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Real Woman

28 Jul

As usually happens when I’m confused about where my life is going, and as usually happens after hooking up with an ex (sadly that’s happened to me more than once in the past couple of years) I enter a melancholy pondering mood, which brings me to revisit former relationships and wonder about what went wrong and how somehow I was to blame for everything.

Even though I haven’t seen him in almost 14 months, my go to guy for memories of what it felt like to be in love, is still SG. So I was thinking about him, about how much I had allowed myself to open up to him and be vulnerable, about how he broke it off with me that morning, after having spent an incredible night together, how he’d said he loved me, but couldn’t be with someone who had a son.

SG was a kid, I know that now (In all honesty, I knew it then too). A 26-year-old Peter Pan type, who could not commit to anything, from high school, to military service, to college, to a real woman. His ambitions were out of this world, he was always in the middle of a huge undertaking, never actually following through with things to the end. That’s what I was to him. An undertaking. His childish omnipotence-fantasy blinded him and made him decide to choose me, despite the age difference, the marital status difference, the fact that I had a son. He was excited by the fact that I wasn’t another one of these girlie-girls he was used to dating, the thin, pretty, clingy, boring type. I was a woman. A real woman. Happy with who I was – most of the time. Confident in my intelligence and competence. Curvaceous and beautiful as a real woman often tends to be. Knowing how to show affection, how to make a man feel special. All these qualities that drew SG to me, that made him feel lucky that he was free at last from past meaningless relationships… These qualities were also the ones that made him leave me.

I am a real woman. And alongside the benefits of being such, are the problems. Real women do not have girlie-girl-problems. It’s not about getting a bad grade on a course, having a bad hangover or arguing with a girlfriend. We have all the benefits of real women, and we have seriously fucked up real women problems to go along with them. Toddler temper tantrums. Juggling personal lives and careers. Mending broken hearts and wondering if we will ever be able to trust again. SG couldn’t handle me. So he left. Just like he’d left high school, and the army, and college. Just like I don’t really believe he will ever finish that list of 200 books he’d decided to read in the next 10 years, or learn French, Italian and Russian, or start playing the piano.

You can’t hail a cab in life, to get you from one point to another. Often, you have to walk, through murky filthy shitty sewage water to get to where you want to go. If you’re willing to put in the time, the effort and the faith necessary for the journey, you might actually get there.

I’m just about neck-high in shitty sewage water in my life right now, but I have the stamina to keep putting one foot before the other and keep my mouth shut so I don’t swallow any crap. I’m not the type to give up. Real women never do. I’m taking my real womaness and the problems that come with that awesome title, and we’re trekking to a place where we’re going to be truly happy. In like a year. Or two.

Good job!!!

19 Jul

Good-job

I’ve been studying this summer, very intensely, which is why I haven’t been writing lately. All in all, I can say that things are going rather well.

I ended it with B, the sensitive yet macho Argentinian broker I’d been seeing for the past three months. It just didn’t seem like it could go anywhere, and as much as I liked the notion of living for now (and as much as the sex was spectacular), it’s just not me to invest emotionally in something that I know in my heart has no future. I feel good about ending it. I mean, it sucked breaking up with him. And I was a terrible coward and did it in a very long WhatsApp conversation. But it was a good thing ending it. And he actually seemed to take it relatively well. I had been sending signals. He’s a smart sensitive guy, he saw it coming.

The main thing that was difficult about this breakup, was the fact that he really cared about me. He thought I was beautiful and smart and fun and a good mom. I got loads of affirmation from him on a daily basis. And I realized suddenly how difficult it was for me to give this up. It’s the best thing in the world to feel loved, isn’t it? But there was more to it.

In the teacher-training program I’ve been taking this summer, we’ve been talking about positive reinforcement. Everyone’s always talking about the importance of giving children constant positive feedback. In my 6 years of teaching, this is something I’ve always made a point of doing, and have been very good at. I give a lot of positive reinforcement to my students, as much of it as possible, and never empty compliments – but rather actual concrete feedback about things they’ve done.

Well, I’ve been reading my Maria Montessori, and apparently, according to her, us adults basically just have to shut up. Let the children do whatever it is they feel compelled to do, to follow their instincts, their “inner guide” that will lead them to meaningful learning, without needing to be taught, without needing us to tell them how well they’re doing. If we constantly give them feedback for their work, how will they ever learn to give feedback to themselves? Huh. Good point.

Most of my life I was utterly unable of giving any feedback to myself. Well, that’s not entirely true. I was horrible to myself. I was always criticizing and scolding myself for not being thin enough, pretty enough, quick enough, knowledgeable enough, fun enough and so on and so forth… It took a baby and a painful breakup to get me to finally acknowledge my own strength. To finally be able to tell myself: Good job!

I still don’t do it often enough. It’s still super difficult. And I yearn, constantly for the approval of others. But I’m learning. And maybe I’ll try to hold back a bit on the positive reinforcement with my students this year. And maybe next time my son builds a spectacular Lego tower and admires it in awe, I’ll just smile, and let him clap for himself and tell himself, with his limited vocabulary, how awesome he is.

Just Being

30 Apr

kale

Last night I was sitting on my turquoise sofa, in my tiny living room, the front door open and a cool breaze coming in through the screen door. I was breathing heavily and dripping sweat from my run, and on the coffee table before me a big cardbord box of organic veggies that had just been delivered awaited me. I took a deep breath, and for the first time in months I felt happy and healthy.

This move is probably one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I love my new home. It’s bright and cheerful, I take good care of the little garden, I’m actually attempting to grow some herbs and veggies. I feel at home here. It’s suddenly clear to me how detached I felt in my old apartment, and I lived there for almost four years. It’s incredible how often in my life I have overlooked opportunities for change, how many times I told myself that it would be better to just stay where I was. But the last two years have been so dramatically life changing, that sometimes I look in the mirror and I feel like I hardly recognize myself.

I stopped putting other people’s needs before mine. I began to be kind to myself.

I stopped thinking I wasn’t attractive. I learned to love my body.

I stopped saying no to things, without really understanding why. I opened myself up to new possibilities.

I stopped being afraid of many, many things. I began to be brave.

I stopped being so grave in my desicion making. I started to take things more lightly.

I stopped worrying about what other people thought of me. I learned to listen more to myself and less to others.

I stopped shutting unpleasant thougts away in a little drawer at the back of my mind. I began dealing with things that are painful.

I stopped feeling guilty for being happy. I began feeling healthy.

I stopped trying to plan everything. I began living a little more for now. This new home that my son and I live in, it’s ours. Sure we rent it. Sure we might have to move at some point. But it’s ours for now, and it’s wonderful to feel that we belong here. I love walking around the house naked when I come out of the shower. I love discovering a new veggie supplier and cooking Kale for the first time in my life (yum btw). I love watching Castle on my laptop in bed, or sipping tea on my porchswing. And I love inviting that guy I recently met into my bed on my night off and not worrying about where it’s going or what it means.

Just being is so damn good for us, isn’t it? I wonder why I don’t do it more often.

 

 

Movie Moments

1 Jan

spatula

New Year’s day, and here I am. Still uncertain, still shaky, still on hold. What the hell am I doing? I know what I have to do, it’s just that I haven’t been feeling very courageous lately.

A year ago I was beginning to get a grip on things. Everything fell apart in October 2012. But in January 2013 I was beginning to put the pieces of my life back together. Slowly, one piece at a time, I learned that my life was a puzzle that could be put together in more ways than one. I waited for three months for BD to turn around. And then came the SCREW IT stage, no pun intended, well, maybe semi-intended. I discovered that life was magic. I was astounded by the revelation that I could live my life any way I wanted to, that I was free to do whatever I wanted.

Life is magic. People watch movies and read books and hear stories, and they say: things like this never happen in real life. Bullshit. Everything happens in real life, if you let it. Movie moments are all around us, waiting to be discovered by the power of one bold move, a small act of bravery.

Dinner today. Scrambled eggs. Tomato. Cucumber. Olives (Baby loves olives!) A spoon. And then BAM, Baby leans over and grabs a giant yellow spatula with a smiley face on it from the kitchen counter. Now he’s using it as a giant spoon, picking bits of tomato with it and stuffing them into his mouth, laughing his head off. Too young to have reservations. So open minded, that he would never ask if it was appropriate. Who the hell cares? It makes him happy.

It’s harder for us. We’re so aware, so worrisome. It’s harder for me. So uncertain, so afraid of making a mistake. So afraid to be brave that I prefer this impossible status quo. I prefer to let life guide me and spoon-feed tasteless mashed carrots. Instead, I should just grab me a giant yellow smiley-faced spatula, pull life by its reigns and fill it with movie moments and passion and happiness and me.

That Girl

2 Dec

disclaimer

I’ve been reluctant to post about this, because I’ve been reluctant to admit it, but – we’re in therapy again. BD and I, trying to work things out, with the hopes of reuniting and giving our little boy the family we want so much for him to have.

I haven’t really talked much about it, I let almost everyone around me just assume that we’re separated, and on the way to a divorce (I bet they’re wondering what’s taking us so long). The few friends I have told, received the news followed by giant all-caps disclaimers: IT PROBABLY WON’T WORK OUT. NO POINT OF GETTING MY HOPES UP. WE MIGHT AS WELL GIVE IT A TRY, BUT, YOU KNOW, I DON’T REALLY THINK IT’S GOING ANYWHERE.

We have a good therapist. She’s practical and gets to the point quickly, which is good. And things are going well, I guess. We’re discussing moving in together for a trial period in a month or so. If this works out, it’ll be great. I mean, just think of the convenience: First off, having a live-in partner helping me raise my boy, and having that live-in incidentally be his father! There’s the little things – taking out the trash without worrying about leaving Baby at home. Going to the bathroom and, drumroll… Closing the door! Having someone to eat dinner with and spoon with at night. And then, there’s being able to have sex whenever I want, without it becoming a huge project. Only for that to become a consideration, we need to actually have sex, which we’re not, at all. God I miss sex. Sex is the best.

So now I have some down time, since the holidays have provided a short break from work, and BD went on yet another one of his business trips. Time to myself and I have no idea what to do with it. I’ve become so used to working nonstop, I kind of want to work though my vacation, and I can – it’s not that I don’t have stuff to do, I just don’t think that would be smart. I really need a time out.

After taking Baby to daycare this morning I went running, which always makes me feel powerful and sexy and I haven’t done it in a really long time. My running music is horribly outdated, but I haven’t listened to it so long that even Thrift Shop didn’t get on my nerves. When I came back home, feeling energized, I took a nice long shower and was suddenly overwhelmed with memories, little fragments of a winter day, almost a year ago, January 22nd, the day that marks my biographical birthday, the day New Me was born. As the water rushed over my hair, my face, my body, I felt a tingle in my toes as I caught a glimpse of a head of auburn curls, enormous brown eyes and strong arms that used to crush me to pieces and make me feel alive.

But it wasn’t SG I was remembering, it was me. Beautiful, sexy, strong, energetic, creative, vibrant, healthy, happy me. The girl who somehow survived the flood; the girl who camped out on the beach, sipping Breezers all day and returned home with her hair full of sand, and didn’t feel guilty for a minute for leaving her 7-month-old with his daddy; the girl who kissed a guy she never met at a club when she was 10 kilos heavier with post pregnancy weight, but felt hotter than she could ever feel these days; the girl who painted abstract crap and hung it on her wall shamelessly because it meant something to her, and started a blog and wrote 83 posts, consistently, every day, and then every week, and then every other week, but never stopped; the girl who, while raising a baby on her own managed to change her career around; the girl who fell in love, not only with a beautiful, free-spirited red-head, but with her brand new self.

I can’t go back now, I can’t. How could I ever give her up?

But I have. I am. I look back at that girl and I think I must have dreamt her. Just as I dreamt those enormous brown eyes that looked straight into my soul, and those big pouty lips that whispered “I love you” before they devoured me.

Horizon

30 Oct

peer

I had the morning off today and I took a long walk along the peer and looked at the water. It was a beautiful beginning-of-fall day, with a bit a wind, grayish skies, and a gloominess that makes you reminiscent and somehow pleasantly melancholy. I love this type of weather. I can sit for hours watching the waves and contemplating life, arriving at endless conclusions that have no practical implications on my life.

I stood there, leaning on the railing, looking at the horizon, and as always felt overwhelmed by the vastness of it all, so many possibilities, so many opportunities, an openness that the future seems to hold when you take time off work and stare into the ocean. It filled me with such hope and happiness that I had to take a picture, so I pulled out my phone.

Then I took a step back, and I noticed the railing, which was actually a fence, a barrier installed to keep people from falling or jumping into the water. A barrier keeping people from that vastness, from that openness, narrowing down possibilities and opportunities. I suddenly felt held back, constrained, angry even.

And there you have it. Like everything else, the peer on a fall morning is a completely different experience, depending on your perspective, and the narrative you choose to to organize your story in. You can look at the horizon, or you can choose to see the railing. You can allow the foamy waves to fill your heart with prospects and opportunities, or you can take in the impossibilities, the constraints.

Happy Place

12 Oct

porch swing

In the midst of the chaos and uncertainty that are constantly intertwined with my routine, I pop up for a breath of fresh air every now and again, driving to work on one of those rare morning when I’m not racing against the clock, walking to the supermarket on my morning off, closing my eyes and nodding off on a night when I can still remember my name…

And there I am. A year after my divorce. I’ve moved to a little house with a garden, or a small apartment with a balcony, full of plants, green and pink and flowery. Baby isn’t a baby, he’s a lovely three year old boy, who talks and has opinions, and is growing more and more independent. We live alone, with our dog, Barry, and enjoy a routine of daycare, work, afternoons in our backyard, or at the park with Barry, home cooked meals and bedtime stories followed by cuddles and lights out.

BD and I have stayed in good relations, and he spends time with our boy, and gives me my night off, which I use to go out, get laid, paint, blog and do laundry.

There may be a guy in my life, nothing really serious, just someone to make my heart flutter and kiss me on the nights that I don’t have the Boy.

And with this as a background, there I am in my happy place, sitting on a porch swing, looking into the distance, with a cup of tea in my hand. It’s autumn and the evenings are chilly, so a blanket is wrapped around my shoulders to keep me warm. I’ve just checked on the Boy and he’s sound asleep. And I just sit there, in complete quiet and wonder about how everything that happened, him leaving, me crying, getting back together and breaking up and getting back together and going to therapy, and giving up and trying again, and giving up again, how it all led to this beautiful moment, in which I sit, quietly and peacefully and just feel happy.