The Day You Start Moving On

It’s funny how sometimes you have no idea what you need until it’s happening.  You can have weeks of sadness, confusion, lack of direction and then suddenly something shifts.  Yesterday was one of those days.

Today Dad and I met with the hospice social worker and the chaplain.  It was our first meeting with them, an opportunity to learn who they are and what services they offered and also an opportunity for them to learn about us.  How they could help.  After speaking with Dad, the chaplain turned to me and said, “As a caregiver, who is available for you to turn to for emotional support?”  I hesitated, laughed, and said the first person who popped into my mind.  My not quite ex-husband.

Yesterday my ex and I went riding.  The weather has been absolutely gorgeous here.  The days a little cooler.  The humidity a little less oppressive.  I had no idea how much I needed to be outdoors.  When Thomas asked if I wanted to go ride quads, I didn’t even hesitate.  I followed him down a new to me path and found myself riding through a postcard.

A train used to pass through the countryside here.  I have no idea how long ago.   These days, the tracks have been removed and what is left behind is a path through one of the most beautiful scenes that I have ever seen.  I knew they existed- part of them run right behind our house and I used to hit them almost daily when I was trying to run some of the energy out of two seventy pound dogs.  They pass through the woods, through streams where the dogs love to swim.  Through dirt roads surrounded by corn fields and soybeans.  Sometimes I sit and watch the farm equipment as it moves up and down the rows and I can’t even believe how beautiful this world can be.  I had no idea there were miles and miles of path that I didn’t know existed.  Paths full of trees and shade and dappled sunlight.

I know it’s weird that we were riding together.  I mean recent events haven’t exactly been great, but life goes on.  I needed fresh air, sunshine and the peace of mind that I can only seem to find when the wind is rushing by.  I didn’t go with any expectations or even really any thought other than I needed to be outside and I don’t like to ride alone.  I didn’t go for closure, yet that’s what I found.

So my quad doesn’t have the greatest brakes ever.  Going down any kind of steep hill requires the abandon of all sense of caution and prayer.  I was following Thomas and at one point I managed to find myself stuck on the edge of a rock, leaning to one side and afraid to move because I just knew that if I managed to get myself off that rock without turning over, I was going to be praying pretty hard for brakes on the way down.  In reality, I probably wasn’t in any danger of flipping, I just like to feel all four tires firmly on the ground at all times…  Thomas turned around to see where I was.  The sight of me frozen, eyes like saucers, not even daring to breathe was apparently super funny.  A minute later we were both laughing, I trusted him when he said I could make it down and I took a leap of faith.  There was a lot of screaming (me) and laughing (both of us) but I made it down.  It turns out that not all of our trust was shattered.

Then I got sad.

I started wondering why our marriage could never work.  I watched him riding ahead of me.  Both of us in our element.  Both of us having fun.  Together.  I could ride behind him for days, just enjoying the trees, the adventure, close enough to nature that I can reach out and touch it.  I had to work my way through why that could never happen in order to get to what can.

I don’t know what is wrong with him.  I truly don’t.  I’ve diagnosed him.  I’ve said he’s his own worst enemy.  None of that really matters.  What matters is that when we are trying to be together, something switches off in him.  He’s not happy.  I’m not happy.   We are both always searching.  I just choose to focus my search on ideas, words, psychology, scriptures.  We both have our own band-aids.  The truth is, if we were together right now, we probably wouldn’t have been riding at all.  If we were, he probably would have been more annoyed than tickled when I got stuck.  I probably would have been anxious.  Instead, I was carefree.

We completely suck at being married, but we are usually really good at being friends.  Not that we didn’t almost manage to find a way to ruin that, too.  Me by thinking we could start over like the previous decade never existed.  Him by… well, always searching for band-aids.  Temporary fixes that don’t fix anything.

I don’t know how to explain how I can still be friends after everything that’s happened other than I just can.  It’s a choice I made.  There is not one thing about me that he doesn’t know.  There is nothing that I could ever think that I would be afraid to say out loud.  I need that.  When everything came out a couple weeks ago, that is what I was grieving.  Not my marriage.  My best friend.  We don’t usually mess that up.

I’m a huge believer in finding the lesson.  The day after “the big reveal”, I was devastated but I also knew that I was never going to stop wondering about my decisions regarding moving on or trying to stay in our marriage unless God basically hit me with a hammer.  The amount of guilt that I felt over Jace not having what he wanted- his parents together- was overwhelming.  The big reveal was God’s hammer and as much as it hurt, I was grateful to know that I wasn’t doing any of us any favors by trying to hold on.

No, everything isn’t just back like it was.  I’m a different person now.  I know that in time, Thomas and I are both going to have other people in our lives that fill that best friend role and honestly, I’m looking forward to that day.  I know someday there will be a man who wants nothing more than to ride through life beside me.  I hope that Thomas finds the person who heals his soul.  I hope that the four of us can share some of the best moments of our lives together.  Our children getting married.  Grandchildren being born.  I truly look forward to those days.

For once in our time together, I think we are both on the same page.

Trust Is a Luxury

People say that I forgive too easily.  That not everyone deserves forgiveness.  What they don’t know is my motives are selfish.  It’s just me, trying to breathe.

I grew up in chaos.  Anger.  Conflict.  I don’t know who I would have been if not for that.  Would I have battled depression?  Would I have battled my head?  Would I have spent my entire life trying to measure up?  The worst thing in the world is to know that you will never know what you might have been.

As an adult, I abhor conflict.  I hate it.  Typing the word fills me with anxiety.  I can’t bear it.

I wonder if everyone spends their life searching for that one elusive thing.  Mine isn’t happiness- I know and have known happiness.  My children fill my heart with more happiness than they will ever know.  I don’t even think that it’s love.  I’ve known that, too.  I never knew what love was until I held Will for the first time and knew that I would die for him, no questions asked.  Yes, I know and have known fierce, animalistic, unconditional love.  Three times over.  I think what I crave is safety.

I forgive because I can’t tolerate the alternative.  I forgive because I need forgiveness.  I forgive because I have to.  I just don’t forget.

 

 

 

The High, The Hurt, The Shine, The Sting

Depression is like the ocean.  A riptide.  Dangerous currents that want to drag you under even when you can still see the shore.  That shore may be within swimming distance but it might as well be in another world.  That’s what depression is.

A couple weeks ago, we saw suicide hit the news again and I thought about blogging then.  It’s a subject that’s always close to me.  It’s my lifelong companion.  My truest friend.  I used to blog about funny things, though.  I used to be funny.  I didn’t want to blog sadness anymore.  I wanted to make you laugh.  So I didn’t blog.

I guess one thing that my children may never know is the hardest thing I have ever done is stay alive for them.  They have seen me work, sometimes more than one job at a time.  They have seen me prepare meals, wash their clothes, run around trying to find what they’ve lost.  They’ve seen me mourn, they’ve seen me struggle, they’ve seen me tired.

They’ve never seen me stare at a bottle of pills.  They’ve never seen me daydream about turning the wheel when I’m driving alone and the perfect drop off appears.  They don’t know that in my mind there is such a thing as the perfect drop off.

I don’t want to be this person.

I want to be happy.

I want to be carefree.

My happiest moments are with my babies.   But they are growing up.

My mom can no longer carry on a conversation with me.  My dad is dying.

I’m just so tired.

Depression is a black cloud.  It’s a swarm of bees.  It’s loud.  It gets in your ear and it just. won’t. stop.  It tells you that this is it.  This is all it will ever be.  You, always chasing things that fly away.   You, getting the courage to leave and those little mosquitos coming back for another round of blood.  You being everything.  The ripest peach that they can’t stop taking bites of and the bruised one that is no longer appealing.

Depression tells you that it’s okay if you finally just go to sleep.

What I really wanted to blog when suicide hit the news was different then.  I kept reading comments about how suicide is selfish.  I kept thinking that survivors were reading that and they were reading painful lies.

I’ll say again what I said before.  My children will never know that the hardest thing I have ever done for them is stay alive.

If someone you love lost their battle, that decision was gut wrenching and agonizing and not fully thought out.  That decision was coated in a dust of grief and pain and disillusion.  That decision would not have stood up in a court of law.  That decision was breathless.  That decision might have been a weakness but I can promise you that it was one out of a million moments of inhuman strength.

I added a new medication to my regimen in hopes of getting my fibromyalgia under control.  In doing so, I have noticed the suicidal thoughts creeping back in after months of sitting in the light.  I will be diligent in having my meds adjusted again until I’m back in my sweet spot.  I will do it for my kids.  I only wish that I was doing it for me.

“Depression is living in a body that fights to survive with a mind that tries to die.”  — unknown

Depression is your friendly, funny, 40 something soccer mom who loves Pinterest and Krogering.

Depression is someone just like me.

there’s freedom in a broken heart

I kind of had an epiphany this morning.

I initially woke up at four.  Buddy likes to wake me up around then.  He cries until I go open the door, then he stands there for a few and decides if he wants to go outside or not.  I’ve decided that he’s got to be a member of the twilight bark and he’s listening for his people.  One time I refused to let him out and he pooped in my bathroom.  He’s basically the size of a Shetland pony so that is something that I never want to experience again.  When he wakes me up crying, we go stand at the door…

My head was killlllllling me.  My sinuses are awful.  I had made plans to try out a new church this morning and I was supposed to meet up with a friend who goes there.  I was so close to cancelling on her.  I never make plans because if it’s not my anxiety that gets in the way, it’s my body or I have a migraine, etc.  It occurred to me in that moment how much I was the biggest obstacle in my life.  If my head was going to hurt, it was going to hurt. It didn’t matter if I was at home or at church.  So I got up, I snorted my Flonase, drank my coffee and stopped letting myself stand in my own way.

When it comes to God, I don’t believe in coincidences.

I met up with LeAnn and we found our seats.  There was an older man stepping into the baptismal tub as we were listening to the band.  “Well that’s weird,” LeAnn said.  “People don’t really get baptized that often, unless it’s Easter or something like that.”  I didn’t really think much of that at the time.  The band played a few songs and then they began to play a video of the story of the man being baptized this morning.  He was a marine.  When he was a young marine, he was deployed and fell ill with malaria one day.  He wasn’t able to do his job the following day and one of his buddies filled in for him.  His buddy was shot and killed that day and this young marine was left with the realization that he not only narrowly escaped death, but his buddy died because he was filling his spot.  That’s when I knew that I was supposed to be right where I was today.

Combat, survivor’s guilt, PTSD, TBI, all of these things have turned all of our lives upside down.  I feel a kinship with anyone who walks this road because I know what a difficult, confusing, lonely, desperate road it can be for both the sufferer and for the people who love them.

In my last blog I talked about Thomas and I separating and my recent confusion and in the last few days he and I have had so many discussions about our relationship going forward.  See, for me, nothing has really changed other than our address.  While Thomas was absolutely, 100% the love of my life, the last couple years of our marriage we weren’t much more than roommates.  So for the last year, I really haven’t felt much differently than I did when we were actually married.  The last few days he and I have had a lot of conversations/arguments over my need to start figuring out my own way but he likes things just the way they are.  I have been truly struggling though.

Guess what today’s topic was?  Both the importance of boundaries and how important it is that you are spending time with people who reflect what you want out of life.  Thomas and I almost never went to church because we could almost never find a church that we were both comfortable in.  When I told him how much I loved church today he asked me if he would like it.  I laughed.  Of course not.  Like, we both love our kids and that’s probably where our commonalities end.  He likes the old school hellfire and brimstone and I don’t respond well at all to raised voices and threats.  Neither of us are wrong.  We just are who we are.  He needs what he needs and I need what I need and when we tried to achieve that together we ended up just giving up because we had to sacrifice too much of ourselves to meet in the middle.  Neither of us reflect what the other wants out of life.

My kids have talked to me off and on the entire time I’ve been writing and I feel completely all over the place with this post. I guess what I’m getting at is I have realized a lot in the last couple days and I am taking baby steps towards getting my life back.  Thomas and I will probably always be close.  I was with him during his darkest, pre-therapy, pre-medication times and we have seen hell together.  We truly have.  You know how old veterans can spot each other in a crowd and instantly connect even if they have never met?  That’s us.  We have bonded through combat.  I’m still reclaiming my life, though.  Just putting up a few guardrails.

 

seasons change, people change

I’ll be forty-three next week!  Honestly, I’m struggling.  It’s not the number, it’s the stage in my life.  Why does change have to be so hard, even when it’s what you asked for?

For eleven years I thought that I had at least part of the future figured out.  I thought that I had my lifetime date squared away.  I thought that I knew who would take care of me when I was sick.  I thought that in a world full of uncertainties, at least I knew the that the basics were covered.  I didn’t think that I had it all, because I knew that I didn’t, but I did think that I wouldn’t be figuring it out alone.

Then one day, I just couldn’t do it anymore.  I couldn’t do it anymore.  I still can’t.  We wanted to be adults and we wanted to be friends and we wanted to still raise these kids together but we have so many mistakes along the way.  Mistakes that I’m just now seeing.

For the last year, we have still been family.  When we separated physically, we didn’t separate completely.  We haven’t cut the cord.  I still offer him dinner.  He still checks on me throughout the day.  We are still legally married.  We are still intertwined in 9,000 ways and all that did was give me a false sense of security.  For the last year I’ve been able to have my cake and eat it too. I haven’t had to stand on my own two feet.  I’ve still had my best friend/arch enemy.  I have been “single” without being alone.

Deep down I know that that is how I wanted it.  I’m too scared to move on.  There is no way in this world that I can let someone else in.  Our marriage brought me some beautiful things but it also caused me pain.  I don’t even think about trying to trust someone else.  I don’t even think about entertaining that option.  I don’t think that I ever will.  I know that Thomas loved me and I know that he still does but that just wasn’t enough.  We couldn’t combat our differences.  We couldn’t combat the monster that is PTSD.  I think that I tried for too long.   At some point, I stopped existing.  I don’t think that I could find that part of myself even if I tried.

I just now realized that I’m alone.  It takes my breath away.  I’m 42 and I’m alone and while that’s what I want for now, I’m scared to think about living this way for the rest of my life.  People need people.  My kids are growing up.  Will is in Florida.  Parker is a year away from college.  Jace will be gone in a blink.  It will be me and my zoo.  I’m afraid that won’t be enough.  I thought staying was part of my marriage vows- in sickness and in health.  I left too late to save myself.  I gave too much away.

So where do I go from here?  What do I do?  Nothing changes if nothing changes.  I still didn’t make the right choices.  I have spent so much of my life worrying about what everyone else needs and I just now realized that no one is doing that for me.  If I don’t, who will?  I don’t know how to put myself first.  I never have.

Everyone in my life is moving forward without me.  I don’t know how to catch up.

a little messed up but we’re all alright

I received several PMs yesterday in regards to my last post, so I wanted to follow up.  The general consensus was, I want or I hope that someday I can have that, too, but my ex isn’t willing, etc.  If you feel that way, I want to help you find some peace.

I have a plethora of baby daddies, so I’m basically a subject matter expert.  Three to be exact.  I don’t want to present this as something that I’m proud of, but I also want to firmly assert that if every choice I ever made, good or bad, happened to lead me to where I am today, I would make every one of those choices again.  For me, the end result will always be more important than the process.  My end result is three amazing, funny, witty, smart, overall well adjusted children.  I’ll take it.

Based on the aforementioned fact alone, you can probably assume that life wasn’t and still isn’t all peaches and cream.  There have been fights, tears, heartache, pettiness and immaturity along the way, and I’m just talking about on my part alone!  There’s no need to distribute blame because I am not perfect either.  One thing that I do know though, is a the end of the day when my head hits the pillow, the thoughts that keep me awake are centered on MY actions and MY responses.  No one else can cause you to become someone you don’t want to be.  You make that choice all on your own.

There can not be too many people loving your child.  Read that again.  There can not be too many people loving your child.  No matter how well you and your ex get along, they are your ex for a reason.  If you are not going to be together, your child is going to have two homes.  I don’t know about you, but if my child can’t be with me for ANY reason, I want to know that they are still surrounded by people who love them.  I had to let go of my personal feelings of jealousy in order to embrace my children’s step parents.  I had to allow these other women to parent my child if I wanted these other women to love my child like he/she was their own.  And I did.  Whole heartedly.  I wanted to know that if I wasn’t there, someone else would nurture my child like only a mother can.  I had to swallow my pride.  I had to share my child.  If my child felt out of place in their father’s home because of resentment between me and their stepmother, my child suffered.  I would take a bullet for my kids.  I can certainly get along with anyone willing to try to love them.

I addressed other relationships first because I think that jealousy is the single greatest obstacle to happy co-parenting.  It’s such a normal and human emotion.  Save it for venting to your bestie, not your child.  Children are not confidants.  They can not handle adult emotions.  It makes them feel at fault in some way and it makes them feel helpless because they can’t fix it.  You have to put on a brave face for your kids even if you are on the phone with a friend the second the door shuts behind them.  Children are not confidants.

It takes two to tango.  Refuse to tango.  You can only control yourself.  Just refuse to partake.  Be the bigger person.  If your ex wants to see his child on a day that isn’t “his”, choose your battles wisely.  Be the person you want them to be to you.  It’s not trite- it’s setting an example that will eventually be followed.  I don’t know about you, but if I have a special event I want my child there and I don’t need a court to tell me if that’s acceptable or not.  Give freely.  Be flexible.  You can set boundaries- you don’t have to be at anyone’s beck and call and especially not your exes but ask yourself if being flexible in this situation is detrimental in any way to you or your child.  If it’s not, don’t use your child as a weapon.  Children are not weapons.

Lastly, if you truly want your child to have a bond with their other parent, you have to be the kind of person that the other parent can have adult conversations with.  Right or wrong I’ve seen countless instances where one parent isn’t as involved as they would like to be simply because they can’t communicate with the custodial parent without a fight.  I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to say they decide it’s not worth it so much as you are conditioning them to avoid you and in doing so, as the parent with the most “control”, you are causing them to avoid their children.  You don’t have to be best friends.  You don’t even have to be friendly.  You just can’t be hostile.  Neutral is fine.  Hostile is not.

If you can’t do any of these things, it’s time to ask yourself why you can’t.  This is just my perception, but when I see two parents who can not get along for the sake of their children, I immediately think that one or both is still too emotionally involved.  You can’t control how you FEEL emotionally, but you can control whether or not you let those feelings have a negative effect on your children.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “I’M NOT THE DIFFICULT ONE!”, I understand.  Be the bigger person.  Eventually they will get tired of fighting with someone who refuses to engage.  And if they don’t?  At least you when your head hits the pillow every night, you can know that you aren’t the roadblock.

If you would take a bullet for your child, and almost every parent would, you can certainly control your mouth.

**  DISCLAIMER:  IT SHOULD GO WITHOUT SAYING, BUT THIS IS ALL ASSUMING YOUR EX IS NOT A HARM TO YOUR CHILD.

 

Take Your Cat and Leave My Sweater

In the spring of 2017, my ex and I observed our eleventh wedding anniversary.  Not long after that, we decided to end our marriage.  It was the hardest decision that I’ve ever made.  Divorce is such an ugly word surrounded by negatives.

I make no secret of my love of Pinterest.  Like, most of my life guidance comes from Pinterest and country music haha.  It is easy to find exactly what you are looking for, whether that is good or bad.  Do you want to support the despair of divorce?  Done.  Do you want to find hope in what’s to come?  That can be done, too.  One of those choices keeps you bound.  The other gives you wings.

I had to get through the sadness of it all before I could get to the blessings that came from our decision to split.  That’s what I want to focus on here.

The hardest thing (for me) about ending a relationship is wondering what you could have done differently.  We exhausted every avenue.  We prayed.  We went to counseling.  We medicated.  We tried to be different people.  We kept arguing more and more.  We love each other very much, but we are very different people.  We kept trying to make it work for the kids, but the kids weren’t happy.  We weren’t helping them anymore.  We were hurting them.

We made a lot of adult choices that weren’t rooted in feelings.  We decided that no matter how we felt towards each other in those first days, we were committed to one thing.  Making this transition as easy on our kids as possible.  We didn’t make schedules.  We showed them that no matter what was happening between us as a couple, we were still committed to them.

When I stopped focusing on what divorce was taking from us, I started seeing what this separation was gifting us.  Solace.  Breathing room.  Peace.  I love Thomas with all my heart.  He is one of my very best friends in this world and I know without a shadow of a doubt that he always has my back.  All of those things were true when we were together, but they were lost in petty disputes.  Fights about everything and nothing at all.  Arguing because we didn’t know how to be happy anymore.  It took him moving out for me to be able to just love him again.

Does this mean we are getting back together?  No.  We would go right back to the same old patterns.  Does this mean we are seeing each other or dating or a couple in any way?  No.  That part of our life is behind us.  What it does mean is we have a new commitment that has nothing to do with anything but doing our best by our family and each other.  It means the court doesn’t have to tell us who can see what child when.  We are capable of deciding that all on our own.  It means that we will be sitting beside each other at sporting events and graduations and weddings.  It means that our kids don’t have to decide where they are spending Christmas, because we are welcome in each other’s homes.  It means our kids can enjoy having two parents who aren’t at each other’s throats all the time.

We are working hard, together, to teach our children valuable lessons during this time.  We are teaching them to be kind and fair and compromising.  We are teaching them that homes are only broken if the people inside them are.  Once those people find the strength to heal, it doesn’t matter what their addresses are.  We are teaching them that love and commitment doesn’t have to be conditional.  It may change over time but what really matters is how you handle those changes.  We are teaching them resilience.