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.