When Life Gets Out of Control

After some informal inquiries with many of my friends and acquaintances it would seem the consensus is… August suuuucked. In a time which is supposed to be of leisure and good weather – and in the past has meant birthdays and anniversaries and vacations for me –  for the first time in my life, I was barely hanging on.

I experienced a mass exodus of people from my life; some were tangential, some close friends, some romantic interests. But each week in August, just like the crashing waves against cliff sides came a fresh, powerful and unstoppable blow of loss. And each week, I sank deeper into the darkest of lonelinesses.

I remember sitting in the sunshine on my back deck – where I have sat in so many moments of pain and joy over the years – and being taken over by a shaking terror. This scared me most of all. I was so utterly confused (a state I do not function in well) and I was so utterly alone (another state I do not function in well) and I was asking, no begging, whomever or whatever listens in times like these… what have I done to deserve this pain?  Where did I go wrong? What is this life for anyway when I have no control over anything?!?

I have a tendency to blame myself when my life isn’t looking the way I think it should. And yes, it’s about control and believing that I am the captain of my ship. While this has its benefits in building the life you want and creating opportunity, it offers no solace when, as they say, shit happens.

Because that’s what August was mostly about… shit. just. happening. And I had little or no control over anything.

We can, however, control how we react – at least that is what I’m told –  and I’m a little ashamed to report that I did not react well a lot of the time. I was petulant, demanding, angry and blaming. I rattled off harsh texts, I wailed in agony and anger, I no longer wanted to care about anything or anyone. I shut myself off. Not my finest moments.

But at the end of the day, or the end of August, I slowly began to find my way back to myself. There were some days when I didn’t leave two rooms of my home. I read, I listened to music, I contemplated and meditated and sank so deep into my core just to get a foothold on one hour of my day. Other days, I went to yoga and made concerted efforts to focus on just one breath at a time. Because I have learned that when life feels like nothing but crashing waves over your head – one deep breath is the only thing to make you believe you’re not drowning. I did a lot of that… breathing and focusing.

If August had me hanging on for dear life, September has been me reconciling the losses and my actions. I realized a few important things about myself, others and this life.

Nothing in this world stays the same; not a rock, not a tree a continent or culture. It sounds a bit trite and obvious to say, but we fight against this idea on a daily basis. The comfy, cozy softness of tradition and continuity is like that warm fire waiting for you when it’s dark and cold and wet. We crave to be engulfed by the knowing and dependable glow of sunshine in August, of our lifelong friends, of the bonds of family and the relaxing familiarity and predictability of routines we know all too well. These are lovely and useful tools for setting the foundations of joy in our lives and helping us to understand what’s truly important.

But people can get really bent out of shape when you suggest a change in the status quo. Change is largely seen as an enemy, a forbearance of awful things to come, a harbinger of uncertainty and unknown entities.

And the comfort of well-worn dirt paths helps us forget that the crashing waves aren’t just there to lull us to sleep; they are powerful enough to reshape the solid ground on which we stand. And just under that surface are undertows at work. And just because we bury ourselves in the things which keep us dry and warm doesn’t mean these other parts of life don’t exist and won’t come to wreak havoc on us one day. Because nothing in this world stays the same, not a rock, not a tree a continent or culture. Not you, not me, not friendships and family. Time runs roughshod over all things both dark and lovely.

And when the waves overtake you, like they did me in August, so much of life becomes the simple act of hanging on, of coping and finding space to take one breath at a time as your head slips below the surface. And I know now that how we behave in these moments does not define us, but it can teach us if we take time to learn, if we refuse to bury our heads in the sand and we continue to assert ourselves as the captains of our ships.

We are simple humans attempting to reconcile a reality which is largely hidden from our understanding. Our simple minds have us clinging to the safety of land and simple ideas and illusions of permanence because the chaos of change is beyond our comprehension and largely, beyond our control. And that feeling can bring on a shaking terror.

But change doesn’t have to be bad. New ideas do not have to be rejected. Boundaries and relationships can be redrawn and it doesn’t spell doom. And judging ourselves too harshly for our humanity is an exercise in futility. It’s like judging a tree for losing its leaves.

It takes time and patience and stillness, but the reshaping of rock from the constant crashing of waves is a beautiful thing.

Reshaping of Rocks

Weddings & Babies and What Would Have Been 10 Years

This was not published elsewhere. It’s just here, for me, and whomever else might find value.

Weddings and babies, weddings and babies… old people – with their pastels, and their shawls and orthodics – they love, love weddings and babies. Why? Hope, of course.

It’s like we’re born with this Big Hope Treasure Chest; our dowry for making it back into the world. And over time, the world takes it back, coin by coin, jewel by jewel, taxation by taxation.

I see the hope alive and well in my young kids. They are just so positive they can do anything. I just upgraded my 4-year-old son’s 12″ bike, to an 16″ bike. He can go much faster now on bigger tires. I heard him tell the babysitter that he was going to ride to downtown Seattle. We live 15 minutes from downtown Seattle by freeway. He would have to cross three bridges and two tunnels to get there. When the babysitter corrected him about the distance and dangers, he wasn’t buying it. He believes with enough effort, he can do anything. Of course, when he gets tired after a half hour with mom, he doesn’t quite understand that it would take a whole lot more effort to ride to Seattle on his 16″ bike. But still, the hope, the belief in himself is there.

Then, the world slowly reveals itself – or we get blinded by it – and little by little, you stop believing you can do anything. You start to understand the true nature of distances and danger and ideas… and one of those things is hope.

Sometimes hope is hard to come by… it can be fleeting, soothing, stolen, make us deliriously happy, move mountains and also be broken. Just a little can save us, too much will hurt us. You shouldn’t let it run out and yet sometimes you have to let it die. It’s as necessary in this life as air. But sometimes, it’s hard to come by. Often, closer to the end and especially, in times of deep sadness.

Today, I woke up feeling horrible for no real reason. I couldn’t get my head on right from the moment I opened my eyes. I was grumpy, edgy, full of sadness. They say the body doesn’t forget. They say our deepest hurts still live on inside us – in our bones, our hearts, our hips, our DNA. They say trauma can actually change our cell structures. It wasn’t until I wrote the date that I realized why I felt so bad.

Today, had I stayed married, we would have made it 10 years. Ten. And if my wedding wasn’t my own precious, crown jewel of hope that this life took – then I’m not sure what is. Some act as though, since I willingly left a deconstructed marriage, that I gave up my right to mourn this day. That I should actually be HAPPY. That because I wanted out of a union which was killing me, that I surrender my right to be sad when an anniversary comes about. They wonder why I miss a man who has caused me so much pain.

The truth is, I don’t. I don’t even mourn my marriage after what it became in the end.

My sadness and anger are for the life that I wanted. The life I planned to live. The life, that when it was good – and there were moments – was the exact life I dreamed of. So forgive me if I’m a little sad and a little edgy. Hope has just been a little hard to come by, today.

But don’t worry, I’m sitting in the front pew with Grandma Louis and Great Aunt Mabel clutching my purse in one arm with my worn and faded, cloth hankerchief in the other, and I’m watching that beautiful bride in white. I can see her bright face. And through the tears welling up in my eyes, I can almost see his proud smile. And in spite of my many years of lost treasures, I can almost remember what that feels like. Weddings and babies, they get me every time.

And whether you can see me or not, I’m here, holding on. And I’m still looking for it everywhere. Because like I tell my babies… the most important thing is trying.

Marriage is a giant leap of hope

The Chronic Conditions of the Lonely

I dislike this piece. It received postive feedback, but I can’t help think it’s whining and self-serving. I’ve been a lonely person all my life… so what. Haven’t we all? But this condition is something which gets a lot written about it, and so I tried as well.

There is no lack of advice for single people. When you’re a single mom at 37, you get all kinds of suggestions to cure your condition. If you’ve just exited a relationship which has made you sad, people say, “Spend some time alone, get to know yourself again.” And then if you’ve been single for more than six months and sad, people say, “Put yourself out there. Go on some dates. Just have fun.” And then if you’re dating lots of people and happy you’ll hear, “You should probably take some time to be alone and figure out what you really want. You can’t really be happy?” And if you’re perpetually single and happy, no one believes you and speculates on why you can’t get a date. There’s really no way to win unless you’re in a relationship for which you are head over heels. This is when everyone leaves you alone. And if that is the only way to win, perhaps it’s why I’m having a hard time with dating and being ambivalent.

You can read the rest on Stackedd Magazine. But you’ll have to come back here to comment. Thanks for reading.


Seeing Trainwreck, Being Catfished, Pluto and Other Assorted Misadventures in Dating

I always forget to post my articles which are published on other media outlets on my blog. So here is one which was published a few weeks ago. If you don’t want to miss what I’m writing online, you can follow me on Facebook or Twitter. I always promote my published articles on those social media channels.

Below is the beginning paragraph and you’ll have to pop on over to Stackedd Magazine to finish reading. But if you want to comment, you’ll have to come back here because they don’t allow comments. Thanks for reading!

The day before I saw Trainwreck, the man I’d been dating for the last six weeks made an impromptu visit to my house at 4 pm on a Friday after enticing him with some sexy texting and vague promises. The day before that, we had gone on a romantic date where we ate flatbread and sampled delicious wines and walked through a hollowed out giant redwood cedar that had been struck by lightning. The purpose of the date was to discuss the future of our relationship. I desired monogamy, which he’d broken the week prior. He brushed my hair behind my ears and kissed me in that penetrating way on a bridge over slow-moving water. He told me how “amazing” I was and that letting me go would be a “mistake.” And then, we slipped into the woods for heavier petting on a stone bench. But before he left my house that Friday, after we both fulfilled vague promises, and after he looked me in the eyes for so long that I couldn’t help but look away, after we sipped champagne in my backyard and he quietly smiled at me while I watered my garden in a flowing, blue negligee, he said, “I’m not ready to stop dating other women.” Click here to continue reading.


On Settling My Mind and Letting Things Be

Where have I been? Better question, or maybe a statement, where I have I not been.

I’ve been riding my bike by the ocean. I spent the fourth of July exactly how it should be spent, with friends on a boat. I treated my parents and my brother’s family to a nice vacation in the Cascade mountains. I blew my kids’ mind with a moped ride. I stifled my gag reflex and took a picture with my ex husband at Kindergarten graduation. I watched my son be inspired with his first taste of BMX racing. I went to an ironic art show about penises. I saw the sun set and a full moon rise at the same time while on the Pacific ocean. I smoked cigarettes with a very sad man on his back porch while comparing divorce war stories which were so different and yet eerily similar. I adopted two kittens. I had long, hopeful, but sad phone conversations with a friend in another state from long ago who was in the hospital for six weeks with an infected leg and trying to stay clean off meth. Sadly, he was in so much more pain than physical and he’s lost now. I met some amazing women at a blogging conference across the country and sang Rick Springfield while sober. I’ve carried on a lively texting relationship with a man who lives in a neighboring state who might just be my doppelgänger. We have never met but sometimes he reads my mind and we finish each other’s sentences. Go figure, he’s a writer and editor. You’ve never seen such grammatically correct texting which, by the way, is a turn on. I’ve grown an accidental garden of cucumbers. I took a fiction class and wrote my first short story in a year. I penned an anonymous sex article for an online zine which shall remain nameless. I met another really nice boy who I liked a lot. He wined and dined me with smoked salmon and white wine in plastic stemmed cups on a mountain trail. I lost that boy out of fear – his, not mine. But that’s not to say I haven’t been afraid.Where I've been

My fear, though, is right here on this page. I’ve been writing, but not much publicly. I’m bursting with stories, but I can’t get them out. It’s an achy, itchy sort of pain. I start, stop, then ignore, and live to tell more stories squashing the regret for the ones I neglected to get out which now seem stale.

But I can’t complain. I have no right. My life is pretty good now. Which on one hand, seems strange because the hole left by the explosion of my divorce is still hallowed ground. But it’s no longer smoking. And some things are much harder now. Like bills and missing my children. But overall, I still can’t complain. In fact, often times, I look around and can’t believe how stupidly contented I feel in spite of all that I have survived in the last six years with law suits, career moves, divorce and babies.

There are many reasons I feel content in the aftermath of such destruction, but the one that comes to mind is that I’ve settled my mind. For six years the space between my ears was its own battlefield. A constant stream of impossible choices: stay, go, fight, stand down, run, hide, pull out the big guns. And while in some areas, the battle rages on, I have managed to find peace. And that peace has come not by laying down my arms, but by accepting what has come to be.

Why? That is the question I have asked more times than my self-diagnosed ADD would allow me to count. Why did this happen? Why is this my life when I made so many good choices? Why can some people see themselves clearly and others die in search of? Why is addiction such a bitch? Why is it so damn hard to communicate when there are over a million words in the English language with an infinite amount of combinations? Why is love not enough? Why?

And I suppose the peace I have found is not in the answers to these questions – it is accepting that there are no answers. There has been one phenomenal shift in my life which I may never stop writing about and that is… nothing exists in this world without its opposite. There is no definition of light that doesn’t include dark. There is no truth without the lie. The full moon can rise at the same time the sun sets over the ocean. Both exist even when you can’t see them. Especially when you can’t see them.

And so I live with the hallowed ground and the hostile ex husband and the fear of writing and the contented joy of my wild garden and I let it all just be. I fight when I have to, I sit when I need to, I tend the fire inside which aches and itches and might burst any day. I keep asking questions and practice accepting the lack of answers. And with that, I have built a pretty good life.

So that’s where I’ve been. Living. Not perfectly. Not without mistakes and messes and missing pieces, but just letting it all be.

Also, regarding my absence from this space, a couple of months ago I was rattled by the power of what I do here by a few urgent messages from readers. One message, in particular, which I’ve neglected to answer, but the gist of which was… how? How do you live with the pain and uncertainty? How do you let go? How do you face the unimaginable?

I’m not entirely certain, Andrea, but I’ve come to understand that by expanding my view while narrowing my focus was crucial. I came to a point where I included all possibilities and explanations for the fucked up reasons life is fucked up, and yet, I held fast to my own, core truth. Now, I leave nothing out of the realm of possibility, but accept my own limitations. And I hold on. Often, for dear life. And I breathe. And now I know that one can haul around an excruciating amount of pain when you know that joy is riding shotgun. Nothing exists without its opposite and everything is, as always… temporary. Good luck. 

Yin and yang Kittens

My yin and yang expressed in kittens. (Also known as, Alex, left and Benjamin, right.)

He Stole My Mother’s Day

I’m tired. I’m tired of being sad-mad. This ad appeared on my Facebook page today, and after seeing it, I assumed this exact same posture.

You deserve to be happy

Yes, my first post-divorce breakup has been hard. But if that wasn’t enough of an emotional burden this week, my vindictive ex-husband pulled a doozy. He stole my Mother’s Day.

Even though it is my court-appointed right to have the children on Mother’s day, last year, it fell over his weekend and I opted out. I had my 2 and 5-year-old 75% of the time back then, and I was fielding weekly emails from the ex calling me things like, “a wasteland of a human being.” So yeah, I went away for the weekend and opted out of the holiday all together. I don’t live near my own mother, so there was no family with which to celebrate.

This year, Mother’s Day fell on his weekend again, so he began asking me on the Wednesday before Mother’s Day if I was going to take the kids. I honestly hadn’t decided. Again, my family lives 1400 miles away and I had no plans to celebrate. I figured their paternal grandmother might enjoy being with them on Mother’s Day. And I’d taken the kids out-of-town the weekend before for a pre-mother’s day celebration all our own. Which was glorious. So when he asked me, I didn’t answer, because I didn’t know. Then another rude email came the next day asking me again. And I decided to respond the same way he responds to my requests for information. I said something really snarky which didn’t answer his question at all. A taste of his own medicine. Poor form, I know.

Then he responded by saying he wasn’t going to allow me to have the children, and then added a jab about them spending it with his girlfriend, “the other mother in their lives.”

That night I asked my almost 6-year-old  what she wanted to do for Mother’s Day. I regret this. I should never have asked her opinion, but I wanted input as to if she even cared about this Hallmark holiday at the age of almost six. I said she could stay with daddy and probably spend it with grandma, or come with me. I told her that I wouldn’t be upset either way and I just wanted her to have fun. She said she wanted to stay with me. So I said okay. When I dropped her off at school on Friday morning, I told her I’d see her on Mother’s Day.

Saturday morning at 8am I emailed him and told him I would pick the kids up at 3pm the next day. He responded saying, “you don’t dictate my day.” And that he wasn’t going to allow them to come with me because “you didn’t respond  when I asked.”

I said he had no right to take it away, that is was a court order, and just tell me where they would be, and I’ll pick them up. He did not respond. Not only did he not respond, but he didn’t even let them call me on Mother’s Day. Honestly, I didn’t ask to talk to them. I didn’t want to be crushed more than I already was when he would refuse to respond like he has done so many other times I’ve asked to talk to the children. I heard later that they spent the day doing “whatever Diana wanted since she’s a mother.” They went to the beach. Had dinner at her house. No big plans.

I had to make a decision about what to say to my daughter. I thought long and hard about it. I decided that I needed our daughter to know that I wanted to be with her on Mother’s Day. That I promised her, and my word is solid.

I told her this, and the questions began. Eventually, the questions led to a realization that her father lied to her. In that moment, I was crushed. I felt her pain. My heart broke right along with hers. She loves him, as she should, and to realize that you can’t trust one of your parents whom you love, is a horrible, horrible feeling. And I didn’t want that to ever happen. But I needed her to know that she could trust ME. And if I say I’m going to be somewhere and I’m not there, then it isn’t because I didn’t try.

I’ve consulted counselors. I’ve read any number of articles on how to co-parent with an abusive ex. There are some helpful guides out there, but there is no concrete guide for every situation. However, the prognosis for the children is nearly always the same. Children suffer when their parents continue to fight. Children suffer when they are put in the middle.

I don’t want my children to be in the middle. I have tried so hard to protect them from being in the middle.

Since having that talk with my daughter, we’ve had many other talks about how this was not her fault, that she can’t fix it and it’s not her job. I’ve told her over and over that her daddy loves her even if he doesn’t like me, that she should never EVER feel like she has to choose who to love. She should love both of us, because we both love her. But she also deserves to know the truth. And yes, the truth is a slippery slope in situations like these. Who’s truth does she need to know? Mine, or his?

I have never said a bad word to my children about their father. I have not called him a single name, or said anything other than, “your daddy loves you very much.” And even when I told her the truth about Mother’s Day, I simply said, your daddy did something that wasn’t right. He shouldn’t have done that. And my almost 6-year-old apologized for her father’s behavior. It was all I could do to not break down into a puddle on the floor.

Because she should NEVER have to apologize for someone else’s poor behavior. Never.

I’m so tired, guys. I’m so tired of being sad-mad. Facebook is right, I deserve to be happy.

The Disappointing Lingerie Delivery

So there’s this bag. It arrived, stuffed in my mailbox. Hm. I’m not expecting a package. 

Disappointing lingerie

Upon removing it from my mailbox I glimpsed at the sender.


All I needed was a glimpse, and I knew I was opening that fucker. Matter of fact, it was the first thing I did right after setting my son up with his iPad.

I tried moderately hard NOT to look at who it was addressed to. That way, if I opened it, and it wasn’t for me, I could legitimately feign ignorance and upon returning it, could honestly claim that I thought it was mine. I carefully bypassed looking at the addressee by turning the bag away while opening it. But then, in my strain from ripping the thick, rubbery package, I got a glimpse of an address that was veerry close to mine, but maybe… not mine? I blurred my eyes and kept ripping.

I did the same thing a week ago after I SWORE I sent the last pleading, begging (ultimately unresponded to) text message to my first, emotion-based, post-divorce breakup. You see, in the previous 9 months, I hadn’t memorized his entire phone number. I called him up only by his first name in my contacts. I just barely knew the first 6 numbers. So I knew that if I could delete his number without ACTUALLY seeing the last 4 digits, then all temptation would be removed to further send my dignity into a downward spiral by continuing to text a dead horse.

My fingers dialed up the contact. I trembled a little. I knew that if I caught one half of a peak at those last 4 digits, they would be seared into my frontal cortex like a branding iron on a Japanese Wagyu beef’s ass, and I would immediately, irrevocably send my self-control on a one way cruise to the Antarctic. It was 1st world life or death, people.

I paused. Took a breath. Called up the contact. Quickly found the menu for delete. And… done. But not before I packed my parka because that evil little gnome inside my head, the one with his thumbs inside the straps of his overalls and one cocked eyebrow, that fucker MADE me look at that number. Can a girl catch a break? Sweet African American Baby Jesus. 

Then, like the insane, emotionally unstable, crazy woman I had morphed into over the last few weeks, I immediately started saying random numbers in my head trying to trick myself into NOT knowing what I already, CLEARLY, knew. Six! Nine! Four-Six, Four-SIX! NO! DAMN IT it’s four-eight. It was an exercise more futile than a toddler’s red-faced fit over the last broken cookie.

But I was strong, for a little while before I texted him again and went skeet shooting with my pride. Don’t judge. Pull!

So anyway, this bag came. And it said lingerie. And my curious, impulsive, devoid of self-control self, ripped it open to find a sad, poignant metaphor on my life.


You’re kidding me right now, right? No split-crotch lacy thong? No dangly tassel pleather-studded bra? No polyester banana-hammock with elephant ears?

A hoodie? Really, life? That’s whatcha got?

And not even a nice hoodie – a cheap, ugly, scratchy man-hoodie. Or maaaybe teenage-boy-hoodie that matches his private school uniform requirements. Fuck.

So now I sit here, with this possible man (probably private-school-boy’s) hoodie and I have to give it back… to someone. After I already opened it. With LINGERIE beaming off it in neon. Which might actually be a federal offense.

So my next thought is: A. Do I drive the street over and hand-deliver this disappointment? Or do I simply wait the 1, 2, 3, 4 weeks before I casually catch the mailman outside my driveway and saunter over with a, “Oh, hey. This was delivered by mistake and I accidentally opened it.” Because I did, you know, accidentally.

And suddenly, I feel the real possibility that I created a problem where there wasn’t one. Shit. Another metaphor.

Oh, no. I do not regret opening that bag. I’m 99.9% certain I’d do it every.single.time a package showed up on my doorstep with the words LINGERIE emblazoned on it in hi-def. You could set your watch to that fact.

And really, if I’m honest, the problem I created… to me… is sorta funny. And stupid. And ironic. And inspired. And I wrote this. And I can’t pretend that I care what the mailman or the neighbor really thinks, anyway. I’ve fought too many wars to give a shit about that kerfluffle. And so I should just stop procrastinating. And creating unnecessary problems. And playing little mind games. And do what I know I need to do. And write this fucking book.

Oprah and Scars and Trust Issues

If you know me in person, you know that Oprah is my spirit animal. Since I was a teenager, growing up in a home where nothing was really talked about, Oprah came on television everyday and talked about everything.  All the things I so desperately wanted to have conversations about, there she was, talking. That dialogue with life changed me. It continues to change me.

I was madly in love with a man my sophomore year in college. I was 20, he was 23.  He was goofy and inordinately tall, 6’8″ next to my 5’5″. I used to climb the furniture to kiss him. He had already graduated from college and was a 5th grade elementary teacher. He took me, a little broken, a little dirty, he dusted me off, and he showed me some things. We were together for an impossibly short 9 months. The one Christmas we spent together he bought me red, plaid pajamas and an unauthorized biography of Oprah. It was 1999.

This man saw me. For a little while anyway, he really saw me. He inspired me to pursue a second major in communications, he convinced me to stand up and have confidence in what I knew to be true about myself. He showed me how deeply flawed even the really good people can be. He taught me that, and then he was gone. I knew he cared for me back then, and in a strange way, I know he still does although we don’t speak. And what all these years have taken away in memory, I remember something about him quite vividly. He had this long worm-like scar that ran down the center of his left knee. It was from surgery to fix what basketball had broken. It was smooth and wrinkled and felt like a silky soft, well, worm. As I ran my finger down it from time to time he’d tell me to stop. It felt weird because the tissue surrounding the scar was numb. He knew I was touching him, but could not necessarily feel me. I loved him so much it took me over a decade, and well into my marriage, before I could bear to part with those thread-bare pajamas.

Right this minute I am crushed by losing someone else I love. He too, has a huge scar. It’s on his right shoulder. While going through the law enforcement academy he was injured in a take-down drill. He had to have surgery to fix what it had broken. After surgery he contracted a major staph infection which ate away at the incision site and left a deep indentation of missing bone and tissue and a pretty big scar. He almost died. This painful tragedy manifested in scar-form was one of my favorite parts of his body. Laying in bed, always, my fingers would work their way toward that scar, sometimes unconsciously. He’d ask me why I did that. “I guess I just like scars.” I’d say. “It means you’ve lived.” He said that was funny – but what I think he meant was ironic – because he said he was self-conscious about that scar. But now it was one of his lover’s most favorite things. Our only Christmas together he bought me a collector’s book which was actually signed by Oprah. But that wasn’t all he gave me. He taught me something, too. In losing him I finally knew how to trust myself.

Because when we met I was very broken, filthy, battered from head to toe. I was in the midst of nasty divorce, and on my way to trial. Snaking your way out of a toxic relationship there are always landmines just in the periphery of where you know you need to go. A lot of my landmines looked like trust-issues. I didn’t just not trust him, I didn’t trust me. How could I ever be sure of any decision I ever made when I’d made so many MAJORLY horrible ones thus far? I played this dance with him for 6 months where I’d push him away, skeptical and crazed with fear, and he’d pull me back just before I jumped. This happened so many times, the pushing, pulling. After 6 months the fulcrum on our relationship tipped. I was the one pulling, and he was the one wanting to jump. Then he did. It all took 9 impossibly short months.

But I saw him. I did. And I think I still do, although, as he fades away his outline gets fuzzier. It’s hard to tell where he ends, and where I have reshaped him in the hazy hindsight of lost love. And now, my only wish is that I taught him something, too. Because I do not want to take more from this life than was so generously given to me in the way of incredible, loving people. I have met so many. I have loved so many even if I didn’t know how to show it, or name it, or trust it.

But I do now. Or at least I’m much closer than before. And even if I never see him again, I know that I am capable of trusting. Because he taught me that, and I will forever be grateful. I’m sure it will take me many years before I bring myself to put that collector’s book away, where it’s not always on my shelf, in my periphery, continuing to remind me to listen to that still, small voice, the one that urges me to keep talking about everything even when I’m afraid. To keep loving the scars more than the memory of the hurt that caused them.


Lessons on Loneliness, Translations and Bedtime Stories

Because of shared custody, full-day Kindergarten, and a busy schedule, my daughter and I usually, truly connect during the week on the nights I get to put her to bed; which is approximately 53% of the time. That’s what happens in divorce, you only get a percentage of your child’s life.

I lay with her before she falls asleep, and her inner thoughts and worries come bubbling to the surface like secrets. She tells me as much as she is able to understand, and I translate the feelings she does not have the words to say. Two nights ago she cried big, heaving tears about a recent birthday party where two girls, whom she’s been friends with for about three years, wouldn’t “follow her.”

These three girls spend a lot of time together because I’m also friends with their moms, and we like spending time together, too. These two friends of mine are two big reasons I was able to survive this last year of divorce. They supported me, included me, made me feel like I was not alone in this city where the only family I knew stopped speaking to me the day I filed for divorce.

But lately, I haven’t felt so included. For a variety of reasons I feel a rift between me and these two friends. They are both married. They have two children who are the same ages, and all their kids are friends. They aren’t limited in their plans by shared custody and “weekends off” and the ability to pass the kids off to a husband for an impromptu shopping trip on a Saturday afternoon. When we get together their husbands idle off to the side with their beers and talk about husbandy things. I watch. I listen. I see the updates on Facebook when they go on “date nights” and I have no plus one anymore.

I’ve been feeling this distance and the accompanying loneliness and it hurts pretty bad. So when my daughter cried to me two nights ago about not being “followed,” I cried with her, because I knew she was trying to say she felt alone, and left out. Usually, I’m not at a loss for wise words of motherly advice translated into 5-year-old speak, but I was this night. I just layed there and said, “I know, baby. Me too. Feeling lonely and left out is miserable and it’s okay to cry. I’ll cry with you. Okay? Because I’m feeling pretty left out too.”

Then I remembered this book I bought a couple of weeks ago at a spiritual bookstore. It is a book for kids called, On My Way To A Happy Life by Deepak Chopra. I love this book. I gush over this book. Because I gush, they groan when I try to read it at night, but I read it anyway. And by the end, they are always rapt with attention. It’s one of my favorite things right now.

Deepak Chopra On My Way to a Happy Life

As we lay there crying I asked her if she remembered what the book said about getting the things we want in life? I reminded her that it said she needed to give away the things she wants. If she wants her friends to “follow” her, she’s got to follow them, first. If she wants to be heard and seen and included, she’s got to hear, see and include others. And the best way to do these things, is with a giving spirit, and a happy heart. It was truly advice for us both.

I think I might be a professional loner. I move away from people, I alienate them, I build walls and hide behind them every single day. I choose people who are cold and distant so that I don’t have to thaw my icy exterior. Truthfully, this blog is my alter ego. My everyday self only understands so much, and the voice in my head that writes here is my wiser self that translates what I do not have the words to say outloud.

I justify these things easily. Because life has not been kind to me in the ways of love and so I have grown a heart of thorns. I have been told (more than once) that I am not easy to love. And I’m not. So scared am I of the pain that seems to always follow the fall. So terrified of the vulernability and weakness I’ve laid on the table the moment it all goes to shit. It seems a thousand times easier to stay walled up in my self-imposed cage. This is the part of my disintigrated marriage that I own. I am not easy to love.

But I know I’m not impossible. I did try really hard in my marriage. But sadly, that was a lost cause for many reasons. And I am all the more frightened from it. But I can’t give up, right? I have to keep trying. Somehow, I have to find the wisdom to keep turning toward the light. I know this now. This blog helps.

But it’s too late to change what has already happened. It is too late to go back and impart this wisdom on my 23 year old self, my 27 year old self and my 36 year old self. But it’s not too late today. Today I will choose to do the scary things, like trying to give away pieces of me without being frightened how they might be treated. And I will do this by taking the pieces that others give me, and caring for them like they were my own. I will give away what I so desperately need. To be seen.

We always hear that our children mirror our emotions. My daughter and I crying together over our shared loneliness of these same friends in our lives has never illuminated this more clearly for me, and thus, it has never been more clear what I must do.

There are only two people on this planet I have never held back from loving. They have had all of me from the moment they were conceived, and I hope they always will. These two are my greatest translators in this crazy world about the meaning of love, and if for no one else, (actually, I can’t think of better people) I will try for them. I will do the scariest things just to show them what happens when you’re brave enough to expose your heart.

And so, even though everytime I open this page I’m scared, I will continue to open it. Even though I am terrified of loving another again, I will try. Even though my unwisest self pulls me into the shadows behind my walls and thorns, I will continue to step out into the sunlight. Because they need to know a world with that kind of warmth. And we will be each other’s translators of that kind of love.

Why I Stopped Asking “Why Me?”

Sometimes, I get really bogged down in the why-me’s.

Why did MY marriage fail? statistically speaking, it shouldn’t have happened. We dated 3 years before getting engaged. I didn’t get married until I was 27. I waited to have my first child at 31. We were college educated – had successful careers. All these things statistically point to marriages which have a low probability of divorce. We should have beaten the odds. But we didn’t. We didn’t. We didn’t. I didn’t.

They say the divorce rate hovers around 50%. Well not in my socio-economic world. I have ONE divorced acquaintance and we became acquaintances BECAUSE we’re divorced. It’s a lonely world this upper-middle class divorce thing.

Okay, so my marriage failed. Shit happens. Fine. But then I start in with the why-me’s of having an angry, vindictive ex. I hear stories about ex-husbands who would do ANYTHING to make sure their kids were well cared for either by them, or their mothers. They willfully help with fixing cars, extra-curricular activities, they talk civilly and kindly to their ex-wives, they attend birthday parties and holidays because they understand that he kids come first. Why does my ex not even look at me? Why will he do anything in his power to hurt me? Why did he take me to court and make me spend my savings just to get a basic level of support?

Yes. Why me?

That leads to a lot of self-blame. Because being a victim is not in my DNA.

What fatal flaw did I make? What road sign did I take a left at, when I should have turned right? What is wrong with me?

Truth is, there’s a lot wrong with me. There’s a lot wrong with all of us because we’re human beings and we make a million mistakes a day. There isn’t some pill you can take to stop being human. You can’t medicate or even meditate the condition away. Believe me, I’ve tried.

You can read the rest here on Scary Mommy.