Letter to my stepdaughter, age 8 (almost 9)

September 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

Am I made of tough enough stuff? Can I be the kind of strong that you need me to be?

When you hang up the phone to avoid talking to me, will it ever not rip my heart to pieces? When you start seeing me as something that comes between instead of who I  really am, will I be able to patiently wait out your storm? Will I start to resent you instead of loving you the way that I should?

I don’t want to be all the things you are going to think of me. Most of them, I will never be. And I know none of it is your fault, you didn’t ask for this life. But I did. So am I worthy of the task?

You are only a few short years away from adolescence, and I can see the picture it will paint for you from a mile away. It makes me sad. I can’t imagine the pain you are going to feel. I can’t change it, I can’t really make it better, and I know you think that pushing me away will.

I will miss you. More than I do when you live a thousand miles away. But I will try my damndest to still be here for you when you return.

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Authentic.

September 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

My therapist talks a lot about being authentic, being genuine and in the moment and not hiding who I am or what I feel. It’s about being able to be connected with people and being comfortable in my own skin. I want to be authentic. I want to know what it’s like to say what’s on my mind and be heard. Not in a “fuck you” kind of way, but in the way that I am just being me.

I get stuck on the part about not hiding who I am. I have been so many things for so many people throughout my life and nothing for myself that I’m not sure who exactly it is that I’m hiding. The very question, “who am I?” leaves me a bit dumbfounded. I get stuck thinking about all these things that I’m not and all these things that I want to be and I just end up feeling like whoever it is that I am is unrealized, as of yet.

How is it that I am not yet 30 and already having a midlife crisis?

I want to be this incredible, amazing woman who meets all these challenges with grace and dignity and never misses a step. But that’s unrealistic. Everyone misses a step here and there. And, you know, who says that being incredible and amazing means that I have to have check marks in all these unattainable boxes? (Cue obnoxious Selena Gomez song here) Maybe all the things that I do are already good enough to file my personhood in the incredible and amazing pile. And you know, maybe there are things that aren’t so incredible, but maybe that is good enough, too. I mean, that’s me, whoever I am, and if I can’t embrace me, then how can I expect anyone else to?

Learning to be comfortable with who I am, figuring out who I am, means that I need to make some changes. I need to value my opinions and my feelings and I need to make the hard decisions about people and choices that don’t mesh with that concept.

I’ve already started making some of those decisions and I want to write about it because, as scared as I was of what it might mean to let some friendships go or to take a stand or to do some risky things, it has felt SO GOOD.

Be ok.

September 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

It took me a long time to admit to myself that I was unhappy. Even now, it feels like a betrayal to my marriage and to all the hard work that AJ and I have put into our life together to even think the thought.

I mean, everything you learn growing up is that all you need to be happy is your Prince Charming and if you are not happy, then either there is something wrong with you or you found the wrong guy, yes?

How could I have been so lucky to have found my soulmate and yet just feel like life was turning out to be one giant shitburger? Those things did just not compute to me. Not for a long long long time. Saying that there is unhappiness in my life…well, that sounds like a giant admission of failure, doesn’t it?

Oh, to learn how to not be so hard on myself.

But here’s the thing. 6 months of therapy later, I think I am finally understanding that 4 years of legal, emotional, mental bullshit for subpar, marginal custody only to have it ripped away and the kids moved halfway across the country, 3 years of work on a Master’s degree only to discover I didn’t even want the damn thing, 6 months of unemployment (plus 3 for him, and going back to school as a result), 4 years of living in the most depressing part of the state, 3 months of living 200 miles apart…those are all incredible shitty shitty things and it is okay that I was unhappy about it. It’s okay that I lost myself. It’s okay that I tried my hardest and still came up short. It’s okay to say that I was not okay.

And, even more, it is okay that I am still recovering from everything. That AJ and I are still figuring out how to put the pieces back together. To rebuild our life from the ground up, to get to know ourselves as individuals and together as a couple, to start new and to take time.

I realize now that my efforts to write before now didn’t fail because I didn’t know how or what to write about, but that I couldn’t possibly begin to make sense of the chaos that was surrounding my everyday until I admitted that it was there.

I am healthier and happier and working every day to find myself again. I may not have been as graceful as I wanted to be, but that is okay, too. What matters is that I am still trying.

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.”

Balloons.

September 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

Letting go.

This has been my focus lately. Letting go of my perceptions, my unrealistic expectations, of others’ unrealistic expectations, what I think I should or shouldn’t be doing, of my worry.

It’s so hard. I’ve been holding it all together (holding it in, even) for so long that pulling at one thread just tugs at the whole thing. Some days, I’m not sure where to start. Will this one hold on tighter? What if that one is real and I should hold onto it? Maybe I can still hold onto it all (I can’t, I know that now). But little by little I’ve been cutting strings loose and letting them fly away in the wind. It’s not giving up, but rather, acceptance.

  • One string for my in-laws and their passive-aggressive, do nothing about anything but still be victimized behavior
  • One string for shewhomustnotbenamed, her roller coaster now-we’re-together-now-we’re-not marriage, and her need to cause chaos
  • One string for the s-kids, who didn’t ask for any of this and can’t help that we end up so disconnected between trips
  • One string for my job, and all the uncertainty and stress that comes with it
  • One string for trying so hard to try to change my life
  • One string for my Master’s degree and whether it’s ever going to get finished
  • One string for all the expectations, real or self-made, that I cannot even begin to understand how to live up to

There is something powerful and amazing and freeing about just letting go. It has been such a process, learning how and then actually doing it. Because when I let go…what will be left?

It turns out, it’s just me. I’m just here, being me. All my flaws and all my good parts and all the things I try to be and all the things I’m not. And that is good enough. I didn’t understand that before, that good enough is an acceptable place to be.

Where Am I?

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