Monday, August 29, 2016

Don't Panic

To really get the full effect of this post start playing Ellie Golding's "Don't Panic" and listen to it on low while reading. 


The story always starts the same way. So, there's this guy ...

This time I'm writing for three us. There are these guys. And they're scared. They like their comfort but that doesn't stop their curiosity. And we just want to scream at them, "Dive in dammit! The water feels so good and the swim will be magic!"

Six years of talking. Two months of promises. Weeks of confusion. They're all so different yet all so the same. And we're here, half of us waiting for him to come around while the other half of us just wants to say, "F*ck you! You're such a dumbass for letting me walk away."

There's a reason that she's in Australia, of all places. There's a reason that it feels like my life fell apart this year and I started talking to you. There's a reason she hasn't been scooped up by any of the boyfriends that fell to her feet throughout the years. There's a reason that your fingers linger on the phone when you want to send a text or make a call. Stop ignoring the reason because you've been hurt, or you've messed up, or you're busy or there's another woman in the picture that tugs on the guilty strings of your heart.

Don't panic when you feel like you've gotten in too deep. That's just your roots settling. Brooke is so happy. She wants to live everywhere with you. She wants to try everything with you. She wants to eat everything and feel everything and watch everything with you. And I'm, well, the vulnerable one. My heart melts a little bit every time you opened up and allowed me to be honest. It's very easy to hurt my feelings but it's also very easy to make me happy. I've got goals that aren't confined to a tiny box and I really wanted you to start experiencing the next stretch of life with me. And Leah is a force. She is a storm of bedroom eyes and comebacks that you won't know how to handle. But you can learn to handle it, and you can learn to handle her and she'll soften.

The problem is we can't wait forever. Even though it seems like we can. Even though it feels good to place us on the backburner while you eat your eggs for breakfast. The same eggs you have everyday. The same eggs that fuel you and get you to work on time. We are not eggs. We are a full feast that will make your stagnant life a little more lively and full of feelings that not everyone gets to experience. Who wants to eat eggs for the rest of their life?

You need to be bold and take a chance while she's right there in front of you. Because if you don't, if you wait to realize that your feelings are something undeniably special, she'll be back at home and taken by someone else that's been waiting for her. And if you hate traveling, let me show you how wonderful it can be. I'll let you teach me things too, I promise, because you made me trust in those words. Boy, oh boy, if you have a chance to get her to love you, then you get a most special gift. You get love that's willingly given away instead of given in desperation.

Don't panic because your daily routine will be jarred for a bit. Create something new. You may have to go out of your way. You may have to take an extra drive. You may not be able to get constant attention and validation from other women. You may break someone else's heart, but I promise she will get over it. She will find someone else to live in luxury with. But you, you will find a life worth the struggle. I can also promise that the "what if's" and the heartbreak you will give yourself for not jumping in and taking a chance, you will never forgive yourself for or get over.

If you do panic and ruin something that could be so good, what will you do when you get online and see photos of her and her adventures that don't have you in them? Instead, there's someone else at her side, someone else that she may care about but will never measure up to the way she feels about you in this moment. What will you do when we run into each other, any day of the week? You love my hair. You'll notice it before you even realize that it's me and then what will you do? Will you walk away? And what's going to happen when she sends you something she found online but instead of hinting at a relationship, she tells you she's done and moved on? How will you feel in the pit of your stomach?

You told me you didn't want to bail. So stop bailing on us.
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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Clothing Memories


I have a special kind of talent. Some people have what's known as hyperthymesia. These individuals have an extremely detailed memory and can recall nearly every single day of their life. Pick a date from 12 years ago and most could tell you what they did, what happened in the news and possibly what they had for breakfast. I may not be that talented, but if you pick something out of my closet, I can tell you when I wore it, why I chose it and what happened while I was in it. It's a variation of the sort. My clothes have memories attached, as do yours, but I'm extra dramatic and sentimental. Bear with me again. 

When he left us and I realized that he wasn't coming back, and I made peace with the fact that I didn't want him to, I had a giant garage sale. A lot of what made the cut were items and pieces of my wardrobe that held enough memory that I needed to part with and not look it in the face every time I swung open my closet door.

The lavender dress from Forever 21 I wore at my bridal shower. The butter yellow maxi I wore in our engagement photos. The vintage blazer lined with gold sequins I bought off of Etsy and wore on our honeymoon. The sparkled cardigan that I wore when he proposed on Valentine's Day. The Oscar de la Renta lingerie he liked enough to comment on. All of this was thrown into a bag and marked "for sale." If he touched it, I was boxing it up. I didn't need the karma or sting attached to the future.

Over the weekend I was chatting with Brooke - my usual evening routine - and we were deciding what I needed to wear to a little adventure that I'll be braving soon (don't worry, I'll write about it). I stood inside my closet, spinning around several times, taking in the lot of memories I had stuck inside such a small space.

Combing through 27 years worth of experiences and I always start with the clothes. And then they lead to this....

I remember being in 5th grade standing in line awaiting to get my photo done for one of those child ID cards. I had on khaki capris, a denim button-up blouse with embroidered, pastel flowers and a full head of butterfly clips. And then I thought about shaving my legs and training bras. I wasn't shaving my legs just yet, my blonde hair hadn't quite sprouted to the level that the naked eye could see. But I had a friend in class that had long, dark hairs all over. There was a boy making fun of her, telling her she should start shaving and shouted out, "See, Grace shaves her legs," and proceeded to run his hand up and down my calf. I kicked him and threw my bag of gel pens at him. Then I made him pick up every last one of said pens.

I was incredibly resistant to those training bras. I just didn't want to deal with it. I'm also pretty sure that I skipped wearing them as often as I could without getting reprimanded until 7th grade, when it was an inevitable fact of life. I was growing boobs. But I was stuck wearing the ones that clasped in the front. And then I was in English class and I was wearing a giant, three-quarter length shirt with a shiny American flag plastered on the front giving a report when the clasp came undone. I crossed my arms at my desk for the rest of the hour. This is when resting bitch face was born.

I've always had a bit of a strange style. It's developed and matured over the years but still, there have been many moments that I'm both proud of my choice and frightened of the thought that I had big enough lady balls to walk around in the eclectic pieces. Middle school was a full concoction of tournament t-shirts with matching ribbons and looking as if DEB threw up in my room. I'll never forget those galaxy jeans I came prancing in to school with after Christmas break. They were bell bottoms with sparkles and what looked like spray painted stars all over the legs. I paired it with a red turtle neck and it was topped off with my chic and fairly new clear braces (including a missing tooth that I had pulled before those train tracks had been placed). This memory is startling because I also thought it was a good idea to crimp my hair. It gets worse because I was complimented on it. You all had really questionable taste as well.

Middle school was also sprinkled with "quotable" shirts. The ones that we labeled ourselves with. Perfect. Angel. Cute. These words were seen printed on our chests. And our lids were lined with white eyeliner. That too was also a questionable choice. I wore my orange, "perfect" tee when my butt missed a chair in the cafeteria. Like ... I sat down and just went straight to the floor. I was no where close to the chair. A really, not nice, someone stopped, looked down at me and said, "Well, guess you're not too perfect," before he continued to go dump his tray off at the counter. I never wore that damn shirt again.

Then cargo pants hit the scene. And I wore the crap out of those too. I had a favorite pair from Aeropostale that I matched with a sparkle, (are you sensing a theme here?) cowl-neck tank dripping in cheap fabric and an awful burnt orange. On this particular day, Sam and I decided to side kick each other at the same time sending her flying down the hallway and me into the lockers freshman year. The principal came running. "Move back, she's having a seizure," was yelled by someone near by. She was only laughing, as was I. Although I did hide my face in the lockers as long as I could before we were told to move along to class.

There was a boy in high school that I always had a soft spot for. Off and on throughout the majority of our time there we'd swing back around to each other. Even though they were small bursts of time, he was and is still a very special part of my memories. And I still laugh with my girlfriends when talking about him and his uncanny ability to grab my butt every chance he got, no matter who was around. The biology teacher caught him once. His friends, my friends, it didn't matter. I wore a hideous cropped jean jacket the first time he did it with really tight olive-colored ankle pants. I smacked his arm away playfully.

Until I bought my first pair of Under Armour cleats, I was 100% Nike all the time. I had a thing for their velour track suits. And I wore a black one on double date which ended up with me having a better connection with the other guy sitting with the other girl. Then there was a Nike t-shirt I borrowed from one of my friends, along with his pair of jeans for Halloween that year. All the girls dressed as boys to go walking around Brooke's neighborhood. The poor boy who let me borrow his clothes still has no idea what happened while I wore those pants. We all decided to go through this makeshift haunted house someone had set up in their background. I got really scared and really giggly. And that combination ended up with me - and another friend who shall not be named - peeing their pants. Whoops.

I had a favorite pair of jeans from American Eagle too. They had a bit of a stretch, they were a size 10 and I wore them so much that they eventually developed holes near the belt loops from me tugging on them all the time. I really liked a boy that was in college but lived in the town just southwest from here. My friend and I decided to drive past his house a few times, he was on the phone with me and had no clue what an obsessive freak I had become. I was in those jeans and a green, off-the-shoulder top from Forever 21 and I just wanted him to see me. Instead, we ended up stuffing our faces with Krystal's on our way to another one of my guy pal's house that lived just down the road from my parents. Because the crush never got the hint to COME OUTSIDE.

And then there was the deep teal and turquoise dress I got from Posh downtown that I wore to Honor's Day senior year. It still hangs in my closet and stinks a little of my ex since I also wore it to his cousin's rehearsal dinner a few years later. The black coat I wore to my thesis presentation in college still hangs nicely as well. We ate at Five Guys right after to celebrate my standing ovation from my hard ass professor. I stood in class and talked about how fairy tales really screw up and distort little girls' minds. It was sightly depressing. Then there is the navy blouse covered in stars that I shimmied into when he took me to see Twilight. I threw away the yellow, V-neck shirt we played glow golf in. But I still have the hot pink, Legally-blonde inspired wraparound dress I wore to Mother's Day brunch with both of our families. I plan to create newer and better memories in that one.

All I need to do now is go rummage in the attic for my old softball sweats because they tell more stories than most.  

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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Sometimes I Wish He Wasn't

Sometimes I wish he wasn't. Actually, sometimes I really wish he wasn't. This is completely heartbreaking to admit. It's embarrassing and shameful, but it's also really true. I just wish he wasn't.

I'm at home on a Friday writing this and he's successful, he has her and he seems happy. But he's different. I bet his family misses his old self too.


I met him when I was sixteen, around the same time that this photo was taken in my bedroom at my parents' house. Those rainboots I wore so much they garnered a hole in the side several months later. I wore them when I got into my first car accident, in that fabulous blue bug. It was rainy, it was before I needed glasses and I was such an idiot. I wore them with my jeans tucked in. I wore them with a purple skirt and stood in a creek and took silly photos. And they make me think of him because I wore them that night on the steps too.

Why did I never jump in and take a chance with him? After so many years of wondering and daydreaming, rejecting his hints, getting wrapped up with a new boyfriend, getting married and subsequently getting divorced, I find myself doing it again. I'm wondering. But it's a little different now, because he is.

I think about that awful scary movie he made me watch. We shared Hershey kisses from a bowl and he played with my hair. Or the time that he came over with my friends and he rubbed my legs under the blankets while we suffered through Benchwarmers. This was all during a stretch that I absolutely adored him, I'd listen to Corey Crowder in the car and drive on the back roads hoping I'd pass him.

And then we became best friends. I trusted him with everything. I still do. But it's different now because our conversations are dictated by someone else. I could be bitter about it, but I also understand it completely. Well, I'm still a little bitter about it.

Even though I was attached the more than vast majority of our friendship, throughout his single times I was his number one girl. Actually, there were a couple of girlfriends that, in the midst of their breakup, tore me in two because of our relationship. Hours on the phone analyzing our futures and inside jokes, I would have given anything to have had that back this year. But we aren't 20 anymore. We aren't 18 or 23 either.

Sometimes I wish he wasn't so we could go to the batting cages. We could plan trips. We could talk about new books and he could teach me about, well, anything really because he always liked to do that.

Every once in a while he slips and will say, "I love you," at the end of a phone call. Or sometimes I'll get random texts with the same message or something similar and quick. It holds more weight now than it ever did before. It's incredibly comforting but it also chips away at my heart because the unspoken can really never been said now. Or, to be more poetic and cliché, the unknown can never be explored.

I feel guilty for thinking it, for wishing he wasn't. I'd be his number one girl again. He'd be at my house. He'd make me watch those scary movies all over I bet and play Mario Kart while Claire danced around the living room. We'd debate and bicker because that's our go-to move and he'd tease me, because he always loved to tease me.

He waited around for me long enough. I realize that now. I also realize he put aside certain feelings for the one I chose to make me happy.  He wanted me to be happy even if it was with someone he would have steered me away from if he had the power.

None of this stops me from selfishly wishing he wasn't though.

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

That Feeling I Get When He Texts Me


I don't know how to sew. If you lose a button and need my help, I'll just find you a new shirt. If there's a hole, I'll grab a cardigan or change that out too. But I do know what it feels like to be sewn up and then, with the clip of a scissors, slowly torn apart.

For the last week I keep having this image in my head of hands lightly piecing together a white scrap of cloth. I'm not sure if it was being mended or built, and that's what I've been trying to figure out. Am I in the process of mending myself or rebuilding myself? Is it the same thing? Some would argue that it is, I'm going to be a bit dramatic and say it isn't.

If I was merely mending myself, my goal would be to become the same as before. But I don't want to be that person. I wasn't happy enough or successful enough. I was putting too much energy into another person that wasn't giving me what I deserved back. Instead, I'm using this image that some force keeps dropping into my head as a reminder that this time of my life is meant for rebuilding.

My friends notice it. They've seen a spark lit that I didn't know could exist at all let alone again. And that spark has also ignited feelings that I didn't know I had in me. Pure and strong, some are good and some are bad and some make me want to vomit and roll my eyes and hug strangers and tell them everything about my day. And sometimes those emotions come with a simple text; I've noticed this as well.

It's just so lame. That when a certain someone texts you, your entire day can be lifted or totally sunk. But it's also the truth. For me though, depending on the he, depends on the feelings that come tumbling in. I thought about this more than necessary so bear with me.

When he texts me I get scared. I'm immediately on high alert, my hands shake, the bitterness starts to seep out of my pores and my guard goes up.

When he texts me I get giddy and weird. Giddy because I've been waiting for the hello and weird because I should not feel that way about someone who is so hot and cold.

When he texts me I get shy. He's forward and ready to jump right in. But it's also not the right move for me. It's still fun to go back and forth with him though.

When he texts me I get envious. I know he'd bend over backwards for me if he was in a position to do so. He's become the ultimate "what if" daydream.

When he texts me I get confused. He challenges me. I'm not used to anyone who challenges me.

When he texts me I get comfort. There aren't many that know me as well as he. There also aren't many that see me in such a positive light.

When he texts me I get queasy. I shouldn't still have these feelings lingering. And he shouldn't sporadically text, "I love you," either.

All of these experiences with new and old men are helping to sew me new. These conversations are helping me figure out what kind of woman I am in this world. A world where I am no one's girlfriend, fiancé or wife, which is practically all that I know. Instead, I am rebuilding myself into a woman that is ready.

...

Also, to the men that text me, I'm fully aware that I may never hear from you again because you're scared that you'll end up in a blog post. Don't be scared, I can reassure you that you've probably already been written about. And for those that are scared for another reason, could you get over it and say hello again? I probably miss talking to you for one reason or another.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I Liked A Boy


When I was 19 I really liked a boy who wasn't my boyfriend. 

He didn't live in my hometown. He didn't have the icy blue eyes I was used to. He wasn't anywhere near 6'4 or have a gangly way to his walk.

He had a brilliant smile though. I had known him since I was 11. He smelled like grass. I even told him that. The first time he hugged me after all of those years since I had seen him last, I blurted out, "You smell." 

He had then taken a step back and looked at me confused. I immediately followed up with, "Like grass. But in a good way."

It wasn't really a compliment. But it wasn't an insult either. It was more like a fact that I awkwardly announced when my nerves took the reigns of my mouth. It made him giggle though. Which is the first time that I noticed that I had that power, he told me that later in the night.

"You certainly can't make me laugh, but you do make me giggle."

It's a statement that stuck with me. It's another one of those moments I put in my pocket and kept because it made me feel different than before he had ever said it. It changed something about my confidence.

He would get in his truck to come see me, driving 45 minutes both ways and sometimes his buddies were in tow. I liked that. I liked that he went out of his way to be near me.

We only lasted a summer as I weaved this innocent crush throughout a still young relationship with the man we now refer to as "he." This boy that I really liked who wasn't my boyfriend, he talked to me. He really talked to me. 

He'd make fun of my "city" ways and was well aware that I had someone else in my life. But that someone else I was confused about. I still have the journal entries and letters to "him" to prove it. I needed some space and I filled that space with a boy that lived just north. 

I only saw him a handful of times during those two months at home from college. I was too scared to let go of what I currently had to breakaway and really sort out my feelings for this boy who had brothers and hunted and patted the floor of my parents' basement to signal that he wanted me at his side.

And now, eight years later, I almost fell for his brother (hint: you read about him in the previous post). It's funny how life circles about and how small, small towns really are. It's also strange how I never told my friends about this, except for one who was there a few times when the boy came to visit. It's also the only thing I never came clean about to the "he" who would eventually become my husband.

I kissed another boy. I liked another boy. Another boy made me feel something in a way my boyfriend, at 19, never did. I'm seeing my memories in an entirely different light now. I'm experiencing those moments in my dreams in a whole new way. I'm looking at people I've known for nearly all of my 27-years of life and realizing that I have so much more to write about than the one who stole from me. I can also write about the ones who gave me a lot. That's my clarity.



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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Now Accepting Applications


I sent a snap out recently with the caption, "Now accepting applications for non-crappy people in our lives." Clever, funny, honest, kind of sad, but I'm also serious.

I've been legally single for only a few days, technically single for quite a bit longer this year and I've already experienced my fair share of the scary, vile, confusing and hopeless feelings of the present "dating" world that my friends - of both sexes - have been trying to warn and teach me about.

And then I started writing this and sent a text to my best friend, Brooke. It read:

Writing this stuff. It's like ... how far am I willing to go for people to be eager to read but also humiliate myself?

I actually may have already humiliated myself with my metaphorical "cat out of the bag" post that not only let thousands of readers (which I haven't had in well over a year, thank you for all who made your presence known to Google stats) peek into my personal life but also divulge the biggest dream and goal I have for my life. I have a strong need to become a published author. I may fail, and you may all watch me. I think I can handle that.

The books I love the most are honest. Whether they're fictitious or full of real-life scenarios, I like when it's raw. I don't like sugar-coated or the Facebook version of a story. I like when I can relate in every embarrassing way. So, how far will I go to create that same feeling for my own readers?

...

I'll start here. This is for you, future applicants.

Don't be the guy that's so eager to talk to me that he blows up my phone for two weeks. Finally when I give in to talk to you, you then fall off the face of the Earth until you reappear with a gal in your pictures online. What's the point?

Don't be the person that wants to "teach me things." I don't want to learn things from you. And if I did, it wouldn't be because you told me that you could. It's gross - but admittedly it's also really entertaining.

Don't be the man that pursues me for two months. And when those two months come to a softening point on my end, and I'm ready to see your words through, you fall short. I'm what you said you wanted, by the way, and you screwed it up without explanation.

Don't be married. Even though there's a small part of me that wishes you weren't, I think about your wife and I know how she could feel because I was her at one point.

Instead, don't lie to me, don't sweet talk me and don't play games. If that's what you want, choose the woman that wasn't messed with for 10 years of her life because that's, at least, a little less shitty.

I'm not sure what the goal is if there are no intentions behind the talking. It's a waste of time and effort on both of our parts. Instead of spending your night checking your social media messages or taking selfies, we could have had a real, tangible connection. There's something special about being in another's company even if it's also a little scary sometimes.

Isn't that sad though? That I've only been divorced for a weekend and I can already tell you about four different males that have dropped in and confused, annoyed or hurt my feelings? Only one of them I actually cared about though. And isn't that funny too? I cared about someone that I never got to touch?

He told me a lot of unexpected things; problems he's had in the past and what he's looking and ready for. He showed an interest in my mind. He was unprompted in nearly every sense of his attempt at me. He genuinely surprised me. And eventually, I looked forward to his texts and calls. He asked me out a handful of times. Several times he asked before I was ready. He told me that if I gave him a chance he would show me what it's like to be with a real man. Unfortunately, once I was ready, there were excuses and silence. Real men apologize, he still has the option of doing that.

I was scared to see him, by the way. Although we know a lot of the same people, we'd miss the mark when it came to meeting each other as teenagers. "I think I look better in pictures than I do in real life," I said to my girlfriends. They reassured me though, one said, "If he doesn't think you're gorgeous in real life, then I am personally paying for his trip to an ophthalmologist."

I was worried about my awkward behavior. So another said, "If he doesn't understand your awkwardness Grace, he's not the one for you." She was right, and I was ready. I'd wear blush and my gold sneakers. I would text Brooke midway through because she'd be curious. It would be fine. I had a feeling about this one. Then again, I have mentioned before that my instincts are wrong a lot. He's thought about me today though. And this time I'm not reaching out to try to figure out what the issue is. I did that once already. I'll just have to assume this was a weird game and that I was a part of a list of women to grab attention from. I don't want to assume that though.

And then there was the married one. Whom I told the other one about no less, and he told me to tell him that I was taken - or I was at least going to be - by him. The married one I had a big crush on in high school and he found me via good ole social media while I was on vacation in July. We chatted for a while before I realized that he was someone's husband and it gave me a bad taste in my mouth. So many compliments and ego boosts, dreams on his end and curiosity on mine, but this too would never happen. He's committed to someone else. He gave someone else a promise.

Here's the thing future applicants. I just want simplicity. I want someone to be around. I'm going to love your tattoos. Or your crooked walk. I don't care if you're not that in tune with the English dictionary. I don't care if you work in an office downtown or in a field in the middle of nowhere. I just care that you show up when it matters and when you say you will. I care that when you say you'll call me back, that you do it. I care that you're sensitive to the fact that I'm going to be skeptical about everything you say until you prove me otherwise, unfortunately you're guilty by association - association of having a penis and so far my track record isn't the greatest.

I want you to pull me out of my comfort zone and challenge me in as many ways as I will challenge you. Because I will. And that can be a lot of fun for both of us.

The upside to the madness? More material for me to write about. The downside? The writing will probably add to reasons why future applicants may run from me. Tis my life. The ones with balls will stay.

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

I Am Free

For the past several months I’ve felt like every part of my life became dull where it used to be filled with so much light. It had become a nagging, aching feeling that I wasn’t able to control or fix. But I am beginning to heal.

I am divorced.  But I'm also free.

Part of the healing process, for me, was to write about it all. My friends and family know that I’ve been faced with something that no one should have to go through. Others have noticed the turmoil. And it’s time to share my story.

I’ve always wanted to be a published author. That’s the end goal. I want my name on a tangible piece of literature and I want people to have the opportunity to read the words that I’ve sewn together. And when my heart broke on February 5th, 2016, I knew that this was what I was meant to do. I was meant to invite people inside my personal life and have them read about every beautifully intimate moment I’ve had in the last 10 years.

Some of you may start reading what I have written and question it. Why is she sharing so many details about her marriage? Why would she want people to know any of this? The answers are simple.

This is relevant. It’s relevant because it just happened to me. It’s also relevant because it could very well happen to you. It could happen to your sister or best friend. It may have happened to your mother. It may be happening to your neighbor right now. I don’t want to feel ashamed or embarrassed by this part of my past and I don’t want anyone else facing similar issues to have that be a part of their conscience as they try to navigate their way through the rollercoaster of emotions they’ll eventually be hit with.

Also, I come from a very small town. And instead of using up the next decade telling all the ones I love and respect about what happened to my family, I’d rather them read about it. I’d rather them know the details without a game of telephone screwing up the intricacy of it all. There are two sides to every story, yes. But this one is quite cut and dry where the ending is concerned.

I welcome you to 10 years’ worth of memories. They are magical, memorable, embarrassing memories. Not every great love story ends well. There doesn’t need to be a happy ending for it to have been real or worth it. In fact, sometimes the best ones, end in the worst ways. And that’s what happened with mine.

Read the parts that I decide to divulge now. Share it with everyone you know. I’ve had so much support from my community over the years that I know they’ll have my back more than ever now.  And I’ll continue to uncover pieces of what I’ve written with all of you as I simultaneously scour the nation trying to hook a literary agent and get this thing published.

Today I’m sharing a prologue piece. This was the first few paragraphs I wrote within the first few weeks. I was still in shock and still falling asleep at night praying that it wasn’t happening. I was still waking up in the mornings wishing it was all a dream. But it wasn’t and I’m okay. I became a single parent overnight feeling abandoned and thrown away. And I can say with 100% certainty that I am proud of how I’ve managed to not only stay afloat but sail through it all with my character still intact.

And for those with a question in their heads concerning him. He knows about this. He supports it. He trusts me to tell our truth. But I still don’t have an explanation as to why. I’ve been given no respect or courtesy of a conversation. That’s okay at this point though, I’ve come to my own conclusions and maybe you will too.

.....................................................................................................................................................

He: Prologue 

We’re all taught that when life hands you lemons you should be creative, smart, strong and motivated enough to make lemonade out of them. But what happens when the person you love and trust most in the world hands you suitcases full of rocks that weigh you down so much you start questioning who you are? I’ll tell you what you do. You start picking up each damn rock and throwing it right back at them. And they learn to never question your strength again.

I won’t pretend like I’m perfect. I can be infuriating. I can be stubborn and harsh. I can nag, I can push and I can make someone feel very small with just a few spewed words. But I didn’t deserve what happened to my marriage. I was a devoted wife; proud even. I adored him and his silly socks. I adored the way he would pat my arm during movie previews when he’d get excited about a new Marvel film. I adored his love of chocolate ice cream and the way he would scream, “I have binge eating disorder!” on late nights when he couldn’t control a severe case of the munchies. I even adored his anal tendencies when it came to alphabetizing the Blu-ray collection or sorting through his Disney trading pins. He never missed a goodnight kiss, an I love you, or a whisper goodbye in the morning, but that was all a part of the façade.

I gave him everything. My heart, my time, my commitment, my future, my virginity; I wrapped my life up tight, topped it with a gilded bow and handed it right over to him. And he unwrapped every inch. He was a con artist and I was his muse.

...


I grabbed my phone and started taking a video of her petite frame, kissing her own reflection and shaking her booty to the music that seemed to run on a loop inside of her strawberry-blonde covered head. I loved this part of our mornings together. We’d snuggle up for another hour or so after he jetted off to work and once fully awake for the day, I’d sing, “Give yourself a kissy in the morning time,” as I placed her in front of my vintage, full-length mirror. Although a daily occurrence, this particular moment was far too adorable to go un-recorded.

Throughout the day he was still saying his I love you’s and kissed me goodbye on his way out the door. He texted to ask what Claire and I were doing that afternoon and he called when he got to 12th and Porter after work to let me know he’d be done by 7pm and on his way home. It was a typical day, with a routine that could become numb and taken for granted. And then with no warning, my entire life was crumbling around me. My daughter’s life was being shaken to its core. At 13-months old her father was making a decision that couldn’t be “fixed,” no matter what kind of mother I decided to be.

I married a goddamn great actor.

 No, he wasn’t making money off of commercial appearances or featured extra roles on Law & Order, instead he faked being the best man I had ever met for ten years. And the winter I turned 27, a week after he totaled my car and two weeks after we celebrated our third year of marriage, he ripped my heart out. He blindsided me with, “I think we should get a divorce,” on a Friday night after I noticed that his breath wreaked of alcohol and realized that the reception he needed to attend for work that evening was merely a night out with a someone or somebodies that I had never met. A change of clothes in the car, cigar smoke in the air, I had no idea of the person that he had been evolving into over the final six months of our marriage.

 This shocked my side of the family so hard that we all cried. No one saw it coming. We were the couple that everyone else wanted to be. We were the family my brother and sister dreamed of having for their own – love, trust, companionship, no drama, easy days. Waking up to a baby that will kiss you without hesitation and coming home to a wife that loved with so much honesty and trust that she, genius IQ intact and all, was duped. There was never a doubt that this was what was meant to be, so much so that I often thought my life was too good to be true. But apparently there was a doubt. He just never filled me in on it. There was no warning. There was no explanation. There was just the view of his back as he walked out the door.   

Who wants to be a 27-year-old divorcee? I sure as hell didn’t but I was well on my way to becoming one.


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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Healing


I've been sitting in my living room watching Claire play with her baby dolls while I try to get a jump on my deadlines for the week. I can't work in my office right now, partly because I don't have a desk. But I also don't want to miss little moments like what I just witnessed. 

Without looking behind her, Claire goes to take a seat on her fluffy, bunny chair her Grandparents' got her for her birthday. She completely missed though and fell right onto her bottom. She was startled at first, but she laughed it off. It was small, but it was so special. 

The initial shock after a fall, it's scary. Whether it's literally or figuratively, when your ass hits the pavement it hurts. But what do you do afterward? Do you shake it off and pull yourself together like Claire? Or do you keep looking back at the fall and eventually crash again? 

She gave me a giggle tonight. But she also reminded me of a lesson that I've had to teach myself and work through this year. When your ass hits the pavement, get up. Don't just sit there and watch yourself bleed. Get up and do your best to start healing. 

I'm to the point in my own healing that I'm ready to have fun. I'm happy to be excited about who I've become after the fog has faded. I'm even looking forward to sharing this version of myself with a missing piece one day. A missing piece that plans to take the reigns of this messy, loyal, awkward, nervous, funny life and make it better with me. 

My healing isn't over, I'm not sure that it ever will be. There will be residual resentment, anger, heartache, skepticism, trust issues, hopelessness, bad memories and trauma. But that's why I plan to keep doing what's helped me, even when I was uncomfortable and had to force myself to jump completely outside of what I was used to. 

Spin class, obnoxious amounts of text messages with Brooke, coloring, journaling, videos of Claire, organizing my closet, Arzelle's, perfecting eyebrow makeup, designing a new tattoo, counseling, daily affirmations, dates with Leah, James Bay, admitting it to people, concert tickets, swallowing the embarrassment, making a point to take care of my skin, spending extra money on hair vitamins, drive-throughs with Lauren, seats at the theatre, not feeling guilty about my crap TV obsession, trip planning, daydreaming, smack talk with Ashley, finding my perfect Starbucks order, pedicures, Sam's pep talks, putting the jewelry in the safe, Meghan Trainor, selling everything else, knowing that we're really going to be just fine, Nicole's steady spirit, car chargers, my family ... all of this and more has become a big part of my own healing. 

I'm sure I'll find more. I hope to find someone. And I really cannot wait to be freed from all the secrets. 

Let's pray for a really great week. 
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Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Front Steps


I looked down at my phone after the buzz. I hadn't heard from him in a while.

Are you ever going to write about me?

I thought about it for a moment. Should I tell him how much I already had written about him through the years? Did he want me to? Was he scared?


I texted back.

Eventually, yes. Is that okay?


His reply came swift.

YES! We were worth writing about.


Which got me thinking, what would I share and perfect that I had already jotted down? Would I ever share it? Would people figure out who I was writing about or would they simply appreciate the memory? I hoped for the latter.

.......................................................................................................................................................

We would talk all the time. We were both analytical. Even the smallest of subjects would take days to sort through. It was all just a way to put off how we were feeling. I'd act tough but I adored him. Everyone knew it too, except for him. He was clueless but also quite arrogant. I loved that. Because I also knew that arrogance was just pretend.

Despite my name being Grace, I've never been the most graceful. I trip daily. I have bruises from the unknown. But thanks to my extra-special balance and wobbly ankles, I fell into a moment with him. Walking up the concrete steps at my parents' house, I missed one and slid right into his side. And he didn't miss a beat, wrapping his right arm around me. Giggling, he whispered into my ear, "You're my best friend." 

I held on a little tighter than normal and turned my face to him. We were nearly the same height. "I know," I replied. And that's when he did it. All this time goofing around and walking on eggshells, this could have happened already.

He kissed me softly and I pulled away not out of instinct but out of surprise. This was a running theme in my string of first kisses. I made it weird and even more awkward. I said things aloud that I shouldn't say. But it didn't ruin anything with him.

I held my head back and squinted. "Did you really just do that," I asked.

"Was I not supposed to?" He was laughing at me again.

He knew me so well. We lingered a bit and my hands cupped his face. I traced his lips with my thumbs. Knowing that I wouldn't ever be gutsy enough to go in first, he went for it again. He taught me a lot of things, one being how to kiss and mean it.

"I'm not going to say that I've been waiting my entire life for that, but I've definitely been waiting for several months," he said through an ego-fueled smirk.

I was still waiting for him to soften completely with me. So I replied, "Well, now you'll have to wait just a little longer for the next," as I closed the front door behind me.


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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Mood

"I'm in a funk," she says. It could be PMS. Maybe she's just hungry or she's tired or she's had enough of dealing with people without an ounce of intellect. Either way her mood isn't the loveliest. Her hair is always messy. She only has time to put on eyeliner once a month, at best. Her clothes are getting bigger, which for her says a lot since she never buys clothes that fit her in the first place. Her skin isn't sun-kissed but her teeth are straight and white. Her nose is crooked from a softball to the face in middle school that she never got fixed. It adds character and insecurity and midnight nose bleeds.

Sometimes she still picks her outfit out at night for the next day like she did in high school. There's darkness on her ring finger that makes her wince but in a different way than it did a few months ago. She writes about herself in third person trying to gain perspective. She has thin hands and feet, it can be a strange balance with her curvy body but it makes her feel good when people comment on them. Her great aunt was a hand and foot model, she likes to think it's a nod to her, blood-related or not.

Every first kiss she's had with anyone has been awkward. She's affectionate with everyone. She gets nervous over everything but stays composed so no one ever knows. Well, her friends know because she tells them. She has really good friends.

She's allergic to grass but still doesn't pass up a chance to be outdoors with a glove. She has to wear glasses to the batting cage now. She realized that she had lost her passion for music over recent years but has had a lot of fun rediscovering it. She hasn't picked up a book in 6 months until last week, it felt like home. She likes coffee a lot too and her Starbucks order has gotten increasingly more high-maintenance. Tall, iced white mocha. No whip. Skim. Half the pumps of syrup, please.

She dreams of family vacations. Exploring the Rocky Mountains again. Visiting the San Diego Zoo. Random weekends to Chattanooga. Cruises. Kissing the Blarney Stone. Watching Claire experiencing it all. It will all happen because she'll make it happen. The future is different but the excitement for it is all the same. She hopes for a bigger family. More children. Even more love.

She still loves school. The excitement of new pens and notebooks is just as fun as Christmastime for her, whether she's going or not. She misses watching movies. She's longing for fall. Actually, she's always longing for fall. Her favorite flower is the tulip, but that is changing too. Maybe it's a peony now.

She can swim but doesn't like it. She'd rather be on dry land. She'd rather be watching it snow from the windows or listening to the rain. She's not sad though. She has faith in her story. She musters up some courage everyday to face everything outside. She gets out of her comfort zone. She's uncomfortable a lot. She's kind of brave. And she's proud of herself.


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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Too Much


Will I always be the one in the room that is "too much," of something? That's a thought that's been on a loop in my mind for some time. I tend to think that I'm a confident person but it waivers, especially with all the blows to my ego and heart lately.

I don't want to be the harder choice but when comparing apples to oranges I feel like I've been the one that you have to trench through the Alps for instead of just heading into the backyard and snatching the fruit from the tree. But who wants something so easy? I guess a lot of people do.

I'm tired of being too much but I don't ever want to be not enough.

And I teeter between the two.

I think too much. I know too much. I share too much. I weigh too much. I'm too loud. I'm too intimidating. I expect too much.

None of that is true, yet all of it is.

I do think too much. I overanalyze situations and they set up shop in my head until the issues are resolved. I have a dreamer's mind so while I'm picking apart my current situation, I'm concocting new ones in my head. It's a magical way to live but it can be lonely and disappointing too.

I can know too much. I'm overly observant and smart enough to retain it all. It being a broad range. But this is something that I am proud of. I don't want to suppress my curiosity, intellect or vocabulary to make someone more comfortable.

I obviously share too much. I trust quickly, so I get disappointed a lot. But I'm not one that has her guard up. Maybe I should learn to hold up a shield, but you'll know what's on my heart and mind. It will never be something you have to guess. It shouldn't scare you.

I weigh too much, by society standards. In reality, I'm quite healthy. I've got the bloodwork to prove it. But there are days that from the neck down I could rearrange and do without. I can still wear the jeans I wore in high school, they just fit different.

I can be louder than need be. Louder in every sense, from the volume of my voice to how I can creep into your mind without having to be fully present. My opinions are even louder. I'm a passionate person.

I wouldn't agree with this but I've been told by multiple people. What makes me intimidating? I'm the one with Disney movies on her DVR and can sing literally every song off of the Legally Blonde - the musical - album. But I guess all of the above answers that question.

I do expect a lot but I don't think I've ever expected too much. I expect people to keep their word. I expect people to tell the truth. I expect people to dream and work towards their goals. I expect people to be kind to one another. I expect people to communicate.

You may get too much with me. I may drive you crazy. But no matter the type of relationship, you have all of me. You have loyalty. You have a faithful companion. You have someone that's proud of you. You have someone that supports you. You have someone that was too much for someone else when that someone else decided to settle for someone easier. And who wants easier? Easier isn't happier or better, it just takes less effort. I'll be sticking with those that want to give me that.


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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Light As A Feather, Stiff As A Board


Who played the game at a sleepover when you were younger? You'd freak yourselves out. It would never work. There would be giggles. And nerves. But it's also how I feel on a daily basis. 

Light as a feather, Stiff as a board.

Everyday is a new rollercoaster for me. I'll be driving in the car and feel good. Actually, I'll feel free and relieved of the stress that I was holding in subconsciously for months before the breaking point. I feel weightless and light. I smile and get excited for the future. But then I remember. And then I snap back. I'm stiff. I can't move. 

The ebb and flow of my emotions can be exhausting. I never truly knew what being "emotionally drained" meant until this year. 

But then days like today come around. I find myself not analyzing or stressing. My anxiety lessens and I let fate run its course. I feel good about myself, my conscious is clear and I can hit the pillow at night without second-guessing my own life's story.

I wear clothes that are too big for me a lot. I have strong intuition, but that doesn't mean it's ever right. I wear purple lipstick. I have a weakness for Simply Orange juice. I have nice hair. I have a terrible sense of good TV. I love green, but I hate grass. I like rocks though. I like to believe that I was a mermaid in another life although the ocean isn't my favorite either. I'd rather be in the mountains, exploring a new city or enjoying my homebody ways. I used to be obsessed with Jolly Rogers. I kind of think I may have been a pirate at some point in time too. I believe Lucille Ball and Kate Winslet are some of the most beautiful of all time. I correct people and their misuse or mispronunciation of words before realizing that I sound like a snot. I apologize for it though. And someone is going to love all of these things. 


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Monday, August 1, 2016

Two More Weeks


In two more weeks, I can breathe. I hope. 

In two more weeks, I can open up.

In two more weeks, I can have some sort of freedom over my mind and heart. 

I'm changing. I want people to know why, although conclusions have already been drawn, details and dotted lines will be crossed through. I'll feel better. 

In the meantime, I'm still changing. 

I turned a light off several months ago. One that got blown out and needed time to reboot. Then a persistent, outside force began to watch some of that dim heat start to rise again. The outside force being the reason why it's begun to flicker today. There's the dilemma though. Do I thank it? Do I thank it for helping me out of hiding? Or do I curse it for nicking a bulb that was already scratched?

I'm a generally happy person. I have bitter moments but I don't want that bitterness to fester or for it to bleed into my life, my relationships or my experiences. And my 2016 has been filled to the brim with sour time, so much so that I'm desperately trying to turn that around. Some call it survival mode, but I call it, well, my state of grace. 

I'm also a rather expressive person. That's the writer in me, I'm sure. I share a lot. Maybe too much at times, not enough at others. But that's the one thing I'm profoundly confident in - my ability to communicate and talk about my feelings no matter how embarrassing they are. Tonight, my feelings are hurt for a variety of reasons, some fresher than others. But I'm hoping that all these sappy, cheesy, vulnerable moments are just a path for me to reach something grander in the scheme of my life thus far. 

Maybe I'll be a published author one day. Maybe I'll write a screenplay and someone will like it enough to make it come to life. Maybe I'll sell some lyrics. Maybe I'll enjoy my hometown and raise the most beautiful little girl that I've ever laid my eyes on. I'll travel. I'll keep my friends close. Maybe I'll always be trusting of people and get my heart broken over every word unkept. 

But don't be that person to a person like me. Don't offer up whimsy and plans without an urgency to make it come to fruition. Don't knowingly take fire to someone's softened heart just to watch it melt a little before locking it back in a cage filled with ice. Be the person that embraces her awkward dances in the corner and terrible laugh. Be the person that finds her word vomit endearing and refreshing. Be the person that realizes there's a gem somewhere inside that just needs a bit of polishing to feel brand new again, it won't take much. I promise. 
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