Set free

It was a long summer, and an even longer year, since this all began. The highs have been very high, sometimes even giddy, and the lows have been even lower. My life is not a rollercoaster, no it’s something else. It’s more like an EKG reading, with large spikes followed by a series of smaller, less noticeable ones.

I had stopped planning or getting excited for a new path and a new home by the holidays. I’d stopped talking about the future with my kids, because it caused too much anxiety and disappointment.

I was in a holding pattern. I was chained to this unknown master of my fate.

I have learned, the hard way, that you need to look at all of the angles and think like a thief. What can I give up? What will it cost me, cost my children? What part am I missing? Is this really in my best interest? I learned not to trust anyone.

People can, and will, let you down.

The “process” was a long and tedious one with a stubborn, selfish man on the other end always pushing, always demanding, never giving. At least not without a fight.

It was very costly, too. Both monetarily and emotionally. For all of us.

But, the hard part is over, right? Now we can move on to our separate lives and begin anew! Find that true love, discover our true self, find our happiness without each other. Like an advertisement for detergent, “whiter, brighter and stays fresh longer!

We’re free!

That’s all well and good to say, and even to try to believe, but we still have to continue to interact, communicate and cooperate on some major decisions in the future. We have kids.

Sharing in our children’s lives, for the rest of our lives, creates a sense of never truly being set free.

I want to be set free, I want to shrug off this heavy cloak of self-doubt and rejection and move on to a world that only brings me joy. I am ready to carve out my own life and my own future, and not to continue living in someone else’s reality, trying to fit into their version of who I am supposed to be and never quite measuring up. And I know that I am ready, truly ready, but I wonder if it’s completely possible with this invisible weight that holds onto me. Tugging at me. Making me doubt myself.

It’s an imposing shadow that clings to me, a constant worrying whisper in my ear, reminding me that I can’t change who I am, or who I’ve been. That person I’ve been for the last twenty five years? or most of my life if I’m honest, she can’t do this alone.

She’ll never make it.

But I feel it in my heart, in my soul, in my bones that I am ready to move forward and discover who that person is inside and what she’s capable of doing, of becoming. There once was a young girl, not that long ago, that was unafraid of the future and only saw opportunities, new experiences and new discoveries. She embraced the world with a smile and determination. She didn’t doubt her worth, or her intelligence, or her strength.

I want to meet her again.

 

 

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My year of “Yes” begins

It’s only been one month since the idea occurred to me to challenge myself, break out of my old habits and comfort zone, embrace new challenges and new social connections. I jokingly referred to my new look at life as “my year of yes!”.

My friends laughed, and I laughed, but then when opportunities came up – social invites, new ideas, new skills, new social invitations, things that I had turned down in the past – those words came back to me. I have been gently, and not so gently, reminded of the promise I made to myself, to make this the year of yes, more often than I expected! Lesson learned: be careful what you say out loud amongst your friends and family.

Prodding me. Pushing me. Challenging me. Reminding me. It all comes back to this.

So to follow through with my vow, I have taken a sewing course to finally learn how to use my beautiful, expensive, sewing machine that I have owned for over seven years! I could only thread the bobbin and possibly do “practice” stitches, but never tried making anything or even putting in a hem. I truly wanted to learn before now, but never made the time to do so, or found a way to make it work with all of my other perceived “important commitments”. Suddenly, there was a Groupon with a beginners sewing class on offer, and I couldn’t ignore it or pass up the opportunity. It was only three classes, for two hours each evening, but that’s all that I really needed to not be afraid to try it. I actually MADE SOMETHING. An apron, that was made with my own hands and in a fabric that I chose. I felt like a blushing middle schooler in Home Ec class when I was done!

I also realized that I have lost the ability to read an entire book in the last few years. It seems that I can only pay attention for so long before my mind wanders and I think I have more important things that I should be doing, or I get distracted with family things or feel too lazy and just watch TV. I was down to reading magazine articles and snippets online, and feeling as if my brain were shrinking! So, I took on the challenge to read 25 books in 2016 through Goodreads. Going from zero books in 2015 to twenty five in 2016 sounds daunting, but I am hungry to read! I am working on three books simultaneously now, and it feels great!

I recently went to a bridal show with my soon-to-be sister-in-law, and during the vendor visits I agreed to take dance lessons at Arthur Murray Dance Studios. I originally agreed so my brother and SIL could get a free lesson towards their wedding dance lessons, but I’ve always wanted to learn how to ballroom dance and never made the time – or had the real opportunity since my husband had no desire the last twenty years. Who knew that you could take dance lessons alone? They promised me a young, good-looking instructor…now you’ve got my attention!

I signed up for and have successfully participated in my first ever public crossfit competition, the Trodo games, and finished with my team to earn the “grit award”. It was by far one of the hardest competitions I have ever been a part of, and I seriously underestimated what it would entail. I almost quit during the first WOD and truly felt like sitting down and crying, but it got better and I did it. I survived, and I am honestly looking forward to the next one! Maybe now I will make the time to take my training seriously and actually eat better to feel better.

And the latest challenge from a good friend is to wear makeup everyday for thirty days to see if it will change my life, or at least the way I feel about myself. I am the average SAHM, honestly. Most days I am in some sort of t-shirt, with jeans or yoga pants and casual shoes – no makeup. Everyday. It’s been interesting to say the least. I have tried each day to do something with my face, even if it’s just mascara and some blush. So far, after only one week, I am feeling more confident in myself. I take an extra minute to look at myself in the mirror (maybe I’ve forgotten who that strange woman looking back at me really is?) But within the first week of this challenge, I have realized that my makeup is pretty basic and could stand to be updated, or should I say, more age appropriate? I’m probably using the same techniques and colors that I did when I was a teenager, and that wasn’t last year let, me tell ya. Time for a makeover. Bobbi Brown, here I come!

All of this is just the beginning. It’s more than a resolution, it’s a promise to myself to be better to me, kinder and more forgiving of myself. I have been living for everyone else but myself for a very long time – usually it was my own doing, but sometimes completely out of my control. Or so I thought. I just turned fifty a few months ago and an idea became crystal clear shortly afterward. I only have one life, and only so many days and nights left to it. I should do what makes me happy, what brings me joy, and share it with those that make me happy and bring me joy. It’s time to let go of the negative, the exhausting, the sadness and make myself open to the positive, the exciting, the joy and all of the new opportunities that the future has in store for me.

 

New year, new what?

This is my first New Year’s Eve alone…ever. I mean, really. When was the last time that I was completely alone on New Year’s Eve?

Even when I was a kid, I was home with my parents or my grandparents, or at least my brother. But not this year. Nope. I am alone and I chose to be alone. And it oddly feels good.

I’ve spent the day cleaning and organizing, uninterrupted. I shopped for a decadent dinner – freshly steamed shrimp with a salad and fresh baked bread – and a gloriously indulgent bottle of wine. It was a bit pricey for one person, but hey, it’s the new year!

I have taken my “lucky bath” with the silver dollar in it, too. That should prepare me for the coming year, shouldn’t it?

But then again, maybe not. The new year has so many promises, and yet so many unknown challenges. Not to mention that the end of this year is not nearly the smooth transition that I had hoped for or had ever seen coming.

As we get older, our goals and desires change and morph into something else I guess. What we thought was the answer is now an open chasm of questions. I just turned fifty this year and it has not been a smooth ride, to say the least. Challenges abound.

My marriage is at a crossroads of sorts, maybe it’s a “midlife crisis”? But for some crazy reason I am not afraid. No matter which way it goes, I will be okay and my kids will be fine. I think that I have been preparing for this my entire life, seriously.

Once, when I was at my grandma’s house sitting in the living room trying to keep cool by the air conditioning vents, I confessed that I could see myself married and divorced. My grandmother was stunned. I was 16. But for whatever reason, I could see it in my future and it didn’t scare me, because I knew that I could survive and make a life of my own regardless. And I would have children that loved and depended upon me.

So here I am, examining and weighing the path of my twenty year marriage, looking over the possible precipice of divorce possibilities, and almost welcoming the swift blow of what could be the end. Ready to react and to grow stronger. Ready for the next chapter, without anxiety or doubt. I want to live to be who I am, authentically, not someone’s cookie cutter expectation. I want to be loved for who I am, not who I should be.

And while I am a bit sad that it is my first New Year’s Eve alone, I pushed for it and made my choices. I doubt that it will be my last and I am certain that I will survive it nonetheless.

Looking forward to a new year with new possibilities and promises. A new year with a new story. And I wish that for you, too.

It will be without us.

Where do you go when you have reached the end? Do you find a new beginning or do you sit and wait for something to happen? I don’t know.

We’ve been married for twenty years. We’ve been together for almost twenty-five, or roughly half of our lives. That’s a long time by anyone’s description. But people used to stay together until they died, which could take 50, 60 or more years. Not anymore.

We don’t have the same interests or the same kinds of friends. He tells me that I am a loner and he needs people, lots of people. Why didn’t he see that twenty five years ago? Or even twenty two before he proposed? I’ve always been this person. And from what he told me tonight, he’s always been the person he is and he has no intention of changing it, obviously not even for me.

I wanted it to be different for so long, almost from our first year. Maybe we should have called it then, when we went on our one year anniversary trip and had the least romantic week of our lives. Who chooses Disney for a one year anniversary? I can’t even remember why we did anymore, I just remember it being awful and uncomfortable. Feeling resentment and disappointment from both sides.

We used to have a good sex life until we had kids, or maybe it was right around the time that we got married? I remember right before the wedding crying that I didn’t see the point of going on a honeymoon if we weren’t even having sex at home – what was the point of going to Jamaica to have sex? As it turned out, we did every night on our honeymoon. But once we were back home we were back to square one. So many nights, weeks, even months would go by without any intimacy.

He was demanding in so many ways, and unhappy with me in more ways. I was frustrated with his temper and his arrogance. He resented my disorganization and my middle class presentation. Some of the cute, “couples” things that we did in the beginning he began to rebuff. I would pinch his butt as he walked in front of me up the stairs or down the hall – he started waving my hand away and telling me to stop. He kissed me like he would kiss his grandmother, and I tried to tell myself that he wasn’t a PDA kind of guy and that was alright.

I moved to various locations for his career and took on the role as if I were a pioneer woman. Always looking for ways for us to “fit in” and to make our life as a family wherever we went. Trying to be “local”, to assimilate within our community. He worked tireless hours and stayed late with his work friends, coming home after 8pm most nights. I was basically a single parent most days.

And now one more move has come up and I have come to my senses. I won’t move this time, and our children have no desire to leave what we finally call home. He wants this new position of power and prestige. He wants the bigger money, the fancy car, the exotic location and the California zip code. He tells me that if he doesn’t take this job he will resent it for the rest of his life. He will resent me, even though he doesn’t say that out loud, but I know what he is expressing. He wants what he wants, with or without us.

It will be without us.

A too good to be inside kind of day…

Today was a good day. A “too good to be inside” kind of good day.

The temperature was around 78, the sun was shining and everyone was smiling, laughing and playing. Then it was time to get to our “activities”…sad faces, sniffling noises, dead man walking…

But maybe, just maybe, we don’t really have to go…do we?

Sometimes you’ve just gotta say, “what the heck?!” and do it – or actually don’t do it. Blow it off! Play hooky! Have fun and live a little, for goodness sakes!

So we did. And I wish that I could say that I felt at least a little bit bad about it, but I didn’t. I actually felt great about it.

I dropped off my middles son’s golf clubs to him at the course so he could play his first nine holes of the season, then swung by to pick up my other middle-schooler from school to take him along with the youngest to go out for ice cream.

Dairy Queen…aaahhhh.

We ordered from the walk-up window, along with half the town that showed up, and sat under a tree in the shade enjoying our first taste of something like summer – but not quite. Then we went for a haircut (only by request) and headed home.

On the way home my middle son called to be picked up and we all agreed that we needed tacos for dinner. He got a 97 on his Spanish project today afterall – now THAT’S worth celebrating!

A quick shower (my oldest is at that age, for better or worse), grabbed the keys and we were off! A taco dinner at our favorite place that my husband usually protests going to, but he’s not home to make that argument, so we went. And it was great!

We laughed, we talked, we goofed around driving there and back. We made plans for spring break to go camping and exploring. We slowed down and just enjoyed being a family. No real plan, no activity to get to, just us and that was all we needed.

These are the days that I hope my kids will remember – not just the big events, not just the bad events – the good times that came out of nothing more than just an idea on a “too good to be inside kind of day”. Those days when we blew it off to do something we wanted to do, not went to something that we had to do. And don’t get me wrong, most of those “have to do” things are things that we chose to be a part of, but some days you’ve just got to let it go and enjoy the sunshine, the smiles and the laughter. Sometimes it’s what makes us a family.