Serenity

The way things work out in life are perplexing sometimes. I have carried so much hurt and rage for so long that it was just part of who I was. It took so much energy to hate; to maintain self-justified rage at the wrongs committed against me. Anyone who knows me, knows what I have gone through and that it was not all sunshine and rainbows. My rage and hurt came, perhaps, fully justified, but holding on to it was only hurting myself.

Recently, I keep hearing people talk about the difference between acceptance and approval; that accepting something, good, bad, or otherwise, does not mean I that approve of it. I will never say that the abuse I endured was okay, but I can accept that it happened, perhaps have a little perspective on it, be grateful for the lessons it taught me, and move on with my life. Doing this is easier said than done, but it enables me to take back my power.

For so long, I was powerless in the face of this adversary. I had to rely on the people I love to carry me through it, and at times, I faltered. I tripped, fell, failed, and let people, including myself, down. But today, today I get to walk with a new freedom. I have my power back. I am growing in recovery with my partner and my life has become manageable again. It really is amazing what happens when I get out of the way. When I have my priorities straight, life gets better; everything is easier.

I know that everything can change in an instant, but I am trying to live without the fear of the other shoe dropping. I am trying to live in gratitude and open-mindedness. I want to continue to grow as a person, partner, and mother. I will try to become more solid in my peace and happiness. I will live this amazing, complicated, messy and wonderful life in an ever growing appreciation of sobriety.

Perhaps tomorrow I will not feel so positive. I may be tired and impatient. I may be annoyed or just “hangry.” Whatever the case is, I know I how to get back to this place of serenity… no matter how far away from it I may go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freedom

Grabbing a bottle to drown my sorrows is easy. Drinking to fuel the self destructive fire in my heart is effortless. Watching everything crumble around me is surreal yet common place. Living, feeling, and growing; that is hard.

Yet, change seems to happen easily when I am immersed in the program and fellowship of AA. Not being my first time around the rooms, I have the advantage of knowing that it works and have no trust barrier to get over or prejudices to climb free of. I didn’t even know it happened, but I found my strength again. Fear has left me, and I no longer feel like I’m being battered in the throws of life’s current. I’m at peace, sitting in a boat, letting life take me where it will.

I no longer fear my former abuser, and I have no fucking clue how that happened. Going from vomiting when I heard his voice, to being able to carry on a civil conversation about our son face to face in the matter of a month… it’s nothing short of amazing. Relief from that fear and trauma is like setting down a sack of bricks I was dragging around. No, I have not forgotten. No, what happened will never be “okay,” but I don’t have to continue to be at the mercy of that emotional torment. It no longer gets to weigh me down.

I could say I guess “[t]ime heals all things,” but it’s not just time. I have held on to grudges a clung to self righteous indignation for far longer in the past. This is time, growth, and trust in something greater that myself. I am truly amazed and grateful for the relief, freedom, and happiness I get to enjoy today.

Between Life

As a human being, I still feel like a child some days. I can feel like the insecure teenager I was in high school, or the curious and slightly less insecure college student, or the pretending to be an adult “grown up.” As parent, I feel different and much more educated.

I can still remember my two best friends from HS coming to visit in the hospital after I had my son. Paraphrasing one friend, she said “[dude, can you believe you like, made a person!?]” I just smiled and laughed, but my head wasn’t wrapped around the reality of the situation yet either.

One of the most terrifying moments of my life was coming home from the hospital with that little “nugget,” as my friend would call him. I managed to get him in to the bassinet/rocker thing that he practically lived out of the first two months. My husband went out for something (probably a pack of smokes), and I passed out on the couch rocking the tiny human to sleep. I remember thinking I have no fuckng clue what I’m doing here, as I drifted off. He returned about 20 minutes later, and I don’t know why I remember this, but he said the one kind thing I can remember him saying for years before and  after that. He said, “[y]ou’re a good mom,” and he was sincere. I still didn’t have much experience in keeping that defenseless little thing alive, but I felt a whole lot better. I thought, as long as I do my best for him, everything will work out.

About a week later, I broke down in a sobbing lunacy, because I thought I was never going to sleep again. My son never slept well nor through the night until he was at least a year and a half old. It was during this sleep deprived nightmare that I found out I was an alcoholic, and with the turmoil at home (5 hour fight-a-thons), I’m not sure how I survived those first couple years. Yet here we are, and I feel all the wiser for it.  As a mom, I feel like my real age. In regards to anything else in life, this is usually not the case.

I can remember my heart beating over middle school crushes like it was yesterday. Not so long ago I snuck out every night to hang out with my friends. Only a handful of years ago I was thriving in academic glory in college. I’m certain I just got married recently, but somehow I have a 3 and a half year old and am over a year into divorce. When the hell did all this happen?

Now I’m in this weird in between space. I have a not so new partner, but we are evolving and recovering anew in sobriety. I have a young child who is dealing with grown up situations. I have a stable job that I am ready at any moment to leap from to a more enticing opportunity or more fulfilling career path. I have had a home for six and a half years, filled with both horrible and wonderful memories, that I will soon have to leave. My days with this last name are numbered, and I have so much uncertainty about the future that I’d be terrified if it weren’t for the amazing program known (or not) as AA. It is the one constant in my life that will always be there, and as long as I lean on it, I know I will be ok.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eventually Gone

My parent’s got divorced when I was eight years old, and I was glad they did. My dad was rarely home, and when he was, there was always fighting or tension so strong you could feel the weight in the air. My father had wanted a divorce for years. He told me once he stayed married 9 years longer than he should have. Ouch.

The final straw for my mother was one night of drunken chaos. They had been fighting for hours. My mother came up from the basement, where he had built his workshop, and she was crying and covered in sawdust. She didn’t say anything, but it was obvious he had pushed her down. She finally convinced him to leave the house and locked the door behind him. He must have changed his mind and came pounding on the door to be let back in. She called the cops, but they didn’t arrive until after he had charged shoulder first through the glass side panel next to the front door. I was standing on the stairs right in his path. I was frozen staring at this craziness. Thankfully breaking through glass isn’t exactly a smooth process like it’s portrayed in the movies. I didn’t know who that person charging at the window was, but I will never forget him. So, the divorce was welcomed relief for us all.

I wasn’t, however, happy when my Dad decided to move to Iowa. It felt like abandonment, and it was. He took me out a couple times before he left. We played mini golf or went bowling, but he always seems tense and distracted.  I didn’t know he was Bipolar at the time or that he was an alcoholic. My mother waited until I was older to tell me. At the time, all that I knew was she hated when he drank, and that he had left me to go start a life somewhere else.

My father did return to the Chicago suburbs briefly when I was ten-ish. Not for me, but for his good friend’s daughter. She was ten years younger than him, but that seemed to just be my father’s taste in women as my mom is nine years younger. He lived with her for about a year, not too far from where I lived with my mom.

During this time my dad got re-married, and so did his new wife’s brother; my ex-step-uncle. I had known him for a long time as my father’s friend while my parent’s were still married. He was the first person to put an electric guitar in my lap, but it was way to big and heavy for me to find any enjoyment in it. I got to video tape his wedding, and I remember very clearly sprinkling salt into my dad’s wine when he wasn’t looking so he would stop drinking it. It didn’t matter as it was an open bar, but I thought is was funny and might ease my mom’s worries, as she had been invited as well. Somehow my mother and I became my wasted father’s early ride home. I vividly remember how he opened the back door, swaying dangerously outside the car hollering “Aunt Clarice!” He then proceeded to pass out. Thankfully we were still in the parking lot, but my mother was visibly upset.

As far as his second wife goes, it was her 5th marriage, #2 for my Dad, and they seemed happy. At least they didn’t fight. Though, she never seemed at ease around me. I felt like an unwelcome invader at her house despite loving it there. They cooked and drank a lot, listened to good music, and I got to watch movies and play video games.

Then he convinced her to move back out to Iowa with him. My father is a very charismatic person at times, and could probably convince someone they didn’t really need both of their arms. They moved out to Perry, IA. Of course I was sad, and I don’t think they lasted 6 months out there.

He dropped of the face of the planet for months in a deep depression, until he found his girlfriend in Fort Dodge that summer. He would never get married again (false) he said, but brought me along to her house when he would visit. She had a daughter my age. We became instant best friends. We’d go see Titanic, too many times, or rent Romeo & Juliet so we could fawn of Leonardo DeCaprio. We went to the “mall” in Fort Dodge, ran around in lightening laden thunder storms, bought candy and Mountain Dew that we ate/drank until we got sick, and got quite the kick out of pretending to smoke our chocolate cigarettes in the bar in Perry when they would come down to visit.

It was a fun time; highly unsupervised. Our parents were always out somewhere and always came back in way too good of a mood. I didn’t know why nor did I care. I was having too much fun.

One particularly hot summer day up in Fort Dodge, I was playing the role of water girl; bringing my dad glasses of ice water as he dug up a giant pine tree out back. I was bored to tears, because my friend was spending time with her dad. I remember handing my Dad yet another glass of ice water and mustering up the courage to ask him if he still believed in God. I was in private school at the time, and the state of his soul concerned me. He thought about it briefly and simply replied “Yes.” That was enough to quell my worries of his afterlife. We went back to Perry later that day. Shortly after, I went home to Illinois to start public school for the first time. I’d never see my Fort Dodge best friend again.

I had another friend before that. She looked like my sister, blond hair, blue eyes and skinny as a stick. I would only get to see her on summers when her mom would ship her off to live with her dad, our neighbor. Her dad was a narcissistic, German, Kiss fan to the extreme who was ALWAYS sipping on a beer. He tanned and smoked too much and was a chronic bachelor. There wasn’t much supervision going on over there either. I only visited a handful of times. She would usually come to my house. But the one time I had been over there, her dad felt the need to let me know that some day I would like the taste of beer because I was 100% German like they were. I thought that was a ridiculous thought. I had tried a sip on my dad’s non-alcoholic beer and hated it. “I’ll never like beer,” I defiantly declared. He just rolled his eyes and said “[y]ou’ll see.” I shrugged him off. I wasn’t even going to have alcohol at my wedding (false). It was my wedding after all, and us Seventh-Day Adventists didn’t drink.

One of the last times I saw her was after the divorce and after we had moved to a more affordable condo. She showed up beyond freaked out, because her dad was drunk and fighting with his girlfriend. I think she got shipped back to live with her mom in Washington state. I never saw her again either.

Everyone, it seemed, left eventually, and my earliest memories of alcohol affecting me and people around me were primarily negative. I lost my best friend in high school for a while, because she had started drinking. I was appalled. Then life happened, and I found myself in her basement sipping on my first drinks. We are still friends today, but we rarely see each other.

So what’s the point of all this? I don’t know. It’s just funny the things I remember at different times and realize how they impacted me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Working Life

No one gets paid to sleep, unfortunately. It seems like that is all I want to do these days. Amid the many stressful circumstances in my life right now, sitting in a cubicle bored to tears all day does not help. I am grateful to have a job, and the benefits are good. Still, I’d be lying if I said I felt stimulated in any way or got a sense of satisfaction from my job. Honestly, I hate it.

I know this job should be enough for me, but it leaves me with hours on top of hours of time to sit here worrying, stressing, and ruminating over all my troubles as I “work” in auto pilot. Medical billing can be challenging and certainly complicated for someone new to it. I, however, have doing this since high school. The work has become mindless.

So I try to think about what I would want to do that would lead to a job I would actually want, and I have no clue. I have a degree in English Literature with which I have done nothing. I thought becoming a personal trainer might be for me, but the same night I passed my certification test, I found out I was pregnant. Personal training has lost some of it’s lure for me. So lately I have been thinking about teaching yoga and/or being integrative health and nutrition coach. Unfortunately again, I am not in any position to pursue this financially, and my “free” time is almost non-existent.

So, I am trapped for now. I have to focus on more immediate concerns like getting through this divorce, finding a new place to live, filing for bankruptcy, and taking care of myself through it all. Hopefully soon, though, I will be able to seek out a new career path that is fulfilling.

Pauses in Between

I never know how to feel on the calm days amid the chaos right now. I’m always waiting for the next problem. I enjoy my “good” days. The good ones are days when I get to do things and spend time how and with whom I want to. On an uneventful, cloudy Monday afternoon, however, I don’t know how I feel. The highlight of my day with be getting to curl up in bed with my partner to go to sleep.

Nothing is wrong, and I am grateful for the peace. I’m grateful for many things right now, but today I’m just off. Though there is a definite benefit to having moments where you can just be and enjoy the moment, boredom and inactivity are states I’m both uncomfortable being in and have concluded are dangerous for my personality type.

If I’m not busy putting out fires,  eventually I’ll start one. I don’t know if I do it consciously or not, but I do know that I do it just to have something to fill the void. I’ll start focusing on something that I declare “wrong” in my life or find something that needs fixing and focus on it obsessively. If I don’t go that route, I start imagining problems that aren’t even real. I start worrying over potential future situations that are not even a reality and focus on that. I grab on to anything that I can keep my mind busy. It’s an exhausting way to live.

The chaos doesn’t relent for long these days. I just got an e-mail from my lawyer, and the allocation agreement is finally signed and to be submitted to the judge this Wednesday. My soon to be ex-husband will have unsupervised “parenting” time with my son for the first time in a year and a half. The order of protection will be altered for pick ups and drop offs, and my son will no longer be listed on it. So, I’ve got something new to worry over now.

My son’s father loves him, I’m sure, in his own way. The thing that scares me about him having time alone with our son is that his concept of love is very skewed and never prevented any of the emotional abuse I endured. I fear for my son, who is completely defenseless against the psychological and emotional manipulation that my husband is skilled in. I never had any intention of keeping them apart forever, but I’m lying if I say I’m anything but terrified he can take him on his own now.

After everything that has happened, he has done nothing to get help or grow as a person. I was fighting in the beginning to get him to go to counseling as a condition of having unsupervised time with our son, but he completely refused. There would have been no harm in it. It’s only a beneficial thing for everyone involved. I had to cave, though, in order to get things moving in this divorce. Now I’m scared I made the wrong decision.

Did I give in just to make my life easier? Have I subjected my son to an emotionally dangerous position just, because I couldn’t financially afford to keep fighting for him? I hate all of this.

Unwelcome

Today my soon to be ex-husband and former abuser gets to “survey” the condo to compile a list of what he believes to be his. My stomach is in knots, and all I can feel at this point is anxiety. I will not be there when he is, but just knowing he will be in my home leaves me feeling violated. There’s no other way of putting it. He is an unwelcome stranger in the place I, for now, call home.

It’s hard to wrap my head around how I used to live with his person. It was misery every single day. I feel like an idiot for being in such deep denial for so long. I don’t even know who that person was anymore. I value myself, my life, and the people I love today. That other person, the person I used to be, lived in fear and constant anxiety. I lived under the control of an abusive narcissist. Isolated by a sociopath, I was too afraid to leave and too miserable to stay. Every second around that person had me tearing myself apart inside. I hated it.

I fought harder than I ever had to get free of that. My home is now my haven. My place of safety and love. A place I share with my partner and my son. A place where we learn and love and cook and laugh. It is not a place for him to be.

Yet here we are. The day has come, and I suspect many more uncomfortable days will follow. I will have to focus on taking care of myself and the people I love. I will try my best not to let this intrusion bother me. He may be able to briefly step into my home, but he may no longer step into my heart. He was banned from there many years ago. Now, it is a fortified place, where only genuine love can dwell.

Honestly, as I am thinking about this, my condo is just a place. My home is elsewhere. I really shouldn’t worry about it, and so I think I won’t.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tilt-o-Whirl

Life is always such a carnival ride that I often find myself dizzied by the changes that happen weekly, daily, and sometimes hourly.

Almost two weeks ago, I found myself staring at the reality of going to trial to resolve this divorce. Although not much has changed on that front(the allocation agreement has finally been signed since starting this post), my lawyer has advised that there is a chance to avoid it. Neither I nor my soon to be ex-husband can afford the cost of a trial, and the lawyers are scrambling to get things resolved. Well, at least it seems that way.

So, I had my freak out moment when I was notified of the trial. Today I’m super sick, but calm. Thursday I’ll be on edge all day, because he gets to go into the condo for the first time in over a year and “survey” what he thinks is his. We already made a detailed list and told him it is all in the storage unit in the basement, but certainly I’m trying to take his clothes, figurines, and telescope for my own…

In his eyes, when we fought, everything was his. If he bought me a shirt at a concert, it was his. He wanted “his” ring back many times during fights which I would then offer, but he would quickly change his mind. He already took his bed and “his” couch that he got for free from his former boss. We traded it for a free couch that we got from my mom. Honestly, this whole thing is stupid.

I have clothes, a guitar (well…two), a computer, some jewelry, some books and pictures and that’s about it. I know what I own and what is his. I know what we acquired during our marriage, and I’m more than happy to give 50% or more of it to get rid of him. Take the black plates and red mugs. Take the old stained shower curtain and why not the curtain rod? Take the grill you never took the time to go buy a cover for or clean. Take the old coffee table, the lamps, the toaster, the dull knives and the table your son and I eat off of every day. Take it all. I just want this to be over with already.

I know my ex won’t be completely out of my life, but the day will come when I can change my name back to what it was and file for bankruptcy to get a fresh start. A second chance at life is waiting; one that looks like it will be full of happiness and learned lessons. I have grown up more in the past two years than I have in my entire lifetime. I have an amazing person in my life I can actually call my partner, an amazing son, and friends and family that care about me. As dark as things are right now, the future looks so bright. So lets get on with this already. I am more than ready to move on to the next chapter.

All Rise

Before every court date in this divorce, I am completely taken over by some level or stress, rage, fear, depression, anxiety, etc. I imagine it as this giant shadowy arm and hand, reaching up from the ground. Slowly wrapping long, dark fingers around my throat. I’m not so much completely choked as I am lifted off the ground slightly, struggling to find a footing.

I have no control over the situation. Our lovely legal system proceeds without me even being present, and anything can happen. Often times, someone doesn’t show up and nothing happens. Other times, the course of the divorce is drastically effected. I’ve been through it enough times (it has been almost a year now) to know not to struggle too hard. It does no good. My feet will still be dangling just above the ground, and I am unable to find relief.

I have stopped asking why. I do my best to not get angry about it. I am literally just holding on for dear life, hoping it will all be over somewhat soon. I’m so tired of this. Just fucking end this! I no longer want to be married, have made every single concession I can regarding our son, and I’m not fighting for anything except for my own safety. If I can help it, I will NEVER be in the same room as you again for the rest of my life.

The demon that holds my throat is nothing in comparison to the agony I have endured by you. No, I am not faultless. I have caused damage. But I have learned, grown, and accepted responsibility for my part. This is something you are fundamentally incapable of doing. You are dangerous to everyone around you. I fear for our son when he is around you. I pity those that enter your arena unknowingly. I see you for what you really are, and the image is truly ugly and terrifying.

Legally, none of that matters. Legally, there is only black and white, and you don’t show your darkness enough to be seen for what you really are.

So I dangle. All rise…

Crash and Burn

More than once, I have let all my problems weigh me down so much I have been crushed. I did this again recently. Broke, divorcing, my little one acting out constantly, losing my home, debt ever rising, credit score plunging into the depths of hell, several sleepless nights in a row, and waking from vivid nightmares in cold sweats shivering; it all crushed me. I forget about self-care, there isn’t a drop of optimism in my heart, and I slowly get closer and closer to insanity. The flame of self-destruction ignites when I can’t carry the weight anymore. Exciting at first, it burns until I think I might die. At the breaking point, I surrender; accepting help or death. Time and time again, I feel I might die. Yet I always find a helping hand.

The journey of restoration is slow and painful. I used to picture it as a phoenix rising from the ashes; a beautiful image in my mind. Now, I just feel like a zombie crawling out of the grave yet again. Broken, bruised, worse for wear; slowly picking up pieces of myself try to put it all back together. No beautiful phoenix, I’m just a Frankenstein girl/woman/mother/partner or whatever.

This cycle leaves me more dizzied and drained each time I go through it. Coming to the point of accepting death if it is fate, being pulled back from that state of surrender, it’s just painful. As said in one of my favorite shows, Altered Carbon, “…coming back from the dead is a bitch. Every single time.” Despair to renewal to complacency and back to despair; why can’t I just stay happy, healthy, and at peace? I understand life is not always wonderful, but my dreams fade further in to the blackness. I’m not thriving. I’m only surviving, barely, and I am tired of it.