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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 My running music is horribly outdated, but I haven’t listened to it so long that even Thrift Shop didn’t get on my nerves.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.

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On Sacrifices and Why I’m not Making Any Anymore

28 Jun

sacrifice

My friend B thinks I’m going through my twenties, only I’m doing it in my thirties, which might very well be. I started dating BD when I was 19. Back then, following my mother’s example (though it’s more than a little superficial to blame it on her) I honestly believed that being in a loving relationship meant making sacrifices. Not little ones. Not agreeing to see a movie you don’t really care for, or allowing the toilet seat to stay up without making a scene. I believed that you couldn’t get everything you wanted or needed in any relationship, and so, you had to decide what was less important to you and find someone who gave you all the rest. (There was even a time when I thought that this wisdom was something some of my single girlfriends hadn’t figured out yet and that this was why they didn’t have a boyfriend.)

In theory, this sounds reasonable. I know in my heart that Mr. Right exists only in my heart, that I will never meet a man who is so compatible with me that he knows how to meet my every need without being told what to do, and still be unpredictable at times and sweep me off my feet. But, and this is a big but, I don’t think I should be making any sacrifices anymore. Adjustments – yes, sacrifices – no.

Very possibly the word sacrifices means more to me than it does to anyone else, I suppose it’s common to say that a mother makes sacrifices for her children for example. I want to redefine the word here, so you can understand what it means to me and why it raises such a strong emotional reaction in me. A sacrifice to me means doing something that strongly contradicts who you are, doing it despite feeling a strong objection to it, despite knowing that it will make you unhappy, and doing it because you believe it will benefit someone else, whose needs are more important than yours.

One might say that my career isn’t developing as quickly as it could have, or that I’m not making as much money as I could have if I didn’t have a child. But that’s not a sacrifice, that’s a choice. I would much rather spend time with my son in the afternoon than make more money or advance in my career. Had I decided to be a stay at home mom and not work at all, that would have been a sacrifice, because I love my job, and I love that I have somewhere to go where I can be valued as a professional. It would have been wrong for me to stay at home all day with my son, because it would have been a sacrifice, and he could not have benefited of it.

When I was in a relationship with BD, who had to move abroad for work and I left my job, my family and friends and moved with him, it was my choice, it was not a sacrifice. I was excited about my new adventure. I was ready for a change. But when things got bad there, when I was homesick and depressed and did not get out of bed some days, and felt like my life was worthless, and got a job I didn’t like just to get out of the house, that was a sacrifice. And it was a mistake to make it, I should have left BD there and come home.

This is just one example, our relationship was in fact full of sacrifices on my part. Sacrifices which lead, eventually to the death – yes, death – of several important “Me”s. I can’t blame BD for it, because he didn’t know. I wasn’t clear in stating the things that I wanted. Because I believed they were less important than the things that he wanted. Because I believed that making sacrifices made me a better person.

Now that we are apart, the dead “Me”s have begun their resurrection and they are hungry and thirsty and know no boundaries and they are raising havoc. It’s so exhausting that I had to sleep for 11 hours last night and I still feel tired.

Free

14 Jun

birds on branch

It was Baby’s first birthday the other week, and a cause for celebration and delight. Yep. We made it through our first year as mom and son, and not only made it, we rocked. My gorgeous boy is starting to walk now. He has four teeth. He’s eating solids like a pro. He talks the sweetist gibberish you’ve ever heard. He calls me ‘maaaa’. He expresses affection by hugging me, pulling at my clothes and licking my face.

We make a great team, him and I. Who said families can’t have just two people in them? He does have a dad, and they’ve fallen into a routine of visitations that pleases me and gives me some time off, which completely transforms my week. But our core family for now is just us. And we’re doing splendidly.

We have excellent communication. Yes, I do realize he’s one. But he expresses himself beautifully using the limited tools at his disposal, and I manage to understand him most of the time. He’s patient, and “explains” himself again if I misinterpret his mumbles, squeals and growls. He knows that no matter what I will always listen to him, and be there for him, and he seems to have almost no fear of anything, which I find remarkable. I try to be a role model to him. I try to always tell him the truth about everything, even though sometimes it’s a version of the truth, tailored especially for him. I still have to figure out what I’m goiong to tell him about his dad and I when he’s old enough to ask.

Well, a little over a year has passed since my beautiful boy was born, and that makes it about 9 months since the separation. My desicion has finally been made, and this time I feel very confident. I told BD that I didn’t want to continue therapy. I told him I wanted a divorce. Not an easy conversation, as he was very persistant and asked me to reconsider again and again, just as before. Only this time I was equipped with new knowledge, a realization that it doesn’t matter if BD accepts, agrees or even understands my point of view. I realize now that I’ve been having such a hard time cutting loose from him, because for some reason I thought I needed him to understand why, to agree with me. The realization that I don’t need that has finally set me free.

Happy. In command. Empowered. Capable. Strong. Optimistic. Excited. Good things are coming and my arms are wide open to welcome them into my life. What a beautiful day, I told Baby this morning  on the way to daycare. The sky is clear, the birds are chirping, there are so many beautiful things for us to see, we just have to open your eyes and look.

Back to My Future

31 May

Back to the Future

Baby has been sick this week, and I was home with him, cleaning his vomit, coaxing him to drink water and consoling all 11 kilos of him in my arms for hours… This morning, when he finally went down for his nap, I collapsed in bed and fell asleep at once.

Suddenly, I was on the set of Back to the Future, and it was being filmed. I wasn’t really taking part in the movie, but I was more than an observer, it’s like I was an extra, just there. I remember thinking to myself, hey, I’ve seen this, it’s a great movie. Yes, I know that’s weird since it was just being filmed, but you know, it’s a dream. Then Baby woke up and nap time was over.

This past month has been a trip back to the past for me, and it hasn’t been easy. I know I’m having a hard time when I have a need to blog every single day, and I’ve had times like that. But I also know I’m having a horrible time when I don’t blog at all, and I haven’t been. I was doing much better, getting used to my new life as a single mom, thinking about the future, making plans, living as I wanted to live. This couple’s therapy thing with BD is really getting to me. It’s making me feel like I’m regressing. I’m sad again, I feel less in control of my life, I get to the end of every day feeling like I need a drink, or make that three. Last night I stared at the TV for an hour. I know most people do that on a regular basis, but I don’t. It wasn’t even a show I enjoyed, it was just some stupid reality show that I hate and find degrading towards women.

I’ve made a decision to keep this up for two months (one down, one to go), and I hope I get what I’m looking for at the end of this process: closure, certainty, confidence that I’m doing the right thing. But in the meantime, I’m craving that future that just a short while ago seemed so close and now seems farther than ever.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1i5coU-0_Q

 

The Many Many “Me”s in Me

15 May

Many "Me"s

My friend R has a theory that we are basically managed by many different “Me”s, who have different needs, different interests, and don’t always get along. There’s the Emotional Me – in my case, she just wants to be loved. She wants to be accepted for who she is, by a man, I’m sorry to say, because she needs that validation, she needs it to know that she’s good enough. She’s like a little girl, seeking warmth, wishing to be taken care of. She’s been pretty dominant in my life in the past couple of months. There’s the Independent Me – She says fuck it. I can do it on my own. I HAVE to do it on my own to prove to myself that I can. If I always depend on others, I’m always going to be let down and hurt. There’s no way I’m letting anyone let me down again, ever. I have to protect myself and all the other “Me”s. And the only way to protect us all from having our hearts broken is not to let anyone in. I guess Independent Me is also Protective Me. There’s Logical Me – She’s very level headed and target oriented. She has an excel file filled with lists and numbers for every single aspect of life, including love. She wants me to get a vibrator BTW because she thinks I’m too horny to make decisions these days.

There are other “Me”s too. I don’t even think I’m aware of them all: There’s Mother Me, there’s Sexy Me, there’s Career Woman Me, and Fun Me, and Over-analyzing Blogger Me. All of them want to be heard and given a place in my life, and ignoring any of them is not an option.

My friend R says that our psyche is like a tree. When given suitable conditions it grows wildly, in every direction. But build a wall on its side and it will become deformed, growing in all directions except one. All the needs of all the “Me”s have to be met eventually, even though they often contradict each other. It’s like being a mother of ten kids. You have to take care of them all, you can’t just groom the eldest and let the others die of deprivation.

Luckily, there’s one Me, who steps in at times of contradiction, at times of crisis – Super Me. Super Me isn’t always around, but she’s summoned when things get out of hand. She steps in and says, Jesus, what a mess you’ve made here. When are you ever going to learn to get along? Then she sighs, rolls her eyes, and starts delivering orders: You, Emotional Me, step aside. I know what you want, and you’re going to get it, but not now. Sit down and wait patiently. And you, Sexy Me! Give everyone a break and just buy a freaken vibrator, will you? Where the hell is Logical Me when I need her? Hey, where have you been for the last two months, what were you taking a nap? Get back to work, can’t you see we’re in the middle of a crisis here?

Well, just wanted to let you all know that Super Me is back. And while Emotional Me is pouting on the side, most of us are relieved and eager to see how she gets us out of this one.

Birthdays

14 Apr

birth of venus

I’m only 32 and I already have three separate friends who hate birthdays. B doesn’t like to be reminded of her age. R and N simply think birthdays are meaningless, since age doesn’t mean anything. R says it’s just another way for people to compare themselves to their peers. He’s 38, when’s he going to settle down already? You know, she should start thinking about children already, at her age. When I was 30 I had a career and two children, not that there’s anything wrong with waiting tables, but you know, there is. N criticizes how people wait for their birthday to do things they love. He thinks every day should be a celebration of us living the life we want to live.

All this is fine, and true. The competition thing, the living each day to its fullest. But let me just say this – I love my birthday! And I think my friends are sort of missing the point.

1. Birthdays are a very good excuse to be completely narcissistic, not give a shit about anyone else, and do stuff that you love and never find time for.

2. You get presents on your birthday, and presents are awesome! I fucking love presents.

3. Birthdays are not a celebration of how old you are, but a celebration that you ARE. If it weren’t for that crazy morning, 32 years ago, when my mom gave birth to me in a hospital room with five other women, and my dad rode his bike all around town shouting at strangers, I have a girl! I’m a dad! If it weren’t for that, I would not exist. I would not think, or believe, or love, or create, or become a parent myself. I would not ache, or break, or pick up the pieces of my life and start over. I would not be. And that’s what my birthday is to me, it’s a celebration of my life, with its peeks and its slopes, with its joy and its misery.

Many years ago, before I met BD, before I became, well, me, I had a really bad year. It was the year my heart was broken, my trust violated, my body taken advantage of. It was the year I stopped believing in god, and love, and happiness, and became an existentialist without really knowing what that meant. And most significantly, it was the year that I became I comfortably numb. So much shit was going on in my life, that it was too much to handle. So I didn’t. I just shut everything and everyone out. I went through the motions of life without laughing or crying, without feeling. Today, looking back at those days of numbness, I realize that there is yet another thing I celebrate every year on my birthday. I celebrate feeling! I embrace the pain and pleasures of life and I know that as long as I can feel, I exist.

And as long as I exist, I intend to celebrate my life. I feel lucky – to have loved, to have married, to have become a mother, to have been betrayed, to have recovered. I know that my heart may be broken in the future, but I still choose to love. I know that my trust may be violated in the future, but I still choose to trust.

Happy birthday, me. You’re doing great.

You live, you learn, you love you learn, you cry, you learn, you lose, you learn…

Never Again

30 Mar

Burn

Over ten years ago I was sitting in a dark theater with my then boyfriend, to be husband, to be father of my child, watching a movie that got under my skin and into my nightmares. The movie was Requiem for a Dream. I sat there paralyzed  glued to my seat, feeling trapped, feeling violated. It was only during one of the the last scenes, a smack-you-in-your-face horrible sex scene, that it suddenly dawned on me that I didn’t have to watch it. I abruptly got up and left the theater, muttering “I don’t have to sit here and watch this”.

Later, standing outside the theater, I thought to myself, why on earth did I just sit there, why didn’t I just get up and leave? And I told myself, I’m never sitting through something that makes me feel so icky again. But I did. I have sat through many things that made me feel icky since then. Sat, stood, lay down.

Ten days ago was out first counselling session. BD has asked me to go to couple’s counseling with him, and I said yes, because it was the right thing to do. But during the entire session I was overwhelmed with a feeling that I didn’t belong there. Nothing went the way I wanted or expected it to go. He was five minutes late. I know, it’s just five minutes, but I’m sensitive about that. Then at the meeting he just sat there, as he’s done throughout our entire life together and let me do the talking. When I said I needed to know why he had left us, he said he was depressed. The therapist pointed out that I would need a better answer than that. Why was he depressed? What happened to him? He couldn’t answer. Or he wouldn’t. I don’t know. The therapist then asked if I was willing to commit myself to the process of working on our relationship, and I said that I was willing to come to one more session at this point.

That evening I broke up with SG, because I couldn’t give BD a fair chance if I was in a relationship with another man. Then I spent the week deeply depressed, feeling robbed, like someone had come into my world, which had already fallen apart once this year, which I had put so much effort into reconstructing, and tore it down, again. I was angry at BD for wanting me back. How dare he come back into my life, almost six months after walking away, after leaving me alone with our son? And I was heart broken. I missed SG terribly.

Then, on Tuesday, I took Baby to his grandparents and decided to use the time to clean the apartment, I mean really clean. Throw stuff out, reorganize drawers and so on. It was then that I ran into The Letter. The Letter that I had not yet decided what I wanted to do with. And at that moment, without thinking it over for a single second, I knew exactly what I was going to do with it. I took it to the sink in the bathroom. I lit a match and I burned it. It didn’t burn easily. It resisted, even after four or five matches had been lit, but eventually it went into flames, and it was gone forever, and with it was gone the anger I had felt for so many years, not at Y for abusing my trust, not at BD for, well, abusing my trust… But at myself – for having let everything that had happened happen, for not getting up and leaving when I should have, for not shouting when I wasn’t heard, for feeling obliged in some perverted way to do things that I didn’t want to do. And I made myself a promise: I will never again do anything against my will. I’m not talking about going to the gym when I don’t feel like it, I’m talking about doing something that deeply contradicts my wants and needs, I mean listening to everyone except for myself, disregarding my emotions, putting myself on hold.

And as I watched that letter burn I knew that I could not go to couple’s counselling with BD anymore.

And I also knew that I was wrong about SG. I shouldn’t have let him go. I should have let me love me and I should have let myself love him back.