On how to miss your children.

May 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

I miss them.

Whenever I come to this empty white box to write, those are the words swirling around in my head.

Sometimes it is this straightforward, gut-wrenching, I miss their smiles and I cry if I think about it too long kind-of missing and other times it’s a quieter, ongoing longing, missing knowing how they’re doing and missing their sweet little voices. But I miss them all the same. It’s this pack I carry with me everywhere, the missing them.

We are exactly two years into this journey of long-distance parenting. I can’t even explain the pangs in my heart typing that out. Two years. There are so many things that I have missed in those two years.

It has got easier, I will admit. But it has taken work. AJ and I had to make a conscious effort to take things out of that Missing Them pack that had no business being there, to make it lighter, to make it through. Guilt [did we do enough? are we doing enough? will it BE enough?], regret [if only we had known, if only we had done more while we had the chance, if only…], anger [she manipulated the situation, she is manipulating the situation, she will continue to manipulate the situation]. But unpacking these things, the guilt, regret, anger, and so on, it makes room for other things. Things like hope, faith, preparation. Happiness even.

I feel like I have figured out the right way to miss them, finally. Looking at old pictures and smiling, telling stories with AJ and laughing, sometimes choosing to let the grief in and to feel the void. There is no right way to live across the country from your child, of course, but it’s that whole thing about letting something go so it can return to you. When I stopped focusing my grip so tightly onto what I had lost, something more precious, more beautiful has returned.

I don’t want to live my life in and around the spaces the kids leave behind, walking in sadness with the ghosts of their laughter. I want my life with AJ without the kids to be this incredible, abundant, breathakingly beautiful thing so that every time they walk back into our lives, we open our arms wide to welcome them back into the fold.

I was worried it was selfishness, letting go of my sadness. But it’s not. It’s just another way to love them with my whole heart.

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Thankful.

November 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

Two days ago marked five and half years since my first date with my husband. We have been on such an incredible, vexing, heartbreaking, life-changing journey in that short time.

I caught myself in a moment on Monday. Somehow, this is the first time in the span of that journey that I feel like we are on solid footing. Things with the kids are relatively stable, we live where we want to live, we are in a place where we can start to have real plans and real dreams and real goals.

The skids came out for Thanksgiving and I could weep with joy (and have, in fact) at the success of the visit. There was no testing of boundaries, no struggles with learning how to be in eachother’s space again, no “I’m missing out on Thanksgiving with my mom” tantrums, no pain. It was just this celebration of our love for one another and pure happiness at being together. I don’t know to what, precisely, I should attribute the change. Was it the kids responding to the visible changes in AJ’s & my emotional expression after months of therapy, was it that they are getting older and better able to cope with the transition, was it that they truly missed us?

I wish I could have done a Right Click–>Save As to so many moments over the span of the 5 days they were with us. Like the moment we picked them up at the airport and how we were able to watch them warm to our repeated hugs and smiles until they were hanging all over us and laughing. Or sitting on barstools having coffee (steamers) at the fancy cafe with Olivia and hearing her pour her little heart out to me. Or Andy putting his head on my shoulder, picking up my hand, lacing his fingers through mine, and telling me “I really DO love you.” My heart could not be more full and I’m worried it will spill over and I will forget some of the smaller moments and stop being as completely grateful as I am in this moment.

This may be fleeting. Everything could change tomorrow or next week or next month. But today, I am so thankful for my life.

Buouyant.

October 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

Today is a grey, rainy day. I’m overtired (stayed up way too late to be getting up at 5:15). I’m relatively directionless at work. There’s some unresolved drama surrounding the skids trip for Turkey Day. But I don’t feel chaotic or out of control or heavy with dread like I would normally feel. I might almost go so far as to say I feel buoyant inside.

As I’ve been walking this road of self-acceptance, it has become increasingly clear to me that how I feel about myself is equal parts generative and responsive. That is, I am responsible for feelings about myself, but those feelings are also a reaction to the things, people, feelings around me. I can’t control what other people put out there in the world but I can control what I invite to my doorstep.

It’s been a slow process, coming to this realization. I create(d) a lot of opportunity for unhealthy obstacles in my life. How can I expect to feel confident about who I am if I surround myself with things that make me feel bad about myself? I don’t mean that I shouldn’t seek out challenges, but I shouldn’t be spending my day looking at websites that makes me feel inadequate or like less of a person (looking at you, Pinterest). I shouldn’t be inviting commentary from others when I’m obviously not feeling receptive to “advice” (seriously, comments on facebook are never helpful, usable advice). I shouldn’t be staying in friendships out of obligation, rather than out of any feeling of, I don’t know, friendliness.

Over the last 6 months, not only have been working on generating positive feelings about myself and seeking out things that bring me joy, but I have also been slowly identifying and eliminating all these things that are sources of negativity for me. It hasn’t been easy. Some, like Pinterest, were simpler (bookmark–deleted!). But others, like that college friend whose life and beliefs have grown to become in complete opposition with mine…that one was much harder. It’s funny though, for as much as I agonized over the decisions, finally making the choice was like casting off a lead weight. All these things were pushing me to the ground,  holding me there and forcing me to believe that I was not good enough. I wasn’t trying hard enough. I just wasn’t enough. Letting go of everything gave me some room to let all these good things in.

I’ve written about confusing personal growth with changing myself to meet others’ expectations. Part of learning the difference is deciding to eliminate the things and people in my life that only promote the latter.  If I always have a million things always in my ear bringing me down, then when these bad things come along, it’s easy to start listening to those voices. By choosing to be comfortable with who I am, it’s like I’m filling all these balloons with good things, and I’m held up in the air no matter what other shit is going on.

You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy.

Indeed.

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.”

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