Gratitude For Those Who Give Me Life on the Roughest Days – Part 1

I’ve been absent for some time now. That’s not a giant shock to those of you who’ve read this blog regularly.

Allow me to clarify.

I haven’t been writing much here for at least a year, but more than that I’ve cocooned, more emotionally than physically but particularly in this online space – a space that was once my happy place. Happy isn’t the best word perhaps. Authentic is better. Grief Happens was the place where I allowed the real to come on out in a big way.

Somewhere along the way that all changed, and without scrolling through the archives, I’m guessing 2015/2016 was when I began holding back.

The past three years have been hard. We all know there are degrees of hard, but as my former therapist used to remind me, pain is relative.

I’m not going to discount my pain right now.

Let’s jump to it.

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My marriage is over.

It’s been running off the rails for years now.

Relocating was the last ditch effort to get it back and it has not worked. Shocking, I know. Pardon my sarcasm.

You guys…I suppose deep down I am a hopeless romantic. A naive one at that. I’m not a romantic in the sense that I spend my days fawning over rom-coms and Cinderella-esque novels. I’m as practical as they come, but I have always believed that when one couples deep love and desire to make life together work, there is no stopping an all-encompassing beautiful joining of two souls who were destined to be together.

I don’t fall often, but when I do, I’m a lost cause. I will pour myself into that relationship with all I have and will go down fighting for that fantasy like there is no option but to force it to work because dammit, we LOVE each other.

Oh sigh sigh sigh…

So the past few years have been this inner and very personal struggle of accepting that Gil simply does not approach love and marriage in the same way.

It sucks.

It hurts.

I have cried myself to sleep more times than I care to admit, but I’m here. Not in the marriage here, but here to finally share that I’m 89% on the way to accepting that the life I planned to have with Gil and our kids as a family is over.

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As many of you know, leaving a marriage can be the loneliest existence. In many ways moving further contributed to the loneliness, but it has taught me so much.

I never realized I’d be enduring such extreme growing pains this far into adulthood.

I’m also finally able to admit to myself that I’ve stayed in this marriage entirely too long because of fear. The fear is multi-faceted, but one of my biggest has been that I wouldn’t be able to adequately support myself and my children with Gil out of the picture. Heck, even with him IN the picture, which I sincerely hope he will be (though that’s yet to be determined). I have lived in fear for entirely too long that my lack of adequate employment will hurt my children.

I’ve been in victim mode. And quite frankly, in rough moments, this is a place I can easily return to, y’all. Dammit dammit dammit!!!!!

The reality is that prior to having children I never gave one thought to whether or not I was employable. It never crossed my mind that someone wouldn’t want to hire me – I was almost on the opposite end of this spectrum. How could they NOT hire me? I know, I know… this isn’t the healthiest of mindsets either. Often I didn’t have the actual skills to back up my bravado…but I’m a quick learner. I get along well with people, and I know how to figure stuff out.

The problem, however, is that prior to becoming responsible for little people, I was a full-on workaholic. I pulled a lot of all-nighters. Figuring out all the things for my job was my main focus, and I often dived in and had absolutely zero ability to balance work with all the other things in my life.

Having children woke me up to this reality. Yes, I’ve freelanced since my kids arrived. I’ve taken lots of projects here and there and have even tried random obscure jobs that I likely would have viewed as beneath me in my pre-children days, but I still lived in fear that if I committed to bettering my career, my children would suffer. You see, Gil is also a workaholic. We suck at this work/life balance and have since the dawning of time. Okay..that’s a stretch. We’ve sucked at it since we turned 15/16 moons ago and acquired our very first jobs. It’s like we both knew that work was the way to prove ourselves, because we sure as hell weren’t proving anything in the academic world.

And it continued this way and our paths were wildly similar…until I became a mother and he became a father. This put a damper on my career building, mostly, I’m beginning to see, because of my mindset. You see, kids were never in my plan. I hate saying that, but I have to tell my story honestly.

Being a mother never remotely interested me. I say this, as a now-mom to an eleven-year-old and an almost ten-year-old who have changed me and brought me joy I didn’t know was even possible. The reality, though, is that it’s taken me years to even conjure up a mental picture of me as both a working person AND a mother. (I also know how stupid priviledged this sounds…but this was how I saw it.)

My failed marriage has forced me to begin seeing it all differently. And/both. I can and will do both. This is how I feel on my girl-power days, of which I need LOTS as I navigate all of this.

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I will write more, but I have to leave in a few to play in my league tennis championship match. Holy smokes. I know. Tennis forced its way back into my life last year after a 20 year hiatus. I once was a beast on the court. I thought I’d never play again and I did everything in my power to NOT play…but sometimes the things we need force their way back into our world. Call it God, the Universe, what have you. That’s a story for another day, but I’m glad I finally said yes to tennis. It’s given me life this past year.

Speaking of giving life…there have been many many many people who have helped me over the past year. A few close friends, but mostly givers on this good old Internet. The job thing is still what keeps me up the most at night and I can spiral quickly, so I’ve had to keep plenty of audiobooks and podcasts nearby for times when I need pep-talks.

When I return for part 2, I’ll elaborate more and spread some love for the life-givers. My experiences in Failed Marriage 101 have helped me realize how sometimes the seemingly smallest acts can make an enormous impact.

Never underestimate your ability to build someone up. A kind word. A smile. Eye contact. These things matter. We all have that ability. I have spent a lot of the past ten years feeling like I have to do huge things to make a difference. There’s a time and place for big things, of course. However, simply showing that you see someone else, that you recognize their humanity and their goodness and worthiness is critical in our world today. Just do it.

I hope you all are well. I have a lot of catching up to do in my blog reading. So many of YOU do exactly what I just described by writing so eloquently and sharing yourself. Thank you!!

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