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

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