Friday, February 5, 2016

For The First Time In Forever

My life has begun to be a constant repetition of the movie Frozen.

My son loves this movie and I only have myself to blame. The only thing he (currently) throws tantrums about is when mommy takes away Elsa to do real life things like eat. Tonight my therapist suggested that I get the little toy frozen characters and play it out with him and I thought dear god why didn't I think of this before? PLAY with my son. She's a genius.

Regardless of how I plan to gradually eliminate my son's obsession with holding Elsa in his arms (read: hugging the tablet), I currently wake up with the music in my head. And I hum it in the car. And I probably sing it in the kitchen at work, much to the chagrin of my coworkers. This is where I'm at right now. So, new blog subject? YES, it's that song from Frozen.

As adorable as it is that my son walks around the house having imaginary play with Elsa and Ana, and that for a week straight every time "For the first time in forever" would start up he would shout "Wheeeee!!!", that is not what this post is about. This post is about me. Because that is also where I'm at right now.

I spent most of the month of December thinking about how ready I was to move on from my shitty year. I decided that I would do a burning ceremony, writing down all the bad things that had happened - the shitty dates I'd gone on, the people that had made me lose my faith in humanity - with the intention to throw them into a fire. The simple act of listing out my grievances may have been enough, and putting them in the fire was one last moment of pain. I didn't celebrate on New Years Eve; I cried myself to sleep, mourning a terrible 2015.

In the morning I woke with the kind of resolve I'd hoped for, though. I washed the smoke out of my hair and promised myself that this year I would only be kind to myself and I would not let in people who didn't want to do the same. It seemed like an insurmountable task, considering the fairly long list of people I'd encountered since last spring who had not treated me with much respect. Yet, I was determined.

Most of January I sort of fumbled through that resolution, learning what boundaries I needed and with whom, and talking it over with my shrink. I allowed myself to feel an ounce of hopefulness again that I might someday meet another person who would care about me as much I could care about them.

There were a couple of non-starters. One guy, despite being handsome and relatively charming, was a Trump supporter who wanted a handgun. Another was a welder who couldn't be bothered to respond to a text. There was the doctor fellow who was simply TOO busy to ever make it to a date, and then there was the older man who omitted the pertinent information of his marriage until it finally occurred to me I hadn't asked (but we were already naked).

So, I'm not good at this yet, but that wasn't the important thing that happened.

On the night I met Mr. Lies By Omission, I decided to take myself to the restaurant bar near my work for a happy hour drink. Glass of wine in hand, I did something strange and almost foreign: I took out a pad of paper to write.

"They're not real diamonds, they're Diamondique from QVC, " I scribbled down the words of the woman to my right.

Man to my left completely ignores the stunning woman beside him in favor of a business call. His hand is running up and down her bare legs, and up her skirt. He drinks a whiskey "neat". Is that his girlfriend? I suspect it is not.

Men across the bar check in with their wives. "Having drinks with the guys, be home late," they text.

I guess I've journalled in public in the past years, but something about this time was different. I wasn't using my notebook to hide.

I struck up a conversation with the girl who'd been ignored for a business call. When she asked me what I was writing I unabashedly lied that it was observations for a book I was working on. Sure, I was a writer.

Over the course of three hours, I wrote and chatted with the bar fellows and flirted with men. I felt something about myself that I hadn't felt in a very long time, something attractive and compelling. I felt like maybe, just maybe, I had gotten my sparkle back.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I believed that I was the kind of person that people noticed when I walked in a room, and that they wanted to be around. Not because I am so exceptionally beautiful, but because I have a something inside of me that sort of draws people to me. For a moment, I can make them feel happy, or understood, or simply less alone. I make strangers feel like friends. I called it my sparkle. Maybe it's just a light that can't be put out. Regardless, I thought for a very long time that I had lost it for good.

And yet, there in a moment, I felt myself floating. Perhaps on the edge of making yet another bad choice, but also on the edge of feeling like myself again. Where I'd been keeping that version of me was no longer a mystery. For the first time in forever, I was sparkling.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Ready To Let Go (Almost)

Tonight is about me.

Generally, on nights without my son, I eat ice cream and maybe get a little drunk because I'm depressed that he isn't with me. It's a pretty healthy habit, I'm sure. Today, though, after the kind of week I've had, my feet hit the floor with only myself in mind. My baby was happy and safe with his daddy. I needed a bath.

Ten minutes before that, I met my ex  to remove my name from the deed of the house that we bought together. He kept asking if I was alright. I guess part of me wasn't thinking about it. I guess I probably wasn't alright. But there were the papers. There, they were signed. There, our house was no longer mine, it was his.

Thirty minutes before that, I stopped at the pharmacy to refill my prescription for my antidepressant. I haven't stopped taking it in the years and months that have passed. Not while I was pregnant with my child. Not when my marriage fell apart. Not when I moved into a little apartment of my own, knowing it was only temporary, but that I was never going to be able to go back. Did that drug save me? Or was it my son and his truly magic spirit, buoying me just enough to keep going?

I discovered that my pharmacist - a friend - was leaving for another job. It felt sad. She knows me - knew me from the very beginning of my journey to mental health once I returned to the states. I remember picking up my medicines from her thinking "I think we should be friends". And we were, but only as close as you can be with someone who works an opposite schedule of you and knows every pill you take. It occurred to me that I might never see her again, but vowed to make that untrue.

Two hours before that, at work, the last of my Christmas boxes went out in the mail. On Monday, when they should have gone, my boss's boss discovered a typo that I had missed in all of the eight hundred Christmas cards we'd just had printed and I was about to send out. A typo. A mistake I could remedy, and even parlayed into a small bit of savings, but cost me professional credibility. I had been preparing to negotiate a raise, as soon as the Christmas mailing went out, and because my boss's boss was keenly aware of my flub that meant all my hopes were dashed. I had failed myself - and I had a good cry about it, too.

But the boxes were out, and once the cards were stuffed and labeled I would be done with Christmas at work. There was a weight lifted, temporarily, in the satisfaction of an (almost) finished job. Probably nothing could be done about me getting a raise this year, and I had to just be okay with that.

Six hours before that, I woke with the decision to have a better day than the yesterday. The mistake I had made with the cards was behind me. I had dreamt that my boss, upon winning a deal that earned him a million dollars, had still decided to not give me a raise. And though it wasn't fair (in my dream), I realized (in reality) the same would likely happen and I have no control over that. Corporate America isn't fair, life isn't fair and I can only keep trying as hard as I can to get what I need in life. Also, though, I thought about the Rolling Stones.

"You don't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might just get what you need."

And it is so, so true.

Tonight, after two glasses of wine, dinner, the Mindy Project and a delicious mud mask called "Rejuvenate" (For my face, not my belly, obviously), I feel...better. Maybe because I am completely relaxed, with Boo Radley curled up beside me and a candle flickering on the nightstand, free from expectations and ready for bed. Or maybe because the year is finally coming to a close. This horrible, hard year, where I had to prove my mettle over and over again and still have nothing to show for it. Friday I will file my divorce papers. The house is no longer mine. Work is what it is for now, and all I know that I tried my best despite everything I have gone through, personally (and it was a lot). My glass, for all that I have tried to fill it with in my life, is very nearly empty.

Which means I can begin to fill it again. With love, and a new home and more fervor in my career. With the joyful babbling of a tiny little human who loves me as I love him. With new friendships and new hobbies and renewed strength. Because an empty vessel is only a symbol for what may come.

For all that, (I think) I am nearly ready.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

I Am Not Thankful

On a "night off" from my son, I am drinking wine and listening to Christmas music.

This is actually not a seasonally exclusive past time for me. When I am depressed I often drink and listen to Christmas music because, honestly, who can feel sad when listening to Andy Williams proclaiming that it is literally the most wonderful time of the year? He's pretty fucking convincing, even in June. Don't even get me started on the Grinch Who Stole Christmas recording.

Tonight I am not especially depressed. I am drinking, yes, and I am listening to Christmas music, yes, but most of the depression for the weekend has passed.

My son is a toddler, officially. He has entered the tumultuous, fiery period of life where not only can he not speak to express himself properly, (in either of his two languages) but he wants to be an Independent. Human. Being. Which does not account for any of the self-control or emotional understanding that comes with later years (and usually many, many hours of therapy).

So here we are, rolling around in a whiny, non-verbal, clingy, mommy-centric moment of utter torture. And I need a break.

Thanksgiving was fine. We went to my mom's house, and it was pleasant. Luca and I love going to Abuela's house (or "Alella", as Luca says) so I can drink eggnog spiked coffee and he can sort her CD's and play with the hard plastic storyteller doll on her bookshelf. We watch movies on the big TV and nap on the loveseat. It's grandma's house at it's best.

When I left, I went to my babysitter's house where they had thirty-some-odd people gathered for the holiday, and I spent the whole hour trying not to cry. Yes, I was exhausted, but also because this is what I would have made if I had my own "perfect life:. A long table filled with all of the people who loved my family and each other. Children playing in the corners, avoiding food for the sake of fun and nobody leaving until they absolutely had to.

I got close. I had a home that I would have opened up. I had a family and a fireplace and guest bedrooms that would have held all those who couldn't and didn't want to leave. I had the heart of a family bigger than the space I could provide. I had it. It was mine. And then, one night, over an argument about orange curtains, is dissolved into the dark shadows.

I am not Thankful. Why should I be?

I am not thankful for a too-expensive apartment five minutes from the house I once called mine. I am not thankful for joint custody and the loss of a love that I thought - despite it's issues - would survive the pain, for our son. I am not thankful for the hard lesson that "love is not enough". I'm not thankful for quiet night alone, in lieu of rocking my son to sleep while my husband waits for me in the next room.

No one is waiting for me. Maybe ever again. It's a realism that I have to begin to accept. The only one I can count on is me. Maybe is that is the lesson from all of this I am supposed to learn. I honestly don't know.

Social media, depsite bringing us together, is a terrible piece of shit and this is why: On Thanksgiving, while I was feeling all of the above, my feed filled with post after post of "I am thankful for blah blah blah" and "100 days of Giving Thanks" and "Here is a photo of my huge amazing family right now, aren't you jealous, you sad motherfucker!?"

What I wanted to say, but didn't, was what I am saying now. I am not Thankful. I don't think this is something to be particularly sad about, I just think it's realistic. Yes, we have plenty to be thankful for, but sometimes, honestly, we are not. Sometimes our hearts break and we can't breathe. Sometimes we fail as parents and as friends. Sometimes we don't take care of ourselves and sometimes we forget that there are people out there who have it worse than us.

And that's fucking OKAY.

Tell yourself that right now. IT'S FUCKING OKAY TO NOT BE THANKFUL. Tell yourself that because I'm goddamed telling myself. I am too tired to be thankful that I am not a Syrian Refugee, or a Ebola patient, or a homeless person under a bridge. My life is hard enough as it is and I am allowed to feel the pain of that. I am allowed to feel sad for the shitty cards this year has dealt me.

Tomorrow, I will wake up and I will be late for work because I am always late for work and I will feel completely inadequate at a job I am totally qualified for. Then I will leave early to pick up my son so that we can do our very best at being a family in the thirty some-odd total waking hours that we have together as a divorced parent and their child, and I will try not to have an anxiety attack about the fact that this may or may not have cost me my raise. I will try not to feel bad about letting him watch fifteen minutes of TV on my phone while I cook a meal he will not eat, because he's almost two, and I will eat a few bites of it myself between bathtime and cleaning up what he threw on the floor. I will fall asleep while putting him to bed and forget that there is a list of things I was supposed to do after he was sleeping, briefly cry that I have missed another of my nieces swim-meets and get a broken six hours of rest because my toddler son still does not sleep through the night.

I will not think about World War III. I will not think about China, or Donald Trump or Global Warming. I will fall asleep, dead to the world because I have emotionally had "enough" and cannot take one more single thing. Because I am not a fucking robot.

The one thing that might go through my head, after four glasses of wine, is Andy Williams, "The Most Wonderful Time of The Year." Because if you really want me to believe something, you better fucking sing it with sleigh bells.