Towards the end of 2012 I began to contemplate my big annual activity, which is to create a hardbound “Year Book” from my blog postings of the year. I have three year’s worth so far and I love flipping through the books to see photos, just like any scrapbook, but since I make the book digitally (I use Blurb) I also paste in all of my personal/family blog posts, and I *know* this is going to be a treasure for myself, and children, to have down the road. So I was sitting down to think about the making of this book, version 2012, when I realized something incredibly depressing: I barely blogged about my life last year! I know I blogged, but I can only find a handful of posts which actually describe my life, the goings on, and my feelings about it. Reflecting back, somewhere in the middle of the year I did realize this – that I wasn’t doing so – and I gave myself a choice: Change that and begin personal blogging again or give up the guilt. I chose to give up the guilt, and then continued to blog about many other various things, all the while telling myself that I was doing myself a favor. Telling myself that it was a little self-indulgent to write about my personal life on a public blog. Telling myself that this was easier, and would save me stress. Because that is why my personal blogging dropped off drastically to begin with – there just seemed to be no way to write my feelings without upsetting someone within my real life.
By the time the holidays came last year, I felt that something deep was missing from my life. And when I went to tackle my Year Book making, I came down with a deep sense of regret. Suddenly, it became very clear: writing about my personal life, my feelings, emotions and thoughts about any given subject in my own life, is deeply rewarding for me. Now, granted, I could just write it in my journal. Why make it public? Why risk offending someone? My instinct is to say “I don’t know.” But I think I DO know, very well, why I do so. Telling my stories connects me to other people. And as an introvert who thrives on small passing interactions, there is something magically perfect about a short (albeit digital) encounter with someone who has a connection to something I’ve written.
It comes down to a simple truth that I firmly believe in: Telling stories is powerful. Telling our truths is Medicine.
I process my emotions better when I write them out, but actually writing them to an audience forces me to process them in a deeper way. Frankly, I don’t know why this is. I’m tempted to say it’s simply because I can type so much faster than I can write in a journal. But I have experimented with typing journal entries and it is difficult for me! Truly! I don’t have a logical explanation, I just know, writing to you all helps me work through things in the best way. And if I’ve made a resolution for this year at all, it is to nourish that need and to give back to myself in the form of my personal writing.
So, with that said, I would like to do some venting about this miserable excuse for a month called JANUARY.
The month of January is never very enjoyable for me. I recently told a friend why exactly I dislike this month so much. Unfortunately, it sounded sort of shallow and silly when I attempted to explain my reasonings. But it’s true: there are many culprits to my deep distate for this month.
For starters, there’s the weather. The weather is always shit, no matter where I’ve lived, even in Austin. It is a month of gray skies and wet jean bottoms. I poke my head through the blinds and snarl. In December, if faced with bad weather, one could turn to hot chocolate and Christmas cookies. Of course there was guilt, but we blamed the holidays and then got merry with a bowl full of Ginger Snaps. What now? There’s no holiday cheer in January, no assortment of goodies to distract me from the weather and no mass seasonal gluttony to assuage my guilt if I succumb to emotional eating!
No, instead January – at least the first week – is the inevitable hangover from good times and good food. The puzzles have been put away, the decorations have disappeared and the next holiday that I can look forward to with real excitement isn’t until … July! All that’s left of the festivities of December is my jeans that won’t button anymore and the credit card bills.
It’s also flu season. It’s been bad this year and my house has fared pretty well considering the horror stories I’ve heard, but I will admit that it added to my irritation with this month. If the first week was an understandable let down, I’d resolved to counteract it by declaring the second week to be my “me week” in which I sat down with journals and workbooks and laptop and “digested” 2012. Over Christmas break, I giddily daydreamed coming home to put ceremony on the closure of 2012 and organizing my thoughts and actions for the coming year. It was going to be blissful – this closure – and the thought of spending two days on the floor organizing my jumbled thoughts and dreams for this upcoming year filled me with excitement. I know I’m a bit of an organization nerd, but it did! Only two weeks late, but better late than never, right? Well, this plan was completely and utterly thwarted by a toddler with said flu for five days. We literally did nothing for five straight days. I did get up to pee and all, but he made sure to let me know how he felt about me leaving him alone for any longer than a potty break. Now, I won’t lie: I ate up every moment of him calmly laying on my tummy and I wished I could freeze time every time he said something (completely out of the blue, in the middle of Max & Ruby) like “Mommy, will you never ever leave me?” But still I felt the inevitable frustration of watching an entire week slip by. And, there was irritation on my part that Liam’s father has an employer and thus ”could not” be of help during the daytimes. I work for myself, so of course the care of sick child defaults 100% to me. Which means my work does not progress. And that makes me sigh. I recognize that my schedule is inherently more flexible, and that I am actually happy that I am available to care for him at home. Yes, I am. It’s just hard to know where to draw the line so that I feel I am giving him the care that I can given my flexible work schedule, but that I’m also still keeping boundaries about my need to do real work in order to progress my business. It’s certainly not black and white, that’s for sure.
On top of the flu, in the Hill Country of Texas we get the added bonus of Cedar Fever, which appears to have begun just when the flu was tapering off. Cedar Fever is an allergy that renders many people nauseous and exhausted from the efforts of our immune system to fight this belligerent yellow dust. I think it’s one of the worst allergens on the planet. I have some older neighbors who literally flee the city until Cedar Fever has passed. Given the plethora of airborne aggravants this time of year here, even opening the door can be dangerous during Texas allergy season. You think you’re just going out for the mail, but the minute you pass the doorstop you’re Acchoooing your lights out, your eyes burn like someone took a match to them and your ears begin itching way down in your unreachable Eustatian tubes so that, once back inside, you find yourself eyeing household objects with a keen eye and sticking pen caps down your ear canal in an effort to find the smallest bit of relief.
There’s a lot of emotional triggering going on for me this month too. People with energy and gusto attacking the new year with all sorts of plans, dreams and confidence. Innocent people just sharing blog posts obliviously incite momentary envy in me: “Where did they get the time to do all that ceremony around last year?!?” or “How can they be so clear on what they’re going to do for their business this year when my business goals are still a pile of post-it notes stuffed into a manila file folder?!? This business building can be so FRUSTRATING when there appears to be no momentum! And right now, I am blaming this month! It’s just so hard to kick the year off with a confident bang, when you have to kick the year off in January!
On a personal level, this particular January has been a tough one emotionally already. First, my husband, who I’ve been split from for 18 months, and I sat down to address filing the divorce papers. We’ve been separated in every possible fashion this entire time, but we have remained legally married for logistical reasons. First, he is not American and if we’d divorced his “wait time” for US Citizenship would’ve doubled. On my end, I would’ve lost Health Insurance. Though still legally married, 18 months ago we split all our assets, wrote our own interim agreement, agreed on alimony, child division and even who got which items of the house. Pretty radical, and it has worked out wonderfully. Now the time has come to finally file the actual papers. Here’s the thing: Even though we are divorced in spirit, even though I am 100% certain that we are not meant to be married and that this is the normal, correct, mutually desired decision…it’s still fucking weird. And it’s probably even weirder that we get along, can get together for dinner at his place and talk about this in all calmness. We can be all “Pass the Brussel Sprouts. Okay so you’ll drop the papers off in the morning?” We agree on everything. Everything is already split. We co-parent Liam extremely well. We each give to the other where we can (swapping nights for special dates, or picking up coffee for me when I’ve got a flu-ridden toddler all week). I’m not saying WHATSOEVER that I would have it the other way. No, I’m just saying that it’s a little bizarre to be discussing your divorce so placidly and nonchalantly. And, it is still surreal in some ways. I can’t speak for others, only myself, but I am a very visual person. Being in his home, looking at the belongings that used to be “ours” is very difficult, even if I don’t want him. Those items were chosen with care, and more often than not, planned, drawn and built with both our inputs as to our collective space. There are books that once sat on my shelf, and knick knacks that remind me of memories. And I think that no matter how a separation goes, at least for me, giving up the physical pieces of a relationship has some powerful feelings around it.
So there’s that. Finally filing for divorce this month. That’s a big deal .
Next, just about the time that Jonathan walks the papers into the courthouse to file, I’ll be moving in with my long-time boyfriend this month too.
Michael, my boyfriend, and I have been together pretty much since Jonathan and separated. We’ve had on and off times, in which I dabbled in dating. The most recent episode of that served only to convince me that he is the one for me. As a friend so eloquently put it: “The one I want to work shit out with.” He’s the guy for me and we’ve been through a lot in the last 18 months (multiple layoffs, Ex issues, Teenage Hormone issues, toddler issues, potty training issues, monetary issues, trust issues, troubled teen issues…) while residing in separate abodes. We know life will always throw us “issues” and challenges, and we’re finally 100% resolute that we want to face them with one another. And so it’s time to move in together.
Moving in together with Michael scares the shit out of me. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am excited. But hello…we’re merging families. I have a KID this time around. We’re basically committing to each other in the biggest way possible. I cannot wait to do so – to be each other’s family, to be in our own space finally, to see him walk in the door at the end of every day, and to finally be completely together. But the day that we actually turned in our mutual apartment applications, I came home and sobbed into my pillows, terrified.
Ironically, that very same fear gives me a sense of hope. I am going forward with this decision even more strongly because of that fear. It tells me I’m feeling. It tells me I don’t have everything in my control! It tells me I am having to TRUST. How fitting that “Trust” is my word of the year. I’m practicing it big time right now. And I’m going down this path, with fear and trepidation, because I’d rather be afraid and take risks now, in order to make the real gains I desire (in this case, the emotional ones) than play it safe again and feel dead on the inside.
But it’s still fucking scary! Do you have kids? Are you over 30? Maybe you know what it feels like to combine families, lose square footage, give up a sanctuary, manage emotions, shift habits, try and explain new house rules to a three year old, try and reassure a hormonal teenager that her privacy will remain intact, try and reassure her fragile soul that I’m not just another step parent who’ll completely let her down (she’s been through the ringer on that note, and it’s no surprise or bother to me that she freaked.the.fuck.out when we gave her the news. I just don’t want her to hurt anymore. And I know there’s nothing I can say, I’ll just have to show her), potty train the new puppy, and keep some sort of sexual chemistry alive.
And then there’s the physical moving of objects (coming up next week). Boxes being packed up. Mystification at how I can give so much away and there still be so much stuff! Frazzled, OCD mess that I am, I’m already trying to give myself pep talks about how “it will all be okay” when there are three other human beings, a dog and a cat in my space when I am trying to get my organizational ZEN ON and orchestrate the moving in/unpacking/ “Watch your fingers” and “Don’t let the cat out of that room!” and “Fuck the dog pooped on the carpet” and “Ummm, I thought it would fit there. I measured it!”
What I want more than anything is to send the lot of them out of the house for 48 hours while I work my magic , overseeing the movers, rapidly unpacking (and quietly purging unnecessaries) and organizing our belongings until the place oozes with sense and logic.
I also feel stress about the inevitable hiccups in the combining of families. TV schedules. Video Game rules. Triple the laundry, and the dishes. Finding a shred of time for romance. Remembering to cherish one another when we see one another daily now. Giving this man and his child a sense of home that they’ve lacked for years now. A sense of family. Traditions. A clean house. A visible to-do list. Her to-dos in writing. The cat and dogs up-to-date on their vaccines. The boy learning his next numbers and letters. The girl getting her license. A job. A feminine, positive female role model. The fitting of all this into a smaller space. Losing the art studio, and the office.
I go back to what I believe: It really comes down to a few deep, really deep, breaths, and a choice. How I will experience all of this to come at the end of this month, and all of what’s to come in making this big step, comes down to what I choose to believe.
And in this case, I choose to believe that the unpacking will go surprisingly well. That the movers will be swift and painless. That there won’t be much resistance to getting rid of the duplicates of things.That no one will care if I designate myself organizer of everything. That the dog will be well looked after and the carpets will remain clean. That the cat and dog wil become good buddies. That our dog will be well behaved, and an amazing addition to the family. That our meals will be eaten at the table without awkwardness. That the girl child will secretly find happiness in the having of a family unit, and won’t even be able to hide it sometimes. That the boy child will learn more discipline, and his only-child ways will be tempered by having to share space, TV and time. That we will move through the first rough patches with intention and utilize our best communication skills and remember our deep breaths until we arrive, head above water, to a place where we can look around and say: “I really like this place. I’d even spend the next January here with you.”