Monday, June 18, 2018

February 5th: THE CHAPTERS

Prologue

February 5, 2016

Looking In The Mirror Was Painful

I Wore My Memories & Now They’re For Sale

Hypothetically Speaking, I’d Say Yes

His Name Was James, James Beard

He’d Say, “I Love You,” I’d Say, “Ditto.”

I Liked A Boy Who Wasn’t My Boyfriend

He Showed Me The Red Flags But I Was Colorblind

I Love You To The Moon And Back

Sometimes I Wish He Wasn’t

The Only Time I Came From Penetration

Competing For Likes 

Then I Kissed His Roommate

Please Get Down On One Knee

No Sex Until Union Station

The Skunk Was The Warning

IUGR

Your Husband Shouldn’t Get Naked In Front Of Your Friends

You Can’t Shit In My Bathroom

Dipping My Toes Into The Dating Pool

I Like You Better Without Him

Divorce Diets Actually Work

The Second Time He Left Us

Come Over, Write A Story

We All Have That One

Douche

February 5th, 2017

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Friday, June 8, 2018

You're A Problem For Me

Currently Listening to: "You Deserve Better" by James Arthur

"Just because I'm single, doesn't mean that I'm looking for a relationship. I just got out of one. I want to be healed and healthy before someone else steps in and ruins my life," I said.

He rolled his eyes, "Grace, stop being so damn sarcastic." 

"But I'm fluent in it," I rebutted.

He paused at the clasp behind my back and I felt his hand come away.

"What's wrong," I asked.

I stroked the side of his face where his beard had been clipped. 

"If he walked in the front door right now, would you take him back," he asked.

I laughed and felt nauseated. I had thought about it but, honestly, there was nothing I could rummage up inside of me that wants that.

"I'm hurt but I was never stupid. He now means as little to me as I do to him. I never had to prove myself. Throughout all the months together, he was fighting and climbing the ladder that I left out. He squirmed and cried over me. He was embarrassed after my questions. I fought for us until we uncovered the truth. He was never man enough to come clean with his transgressions. He was never man enough to just say, "I fucked up and I don't know how to fix it." Instead, he escaped. He hid. He lied to his family. He lied to his friends. So, no, I would never take him back. His friends were more my friends during the loss of my father than he was. He gets what he deserves now. Mediocrity is not in my vocabulary and he knows that a life with me was more than he could keep up with. He was 100% correct when he said he was undeserving of me and he can continue to feel that way for the rest of his life," I explained. 

I walked away from him. I was happy he had asked that question when he did because any further and we would have been in over our heads. Goodness, his face was perfect. Those blue eyes reminded me of someone else. And his rough hands make me nervous. His broad chest felt safe. But I was really just a fan of how aggressive he would be when I'd see him. He'd always scoop me up into a hug and we'd start kissing in one solid motion. 

I never made it to the sofa though. He came up from behind me and I felt his arms around my waist.  He was breathing into the side of my neck and I was overcome with how tall he was again. 

"It's weird isn't it," he asked.

Confused I mumbled, "What?"

"Me and you. Would you have ever thought we'd be doing this," he continued.

"If you only knew the things I've thought about this situation. It's wrong, but it's not at all. I don't want anyone to know about it. But, then again, I want everyone to," I would have continued but he put his hand over my mouth.

"Your explanations are too long. I'll just take that as a no and we can move on now," he laughed.

He turned around and flipped off the lights. The only spark lighting the room was coming from outside the front door. I could still make out the lines of his body and I felt him push me towards the chair. He opened up the back door and turned on the light there too. We were glowing from both ends of the house now. 

He sat in that chair and patted his lap signaling for me to come to sit. I wasn't in the mood to argue so I did just that. I nestled on top of him with my knees at his side. I leaned in and rested my forehead on his. 

"This is nice," he said.

I smiled and responded with a quick, "Mmhmm." 

He came in for a kiss and before I knew it, he had my shirt over my head and let my hair loose from its braid. He bit my lip and released his grip on me.

"There, that's better," he said.

With more light, I would have felt extremely self-conscious. I could tell he was leaning back, taking in as much as he could while I sat with my arms crossed. But he grabbed my hands and pulled me closer. For as rough as he came off, he knew when and how to be soft with me. 

We were kissing again. His hands were in my hair when I felt the pulling at my waistband. 

"Just take them off," he growled in between breaths. 

I stopped and pushed back from his chest, "Um, you're still fully clothed." 

He popped up from the seat which made me pop up as well. He pulled off his shirt and nixed his shorts before he sat back down.

"Better," he smirked. 

I found my spot again but he went back to tugging on my waistband. He slowly guided me to the floor with far too much friction than I had originally anticipated for the night to have. Eventually, I let him take the pants off without a thought as to where things would lead. 

I felt him. This was the first time that I completely felt him, but as soon I did I snapped myself back into reality.

"You know we can't do this right," I asked.

He kept kissing me. So, I asked again but he continued to ignore my words. Instead, I felt his hand slide down my leg and lift it so my knee was bent. 

I stopped him, "No, we can't."

"You're a problem for me," he said.

"Yeah," I answered, "you're a problem for me too." 

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Sunday, June 3, 2018

A Clean Slated Summer

Have you ever seen a beetle on its back? Its legs are moving frantically in all directions trying to get back on the ground to scurry away and survive the moment's trauma. Sometimes you put it out of its misery. Sometimes you'll see someone kneel down and use their index finger to flip it over and let it run free. Other times you see its struggle and keep moving past it.

I felt like one of those glossy insects fighting to stay afloat plenty of times within the last two years. And I had people from all nooks of my life pass me by or use their index finger to turn me over. Others just tried to squash me silent. When you're alone and quiet, you see everyone and everything with so much more clarity than you did when you were living under a shiny mask.

I'm turned over now. And my mask came off over 104+ weeks ago. I've learned a lot of lessons since I was 27. One being, you can't plan life. Everyone will have opinions on how you should be living it. Everyone had opinions on how I should handle the divorce. Everyone has opinions on how I should parent Claire. Everyone has opinions on how I should handle grief, and everyone has opinions on how I should have/had/be handling newer, worse heartbreak.

But I cannot make everyone happy. I can make myself happy though. I can make myself excited for life every day. I can become fulfilled in more than someone else's happiness. And if I'm that kind of woman; a woman who is confident in herself, acts on her sense of adventure, and has the courage to use her emotions as strength, that's what Claire will learn. She'll be proud of her mom one day.

I get caught up in sentiment. A calendar date. A name. A note written on a napkin. A song. A symbol. I put meaning to inanimate objects or untouchables. It sticks with me.

November 16. July 17. March 5. December 17. January 19. March 17. February 5. April 12.

These dates give me whiplash.

Obviously, this isn't a trait that only I have, it's all part of being human. A smell, a touch, a photograph ... it can take someone back to the best, the worst and all kinds of memories. But I'd venture to say that I get a bit deeper. I can lock myself inside of it and never budge.

I love James Bay. He used to be on repeat. But now, I can't stomach his voice. It takes me right back. I'm sitting in my Jetta with Chaos and The Calm on repeat, driving to spin class and completely drowned in feelings that I couldn't pinpoint or explain yet. I was still crying in corners and under the covers. I wasn't okay. I was composed and that album was my safety. It helped me sort through the worst, the toughest and the saddest of thoughts and emotions. I prayed to never feel that way again not knowing that it would only get worse. And no matter how much I love James Bay, he's erased now. Because I can't stomach him.

But now, when I hear Garth Brooks, I get weak. I get weak because the last time I saw my brother alive was at his concert. And they played his song at his funeral. And I spent the weeks following his passing listening to his greatest hits CD on replay trying to forgive myself for not doing something else for Nick. 

And that trickles over to a lot of other things as well. I don't want to be stuck on anything or anyone anymore. I'm heading out to Chicago this week to start a summer full of adventure and a clean slate. It includes sentiments that don't matter because they pull me down. It includes bad thoughts about myself. That clean slate includes men too. Relationship jumping isn't healthy. And although the man I thought I loved started anew before I told him to pack his things, at least I know who I am. I know what I want. I know how to get it. And I'm not scared of it.

I love being a sentimental person. It speaks a lot about what's important to me and, even more importantly, who is important to me. But I'm not going to let the bad feelings drown me or have me lying on my back anymore like those beetles that come out in the spring. I don't want anyone looking at me while my arms and legs are trying to hold steady. I welcome them to look at me with a magnifying glass though. I welcome everyone to see the imperfections. I welcome everyone to see the mess ups and the screw-ups and bedroom transgressions. Because all of that is real.
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Monday, May 21, 2018

He's Back

I surprised him. It was around eight in the morning. He was bright-eyed and I was still a little glossy. He thrives in the morning and I can't coherently do much until around noon. He was running errands and I came up behind him. 

"Haven't seen you in a while," I whispered in his ear. 

I felt the stubble on his face. I was on the very tip of my toes and could barely reach high enough to cover his blue eyes but I felt his cheeks move. He was smiling. And when he finally turned around I realized how genuine that smile was. 
 ... 

I wanted to grab a drink before we took the drive home. He waited for me outside and I got a lemonade because I knew it was his favorite. He just sat there and stared while I stood in line. 

I had only kissed him once since the new year rolled in. I skipped out the doors and started pulling him by the waist of his pants toward me. I startled him a bit and he laughed. 

He was trying to grow out a beard and he was a little sloppy. Nevertheless, I was still incredibly attracted to him. And he was still hiding his sweetness. He was years younger than I but he tried desperately to act older, wiser, and more nonchalant than his maturity level spoke for him. But I didn't care. He was fun. And I respected the fact that I scared him. What I respected more was the fact that he didn't run from the fear. 
 ... 

We were walking when a man across the street yelled in my direction. 

"Hey! Hey, sweetie," he continued. 

I didn't necessarily know that he was yelling at me but his voice made me uncomfortable so I didn't turn my head. 

"Hey! Meghan Trainor," he yelled again. 

That's when I knew it was for me. And that's when he grabbed my hand and tugged on me to go faster. 

I started laughing, "What's wrong?" 

"I don't like it," he replied. 

"Like what," I asked, "that wasn't a big deal. People say I look like her all of the time." 

He looked down at me and said, "You didn't see the way he was looking at you. I didn't like it." 

"Well, you don't really have any say in the matter. Whether you're still holding my hand or not, I'm not yours," I explained and pulled away from him. 

"You like reminding people of that," he scoffed and turned to walk away. 

 I could feel my cheeks redden, "No, I don't," I said while I scurried to catch up.
 ...

I loved the way his hand felt on my lower back. He'd guide me up the front porch steps or out the door with its steadiness. But sometimes it felt wrong because I knew we could never be anything more than these short moments. I was living for them though.

My head found its way onto his chest everytime the lights went out. The texts he would send me asking me to not ever fly alone again. But once he was indulged, just a bit, he'd turn it off. He'd go back to the games and not caring. I knew better though. I knew better from day one with him. It was all fun and games but there was some emotions sliding in from left field that I was uncovering at the same time that I was throwing dirt on the pile to cover it up. 

I couldn't have feelings for him. No matter how black his hair was or how blue his eyes were. No matter how tall he was or how peeking at that one tattoo of his brought me back to that first night together. No matter how much we liked to talk about our dreams and decipher their meanings. There was nothing about us that would ever fit. And I was completely okay with that. I accepted that when we first met. I just hadn't accepted the fact that I would eventually develop some sort of actual care for him.

 ...

I climbed into his lap and faced him. My legs wrapped around his back and my head rested on his shoulder. 

"Look at me you idiot," he said.

I popped my head up quickly, "Excuse me?"

My attitude spiked and I unlocked my legs to try and get up.

"Don't move," he demanded.

"Well, what's your problem," I asked.

He rolled his eyes, "Nothing Grace. Sometimes you just need to be called an idiot to keep yourself in check. You just aren't as observant with yourself as you are with other people."

I looked back at him confused all the while I felt his rough hands find their way up the back of my sweatshirt.

"No matter who I end up with, she will never have those eyes or that crease in her bottom lip and I will always want her to," he said.

My stomach dropped. There were so many ways I could deconstruct that sentence. There were so many different ways I could process it. Instead, I responded in the worst of ways.

"Yeah, they all say that about my eyes," I said as I took a turn rolling my own.

He was silent. I could tell he was mad.

"Grace," he began, "you ruin all moments. It's not even that you can ruin just one moment, you literally ruin every moment." 

I replied quickly, "I know." 

I felt the tears coming. And I was nauseated. And I really wanted to jump up from his lap and run into the bathroom and turn the lights off and hide in the tub. 

"I'm going to try this again," he continued, "No matter who I end up with. I'm going to end up with someone else because by the time I am able to settle down you will have found someone worthy of you and your daughter. I'm hoping you have another child by then. But no matter who it is, she won't ever have those eyes that every man that's kissed you loves so much. She won't have that sexy crease in her lower lip. I will want her to. I will think about you from time to time and I will wish she had those two things."

I sighed.

"Don't ruin it," he said.

So I just started at him instead. I didn't know what to say because every thought that came to mind was incredibly inappropriate. 
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A Divorcee's Playlist




365 days separated two drastically different lives. In 365 days I had my heartbroken, I got divorced, I became a single mother, I got my first STD test, I began wearing jeans again, I started spin class and tried kickboxing, I kissed other men, I got more tattoos, I put together new furniture and chucked an old sofa out the front door, I went to therapy, I got a job in the city. There were 365 days between the day my husband walked out the door and the day I was sipping on hot tea at the Royal Palace Tea Room in Sydney, Australia. A lot can change in a year. 

Here's the soundtrack that got me through that change. Each song also happens to coincide with every chapter of the book. 
 “Don’t Panic” by Ellie

 “Better Man” by Little Big Town

 “Let It Go” by James Bay

 “What If” by Adam Friedman

 “Your Guardian Angel” by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

 “Can I Be Him” by James Arthur

“I Could Not Ask For More” by Edwin McCain

 “Learning To Let Go” by Corey Crowder

 “Love Yourself” by Justin Beiber

 “In Fire” by The Workday Release

  “Everywhere” by Fly by Midnight

  “Obsessed” by Emblem3

 “Bird Set Free” by Sia

 “Autumn Leaves” by Ed Sheeran

  “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz

  “No Promises” by Cheat Codes ft. Demi Lovato

 "Future Looks Good” by OneRepublic

 “Million Reasons” by Lady Gaga

 “Cold” by Maroon 5

 “Best You Ever” by Michelle Branch

 “Wild Love” by Elle King

 “Follow You Down” by Matthew Mayfield

 “HAPPINESS” by NEEDTOBREATHE

 “Don’t Be A Fool” Shawn Mendes

 “Style” by Taylor Swift

 “Hold On” Chord Overstreet

 “Liability” by Lorde

 “Go” by Boys Like Girls 
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