Saturday, January 28, 2017

Cheers To A Clean Slate


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 passed it.

I felt like one of those glossy insects fighting to stay afloat plenty of times within the last 12 months. 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 nearly 52 weeks ago. I've learned a lot of lessons within the last three years. 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. And now everyone has opinions on how I should parent Claire. But I cannot make everyone happy. I can make myself happy though. I can make myself excited for life everyday. 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. 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 was on repeat all last summer. 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 pray I never feel that way again. And no matter how much I love James Bay, he's erased now. Because I can't stomach him.

And that trickles over to a lot of other things as well. I don't want to be stuck on anything or anyone anymore. 2017 is a clean slate and in a week I'll be singing my cheers with my best friend and a glass of champagne in a new country promising each other to do our best and do things differently. That clean slate includes men. It includes sentiments that don't matter because they pull me down. It includes bad thoughts about ourselves.

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.

Cheers to a clean slate in 2017. I'll be standing up straighter. With less men on a list. With less triggers of a broken heart. And a lot more motivation for cultivating a life that Claire will want to read about and talk about and be living alongside of me.
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Sunday, January 15, 2017

I Wore A Golden Dress


Remember that one time I got married?

I wore a golden dress and never quite felt like myself. The day was perfection though. From the ceremony to the plated meal, everything went off without a hitch. It was grandiose and big and pumped with amazing moments. 

My hair wasn't as messy as I like it. And my gown was gorgeous but didn't hint at my bohemian style. If I get the chance to do it all over again I imagine it being with someone that cares about the details a bit more than I do. Nothing fluffed or filled with tradition. I want bell sleeves and lush flowers. I also want pizza.

Perfection may hide the cracks but you can still feel them.

Combing back through the memories of that day, I see things in an entirely new light. I loved him more than I loved myself. Maybe I wore a pair of blinders or maybe I wiggled into a light state of denial, just strong enough for me to remind myself how much I cared for him and the life he had dreamt up and promised me. And that reminder always grounded me. I was safe with him. He loved me. I wouldn't be able to find better. But when I piece some of those emotions together now, the ones that I suppressed or talked myself out of, it's scary. I missed so much.

***

I woke up that morning in the bed with Sam. Coffee was on its way up and  I heard whispers coming from the other room. My dad had gone for a drive to clear his head. He wanted to make sure his speech would do us justice. His littlest little girl was getting married.

We had mimosas waiting for us. The girls were cheery. The florist walked in and we oohed and ahhed over the blush tulips and bouts of baby's breath. They were crisp. They were just as I imagined they would be.

I remember getting in the shower and staying a bit longer than I normally would. I shaved everything. I think I shaved parts that didn't need to be shaved. That's when I started to really feel the nerves. I got an idea to call one of my best friends. He was probably at the hotel by now and maybe I could see him for just a moment. I could get his opinion on this pit in my stomach. But I didn't. I texted though and when he didn't respond quickly I let it go. I chalked it up to being nervous about all of the attention. I'm not an "all eyes on me" type of girl and I was psyching myself out.

When it was time to get in my dress I needed help. There were two holding the train, there was one strapping me into the corset and one holding my boobs. We have photos to prove the latter.

We had planned to do a "first look" and I knew seeing him would calm my nerves. As long as he was at the end of the aisle I would be fine, it didn't matter who was looking at me. Once time creeped closer to him knocking at the door, everyone left. My ladies were out taking photos, my parents were making their way down to the ceremony site. It was just me and my photographer waiting.

When he came in I held my breath. I was hoping for a reaction, something immediate. Instead he glanced at me with hesitation and then tried to laugh off the awkwardness by screaming, "DAYUUMMMM" for the entire floor to hear. But that was it. He walked over and just stood in front of me. There were no hugs. There were no kisses. Instead I showed him my shoes. And that's what our pictures tell the story of. We were looking down at our shoes. I was disappointed and all of my emotion was caught in my throat.

***

We traveled behind the walls of the hotel to get to the ceremony. I didn't want to run into any guests so we used the hidden hallways to get us to our final destination. Right outside the room though I panicked a bit. I was still blaming it all on the nerves and the fact that 150 people were about to be looking at me. They were going to be looking just at me with their eyes no where to be averted or distracted to. But running back through all of my internal thoughts, I think I was so disappointed by his lack of affection towards me that it topped off my heightened feelings enough to make me start crying. I needed a few moments to regroup.

Then I was there. The room was amber. It glowed. Mom and Dad were beside me. I spotted my childhood friend, Bird, and she already had tears in her eyes. That's when I spotted him. He was bending over a bit so he could see me. He had a goofy grin plastered on his face and he was giving me a thumbs up. I remember thinking, "There he is. He's adorable."

***

Later in the evening, once all off the commotion had died down. And after we had made our way around the room, after three people told me that I looked like a mermaid, after I had grabbed the microphone and thanked everyone for coming, after I could sit down and breathe a little bit with my now husband, I got to taste the creme brûlée. I don't like cake so this was a nod to my weirdo ways. 

After my first bite he leaned over to me and whispered, "I can't wait for the after party," to which he proceeded to wiggle his eyebrows in my direction. In classic "Grace" fashion I responded with, "Please don't creep me out." He giggled back at me but I had lost my appetite. Why didn't I find that endearing?

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Calm Before The Storm


Put one foot in front of the other Grace. Step. Do it again but with the opposite foot. Step.

My feet are slightly sweaty from the moccasins I slipped into before I flew out the door this afternoon. My dress is too big and every time I reach down to pick something up off the bottom shelf my bralette shows and I feel a little slutty. I should have probably worn a scarf. I still smell my shampoo. My hair is damp and when I turn my head I get a whiff. I just had to get out of the house though. I needed fresh air. It was irresponsible. I have so much work to do this week before I go out of town but I couldn't stay inside any longer.

My phone keeps buzzing. There are about a handful of men that are rotating through conversations with me right now. They have nicknames. "Husband Material," "Frisky" and "Dimples" just to name a few of the less obvious. I don't have an urgency or excitement to talk to them though. I don't have it yet at least.

Do I even want that? Shouldn't I jump at the opportunity to go on a date with the tall, 29-year-old who has a solid career that I dubbed "Husband Material" because that's what he's looking for. He wants serious. And he's sweet and he tries to flirt with me constantly. I shut it down though. Or I don't respond. I don't respond for hours. Why do I do that? Instead, I have an urge to explore the ones that are unreachable. I already know they're not going to end well. Relationship status, maturity level, stability; it's like common sense has decided to up and leave completely.

That could be because I don't actually want anything serious or everlasting right now. I'm more ready to continue to cultivate this beautiful life for me and Claire instead of putting so much energy into someone else's just yet. Or maybe it's because fate hasn't allowed my Mr. Right {Now} to come out from hiding. I don't really care.

I haven't slept well in a while. I've been restless. I haven't felt that since before everything happened. But it's because a change is coming again. I can feel it. It's big. Which is why sometimes, when I'm alone I fall into myself. Like right now, walking around a store a bit aimlessly and voicing this right into my notes app. There are a few people that have passed by that looked at me strangely. A man walked over and told me that I looked like someone. He just couldn't figure out who. I have that kind of face though. I get it a lot. At least weekly I'm told that I look that this one or that one, it's been happening since high school. It all started with Reese Witherspoon.

A text just popped up on my phone:

"Hey pretty lady what are you up to?"

I felt nothing. There was no excitement. I'm bored. But there's always a calm before the storm right? And I feel it brewing. My gut instincts have never been wrong. Sometimes I try to ignore them, which is what gets me into trouble. We all like to see what we want to see and hear what we want to here but our gut, that deep, somewhere-you-can't-exactly-pinpoint-spot far inside your body, that's where the truth is.

That's why I can't sleep. That's why I can't sit still. Because something is about to happen. This time it doesn't feel bad though. It doesn't feel like a hurricane that will knock the breath out of me or make me start from scratch. Instead it just feels like a culmination of a lot of hard work -  my work as a woman, a writer and as a mother which is where most of the sweat and tears went this year.

That's my main thought as I walk through this store. I want to feel rested. Most of the time no one knows that I'm tired. Most of the time no one even knows when I'm upset or overwhelmed or annoyed. I'm the composed one. I'm the one that doesn't say she's hurt until it's time to go to the hospital. I keep everything inside although I also say everything out loud. What a conundrum! Maybe I'm just exhausted with my messy self.

When there's nothing to worry about, I find something to worry about. And when I'm bored, I rummage up some excitement. But right now, everything is calm. I'm a little bored with the players on the chess board. And I'm not sleeping. The calm before the storm is tiresome.
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Thursday, January 5, 2017

It Was All Broken


This is my new, daily affirmation. 

I just have a lot of faith that it'll happen. Because it was all broken. 

And when something is completely broken. When something doesn't work. When there's no way to fix the problem. You start anew. And anew doesn't have anything to do with the old.

To live a different life, I have to live differently. To have something big and new and good happen, I have to do big things and new things and good things. I have to expect yes but work through the no. 

I'm okay with going at this alone. I've made a pact with the big man upstairs that I can handle it. That if this is the only way for the magic to happen and that's for me to bear it on my own, I accept it. I don't need someone reaping the benefits of my life who doesn't really care deeply. 

I just have a lot of faith it'll happen. 
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Sunday, January 1, 2017

This Is My Response

August 2016 - December 2016

The New One and I had been chatting for months. He drove me crazy. I knew I was on some type of list. He said that I had an originality about me that was hard to describe. I knew that he probably used that line on the list of women I had been added to. I was still drawn to something good inside of him though. He liked to hide it and fight it. I learned that he could be conversational. He could be insightful and intellectual. But he could also flip a switch quickly. He'd lost me somewhere along the way and I had marked him as just a bit of fun. Seeing him changed that though. Despite his games, I was still drawn to something good

December 24, 2016, sometime after 11pm

He told me to stop replying. But I don't like being told what to do.

December 23, 2016, 6pm (ish) 


My life is so weird. I’m sitting on my bed half naked. The robe I’m wearing is too small and every inch of me is covered in the greasiest of body oils. It smells great but doesn’t feel especially nice until after it’s dried completely into my translucent skin. But I’ve got three hours to let it dry. Apparently my time just isn’t as valuable as others. I just sit on my ass a lot waiting for people with thick eyebrows and a great voice to knock on my front door. Is it hard to make and keep plans in the 21st century?

Did I miss something at some point in my schooling and upbringing that made it harder than fucking rocket science to agree on a time and a place, confirm and follow through with said plans? What’s even the point of making plans at all if you have absolutely no intention of showing up? Actually, I have no idea what’s going to happen in three hours. He’ll either show up or I’ll be copping an attitude, getting in my Jeep and leaving for my parents’ house knowing that I just gave up a perfectly good Friday night to someone who didn’t deserve it. But right now, I have 180 minutes to myself and I haven’t a clue of what to do with them. Moisturize? Did it. Take a nap? Brooke told me not to. Eat? Did it. Write? Doing it.

My playlist, “All My Shit,” is running on a loop. There’s so much Shawn Mendes on it that it’s slightly embarrassing. Actually, it’s the amount of One Direction that really takes the cake. Maybe I’m having a quarter-life crisis and trying to revert back to what it felt like when I was 16 and life was super easy. All I need are some slider shorts to stuff my thighs into and a wrinkle eraser to make that happen. Erasing about twelve pounds from those thighs would also help with the end goal.

I’m still sitting on my bed half naked but now I’m laughing. Because how did I get into this awkward space? I am a 27-year-old divorced, single mom who last year was probably in the kitchen with her head in the oven while her husband was wrapping gifts in the next room. And then, 365 days later, she’s planning to spend an evening with wine and a boy six years her junior. Life really spun me on my head throughout the seasons of 2016, but I’m starting to really enjoy where I landed.

December 23, 2016,  9:30pm (ish) 

He showed up. And he was exactly what I had imagined he would be. Actually, he was sweeter.

He was late. While I waited for him to show I thought about what I’d say to him when he came to the door. And then I saw car lights in my driveway and my phone was ringing. It was him.

“Hello,” I answered.

“Do you have a Jeep in your driveway,” he asked.

I sighed, “Yes, about time you got here.”

“Oh, here we go,” he laughed.

I peeked out the front door and saw him through the windshield. My stomach was in knots. I was annoyed at myself for not just leaving and forgetting about him. But here he was, so I made the best of it.

He gave me a hug when he walked through the door saying, "Nice to meet you," in my ear.

I asked him if he wanted anything to drink, grabbing a variety of wines from the top of the fridge. He picked the rosé. "My kind of guy," I thought as I went back into the kitchen to fill up some glasses and internally fight with myself for going against my better judgement.

We got comfortable on the couch, throwing all 900 of my throw pillows onto the floor and watched Harry Potter come alive on the screen. That's when the bickering began. That's when the picking began. Until he softened up.

He teased me about my dress. Because instead of starting out telling me that he thought I looked good, he wanted to act like a child. He thinks this "affects" me, when in reality, I'm just bored by the routine. He liked that it was low cut. That much was obvious.

He teased me about my hair. He teased me about my eyes. He teased me about my tattoos. He teased me about my perfume too. All the while, he was inching closer. I thought it was a bit adorable, how he was going about making his move. His gentle way actually eased me.

One of the blankets in the corner caught his eye, reminding him of a dream he had once of his grandmother. He told me about it. His conversation, caught between the banter, eventually let me warm up to him and that's when some of his sweetness came out.

I loved when he brought up Claire and gushed about how much she looked like me. He thinks our eyes are the same - our big, round eyes. He won points on that one. He commented on my house. Maybe he was nervous and looking for things to talk about or maybe he was actually interested in my life, I'd learn later that neither were quite true.

The first time he kissed me I pushed him away. I wanted him to loosen up more. I wanted him to work for my time since I had given him so many breaks up until this point. He didn't like that I did that though. He wanted me to be easy. But he was never easy, and I wasn't going to be either. I eventually learned that he paid more attention than he liked to let on. He brought up my purple lipstick. "Did he read about that," I wondered.

Then we switched movies. My head was on his shoulder and I felt myself getting more and more comfortable with him; enough that my eyes began to get heavy. I told him that I may fall asleep.

"Do you have a DVD player in your bedroom," he asked.

I laughed, "Real smooth."

"If I was going to make a move I would have done it already," he rebutted.

I'll give him credit though. He was smooth enough to get us back in my bed about half an hour later. I didn't mind though. It's a great bed. He fell in love with it too and I was happy to lay there with him.

He was still getting onto me about every move I made though, whether it was to grab my drink or my eyeglasses so I could see the television clearly. Eventually he threw my bottle of water onto the floor and refused to get it for me when I wanted to take a drink. He was so stubborn but part of the attraction to him was the challenge. Well, until the challenge just wasn't worth it anymore.

When he started to kiss me in bed, I tried to take it all in. He was slower than who I was with previously. My last make out session was the month prior with a secret somebody who was quick and full-on. This guy though, he made you feel and remember every move. I was thinking about the two and started giggling between breaths. And once I giggled the first time I couldn't stop. That's when he pulled away.

I could tell he was annoyed by it. He thought I was laughing at him. He didn't understand my weirdness yet. He didn't understand that I'm a little awkward at first or that my mind is always racing with random thoughts. Those giggles were coming from a place of nervousness. I was also laughing at the situation. I was laughing at myself for even remotely liking someone that was clearly too young to handle everything that comes along with Grace.

But in the moment I didn't care. He felt really good next to me and I was working my way into relaxing. I liked that his hands were a little rough and that he always looks like he's squinting and trying to focus.

Eventually, he was on top of me with his hands in all the right places. I just couldn't get to that point yet. That point where I was loose and ready to unwind. I couldn't for a variety of reasons, with one of them being that this time of the month said that I needed to wait until next week. I wasn't going to tell him that though, instead, I played it off as, "not tonight."

"Why can't two people just have a good time," he asked.

Other lines that followed:

"It's not like you're a whore."

"We've been talking for a long time though."

I silently rolled my eyes at him. Because, he really had no clue why my first reaction was to deny him access. It's not that I didn't like his hands on my body. I just didn't want to get too carried away and then break the news to him that nothing was happening down there for a cringe-worthy reason. Men don't want to hear the words period or tampon in bed, so I wasn't going to scar him. Also, I assumed I'd be seeing him again. I'd have a little more time to for him to get to know this side of me slowly. It's more fun that way.

Kissing me just wasn't good enough for him though. He wanted everything up front. But I'm not just a notch on a bedpost. Actually, in all honesty, I could have been but he had no patience.

"There's only so much making out you can do. We're not in high school," he would go on to say.

Admittedly I found this amusing. I laughed at it a bit and enjoyed the fact that he said things sometimes that he probably shouldn't. I liked that he laid his head back and tried to act like I couldn't make him smile. My first thought was to just stick my hands down his pants but that's after he was pouty so I stopped myself because he didn't deserve it. He was frustrated with me and that was easily felt with the conversations that followed.

He'd tell me that not everything is a puzzle. Or he'd tell me that I was puzzle. Sometimes he'd mention that I liked to play games. All of that was a puzzle to me, I tried to tell him that there's nothing to read between the lines though. I liked him. I was interested in him. My behavior never wavered from that. His frustration with me bubbled over and he playfully pretended to choke me. I know how that sounds, but it was innocent. Although, it may have lasted a few seconds too long. Was that a red flag?

I honestly didn't want to get out of bed with him. I was exhausted from everything. I knew it was time for him to go though and I thought to myself that he needed to come back over, there was more to talk about, more to do and I'd be ready. I'd invite him over the following week, before he left to go back up north. It was good to finally see him.

I left the night, the clock approaching 1 a.m., feeling as though we were on the same page, finally. We were getting to know each other. Nothing was serious and there were no major, life-altering expectations. What I didn't think would happen was that my feelings would get hurt the night of Christmas Eve. I should have expected it though. He lost his consistency weeks prior. And I was wishful thinking when it came to finding the one I had began talking with months ago. He wasn't real.

December 24, 2016

The next morning as I was making my bed, I realized that it still smelled of him. I didn't hate that fact. I even told him so.

But this young kid that me and my friends refer to fondly as "Douche," well he doesn't want Grace anymore. Because Grace is not "a freak," and that's what he wants.

Christmas Eve flew by and I hadn't even gotten a quick hello from him. Instead, I was greeted with a text more than 24 hours later that read:

"I don't think it'll work."

I toyed with the idea of not responding at all. My very first reaction to this was to laugh. I laughed out loud on my couch. I was sitting there in a dark room. Claire was asleep. I was staring at all the presents under the tree. I was resonating in the singleness of the night. I was trying to figure out how to feel this holiday differently. And he just comes out of the blue with his abrasiveness. So I laughed. Because he's a rollercoaster. I never know what I'm getting with him. And then my thought process was as follows: What's not working out? Does he still think I want him to be my boyfriend or something? Is this the same guy I saw last night? Is he joking right now?

I eventually asked him if I even wanted to know what he was talking about. His reply gets a bit funnier:

"Take it as you please. I like a freak."

So, on top of wasting a lot of my time, including a Friday night where I postponed a real date with a real man, he insulted me. Because not only is my time not valuable to him, but with those few words, I wasn't as a person. Care was completely thrown out the window here. Care for my feelings and care for my body was too. Because, let's be real, if I had just given in, his end game would still be to do this, to say something similar and to be done. And unfortunately, this happens to women all of the time. It's happened - it's happening - to my friends right now.

I let him know that I had learned my lesson. He never really wanted to get to know me. His response was that I was wrong.

"You just like playing games," he said.

I also found this highly entertaining and quite perplexing. I know I can be a tease to some. I had never been with him though. Maybe my words really can be confusing. But then, then he told me to stop replying. And, I'm stubborn. I am far too stubborn. I didn't reply directly. Instead, I've responded in the only way I know how. I've used this all as inspiration. Sadly, he really is a great source of inspiration and I still kind of like the asshole. My rule is that I don't write until it's over. And since it's over, here it is, my insecurities and bad decisions and vulnerability are left blowing in the wind.

Stay away from the tall one. He's got a silly, sexy little smirk on his face and he'll wear you down a bit. He's unfortunately not worth the trouble because his immaturity eventually leaves him hanging out to dry and his true form is revealed. In the words of my bestest of male pals, he's just a kid trying to get his dick wet.
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