and fairy dust?  I can't exactly say yes to that.  I believe in love.  I mostly believe in myself.  I can tell you with 100% certainty that if my current husband were to leave me, I would not die.  Do you want to know what I would do?  Cry my eyes out, then raise my damn kids and be happy.  In my journey of becoming an adult, I lived through a terrible divorce that forever changed who I was.  It's not that I've given up on romance.  I just know something that I didn't know about myself back when I was 22.  I know how strong I am and I also know who I am now.  I also know what real love is.  Don't get me wrong, I loved babydaddy #1. I still do.  When we were married, I thought that the magical combination of us spending time together was related to our marriage.  I was mistaken.  As it turns out, we had a totally dysfunctional marriage and I'm not sad it's over.  What we had was an amazing friendship with lots of things in common and way too many inside jokes.  Over the years, I have fought to recover even a glimmer of that.  In the beginning, I did it for our daughter.  Now, I can see that it helps both of us.  When he doubts the world, I remind him that I'm still standing behind him and what he wants to do with his life.  When I need help, he brings me lunch, cheers me up, and does his best to be my friend.  Life is weird with him engaged, me married and pregnant, and us sharing a daughter.  But it is what it is.  So we are an odd bunch and I'm ok with that because I feel that it is the best case scenario for my kids.
Here's another thing that has been bothering the hell out of me: the idea of my things vs other people's opinions.  I lost a lot of weight with this pregnancy and my wedding rings didn't fit.  I was tired of men hitting on me not wearing anything and the only other diamond I had was a promise ring I was saving for my daughter from her father.  I'm not an idiot. I know I shouldn't wear it, right?  How about a post I found on Pinterest of a little girl wearing her mom's wedding dress...I'm supposed to take a pic of my daughter in my dress and give it to her on her wedding day.  Except the dress I have is not the one I married her father in and that bums her dad out.  Then the 10 year anniversary of my first wedding showed up and I just wanted to hide in bed.  It was the anniversary of the day I married a man who hit me, and I'm not allowed to wear a diamond ring because it was given to me by the wrong man, and my daughter doesn't match my wedding dress.  Well fuck everything.  Doesn't there come a point where it's just my damn ring, my dress, and my daughter and everyone can mind their own business?  I know there's not, but I'm mad just the same.
I don't even know where to start on talking about my marriage.  I can tell you that I'm very tired of people being focused on themselves and what they want.  It makes me think that there are very few people who really understand what love is.  People are not expendable and you shouldn't be able to walk away or throw something away so quickly.  It seems like in this world there are too many politically correct answers.  Nobody wants to be confrontational or say what they really feel.  They sweetly put together their definition of love or how marriage should work and then go behind your back and do what they want in the end.  It's no wonder that I think there is no magic left in this world or in my heart.  I can spend months crying and begging someone to be fair and give me a chance.  I can give them what they think they want. The bottom line is that you can't make someone really take you into consideration or follow through with what they think love is.  I suppose when someone tells you what love means to them then doesn't treat you in a fashion that supports that definition, then they probably don't really love you.  Or they just don't know what it is.  I'm not sure.  Instead of pointing fingers, I'm trying to recognize good intentions, appreciate any good that is done, and set up an appointment to see a counselor.  Clearly I can't handle this on my own after all this time.  What I can tell you is that I've finally stopped crying and started being angry.  I don't think anyone wants to see what happens when Hazard is pregnant.  I sure as fuck don't. 
So at this point, I remain tired.  Happily in my second trimester and finally back to yoga, I'm looking for some peace in my life.  I need to rediscover the beach.  I need to delight more in having tea parties with my daughter and be excited about the little boy that will surely rock our world.  I think about all of the things my daughter taught both me and her father about life and love.  I wonder what this little blessing will teach his father and mother.  What I can tell you is that I'm so ready to see that little face and kiss his chubby cheeks.  Relationships are relationships, little man, but children are never a mistake and your mommy and big sister love you so much.  We're on countdown to October to meet you.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

It's just a cup of coffee

Sometimes I feel like being pregnant is a sentence to solitary confinement.  You're so turned inwards into yourself, focusing on the life inside of you, that you don't pay much attention to the outside world.  There's been a lot of "me" time in the middle of all of these naps and minutes spent in the bathroom praying I don't lose my lunch between conference calls.  Having all of these feelings again has brought so much back to me. It's been overwhelming.  All of a sudden so many feelings and memories have come to me along with my hormone rushes.  It's made me think about how different my life is now this time around.  It's not just where I live and who my friends are--it's literally how I perceive and interact with the world.  I can't believe how much has changed in the last five years since I was pregnant in my first trimester.  I didn't just have a small explosion that rocked my world.  It imploded.  The mountain of a life I'd built for myself and my family was replaced by a crater that I couldn't seem to fill.  Today that hole has been filled.  No matter what memories seem to come back to me, I can't feel a single dent in my heart where that hole once was.  There is no wound to pour salt in and, as strange as it sounds, sometimes I miss having that hurt to lean on.  It almost comforted me by giving me an excuse to be miserable.  I was a woman who thought she had the perfect marriage, lived in a perfect house, in an amazing neighborhood and had it all figured out.  I traveled the world, bought designer crap, and counseled poor singles on my couch.  Then out of nowhere, there I sat at the bottom of my crater, much to the horror of those I'd encouraged to worship me.  I began to do two things that clearly I had neglected for the better part of my 20s: I watched and listened to the world around me.
Much to my surprise, I have become someone who is sought out for relationship advice.  Me.  The woman who has been married three times, divorced twice, had numerous love affairs, and shall have two different children from two different fathers.  Lord knows I have more failings in love than victories, yet I seem to be someone that people look to for insight, experience, and someone who can make them feel better about their situation.  Don't get me wrong, I'm flattered.  I'm happy to do it.  But I do wonder what in the world I've done to be given such an honor of helping someone nurse their broken heart or give them advice on love and relationships.  Honestly, I trace it back to the beginning of my own disaster when a high school cheerleader saved my life. 
You may have heard this story before.  I had dutifully and inappropriately reported on facebook that my husband had left me and my infant daughter.  I was a mess: depressed, desperate, lost.  I hadn't spoken to her in 14 years, let alone given her a second thought when he messaged me with her number and insisted we had to speak immediately.  I called her.  I had no reason not to, but I honestly never believed anything would come from it.  That damn woman literally saved me.  She told me all of her pain of having her husband treat her in a similar way.  Then she told me everything she had learned.  She taught me how to heal from a breakup on the most catastrophic level.  When I made jokes and brushed it off, she made me cry.  When I took the high road and refused to feel angry, she told me to go to the garage and smash all the wedding china and crystal.  When I was so hurt and ashamed of my own body that I wanted to hide, she told me sex stories and convinced me that I was beautiful and to get another opinion.  Why did she do this for me?  I'll never know.  She didn't tell me how to heal or when I should feel anything, but she gave me permission to do what in my mind was weak.  She forced me to see that I was entitled to my feelings.  That I was in control of my life and I may be changed, but this could be for the better.  I believed her. 
It's been several years since my divorce and I do not talk to her for hours on the phone like I used to.  I think of her often and I smile when I see pictures of her and her beautiful new son with her new husband. I hope she's happy every single day.  There is no price that you can put on someone's time and experience. I'm so grateful that I was smart enough to listen to her.  I don't know if she had a debt to repay for someone who helped her or she was simply paying it forward, but I take her actions to heart.  Anytime I see anyone suffering in an area that I think I can help with, I always offer to help. There are times my message is ignored, there have been people who didn't want help, and there are those who needed me desperately and I was grateful to help them clear the clouds from their skyline. I feel like my offer to help has grown some truly special friendships in my life that otherwise would not be as strong. I still don't think that a simple willingness to help qualifies me to talk on matters of the heart.  It goes a lot further that me sharing my experiences from divorce.  I also studied men.
I would like to start out by disclosing that I understand women.  I feel like I understand them by virtue of being one.  Maybe I'm overly observant of human nature.  Mostly I think I just understand how women are put together.  I know how society influences us and I see how we respond to careers, babies, men, and fashion.  Even if my responses are not always the same, I get it. I do. But men? I would never tell you I understand men. Ever.  I don't.  What I have done is met and spent time with a lot in my single days.  I'd say somewhere around 200-300.  I did what no women ever does: I didn't look at them as potential love interests.  I looked at them as research subjects.  Yes, I dated plenty of them.  I slept with quite a few as well.  Mostly, I talked to them.  At length.  About whatever the fuck I wanted.  The interesting thing about not looking at a man as a love interest is that you stop caring what they think about you.  I was single and feeling betrayed by men in general. I had to admit that I knew nothing about them and I was determined to learn.
Instead of going on a date (in a woman's mind this is an interview that leads to a possible marriage and kids situation), I simply had a cup of coffee with them.  As in, hello new friend, let's sit and talk and I'm not going to imagine your last name with my first name, I don't care if you think I'm pretty, and there is no option of this ending up in a relationship.  I just wanted to see what the motherfuckers had to say.  And they were all "motherfuckers" in my head.  I said it with a smile.  Cheeky bastards that just wanted to sleep with me and it didn't matter if they were 20 or 65.  You see, my cheerleader friend always said "motherfucker" and enunciated every syllable in a way that always made me smile, so the pet name was in her honor, naturally.  At first I just listened to them talk.  Maybe about their family, job, pets, and sometimes even exes.  I started seeing different basic personality types emerge.  I was enthralled and I rarely contributed much to the conversations.  Then I became braver and began asking them questions that nobody should ask on dates.  "Would you treat me any different if I were wearing a miniskirt right now instead of sweatpants?" Then we'd discuss his answer.  "Well you might still want to see me tomorrow if I sleep with you tonight, but I won't.  You'd just be a sex object to me.  So you can sleep with me now and never see me again, or you can wait for another date and then have as much sex with me as you want until we're sick of each other." I'd smile while they responded.  I didn't care.  It wasn't a game so much as the most informative years of my life. 
I suppose giving dating advice came on gradually.  I'd overhear a conversation and chime in with a "oh, I dated one of those once...did he do...." and it would begin.  I've been friend zoned a hundred times.  I've slept with guys who wanted to pour their heart out to me over the woman they were really in love with.  I've gotten the "it's not you, it's me" speech over and over.  I've been told I was wrong, not good enough, not quite, too special of a friend, and all sorts of bullshit.  Sexting, skype, facetime, you name it.  Long distance delusions and had men blatantly lie to my face.  I've had a man sleep with me time and time again and claim he was not interested in a relationship then fall madly in love with the next girl who walked through the door and promise her all of the things he couldn't do for me.  Was I hurt? Sometimes.  Mostly I was stunned into silence and spent a lot of time combing through my experiences trying to make sense of them in my own mind and so I could share them with my friends who had similar troubles.
Do you want to know the truth? I still don't understand men.  I don't even know how relationships start.  What I see are two very different sexes that somehow collide into relationships some of the time, but mostly end in mixed signals and disappointment.  Women tend to see every date as an opportunity for forever.  It's all so serious and any man who shows real interest should be considered as a boyfriend and possibly a husband.  This is insane to me.  You don't hire every applicant who wants a job at your company, do you? Why is every man you date your next desired boyfriend? I don't know, but I know there is some deep, dark fear that each woman has in her heart that she will never get married, have kids, and be validated as a human being by a man's love at least once in her life.  Do what you want with that, it's still true.  I have no idea what drives men to be in relationships.  It's like they just decide in a moment that THIS girl is the one and they are willing to do anything for her.  My husband knew I was the one on our first date based on what exactly?  By the end of one month he had a tiffany promise ring on my finger and he told me he loved me.  It took me a few months to return the sentiment, but I know most girls would be swinging from the chandelier in celebration of his decisiveness. These are the same men who complain to their female "friends" that there are no good women out there.  Except the ones they're talking to, right?  The ones that don't qualify?  It makes zero sense to me.
Maybe I give good relationship advice because I tell it like it is.  I'm frighteningly honest, even in person.  What I learned from my cheerleader friend is that you can't tell people how to feel or act.  All you can do is tell them your experience and give them permission to go on their own journey.  It's very rare that I tell someone that they need to end a relationship, something is over, or they're wrong.  I usually talk to them until they figure out what may seem plain to me.  Who wants to convince someone that you're right anyway?  People believe conclusions they come to on their own.  So I give my gentle reminders: You are allowed to be upset.  Don't hold back anger because you're an adult and you think you're not allowed.  Nobody learned anything from repression.  Why do you think something is wrong with you?  Because the last guy you dated didn't meet your needs?  That just means he was wrong.  You can't be too needy.  You just need someone more attentive. I've met plenty of men willing to smoother a woman with attention.  Find one.  The list goes on and on.  Love is not conditional.  You deserve it all the time.  It's good you were willing to take on this burden; it speaks to your character, but this sacrifice is not normal or healthy in a relationship with no reward for your efforts. 
There are days when I'm tired and overwhelmed with my own life and I don't think that I have time to help anyone else.  I take a breath and I do it anyway.  Where would I be if nobody had grabbed my hand when I felt like I was drowning? These days I seem to be battling a familiar depression in this pregnancy.  I've had these same women who I helped through some tough times reach back out to me to lift my spirits.  Their excitement over the baby is contagious.  When I feel fat and ugly, someone rubbing my belly and smiling makes me feel good about myself again.  They point out when I'm praising my husband to remind me that there are things to be grateful for when I'm in my worst state of mind.  It helps to know what I'm up against.  It's amazing to feel support without having to ask for it.  So yes, I'm having a rough time, but I know it could be much, much worse.  For now I will take things one day at a time and believe that it's going to be ok.  As I fall into darkness now and then, I know that it is not a solitary struggle back into the light.  I am taking comfort in all of the hands that help guide me back to where I need to be.  I can figure this out. I always do.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The bundle

Say hello to the world, little baby. Your mom is very excited to let someone else hold you in Oct <3

Friday, March 7, 2014

I don't remember my dreams

Last time I was pregnant was the last time I took a two year break from writing.  I'm determined not to let that happen again.  I guess I'm just not one of those women who smiles and glows and waltzes around with their adorable belly.  I'm the one who is sick, exhausted, impatient, and spews anger with a bloody nose.  I think I waited until it was just long enough for me to forget the misery of pregnancy to get knocked up again.  Really the only plus I can think of when it comes to me and babies is that I get pregnant really easily.  In fact, it happened on the first try all three times I've been pregnant--one miscarriage, my daughter, and the little guy who is currently making me miserable.  I wish I was happy and dancing on air, but I'm not.  I guess I'm trying to figure out why.
I think I blocked most of this out.  As small things happen, the memories flood back to me.  Oh yeah, I get nose bleeds...I remember cravings.  Was I really this tired last time that my ex used to joke I was narcoleptic? Yep, this feels about right.  The weight gain, irritability, and breast soreness.  These are things that you read in books that warn you what pregnancy will be like.  I'm ok with symptoms.  What I'm unsure about is how I act while I'm pregnant and how other people treat me.  The way people treat me breaks my heart.  The fact that I care makes it worse.  I'm used to being a very tough individual.  I don't care what other people think.  I go about my business and I'm fine.  I'm happy to be disconnected from most people on the planet.  I don't know what it is about pregnancy that makes me so sensitive to what other people joke about me.  I know they're joking, I do.  But it makes me feel unwanted and my baby unwanted when people groan when they learn I'm pregnant again or remind me how annoying and clingy I was or joke that they don't want to deal with a baby shower.  How about when they joke that I better shape up before I chase off another husband.  How am I supposed to respond? 
I live in a place in my mind where I don't know the answers to a lot of things.  I don't know how to have two kids with two different fathers.  I don't know how my daughter will feel when she realizes that her last name doesn't match the three of us or that her dad doesn't live with us.  I don't know how to make everyone feel loved and safe and wanted.  I don't even feel that way these days.  And there don't seem to be any answers.  The other day I tried to tell my husband.  I sat on the couch and cried and see seemed to brush me off and I didn't feel any better.  Tonight he took me to dinner to a new restaurant and told me that I was ruining it for him and tried to make us leave once we'd been seated already.  It just seems to reinforce in my mind that there is something terrible about me that comes out when I'm pregnant that maybe is hidden at other times.  After what happened to me last time, I seem to be willing to take the blame and be at fault. It all seems to mix together these days.  The other day I woke up from a nap and heard my husband talking to my ex outside the window with my daughter's voice in the background.  I felt confusion.  Which of those voices were supposed to be comforting to me?  Most days I hold my daughter close to me and just wish it would all go away.
Most of the time I feel very alone.  I told my husband that I felt like he was treating me as a roommate and he got very angry at me.  He said his response to things going badly is to act selfish.  Are things going badly? I guess so.  I feel like all of the best parts of me go into making a child.  All of my love, faith, understanding, patience, and virtue focus inward for the life I'm creating.  The rest of me is left with the hatred, distrust, judgement, and contempt--all of the worst parts of my personality.  All of my feelers are turned inward with my energy for this new life and nobody can seem to get to me anymore.  Nobody except my daughter.  She somehow seems to operate on the same wavelength as I do.  Mercifully, she enters the plexiglass fortress that surrounds me through a very small door, like Alice in Wonderland.  She puts her hands on my stomach and the twinkle of her laughter fills my ears and I can feel the light envelop us both.  I find myself waiting for the minutes I can be with her.  It's the only innocence I have left in my life and I'm badly in need of something to believe in these days.
I was so innocent when I was pregnant with my daughter.  I was very much in love with my husband at the time and I sincerely thought we had a bond that wouldn't break.  I know I'm insecure and needy when I'm like this.  I mistakenly thought he'd be there for me and he wasn't.  I know he hated me for it and I guess I don't blame him anymore.  I'm very different like this than I am normally.  It must be shocking for everyone to see and I know it's why nobody seems to want to spend time with me.  Yes, it breaks my heart.  Every single eye roll.  Every single off handed comment and sigh.  I hear them.  I guess you can't force people to love you or want you around unconditionally.  Maybe some people don't know what unconditional love means.  It won't stop me from crying about it when nobody is looking and I'm not sorry.  I'm allowed to be hurt by hurtful things.  So today I'm trying to not be needy or clingy to anyone but my daughter.  She seems to want my love and attention and I'm grateful to give it to her.  I love how she greats the baby first and talks to my stomach before me.  I love how she knew I was pregnant three days before I took a test.  I smile when she tells everyone she sees that mommy has a baby in her tummy and it's just for her.  I guess that's what family is supposed to be--we are here to love and support each other no matter what.  That's unconditional love.
I saw my little bundle for the first time today.  Little heart beating away and my eyes filled with tears.  I never cried during ultrasounds with my daughter.  I didn't understand what was coming.  I don't think I really knew what love was before her.  I had a mother who rejected me and my love and an exhusband who eventually did the same.  I love my daughter beyond my ability to describe it in words.  I see this little being growing inside of me and marvel at the fact that this tiny soul is also being entrusted in my care.  Can I really love two people the way I love her?  I suppose I must be able to if I was blessed enough to be given the opportunity to have another child.  I'd be lying if I didn't say that I was scared of what happens next.  My husband is supposed to love me and want me around.  My kids should love each other and feel happy and welcome and wanted.  I am supposed to have my happily ever after here, aren't I?  But I'm not in control of all of that.  In the true fashion of my nature, I'm guilty of too much too soon.  I got married and got pregnant in the blink of an eye. I can rationalize with myself that I'm old and I didn't have much time.  I can tell you that years of friendship and love didn't help me last time, but none of it matters.
My ex is off on vacation with his gf who he will propose to next month.  I like her and I think they're a good match, but I'm never going to be truly happy for them.  How can I be when the man who promised he'd love me forever changed his mind once I became pregnant with his daughter?  I can't help but think about it.  I also see how much he's changed over the years.  He told me the other day that he doesn't care if he fails at everything else in his life, all he wants is to be a good dad.  I think he finally figured out what unconditional love is and I'm really grateful for that.  I want him to be a good dad.  My husband has left me alone in the bedroom. He put in his headphones and is cleaning and singing and doing his own thing.  He dropped off a plate of cookies for me, but doesn't seem to want to spend any time with me.  So here I sit growing my little one all alone in bed and wishing my daughter was with me instead of her grandma.  So much of my life seems to look great on paper, but I just feel bad inside.  Nobody wants to listen to a newlywed complain or feel bad for choices she freely made regarding her love life or family. Ok, fine.  I don't know what to do, so I'm going to eat a cookie and go to sleep and hope that tomorrow is a better day.  I don't seem to have many answers these days. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Don't you want to find something worth saving?

Each year I come up with a slogan for how I feel things will or should go in my life.  For 2012 I picked "everyone who sucks can go to hell" and I worked on pushing people who were not good for me out of my life.  In 2013 I said "this is the year we wipe the slate clean" and I worked every day to heal my heart and not hold things that have happened to me in my past against anyone else.  It's now 2014 and I've decided on "this is the year we start living the dream".  Here I am married to a handsome, successful man, I have an amazing daughter, I'm planning baby #2, and hopefully either this summer or next summer I'll be able to buy us a condo to call a home.  So why am I so fucking miserable?  I think we need to sit down and talk about this, just like I do to so many miserable people who come across me and ask for my advice.  I'm a happy person, always.  My whole life fell apart around me and somehow to everyone's surprise, I walked around with a smile on my face.  So here we go.  And dear self, cry all you want.  You need to hear this speech because you've gotten lost in your checklist again and you're missing the point once again.
Happiness is a choice and it lives exclusively inside of you.  Nobody is responsible for making you happy.  No person, thing, action, or string of words will make you a happy person.  Happiness has to do with your level of expectations for yourself, your life, and the people around you.  The more you expect and the more you feel entitled to, the less you will be grateful for and the less happiness you will have in your life.  In other words, you are robbing yourself of happiness by acting like an entitled bitch.  Yep.  I know, it's not fair, it's not what you thought, you didn't sign up for this, blah blah blah.  It doesn't matter what you want, what you expected, or what you thought should happen. It just doesn't matter. I think we need to do a quick rewind and count our blessings and try to move forward with some humility.  Since when do you ever care about being right or bruised pride?  This is just getting stupid, plus you frown so much that all I ever see is your mother's ugly chin and neck in the mirror whenever I see you.  Remember looking up at that unhappy face as a child?  Remember that stern tone of voice?  Well now your child is seeing the same thing.  Great job, mom!  Did that hit home? Good, now let's move on.
I've been in counseling for years.  Years.  Yes, I dealt with my mommy issues and how to be a mother and a woman at once, but mostly I dealt with my own shortcomings with men.  I didn't know how to pick them.  I didn't know what the red flags were, when to walk away, or why I always picked projects that I wanted to love and fix.  Why did I need the gratification of "fixing" anyone?  Fortunately I felt that I eventually began to get better.  I spent my time fixing myself and raising my daughter.  I was looking for another complete person to share my life with.  I think where I got lost is that I started thinking I was looking for my equal.  I feel like this is the source of most of my unhappiness these days.  I felt like if I was able to handle what I do, then I should be with someone else who can do the same.  I felt like my intelligence, multitasking, memory, and ability to think on my feet should be equalled.  I'm starting to realize this way of thinking is beyond unfair.  There's only one me in the world and it's like that for a reason.  Yes, I married an adult who is educated, has a career, and can take care of himself.  But fuck, he's not me.  In fact, he's nothing like me.  Nothing.  I have degrees in English and his in History.  I am a technical editor and he's an assistant principal.  I speak in logic and he uses his heart.
I've been making this terrible mistake of seeing and pointing out everything different about us. When you start out pointing out differences, nothing good can come of it.  Negative begets negative, period.  And I should know better.  It's not that I don't know the man who has all of my same interests, tastes, and can match me on quick wit and make me laugh.  It's my ex husband.  My daughter's father.  I've known him for 11 years and our relationship has moved through more phases than I care to remember.  While we don't act like exes, we do act like friends.  I've known my husband a year.  We are still getting to know each other when you think about it. There's nothing wrong with that.  You can't compare the two and I have no outward desire to.  But I can't deny that there are times when everyone is hanging out laughing and talking that my ex and I will be making jokes and talking and being assholes and laughing our asses off and my husband will feel left out or uncomfortable.  It's happened and I feel like shit about it.  My logical brain could not figure out the answer to this dilemma.  How do you fix that situation?  How do you carefully and calmly explain and make anyone understand a situation that rarely happens and can't be defined in contract terms?  You don't.  So I did the only thing I could in that moment: I cried.
I did something I should've done a long, long time ago and didn't.  I sat on our bed with my husband and I told him the story of me and my ex.  Not the story where I'm reflective and intelligent and I smile and am grateful that he's still part of our daughter's life.  No.  I cried for the first time in front of my husband and I told him the story that only exists in the archives of this blog.  The one where he broke my heart.  Where he was my best friend in the whole world and he knew me better than anyone.  I trusted him with my heart, every feeling, my entire being and in the end, he decided that he didn't like who I was and couldn't stand me. He told me he hated me and the sound of my voice made him sick to his stomach, as did my very presence.  He killed me.  He put himself in the same category as my mother without realizing it.  One of the few people in this world who knows me to the core and rejected me because of it.  He sat very quietly and listened to me and didn't interrupt me for two hours of words I hadn't planned and tears I couldn't stop.
I began to talk about love.  What real love meant to me and why I have so much to give.  After everything my ex did to me, I still love him.  I struggle with that all the time--whether it's appropriate and what to do with it.  Most people think I'm crazy for stubbornly standing behind him in his life now.  I will do everything I can to help him be a good father.  I'm excited for him to marry his girlfriend, who my daughter loves very much.  I want him to have a job that he can be successful in and drive a cool car and smile every day.  Why? Because one day over 10 years ago I told him that I loved him and that, my friends, was not a joke.  Love doesn't require a ring or a marriage license.  When I told him I would always be there for him, I meant it.  Granted, some of his choices meant that our relationship would no longer be a romantic one and I'm ok with that.  I don't miss the marriage with him, but the thought of losing my friend nearly killed me.  Over the past few years, we have been able to slowly build a friendship that now includes my new husband and his future wife.  
Is this the sort of thing you tell your husband? I don't know.  It's sure as hell the kind of thing you should tell someone who wants to spend their life with you.  If you want to be with me, you need to understand my heart, no matter what it holds.  After I had finished talking, my husband said very softly that what I just described was the very pure unconditional love that very few people ever get to experience in their lifetime.  He also said he was lucky that he had a chance to receive that from me in our marriage.  You know, I can yell and scream that my husband doesn't have my taste in cars, food, clothes, or any other material thing.  I can be frustrated because he doesn't think quick on his feet, can't alway articulate himself when he's put on the spot, or doesn't know how to handle helping me with my daughter, but there's something very important that he does understand.  My heart.  He understands that I love my friends like family.  He understands that I look at my nieces and nephew (and his step daughter from his last marriage) as my own kids, with no exceptions.  He can see me love my daughter's father and his girlfriend because they quite simply love my child and take care of her.  He has run into countless ex boyfriends and listens to me sing their praises and remain friends with them to encourage them in their lives and new relationships because I saw something in them once that was worth my time.  And he doesn't berate me for it.  Instead, he stands in awe that I really have that much love to give and knows that loving someone doesn't take the love away from anyone else, including himself and our marriage.
And I'm sitting here unhappy because of what again? It's disgusting.  I'm unhappy because he's not me.  Is that what I'm up against here?  I should be rejoicing that he's him.  A man who can love another person's child as his own, including my daughter and his ex's daughter, even after the marriage is long over.  A man who can get to know and accept my ex and his whole family--an involvement that will also impact our future kids.  Because who is better to serve as a babysitter than a family that I already love and trust to take care of my children that is eagerly anticipating the next baby?  Can you tell me one other man on this planet that would effortlessly walk into that situation?  Because it has been effortless in my observation.  My husband has his shortcomings.  He's always late, has no money management skills, zero listening skills, and asks me the same questions repeatedly.  He's so nice that he apologizes for teasing you, which is comical on its own.  But these things should not make me so upset or annoyed that I don't want to have sex with my smokin hot husband. Come on, now.  If I was able to overlook all of the shortcoming of my ex and love him completely, then certainly I can manage to do the same with my husband and leave off the disappointment.
So here we are.  The problem is me and my perspective.  I'm willing to stop expecting him to be my equal and instead just be himself.  I will be grateful that the man cleans the house constantly without me having to ask him (omg yes he does, gasp!), checks on my constantly and tries to take care of me because he loves me, love my daughter and insane family with all of their issues, and doesn't try to change me.  He's not my equal, he's my partner.  Are you listening? Partner does not equal the same person.  It means someone who has their own strengths and compliments you.  Apparently I thought that finding a man I wanted to marry gave me just cause to be a demanding asshole.  I have no idea why.  My expectations should not have changed.
I usually write a blog at the beginning of each year about what I want to work on for myself.  I think this year the answer is pretty clear: I need to work on being grateful, happy, and loving more completely.  This year I'm planning on having a baby and I know that things will get hard in my life again, but that it will also become much more joyful.  I need to banish the insecurities and fear in my heart over my body changing, that my moodiness will make my husband dislike me, and that the fact my ex and his gf will be involved will threaten me in any way.  I know that one good decision brings nothing but good decisions.  I know that doing the right things is always the right thing, even if it hurts your heart.  The fact that my daughter's father has thanked me for being me and giving our daughter such a loving, peaceful, harmonious extended family has proved that to me.  You can never love too many people, you can never have too many people love your children, and there is enough time in your life to reach your hand out to grab anyone who needs help.