Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A New Chapter

It's been a long time since I've posted, and there's been a lot going on. I am no longer with my husband. I was living with friends for a little over a month until this past weekend when I moved into my own apartment with my son. My husband had a breakdown of sorts, refused to talk to his employers who were also our landlords, and decided he didn't want to be with me either. Because he refused to talk to them, they evicted us from our house- he had violated the employment contract, and therefore the lease. It's complicated. And as a result of his breakdown, I had to call the police and he went to jail for a week or so.

I'm starting a new chapter in my life, and am trying not to dwell on the past. I guess I'm a single mom now. I have received zero financial support from my ex so far. There haven't been any proceedings or lawyers on the divorce front, so things are in limbo. Neither of us has filed for divorce. For me it's I don't have $60 to file. Not sure for him. We have only talked handful of times on the phone since July 20th.

My son is doing OK. At least I think so. He's seen his father a few times since he got out of jail, and they seemed to do OK. Not sure though.

So I'm in a new apartment. It's decent, right near my work and the daycare, good stuff. It's a place to live. I am continuing to apply for assistance from the state because there's no way I can float rent, bills, daycare, and groceries by myself.

I'm in therapy with the same person. She is amazing, and has helped me a ton.

This new chapter is all about my New Contract with myself. I have good days and bad days, but on the good days I tap into my strength and do what has to be done. On my bad days I yell at my son too much and don't want to get out of bed. Though it might not seem like it on the outside, I am grieving. I lost my marriage and my home all in one fell swoop. But I know I am strong.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

My heart is aching

Just "celebrated" my 36th birthday on Tuesday. It was for obvious reasons a day of mixed emotions. I used to live outside of Boston, and when I heard of what had happened, first place I turned was the internet/facebook to make sure friends were OK. They are, which I am immensely grateful for.

I want to tell the world something, particularly everyone in America: PLEASE DO NOT GIVE UP HOPE. Now more than ever we need each other. Instead of focusing on the bad and the things that make us afraid, we need to focus on the good. There are many many many good people in the world. America, you need to remember that you are NOT bad. You are filled with love and hope and grace. Remind yourself to think with your heart and not lead with hate. You might think that hate is what is in your heart. It isn't. We all at our core yearn for peace.

Maybe you feel strangled because you can't help. What you don't realize is that you can. Within your own community, model a positive and peaceful outlook as much as you can. Don't surrender to negativity and hate. When we think about the legacy we want to leave for our children, what does it look like? Think of that when the anger and fear start to take over. I am not a religious person, but I am praying for all of us. I am praying for myself to get through each day as best as I can. I am praying for all of my loved ones that they can find peace in their hearts and move forward. I am praying for all of those I don't know, that they may look inside themselves and see goodness.
You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.
-Mahatma Gandhi

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Meaning of Compassion... or Why I Support ObamaCare

The day after the election last year, I came into work elated. Obama had been re-elected! Same sex marriage was legalized in Maine! I felt proud of the state of Maine, and proud of the citizens of the U.S. for voting for compassion rather than individual gain. That morning, a coworker told me in a whisper, "I cried this morning when I heard the results." I thought she was talking about her husband who has been having tests on his brain because of recurrent headaches, so I said "What happened??" She said "I am so upset that Obama was re-elected..." and proceeded to describe Obama as a liar, and that Mitt Romney is "a truly wonderful person." I was completely thrown off. This is a person I have tremendous respect for both personally and professionally. She is an extremely savvy businesswoman and she is pretty much the kindest person I know. To hear her saying these things about Obama, was simply heartbreaking.

She believes that her opinion is balanced and based in truth because she watches all news media regardless of political orientation. I responded "I don't watch any of the news channels. I think they are all spin, even The Daily Show," (which I love). She went on to say that she wishes people were "more informed," i.e. that they watched supposedly all of the news channels and... I don't know, believed everything they heard? I guess I'm still not clear on that. My response... well first I need to give some backstory since I haven't written here in a long time.

My husband and I have been seeing a wonderful therapist since late July, and it has made a hugely positive impact on both our marriage and my sense of self. I have been working on putting the past behind me (where it belongs), debating with my fear reactions, and letting the real me out to play. The conversation I had with my coworker is a good example of me talking back to "the old contract." The old contract was set in place for a reason, and helped me survive difficult times, but it is no longer appropriate. It's time for a new contract. It has been AMAZING to find within myself the strength to change, and forgiveness for myself for my mistakes both past, present, and future.

Anyhoo. In response to her saying she was so upset about Obama, I said "I think it's great! I'm thrilled!" in a loud voice, no fear of who in the office might hear me and think otherwise, etc. And in response to her comment about being informed, I said "I am very informed. I just don't watch all the spin out there. I don't believe any of it. I trust my gut." To some this may not sound like a big deal, but for me it was HUGE. I rarely, if ever, speak my mind to people I look up to, particularly if I know in advance they don't agree with me. I found it was instinctual for me to say how I felt. I had always assumed it was my instinct that was saying "don't say that!" and then I would go ahead and say it and feel guilty. But I realized that there is a difference between dissonance (emotional discomfort) and instincts saying don't do that. It can definitely be uncomfortable to disagree with someone you care for and respect, but that doesn't mean you should stifle yourself. I can't report that I felt completely awesome after the conversation, but I am immensely proud of myself for the way I handled it, even though I was caught off guard.

Back to the health care reforms. Yes, the way we do business in this country will be impacted. Yes, some businesses will suffer. BUT the idea is that this will be for the greater good, over the long term.Change is not comfortable, no matter how much we want to believe it is.

As my boss has been saying frequently lately, we can't keep doing the same things and expecting different results. Same is true for this country. We can't keep paying lip service to the concept of community, all the while operating selfishly, looking only at our own needs and goals. To survive as a species, we must think of others ahead of, or at least equal to, ourselves. Many many of us are barely getting by paycheck to paycheck. When we grab what we have and hold it so tight, and guard it viciously, we close ourselves off to community and compassion. We lose sight of what matters.

To me ObamaCare is a step in the right direction towards a compassionate community in this country. No one truly knows how this bill will impact our economy. If we look at it negatively and think it means "the end of our country" then that is what will happen for us. If we look at it as a positive, though difficult, change, we see that it can be what we make of it. Like anything worth it in this life, it isn't easy. It isn't easy for businesses to plan for how they will pay for health insurance for their employees. Some are taking the easy way out by laying people off, cutting hours, and in general, reacting out of fear. Others (which we don't hear about of course) are being proactive and positive, looking at this legislation as a means to a healthier and more productive workforce. Whether we like it or not, whether we agree with it or not, it's happening. Let's spin it, and raise it up. Let's create fairness and ethical responsibility in our businesses so that all people regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, or income, have equal access to the basic human right of health care. Let's make it our new contract.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

So much to be thankful for

We are not out of the woods yet but we are out of the camper! The grandmother of a friend of ours goes to Florida every winter from October-April. Our friend used to live there in the winters and at his mom's down the road in the summers but is now living at his mom's year-round. My wonderful husband asked our friend if we could stay at his grandmother's house for the winter. Our friend said YES by all means, call my grandmother and ask her but I'm sure it'll be fine. After talking to this wonderful woman for only a few minutes we had a place to live. And what a place to live it is. It is a beautiful 3 bedroom house, with a large kitchen, woodstove, fully furnished, big yard, garage, washer and dryer (AWESOME!), and much more. We moved in about a month and a half ago, and it has been a huge burden lifted. Now without the stress of having to worry each moment about the basic stuff like food & shelter, we are able to instead worry about the bigger stuff, and start to get at the problems in our marriage and within ourselves, and to deal with our financial crisis. This is our view from the huge bay window in the living room:

We have been in therapy for awhile now and it has been enormously helpful. I have to give our therapist a ton of credit because she is AMAZING. I have been learning a lot about myself, and the ways that I cope with stress, and how my fears keep me from reaching my potential. I'm working on it, but as she says, there is a reason we develop those coping mechanisms, and it is hard, hard, hard to let them go. Leap of faith. Stepping off the cliff without a parachute.

I am thankful for these things this year:

My wonderful husband
My beautiful son who turned 2 on October 19th

My health
My amazing body, which has been through a very difficult pregnancy, and is still going strong, nursing our toddler until he no longer needs it
Same sex marriage in Maine, legalized through a citizen's initiative
We have a roof over our heads!
Negotiating with creditors without fear
Spending time with my family, especially seeing my dad recently, my hero
Great friends who are there for you no matter what

And in the spirit of the Ask Moxie post about including ourselves (moms) in pictures, here is one from a bunch I took when I was feeling pretty:

Thank you to all who have been reading and who have been thinking of us. It has been a wearying journey but we are still here. Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Because I wished to live deliberately

I want to try to put into words what this past week/month/summer/year has been like for me, but it is a heavy task. I don't want to say it wrong, I want to do it justice. I am learning some very difficult lessons, and each day I have to remind myself of them so that I can make change, lasting change, in how I live my life. For so long I have not been deliberate, I have simply been floating along, deciding in the moment what to do, or obsessing late at night about what I should have done. Many spiritual teachings talk about being deliberate, acting with intention, rather than being impulsive, in a hurry, and reactionary. This pretty much sums up what I'm trying to do, only because I've been forced to slow down and change my routines, all of 'em pretty much: And of course, Thoreau:
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion."

Where we live now the logistics are quite different from having my own apartment in an apartment building right smack dab in the downtown area of a small town. We are almost at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. We are sleeping in a pop-up camper out in the yard, nestled in a circle of tall trees. It only takes a minute to walk from the camper to the house but in the middle of the night when it's raining, it's hard to make myself get up and go to the bathroom. So, I've been trying not to drink too much water after 8 or so (which is hard since my son nurses pretty much all night long). Then there's the well water issue. The well at the house is not dug deep enough so I have to count in my head how long I'm in the shower (limit to 2 or 3 minutes). The other night I shaved in the bathroom sink. Little things, but when you are neurotic like me, they seem big. BUT the act of slowing down, doing things purposefully, has already brought me joy. Last night I gave my son a bath in one of our laundry tubs (there's no bathtub at the house, just a standalone shower), and instead of running around doing things or watching tv or reading, I sat directly in front of him and was completely present in the moment. He started splashing and it would hit my face, arms, legs, and he would laugh hysterically, over and over. Instead of worrying that the floor was getting all wet, that my clothes were getting wet, I laughed with him and found joy in that moment. That simple moment.

Instead of sleepwalking through my life, always reacting to situations and not taking responsibility, I am on a mission to live with intention. The other part of this is relinquishing control (I know you're like, how can you act deliberately but not be in control of yourself??) What I mean is, giving up control over things and people that I have no control over. I can only control myself and my reactions. I cannot control my husband, my child, my friends, how much water is left in the morning for me to shower with, etc. Instead of losing it completely when something doesn't go the way I think it should, I am trying to accept it for what it is and keep on truckin. Again, it's all about the little things. Instead of hounding/nagging/watching/criticizing my husband when he's trying to do something, I just let him figure it out. I trust him that he will do the best he can, and also that he is capable of much much more than I have given him credit for. Another example. This morning we talked about taking out the cushion that has been our bed and bringing our mattress into the camper instead. I thought it would be nice to have something that's ours, that has our smell, that is familiar, and is more comfortable. So he said he would go get it from the other house and bring it over. I was like "How are you going to that by yourself????" and he said "I can do it." So I was sitting in my skeptical bubble but trusting that he was going to come through so I got the space ready and the door to the camper propped open. He comes around the corner with the mattress on the wheelbarrow. Awesome! I would never have thought of that. BUT there's a reason for that. I'm not supposed to think of everything, plan everything, do everything. I'm always harping that relationships should be partnerships, and about equality. A huge part of that is trust. I'm learning, my friends, slowly but surely.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Love is stronger

I'm not sure how to write this post but it feels like I need to. Our little family has been dealing with a serious financial crisis for awhile now, and it has come to a head. We are being evicted from our apartment because we have been unable to pay rent for several months. I have never actually faced an eviction before, and it is quite scary and humbling. We are not bad people, but we have made some bad decisions. My MIL has graciously offered to let us move into her house. It's not going to be an easy transition by any means; there's some work to be done to the space before we can move in to make it liveable. My SIL, her boyfriend, and their daughter all live there as well (in addition to two cats and a dog). It's going to be crowded and stressful, but also it will be an opportunity for growth and for strengthening our marriage and our relationships with his family. There have been many events over the past year that have changed the landscape of our lives forever. I won't go into them here because I respect the privacy of those involved. My husband has been dealing with some very painful events in his immediate family, and I've been doing my best to support him and them. It has been a rough journey, but here I am at another day. Our son is healthy and growing fast, practicing with phrases (Mommy. Drivin. Truck.) He is a daily source of joy for all of us; he keeps us going when we feel that we don't want to/can't go on anymore.

My husband and I have started counseling with a wonderful therapist. We have been blessed with finding this person quickly, liking her immediately, and setting right to the task with relative ease. We both feel comfortable with her enough to start the conversations that need to happen, the really really hard ones that we've been avoiding for most, if not all, of our marriage. Our 4th wedding anniversary is next month. I can't believe it's been 4 years already.

And I am slowly but surely working on my shortcomings. I have a tendency to try to control everything in my home, including my husband, which is wrong in so many ways and has led to us being where we are today. BUT the positive of this is that our marriage will be that much stronger when (notice I said when instead of if) we get through this. My goal is to feel good about myself again, to feel like an effective and generally good person. I am tired of the constant feeling of dread and fear that sits in my stomach.

Our therapist said to us at our recent session that love is stronger than what we're facing. Our love is stronger. It will guide us through (not that it doesn't require effort on our part) but that we are starting from a foundation of love. It was wonderful and affirming to hear her say that she can clearly see how much we love each other. Having someone see that from the outside after only spending 3 short hours with us over the course of a month has been heartening. I cannot and will not live in fear anymore. Yes it will take time, but I have to try.

Monday, June 18, 2012

To My Father

My father is truly an amazing man. I have always known this, but since becoming a parent I've realized it tenfold. After I was born my father realized that as hard as he tried he couldn't help my mother (she has bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and OCD). She was emotionally incapable of caring for me so my dad did something incredibly brave and wonderful for me. He fought for and won primary custody of me and kept me as much as he could out of the unstable and sometimes traumatic life of my mother. I had to visit her which I hated (sorry for all of the tears Dad) but I didn't have to live with her- I was able to distance myself from all that crazy for most of my childhood and my teen-age years because of what my dad did. He was a single dad at a time where it wasn't mainstream; where when I would puff out my chest and tell the other kids "I live with my dad!" it was quite a novel thing. I was so proud.

He worked several jobs to make ends meet, and he always put me first, even at his own expense. I can't imagine being a single parent, though I know I could do it if I had to. His sacrifice has taught me what it means to be a good parent. You do what is best for the wellbeing of your child; you try hard, you make it work, and you find your own way. My father taught me that I am precious and special, there's nobody like me. I want to teach my son the same things. I wish I could put into words what my father means to me. Well, I gave it a shot...

Thank you Dad, I love you so much.