Full Circle.

 

Holy shit. De-com-press. Holy shit. Sit. Breathe. Be aware. I am not sure what has happened with my life but here are the facts:

I spent the last 45 minutes driving around my hometown.

I spent the last 4 hours before that at a job fair for the school district I grew up in.

I am moving back into my childhood home in August when our lease is up and the divorce is final.

My daughter will be going to my old elementary school.

The weird Chinese food drive-thru is still there and I wonder if the fried rice is still crazy amazing good. They introduced me sriracha.

I am will be 5 miles away from my very favorite Mexican restaurant, which means only 5 miles from my very favorite margarita. (Although, I am not drinking right now.)

I had a great interview with the same middle school I attended.

I never ever ever expected to move back to the area.

There are a lot of Stripes gas stations here, what’s up with that?

My high school is still in the middle of a field next to the railroad tracks. I kinda hope that never changes.

I never ever ever expected to live in my parents old house.

I never ever ever thought that my life would come around so full circle.

Ever.

I am on the verge of tears. Not sure why. There is some comfort in knowing my “new” house and my kids “new” school. There is comfort in knowing my way around, although l the roads have been widened and there is SO MUCH commerce. It’s familiar and scary all at once. Part of me feels like I have failed. I have wound up in the same place I started. The EXACT same fucking place. The same precise longitude and latitude I spent 12 years of my life. Omg.

I feel like my whole world is changing and yet nothing has changed at all. It’s overwhelming and confusing and I am trying to live in the moment. I am trying to experience the anxiety and confusion and magnitude of divorce and moving and supporting myself. I am trying not to mask the feels with alcohol or xanax. I want to be here now. In the shit so when I come out the other side- it’s that much better. I don’t want to fight the tears or the sleepless nights- I want to live the human experience and that includes all the pain, sadness, fear, anxiety and excitement of my situation. You have nothing left to fear when you allow yourself to experienced it all. You know hurt and pain. You know sadness and depression. You know anxiety and self doubt and it can’t scare you anymore. Half the anxiety is the anticipation of the event, not the event itself.

So, here I am, at my very favorite mexican restaurant looking down the street that I will live off once again and thinking how weird life is. Really fucking weird. I would have never thought this would be my path and yet, here I am traversing the same damn roads.

Full circle.

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Good Mom and Shitty Person.

“You’re a good mom. A shitty person, looney tunes and incredibly unbalanced, but you are a good mom.”

This is what I was told today. Honestly, I will put this in the WIN column. We can all be pretty shitty given the right circumstances. We are probably all a bit looney tunes given our cycle, amount of sleep and proximity to coffee. Incredibly unbalanced? Well, maybe just moderately unbalanced- but I have been seeing a doctor and I am working on that.

As for the “good mom” part…why, thank you!. I work my freaking ass off being a “good mom”. I get worn down, of course. My patience runs thin, sure. Some days I just want a break while I cry in the closet, this too has happened a couple of times. Lately, mommy has “been having a hard day” more than I would like, but its REAL LIFE. We have hard days and we have good days and the most beautiful thing about our days is that every 24 hours they start over. We get the chance to have a good night’s sleep and wake up with a clean slate. Every day we are afforded the opportunity to slow down, focus and make better choices.

The problem? I don’t make any money being a “good mom”, so in the midst of a divorce, my mom skills don’t rank very high on the totem pole. While being a “good mom” is a HUGE job and a grand commitment, I can’t pay the bills. I can save over $20k a year in daycare tuition- but I don’t necessarily bring home the bacon. This discrepancy is glaringly obvious while divorcing. I am working and praying to the Almighty that I will get a teaching job this August, and I cannot tell you how ready I am to support myself and the kiddos.  While I am so very grateful for the 6 years I was able to stay home with the kids, and for a husband that was happy to support us, it is important that I learn to support myself. I need my own 401K, my own savings and my own two feet to stand on.

Unless you have been there, and in my case I have been here twice- not having a way to support yourself while getting a divorce can be devastating and panic inducing. All of a sudden you have to find a career and insurance and a way to keep food on the table. You haven’t spent the last decade climbing the corporate ladder, you have been at home birthing babies, breastfeeding and rocking them to sleep. You have been scrubbing toilets, buying groceries and singing Sesame Street songs. You have been replacing toilet paper rolls, picking out preschools and cutting crusts off pb &j’s. You have been going to PTA meetings, volunteering as room mom and helping with homework. So, I certainly fucking hope that I have been a “good mom” because if this were school I would be working on my PhD in Mommyhood. This has been my job and my passion and there is a good chance it is also the reason I am loony tunes and a bit unbalanced. Yin and yang, my friends.

So, I will take it as a compliment buried in some shit meant to hurt my feelings- but a compliment nonetheless.

I am a good mom, thanks!

I love my sweet kiddos.

HATE is a 4 Letter Word

Remember that part in Crazy, Stupid, Love when Steve Carell’s character says, “ I have loved her, even when I hated her. Only you married people will understand that” ?

First of all, that is my favorite movie of all time and if you haven’t seen it, stop what you are doing and Netflix that shit now. You will thank me. Second, there is so much truth in that line. This is exactly how I feel right now. Cycles came around full circle again last night, on freaking Easter of all days, and hate is raging through my veins. Pure hatred. Hatred that makes me want to scream from this deep, guttural, primal place while shaking my fist in the air.

I stand here naked, having just gotten out of the shower after two hours at the gym and a major ugly cry fest and this intense Richter-scale level of hatred is making me smother screams of anger into my towel. I sure as hell don’t need the neighbors coming over thinking I am being murdered in my bathroom. And the most frustrating part is that I care for him so deeply as a person, as the father of my children that I would move mountains to make sure that he is safe. But, alas, he is not my problem. You cannot change anyone. You cannot save anyone. It will drive you mad- doing the same thing over and over and over again expecting different results. Crazy. Stupid. Love.

In fact, I hope that someone else will take over this role. I need someone to take over this role. I can’t do it anymore. I lose myself in it. Someone else can be his in case of emergency. Someone else can pace back and forth wondering if he will make it home safely. Someone else can call hospitals asking if there is a chance that he has been admitted. Someone else can check the HPD police website to see if he was booked. Someone else can call friends and family members to see if they have heard from him. Someone else can check Facebook to see if he has been online lately. Someone else can have panic attacks wondering why a 30 minute commute home has taken over an hour. Someone else can be the rock he breaks himself against.

I am done.

Let go or be dragged.

Divorce: The Beginning of the End

Note: I wrote this post in November when we first began to discuss separating. I have come a long way since then, but thought it was important to remember that even in the ugliest, darkest days of despair- things will get better, maybe not immediately, but certainly.

I don’t cry a lot. I get mad or yell or lecture- but crying isn’t my thing. In the past two days I can’t seem to stop crying. My husband tells me he is unhappy and cannot figure out why. Of course, he assumes it’s me. It can’t be work, we need the money to pay the bills. It can’t be that he works 60 hours a week. It can’t be his own pressures that life has given him or the fact that we are in the thick of raising two young kids. His kneejerk response is me. I am the catalyst to his deep unhappiness.

He says he just wants to be happy. We all want to be fucking happy! I agree. It just shatters my heart to think that I could be the reason for someone’s unhappiness. I told him I didn’t think that I could do this again. Another trip down the road to divorce will break me. I feel like I was right, I feel like I am breaking. I don’t handle my stress well. It manifests in all kinds of weird ways beneath a somewhat stoic appearance.

I need to talk with a doctor. I feel like my hormones are out of whack and conspiring against me. I never feel rested. I never feel completely sane. I am anxious. I have massive mood swings. I feel foggy and grasp to find common words, like cabinet. Who forgets the word cabinet?? Sometimes I feel like my brain is its own worst enemy- it’s combative. It creates problems that aren’t there. It’s creates its own walls to protect me, but also becomes so hardened that I lack compassion and kindness. I am so worried about getting hurt or looking stupid that I am always at arm’s length with everything. I don’t want to lose it all. I don’t want to be that vulnerable. It’s terrifying.

What if it’s some kind of break down? I have never ever thought it would simply be easier not to be here at all…but now it seems oddly peaceful. Lie down and surrender. I can’t believe I even had that thought. Shit. What the fuck is wrong with me!?

Now I am googling “in-patient psychiatric treatment”. I am also looking to see if the accept our insurance, so at least I got that going for me. And that’s exactly how it’s been working lately, moments of clarity followed by spontaneous tears and incredible doubt. It’s like a switch keeps flicking on and off, almost like I am watching it all happen and completely unable to do anything about it.

On…off. On…off.

OK, I am good right now. I am calm. I can think clearly. Please excuse me while I just sit back and enjoy this peaceful moment, it may not last long.

hardest

Birthday Breakdown

Lately, Saturday has become our “family day”. When we have separate houses, it will be “Daddy day”, but for now, it’s usually all of us together. A couple Saturdays ago, we went over to the neighbor’s house to celebrate their daughter’s 6th birthday. There was a gigantic bounce house, plenty of Chick-fil-a nuggets, cake and all the presents a little kindergartener could handle. Everyone was happy, smiling and the sun finally graced us with its presence. We gather around the table to sing Happy Birthday and suddenly my chest tightened. I felt like a 300 pound behemoth was kneeling on my rib cage. This has happened a couple times over the last year or two. I stand there, basically frozen, and rub my chest like I can somehow massage the tension away. It doesn’t work. Instead, it has become a small tell that I am about to have a full on fucking panic attack. I tried to breathe through the unbearable pressure.

Deep breathe in…Happy Birthday to you….deep breathe out….Happy Birthday to you….deep breathe in….Happy Birthday dear neighbor girl…deep breathe out….Happy Birthday to you.

My (soon-to-be-ex) husband sees me from across the room. He looks concerned. Tears are pooling in my eyes as the weight is bearing down on my chest, crushing my lungs. My breath quickens. He comes over and asks if I am ok, I nod. But, I am not ok. What the hell is happening? I tell him I will be back in a minute and go towards the front door. As soon as I hit the driveway tears are streaming down my face. I don’t know why. I have no idea what is happening. All was well. I had a couple nuggets, talked to some random guy about our favorite places in New Orleans and then had a panic attack while singing Happy Birthday. What the hell is happening?

Thankfully we live right across the street so the commute was short. I try to soak up my tears with a paper towel and contemplate the fact that I may hyperventilate soon. The tile floor looks cold, that could be nice. Clearly concerned with my mental status, my husband comes in the door holding two pieces of cake. He asks what is wrong. I have no idea. I can’t give a logical explanation. He asks if maybe it’s because we are attending the party all together? Maybe it was overwhelming? Maybe? Maybe. I am not sure. I still don’t know why I cannot stop crying.

At the beginning of the school year the neighbors divorced. They are young, in their mid twenties with two small kids and just couldn’t keep it all together. I totally get it. The husband moved out and she has been holding down the fort. I help out pretty regularly, when they need someone reliable to pick up their daughter after school or when they need an extra hand. She began dating someone not too long after she and her husband separated. They all seem very happy- the kids are thriving, pretty content and adjusting well. The kids go to “Dad’s house” some nights and understand the new living arrangements.

At the birthday party they were all there- dad, mom and mom’s new boyfriend. One big happy family. They seemed to be making it work, all of them helping out with their assigned duties. Smiling, making small talk, trying not to step on anyone’s toes. Their delicate, polite dance was working.

Maybe that was it? Maybe subconsciously watching this new co-parenting couple navigate the family dynamics was a bit overwhelming? That will be us someday. Someday we will move on and have new relationships and new family dynamics to deal with. Someday we will have to smile and make small talk and try not to step on anyone’s toes.

Someday.

I walked into our kitchen so I could blow my nose and cry in privacy. My husband follows, turns me around and gives me a huge bear hug. We stand there for a minute and he says, “we will be fine”. I reply, “I know. We will make it through this just like we have made it through everything else.” He is right, we will be fine. We will make it through this just like we have made it through everything else. We will make it because, even though we no longer need to be married, we do need to be family. We are a family; a weirdly functionally-dysfunctional family, but we get to make our own rules. We have the great opportunity to structure our family the best way that will work for us.

This whole bittersweet episode reminded me of the first time we filed for divorce and met with a realtor to sell the house. We were told that we may just break even. Defeated, I went into the bedroom and collapsed on the bed. My husband followed, laid down next to me and rubbed my back. We would be ok. We are used to set backs but everything was going to be fine. We would be fine and together we would get through it- just like we have gotten through everything else.

We can do scary things.

I am thankful for these small moments that reassure me that our family will make it out alive. There will be some growing pains. There will be anger and frustration and hurt feelings- but at the end of the day we will be fine. I am sure of it.

be alright

Feel the Fear

Fear is almost tangible. At times, I am convinced that, with some leverage, I could pull off the heavy weight that bears down, most inconveniently, upon my chest. I am fairly certain I have had lengthy conversations with fear. Fear can be a pretty quiet dude, sneaking up on you when you least expect it- often kicking you when you are already down. He can be a bully- overwhelming, persistent and exhausting. He is also persuasive- he can talk you out of almost anything. He can convince you that it will be too scary, too hard or simply impossible. Fear can be a jerk and he tends to be almost impossible to ignore.

Growing up my Dad used to say “feel the fear and do it anyway”. Whenever I was nervous about an audition or completely overwhelmed with a term paper or learning how to drive on real streets in an actual car- he urged me to take a breath, feel the fear and do it anyway. I think about this often. In fact, it may be the single sentence that has gotten me through life his far. When I walk into a room full of strangers or meet someone for an interview, when I go to the doctor, when I submit a blog post or get totally freaked out about a life as a single parent…fear is there.

We cannot escape it. Fear is our body’s natural response to anything out of our comfort zone or scope of knowledge. We should not ignore fear; it alerts us to situations that may be dangerous. We should not silence those instincts, but, the great majority of the time, the little alarm that goes off is only warning us to proceed with caution. Note, I said PROCEED.

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

There are so many opportunities that we miss out on because fear works his way into our brain. We miss out on taking new career leaps, traveling to exotic lands, applying to dream schools, even getting that watercolor tattoo we all covet on Pinterest. Fear permeates into our being, defining the person we ultimately become. Fear doesn’t care if we are comfortable in our lives, if we feel fulfillment with our current situations. In fact, fear tends to hold us back from the really BIG things in life- those scary, crazy, amazing things we would do if we knew that we could not fail.

So, let us challenge each other to take the leap. Make the call. Submit the application. Buy the plane tickets. Say I love you first. Quit your job. Run the marathon. Sign the papers. Put yourself out there. Take a chance. Take a risk.

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

No “Plus One”

I have been invited to two weddings in the last week. TWO! I am a bridesmaid in one and a guest in the other. I kinda love weddings although I cry at every single one of them. I am sitting at my desk Pinteresting “nude/gold bridesmaids dresses” when all of a sudden I think, “The wedding is in November…it may be pretty cold…I most likely won’t have a date’s jacket to steal to keep me warm”. Awesome. No date.

Being married is advantageous for many reasons, but one of them is an automatic “plus one” to all occasions. Who will escort you to the fundraiser/wedding/holiday party? Your built in date of course! I am not saying that I cannot or will not go to an event alone, I just really like having a buddy. Its fun to have someone order your cocktail or save you a seat at the cool kids table. I like that. Someone that keeps tabs on you and makes sure no one has stolen you. (I am not paranoid, I promise). I love the camaraderie of relationships but now I guess I can be that slutty brazen and independent bridesmaid that can sleep with the groomsman or hot cater waiter or go home alone and happy- its up to me!

It is still weird, though. I don’t have to match anyone’s tie to my dress. I don’t need a king bed. A twin would be fine for little ol’ me. In fact, I can just bunk up on an air mattress if necessary…just me, my champagne flute and my nude/gold sparkly bridesmaid dress.

On the flip side, I suppose I also don’t have to wonder if he is having fun or drinking too much at the open bar. I don’t have to worry about keeping track of him while I socialize with friends and family. I don’t have to go home early if he gets tired. I don’t have to feel bad that he has to occupy himself while I take pictures before and after the ceremony. This sounds easy. I can just worry about me, my hair falling flat and remembering to bend my knees during the ceremony so I don’t pass out and embarrass myself.

I still have 8 months until the wedding, which mean lots of time to continue growing and become more confident in my new role. Mom. Co-parent. Employee (hopefully). I am really excited and anxious to meet the future me. I wish she would come visit me now and reassure me that everything works out well. I want to know that everyone is happy, healthy and thriving. I am sure we will, we have been working our asses off to remain respectful and civil.  But in the mean time, maybe I will look for an elegant gown with sleeves, that way I wont need a suit jacket to keep me warm anyways.

I really like this one:

gold bridesmaid dress

I Saw A Ghost.

I saw a ghost. I mean, I am not sure it was a ghost, per se, but it was similar.

Two nights ago I couldn’t sleep worth shit. I was tossing and turning and screwing around on Instagram and finally around 4 or 5 am, I dozed back off to sleep. I was having the most vivid dream while in this semi-conscious state. I am in the garage of my childhood home putting away stuff or organizing some boxes or something and the garage door was about 1/3 open to let in some light a fresh air. All of a sudden I look over and there is someone standing on the other side of the door. All I can see is a long floral dress and some slide on shoes. My heart stops for a second- who the hell is walking by my garage?

The woman bends down, ducks under the garage door and smiles at me. It’s my great-grandma. Clear as fucking day, it is her. She looks exactly the same. Even in my dream I am stunned that this woman, who passed away 12 years ago, is so clear in my dream. I go practically fetal. I am hyperventilating. The dream me is shocked and in full panic attack mode. My great-grandmother is standing in my garage.

She opens her arms out like she is going to give me a hug and says, “I am so proud of you.”

What?!

I wake up.

I am still in my bedroom, lying in bed, now wide awake, wondering what the hell just happened? I look around for clues (??). I don’t know. My great-grandma was a believer. She really did have some strange connection to the other side. There was even a book written about an actual haunted house that she owned in Texas. One story I remember involved the scent of roses, but I don’t smell anything. What. the. hell. just. happened? Was that a dream? Did she come to visit me in my dream? Was it nothing more than just a dream?

I honestly cannot talk about this story without crying. I told my mom about this dream yesterday. She said that just the other night she too woke up at 4 or 5am and had this overwhelming feeling that she needed to find Great-Grandma’s ashes from the garage. (Don’t ask why she is in the garage…) Mom got out of bed and sure as hell, went into the garage to retrieve the box and bring it into the house. Maybe Grandma is making the rounds? So weird and yet, so oddly comforting.

I am in the middle of this sad, scary and exciting shit storm right now and to have Grandma come to me in a dream is almost overwhelming. (I am tearing up as I write this) She was probably the strongest woman that anyone has ever known. She was witty, seductive, scrappy, intelligent and full of determination. For her to tell me that she is proud of me is…well, pretty unexpected and pretty fucking amazing. I needed that. Maybe she knew? (Now I am ugly crying)

I hope it was her. I hope it wasn’t just some freaky dream and I hope she is watching over me and knew that I could use that hug. Either way, I choose to believe- I saw a ghost.

Thanks Grandma, I love you.

xoxo

Great-Grandma is the woman in the bottom left.

Great-Grandma is the woman in the bottom left.

Divorce: Filing the Papers. Again.

I am sitting in my car crying while being charged by the minute. 1. Because I just drove around downtown for 30 minutes trying to navigate construction cones, one way streets and parking garages that will accept credit cards and 2. Because I am here again. At the courthouse, about to file divorce papers.

I remind myself, I can do scary things.

I got here. I found my way. I found a parking spot. I will find the building, I hope. Surely it can’t be too hard; I say knowing that if someone could get lost in the concrete jungle, it would be me.

I remind myself, I can do scary things.

I don’t know where I am going. My shoe is rubbing the back of my heal and I cant find a fucking bandaid. I decide to skip mascara; it will just end up in black streaks running down my cheek. It’s freezing cold, but thankfully the sun is shining. I am armed with a form from the lawyer and an email with directions:

Get the clerk to file-stamp the two copies. Keep one for your records and keep the other to give to your husband once I send you the other documents. If the clerk asks, you do not need service of process. Once it’s filed, let me know the case number. The clerk might say something about how they require e-filing, but let them know you’re “Pro Se”. Let me know in what court it was filed and I’ll get the Waiver of Citation ready for you as soon as possible”.

I remind myself, I can do scary things.

Apparently, I am the one that is in charge of scary things. I had to file the papers last time too, I even had to take the kids with me. They loved the elevator ride. I swear they must have thought I brought them to some kind of shitty carnival. They were laughing and excited and they had no idea. They were too young. This time the kids are at school and I am alone. I assure you the elevator ride, metal detector and purse search was nowhere near as fun. It’s clinical in fact. I am a number. A file among thousands of files. Sterile and cold. A decade of love, marriage, kids and life reduced down to a number. Today my number is E46. I guess it’s as good a number as any. Some person behind a glass window will call me. So I wait.

Divorce seems to be a game of hurry up and wait. We wait to let our marriage get so broken that divorce becomes the only answer. Then we hurry up and agree to separation. Then we wait to figure out finances and living arrangements. Then we hurry up and file the papers. Then we wait the minimum 60 day “cool off period”. Then we hurry up and sign the final papers. Then we wait another 2 months because our current lease doesn’t end until August.

I remind myself- I can do scary things.

It’s in those periods of waiting that we have nothing better to do than think. I have been wondering why it seems that women are always the ones left picking up the shattered pieces. Women seem to be the ones that must now venture back out into the job market. Women are responsible for getting the kids squared away with daycare. Women keep the household running amidst the storm swirling within the family. The husband goes to work, consumes himself with the life he has already created outside the home and drowns his feelings with late nights out. Or so it seems. Maybe it’s just circumstances.

Women are amazing. We hold a million balls in the air at any given moment. We strive to support ourselves and our families. We try to make life magical. We often fail, but we have the best of intentions. We are caretakers. We feather the nest. We think about others. We are selfless and we are exhausted. It’s a big job. Mommyhood. Womanhood. Humanhood.

I remind myself- I can do scary things.

You go into this marriage thing as a team, a united front. And when the fairytale crumbles away, you are left by yourself, walking back into the court house to file for divorce. Alone. No camaraderie. No pomp and circumstance. Just you, by yourself, making a huge life decision that will inevitably leave all parties changed forever.

I remind myself- I can do scary things.

You can join the party on Facebook- Memoirs of a Modern Mom!

Filing for divorce.

Divorce 2.2: I Am Ready.

I am ready for the uncoupling.

I am ready to get a full time job.

I am ready to get both kids in full time care.

I am ready to get my own place.

I am ready for a house without the stress of the past weighing it down.

I am ready for an adventure.

I am ready to see what I can do.

I am ready to begin a new chapter.

I am ready to have a schedule.

I am ready for the kids to have Daddy days.

I am ready to stop getting my feelings hurt.

I am ready to stop caring.

I am ready to know true love.

I am ready to tell the kids.

I am ready to plan for a life of single parenting.

I am ready to discover what I can do when I have to do it.

I am ready to stop the anxiety.

I am ready to walk into the courthouse and pay $285 to file the papers.

I am ready to cry alone in my room mourning the future I had planned.

I am ready to have lonely nights where I can wonder what the hell I have done to deserve this.

I am ready to go back to my maiden name.

I am ready to know how our new family will feel when we are split between two houses.

I am ready to be scared.

I am ready to figure stuff out on my own.

I am ready to learn how to hook up electronics and hang shelves.

I am ready to get out from under the weight of the waiting game.

I am ready to gather new furniture so that both houses can feel like home.

I am ready to pour my heart into writing.

I am ready to find me….without the we.

Divorce

Truthfully, I think we both are- he just doesn’t have a blog to write about it.