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

 

And So It Begins…

I was procrastinating in making my decision as to what my goal this week would be.  I know that I promised to do one project, or challenge one belief, or experience one new thing each week, all in my endeavour to find “happiness,” but it’s really difficult to get started.  What if I pick the wrong one to start with, and then the whole project goes to pot because it was boring, or took too long, or I just didn’t get the desired results?  But then I got a call from my sister and she asked, “So what project are you doing this week?”  She had read the blog, and actually sounded interested to hear what I would be doing!  I felt the excitement for the project flow back into my body and I was so excited to know that someone was on board with this little experiment.  So without further ado, my plans…….

I live in a little house on a tiny bit of land.  I am thankful that I don’t have more land, as keeping up with my tenth-acre is quite a chore.  Just off the kitchen, in the back quarter of the house, is an area that the previous owner started to make an outdoor sitting area.  He put down dark cement pavers, turned on a diagonal, and edged that with red brick.  When we first saw the house, I thought, “that is where I will drink my coffee in the morning.  I’ll put a couple of nice chairs right there, and create a container garden here, here and over there.  And I’ll read the paper and relax, and enjoy this space all the time.” 

Fast forward to today, and that space is a weedy, desolate space, ignored and barren.  It currently contains a grill that doesn’t work, a few plastic chairs, planters full of mosquito-infested rain water and weeds, a garden hose wrangler box, a sad hummingbird feeder that has been empty for three years, and leftover materials from when I replaced the trim around the door.  The space is around 6-feet by 20-feet and is surrounded by a privacy fence on two sides, the house and a sliding glass door leading to the kitchen on one side, and an opening to the rest of the backyard on the other.  It has so much potential, but I have just never gotten around to making it the dream relaxation spot that I have always envisioned.  Well, that ends this week. 

By this time next week, I will have created a sitting area suitable for morning coffee breaks, afternoons relaxing with a book, or evening wind-down sessions with a glass of wine.  I am not sure what this will cost, or how much time it will take me, but that’s part of the excitement!  Also part of the excitement will be how I can manage to get it done during Jack’s naps and after he goes down for the night.  I figure that on a few occasions, I’ve watched at least 20 hours of television during a week, and this project shouldn’t take that long. 

My goals for the space include:  Comfortable “loungy-type” seating, side table for time-of-day-appropriate beverage, attractive plants and flowers, maybe a grill if I can afford to replace or repair the one I have. 

That all sounds easy enough.  Tomorrow, I will post the “before” picture of the space.  I’ll also try to provide regular updates of what I accomplished each day, as well as photos of the space during its transformation.  If it is appropriate, I’ll let you in on any insights I’ve gained into happiness.  After all, that’s the point of this, right?!  I am so excited about beginning this project.  Could it be that I’ve already found a bit of the truth about happiness?  That if I have a goal, and a plan, that I am happier?  I think that is, at least, somewhat true.  I have a project and a vision of the enjoyment that will come at the end.  I think it’s going to be fun!

Here’s to dreams!

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