Silver lining.

March 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

I turned 29 on Tuesday, the most worthless day of the week, and of course it was a gray,  threatening rain kind-of day because you can’t win them all and sometimes adding another year to your life isn’t about celebration and sunshine but about growth and personal development.

I’ve had this feeling that something has been coming, something I didn’t know the answers to, but something nonetheless that my subconscious has been working overtime to sort out. I woke up on my birthday feeling melancholy and morose and not exactly sure what was eating me but definitely pained by something. 50-some facebook notifications of family, friends, and acquaintances wishing me the happiest of days and…nothing. Just leave me alone until I figure this out, you’re not making this better.

I really wanted to put the blame on my mom who had spent the better part of the last week throwing the most elaborate of too late temper tantrums over my brother’s life-changing move across the state that she decided at the last moment she wasn’t prepared to accept. I somehow ended up being punished for his life choices by the simple fact that I wasn’t taking her side. Really put a damper on things, I thought. And it didn’t matter that I didn’t want to see her on my birthday (boundaries, space, etc) when she asked if they could celebrate with me on Friday. What a slight. Surely, this was the cause of my birthday malaise.

But no, truthfully, everything with my mom was commonplace and expected. Nothing new, in other words. The glum was coming from somewhere bigger, something determined to surface and claim territory in the landscape of Things I Have Resolved.

I don’t really know what to say next except that I found myself in a movie theater, watching Silver Linings Playbook and fighting back tears. Oh, there it is. This man, so broken, has lost everything and as much as he’s trying to make things better, he’s standing in his own way and at times, making them worse. And then enters this woman into his life. At first you think that she is just there to help him, that she’s saving him and he needs her to better his life, but by the end, you realize, he was saving her, too. She needed him.

It was like watching an allegory of my life. Sometimes the symbolism was heavy-handed (infidelity, restraining orders, helping, saving), and other times, it was just an emotional parallel. But, my god, I was missing that end part this whole time.

Last week my therapist was asking me about unfinished business from our lives before the kids moved and we moved. I was describing the loneliness, the pain, the utter despondence that came as a result of rolling up my sleeves and helping my husband dig himself out of the hole he was stuck in, and she asked me if I resented him for it.

I mean, really, absolutely not. Do I resent him for needing help? For being the one to help him? No, not even a little. How could I? Do I resent him for benefitting from that help now and getting to chase his dreams while I work hard at a job I don’t really like in order to support him, me, his kids? Sure, but—wait what?

I guess that unspoken grudge was growing and festering and I had no idea.

I have a million reasons to let myself be resentful. Up until 6 o’clock on Tuesday, I still thought that I was the one doing all the saving and for as long as I held onto that idea, this notion has silently grown that I am owed something, maybe not something overtly from him, or maybe something definitely overtly from him, hell, maybe something karmic at the very least. Just, come on, I SAVED you. Why do you get to be the only one to reap all the benefits? When does it ever get to be about me??, screamed my selfish subconscious.

This movie though, THIS MOVIE. He saved me. I thought I was saving him, but he was saving me, too.

All the parts I like about myself, literally all my very best parts, would not exist had I not met my husband and gone through hell for and with him. I would have continued to be this lost, self-absorbed but well-meaning asshole with no purpose in life but to careen from one failure to another. There would have been nothing to force me to grow into the (let’s face it) incredible, strong, albeit bumbling, woman I am today.

Do I resent him, the life I have because of him? No.

He saved me.

My hill

February 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

I am so terrified of what comes next.

If you follow me on twitter, you know the last few weeks have been incredibly stressful and trying. There is some crazy ass shit going on with Andy and it is so much bigger than me.

I have been keeping this blind faith that the missing pieces will come together and we’ll have a clear path of how to proceed. But honestly? I have been waiting for something external of myself to force my hand. I didn’t realize how foolish that blind faith that everything would become clear was until tonight when I heard these Mumford & Son lyrics (“get over your hill & see what you find there”) and realized the thing obscuring my vision is myself.

No one is going to help us navigate this mess. No one is going to do it for us. We cannot allow ourselves to be victims of the circumstance, we have to champion our cause.

Every bone in my body is fighting me on this. I do not want to sink away every penny, I do not want to go back to writing document upon legal document only to realizing we’re combating lies and psychosis. I had made my peace with the hand we were dealt and have worked so hard to let go of all my expectations and just accept our life for what it is.

Do I want to open that door again? Risk everything? Change EVERYTHING?

Yes, of course I do.

It’s just a matter of how.

 

Dark night of the stepmom soul.

February 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

I think we all have reached the point at one point or another, sometimes many times over, where it all feels too big to handle anymore. What did I sign myself up for? How can I keep doing this? There is no way out.

I feel myself teetering on the edge of reason, lately. I am one little leaf blow away from toppling over and wondering when this nightmare of my life will end. I am able to stay positive in the face of so many challenges…for now. But what will be the straw to break my back?

I know that thinking this way is just setting myself up for failure. Reality is, I have grown so much over the last year in my role as a stepmom and wife, I have found a support group that values beyond measure, I have a great therapist if things get too out of control. I do not resemble, in any way, that scared, anxious girl who naively thought that she would just have to brave it out for a bit and then she could get back to real life.  Joke’s on her, anyways. This is real life.

But the fear still lingers, doesn’t it? I am stronger and wiser after 6 years of living in this world, but it is extremely hard to know if the fear is a realistic expectation based on experience or if it’s some sort of post traumatic, self-preservationary reaction. I feel the familiar habits wanting to creep back (check my email, check AJ’s email, check google news, check facebook, check the local paper, look for something to buy on Amazon, check twitter, make lists, keep moving, keep moving, anything to stop the real thoughts from taking over) and it is WORK to keep them at bay. But I have to. I have to conquer my demons so that I am not fighting myself as much as everything else. I can no longer afford to give in and let her cause chaos in my life.

We have some big mountains ahead of us to climb. As much as I do not want to continue to fight, my kids deserve for me to continue to give everything I’ve got. I’m not afraid of the risk—what do we have to lose, at this point, really—but I am afraid that it still won’t be enough, after all this time.

I was given this life because I am strong enough. I’m not going to look in the mirror and cry anymore. It is a new day, and I have the power to make it whatever I want it to be.

Finding words

January 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

It’s been a very long time.

I keep thinking about what I should write and I have ideas, but lately the thought of bringing up all the feelings, of getting into anything that might be of material sounds exhausting. At first I was thinking maybe this was a SAD thing (it’s been January for 30 whole days, you know), but I think, rather, that it’s because I have finally found some inner peace about this whole stepmom thing and I just don’t want to upset the balance.

Writing has always felt like the best way to work through my feelings, particularly all the angsty, ragey ones. When I’m feeling peaceful inside, I don’t really want to sit down and write paragraphs about it. I want to fucking LIVE IT.

But I still have a story to tell.

For some things, it’s worth getting into. I can cope with the feelings, let them pass over me like water, and move on. I need to experience the feelings from this side of things and to relive my journey from start to finish in order to be done with the darker chapters. There is so much to be said about my life, how it came to be this way, and what I have learned. Other stepmoms–hell, other PEOPLE–deserve to know they aren’t alone and maybe even learn a little from my trials and mistakes.

So, tomorrow, I will start at the beginning.

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.