Monthly Archives: December 2014

Naked new year

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Naked new year

That’s right readers…I’m getting naked for the new year. Now, before you get too excited ( or horrified for that matter) I’m talking about emotionally. It’s time to strip off the barricades, let the boundaries drop to the floor, shimmy out of the cloak. I’ve always been one to speak my mind, I feel it’s important. But I speak my mind about social issues, about struggling politicians, about wayward football players, about single parenting. I’m just scratching the surface. This is my year to get real.
To be clear I’m not talking about walking around shouting about my feelings about everyone else, “you let me down, you wear weird shoes”, I’m talking about my feelings and feeling them. I’m talking about crying when I miss Chris, I don’t have to know why, I just have to feel. I think we all spend a lot of time figuring out why we feel how we do and not time feeling. The feeling part is the healing part, not the other way around. And let’s face it, feelings don’t always make sense. I’ve cried about my hair not looking right, about how my pants fit, I’ve yelled at someone (in my head) to get the f out of the way because they are blocking the cheese at the grocery store.
Having said that, I don’t intend to embrace my road rage or ball up in a quivering mass every time I have to struggle to zip my jeans, that WOULD be exhausting. I think all those things are symptoms of not feeling my feelings when I have them.
Part two of getting naked is listening, REALLY listening to others. I’ve been in therapy enough to know there is an awkward space in talking about something where you want to stop talking. It’s the time in a therapy session when a therapist just looks at you, it feels weird, like time stopped. If you were at a cocktail party it’s the time you’d walk away to get another cocktail weenie. It’s the time I make a joke, or offer advice. Maybe it’s the space before you get naked though. Maybe it’s your turn to drop the cloak, I want to be there. See, what I’ve said there is I want to watch you get naked and sit awkwardly silent as you do so. I may not be invited over for tea much this year.
Part three is taking personal responsibility. It’s still a learning process, I’m gonna mess up. Failure is an amazing teacher, if you allow it to be. My current thinking goes something like this. I messed up. I hate messing up, it makes me feel inadequate. Feeling Inadequate makes me feel wholly inadequate, a person who is wholly inadequate is a complete failure. There’s nothing more to do, I should give up… Frankly, that’s not helpful, but I do want to say I messed up, and sometimes I don’t know what to do, but I want to do better. I’m responsible for messing up and I’m responsible to learn from it. Agreeing to being a complete failure avoids responsibility, because if I am indeed a complete failure then there’s nothing I could ever do, so I get an out.
I could have done more for Chris, I don’t know how it would have changed things. I did the best I could and I wish my best had been more. I am profoundly sad that Chris is gone. I miss my friend, my partner and my husband, every single day. I hate that my kids are growing up without a dad, I hate that there is some part of them that thinks they could have done something different. I hate the approach of holidays because I know he’s not going to be there. I hate getting into his car and smelling the faintest smell of him and being overcome with sadness that it is only a smell and soon, even that will be gone. I hate waking up from dreams about him and feeling the hope drifting away like smoke, I am angry when the girls are struggling with math or friends and I can’t do it alone, and I resent doing it alone. We had an agreement dammit, and you broke it. And I am alternately sad and angry and resentful and self loathing about all of those things and watch out, cause I’m gonna be feeling those things. Because feeling those things is healing.

The newest normal

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The newest normal

It’s that time of year for me. The calm before and after the storm space between Christmas and January 29th. I made it, I breathe my sweet sigh of relief after the holidays. I suppose many parents (and non-parents) feel some relief that the holidays passed and we survived. We didn’t get caught filling stockings, there was joy over electronic devices, some decorations got hung, cookies got made. Maybe next year I’ll send Christmas cards, maybe. The hustle and bustle calms down now. It’s quiet.
I never really liked this time of year. The nights are long and the days are often cold and dreary. I feel constantly cold, and now that I am a certain age, my body aches. I want to sleep. Maybe hibernate even. It’s the late afternoon of the year.
I’ve started planning fun things to do in January to combat the slump. And that helps. But there’s something looming out there. Something I’m probably trying to avoid.
I stood in the rain last night for a bit. I was a little buzzed from a couple of quick beers that I drank, and the rain felt nice, cold. As I stared down at rain droplets splashing into a puddle I felt heavy, like someone had just laid one of those protective vests on me that you wear before you get an X-ray. Why? Why does Chris wade up to me sometimes. His ghost almost visible in the foggy rain. In that rainy blur, his weight fills me.
This will be the third anniversary of his death. That 3 feels like it holds weight. Not the first year, that was a blur of paperwork, a disconnected, disjointed, surreal year. The second year was the dragging out of the fog, the “ok, looks like this is real, now what?” And now…what. There is a new normal, like it or not. Its what we do every day. But it still feels strange, like staying in someone else’s house, the food is good, but not familiar. Their toilet paper is different and I don’t know where the clean towels are. I’m not totally comfortable in my own skin, with my own thoughts. The difference is:I want to be.
I’m ready. Ready to feel at home, ready to not just tolerate the new normal, but to embrace it. I want to feel settled, happy. I want to love again, love myself again that is. I want to forgive myself for what I know logically was not my fault. It’s time to face that ghost that hides in the rain, to forgive him for what I know logically was not his fault.
This is a space for healing, for approaching that third anniversary with open heart and open mind. Feel the feelings that accompany that. Feel the sadness over having lost my nation of two, feel the anger over having to raise these three beautiful girls alone, feel the regret of wishing I had done more, feel the relief of survival , feel the comfort of the new normal.

Updated list

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A few days ago my dear friend HQ sent an article to me for the Huffington Post. The articles title was something like, You’re doing it wrong, but there’s still Hope. ( actually the title was: 11 steps to prepare yourself for really awesome love). I love the Huffington post because they seem to have numerous, easily digestible, meaningful articles. They seem to get right to the crux of the matter and give you that “Aha!” moment.
One such moment was the realization that I have a list, a set of ideals that had clearly defined who I wanted to date. My list? Definitely tall (I’m 5′ 10″), thin/athletic, probably dark hair, financially successful, has hobbies like gourmet cooking, enjoys exercise, volunteers, loves dogs, has a college education-probably a masters degree or higher, likes drinking coffee and beer, enjoys watching football, loves to travel. First thing I realized-this is a list of superficial things I wish I was.
The second thing I realized ( mostly because the article says it), this list of features leaves out the most important things I want in my relationship. These new things look a lot less like the subject of 1950s pop song and a lot more like someone with whom I’d like to spend my life. My new list is: Someone who makes me feel loved and important, someone who reminds me I’m sexy even first thing in the morning, someone who supports me as a single mom, someone who makes me feel safe. Being six feet tall won’t necessarily guarantee any of these.

Since losing Chris, My relationship comfort zone has shrunk to the space just outside my own body. I’ve talked myself right out of potentially awesome love. But I miss things that never really existed with Chris.
I lament knowing that I will never have the history I had with Chris, the connection with the girls. But I miss a bunch of stuff I never even had. Life with Chris was definitely financially secure, but the emotional equivalent of a mechanical bull.
One of my favorite pictures of Chris and I was in the hospital right after Madeleine was born. I’m holding Madeleine while lying in the hospital bed. He’s reaching over to me and has grabbed a little piece of the hospital gown I am wearing. He looks like he’s terrified. He was terrified. Chris was everything on my superficial list; not just for me, but for himself as well. He could have been all the things on my new list too, but he was terrified.
I find myself being still very cautious about how I depict Chris. Im not at all sure what is the superficial truth and what is the deep meaningful truth.
I have alternately vilified Chris and worshiped him, both with varying degrees of misrepresentation. He was a good man, a flawed man, but a good man and a dear friend and husband. And he’s not anyone else. He’s none of the new people I meet now, he’s not hidden in them, he’s not influencing their behaviors, just my thoughts about their behaviors.
This is me telling me what I need to hear. Because the truth is, most people are some version of their list, some version of their Facebook profile, their match profile, the person you meet at he party is not the complicated person who stands beside you when you’re giving birth, or lays their head in your lap when they messed up.
My list is useless, because everyone’s list is useless. People can’t be quantified in a list of attributes, tall or short, terrified and accomplished, they each have to be taken one step at a time. Stay present. Dump the list.