Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Thank you.

It's interesting to read my outlook on my own life in the earlier posts in this blog, then compare that to my last two entries. Well, I did say this wouldn't be a straight line toward a happy new life. The reality of it is this is just something many people deal with. I am happy to say that I'm taking steps to learn to cope with and control my life. It's just not easy when your own brain is fighting you. 

My brain is such an asshole sometimes.

This is a bit of a thank you post. Thank you, dear reader, for being there. Since I've started this blog, I've been overwhelmed with the amount of people that have reached out to share their own stories or offer comfort. I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate each person that has read, commented, or contacted me. Your reactions and support have really meant the world to me, and you've helped me get through this.

When I started writing it was mostly as self-assigned therapy. I really just wanted to get all of these thoughts out of my own head, in a way that would allow me to follow my own progress. For whatever reason, I decided to publish these to a public space that would allow me to share this journey. I am so happy I did. It really means a lot when you tell me you can relate, that it's helped you understand a family member, or just that you've enjoyed reading this. 

I especially love it when people compliment my writing. My thankfulness doesn't interfere with my own ego. 

Thank you to the friends I've made through this process. Thank you to the people that remind me I'm not alone, and this isn't the end. Thank you to the people that have said they've connected with my writing. I hope this continues to help people in some way. Knowing it's had a positive influence on others has given me a purpose. I started writing to help myself, but it's really you all that have helped me.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I have no idea what I'm talking about.

I find it a little irritating when people say things like, “you’re strong, I can’t imagine you crying.” These things aren’t mutually exclusive. People will have feelings, and that’s okay. Those emotions don’t always mean you’re a weak person, just that you’re a person.

So about my last post. Little dark, huh? It happens. Rarely, but it happens.

I’m not depressed because I’m going through a divorce. I’m just depressed and have been for as long as I can remember.  It comes in phases of varying severity and duration. Sometimes I’m just sad, sometimes it feels like what I described to you all, and sometimes it’s worse. Now, this isn’t just because of the divorce. The divorce is just a huge change in my life that has forced me to seek new ways to cope.

At least I had thought so. The more I think about it, the more I realize the Almost Ex didn’t really know how to deal with it. Sometimes that makes me sad, and sometimes I just get angry. Or I feel guilty, because maybe I didn’t listen to him when he did try. Or tell him how to try. Except for that time I said I just needed a hug and he gave me the random-person-at-church-side-hug. Still a little bitter about that.

I’ve always tried to frame this blog around honesty about my experiences and how it can apply to anyone else, or maybe help anyone else understand what someone they love is going through. Not just divorce, mind you, but some huge shifting in their life. Anything that leaves someone standing there and thinking, “now what?” It’s common, it happens, and just because you find yourself in a bad spot doesn’t mean you’re too weak to get through it. It just means you’re human and you have the same human emotions we all do. Unless you’re some kind of empathy-lacking narcissist and well, good for you. Not really a badge of honor, and you should probably talk to someone about it.

That post is probably the last time I’ll go into detail about the depression here. I have friends and medication for that. I just want to make something clear to anyone that reads it and understands it: you’re not alone. Don’t do it alone. You know when to keep up appearances and present the happy face to the world, but don’t be afraid to reach out to someone and tell them how you feel. Too often we isolate ourselves for fear of judgment or the perception of being fragile and weak. We’re worried people will think we’re damaged or find us annoying. Don’t fall for that. People love you and want to help you. If someone doesn’t, you don’t need that negativity in your life anyway. If you’re reading this and rolling your eyes, please fuck off.

If you’re reading this and know someone who is going through something difficult, ask how they are. Be a friend and be there for them. Just tell them you’re there and you care. Try to not make it rhyme though, because that’s annoying.

Now back to me, where focus should always be. I’m not okay, to be honest, but I know I will be. Just as courage isn’t the absence of fear, strength is not the absence of difficulty. That I occasionally find myself drunk and crying in the shower doesn’t mean I won’t get through it. The water’s going to get cold and force me out at some point. Now I just get to try it on my own, but I’m starting to see that it's not a new feeling. But there's almost a sense of peace about being able to not rely on someone else for happiness. I don't know that I'm at that point yet, but I know I will be.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

And then I just lost it.

I found an injured frog in my driveway yesterday. It had a hurt, but not broken, back leg and it was just kind of pushing itself along. I picked it up and put it in the grass, and actually checked on it throughout the evening. This morning I found it covered in fire ants, but it was still alive. I (really, I'm serious) wiped off the ants and moved the little injured frog into a part of my yard with higher grass and some good shade. I had no idea what to do but for whatever reason I couldn't just leave this little frog alone. When I got home and went to check on it, it was dead.

I just started sobbing. Ugly cry, audible, can't-see-through-tears crying.

It wasn't the frog. I'm aware infections are an issue for them, because I googled it. I don't know how the frog was even injured. I kind of assumed it would die.

A few days ago marked the anniversary of That Night. The night we suffered a terrible loss to Texas A&M and everything came to a head and my husband told me he was leaving. Not because of the game, but that was a tough loss. It was just when I'd made it painfully clear how much was wrong.

I did warn you, dear reader, that this would get uncomfortable and awkward. I wasn't exaggerating.

For the past few weeks, I kept making mental notes about the date. I had some mild trepidation as it got closer, but I started to feel more confident in myself and how I was handling everything. Finally, the day was here- and I totally forgot. It never even occurred to me that it was one year since the split, and I didn't even think about it until the next night. The had passed, I totally forgot, and I didn't have a breakdown!

And then I remembered. And then came the breakdown. Holy mental anguish, Batman.

It's weird how things I barely noticed before suddenly just stabbed me in the heart. Some of them really obvious, such as the passwords that are my wedding date because I'm too lazy to change them. Or that video of the kid singing "Broken Vow" on The Voice. (The kid sounds amazing, really. You should listen.) Others came out of nowhere. Love-centric decorations I had taken down in my office and packed up, but found when I was trying to clean. That god damned Timehop app with its less than subtle reminders. Names of common friends that aren't my friends anymore and I basically have three people left in my life and jesus I'm going to die alone.

I'll finish school this December, and today I was filling out my graduation application. Since their records are a carry over from undergrad, they still have my maiden name on file. For months I've been pretty excited to change it back from my married name. Still, remembering his name just made me think of that relationship and the future we had planned. I lost it.

Most days, you get by. Most days you're actually happy. But sometimes, you aren't. Some days you can't find any kind of good in your life and you really don't care enough to try. (Well, I can't speak for you. I guess it's just me, but I know I'm not alone in this.) Some days, the only reason I'm still at my desk is because I've been crying and I'm too scared to leave and risk someone seeing me. Some days you don't remember the silver lining. There isn't a silver lining. There isn't a light at the end of the tunnel or a positive side to anything and that shitty little teeter-totter that is my life isn't going back up.

Some days, you sob because that frog died and it just makes you feel helpless and incapable of doing anything right. Some days you know you're the worst thing that's ever happened to you. Some nights you don't go to bed thinking everything's better and you'll be better. Some nights you just go to bed, and hope you won't feel this way when you wake up.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

And I ran.

I’ve spent weeks trying to think of a clever intro for this post. I’ll sit down to write, but then it reads like one of those pay-to-publish novels by people that can’t stop talking about themselves even when everyone has stopped reading.

So anyway, let me tell you about what’s been bothering me lately.

The thought of having a boyfriend makes me ill. It makes me want to just run away. If I get a text from a guy that implies anything more than friendship, I can’t stop thinking about dropping my phone and just running away from it. Literally.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful. (Though we all know I’m pretty misanthropic so there’s always a hint of general disdain for mankind in my actions. It’s what makes me, me.) Still, it’s flattering that anyone would volunteer to spend any amount of time with me.  I think it’s sweet when friends or coworkers or people I’ve spoken with once tell me they know the perfect guy for me. It’s a compliment that someone thinks enough of me to not only set me up with a friend of theirs, but also wants to see me happy.

Which is where the disconnect is. I’m not unhappy. I’m actually very happy with my life right now. For the first time in nearly ten years I’m on my own, and can do whatever I want. Yes, I sometimes miss my husband. Yes, divorce is hard and it’s hard to see the future I had planned falling apart. There are still a lot of those moments when it’s difficult to cope.

But there are so many great moments, and as time goes on those happy moods are more and more frequent. I love that I can spend time with friends, take a day trip, or just do nothing. I’m not being held accountable to anyone else. I’m responsible for and own my own life, all the good and bad things about it.

I’m just not keen on letting someone else into my space, and that’s okay. I don’t need someone there constantly asking what we’re doing. Someone that I have to consider with any decision I make. Or someone that’ll come over to my house and mess with my Netflix queue. It takes time to really personalize it!

It’s fun to flirt and chat with people, sure. But at the end of the day I really like going home alone. I’m a firm believer in learning to be happy with me before I even try to be happy with someone else. I want to be comfortable with who I am, so that if I ever start dating it’ll be with someone I want in my life instead of someone I need in my life. I want to be able to share that happiness and not depend on someone else for it.

Plus, I want to order whatever kind of pizza I want. The only ones I’m sharing with are the dogs, and they aren’t picky.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

To Adventure!

It dawned on me that this blog was meant to chronicle my life as a single woman after ten years in a relationship. I should probably add some adventure so it doesn't seem like I've spent my time drinking beer in the shower and crying.

Just kidding, that only happened once.

A couple months ago I took a vacation to Germany to see my brother, as mentioned in the post about being in O'Hare airport. I'd like to add that I did give into their olfactory-based marketing plan and had a pizza. It was airport pizza, but it was still delicious. I have no regrets considering the quality of the food on Schmunited.

I landed on a Friday morning in Amsterdam at roughly 10:00am. I've gotten pretty good at navigating the trains, and had found the route to the Hauptbanhof (that means main station) before I lost wifi signal- and therefore use of my phone. Thanks to that, and a kind older gentleman originally from Columbia, I was able to make my way to the city. Now from there, it was an absolute clusterfuck as I tried to find my hotel. The ticket kiosks made no sense, the attendant wasn't around, and I spent at least 45 minutes wandering around like a lost puppy with all of my bags in tow. When I finally made it to my hotel it was near 2:00pm. Happily, that meant by brother's train would be in soon! It only took me 20 minutes to walk back to the station.

Amsterdam was lovely. No, we didn't do any drugs.

I stayed at my brother's flat in Hanover during the trip, which saved not a small amount money. Plus Hanover is a lovely city and fun to wander around. Thanks to Germany's amazing rail system, traveling to any other city for a day trip was simple and stress-free. The trains are incredibly reliable, except for that day a man in his underwear climbed onto one of the stations and stopped everything around him. That was exciting.

Since my brother works for a living, most of my daytime adventures were solo. The thought of doing this was initially daunting. I hear a lot of "I could never travel by myself" from other people. Still, I had come this far. I could either get out and see these cities and have this experience or sit around in an apartment in Germany watching Netflix all day. I learned Orphan Black is a great binge watch.

So, I got out. I walked around Hanover and followed their Red Thread tour, and had day trips into Berlin and Hamburg. I expected to feel alone, and I did.  I felt it in the mornings, when I was walking about before anyone else back home had woken up. I felt it as I was staring at Brandenburger Tor and had no one to share that with.

I set goals for myself. Sometimes the goals are to get out of bed and put real pants on. The pants one is a big step; they're awful and uncomfortable and if I'm being honest, oppressive. Still, as time goes on the goals get bigger. I want to understand that I'm not alone. I have friends that I can harass with early morning text messages. Most importantly, I have me. I'll always have me, whether I want to or not, so I might as well learn what that means. I want to be happy with myself, and reflect on who I am and who I want to be. I don't know where I fit into this world without my soon to be ex. I don't know who Layla is outside of Charlie and Layla.

But I'm learning. I've learned Layla loves things like flying across an ocean and wandering new cities to see history she's only read about.

I've said this isn't easy, but even during my worst moments I will struggle to remind myself that I cannot stop. I cannot let this knock me down and beat me because I have too much life in front of me to live. I will not be defeated and left to wallow in heartbreak. Millions before me have done this and billions after me will, too. People will say there's no way of knowing what lies ahead of us, and to an extent that's true. But we shape our own future. The decisions we make and paths we choose to walk determine who we will become. I may not know who I am, but I know who I am not and I am not someone that will lay down and die.

I want to be that person that isn't afraid of what lies ahead and walks fearlessly down that wooded path until she finds her way out. I'm not there yet, but at least I'm heading in that direction.

Anyway, here's other awesome things I saw, did, or ate. And ate. I ate everything. All of the things. I framed a picture of pastries in my home because it was that important to me. I also had a beer at the Hofbrauhaus and spent my birthday weekend with my brother and his girlfriend at Neuschwanstein Castle.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Paragraph IV(a)(3)

There are a few things, in a divorce, that each party “claims” that don’t appear in the settlement papers. Of all of these, the friends are probably the ones you’ll notice most. Maybe it’ll happen gradually, with their texts and invitations slowly dwindling. Or it’ll be like my experience, and everyone will immediately pretend like they never knew you. I think I once witnessed someone hiding from me in public.  

Sure, I’m that person now. My choices are what led to this situation and I accept that. I certainly don’t blame any of these people at all. They were his friends first, or dating his friends, and that’s how it happens. Still, it doesn’t feel any better knowing there’s a totally rational reason for it. I may understand why, but then the self-doubt kicks in and I wonder if any of them even liked me to begin with. I had a lot of fun with this group; they’re all hilarious and so great to talk to. Yet once he made the announcement (….really?) that was it. No more. Some were probably even grateful I wouldn’t be around.

Now here’s where it gets awkward. I still follow a lot of these people on social media. I just never had a reason to unfollow or unfriend anyone. Until recently, that is. There was a beautiful wedding, with beautiful pictures. And in the background of some of these beautiful pictures, I saw my soon to be ex-husband and… someone.

I can give you a long list of reasons why I shouldn’t care. It’s not like I didn’t expect this to happen. It’s not like I thought I would live out the rest of my days blissfully unaware. The logical part of me knows this was inevitable, and that I really have no right to be upset. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to react or be hurt. One of the things I’ve learned is that just because we shouldn’t be hurt doesn’t mean we won’t be. You might be fully aware of how it’ll feel if you get punched in the gut, but it’ll still knock the wind out of you.

That was a fun moment. It does me no good to leave that avenue open. And it’s not like I’m losing anything if we’re being honest. Since being on my own, I’ve had the chance to make such great new friends and reconnect with people I had neglected. I’m moving on in many ways, myself.

So maybe that’s this week’s lesson. You move on and move forward. Like I said last week, it’s never easy but you don’t really have a choice. And it’s okay to feel hurt, because no matter how well prepared you think you are, shit happens. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some cleaning to do.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

With This Ring?

Divorce is never easy. It can be devastating, crippling. It can be freeing and give you a new purpose in your life. Divorce can be many things, but it's never easy. There's nothing easy about looking someone in the face and telling them you just can't continue, or hearing whatever their response is going to be. It's not easy to go to a lawyer and divvy up the life you've built together. It's not easy to tell people and expose your failures.

It's oddly easy for me to write a blog about it, but we're all different.

I've made it because I have no other choice. For a while, it felt like everything around me was crumbling to the ground. Some days I wanted to lay around and sob, but I always had something to do. Life doesn't stop even if I feel like I have. So, I pushed it all down and pretty soon I started to just not feel it any more. 

Divorce isn't easy, but I know we'll both be happier going our separate ways. 

That didn't make it any easier when I gave him my wedding rings. We barely had any contact over several months when he came to collect some of this things. The engagement ring was a family heirloom, and under no circumstances could I keep that from him. So he came over, I handed him the rings, and he left in a hurry since he had plans. I stood there and watched him go, heard his truck start, and listened as the sound grew fainter as he drove away. In the silence I was suddenly aware of my own breathing, and how choked I felt. It was like trying to swallow a pill that just won't go down, leaving a weight in your chest and making you feel like your throat might close.

Handing him the rings he put on my hand felt final. It was a hurdle to get over and a step toward healing, sure. But if you ask anyone that's gone through something like this, the path to acceptance and happiness isn't a gradient from black to white. It's a path in the woods that'll loop around itself, with patches of light and darkness along the way.

People have pointed out I seem different, and in many ways happier. This divorce has been as simple as one could hope. Sometimes, I even call it amicable. It's the impetus to set me on a journey to get out of my comfort zone and find where I need to be.

But it's never easy.