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.