Continuing the journey…

I knew going into this blog that it would take more than a year to find happiness.  Anyone who is honest with themselves knows that it is an ongoing and never-ending task, searching for their own happy.  But I like to set deadlines and goals, and a year is a good length of time for new ventures.

 

My latest journey on the “road back” was a short trip to London, England last week.  I used to travel all the time; for work, with LK, whenever the opportunity arose.  But with all the upheaval in the last three years, I hadn’t been able to, and realized this summer that I hadn’t travelled in almost four years.  I was beginning to get a bit of cabin fever and wanderlust, but the ties to Jack were too strong to allow me to branch out very far.

 

But then, this fall, I reached the point of no return.  I was frustrated, lonely, exhausted and, quite truthfully, angry.  I had been taking care of all my obligations at home, which I freely and joyfully took up. But let’s be honest here, taking care of a special needs child is difficult.  Doing it as a single parent feels like an impossible task some days.  I consider it a blessing and an honor to be doing it, and doing it fairly well, but even I have my limits.  So I decided to call in a favor.

 

Immediately prior our separation, LK and I had a trip to Paris planned for my birthday.  Once he left, I discovered that he had cancelled the trip without telling me.  I asked him why he cancelled my ticket and he was stunned when I said I would have gone alone.  Of course the ensuing discussion wasn’t very civil, but what came out of it was a promise to provide a plane ticket (via his immense bank of airline miles) once I was ready.  And while he was a little hesitant when I called the favor in, he did book the ticket for me. 

 

In another blessing, I had friends in London who offered me a place to stay.  I had known JS, the wife, since she was dating LK’s brother, nearly a decade ago.  I had always prayed they would marry so that we could be partners in the crazy family that was LK’s.  But in a bit of divine intervention, it didn’t work out.  And now we know why.  :-)  I had only met RS, the husband, a few times, but we had become “Facebook friends” and shared Likes and Comments back and forth for a few years.  They were wonderful hosts and I loved their neighborhood and hospitality.

 

Those two bits of the trip, a plane ticket and place to stay, removed a significant barrier to my ability to travel: money.  I could afford food and some sightseeing, but that was about it.  The addition of a longtime friend, JD, who travels regularly, meant that I would have a sightseeing partner, which removed the final fear: Being kidnapped in a foreign country.  Don’t laugh.  I have watched a lot of Lifetime movies in the past four years at home.

 

Over the next few weeks, I will share my photos, as well as selections from the travel journal that I kept.  I saw lots of old stuff, ate tons of delicious food (it’s a myth that the English have terrible cuisine) and learned a lot about myself.  I was also reminded of the Maggie that I knew before LK left, Jack arrived and I let myself be forgotten so that other things could be taken care of.  

 

I hope you will check back and if you do, that you will enjoy my remembrances of the amazing trip.  And I really hope that if you have been putting off travel, or been putting yourself on the shelf for the benefit of others, that you will be inspired to again place yourself in the forefront.  At least long enough to remind yourself of who you are and want to be.

 

Maggie

Where does the time go?

I had no idea it had been nearly four months since my last post.  Life goes by so quickly and while I know that I have done a lot since that last post, I am amazed at how much is left to be done.  And isn’t that a wonderful way to live?  To wake up every morning with a list of things to accomplish?  Oh the accomplishments in the past four months…..

By the end of January, my divorce from LK was final, and while we still have occasional issues, we have settled into a comfortable, Jack-focused, civility that I am at peace with.  I have forgiven him for so much, but still feel I need to protect Jack from him.  Which I don’t.  He is trying his best and I am glad for it.  Jack needs his father in his life and I am in love with Jack, so I will make it as easy as possible.

Jack turned two this month and that was such an amazing day!  I remember, vividly, being told that he had a serious heart defect, and that he may not even survive his birth.  The days when I only ate or got of bed because I had a son to live for and take care of are painful reminders of my past.   But to see him now, I am just amazed and blessed.  All the fighting and crying, all the nights I slept at the hospital, or not at all…  They were all worth it.  He is an amazing beacon of light and source of happiness and I love him more every single day.

I finished a lot of soul searching, looking for my passion and started a new business.  I am now a “Social Media Consultant.”  I had no idea that this was what I would be doing, but by following every opportunity that came my way in the past few months, it literally fell into my lap.  I have a wonderful mentor and a few great clients and, for now at least, I can support Jack without leaving him for 10 hours a day, and it feels wonderful.  It has been a very stressful time, becoming self employed, but the blessings continue to come my way, so I am thankful and continue to welcome them.

Another big change in my life has been that I have begun dating again.  I felt that it was important to wait until the divorce was final to start dating again, and in so doing, I was single (but not yet ready to mingle) for nearly three years.  I really didn’t want to enter a relationship until I was healed anyway.  What hope of success can a relationship have if I wasn’t able to trust anyone?  But now I think I can. Or, at least I think that I can choose better.  We’ll see how that goes.

I have been on a few dates so far and I can tell you this:  Dating at 36 (with a child) is a whole different ballgame than dating as a 20-something single woman.  The stakes are so much higher, and my patience for games is practically non-existent.  Does that mean that a relationship “just for fun” is out of the picture?  No.  I am not looking to get married and have kids by the end of the year, that is for sure. Sometimes, just having someone to go to dinner with is a welcome change from the dinner at home monotony of single life.  But I have very particular criteria for the kind of man that won’t fit into my life, and I won’t change myself to fit his mold of what kind of woman I should be.  And isn’t that better?

The trick now will be to find a man strong enough to handle me.  I have been told many times that I am the strongest woman a person has ever known.  But even the strongest woman wants to be taken care of sometimes.  It’s not reasonable to be the strong one all the time. It’s exhausting, and scary, and lonely.  So hopefully, somewhere there is a man being prepared to be my partner.  Lucky him. 😉

I may share a few of the more interesting stories of my dating experiences in the near future.  I am keeping a journal, as usual, so all the ridiculous, charming, wonderful and awful things that I see are safe and recorded.  But for right now, I am going to keep them to myself.  I have only been “out there” for about a month and I think I need to reflect a bit before sharing.  What I can say is that it is fun and frustrating and exciting and terrifying, all at the same time.

I kind of feel like a kid again.  One with a mortgage and a 401(k), but still…

Hopefully,
Maggie

A New Year Deserves a New Post

Well, Happy New Year!!!  I haven’t written in almost five months, and I’m sorry.  I hope that some of you are still out there!

I wanted, so many times, to write a blog post about what was happening in our lives, but kept worrying that I was exposing too much, or putting our future at risk.  For example, if I were to write about all of the things that were going on in the divorce negotiations, would I anger LK, resulting in a court battle and losing assets that Jack would need.  Many of the things that happened were so ridiculous, that I jotted them down in case I’m ever asked to write a movie about how stupidly people behave during divorces.  So I sat back and kept my story to myself for a while.  And now, the settlement has been made, the papers signed and filed, and we will be divorced by the end of the month.  There was a lot of give and take, and in the end, as much as can be said, Jack won.  He gets all the time and assets both of his parents can afford, and a great shot at a cooperative co-parenting experience.

Overall, we have had a good five months.  Jack did suffer a febrile seizure which was terrifying and required a 911 call and an ER visit, but everything resolved well and he has had no repeat episodes.  He has been an absolute star at school (my words, not the teachers) and loves to get ready for “skuul” every morning to go see his friends.  Jack did bite another child, and when I was told at pick up, I was horrified, but sure that he had been framed.  Unfortunately, the teacher told me he was still clamped down on the other childs arm as she tried to separate them.  So, I’m sure Jack was provoked somehow, but we have been working on the “catch and release” technique anyway.  Since that day, he has had no “aggressive acts” at school, thank goodness!  He brings home lots of beautiful art work that I hang all over the house in “mini art galleries” that Jack seems really proud of.  He’s very talented!

As far as I am concerned, things are going very well.  I have a cordial relationship with LK and his girlfriend, although they both piss me off.  LK for obvious reasons, and Her for being so stupid.  I say that in the grand scheme of “don’t get involved with a married man who has abandoned his child, that you have to talk into having a relationship with his son, and think that he is actually the one who was meant for you, because he is actually a selfish egomaniac who will not change his character and marry and impregnate you in 5 years.”  But she’ll have to be my age to realize that, I guess.  Or maybe he will change and she will “fix” him, which would be best for Jack.  Either way, I don’t care.  LK is her problem now and I am in a surprisingly wonderful place.  However, I think that if all women on Earth would unite and agree not to “be with” men who are married, or have abandoned their children, there would be far fewer men who cheat or leave their families.  If they didn’t have other outlets, one would presume, they would have to behave like adults and actually work on relationships.  But that is my pipe dream for a better world, full of better people.

I am essentially underemployed right now.  I have no idea what I want to do for a job, and no prospects.  And I’m not really all that worried about it.  This is such new territory for me that had I not been through the massive life changes I have in the past three years, I would be worried that I was losing my mind.  The only reason that I am considering a full-time, “former life” type job with lots of hours and lots of money, is that those kinds of jobs also come with lots of really good health insurance, for Jack.  But I LK is providing the insurance now, and if he loses that insurance, we can use COBRA to buy the same coverage for a while.  And I have money saved for that.  So I  can wait for the perfect opportunity for Jack and I to come along.  And so I am.

At least, I’m trying.  I frequently slip back into my old mindset of “money equals security” and now there is a new one, “single mothers who are able to support their children well, should.”  But to provide Jack with more financial advantage than emotional advantage might result in a man who would value money over family, or his own child.  So I relent and stop berating myself.  And I get on the floor with Jack and read one more book, or pretend to eat the delicious dinner he has “cooked” in the fireplace.  And it is so much more fun and rewarding than any job I’ve ever had, or could ever get.

So that’s a quick catch up on our lives. Except for my newest project:  I am training for a half marathon!  My resolution last January was to run a 5k, and I did it before the weather even warmed up.  While enduring the divorce negotiations I began to create a “Bucket List” of things I want to do before I die.  Running a marathon was on it.  But I am starting with a half marathon, and while I was worried, I have come to love running.  I sleep better at night, I have fewer negative or depressing thoughts and I’m even working on the body that will soon re-enter the dating pool.  Well, not too soon.  More about that in a later post.  For now, the running is awesome, and just for me.  I’m a happier Mama, and that’s my goal right now.  I’ll post about the running progress soon, but in the meantime, I’d recommend a 5k resolution to everyone reading this.  It’s an easy distance, that can be walked, by most people, in under an hour.  Let me know if you try one this year!

New Year, New Me!
Maggie

Hard Times and Sweet Babies

I have been in a funk since LK took Jack last Friday and I’ve been trying to figure out how to escape it without success.  I have tried exercising, which is usually a panacea for me.  I have tried going to bed early and resting, getting up early and being productive, working hard and hardly working.  So far, nothing has eased the pain and depression.  I am not a person who cries easily or frequently, except for when my child is in a cardiac or NICU hospital unit.  And yet, I know that it is a good and healthy thing to do.  So, tonight, I tried to cry.  I can work up a few tears, and cry for a few seconds pretty easily, but those types of cries don’t do alot to lighten a funk, so I had to bring in the big guns.

I watched a story on NBC news tonight that finally brought the cleansing cry that I have been searching for all week.  It was about a woman who had won a prize to throw out the first pitch at a minor league baseball game.  She threw the pitch to the catcher, and as they always do, the catcher began to trot to the mound to return the ball and pose for the picture.  But as he got close to her she gasped and drew her hands to her face.  It was her husband, who had been deployed overseas with the Army.  He had worked for two weeks to set up the surprise return, enlisting the help of their kids and the baseball team.  As the family posed for pictures I sobbed and finally realized why I was hurting so badly.

This was the type of man I had wanted to marry.  A man with the courage and bravery to fight for his country, and the tenderness and heart to love his wife so much that he would orchestrate beautiful and memorable interactions and experiences for her and their children.  As the media snapped photos, he held tightly to his wife and kids and kissed her repeatedly on the top of her head.  He looked as happy to be with them as they did to be with him.  He loved his family so deeply, so fully.  And what did I end up with?  A loser who abandoned me when I was pregnant, then denied his own son for over a year. 

How did I make such a mistake in selecting him?   It’s hard to say, but when we met I was much younger and overlooked quite a few things that I wouldn’t today.  Early in our marriage, I was bitten by a friends dog and required 22 stitches in my lip.  He still left for a business trip the next day.  I suffered broken bones, the flu, bronchitis and other ailments alone, while he continued with his work and travels.  And I never told him how hurt that made me.  I knew several years ago that I wasn’t happy and never did anything.  I don’t think I would have ever left just because I was unhappy.  I am the child of divorce and wanted so badly not to be divorced myself that I would have stayed for the rest of my life.

And so I cried, for the man I married, and the man I had wanted to marry.  I cried for the life I have and the life I had wanted and was now mourning.  And I cried for the me that I denied for so many years, sentencing myself to a marriage in which I was unloved and uncherished.  I cried with pain that this man who had ignored and hurt me so deeply was now going to be in my son’s life.  And I regretted marrying him.  And then the most amazing thing happend. 

Jack, who had been playing and drinking from his sippy cup walked over to me and put his hand on my shoulder.  I looked at him and his concerned, furrowed brow relaxed into a goofy smile and he patted my shoulder several times.  He was trying to comfort me.  And that made me cry harder.  So he put his sippy cup down and stradled my legs, crawling into my lap.  He put a hand on each shoulder and looked at me with a concern so deep that it broke my heart, and then a smile so big I laughed out loud.  I gathered him into me in a big hug and he let me. 

And then I was done.  The pain was gone and the joy was back.  I had a mini-breakthrough and Jack showed me something.  I had never been able to say that I was grateful for the bad marriage and all the pain, just because I had this wonderful child as a result.  So many people had said this to me and I had considered their words trite and naive.  I am an analytical person and reasoned that if I could have avoided the bad husband and marriage, then I wouldn’t know about the child that didn’t result, and may even be living in an intact marriage with a loving husband and our half dozen loving, beautiful and smart children.  But tonight, I got it.  Jack is my son, the one God designed for me.  And if I had never had him, I might not have lived the life that God meant for me. 

And I would have missed out mightily. 

Maggie

When meeting your husbands girlfriend…

it is important to remember that, like wild animals, they are probably more afraid of you than you are of them. 

Since yesterdays phone call, when the “big meet and greet” was scheduled, I have tried to figure out what the hell I was feeling.  Not mad or jealous.  I no longer love LK.  Not anger or rage.  I can’t see any way in which that helps me to heal or be a good mother or person.  So, what was it?  Confusion?  Sure.  Anxiety?  A little.  Fortunately, today I had a previously scheduled appointment with my therapist.

I asked her if it was that I “didn’t care” and whether I was putting Jack’s safety at risk in order to allow LK access to Jack, which I think is such an important part of Jack’s life.  She reminded me that if the deal was that Jack could be with his father, but they would be riding motorcycles around I-285, then I would certainly not allow it.  This is a meeting with someone who may be a good influence on Jack, another person to love him, someone to help keep him safe.  And my goal in life is to raise Jack to be healthy and happy, make sure that every person available to love him is allowed to do so.  She reminded me that it was okay to let others do that, even if I was the best at it.

I was okay most of the day, and for the most part, the reactions from friends and family were that I was handling it well, being impartial until I had all the facts, and taking the high road in working towards a Jack-centered solution.  Unfortunately, a few people have to add things like “well, I knew it, he must have been seeing her before he even left you” and “no way would I allow them around Jack!  You have to put a stop to this!”  I don’t see how any of these things are helpful, but because I am such a beacon of calm and “high road taking awesomeness” I didn’t let it affect me.  I am finding that many people enjoy drama, and reality television, and want to see me angry because it is entertaining, not because it will accomplish anything.  I was going into this meeting hopeful that she would be a good person and that I wouldn’t have to prevent a relationship with Jack.  Optimism and hope are all that got me through the first few months when Jack was so sick and fragile.  How could that not be the best option here?

She was beautiful.  Dammit!  Ten years younger than me.  Dammit!!  And mature, thoughtful and extremely considerate of the situation and what I have been through in the past two years.  I utilized my corporate recruiting and negotiating skills in the most important discussion of my life and I left feeling good that, for this trip at least, I was comfortable with Jack being in their care.  I asked open ended questions; What do you know of our situation?  What is your understanding of Jack’s condition?  What experience do you have with children?  Are you willing to take CPR and first aid classes?  Are you clear on the early warning signs of heart failure?  What are your plans with LK?  Do you understand LK’s obligations, financially and personally, to Jack?  Are you okay with those?

She wasn’t clear on the early warning signs of heart failure, but was very interested to learn them and said she wanted to be taught as much as I thought was necessary to care for Jack.  She did know many of the signs of distress and knew an alarmingly large amount of the truth regarding how LK had left and how he had abandoned Jack in the beginning.  I was pleased to find that he hadn’t sugar coated (lied) the story.

They stayed for nearly two hours, and the three of us talked, but I also sent LK out so that she and I could talk alone.  Without divulging them here, I learned many, many things that gave me the information that I needed to feel okay about the situation.  She even said that the trip was for LK and Jack and that if I wasn’t on board, she was planning to fly home tomorrow.  Very admirable.  I don’t think that anyone every truly feels “okay” about meeting their husbands girlfriend, but again, I am approaching this as meeting a new team member on the “Love and Care for Jack” team.

So, in the end, I got a good first impression and told them that I thought it would be okay for them to travel with Jack this weekend.  But I made it clear that this would be an ongoing conversation and that if at any time my feelings changed, I would let them know and unless I was again satisfied that Jack’s best interests were at the forefront, that this arrangement would be halted. 

I am feeling pretty good about myself.  I am forgiving, though it will take a very long time to forget, and I know that letting go of the anger is better for my heart, and certainly my soul.  What do you know, I found some of that “soul spackle” that I was looking for last week.

I will spend tomorrow planning my weekend of luxury and relaxation.  And I will be sure to schedule a few calls to Baby J.   Which she suggested and encouraged.  She even texted her number to me after they left just in case I have trouble reaching LK’s phone.  I think I like her more than LK.

Breathing deeply and keeping calm,

Maggie

Well, of course he did…

I have been working on a post that I had planned to publish tomorrow about my plans for the weekend.  Yesterday, LK called and asked if he could possibly have Jack for two days this weekend so that he could take him out of the state to visit his family.  In asking, he told me about the nearest hospital to his family’s home, the name of the pediatric cardiologist and the plan for Jack should anything happen.  I was stunned by his preparation and said I’d think about it but didn’t see any reason that I couldn’t trust him to protect Jack for two days.

This afternoon, LK called to discuss the settlement agreement and stunned me with a 90 minute conversation in which he was gracious, respectful and appreciative of all I have done to raise Jack alone.  He explained why his heart has changed and he has been so involved lately, when in the beginning he couldn’t be.  I have been wondering about many of the things he told me for a long time and was unable to trust his motivations without the information he shared.  He convinced me that his feelings towards Jack were real.

I had begun to plan a weekend getaway for myself and was trying to decide between a “staycation” or a four star spa visit.  I was preparing myself to miss Jack terribly but enjoy my time alone to relax and recuperate after two years of full-time mommying.  I was preparing to have some me time.

But tonight, LK informed me, after I refused to remove the “moral’s clause” in the papers (which prohibits overnight guests of the opposite sex) that he’d like to talk to me about something.  He’s “met someone” and he’d like to take her with him and Jack to visit his family this weekend.  She has met Jack once before but never stayed overnight and has been completely respectful of the situation and supported and encouraged LK to increase his commitment to Jack. 

There is a lot of other information that I could include here, but suffice it to say, he was incredibly sensitive to my feelings and understood that his allowing them to meet in the past was a mistake without having told me.  He wants to have an honest relationship moving forward so that we can best co-parent.

She’s a “great person who would be safe and helpful around Jack” and LK would like us to meet before this weekend.  He understands that allowing her around Jack without my consent is a bad idea and disrespectful.

I was going to publish a post tomorrow about my weekend plans and my growth in moving towards alone time.  Instead, I’m meeting her.  So I guess I’ll be growing a whole lot more than I thought.  I’m not feeling sad.  Not mad.  Not sure what I’m feeling.  I don’t have any anger towards her and only hope that she is a good person and good to Jack.  And I’m not mad at LK.  I want him to be happy.  And I want Jack to be happy.  And I want to be happy. 

Hmmm.  So this week I have a project that I didn’t plan on, but I think it could help me move towards happiness.  Or I will be in prison tomorrow night.  Do they let prisoners blog?  We’ll see…

Confused and hopeful,

Maggie

Harder than it looks…

It turns out that going a whole week without watching television is much harder than one very disciplined blogger might have imagined.  As you may remember, I was planning to turn the tv off last week and see how much more I got done.  And on Monday I was like a woman possessed, getting things done like my life depended on it.  Tuesday was much the same, but by Wednesday, the bloom was off the rose and I caught a few Sex and the City episodes while Jack napped.  Thursday wasn’t much better and Friday would have been a complete failure if I hadn’t scheduled a day of appointments and a trip to my hometown. 

So, where to go from here?  In the past, I might have just concluded that watching tv is what I want to do (refusing to admit my “failure”), so I’m going to do it.  But it’s not.  I did get a lot done last week and I felt better watching less of the “idiot box.”  I was able to get out and see people and do more.  So this week I am going to continue my efforts towards no tv, and just shoot for less tv.  I have pretty well cut morning tv out, giving me an extra hour to play with Jack, or eat breakfast, or start laundry.  But the evenings are still very difficult.  I am lonely after Jack goes to bed and so I turn to the comfort of the friends I’ve made on the sitcoms I love so much.  I am going to look for a book to read this week and substitute that for the tv family I’ve made.

This week will also be a big test of my self control.  Tomorrow Jack has an appointment with his pediatrician and his father is “scheduled to appear.”  I shouldn’t say it like that, I’m sure he’ll be there.  He’s actually been trying very hard with Jack lately and this weekend, he kept Jack at his apartment.  I dropped him off so that I could check things out and was, quite honestly, stunned at the home he had created within the walls of his bachelor pad.  He had a beautiful crib with sweet blue sailboat themed bedding.  He had tiny clothes for Jack to wear and toys and food that were all age and stage appropriate.  And he had photos of Jack on the refrigerator and on the wall.  In frames.   And while it took my breath away to see pictures of my son on the walls of a person who has essentially become a stranger to me, I had to admit that he was making an honest effort. 

At least I hope it’s an honest effort.  I remember the day I told him I was pregnant and the following six months, during which he wanted nothing to do with the baby.  And I remember the eight months after Jack was born when his father continued his devotion to his job, and yet failed to attend even a single doctors appointment.  I even asked him at one point to take a CPR class so that he could come keep Jack while I slept during the exhausting first months home when I was waking every three hours to pump milk, and feed and medicate Jack.  I remember that he said “no” and that he just didn’t think he could be involved. 

It’s hard to trust this man and I don’t yet believe that his commitment to Jack is real, or will continue.  Especially if Jack gets sick again, which he almost certainly will.  He will need another heart surgery before adulthood, it’s not a maybe.  And will his father show up and help me change the bandages and give the medication and monitor the heart rate?  I don’t know.  I hope so.  But I know, for sure, that I don’t want to be the reason that he isn’t.  I waste a lot of time worrying about tomorrow, but the thing I worry the most about is having to tell Jack, someday, that his father isn’t coming to see him as planned.  But if that is because told him that he couldn’t come and I wanted to protect him, then I will be the real cause of his pain, and I don’t want to be the reason for any further pain in Jack’s life.  He’s had enough for a lifetime. 

For now, I am making every effort to allow Jack and his father visitation each time it is requested.  And while we are apart I fret and worry about how Jack is doing and whether this will continue, and whether I should have that margarita because what it I’m called on to go retrieve Jack because his father changed his mind.  And then I stop.  And I have the margarita.  And I try to enjoy my alone time, because his father has had almost two years of “him time” and now it’s my turn. 

Being a good mother is harder than it looks.  So much harder…

Maggie

The Good Girl

So, I didn’t move to Hawai’i, even though I really want to.  Sorry I haven’t written in a while but the past several weeks have been quite trying.  The divorce negotiations continue in earnest and hopefully will come to an end soon.  While there are no “knock down drag outs” with my soon-to-be-ex, he’s just not the type to argue, I am finding that the process is draining and more depressing than I ever imagined.   Even though he left, he wanted the divorce, and he is the one with unfettered freedom and time, I am the one who is responsible for working with the lawyer to draw up the papers and divide the life that we built together.

In all honesty, that’s partly my decision.   When he left, he accused me of being controlling.  Mainly because I wanted to pay off debt, save for a rainy day and generally, act like an adult.  He wanted to buy flat screen tv’s and computers and, in my best estimation, act like a teenage boy.  Since I handled the finances and applied for every financial product we ever acquired, handling a divorce naturally falls into my wheelhouse.   But I’m raising “our” son pretty much on my own, and so the amount of time that I have to do grown up marriage-breaking is limited.  Fortunately I have found a wonderful firm in the same building where I manage to work part time.  Today, they commended my attention to detail and commitment to get it right now, so that we don’t have to revisit anything in a few years when there is a disagreement due to lack of specificity.  So, essentially, I was told that my “controlling” nature was a benefit in the arena of grown up contracts negotiation.  That helped a little, but still, I am home on a Friday night, alone, eating chocolate and watching reruns of Frasier.

So what have I been doing to continue my drive towards happiness?  Well just wait til you hear…

I am not controlling, but I am remarkably disciplined.  If someone told me that I needed to complete a list of 73 obscure tasks in order to accomplish or achieve something, I would do them, and I would do them perfectly, whether the accomplishment interested me or not.  I have several rules that I live by, and while some of them are extremely valuable (save for emergencies before buying new shoes, always wear a seatbelt), I have found that many are serving no real purpose, and are even making me unhappy.  For example, for years, I didn’t allow myself to watch movies during the week because to devote two hours to anything that didn’t accomplish something “valuable” was frivolous.  But recently I began to look more closely at the rules I have and how they help, or hurt me.  And I decided that the “no movies during the week” rule was a stupid one.  So I rented a movie.  Then another.  Then another. 

And the world didn’t come to an end, and I didn’t lose the house, and the laundry still got done, and I still made it to work the next day!  I have seen eleven movies in the past two weeks and even saw two on the same night on two occasions.  I also had guacamole for dinner one night and it wasn’t a “well balanced” or “healthy” meal!  And I LIVED!!  Is it a big, life changing thing?  Probably not.  But have I allowed myself a little latitude to enjoy life a bit more and not be so hard on myself?  Yes.  And that’s the point.  I have been very hard on myself for years, maybe decades, and it’s done nothing but make me feel badly about myself.  So I stopped.  Or at least began to apply the brakes.  And it feels great.  It’s a small gesture towards self acceptance but it has made quite a difference.

I am working on a few more projects that I want to tackle, and soon, I’ll post an update on the patio I set up in week one, and my houseguests, who are moving out (it’s a good thing for them!).  I just finished a candy bar that I bought for a fund raiser  (so I was able to let go of my “don’t buy sweets rule”) and I’m listening to a thunderstorm.  I’m not concerned, in the least, that I haven’t washed a load of laundry today, or that the work that I brought home remains undone, or that the dishes remain in the sink.  Because it just doesn’t matter.  I don’t always have to be “doing” something in order to be valuable, worthy, or a “good girl,” or successful.  I can just be me.  Jack’s mama, who is exhausted and sore and just laying in bed. 

And who is still a good person.

Enjoy your weekend….

Maggie

 

A Measure of Success…

I do not fail.  Failure is for the weak and the stupid, and I am neither.  If I fail at something, it is because I didn’t try hard enough, or I gave up too soon.  No, failure is not an option.  Of course, I’ve had set backs in my life, but I kept at it until my goal was achieved, even if I had long ago decided the goal was no longer appealing to me.  It’s the principle of the thing.  So, where exactly does the fact that I have been part of a failed marriage fit into my life plan?  If I get a divorce, it’s official.  I failed at marriage and didn’t plan well enough, didn’t try hard enough, wasn’t good enough…

This is where I have been for the past three weeks.  Trying to reconcile in my mind the fact that I had failed, and yet I had no opportunity to fix it.  I don’t want to be a failure.  I know that he left me and there was nothing I could have done to make him face the issues and stay.  What did I do wrong?  How could I have prevented it?  Why didn’t I make him talk to me about it?  Who knows.  But once someone abandons you in such a cruel way, it’s hard to see yourself as worthy, attractive or desirable.  I never questioned my intellect or value to Jack, but for some reason the physical and emotional shortcomings continue to plague me. 

So to “challenge this belief” and move forward, I wondered if I hadn’t retained a lawyer because I hoped he’d return to me.  No, that’s not it.  Moving forward, I won’t date any man who abandoned his child, I sure as hell won’t date the man who abandoned mine.  Did I still love him?  No, that’s not it.  Many disgusting things had ensured that love would never again be an option.  It was because if I visited a lawyer it would happen.  The divorce.  The legal, public, official and damning confirmation of my failure.  So as my Project 3, I did retain a lawyer.  An awesome, capable, bitch-on-wheels (in case we go to court) lawyer who assured me that of all the cases she’s heard, this one for sure indicated that I was not the failure in the marriage.  So I gave her a big check and we have been working on the details since then.

Project 4 was initiating the negotiations, which meant that I would actually have to talk to “him” and hammer out the checklist of items from the lawyer.  The negotiations with my soon-to-be-ex are going well.  One thing I do not fail at is managing money and caring for Jack.  Doing this out of court will ensure that Jack will receive the most money, and not the lawyers.  And certainly more importantly, he will receive the gift of two parents who are able to talk calmly to one another and behave civilly together where he is invovled.  As you might imagine, inside I am raging with anger and contempt for the asshole who is now interested in Jack, even though he couldn’t be bothered while his chest was open and his heart stopped beating.  But on the outside, I am a calm, cool customer.  I’m impressed with my restraint, quite frankly.  But that anger will fade, I’m sure, as those awful memories are replaced by newer, better memories of him actually showing up for Jack in the future.  At least, I really hope that happens.

In order to address some of my physical self-consciousness, Project 5 involved returning to a regular exercise regime.  In the past, I did Tae Kwon Do, and since the “goal” is black belt, I achieved that.  But now I’m doing a Zumba class, and Yoga, and they are both allowing me to explore a more feminine side of myself, while still working out my aggressions.  Is it as effective at getting the anger out as kicking the crap out of someone who is trying to do the same to me?  Hell, no.  But am I enjoying it and learning how to be graceful and shake my hips a little?  Surprisingly, yes.  One day last week, a man at the gym approached me and started in with the small talk.  I froze up and made what I’m sure were several barely coherent attempts at returning dialog.  I am WAAAY out of practice, but hey, I got approached, so that’s a good sign for the future!

So that’s where I’ve been.  Challenging beliefs about failure, and self-worth and taking charge of my future by finally moving forward on the divorce.  I become physically ill thinking about my coming status as a “divorcee” and all that that word conjures, but I do now realize that the “goal” had long ago become unappealing.  I deserve a marriage with two interested and participating partners, and I really don’t want to spend the rest of my life in one that is anything less.  So I am moving forward, and with any luck (oh how it pains me to seem blase about it, I’m really not) I’ll be single before Fall.  At which time, all the single, musical, artistic, handy, outdoorsy, sophisticated, physically active, financially stable, emotionally mature, family oriented, considerate, willing to take dance lessons, animal lover, Baby Jack fan, interesting, funny, independent but loving men better look out!  Maybe one of my coming projects should be “lowering my expectations”?  I’ll keep you posted…

Empowered and hopefully yours,

Maggie

Well, I hope this works….

I have read a lot of self-help books lately.  I mean a lot.  So many that I could stock the entire self-help section at Barnes & Noble.  If they hadn’t been run out of business in my town by the economy and e-readers.  And why have I read so many books of this variety lately?  Well, I have had a run of bad luck in the past two years that the writers of Greek Tragedies would have literally vibrated with excitement to have conceived of and written about.

Two years ago, I quit my job as a successful sales rep to pursue my dreams of “finding my bliss.”  I was good at sales, but couldn’t find happiness with the day-to-day responsibilities, and so, with the support of my husband, decided to take some time to look at other options.  I was considering lots of jobs and trying them out with no real pressure to settle on one.  Several months later, he came to me and said that we should begin “trying.”  I had been talking about my ticking biological clock for a while, and he had been a little slower to come around.  But this news made me think he had truly reflected and changed his heart, and I felt that things were slowly falling into place.  I was happier, more relaxed, and things seemed good.

Unfortunately, four months after we began “trying,” my husband sat me down to tell me that he didn’t want children, didn’t love me anymore and wanted a divorce, among other, even more hurtful things.  I felt the immediate impact, as if I had been kicked, square in the teeth.  I asked why, pleaded for more discussion, cried and begged.  But in the end, his cold refusals to even discuss it shattered me, and I got in my car and left.  I didn’t know where to go, so I did the only thing I knew to do.  I called my sister, and as all family should do, she said “come here right now.”  And so I drove to family, and still didn’t believe that I was going to be a divorcee.

But I was going to be a divorcee.  And two days after my husband wrecked my whole world, I found out that I was pregnant.  Our efforts, dubious on his part though they were, had been successful, and I was now faced with the threat of being a single mother.  After all, he had made it clear that we wanted different things, and for him, that meant, painfully, that he didn’t want children.   When I told him of the joyful news, his reaction was not exactly the stuff of dreams.  He was stunned, but not so stunned that he couldn’t cuss and question and generally act the part of the douchebag that he was showing himself to be.  He left, leaving a note saying that he “needed a little time to think about this,” and that he’d be in touch in “a few weeks.”   Yep, a real prince charming.

From that point on, I had begun to recover a bit, or at least bury the pain of my failed marriage, so that I could focus on growing this miracle child within me.  But on the day that I was to visit the OBGYN for the gender scan, a spot was found on the baby’s heart.  The doctor assured me that it could be nothing, that her own children had shown the spots and been born healthy, that I shouldn’t worry until I saw a specialist.  So, I tried not to worry, but three weeks later, in the office of a perinatologist, my son was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect.  I was warned that the implications could include everything from a normal birth and a minor surgery, all the way to heart transplant or even death in-utero.  I was dizzy with the gravity of what I was hearing, and in the place where my husband should have been, was my mother.  Tiny and silent, with her hand steadfast and firm on my own, she was keeping me from crumbling.

The exact CHD wasn’t diagnosed for a few more weeks, but from that point on, I became convinced that God had forsaken me, and my son.  We had been abandoned by the man who had vowed to love me forever, and were now in danger of never even meeting. 

This blog will reflect on the happenings in our life, from his birth a year ago this week, ten weeks premature, to his second birthday, a year from now.  I will describe his struggle from the tiny, fragile start, and then I will discuss how I am making each week in the present a step toward regaining our footing and finding happiness.  Actually, I will chronicle how I find happiness.  My son is the happiest, most loving boy you will ever meet.  He bears no visible scars, and it would seem, no emotional scars from the pain and terror of his beginning-to-life. 

I am not so lucky.  I am still grieving the loss of my marriage, because I wasn’t able to do so in the moment.  I was always focused on growing, and then caring for my special baby.  This year, I will complete projects, experience joys and challenge beliefs that are holding me back, in an effort to find the bliss that I couldn’t find in a job.  And I hope that you’ll join me and, hopefully, find more happiness in your own life.  I look forward to the journey.

Timidly yours,

Maggie