New normal

Now that the dust is settling from the demolition of my marriage, and my former life, it is time to move on. Time to go forward and figure out our new normal, if there will ever be such a thing. I have to believe that there will be eventually, and almost miraculously, it will feel seamless when it does happen.

I am finally coming into my own too, learning who I am, and feeling more secure in knowing that things in my life are somewhat within my control. I pay the bills, take care of the house and kids, get the groceries, etc. Pretty much what I was doing while I was married, honestly. The only difference is that I don’t have to wonder what mood the evening will bring when I hear the garage door open and footsteps coming through the mudroom at the end of each day.

And for that, I am relieved. Relaxed. And thankful.

My anxiety has diminished quite a bit, along with feelings of depression – could be the cocktail of “helpers” I am ingesting, but I’m not going to argue with whatever helps at this point.

Therapy has been a life saver, too. My only regret is that I didn’t begin it sooner.

My nails look better – for the first time in I can’t even begin to remember how many years, they don’t look like little animals have been chewing on them. My cuticles are smooth, my nails are growing. I have started getting manicures! The first and last time I had one before this year was the week before my wedding.

Do that math!

I smile more, laugh out loud and generally walk around with a sense of optimism and quiet excitement. I’m not bored, and I’m not stressed. I am not yelling at my kids, surprisingly. Plus, I am open to new experiences and challenges, new friends and adventures. Bring it on!

Who is this person??

It’s amazing to realize just how unhappy you were, and for how long, when you finally experience happiness…just by being you. Just by enjoying a life made with your own decisions, big and small. Sometimes even the tiniest decisions bring a certain giddy happiness because you made that decision completely on your own.

Like, what kind of pizza will I order? That’s how stupid and ridiculous it can be because you just weren’t able to do that without considering someone else, and the possible fallout or disappointment that would come from making a wrong decision.

Pizza toppings.

And more than that, it’s also kind of sad, realizing that you’ve been this deeply unhappy for so long and really didn’t know it. It was just normal everyday life, wasn’t it?

How can anyone live a life – for years – that is not true to their core self, in the name of love, just because someone who claims to love you doesn’t want you to? Or that same person can’t accept that thing (could be your laugh, your sense of humor, the way you brush your teeth, the friends you make, anything) about you, so you’ve learned to stuff it down or ignore it to keep your relationship going, and just thought that was the way love works? You have to sacrifice for love, right? Even if what you’re sacrificing is who you really are, your true self? And you are really the only one sacrificing anything to keep it going. Instead, shouldn’t that be a reason to walk away, to say ‘no thanks’ and move on?

That’s when therapy would have helped I suppose.

I was told by a close friend that one day soon I will wake up in my own bed, in my own  bedroom of my very own house, and feel a sense of peace. Pure joy. Just knowing that I have finally made it to the other side and lived to tell the tale. And I will be happy.

I am getting there a little bit each day, closer to that epiphany. And so are my kids. Our house is beginning to feel like “home”, there are fewer dramas and challenges for us all. Normal is coming our way soon, I can feel it.

And with each day I am still blown away by the fact that we are still standing, together. If nothing else, it has made us a stronger family unit, and more appreciative of each other, on some level. And possibly made us each take a long look at what is really, truly important to make us happy – it’s not a big house on a private street, with all of the bells and whistles, that you have to tiptoe around and never quite feel like it belongs to you, or that you belong in it for that matter. You are never quite home, because at the end of the day it’s not yours to decide, none of it really. It’s all parlor tricks and mind games.

We are making decisions as a family now, for the most part. Considering each other, working together, to find a new balance. To find our new normal.

I’m not saying that it’s all rainbows and butterflies…but it’s damn close.

 

 

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Every day memories

We tend to wait for special days, holidays, family celebrations to pull out the fancy stuff, the expensive things. Sometimes there may be a feeling, niggling in the back of our mind, that maybe whatever we are doing just isn’t “special” enough to celebrate with the good stuff, would our mothers or grandmothers approve? So we resort to our everyday basics, saving the good dishes/linens/crystal for the truly special times. A better suited time.

But too often, a better time only happens once in a blue moon, or sometimes not at all. This is not a post about “life is too short”, not really. But it is something to consider, to remind ourselves, and something that I’ve been leaving myself open to recently.

According to various studies – and my therapist – there are about four or five highly stressful experiences in life that are common to most people:

  • marriage, divorce, death, buying a house and losing your job.

I’ve covered a few of those over the past year. A couple were even at the same time!

2016 was not my friend.

But now that I’ve come out on the other side of it all, my world has come into sharper focus. Colors are brighter, smells are stronger, the whole world is more vibrant and pulsating with possibility. I feel lighter, happier, full of appreciation. Fully aware.

I feel as if I’ve been reborn some days, as cliche as that sounds.

I appreciate so many things, everyday things, so much more now. I feel comfortable in my own skin once again, and it’s been a very long time since I could honestly say that. And this new attitude, or awareness, has led me to see my life and how I live it in a whole new light. I’ve started to let go of a lot of the usual expectations and instead have  decided to let the tide take me where it wants. It’s not giving up the fight so much as it is just not fighting the magnetic pull any longer. Following my heart, giving myself permission to not ask for permission, being open to more. Finding the joy.

Listening to my soul.

So, with this new enlightenment, I’ve drifted away from conventional ideas of only celebrating when it’s the “right time”. Everyday is the right time if you reframe it in your own mind. It’s your experience, and your chance to make memories any way you like.

After moving into my house, my first ever all-my-own house, I was putting away the dishes, glassware, the pots and pans, and I noticed how much I love my china. I kept it for this very reason, after considering the idea to give it away or even leaving it behind, fearing that bringing it into my new home would only be an ugly reminder of a twenty year mistake, but for some reason I just couldn’t let it go.

I chose the pattern twenty years ago because it spoke to me, it gave me a warm feeling deep inside, and twenty years later it still does. Oddly, it didn’t remind me of our wedding, or the broken promises and disappointments that I’ve encountered over that time, instead it reminded me of family dinners and Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sitting at a big table with a group of happy, smiling people, that I love with my whole heart, laughing and enjoying each other. Special days. Days filled with love and joy and thanks.

And then a thought occurred to me, why should’t I feel that way every day?

Why do we have to wait until November or December, or a birthday or a graduation, to feel that warmth inside and appreciate the closeness that creates happy memories? Everyday that you gather around a table with your dearest loved ones, and maybe even a friend or two, is a special day. If you’re honest with yourself, you never know how many of these you will get over the course of your lifetime, why not appreciate them all?

So, instead of putting the fine china away in a cabinet somewhere “safe” to be retrieved for a special occasion, I put the entire set in my kitchen where my everyday dishes “should” go. My kids questioned my placement, almost panicked, asking what we would eat dinner off of on Tuesday night without “regular” dishes.

And then I unpacked the crystal and did the same thing.

I will no longer drink wine out of the “everyday” wine glasses, much as I love them too, only saving my crystal for a special occasion or “company”. Instead I will celebrate every sip of cheap red wine in my beautiful crystal glasses and feel special each time.

I will pour wine (maybe a better grade if you’re lucky that day) into the same glasses for my friends and family, and serve them my famous meatballs on the same fine china when they come to visit, too. Appreciating the moment, the shared experience, without worry about chipped dishes or broken glasses stressing me out, but instead relishing the happy memories being made out of our every day life.

I would love to know that when I die, while my children are cleaning out my house, they will come across the china and crystal and any other “special” things I’ve acquired along the way, and be able to say “remember how we ate off of this china every day in mom’s house while we were growing up? Just sitting at our wooden barn door table in the kitchen, eating spaghetti or meatloaf, and drinking wine or milk or whatever, but we ate it off of the china and drank out of our crystal glasses…on a Wednesday!” I want them to treasure those china plates and crystal glasses for the shared warmth of memories that have been etched into them. I want them to have everyday memories of us as a happy, loving family.

Happy memories without a special date attached. Happy just because. Every day memories of living our lives fully, and connected. Sharing love and laughter.

Just every day memories that make us special to each other.

 

 

I was wrong

Today was not a good day. Not even close to a good day.

I wish that I could say it started off with promise, but that’s not the case. We had a major plumbing malfunction. The shower handle broke off as my oldest went to turn it on, and water was spraying all over the bathroom. He stomped through the upstairs (twice!) looking for me, but I was downstairs getting ready for the housecleaners – you know we all do that, tidy up to make it easier and make ourselves feel better about how we live – I heard the stomping, but figured he was storming around looking for clothes, or a towel, or something he forgot. Never guessing it was an emergency.

I was wrong.

Don’t people usually yell, or call out for help in an emergency?

Nobody called me.

Obviously the shock of the situation caused him to go mute, because not once did he call out my name. I guess he was trying to conjure my appearance through mental telepathy?

By the time he came downstairs, he was a raving lunatic, wild eyed with panic, thinking he had been abandoned and was the last man on earth left to roam an empty house in the middle of a disaster.

I called the plumber, shut off the main water valve, and felt that the day could only get better.

I was wrong.

While my two teenage sons left to go to school, in their separate cars, they had a collision. In the driveway. The mute son backed into the pretty expressive son on this bitter cold day because his back window wasn’t completely defrosted. It was a slow bump, but expressive son loves his car more than anything in the world, so…it was a big deal.

Unbeknownst to me, they were now screaming at each other in the driveway, which lead to pushing, which ended with a punch in the face. 

Nobody called for me. Nobody came back into the house to ask for help or a judgement for punishment.

Later, I got a call from my very upset expressive son who now had a bloody lip while driving himself to school. I told him to go to the nurse and no, he can’t come home from school. I will talk to the mute son at lunchtime. It will be better later.

I was wrong.

Inbetween this all, the plumber took four hours to show up, I missed my crossfit class, I had to cancel the cleaners, I still hadn’t  been able to shower and I had to continue negotiating with my soon to be ex-husband through my attorney with the promise that “he is very motivated to get this done”. A phrase I’ve been hearing for the better part of the last four months. I could feel the wires in my brain beginning to smoke by 3pm.

The two boys came home later, the argument began again, this time with me in the middle to mediate and keep them from beating on each other. This lasted for over an hour.

Talking in circles, demanding apologies while deeming them unsatisfactory. Not taking responsibility for their actions, more screaming, more cussing, more angry tears.

Their frustration with each other isn’t just about the car, or the shower, or the insincere apologies. It isn’t really even with each other. It’s a build up of everything we’ve been through this year. The ups and downs, the promises and the loss of hope. The disappointments.

It’s watching me trying to keep it together, but seeing me fall apart sometimes. It’s scary. It’s upsetting. It’s all out of their control. They feel helpless.

And they each deal with it differently. My oldest is pulling away, protecting himself, putting up his guard with his “no more drama” attitude, putting his energy and attention into his friends and girlfriend. My younger one is holding on a bit tighter, worrying, protecting me. He’s the guard at the gate. He wants to know that we will still be a family, a team, a unit. That we still have each other. He’s scared he’s losing his older brother somehow, and he can’t lose someone else. He can’t take being abandoned by anyone else right now.

I get it. I understand them both, but it’s a tough line to walk somedays. I am trying to be strong, trying to shield them and show them only love, but sometimes I can’t keep it together. Sometimes I need them to push away, giving me the sense that they are as strong as I am supposed to be, and other times I need them to hold onto me a little bit tighter, need me a little bit more, so I feel their love surrounding me like bubble wrap.

It’s been a long year, a long struggle, that I thought would be over by now.

I was wrong.

It was not a good day. But it was only one day. There will be other days, good days, and hopefully we will be stringing them together more often in the coming year.

There is no timeout in divorce

I have been trying to keep moving forward with a positive outlook.

This whole divorce thing can be a positive, right? A new beginning, a new home that will be completely mine, new possibilities for the future. And let’s not forget, possibly a new love relationship (as if that is a train I am anxious to jump on after this!)

But to get to that place, you need to maneuver around a mine field of emotions, experiences and surprises. Yes, surprises, because there is always something that you weren’t really expecting to happen, or to be said. Something that comes at you like a brick at your head, or a punch in the stomach.

Something that will take the wind right out of you, leaving you dazed and hurt.

I’ve had my fair share of that scenario over the last six months. Just when I think I can do this with a good attitude, I can be amicable and patient, I can rise above the pain and disappointment…it happens again.

And when it happened too often, in too little time, I began to unravel. I truly thought I was going to lose my mind, or collapse under all of the pressure. And it’s not just from going through a divorce, no it’s not that simple. The rest of your life has to continue, the other people in your life that count on you (your kids, your family, your friends) still need you to function and perform. They still need you to not only show up, but make the reservations and take care of the details like you’ve always done.

That part of life doesn’t stop, doesn’t pause, doesn’t just wait until you can handle it all again. You don’t get to take a timeout. You must handle it all. Now.

Some days, I could feel my brain expanding and pushing against the sides of my head, a feeling that I would burst at any moment. My skin would tingle and the air was too thin to breathe. I felt cornered. Trapped. And with no escape route in sight.

Sometimes, I just wanted to run and keep on running until I couldn’t think about any of it anymore. I wanted to run to a safe place, a place that I could stop thinking. A place that I could stop being me, the me that was there for everyone and anyone.

I wanted to disappear.

But I can’t disappear, and I can’t make it all stop or even pause sometimes. Life keeps happening. Even when you think you’ve got enough on your plate, Life hands you another heaping helping to choke down.

No wonder I’ve gained weight.