My coworker remarked to me today that I emanate an aura of peace, happiness and health.
Inside I feel torn, but others can see things we cannot always see. Maybe I appear this way because I have found the woods again. I try to spend as much time out there as I can, hiking and backpacking. It is my meditative place. Thoreau and Frost were definitely onto something.
The offshoot of the divorce was that I am now able to have time away from the kids to do that. They come with me often, but I get more time to myself than I ever did.
I'm far from the person I want to be though. My ex can still make my blood boil. Sometimes I want to call him a "fucking fucker" when he's giving me a hard time about something, seemingly for the joy he gets from it. My house is way more disorganized than I'm embarrassed to admit.
I am trying to navigate this being-single deal again-- not being too serious, not letting my kids know anything, learning to be good with being alone, learning to balance between hiding and showing care for someone, fighting horniness, and allowing myself to break away from the church guilt I grew up with after so long.
Having male friends I keep only as that, and putting more value in my female friends. Realizing sadly that the parents of my kids' friends are not my true friends, but more like conditional ones depending on if our kids are fighting or not. Discovering that I really am fun to be with, forcing myself to meet new friends and open myself up to them, and being comfortable hanging out in a public place with people I just recently met and not worrying that I am going to say something stupid.
And I'm still trying to leave my old job and become a real nurse practitioner. That has been the hardest thing of all lately.
When it comes down to it, this is really just the way of life. Everyone has to walk this path at one time or another--becoming comfortable and learning to love themselves, while balancing that with love for others. It's all about growing, and it's good. I wish I had done this sooner.
After 15 years, the old '99 Buick Century (Bessie--my little cliche car) has finally tired out. My nice country mechanic described it as "the engine done blown up," and "the engine has expired," to put it in simple terms for me.
Now begins the search for the perfect cheap used car that will hopefully last for another 10. I am being ambitious, aren't I?
I will admit that I have kept my car so long because I dread this process. It is like searching through the junk drawer that won't open without having to stuff your hand inside to shove things out of the way, and getting cut by an old pair of pliers several times before you can get the drawer out enough to find the right item.
My first auto salesman encounter came with the perfunctory car salesman smile. He was the skinny one, and his boss the short stocky one. They looked completely different, but they had exactly the same smile, only the skinny one looked like a young Nicolas Cage with questionable teeth. Despite the teeth I developed a small and short-lasting crush on him. I don't get many smiles like that from men, fake or not.
He took me down to a trade-in lot at the bottom of a hill that I had walked through the night before when it was dark and I could hide from salesmen. I wanted to know the details about a couple of cars, so we went up a long flight of stairs to the dealer office.
There were two large men sitting behind a desk, eating comfort food from styrofoam containers. It was an older building, cramped, like a waiting room for a mechanic more than a dealer. The walls had wood-paneling. I was the only woman in there and could feel the testosterone vibes.
The one car I liked had the check engine light on. I asked the left-sided man behind the desk exactly why. He rolled his eyes at me and told me the reason. I remember the reason, but I remember the eye roll more.
I told my friends about the encounter last night. As my first test drive of many, I'm sure I will run into this attitude a lot, and get the "Why is this lady asking all these questions? Shouldn't she just care about the dent on the bumper, the accessibility of the cup holders, and the burnt out tail light?" looks.
I was given some good advice that I think I'll use next time, and every time, if I can get the guts up. If I can just say it once it will be a piece of cake. "I'm here to buy a car, and I'd like to know right now if you are going to treat me like an asshole. In fact, I would like to know up front if everyone here is going to be an asshole to me and get this out of the way so I can move on to the next place."
I'm giving myself a month to complete this search. It will be a long month. But it will be a month that I'm going to grow some balls. How couldn't I, being around all these car guys?
Oh, happy New Year, by the way! I've missed it here. A lot.
This Mother's Day, I only have the pure-of-heart homemade gifts that my kids made at school for me...and their love. Last year was the final holiday I shared with my husband, and at that point our relationship was sputtering to a close. I still have the card he gave me, written as if it was meant for a friend in a mom's support group instead of a wife. Mother's Day marked an irreversible turning point in all of our lives.
I've decided that instead of accepting gifts and giving hugs, I want to give my kids something special for Mother's Day in return, something they can cherish for the rest of their lives. They deserve to have a mom who is thoughtful, introspective, contemplates their days, and tries her best to figure out how to make them better, even it means breaking down the walls of my ego and looking at myself in an honest light.
My Mother's Day gift to you, little pumpkins, is to tell you what I want to do and what I'm going to try my hardest to do for you. If I say they're promises, then I run the risk of letting you down. As I am a human with faults, desires, worries, and dreams like you, I know that I can't possibly be the perfect person or mom. But if I put these things down on paper, there's a good chance I'll get a little closer. I've been working on this for 21 years now, but I don't think you can ever stop improving at it. I hope to be able to do this every Mother's Day. These will be my guidelines for the next year until then.
1. Sleep: The other day I was overtired and found myself overly short with you. I apologized as the night went on, and tried to explain how tired I was. Brandon, instead of getting angry with me, you asked me sweetly and with more maturity than your years if I thought I could work on getting more sleep. That simple request has echoed in my mind for the past few days. Sometimes I stay up later than I should to get some quiet time after you guys go to bed, but at the expense of my mood the next day. You deserve a mom who has patience, is slow to anger, and does not get upset over the insignificant things just because I'm tired.
2. Food: I'm getting better here. In the beginning of all this, you got frozen pasta and vegetables microwaved in the steamer bag, breakfast for dinner, pizza, and (God forbid!) McDonald's meat paste. I remember the first night we sat in the McDonald's playland...it had been just recently that we'd been there with your dad; in fact, I wrote about it on here. I didn't have it in me to cook at that point, and it was a last resort. I had brought a school book to read, but there was no getting around the fact that I now shared a silent camaraderie with the solitary dads watching their kids play, even if we didn't look at each other. I was getting so good at planning out our meals before, but that tanked when I couldn't find the energy to do it and I had to do everything on my own. I'm nearly back to where I was before, but I picked up some bad habits and, I'll admit it, became lazy. I realize that you enjoy the Friday mini corndogs at school, but I need to be much more purposeful when it comes to feeding you healthy foods and packing your lunches.
3. Friends: You want to have your friends over at the house more and not have to listen to me say that it's too messy and I'm embarrassed. I either need to stop worrying about what other parents think about my housekeeping skills, or actually spend more time cleaning the house (which I don't have much of, so we might have to go with option #1). Your friends truly don't care about my piles of laundry on the couch. They run right past it all in search of a cat to play with, or they try to jump in it because it's fun. Plus when you and your friends get together you seem to enjoy making more messes!
4. Structure: I let you guys scam out on a lot of chores because I haven't given you much structure lately. I ask you to do the work, but if you balk and I don't feel like arguing, then I often will just do it myself. I'm taking the easy way out, although at the time it feels like the hard way, when the hard way is standing my ground and teaching you about consistency with responsibilities. I'm not doing you any favors in the long run to do the work for you, so I'm going to ask you to do more around the house in order to earn the things you like to do. This probably seems like the worse Mother's Day gift ever, doesn't it? :)
5. Understanding: You know that I truly understand what you're going through right now, especially you, Brandon. I've been there, and I know how sad and scary it can be at times. I realize that it has changed all of you and I can see that, and I'm so sorry. I will always feel badly about that fact for the rest of my life. I need to bring the place of understanding to a deeper level though, because your experience is not my experience, and the two are not entirely comparable. I don't know it all, not by a long shot. One thing I do know though, is that through this experience you will become a more compassionate and caring person, having lived through hard times yourself, and maybe someday you will be able to help someone else who is struggling.
6. Faith: We pray at night, but do we discuss the deeper aspects of spirituality, like forgiveness, love, kindness, acceptance, and trust? I think that we do in passing and on occasion, but not as much as I'd like to. Spirituality is the foundation of how I try to interact with the world, and I don't want to lose out on this fleeting opportunity to share that with you while you're young. I don't always make myself a living example of those characteristics, and I need to look inside myself to find out how I can do that. I can't teach you if I'm not an example.
7. Communication: It goes without saying that whenever you want or need to talk to me about anything, I'll be here for you. But the greater gift is to listen to you without judgment, respecting that you are an individual with different opinions than mine, and also realizing that when we disagree it is an opportunity for both of us to learn compromise. The trick is to pick the battles wisely, and that task falls mostly on me. Also, when we do talk you deserve my total presence, not the mind-wandering that I tend to do during conversations. I need to turn off the phone, the radio, and stop what I'm doing to listen to you. Minimize distractions.
8: Kindness: This is my largest task. It is easy to be kind to those who are kind to you. Simple. But to those who are mean, taunting, belittling, and laugh when you fall down, it can feel nearly impossible, like there's no way it can be done. It can be, and when you succeed, you free yourself from anger and bitterness and become open to love...even to love the person who's hurting you. I believe that everyone and all creatures deserve kindness, because we are all children of God and blessed with life. It goes against my nature to feel hatred toward someone, and I don't like that side of myself. When you grow up, I want you to have good knowledge of what kindness means and to be able to treat people kindly...even when it seems like the most difficult thing in the world to do. I want you to do better than I have done. You're already schooling me, I'm ashamed to say. I see the disapproving looks when I get a certain tone with your dad, and that helps put me in my place and remember that I need to be kind to him because you love him.
Aubrey, Brandon and Claire, I love you with all my heart. You are my life, and I will always be here for you as long as I'm living. Happy Mother's Day! Love, Mom
I am losing my husband, and I am losing one of my best friends who lives across the street.
With her though, it's not really about what I am losing, but about what she is losing, and I feeling sorry for myself for it.
Back in March I wrote down some thoughts about her journey with metastatic breast cancer. One morning, I came home from a particularly rough night at work and met her outside at the end of our driveways to wait for the school bus.
I break down about my morning at shift change.She is interested and wants to hear.It’s a change from the usual topic of death.She says that even as a family member, when
her son was 17 and dying in the hospital with cancer, she could see how badly
some of the nurses treated one another.They are catty bitches, I say with enthusiasm.It’s good to be able to tell another woman
this, because my husband can’t fully comprehend what I am talking about when I
say those two words together, even though he has been on the receiving end.Before the words even finish leaving my mouth
she is echoing them, grimaces, and says with a tone of feistiness “Do you need me to go down there?”
She is dressed up, wearing some of the layered necklaces
that I admire her for, always looking put together despite being a mess
inside.There’s a new wig, the second
wig.I joke that she’s already losing
hair from the wig too as I remove a long strand from her white shirt, and she
laughs.I tell her it’s a nice style and
looks good on her.What I don’t say is
that I miss her old hair that spoke of vibrant health.
She sees her youngest son off to school, tells me that every day he says he is dropping out of kindergarten.There is an oncologist appointment this morning to discuss her
pain.She gets through the day with
church people and her close friend Stacy, and at night helps her kids with their homework, but in the very late hours that's when it gets bad.She has been up the
past two nights laying on the floor in the bathroom.I
assume it is from vomiting, but she says it is just that she feels like she has
to grit her teeth together from the pain, all alone in there.She won’t take narcotics, not now, not this early on.
She senses my drunken sleepiness and tells me to go lay
down.As I walk away, instead of feeling
calm and contented with the camaraderie we just shared over mean women,
I want to scream “Noooooooooooo!You
can’t die.You are the closest thing to
a best friend that I have right now!The
only true Southerner who seems to get my sarcasm and is not offended by it!"
I don’t ever want her to see me cry during
these moments.She would ask what was
the matter, and I would have to lie.Would she forgive me if she knew that I was blurring the honesty line a
little past where friends normally go?
I have so long neglected this blog that I don't even understand the new format anymore.
So, fuck it.
I am going to write whatever I want on here. This is my blog, after all.
I need to vent, and in order to do that I'm going to have to relieve myself of the pretend obligation that I need to be nice, educational, or accommodating to anyone who might be offended by my posts.
Frankly, I've been offending myself for not writing, because I am too caught up in trying to think of a name for a new blog.
I can't do that anymore, because here I sit, at work, in the quiet of the night at 2 a.m., crying.
This seems to be the only place where I break down. I don't have a typical nursing job. Patients actually sleep, and I often only work with one other person. There is lots of time to think. Too much time.
I'm looking forward to finishing my master's degree next year and getting a dayshift job in a busy clinic. I'll actually have other things to focus on then besides how sucky life can be...at least my life, as I'm sure some of my patients will have sadder stories to tell.
We used to be a family. The four of us. That's not something you just throw away. I feel like that is a precious thing. There are going to be problems, of course, but family is sacred.
I have never experienced what that means. My parents were divorced when I was 12, and I was shuffled around between them for awhile. There was nothing sacred there. My sister and I were the human pawns in their game of who could get out of paying child support. I represented a dollar sign and an inconvenience of time.
Then I married young, at 18, and that marriage was over within 2 years.
This marriage was my chance to get it right, but I'm obviously not good at this.
My kids will never be made to feel as if they're an inconvenience. Not from me. I can't control what their dad does, but I've been hurting for them lately. It's almost like I am 12 all over again, feeling their pain. I've promised myself that I won't let them feel what I felt. Ever.
Tonight, as I've done several other nights, I'm thinking about the outings we had together as a family. The four of us. The kids happy in the back of the van with DVD players. Dad driving as I read a book in the passenger seat. The kids running around on a hill while I take photos. Laughing at the silly things we find on the ground, at the irony of life.
I loved every minute of those outings, except for times like when Claire walked into a spider web on a forest hike and it took awhile to console her screaming, or one of us clumsily tripped and scraped a leg, or insects crawled onto our food during a picnic (well, Brandon liked that part).
Now that I think back, I don't believe my husband was enjoying himself much. He was faking. I was taking the photos, lost in the wonderment of what was around us, and I think he was just watching me do it, not an active participant himself, but simply going through the motions.
He told me once, toward the end, that he thought about taking photos too, but I was offended and told him to get his own hobby. I was a jerk for that, for being possessive of my interests. The thing was, I wanted him to have hobbies besides TV and video games, to find his own loves, and to share them with me and teach me something, not copy what I was doing. Not do another thing that I would have to be the expert at.
I didn't take any photos of the spider webs, but the memories are there.
We're still going to have those outings that I treasure, but it will only be the three of us now. We are sacred.
So...I am getting divorced, or being divorced from, whichever way you look at it.
This is the 5-year anniversary of this blog and of the date we moved to Tennessee from Illinois. I once said out loud on facebook "I give it 5 years." I was so unhappy here initially, but I've slowly grown to tolerate some of it, and love other parts of it. It's a bittersweet anniversary.
I didn't and don't want to write the details here though, because this is mostly my "fun" blog, and what part of divorce is fun (unless you are the divorcer, maybe)? That is why I've been so quiet lately.
Also, some of it might be offensive and depressing to my garden/insect/earthy readers, although I know that no matter what our hobbies are we all have very real and human problems, and sometimes it is our hobbies that keep us grounded and sane despite them.
Therefore, I am going to make a new blog only for the topic of the divorce. It will be one more way to help me get through. There will be many personal things on there, and since people I know in real life sometimes read this blog here, I have to "screen" the readers first. I am not so brave and trusting that I won't be horribly judged.
My solution to this is if you would like to read about this side of my life--if you care enough to try--drop me an email at email@example.com, and I will send you the link. (Actually some of it might turn out to be a teensy bit humorous, only because my brain copes with this kind-of stuff by forcing myself to laugh at the sadness.)
To the rest of you, I will try to keep writing funny and/or informative things every 6 months or so like I've been doing ;-)
Why do we stay in places in our lives where we feel, sometimes with every ounce of our being, that we should not be there?
Because we fear the unknown.
As wrong, as lonely, as sad, as infuriating or as unfulfilled as we may be, we are comfortable in the KNOWN.
And even though what lies ahead and is unseen may open doors that we never thought possible, we still can't see that far, and that's scary.
I know that no matter what happens though, I need ME. I need to be the person that I was born to be; to not waste the talents I was given because I am in a melancholy funk. I'm still not sure who that is, and I imagine I'll be working it out until I can't remember where to put my fingers on the keyboard anymore.
I need to be a friend, in return for all the friends in my past and present who have given to me when I couldn't give in return.
I need to be a mom to my kids, to fill their world with the joys of life that it took me so long to find on my own. To give them the tools to be strong and to know that their greatest ally is themselves.
I have a feeling that this walk down a long unknown trail of many turns, through a forest I've never traveled in before, has already begun. I am surrounded by stands of tall trees, thick shrubs and May apples covering the ground, still believing that I'm in the parking lot, that I can go back home and life will resume with the known. I have yet to fully recognize the implications of where I am.
If I do finally figure it out--when I do--I expect poison ivy, thorns, ticks and spider webs on my face. I also know that there will be surprise blackberries, fields of wildflowers, the croaks of a family of bullfrogs, and a soft breeze that cools me in my weak and tired moments.
And it is those moments that I will wait and hope for, because I know they will eventually come. They always do.