Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas: Single Mom. Long Distance Relationship.

It's Christmas afternoon and it's snowing outside. What a gorgeous sight.

My house is quiet. Not a soul here except me and the pup. She's enjoying the new toys that Santa brought her.

Gentleman Jack and the boys left in a hurry earlier, as did several other house guests who were here for brunch. The ex came over and picked up my girls around the same time. The house quickly went from frenzied, jolly Christmas excitement to nothing but the sound of the crackling fire in my fireplace. We were all afraid the streets would ice over and no one would be able to drive safely. That's common in this area every year around this time.

It also stings to know that my ex's family is celebrating with him, our girls and his new wife. All of those people who loved me and said they miss me. They're all in town - a HUGE family - but I've not heard from any of them. Not a peep. It just doesn't seem right to be forgotten so easily.

I'm cleaning, sad and lonely. Christmas shouldn't end so quickly. I shouldn't have to be alone when I have two children and a man in my life.

But this is the life of a divorced, single mom with joint custody and a love affair with a man who lives 200 miles away.

***

I've wanted to write these past few weeks but have not had a single moment to myself. I guess I can use this quiet now. Now I can catch up.

My life has been busy. Work has been insane. Holiday parties and gatherings and so many things to prepare. I've done better at staying in touch with Gentleman Jack after he made note of my unavailability - even emotionally - since I began my new job in June.  Then there was the ugliness of our last day together after Thanksgiving.

I've done what I can to reach out and let him know I'm thinking of him or that I love him. I'm still unsuccessful at knowing what's going on in his life lately. We spent another 4 weeks apart between Thanksgiving and Christmas so we could save money to spend this past weekend AND next weekend together. A Christmas with all 4 children. Our blended family Christmas. Plus my birthday and New Years too. We waited so long to have these days together.

Also?

It was another 4 weeks of me being too exhausted to talk too long at night, too busy during the day, and too brain-dead to recall what's going on in his life. In those 4 weeks, I've detected irritation at my disconnect with him. I'm trying.

But one quick snap during this weekend and we were back in my bedroom crying it out again.

He's scared about "us". He's not sure anymore. He says he misses me... we can't do 4 weeks apart anymore. We both agree. I try to tell him that I'm doing the best that I can. That I'm so tired, I'm putting in the hard work now so that I can be more independent in a job later. Logically, he understands and is supportive. Emotionally, he feels sad, worried, lonely. He's lost faith.

I cry and feel beaten down. I'm trying to do both but I'm getting lost in there too. I've not had a moment for fitness, barely any yoga, unable to cook, too much fast food, not enough planning, not enough money to plan. I'm broken, kicking my own ass to make sure everyone else has a piece of me but I don't. I'm getting left out.

We love each other and go on with our weekend. Things are good. We laugh a lot. The kids have a blast. We're loving, affectionate and enjoying each other like things are normal.

But then I awake at 5 a.m. in a panic. This is it, isn't it? We're not going to make it through 2013.

We're not going to make it.

I tell him I had a bad dream and that I'm afraid of losing him. "I'm not going anywhere, punkin." He reassures me and pulls me closer before dozing off again.

But I'm scared. Maybe we won't make it. Maybe this is it.

I don't know.

I really really don't know.

I'm trying.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Emotions. Gun Control. People Control. More Angels.



Inhale, "Just".

Exhale, "This".

This was my mantra in today's yoga class. It was a tiny reminder to stay in the present moment, the only moment of which we have any control at all.

Or do we?

If you're as emotionally exhausted as I am, maybe you don't want to read anything else about the elementary school shootings in Connecticut anymore. Then again, if you know anything about the commentary on this blog, you'll know that I'm always seeking lessons, compassion and love in every situation. I hope to step outside of the utter rage, gut-wrenching sadness and helplessness we all feel.

***

Emotions.


No matter what I do, I can't help but feel the heaviness of the world. I've mentioned it before. When I feel something, it is felt deep to my core.

Upon hearing yesterday's news, I couldn't stop crying. The strangest part of all is that I felt the heaviness starting from the night before. I couldn't shake the sadness of, "What if something happened to my children?" as I tried to fall asleep that night.

In my despair yesterday morning, I reached out to GJ. I knew he was away from a computer, radio or TV and may not have heard the news. When I heard his voice, I knew that he'd just found out.

I also know him. He will do whatever it takes NOT to feel the low that I felt. It pains him too much so he redirects his attention. He started to suggest that I redirect too but then stopped himself.

"I know you. I know that you feel the world's pain. You are the most connected person I know. I also know that you know how to take care of yourself so I'm not going to tell you to try to feel better. You know what you need to do. I sometimes wonder, though, if you enjoy feeling the hurt. Maybe it makes you feel more alive."

I don't enjoy feeling like my heart has been shredded, no. But I do know that if I can process it, it will release. Otherwise, it grips me no matter what I do... and it'll show up elsewhere unless I address it head on.

***

Gun Control. People Control.


You know there's a suicide hotline, right? It's a place for people to call when they feel grief, frustration, rage, depression, abandoned and isolated. There are counselors there to listen and help. Attempting suicide is illegal. Did you know that?

I think that people want to take other lives for the same reasons they want to commit suicide. As a matter of fact, many will commit suicide after committing homicide. But there is no phone number for someone to call when they are considering homicide. And it's illegal too.

I heard countless psychologists talk about a "profile" of someone who would do the heinous act that took place yesterday. The "profile" fits most people. We've all had these feelings of rage or isolation, depression or anxiety, frustration or abandonment. Many of us aren't going to act on them. Or maybe we do, in our own passive aggressive ways. Cutting someone off in traffic. Stealing a parking spot. Looking the other way when someone needs help. Yelling at our kids. Refusing kindness because we feel like it's not been offered to us.

Some, however, will take the act even further because there has been no one who understands, no one who will listen, no one who will offer love that they recognize.

Haven't we all felt that way? Yet we make it so taboo to talk about those feelings, to admit to them, to empathize with someone else who feels them. Don't we all need a "rage hotline" sometimes?

Does this mean that we need to have stricter gun laws? I'm not sure. What I do know is when something is highly regulated or prohibited altogether, that doesn't mean it will stop anything. Ever heard of Prohibition? The War on Drugs?

Sadly, just as the shooter forced his way into the school yesterday, if someone wants something badly enough, they will find a way.

Case and point: The shooter's mother collected guns and they were easily accessible to him.... especially after he killed her.

Do we need to do some deep analysis on gun control and our mental health system together? I definitely think so.

Still...

Is it naive of me to wonder if we should notice the "loner", the one who's not like the others, the one who seems a bit off...? Like the stranger who reminded me to notice the homeless man at the train station. Maybe if we could see the Being in that person, a single ripple effect could change some things?

This is why A Course in Miracles says "every encounter is a holy encounter".  Every encounter with another person offers us the chance to see the good in them, beyond the facade of our skin, clothing, or human actions. Every encounter affects you and the person you encounter. What are you leaving that person with? Love? Or a validation of their unworthiness?

***

More Angels


As a mother, my heart cannot bear the thoughts that I've had the past 24 hours. I can't imagine being a parent who sent their child to school  - THEY SENT THEIR CHILD TO SCHOOL - such a normal every day thing.... only to have them not return. To have holidays...with presents left unopened.

My body carries the devastation of the families whose loved ones put their lives in front of the children's lives and made the sacrifice to save one, or more, little babies.... but lost.

I can't imagine having the job of being a first responder. Witnessing the devastation. As an EMT or coroner... what they must have seen!  I can't imagine the helplessness of the teachers, the other students, the parents, the families, the school staff, the police, the hospitals, the town, the state... all of it... just too much. Oh God, it hurts me so badly.

But stepping back, I have to remind myself that we are all souls - ageless. Our spirits aren't children or young adults or humans who've lived any length of time. We are the same. We've felt the innocence of childhood and the madness of someone who can hurt.

I have to look at it all and find the angels among us. I have to see the good, the coming together, the compassion, the love, the chance to try again.

Or I can see that there are more angels to look over us, all of us, reminding us that maybe we can do something different next time.

Maybe we can remember what we can control, in all of this.

"Just."

"This."






Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I'd Have Been Married 20 Years This Month


I realized the other day that this month, I would have been celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary, if my ex and I had remained married. When it occurred to me, I was mostly in awe that I could have been married that long. Because, I'm still too young to be married 20 years!

I mentioned it to a friend that afternoon who asked me, "Are you sad that you're not in that relationship anymore?"

I thought about her question sincerely because I did detect some mixed emotions when I recalled the date.

I don't believe I'm sad, per se. I mean, I certainly am happy that my ex-husband and I have an ongoing relationship, albeit challenged by his new wife. (Maybe one day, he'll grow a pair.) *ahem* 

I believe it's good for our children to know we still do care about each other.

I think I'm wistful about that feeling of security. What I mean to say is that I knew what my life was going to be like.

I knew he'd be traveling every week and I'd be home with our children, working a part time job and longing for the career I'd long given up. I'd be suffering some sort of career identity crisis and trying to figure it out on my own.

We'd be eating a ton of food that wasn't good for me and I'd be struggling with my weight. I'd feel frumpy and disillusioned or else I'd have disconnected at some point to pursue something that he didn't think I should be pursuing. Like becoming a natural medicine doctor. Or a yoga teacher. I'd be trying to eat differently than the meals he'd cook. I'd be trying to find a spiritual path that suited me. He'd roll his eyes at me.

My sex life would be almost nil. I'd get groped when he was drinking and I'd be drinking too, so I'd be able to stand his drunken advances. The whiskey dick would be the worst. Just cum already. Shit.

Our daughters would be at my side at every moment they were home from school. After all, it was mostly us around the house because their daddy was gone all the time. Then, on the weekends when he'd be home, he'd want to watch sports on TV, drink, work around the kitchen or yard and disconnect completely. I'd feel like a single mom with a very reluctant dad.

We'd be struggling to get out of debt and I'd feel that it was my fault because I didn't have a full time job. Or I'd have a job but not really feel like I was bringing in anything to help us. And I'd still be in charge of our accounts even though he felt free to pull out money without checking with me to see if money was actually available.

I'd feel very lonely...

Yes, but at least I'd know what my life was going to be like! Instead of wondering what the uncertain, wide-open, chasm of possibilities were going to offer me in my future days!

The really sad part of this is that I just described what I remember about the last few years of our marriage. I know there was love and laughter. I know there was... but for some reason, I recall the parts other than that even stronger.

I guess he only recalls that too, if he recalls anything at all. When asked him if he realized our upcoming "anniversary" would have been 20 years, he said, no, he hadn't even thought about it. That stung a little, making me wonder if he remembered any of the good at all. I wondered that the last few years of our marriage too.

Maybe things would have changed. Maybe a corner would have been turned and I would have my romantic, lovable and hilarious partner back. The happy-go-lucky guy who made me laugh, made my favorite meals, encouraged me, listened to me and knew me. The man who loved to turn on music and dance with his daughters in his arms. I'm not sure. And maybe, that's what I miss.

I've had to figure a LOT out in these 6 1/2 years that I've been apart from my ex-spouse. And I would have had to figure it all out on my own, with or without him. I've honestly felt more supported being divorced from him than I was feeling the last few years of our marriage. That support has come in the way of friends, lovers, co-workers and time for my own self-reflections of what I want and whom I wish to be. I've also discovered a deep strength in myself that I know comes from the faith that helped me through our separation and divorce.

I've felt less lonely since my divorce than I felt while I was married. Isn't that ironic?

The point is that I was very unhappy. Being unhappy while with someone? Well, that just made things worse. I had to grow. I had to learn to love myself. I had to figure out what fit me, without judgement from someone else. I had to witness my co-dependence and learn to be aware. I had to do all of that and apparently, I couldn't do it while married to my ex.

I think 20+ year marriages have the same struggles and challenges. I think individually, they each go through the same things. It still takes strength to figure it out. Strength, stamina and, did I say stamina? Because a lifetime of marriage means you figure YOU out DESPITE what's happening in your marriage and you find a way to connect again. Over and over again.

It didn't work out that way for my husband and I. Maybe that makes me a little sad. For my daughters, mostly. And yeah, I guess for he and I too.

But knowing and loving myself like I do now was worth it. Seeing how far we've all come makes me smile. Knowing that we're all happy... well there are no regrets there.










Monday, December 3, 2012

A Weekend of Holiday Cheer

This weekend, my daughters and I crammed in as much Christmas goodness as we could. It was very enjoyable and I thought I'd share a little bit of what made me smile.

Saturday morning was Breakfast with Santa.

A neighbor invited us to join them for a free full-on breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy, oatmeal, fruit, coffee and juices. The event was at a local hospital and was offered to the hospital staff and their families. After the awesome breakfast, Santa was available for lap-sitting and photos. It made me smile to see my daughters in the jolly old man's lap telling them what sort of expensive electronic gifts they'd like me to buy him to bring them for Christmas.

My neighbor and I also posed for a photo with Santa. Let's just say he was a little grabby. Henceforth, we referred to him as Dirty Santa.

Heh.

After breakfast, we attended a local holiday festival and parade.

Something about men in kilts
Cool festive float
SANTA!

After the events of the morning, we went home to put up our own Christmas decorations. We set up the tree and decorated the inside of the house.

Every ornament tells a story

Little Christmas Village

Their giant snowglobe. They love this thing.

My very old nativity

You're singing the song now too, aren't you?


On Sunday, we completed the outdoor decorations after some yard work.

The kids changed out one of the white lights to red and named him Rudolph.


Lastly, the girls finished out the weekend by putting together a gingerbread house.

Sweet.

Next weekend they'll be with their dad and Christmas will sneak up on us fast. It's fun to celebrate the holidays with their help and through their eyes.

Here are some posts from Christmas past... 2007 - mourning my dad's passing, 2008 - mourning the breakup with Soldier, 2009 - feeling thankful for Gentleman Jack, 2010 - questioning the whole point of giving, 2011 - feeling grateful for my children.

It's interesting to see where I was mentally and emotionally. Still growing, learning more about myself, my strengths, my annoyances. Learning to let go of people in my life and allowing others back in.

I look forward to this holiday season with my girls and my man.

Have you decorated for the holidays yet?

What have you noticed about Christmas this year compared to years past?