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Timeline of Joys and Sorrows

21 Nov

September 2011: Preggers. Feels like I’ve been waiting for this all my life. Feels like he’s been dreading this all his life.

December 2011: He goes away for 3 months. Turns out I can do stuff on my own.

March 2012: He returns to find that I have evolved into a giantess, no longer vomiting every two seconds, and about 20+ kilos heavier.

June 2012: Beautiful, healthy son is born.

September 2012: We have the talk.

October 2012: He leaves. I grieve.

December 2012: I start to live again.

January 2013: I try to love again.

March 2013: M is sick. It’s going to be alright.

June 2013: Promotion!

June 2013: ONE!

July 2013: Besties in Berlin! It’s going to be alright.

July 2013: Trying and failing to get back together.

August 2013: Trying and failing to find a new home.

September 2013: Staying put. M is still sick. Love is gone. Everything sucks.

March 2014: Hope for a new start.

April 2014: A new home. A new start. Dating again.

June 2014: TWO!

June 2014: Coping. Empowered. Life is complicated, I can take it.

September 2014: I can’t take it.

October 2014: I have to take it.

November 2014: Low point. Depression. Unkind to myself.

November 2014: I tell M about a good first date with D. I try to keep it together.

December 2014: Limbo.

January 2015: Unspeakable pain.

February 2015: Unspeakable pain.

March 2015: I slowly begin to reclaim my life.

April 2015: I celebrate a birthday, dramatically, with my best friends, with my boyfriend.

May 2015: Girls gone wild memorial. Besties in Santorini, remembering M.

June 2015: THREE!

June 2015: Officially divorced at last.

July 2015: A trip to Barcelona with D.

July 2015: Adorably insane Charlie joins our family, chewing and biting and acting crazy 90% percent of the time, being the best dog in the world the other 10%.

September 2015: OK. We’ll keep you. Just please stop biting.

September 2015: Let’s introduce our kids.

October 2015: Playing family.

November 2015: Celebrating a year together. How lucky I am to have love in my life. Hope is renewed for a future of togetherness.

Fearing January.

Knowing I’ll make it through January.

Navigating under the Influence

28 Sep

Picture this: I’m on a highway, my left hand on the steering wheel, my right holding a beer, my left foot on the gas, my right up on the dashboard (I’m a righty, just in case you were wondering). Loud music is playing – and I’m on the highway. Driving.

Suddenly, I spot a cop, and I freak out. I try to put my right foot back down, to toss my beer somewhere, but everything is happening so quickly, I’m driving so fast, I feel like I’m losing control of my car. How could I have been so reckless? Suddenly, I feel something cold and wet on my foot, soft, velvety, it’s a tongue. It’s licking my foot excessively. Charlie, our dog, has woken me up, and thank god for that.

My son and I collapsed together on my bed after lunch today. That hasn’t happened to us in a really long time. It was a big day for us, well, for me mostly, because honestly I’m not sure how much of it he’s really taken in – despite being the brightest, most insightful 3 year old I’ve ever met (and we all know that as his mother I’m completely objective).

Today, I met D’s twin girls for the first time, and he met my son, and they met me, and my son, and my son met them. All of that happened in one quick hour over ice cream.

We’ve been dating for about ten months now, and I guess it just felt like it was time. I had been kind of pushing the agenda of meeting the kids for a couple of months now, and when he finally said yes, I totally freaked out. This was a serious step. What would I tell my son about D? How would I introduce him? True, his father has a girlfriend that spends every moment of their visits with them. They’re pretty serious – they go abroad together, they take our son on so called family vacations. I hate her guts, but I also think it’s a good thing, in principle. Our boy likes her. She seems to have a head on her shoulders and her heart is in the right place.

But this is different. I the past 3 months, custody has shifted a bit. I have gladly allowed our son to sleep over at his dad’s twice a week, instead of once. It’s been very good for the two of them. Still, I’m the one in charge of raising him. I’m the one who makes the big decisions, the one who gives him stability, who sets boundaries and stands behind her word. I’m pretty freaked out about letting a man into my life – well, about letting a man into OUR life. Because, actually I’ve already let one into mine.

The meeting went well. The ice cream was sweet and cold and the children licked it vigorously under the blazing midday sun. We walked by the water, and I had brought some bread to feed the fish with. The kids loved watching the little fish pounce one over the other, fighting over each bread crumb.

I looked at my man. He was as handsome and sweet as I always feel he is. But there was a softness about him, the way he handled his girls, the way young dads do, fumbling through early parenthood, with a charming clumsiness, a complete contrast to those power moms that blindly push through everything and have answers to all questions and a datebook full of plans for every minute of the week. I’m in love with him, and his girls, and his problems, and his shortcomings. I wasn’t sure for a while, but now I know, I’ll accept the whole package, if he only offers it to me.

Still, I got back home and crashed – well, we both did. Though I had made a huge effort to make our little outing as little a deal as could be made, my son, being a constant reflection of my emotional state, must have felt the tension. I told him: we’re going to meet two sweet girls, new friends. Their dad is mommy’s friend. We’re going to all go have ice cream together at the marina, feed the fish and look at the boats. Won’t that be nice? He said: Are they 3? And I said: Almost. And he said: If I’m older than them I can teach them things. Like, if they don’t know Anna and Elsa I can tell them about the story, and how Hans was bad in the end and how Christof was good, and about Sven and Olof the snowman. He was excited. When we left he said: Can we meet them again soon?

After lunch I felt so exhausted I told my son mommy needed a nap, and he could play if you didn’t feel tired. He crawled into my bed and snuggled by me, and at once we both fell asleep. I don’t know what he was dreaming about, but I hope it wasn’t about his mother’s extreme and untypically reckless driving.

Am I being reckless in my life? Maybe I am. I love D, but I don’t know where this is going. I didn’t wait for certainty before making introductions. Maybe because there could be no certainty before introductions. Maybe because there will never be certainty. There will just be a togetherness for a while, for as long as we both shall enjoy it.

I don’t know.

I guess for now, the DUI is on me, and all I can do is pray there will be no great repercussions. Let this go by smoothly, please! For once, let something be easy.

Letting Go of Disclaimer Girl

4 Apr

When BD and I were together, for ten years, unmarried and without children, people would delicately pose the question: So… Are you thinking about marriage? And I’d say, oh sure, but no need to rush. We don’t want to get married right now.  And later on, oh yes, we’re getting married but don’t get your hopes up for kids anytime soon. We’re not at all ready yet.

It was a lie. I was ready for marriage when we were together for four years, and were travelling through South America. I was 23. And I fantasized secretly about him popping the question on one of those magical deserted beaches in Brazil, with the little crabs popping out of their holes in the sand and running around sideways.

Once I even said something like one day we can come back here for our honeymoon. He could have shrugged it off, but instead he got really upset. What do you have to go ruin everything for? It was one of the only fights we ever had in our 13 year long relationship.

After that, I learned that some things were better left unsaid. That patience was a virtue. That like my mother, it was my duty to make sure that the man in my life was happy, because that was the secret of long lasting relationships. It was. BD and I could have probably continued on our merry road of quiet content, if it hadn’t been for my desire, that could no longer be suppressed to become a parent. I pushed him into marriage, and he rose to the occasion. And then I pushed him into having a child. We’d been together for 12 years. I was turning 31. I told him stories about biological clocks and how these things took time. And I got pregnant ridiculously fast. Like my body had all these eggs lining up throughout my life, waiting for anything that loosely resembled sperm to impregnate them. I’m pretty sure even porn could have knocked me up, my body was so ready for a baby. A week after the first time we had unprotected sex, my breasts were sore and I was nauseous as fuck.

I used to be Disclaimer Girl. The one who could never accept 100% fulfilment. Happiness came with a warning: “Don’t get your hopes up to high.” It came with a but. Without warnings, without buts people could get disappointed. How’s the new job? Oh you know, it’s great, but who knows how long I’ll be there. They’re not doing so well financially, they’re constantly laying people off. Oh that’s a lovely dress! What, this old thing? I’ve had it for years. I bought it on sale. It makes my butt look big doesn’t it? But yeah, I guess it works. It was a mediocreness of emotions. It restricted how high I could go, but it also protected me.

That changed when I first peed on that stick and saw those two little pink lines. I could not restrain my happiness. I couldn’t put a disclaimer on that. No buts when it came to my love for that tiny fertilized egg that would soon enough become my son. BD was not as thrilled. He was highly protective of me, as always, made sure I ate all the right things and didn’t do any heavy lifting. He did all the right things but he did them with a stiffness. He was freaking his shit out.

When I was three months pregnant he started talking about going abroad for work. He would be gone for three months, weeks 22-35. It was a great opportunity for him. It could mean more money and a secure future for us both, well, us three. I didn’t think twice. I wanted him to go. Because I believed with all my heart that he would return a changed man. He would be excited about becoming a father. He’d rise to the occasion.

How’s the pregnancy? Amazing. I’m sick as hell and alone. But I love it. I wasn’t lying. I hated the nausea and constant puke fest. But I was excited for a life that I was going to have, soon, if I was patient. Wow, you’re so wonderful to let your husband go abroad for so long when you’re pregnant. I didn’t think I was being wonderful. I didn’t think it was my right to tell him not to go. I didn’t want him to go. But that’s because I wanted him to not want to go. I wanted him to want to stay with me. But since he didn’t, what was the point of forcing him to stay?

Three months past and I got used to doing things on my own. Useful experience for later on. Then he was back, in body at least. He worked crazy hours. I barely saw him. He was there for the birth, and I have to give him credit, he was 100% present there. But shortly after the birth he went back to being a workaholic. Staying late at the office, leaving bath time and bedtime to me. Apologizing over the phone. Saying things like, I’m here with the gang, we had a long day and decided to get a beer. That’s OK right? I can leave if you want. Knowing that I would never tell him to leave his friends and come home. Because, even though I was responsible for a new person in my life, it was still my job to keep my husband happy. If he could find balance, if he was not too overwhelmed, if I could somehow make it so that this was not too hard for him, than he’d rise to the occasion. He’d be the father I knew he could be. He’d love me like he was supposed to.

It was around that time that he stopped wearing his wedding band. It was around that time that when I told him I loved him, he stopped saying it back. And quickly after, he was gone.

How’s motherhood? They asked. Amazing. I’d answer. I’m happier than I’ve ever been.

And that wasn’t a lie either. I was happy. I had always wanted to be a mother. So even though I was dead tired, even when my Boy was sick and I was taking care of him all by myself, I quickly learned that there was a difference between easy and good. My new life wasn’t easy, for sure. But it was meaningful. It was important. And that made it good.

So there were no more buts. Not when it came to my family of two. We were one complete unit and we could listen to Led Zeppelin and dance around the house and love one other to the moon and back without a single disclaimer. It was safe to give him my all.

It was harder to implement my no buts policy to other aspects of my life. Oh I like my job, sure, but I don’t really know where it’s going. I mean, I am signing that five year contract, but it doesn’t mean I’ll stay. I can always back out of it. I like this apartment. It’s easy for me to stay here. Sure, it used to be ours. There are some rough memories there, but it’s OK. Yes, I really Iike this guy, I might even love him, but it has no future. We don’t want the same things. It’s good for now. The sex is amazing. Anyway, I’m not going to be careless this time, I’m not going to get too attached. 

Objectively speaking, some utterly crappy stuff has happened to me when I’ve let down my guard. I allowed myself to believe BD and I would be together forever and raise our beautiful son together, and he left. I allowed myself to believe M was going to get better. She didn’t. It is very difficult for me to simply believe that things will be good. To be happy with no buts. To relish the moment without preparing myself for tomorrow’s disappointment.

BUT, and this is an important BUT. I’m trying to change that. I know that at the end of the day it is my choice. I can choose now, to put disclaimers before every aspect of my life and make sure that I never get hurt so badly again. It makes sense, for someone like me to do that. Or I can fall blindly in love with my life. I can love my new home, I can trust that preschool will be good for my Boy, I can decide to love my job and embrace its difficulties. And if I want to, I know that I can also love this man, whom I introduced as my boyfriend to my sisters and friends on Thursday, and felt my chest burst with excitement. I do love him, but there are still about 10,000 gigantic disclaimers there. His girls. My boy. They need to be protected. They can’t be let down twice. And there’s the other thing. That it’s easier to believe that love is never forever. It always ends at some point. And so, merging lives is, by definition a bad idea. Better to keep things simple.

Thursday night I threw a birthday party and he came. We got plastered and danced and he met my friends. It made me want, for a moment, to forget about buts and to just love him. And I have this picture now, that my sister took of us that I look at and think… What if? And that thought excites me and scares the crap out of me. But I think it’s healthy for me to allow myself to think it.

So I do.

Relationship Allergies

8 Mar

Yesterday was Saturday, and by chance, D and I were both free in the afternoon. We’ve been seeing each other for almost 4 months and our dates have almost always been nightly encounters, in my living room after my Boy went to bed, or on my night off, out at the movies, having dinner, or under the covers, in and out of sexy outfits, or watching a movie curled up with a cup of whiskey tea.

We both have kids, we both have jobs, we both have very limited time to spend with each other. He puts in an extra shift on Saturday to make ends meet, and we have to say goodbye at 6 a.m. on the only morning that I can sleep in. That’s just the way it is for us, and it’s been fine so far.

Not to mention my new rule of no sleepovers when my Boy is home. For the last two months I’ve been pushing it, allowing myself to fall asleep in his arms and waking up at 5 a.m. to sneak him out of the house before my Boy awakens. But last week, he had bad dreams, and came into my room crying at 3 a.m. I jumped out of bed and picked him up. “It’s OK sweetie,” I soothed him and myself, as I put him back in his bed. He didn’t see D, it was dark and he was half asleep but it freaked me out enough to wake D up and send him home right then and there.

So when we found out we would have a free afternoon together, we were pretty excited. I had all kinds of ideas for plans. We could go to the beach, or to the marina to walk by the water and sip beer and look at the yachts. Or we could catch a movie, or get sushi, or try to find an art exhibition to see. “I have an idea too,” D said, and since I tend to be bossy, and I’m working on it, I went with the flow.

D wanted us to go to the park for a long walk. It was nice to walk with him, in the cool breeze by the little lake with the ducks swimming about and the toads croaking loudly and mosquitoes biting my everything. After our walk we went to the grocery store to buy vegetables, and that’s when I started feeling weird. We got lettuce, mushrooms, tomatoes, a red onion, olives and feta cheese for a spectacular salad. D picked out the beers. We left the store and at the car he handed me the keys which he’d been keeping in his pocket for me, and I handed him the groceries to hold while I opened the car door. As we entered the car I felt a familiar yet distant feeling in my gut, a certain niceness, a plainness, a just-another-Saturday-eveningness, buying groceries and making a salad. It was odd.

We got home, made dinner and sat down to eat and watch a movie. I was enjoying the quiet comfort of being together with no expectations. But I wasn’t able to completely relax. My body was reacting to something, sending warning signals up from my feet to my knees and into my gut, making me a little short of breath. This is bad. The last person I shared such intimacy with ended up destroying me. Temporarily at least. I don’t want this. I don’t need this. A walk in the park! Salad! And he sits there on the sofa, and you wouldn’t believe it, scratches his scrotum right in front of me. No. I want to go back to nightly sex sessions and dark movie theaters and drunken silliness. I was so freaked out that I didn’t take my hands off him for the rest of the night, making up for a moment of intimacy with wild sex, until he basically told me he was exhausted and needed a break.

I had relationship allergies yesterday. I had a bad reaction to a moment of closeness that I used to crave. My favorite times with BD were evenings like this one, strolling in the park and making a salad. I used to love going to the supermarket with him. Having him hold the bag as I opened up the car door. I don’t know if I can do that again though. And maybe it’s a good thing that we’re so goddamn busy. It’ll be ages before we have an afternoon like this again.

3 am Insecurity

2 Jan

I point out that he says ‘fun’ a lot. Like, that I’m fun. That the date was fun. That its was fun spending the night together.

He laughs and said, “because it is”.

And I say, “OK. I’m not going to push it.”

But then it’s dark, and we’re spooning, and it feels possible to say more.

“I’m asking because, a while ago, I asked you what you wanted out of life. And you said: a good relationship with my girls. To be happy. To have fun. And it made me think.”

“You have a good memory.”

“I remember because I was surprised that you didn’t say a relationship, or love.”

“Well…” Pause. “You know, my breakup is still recent. I feel like I just got out of a relationship, and it wasn’t a good one. I’m still celebrating being out. It’s way too soon for me to think about a new relationship.” Pause. “I mean, this is a relationship, you and I. That came out wrong. I mean getting married again, or living together. I’m not sure I want that.”

“I’m not sure I want that either.” I say. “But when I stroll in the park with my boy, and I see a couple having a picnic or playing with their children, it makes me wish to have someone to share family moments with. It makes me wish that someday, my family will not just be my boy and I.”

“I get that. I think some day I will want that too.”

“There are different models today. It’s hard for me to think about living with someone again. Maybe it’ll happen some day, maybe not. Maybe having pancakes for breakfast on a Saturday morning, and drinking coffee as the kids play, is the type of family I’ll have in the future.”

“That sounds nice, actually. That sounds really nice.”

Quiet. I close my eyes and begin drifting away.

“Come here.” He kisses me, running his hand through my hair. “This is really good.”

“I think so too.”

Quiet.

“Am I freaking you out with this talk?”

“No.”

Quiet.

“I just got out of a very painful breakup. There are scars, you know? I need to let them heal before I can think about letting someone new so deeply into my life.”

“I get that. I talk about things sometimes, because I have a vision of the things that I want. But I will be very, very careful before my son meets anyone I’m seeing. It’s not something I will take lightly or want to do any time soon.”

“Of course.”

“But listen, regardless of marriage, or living together, or saturday morning pancakes, or whatever… I am developing feelings for you. That’s just the way it is with me. It’s how I work.”

Quiet.

“Now hold me, I’m feeling exposed and vulnerable.” We laugh. He holds me.

“This really is good, zayka.” He says, and kisses me. “You don’t have to worry or be nervous about it. It’s good.”

“You were talking before about scars. You have yours. Well, I have mine.”

“What are yours?”

“To be into someone, and not know that all along he’s not into me. To be blissfully ignorant. That’s my scar.”

Now he is holdning my shoulders, and looking straight into my eyes. “Listen, I think you’re amazing. I’m so happy with you. I like your personality. I like talking to you. I’m attracted to you. I want to get to know you more. I want to spend time with you.”

“Thank you.” I say. It feels like all I can ask for.

“Now you hold me. I’m feeling exposed and vulnerable.” We laugh, holding one another in the darkness. And for a moment everything seems to be in its right place.

The 6 a.m Cry of the Other Woman

20 Dec

I hadn’t seen D for five days, which felt like forever. It’s only been five weeks since we started dating, but we’ve been seeing each other three or more times a week so it’s been pretty intense, the way it always is with me, I guess.

Ever since I blurted out the L word a couple of weeks ago, things have returned to normal, and I’ve been able to enjoy my time with him and languish over every sweet word or nickname or embrace. He’s Russian, and I’ve been called zayka, and slatkyia and krasaviza. He’s been saying that I make him feel alive again, that I’m special, that he loves being with me, that he misses me, that I’m fun, that he wants me. He even used the words “corrective experience” to describe our relationship. Moreover, we’ve begun acting a little more couple-ish, which I’ve been enjoying. And we’ve been talking a lot and sharing stuff. I’ve even talked to him about M, and he’s been asking, cautiously, how I’m doing and saying things like, “I know this is a rough time for you.”

Still, it will be a lie to say that I’m not anticipating his first “I love you” or dreading the notion that he might never say it. All signs clearly state that things are going well between us, and 90% of the time I am able to let go and not think about who likes who more and whether or not that presents an issue. My friend R suggested that I think about it like a gift that I’ve given him. It would be weird if I’d bought him a gift, like, cologne, and the next day he’d buy me perfume. I’ve given him a gift, saying that I feel love towards him. That’s a big gift. But he is constantly giving me gifts as well, other gifts, and that should be OK. And it is, most of the time.

I was discussing these five days apart. He was called in for reserve, and had a really crappy week. He was placed in a base up in the mountains where it’s freezing cold, and they had no warm meals or coffee or heating anywhere. While he was freezing his ass off, writing me texts about his fantasies of what he would do to me if he could have me then and there, I experienced one of the hardest weeks of my life too.

With the background of parent-teacher conferences, with 34 sets of parents to meet and talk to and be presentatble with, all the while keeping my classroom functioning as they rehearsed preformances for Grandparents Day and got into the types of fights and arguments that only 9-12 year olds can get into, I was busy attempting to say goodbye to one of the people closest to me in my life. It’s been 20 months since I first realized that we might not get to grow old together. But my mind seems to have that unique ability to only take in what it wants to, and completely ignore all the rest, so I think it’s only been in the last several weeks that I’ve begun accepting the fact that M has very little time left to share with me, with us. And this realization is devastating.

So on Monday, I was so easily agitated in class, that one of my co-teachers asked me to step out for a breather. When I did, I began crying and could not stop for a full hour. I walked around campus, hoping I would not run in to any children, and tried to calm myself down.

I recovered eventually, and I’m back to acceptence now. I feel better about it actually, like I really needed to let all of that out, and despite the unfortunate timing of my meltdown, I am glad it happened.

When D came back though, it felt like these five days, which objectively are not a long time, created a huge void between us. I hadn’t called him to share what I’d been going through. We texted a bit. I’d said encouraging stuff to him. I’d mentioned I’d had a few rough days. But I couldn’t talk about it. It was too personal, too powerful, and I was afraid I’d break down again if I mentioned it. I was also afraid that he might withdraw, because it might be too much for him to handle.

So seeing him again, feeling his embrace, it was comforting, and at the same time it felt a little like the beginning again. Which was not neccessarily a bad thing. Now, as the weekend progresses, and having spent some time with him, things are beginning to unwind. He came over to spend the night last night, after we each went to our separate dinners with family/friends, and when we met, close to midnight, we cuddled under the blanket and fell asleep at once. And for the first time in what felt like a long time I felt like everything was going to be OK, or more specifucally, like I was going to be OK.

Until 6 a.m.

His phone rang and with half closed eyelids I saw him fumble for it, saying, “at this hour, it could only be L”. L is the ex. Ex-wife and mother of his two girls. And indeed it was her. Having a melt down, crying on the phone. One of their girls won’t stop coughing, and she doesn’t know what to do. I could hear her desperation through the phone, her sobs and gasps. I remembered a time when I called my ex at 1 a.m. sobbing and gasping the same way, because our son had a high fever and I was freaked out. It was too much for me to handle so I went to the bathroom, and brushed me teeth, and drank some water, and then I basically sat in the kitchen and waited until I couldn’t hear his voice responding calmly and assertively to her hysteria any longer. I stepped back into the room. He looked at me with troubled eyes. “It’s OK.” He said, “She’s just coughing, It’s nothing. L panics easily. Her mother is right across the street, I told her to call her. She always calls me when something is wrong. She expects me to drop everything and go be there with them. And I can’t.”

I thought about telling him that he should go be with her. But I didn’t. “She’s adjusting.” I told D. “There will come a time when she doesn’t call every time something happens.”

“I hope you’re right.”

There was no point of going back to sleep. D works every other Saturday and he had to get ready. So we got up and had some coffee. And I tried to put the other woman’s 6 a.m. cry out of my mind. But I couldn’t help but remember my own meltdown of the week, which I hadn’t shared with him, and ask myself if there would ever come a time when he would love me and I would allow myself to lean on him.

The L Word

6 Dec

Sex makes me very emotional. The better it is, the more emotional I get. And so was the outcome last night.

We’d just shared an amazing sex session, wrapped in each other’s arms, still breathing heavily, when I said: “Don’t freak out. I love you.” I wasn’t panning on being the first to say it. But fuck it. I really wanted to say it and I wasn’t in the mood to restrain myself.

His response came quickly, almost as if he’d rehearsed it. “I think you’re amazing. I love being with you.” Then he held me tightly, so tightly that it was difficult to breathe. And he said, “It’s too early for me to say that.”

“I didn’t say it so you’d say it back.” I lied.

“I know.” He lied back.

Then we kissed and made out, and put it behind us. And it seemed to be OK. We spent the night together and had coffee in the morning, and told eachother what a good time we’d had. And made plans to meet again tonight.

And now, we’ll see.