Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Vacillate

vac·il·lateˈvasəˌlāt/
verbalternate or waver between different opinions or actions; be indecisive.
"I had for a time vacillated between teaching and journalism"
  1. synonyms:ditherwaver, be indecisive, be undecided, be ambivalent, hesitate, be of two minds, blow hot and cold, keep changing one's mind, be conflicted;

I never for one moment suspected that going through a divorce would be easy. I watch my mother's last divorce rip her security from her at the age of 53, no less and fully expected an upheaval. I don't know, though, I guess I thought that because it was mutual things would be different. I thought that because I had seen it coming I was emotionally prepared in some way.

In a way, I was. 

"You're so strong," people say.

"You're really taking this so well," say others who don't know me as well.

The truth is, though, that literally every hour of every day holds a different emotion for me. There is no way to predict it because there are no triggers. One moment I could be holding the baby, feeling deep love and gratitude for our time together, and the very next the sun will shift and I will be reminded of the first week I went back to work, holding him while he slept in the big grey chair in his room. He had been desperate to nurse and neither of us was in love with being away from each other all day. 

I begin to cry then because I was once sad to be away from him for eight hours. Now I am sad because I only get to have my child fifty percent of the time.

This morning the sun was shining in a brilliant blue sky. I had rediscovered an old album I loved and was listening to it loudly in the car. My GPS took me down unfamiliar backcountry roads and I my windows were wide open to let the cool morning air in. I felt light. Euphoric.

As the morning passed my mood leveled. I worked. I read the news. I spoke to a friend about her ex-husband and how unkind he had been. In a moment, my mood took a nose dive. As if her pain were mine. Suddenly I felt literally heavy. My face felt slack and empty. I was deeply sad.

It has become prevalent now to talk about Highly Sensitive People. This is a thing now that some psychologist identified as a "real" trait and so society is beginning to take notice in it. An HSP is the type of person who cries easily, offends easily, falls in love quickly and generally has deep emotional states. They are also the type of person who is highly intuitive, incredibly observant and very thoughtful. They are creative and detail oriented. They the odd kid in the pink poncho playing in the back of the schoolyard by themselves, maybe trying to make conversation with the crows in their language. 

I am a Highly Sensitive Person. 

I'm glad that there is a label for it now because of the people who have crawled out of the woodwork to tell me that I shouldn't be so emotional. I shouldn't be so passionate and I certainly shouldn't express it. To be fair, most of these woodworms are men who clearly don't care about who I really am, but having those sort of sentiments shared with me right now is enough to make my skin crawl.

Because right now my reality is more than just being an HSP. It's about every single emotion I've felt - or repressed - in the last five years coming to the surface to say hello. It is being a gaping wound, infected by everyone else's emotions and hardships and becoming part of me. It is trying to heal, believing I have, only to begin bleeding profusely from somewhere else.

I'm going through it the best I can. Most days I do so with grace and have a pretty good mask to lead people into believing I'm doing just fine. Other days I get home to my empty apartment and I crumble. I sit down on the side of my bed, think about whatever it is that day that has chosen to present itself with a smack in my face, and I have an ugly cry. Sometimes a good cry is enough, and other nights it's a stiff drink and some Christmas music. On really bad nights, there is all of the above plus a Xanax and an early bedtime with the curtains closed tightly against what remains of the daylight.

I didn't know that would happen when I moved out. I don't know why.

In this vacillation I am learning to bend, though, I guess. I am learning to feel free to feel and forgiving myself for holding it back for so long. I am learning to be kind to myself. The hope is that, eventually, things will become constant again. The security I had ripped away from me will be reconstituted and I will find balance on my own two feet.

The mere thought makes me light, once again. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

One Year, Somehow, Already

It rained on Punkin's birthday, of course. Not for the whole time, but long enough for us to have to move all the food in. That is the nature of the best laid plans, I guess. 

Regardless of that, and of the few people whom I would have loved to be there falling ill, it was a great day full of all the emotions that one person can shove into a single day. Happy, sad, excited, angry, dumbfounded - all things put in place by the events of the past year that I didn't record very well and couldn't possibly begin to recount in detail. I think I spent half of it napping.


I wrote a letter for Punkin, on Sunday. Not Saturday because I was too tired and so was he. My goal is to write him a letter every year on his birthday and give them to him when he's old enough to appreciate it. Maybe 21. Maybe later. It is a poorly written letter - not my best work, by far - but I documented who was there in first and last name and I told him why we loved those people. Will they all be at his party next year? I wonder.

It was hard to share a day like that with someone I used to call my husband but no longer do. We don't hate each other, most of the time, but I'm processing so many things right now. How to be a single parent is one of them. How to let go of the past - all my various pasts - is another. I have to remember that who I am is not who I was and probably not who I will be in the future. I have to remember to live in the present. It's easy on the days that I have Punkin, because I can give all those moments of "present" to him. When I am alone, it's not so evident.


A whole year passed since he was born, can you believe that? I don't know how it went so quickly. I began by measuring his life in weeks, and then months and now he suddenly a "Big Boy" learning to have like and dislikes and make jokes and think things are fun or not fun. He went from being a squishy little nugget with colic and poops that squirted across his changing table to a vibrant, chattery little bird, interested in people watching and loving hugs with mommy and daddy. So much happens in a year.

I have postulated that people began the tradition of birthdays as a way to celebrate keeping their children alive for another year. Back in the day when the chickenpox or the flu could be the reason half of your kids died it would have been a real thing to celebrate. "Yay!! I my child did not die! Let's have a cake and make a wish that we don't die next year."

Now that we have vaccines and westernized medicine and health insurance (if you're lucky) we celebrate just as much for the parents as for the life of the child. "Yay! We made it through a whole year without killing each other! We didn't die from sleep deprivation, like we thought we might!"

Ex-H and I didn't make it out completely unscathed. But neither of us died (sometimes I thought I would), and we are on the way to figuring it out.


So we move forward. I am happy that there is life blooming before me while the other is poised all too near my front door. The reality that nothing is permanent - even the sleepless nights with an infant or the crazy toddler years - is something I grapple with. Some days I want to take everything I love and take it away to some farm in Canada where we can feel nothing but joy and live forever. Or die of old age, in our sleep. I try not to think about it. I try to be present - in the moment. I give my son all the love I can possibly give and hope that it's enough. I try to make it through another year, so we can celebrate with cake and a candle and a wish that we can do it all again.

It was a joyous day, and his smile erased all the other things I felt that were getting in the way of bliss. It always does.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I'm Still Here

This week my baby turns one.

It has officially been a year and a half since I wrote here.

Literally everything in my life is different.

For a time, after the baby was born, everything was good. It was better than ever. I think they call that a honeymoon period. Then things got bad again, just like they had been on an off for years.

One night we fought about orange curtains. My weary, frazzled to the bone body simply couldn't take it anymore. As the curtains lay dismantled on the dining room floor, we screamed at each other. Walls got damaged. Doors broken. And at the end I lay, like the orange curtains, dismantled on the bedroom floor, a chunk of my own hair grasped firmly in my fist.

The baby, somehow, did not wake. I knew in my heart of hearts that we would never again get so lucky.

In the morning Husband and I agreed that we couldn't - shouldn't - be doing this anymore. It was time to make good on all previous threats.

The baby and I moved out two weeks later.

Everything is different now. The little house (as we call my apartment) is airy and bright. I have decorated it in jewel tones and shimmering colors and photographs of family. Baby's bedroom was christened with two giant Dr. Seuss murals. I am pouring love into it, painting over the pain I feel every time I pull up to what was once my home. The weeping cherry tree still frames the front door. The Azealas just finished blooming. In the backyard there is a rose that I planted on my first mother's day.

None of that belongs to me anymore.

But my son is so happy. Truly, amongst all the little boys I know he is one of the happiest. His little infectious laugh - an echo of my mother's family - is proof positive that I have done the right thing.

To heal, I have begun writing again. Here. There. On scraps of paper. In little journals. I need it, I realized. I have always. So during this time of change, during yet another moment of evolution, I will emote. I will purge and tell stories and dream and begin to live again. I will let the light that I've covered for so many years burst forth.

I'm a mommy now. That is a story for tomorrow. Today I am just a woman, learning how to live again.