I’m Not Bitter In The Least Bit. Also: I Am Not Dead Either.

Well, it certainly has been some time since I’ve visited you all here in my corner of the internet. It’s probably due to a combination of having so much to say and simultaneously having absolutely nothing to say. At least nothing of any significance. It amazes me how much the feeling of being overwhelmed can render me mute.

Boys have come and gone. Some have stayed longer than others while some simply refuse to go away. Relationships have bloomed and wilted; partnerships have soared and spoiled. And all along the way, I have been struggling to find growth–personally, emotionally, and financially.

I’m going to try to be better. Writing helps me in ways that few other things can and I know that I am doing myself a great disservice by not treating this space with the respect that it deserves. Sometimes, I choose the path of least resistance which often means you’ll find me lying on my couch with a pillow over my head in an xanax-inspired stupor. Ok, so I exaggerate a little. The point is, I want to be better.

The X. I just don’t know where to begin. He’s apparently dating some 22-year-old child. I’ll just give you a minute to take that in…..

Yup. 22. As in 8 years younger than me and 10 years younger than him. Lest you think I am blind, of course I can see what a walking, talking cliché he has made of himself. Next thing you know, he’ll be trading in his SUV for a shiny, candy apple-red sports car and jetting off to Europe for three weeks. Oh, wait. What’s that you say? The Europe thing? Yeah, he already did that. It’s cool though. I did get a postcard out of the whole deal. Mind you, it was never actually mailed to me from Croatia, but rather, hand delivered as he yammered on and on about all the amazing experiences he had over there. None of which included an enlightened moment of clarity involving wanting to work on his marriage. Nope, just a postcard, showing up 30 minutes late for our dinner date, and a fuck-you-I-traded-you-in-for-a-younger-model.

But it’s cool. I’m clearly beyond the anger, bitterness, abandonment, and outright feelings of betrayal. I’m going to be just fine y’all–I’ve got Jesus in my heart vodka in my blood. (And no lethal weapons in my general vicinity).

Speaking of my inner peace, she and I have been asked to participate in a panel discussion tomorrow on HuffPostLive at 3:30pm EST. We’ll be discussing the topic of dating exes. Should be fun. And if not fun, then mildly embarrassing paired with a side of resentment.

Come cheer me on, ladies!

xoxo

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What Is And What Will Never Be

Lately, the timeline of my life has been sharply divided into two distinct parts: before and after.

Before I became pregnant. Before I became separated.

After I lost my baby. After I left my husband.

When I make the effort to contemplate all this becoming, losing, and leaving  I almost always end in the same place that I started: my pregnancy.

I have a room in my house that I very rarely go into. It is the would-be nursery that is currently packed with so much junk that I can barely step foot in there. This evening I ventured into that room for the first time in months. I was searching for an extra bobbin for my sewing machine and figured it might be in there among the chaos. Upon opening the door, the very first thing that my eyes land upon is the chalkboard that I made to document my pregnancy.

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It’s the prop I used to tell my Mom that I was finally bearing her a grandchild. It’s the picture that I sent to my BFF to share the amazing news. It was my project–built with my own two hands–that I intended to use to document my growing baby. It was intended to be the constant–the inanimate object by which to judge the growth of my bump; to compare my baby’s size in-utero to various fruits; to simultaneously count-up the weeks until I was to give birth while counting down the weeks until I held my baby in my arms; and to finally welcome her home.

I find myself wondering how it’s even possible to miss someone who I knew for such a short period of time. How one can possibly become so attached to someone so intangible. I think it’s because I already knew her before she was even conceived. I have dreamed and fantasized and created her in my mind so long ago that it was really only a matter of time before my body caught up with my fantasy. When my body finally welcomed her into existence it was as if my mind could breathe of sigh of relief that she had finally found her home.

Tonight my home feels vacant and hollow. Her presence, one that was already so abstract, now feels like a ghost that will forever haunt my memory.

I don’t know why I never erased that chalkboard. It’s been frozen in time, stuck inside a room that I can’t bring myself to commit to any other purpose.

I just can’t seem to let go. I see everything through the lens of my loss. Even my relationship with The X–I feel tethered to him because he was the other half of that life that grew briefly inside of me. And I wonder if that’s the only reason that I am holding on to a possible future with him. I decided not too long ago that in one year from now, when I turn 31, I was going to try to have a baby on my own–IVF with donor sperm. But the truth is, I don’t want that. What I want is the whole experience of creating another life with a man who I know and that I love.

I want to look at my child and recognize features and personality traits because I am already intimately familiar with those traits that came from their father. When my child smiles, I want my heart to already be acquainted with that asymmetry. Or when my child excels at reading and writing, I want it to because their father has spent every night reading to her from the books he loved as a child. Or when my child develops a stubborn romantic streak, I want her father to recognize his own father in those sentiments. And when the father of my child looks at me, I want to see the love, respect, admiration, and connection in his eyes for me–the mother of his children–the love of his life.

I’m not ready to settle just yet. I’m giving myself time to find all of that and hopefully, more. Through my grieving, I am learning that the reason this is so difficult for me to get over is because for a moment in time, I had everything that I wanted. And I think the only way to truly overcome that grief is to allow for the possibility that I can have it again. Not the same baby, not the same man. But, the same me. Only, hopefully a more actualized, satisfied version of me.

Dating My Ex-Husband

Yeah, you read that right.

The X and I decided that it would be a good idea to try dating one another throughout this separation. To see if there is still something here. To see if we could find that one tiny spark buried beneath the hurt, anger, and indifference. To see if dating one another would be that little puff of oxygen that could feed that spark and return it to the flame that it once was. We have both changed so much over the past 10 years, exponentially so in the last year alone. I don’t think that either of us recognizes the other any longer. But we are both clinging to hope that maybe, just maybe, the people that we have become could love each other like the people we used to be.

So on Friday we had our first date. And it really felt like a first date. I came home, showered, and got all dolled up in the hopes that I could make a good first impression. After all, they say you only have one chance to make a good first impression. I suppose that also applies to re-dating your ex-husband. I was full of nerves and my stomach fluttered like butterflies. I was overcome with anticipation of seeing him again, but for the first time. Like any other date, I wondered if we’d have chemistry? Would we have anything to talk about? But also feared that this would truly mark the end–that my first impression would be my last. That he wouldn’t like me any more than the last time we said goodbye.

We met for drinks. Him, a martini. Me, a dark and stormy. I ordered the caprese salad. He ordered the beef tar tare.

One of the things that The X didn’t like about me while we were married was my picky palate. I’m simply not adventurous when it comes to food. I decide by looking at something whether or not I want it on my taste buds. It used to drive him crazy the way I would turn my nose up at anything that looked weird to me. So when he asked if I wanted to taste his tar tare, I said yes. He spread a little bite on the bread, sprinkled it with salt, and then sprinkled it with pepper despite knowing how I despise pepper. I gave an inch and he took a mile. But I smiled and silently accepted his dare. I knew it was a test and all I had to do in order to pass was the put the tar tare sprinkled with pepper in my mouth and swallow it. Somewhere, in the deep recesses of my mind, I think I thought that this one bite of raw beef would make him like me again.

I tried to like it. I really did. But I failed when he handed me the napkin in which to spit it out.

The plan was to have a drink and a light meal, go see a play, and then grab drinks afterward. So from the bar, we headed to the theater. The play we saw was called The Last 5 Years. This is the synopsis:

The show follows two timelines:

Cathy begins at the end of her marriage and relationship with Jamie

and ends with the moment following their first date.

Jamie begins with the first date and struggles forward through the relationship.

Jamie and Cathy rarely appear or participate in each other’s scenes;

only as silent objects, props for a focus, or to provide a hint of what once was, or could have been.

The Last 5 Years asks many questions:

Why do we fall in love?

Why do relationships fail?

Why do people grow apart?

Does success for one mean loss for the other?

Suffice it to say that this might have been the worst idea I’ve ever had. Of course we both took something away, but the take-away wasn’t nearly as enlightening or progressive as I thought it might be. Instead, we were both left with an overwhelming sadness over the demise of our marriage. Could I have been more understanding? Could he have been more supportive? Or was it the other way around? One line in particular really caught my attention–“Why do I have to lose because you can’t win?” As we sat in the small, dark theater and watched a fictional version of our marriage unravel right before our eyes, that one simple line seemed to sum everything up. But, really, in the end it just makes us both losers. No one wins because we no longer have each other. It’s just so sad.

We both cried quite a bit during the play. There is one scene on their wedding day (the only point in the entire play where the actors are on the timeline) that really touched us both. We sat there, hand in hand, as we watched ourselves in the actor’s faces say ‘I do’ and share their first dance as husband and wife. The tears were unstoppable at this point so we both just let them fall. We both expected to feel was a sense of grieving for what was, but in the end we were simply left longing and wondering where it all went wrong.

By the time the play was over, I was entirely too emotional to go out in public, so we headed our separate ways. Me, to our empty home. He, to who knows where. That night I cried my eyes out over the immense sadness that riddles my heart. I sobbed for the profound loss of something that I have always held so dear. But in the end, I felt a flicker of hope that maybe this isn’t over after all. If there is still something there to feel, then maybe there is something there worth saving.

For now, however, we’ve both agreed to let him plan our second date. Perhaps something that hits a little further away from home….

 

And The Oscar Goes To….

….Yours truly.

I’ll be the first to admit that I came off like a petulant child in my last post. I was pouting like a kid whose friends took all their toys away and went home. The truth is that I know you guys are out there. I know that you all still support and care about me.

I’ve been cycling through emotions like they’re going out of style. I’ve taken pretty much every emotion you can imagine and magnified it in a way that hasn’t always brought out the best in me. I know that this is normal, or at least I think it is. I’m still reeling from the events of the past six months and I’ve yet to find a place to settle. Some days I’m way up high and other days I’m way down low. The most unfortunate part of this is that I never know who is going to show up–at work, on my blog, on a date, or even when I’m home alone.

And especially not on ladies night.

Last Tuesday I had a dream. I hesitate to call it in a nightmare because there weren’t any scary men chasing me or tidal waves threatening to pull me under. But the sentiment was that of a nightmare. Cold sweats, rapid heart rate, overwhelming sense of fear, and anger. I had a dream that one of my best friends was pregnant with her second child. And it made me so angry for reasons that I couldn’t define at the time. The dream wasn’t really so much about why, but just that it was happening and I had to learn to temper my negative feelings toward it.

Last Thursday 3 of my best lady friend’s and I went out for dinner and drinks. As soon as I made eye contact with the same friend I had the dream about (we’ll call her Leggy Blonde) I just knew. I KNEW like I’ve never known anything before that she was, in fact, pregnant. Then she ordered a water. And since I had no doubt to begin with, I sank as my last shred of hope that she wasn’t actually pregnant vanished before I had a chance to swallow my shot of whiskey. But still, I said nothing.

Shortly after ordering her second glass of water she left to use the bathroom. I immediately turned to my other friend and told her that Leggy Blonde is pregnant. I just knew it.

Eventually, she ended up telling us that she is pregnant. Again. And not only is she pregnant, but OOPS! it was an accident. Totally unplanned. Totally easy. Totally amazing.

Remember: Leggy Blonde is one of my very best friends. When I finally got pregnant I told her before I even told The X. When I had to terminate that pregnancy, she cried with me over the phone when I shared the news. I say all this to demonstrate that she too KNOWS something. She knows full well the special kind of hell that I have been through over the last six months. She knows that for me it was never an accident. It was never unplanned. It was never easy. But, she knows how amazing it was in that brief period of time in which I knew I was pregnant. For 13 glorious days, she and I had access to the same amazing knowledge–that of carrying a child.

So maybe now you can understand when I tell you that I didn’t react well. I merely mumbled congratulations, dug a cigarette out of my purse, and practically ran outside before the tears could spill over my eyelids and betray the words of celebration that had come from my mouth. And from my heart. You see, I am actually quite happy for her. I would never begrudge any woman, let alone one that I love so dearly, the very thing that I fought for years to create. I would never want her to temper her own happiness to spare my bitter feelings or my empty womb.

However, I would ask for a shred of compassion. I would ask that a friend tread lightly when sharing such news. That she take my vulnerable and broken heart into consideration before haphazardly sharing this type of sensitive news. I imagine myself in a cage, having not eaten for weeks. My ribs and my collarbones jut out from beneath my clothing. My jaw is sore from chewing on the bars of my cage out of sheer desperation for something to that feels close enough to eat. I am surrounded by each and every person that I have ever loved feasting at a table close enough to see, but too far away to touch. And the real tragedy, it is finally revealed, is not that they aren’t sharing their food with me, but that when the perspective shifts it is actually me that is close enough to see, but too far away to touch.

Or at least, that’s how the dream went that I had the following night.

When I got home that night, I was in a blind rage. Again, I know that it is normal to experience anger in these types of situations, but what I was feeling wasn’t even close to normal. The anger was so intense that even my house didn’t seem large enough to contain it. And if my house couldn’t contain, then certainly my body couldn’t either. I could feel my blood boiling, pumping too rapidly in and out of my heart. My feet couldn’t stand still and in an effort to diffuse some of the rage, they forced me to walk back and forth, back and forth. My fists clenched into tiny balls of fury waiting to find the perfect reason to expel the anger through them. I never looked into the mirror, but I’m sure that if I had then I wouldn’t have recognized the woman staring back at me.

Eventually I went to bed, nary a tear shed. No way for that anger to escape. While I slept I dreamed I was in that cage. When I awoke, the dream seemed so real that I swear my hands were coiled around an invisible bar, cold and hard. Finally, the fog lifted and I realized that had just been dreaming but that I awoke to face a whole other kind of cage–one that has become my entire life as it relates to both my (lack of) marriage and my infertility.

When I came downstairs to get ready for work, The X was there. I told him the Leggy Blonde is pregnant again and he asked me how I felt about it. Alas, I had found a way to extricate all the anger that had taken over my body and my mind: The X.

“You want to know how I’m feeling?” I asked, confused.

“I’m fucking pissed! You can walk out this door right now and knock up any girl of your choosing. And you can do that every fucking day for the next 30 years should you choose to do so.” Without so much as a breath, I continued, “I don’t have that luxury. And it’s all your fucking fault. You want to leave me high, dry, and barren with five years to find a way to make this dream come true.”

“You have ruined my chance at happiness,” I fired at him.

“You can be angry at whoever you want, but you don’t have to take it out on me,” he replied as he walked towards the door.

My last words to him were, “I can be fucking angry at whoever the fuck I want to be angry with. And right now you are at the top of my list!”

And just like that, I could breath again. My heart was still racing, but the blood wasn’t boiling any longer. Instead, it was cool and refreshing. And instead of contemplating who I was going to murder in order to rid myself of the all-consuming rage, I contemplated the feeling of realization that washed over me.

I’m not angry at Leggy Blonde for accidentally getting knocked up again. I’m angry because I’m not. I’m angry because my husband is leaving me. Not only is he leaving my heart behind, but also the idea of a life that we had created together. The dream of the children we would have together. When I picture my future children they always have his blue eyes and his dimples. They have his wavy brown hair and pension for creativity. When I remove those things from my picture I see that I am left with half-children. Babies with no faces. Teenagers without hair. Grown men and women without personalities. People that I create that share absolutely nothing with The X.

I think I might hate him just a little for that. Because in reality, he’s the petulant child who took all of his toys back and pouted all the way home, not me. He’s the one that is one lacking compassion for my vulnerable and broken heart, not Leggy Blonde. And lastly, he’s the one I should be angry at. Not myself and certainly not Leggy Blonde.

Emotions are a funny thing. Just when you think you know exactly why you are feeling a certain way, another more articulate emotion comes along and changes your perspective. Anger is a broodish, archaic emotion that is usually just masking something much more intangible and acute than anger ever could be. Awareness and recognition are emotions that can actually take your somewhere even if that journey begins with blind rage.

The Case of the Dating Doldrums

I’m feeling kind of blah towards dating right now.

I told The Ginger (who isn’t really a Ginger, but his beard is red) that I just wanted to be friends. I felt kind of bad about it. He just moved here a few months ago so he doesn’t have many friends, which explains why he was texting me constantly. He’s a super sweet guy, but I don’t find him terribly attractive. That, and the sex was mediocre. It wasn’t bad at all, but it wasn’t anything to write home (or my blog) about.

Frenchie is still around, but only every now and again. He’s a Quantum Physicist at a nearby prestigious university and he travels a lot. He goes all around the country and the world conducting research and giving lectures. I actually like that he travels so much because it helps keep things casual between us which is exactly what I’m looking for at this this point in time. Thus far, he wins the competition for the best date. He took me to this restaurant that I’ve wanted to try for a long time. It didn’t disappoint and neither did he. Afterward we checked out a couple bands a bar a couple doors down. Dinner and dancing gets me every time. Plus he has a knack for selecting the perfect background music for hooking up—a talent that is much appreciated by me.

The Actor is also still around, but I haven’t seen much of him lately. I had company in town for the past week and then I got sick so I’ve been avoiding him in an effort to not spread my germs. I think we’re supposed to hang out this weekend though. He is super sweet and affectionate—both of which I like.  However, every time we make out, I walk away looking like my face got in a fight with a porcupine. Not a pleasant sensation. We haven’t had sex yet, but I will say that he is AMAZING at other things and just leave it at that.

Obviously, I haven’t heard from Mr. Teacher since our awkward run in. I’m debating texting him just to see how he is doing, but I haven’t done it yet. I figure I will give it another two weeks and then see how I feel. I don’t want to come across as desperate, but I do want him to know that I’m still interested. I’ve yet to find where those two points meet. Honestly, I’m hoping that they meet at a point that scores me another date. Maybe more?

I think I’m experiencing a case of the Dating Doldrums.

I want to go out and meet new boys, but maybe I have unrealistic expectations. I want that WOW! factor. I want the butterflies and the feeling of anticipation for the next time I see him. Right now, no one really seems to be doing that for me. I want the desire to rip his clothes off and then stay in bed for hours just talking and getting to know each other. Does that even exist or is that just something I’ve invented in my head as a direct result of watching too many romantic comedies? Am I trying too hard? Or not enough?

I was warned that this dating thing wouldn’t turn out to be everything that it’s talked up to be. And I think I’m starting to get that. Each guy that I meet has so many great qualities, but none of them have everything that I’m looking for. Is it even possible to find everything that I’m looking for in one person? I am constantly comparing these men to my ex-husband. Not so much as people, but more so the dynamic between us. I mean, at one point I thought my ex-husband was the end-all, be-all. I did marry him, after all. I over-analyze the connection that I share with these boys. Could it be more? Should it be more? Are they just duds? Maybe I’m the dud?

Or is it simply a matter of time?

Perhaps that line I should be looking for isn’t the one between desperation and genuine interest, but rather the fine one between good and good enough.

I’m leading the crusade for the refusal to settle. But maybe, in a way, we all settle in the end. If I choose to throw that possibility out the window then I am left with two possibilities:

  1. I will be forever alone.
  2. I will find the man that is perfect for me.

I don’t think I’m quite ready to give up on my quest for the latter option. In the meantime, I suppose I will just bask in the depths of my doldrums knowing full well that what goes down must come up. So what if that statement defies the laws of gravity. I’m the one making up the rules now.

(click photo for source)

(click photo for source)