Monday, September 26, 2016

Let's Not Waste Time

I don’t like wasting time. That’s probably why I can be easily frustrated. It’s also probably why my to-do lists are always raging, and I take on more work than I should. I want it all, I want it done, and I want it now. 

That doesn’t mean I’m super spontaneous. It doesn’t mean that I don’t juggle the outcomes and make the right decisions. It does mean that I don’t pussyfoot around issues. I feel like a lot of my life – my time – was already stolen from me. 

I’m going to see the places that I want to see. I’m going to allow Claire to do and try all the things. I’m going to get the tattoos. I’m going to talk and be and experience things with people that challenge me. And I don’t have to get permission or validation from anyone else for any of those decisions. The opinions of those that don’t support me, us, my goals, Claire’s dreams … they can ever-so-eloquently suck it. 

I’ve always went after the impossible. Not in a literal sense and that could be me being a little dramatic, but in terms of what others thought were realistic or practical … that’s never been my “thing.” For example, I have a B.A. in Communication. And I distinctly remember being a semester away from graduation, visiting home sitting inside my high school’s front office listening to one of the administrators – whom I love dearly – talk about how someone we both know was “wasting his time” working on a marketing and communication degree.

"He won’t be able to support his family," he said.

"He won’t be able to do anything with that," he said.

I smiled coyly and shrugged, I wasn’t about to argue because I knew there could be some truth to that. But I was different, I'd prove them wrong. 

I’m coming up on six years of working as a freelance writer, I haven’t gone a day without work within that time. I’ve lost jobs. I’ve gained better ones. I started making only $35 a week and now I can pay our bills on my own with wriggle room. Could that change tomorrow? Yes, but it’s so worth it. The impossible and all. 

That impossible way trickles over into other parts of my life as well. I've said already that I won't be bringing a pen and paper to my next relationship. I may have a list of what I'm looking for but that doesn't include a particular job, pay scale, age, or amount of education. You can have a college degree and be a complete asshole. You can be 21 and be more of a man than the near 30 year-old I spent a decade with. You can have an amazing job and be the laziest person I've ever met. You can make money that supports your family, but not really care about your family much at all. 

Instead, if I meet a man that has never read a book and can't string together a grammatically correct text to save his life but he's kind and warm, I'll notice. Instead, if I meet a man that by society's standard is too young to handle me, but he proves otherwise by his conversation and insight, I'll notice. I'm just not looking for things that can be tangibly measured. Ambition, drive, passion, consistency, communication; instead, I'll be going by the immeasurable. 

What does all of this have to do with wasting time? Well, when you're living your life by impossibilities, every second counts. There shouldn't be a day that goes by that I'm not working toward my goals of publication. There shouldn't be a day that goes by that I lay numb to inspiration. There shouldn't be a day that goes by that I forget to infuse life into Claire's day. And there shouldn't be a day that goes by that I forget about people who matter. On the other hand, I ask that you not waste my time either. 

Recently, I again feel like my time was wasted. Reeled in and then cast aside, being single is rough. "Welcome," Cherry says. She's so in tune with how I'm feeling right now. Watching men make an effort as you brush them off and then finally when you soften a little, they're done. It's really easy to get attention, it's easy to keep that attention but it's hard to sustain the truth. 

Talking everyday. Warming up. Letting guards down. Effort shown. Shutting down. Ghosting. Ignoring. 

The pattern is confusing. It's hurtful and disappointing too when you expect more of someone. Let's not waste each other's time. I've come to learn that every minute of my life is precious and I'm tired of using it on people that don't find me worth theirs. 

Now, let's go make some pumpkin cookies.
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Thursday, September 22, 2016

It just hurts



I had to hold myself back from jumping out of the car. But I am too tired of being the one who cares. I cried today. I am crying today. And I haven't done that in a while.

This is an entirely new feeling. It's so new that I don't even know what to call it yet. I am relieved. I am confused. I am still heartbroken. Not because of the marriage but because of the person. The person I had put on a pedestal and the person that has a face that I used to love so completely, he didn't even say goodbye. He didn't find me deserving of a goodbye, let alone an explanation to all of this. I didn't get final words. I didn't get any effort. I shouldn't be surprised, and I'm not. But I am hurting.

He may have been upset when he walked away. But he's never been too upset to change or to say something differently. I wanted him so badly to get back out of that car and apologize. I wanted him so badly to get back out of that car and say anything. He could have just said "sorry," or "bye," or "if you need something I'll still be here" or "you're doing a great job." He didn't.

This year was cliche because it's easily been referred to as a rollercoaster. But I also dubbed it the "Shit Storm of 2016," because that's exactly what it's been. I've been weighed down so heavily. He left, he's partying, he's forgotten about us, he wouldn't bring us milk, he lost his job, he didn't tell me, he hid from me, he spent more time and money at the bars, he refused to keep up with part-time work and then, he enlists in the army

"I'll see you later," he says to Claire. 

We're on the best terms that we possibly can be. I still haven't gotten my questions answered. I still haven't gotten to have my say or truly stand up for myself. But I do believe that he doesn't want to make anything harder for us, he knows how terrible his actions not only have been but still are. He knows how thankful I am for that, for at the very least, not pushing the knife in further.

In the meantime, I am still on my own in every sense of the word and at the same time expected to succumb to the wishes of others when it's truly not in my nor Claire's best interest. Give us space. Give us time. Please stop expecting me to do so much and try putting yourselves in my shoes, just once. When you're mad about the situation, know that I am well aware of how it has affected not only myself and Claire but those around us. And if that bothers you, take it up with him. He's proud of the fact that he wanted this, that's how he explains it to people.

"I asked for a divorce," he tells others. 

And that's a good enough answer in his eyes. But for those wondering, I was never asked. I was told. I was forced, and I was given no choice. I fought for two solid months, every day. I was going to compromise beliefs and promises made to me. But in the end, when I realized how much disrespect we were receiving, I did what any good woman and good mother would do. I put our lives in my hands and took them out of the ones that had betrayed us. I positioned us to succeed rather than self-destruct along with someone that was digging very deep holes. I didn't allow him to watch us fail alongside him. He doesn't blame me for any of it, so I wish others would stop. 

A few weeks ago, I was upset because the divorce wasn't finalized on the day I had anticipated. I told him, "I'm upset because I don't want to be married to you anymore." That's about as strong as I've been through this, I had come to that point. I was done and okay with it. In fact, I reveled in it. I could find someone better for me, eventually better for Claire too. I had come to the realization that I would rather be alone than be living with a stranger, someone living a life outside the home he liked better than the one with his family. I never want to feel that again, I feel it over and over again when I see him.

And now, I don't know if I'll ever see him again. This could be his escape from what's he's done. Leaving me in his wake and knowing I'll take care of all the important things. Then again, I may see him in a few months. I won't be surprised either way. It hurts me nonetheless, but not in a way that makes me crave what we used to be. I need something better than that, something different. It just hurts, plain and simple. 

I don't have any closure. It's all just left hanging open.
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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Am I Insane?


It's like a hot flash. It's like sliding into an ice bath. It's like a slap in the face.

That's how I live my life. My emotions aren't small. They come in waves. Actually, they come in tidal waves and wash over me at any given moment of any given day. They're cliché, and ridiculous and there are too many to count that can't handle it. Even though, most of you can't even tell.

My hands tremble a bit when I feel that panicked anxiety rush through me. After I receive a text or a phone call that tugs at my problems with guilt and making other people happy that don't deserve for me to be that person to them. It's instantaneous.

My stomach walks right out of my torso and falls flat on the floor when I can feel rejection coming. For work, from people; I handle it, but I feel the soreness for days. And then I have to talk it out and figure it out, so I don't ever make the same mistake again.

My mood gets so much brighter when I am hopeful. But in a matter of mere moments, my hopefulness can change to doubt. Without reassurance, I live in a state of analyzing and criticizing and planning.

It's okay to feel these things fully. It's not okay to continually react and allow them to rule my life. Feel them, talk about them but don't carry them around anymore. I'm working on it.

I have learned so much about myself this year. I like control, and I like to plan, and I like my piece of paper to be perfectly made. But my paper was torn. And I've come to terms with it. I've always had a physical style of mismatching clothes and eclecticism, so why can't I live a bit like that too? It's not about the piece of paper, and if my pencil is sharpened, and if it's crisp and free of scribbles. I've realized that I like a bit of scribbling.

Grace doesn't have the perfect husband. She doesn't have a little family that society taught her was perfect. She may never have that again. She doesn't have a job that people understand. She doesn't do or say or look or feel or act like a lot of people expect her to.

She may live the rest of her life writing about DIY projects, or she may do something bigger than we all realized she could. She may date someone that no one approves of or understands. She may end up with someone that logistically makes no sense to outsiders but makes her feel something so much different than before. She may need that. She may start traveling the world and creating new memories. She may - have already - gotten on Tinder because her best friend made her and had a hilarious experience. She may have written about that already too. She may get her next degree from Johns Hopkins - or Vanderbilt, like she was supposed to three years ago. She may be a college professor when she's older and gray. She doesn't care though. The plan is to live and to figure it out later because what matters are the feelings.

I really like paper, but it doesn't have to be perfect anymore. I refuse to go into the next chapter, story, scene, experience ... of my life ... and use the plan in my head as the foundation for how to live it.

I don't need anything other than an open mind, a fearless heart, and an "I don't give a f*ck" attitude. And all throughout what comes, I'll be raising Claire quite differently than I had expected. Sometimes I still get a bit sad about that, but I also believe that this will be so much better now. She's going to learn how to take care of herself, to embrace the giggles, to do right by your friends and family, to be strong, to stand your ground, to listen to your feelings, and to listen to others, to never quit, to never look for the easy way out, to never be a follower; she would have learned all of that from me no matter what. But now she'll learn how to take life as it comes and to never settle; she'll learn that from me too.

I may be insane for a lot of things. I may be insane for dreaming really big and in most eyes, unrealistically. I may be insane for not taking a pen and paper to my next relationship. I may even be more insane for sharing so much with so many people, a lot of who I lock eyes with on a weekly basis, a lot of strangers. And if that's the case, so be it. I'm insane. But I'm going to have a hell of a lot of fun.
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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

They Rallied


I went to see my counselor today. I like to refer to these every-so-often visits as "mental tune-ups," seemingly as though in June he told me that I didn't need counseling. I looked at him and said, "Woah, let's not get too crazy now."

He was right though. I was creating a new life. I was done crying. But three months later, I was ready to be re-validated by a licensed professional that I'm actually not crazy, or over-the-top, or ridiculous: all once felt as a direct result from he who shall not be named. 

My friend sent me a quote the other day. 

"she needed time. like we all do. time to be ok. because sometimes feeling right after feeling so wrong for so long. is the hardest thing to get used to." - JmStorm

It hit me hard. Someone found my feelings and put them into simple words that could be understood by all. Sometimes I'm light, other times I'm stiff. But the past few weeks, I've just been light. I've recaptured my spirit that fell to the wayside years ago. My friends have noticed. Actually, to quote a conversation with one of my best friends - someone who has known me far before puberty struck...

Lake: Can I tell you something?

Me: Yes...

Lake: I like you better without him.

Me: I like me better too.

Me: Can I know why? For intel purposes?

Lake: You just seem happier. You're not as bitchy. And I didn't realize that you were bitchy until you weren't anymore.

And she's right. My home feels better. My days feel better. I rush around a lot, and I have a hell of a lot to do throughout the weeks, but I don't have the anxiety and stress and subconscious stomachaches anymore. I am okay.

Part of the reason I'm okay is because of the friends that I have. I've accumulated so many special people. So, when I'm feeling awful about myself. Or when I walk away from a toxic conversation with a battered outlook, I can remember that if I was really so wrong in so many ways, these wonderful people in my life wouldn't have rallied for me this year. They wouldn't have rallied for our friendship, for Claire, for my health, for my sanity, for my home. 

They helped me pick up the pieces when the pieces kept being shattered into tinier and tinier bits. We cleansed my house with sage. We packed up his stuff. We texted all day. We texted all night. We sent songs and quotes. We watched movies. We went on drives. We cried together. We ate. We drank. We made financial plans. We made plans for Claire. We dreamt. We rallied through the crisis that struck my family. 

I won't ever forget each and every one of their reactions when I told them the news. Some had tears, some had no words, some were furious, but it was all raw emotion. And that's when I knew that I wasn't learning of the loyalty of my husband during this time, but I was learning of the loyalty of my friends. 

I told Alice on the couch at my house nearly a month after he walked out the door. She gasped and covered her mouth in disbelief.

I told Emma shortly after that in March. She cried on the phone to me and kept repeating, "I wish this were happening to me." 

I told Lake first. She came over a few days after I realized what was happening. "Where is he," she asked. And that was it for her, she was done. She cried for Claire the first night she spent with us.

I had to tell Maddie on the phone too, I didn't want to trouble her throughout school but she needed to know. She couldn't believe it. She had near to no words. 

I had no other option than to tell Cherry on the phone, which was one of the harder conversations. I cried so hard that night when she said, "No, this isn't going to happen to you guys."

A few other friends were mad I waited so long. But I had to spread it out. I had to keep my composure and not feel so humiliated. I even reached out to an old friend I grew up with because I needed his help with some things. Ian was there through the thick of it, giving me great advice, cracking a few jokes and most importantly, not sugar coating things. I still appreciate the times he "yell texted" at me. 

My two male friends, the ones that I'm closest with, they were the last to know. I was extra embarrassed to tell them. I was disappointed to tell them. I was nervous to tell them. They were there the day I needed them to be though. The very day I said that I needed to talk, they came without question.

I have to use all of this as a reminder. When I'm feeling rather down or questioning myself, I have to think of these people and all they've done for me and remember that they see something in me that I forget about. And it's not that I'm awful, or loud, or ridiculous, or too much of anything other than a pretty damn good person.
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Friday, September 2, 2016

Embarrassed


I'm really good at putting on a brave face. That's what it's called, "brave," or "strong" at other moments. And it's not that I don't disagree, I think I've embodied both at times throughout this tailspin of a year. But mostly, I feel embarrassed a lot. And for a variety of reasons.

Firstly, although I'm over the pull of him, I'm still humiliated that this happened. Logically and rationally, I know that this inevitably had nothing to do with me but the thought still lingers, "What the hell is wrong with me?" 

If I'm being honest, sometimes the thought sounds like, "Why wasn't I worth staying? Why wasn't Claire?" 

And then to be even more specific, "Why wasn't our family worth working on? Why didn't I deserve a conversation?" 

That's embarrassing. It's embarrassing that others may think that at some point in time. It's also embarrassing that my self-esteem hit that kind of low. 

It's embarrassing that I chose so wrong. I'm even embarrassed by his choices not on behalf of him but of myself. Downtown bars, smoke, kickball, college students, drag shows ... these are the activities that receive more attention, time and effort. Those are the activities that have been placed ahead of our history, our story and most importantly, a future. 

And then there's the victim card. I'm not portraying myself as a victim. This did happen to me though. It happened to my daughter too. Those are simple facts. He didn't break me because I didn't allow him to. I didn't allow him the option of tearing down my entire life while he self-destructed. His side of things may be mad at me for this. His side of things may not ask questions. But they should be grateful that I didn't crumble. I've kept myself and my home intact, so my daughter stays the whimsical, confident little girl that's she's always been. You're welcome. You don't have to like me or care for me, but you should be praying to God that he married the type of woman I am because Claire is better for it. He would have done this no matter the woman either. I can promise you that. 

But goodness, sometimes when I leave the house for errands, or I brush past someone I know around town a wave of embarrassment washes over me. I hope that dissipates at some point in time. Let's not be awkward about it. I'm already awkward enough. We can talk about it but don't be sorry. It's not your fault. The only apology I deserve I will never receive, and that's okay. 

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