Thursday, November 24, 2011

If I Have to Pick One Thing to Be Grateful for Today...

It's no secret that I find it trite to list out all the many things I'm thankful for simply because it's Thanksgiving. Even so, gratitude is not at all lost on me. Taking a moment to point out to myself at least one thing that's good, or going right, or a simple blessing became, somewhere along the way, a coping mechanism for me. If I could do that, I wouldn't be able to wallow in self-pity and despair.

So if I must summon everything I'm thankful for, the list is long and at the ready. But that list, it's too easy. I mean, my family and friends, that I'm healthy and employed, that love is abundant in my life... wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, but a given. I feel a different kind of joy when I'm randomly hit with the realization that some small thing is a whole new source of gratitude.

Last night, I was tidying up my dresser when I had this out-of-body sensation. I was suddenly aware of the calm in my house, and more importantly, the calm inside me. It actually felt a bit spooky, to be so aware of how calm I felt inside. I mean, my life is busy and full of plenty of things that I must juggle and dance delicately around and worry over, and even knowing that, I had the very certain sense that something inside me felt totally calm and anchored. This is a feeling I'm not all that familiar with.

Soon enough, I knew why: this is the first time in forever (or ever?) that I know my heart is safe. That I know my heart is safe. I can't even fully grasp the full depth of that notion. And yet, I know it's true. I finally have a life where the person next to me shares my values and honest-to-goodness strives to live a fulfilling, happy life. That's a very simple version of things, but from there all the love and thoughtfulness and kindness and help and support that he gives me springs forth.

How can I not stop and acknowledge such a wondrous thing? I see everywhere around me the effects of this love, from how I've become less high-strung (though I still have my moments!) to how I'm more thoughtful in my parenting to how I'm better able to kick back sometimes and be the old silly, dorky me without a shred of self-consciousness.

I have so, so many things to be thankful for, and I am. But my heart is calm, and it is safe in his hands and I know this in my bones. I stop here and let the magnitude of this one gift sink in, overwhelmed by its abundance.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/24/2011   | | | links to this post

Monday, November 14, 2011

And Then He Was Here

The madness surrounding Jevo's move into the house is essentially over. Or rather, he's moved in, completely, it's just that now we have to merge or purge and organize everything.

But leading up to this, life has been hell. It wasn't just the packing on his end; it was that I was studying for two midterms (and completing various school assignments) and trying to stay on top of the 50 notes M's school sends home every week, plus all his assignments (and, you know, parenting him). Oh, and all the work I had to do to the house just to make room for Jevo and his things. The level of sorting, purging and organizing has been mind-blowing.

Thing is, in the middle of this madness, I found myself feeling very emotionally.... emotional. I don't even know how to describe it, but it's felt like the full weight of what we were doing, of all that's changed and happened over a mere three years, was slamming into me.

I've been so busy being in love and happy and all, this is so good and right, that I haven't really paid attention to this other part of me, the one that's been forever changed by the life I lived before this one and all the marks it's left me with. Well, actually, I'm well aware of those things and they're not at this point these huge, heavy things (hence the use of "marks" and not "scars" - marks go away), but they exist, and the disconnect has been in not previously linking them to what life will be like now, what I will be like now, with my sharing my home with a guy and the relationship going to a new level.

I've wondered on and off over the last decade if maybe the real problem with me is that I'm just not cut out for a very serious relationship and all that comes with it. I came up with this as I struggled (as a newlywed) to adjust to married life, and over the years, there were times when it seemed like this was the only real answer. By the time my marriage took a turn for the worse, I considered this very seriously, if the ending wasn't happening because I am too sensitive and moody and stubborn and anxious and maybe ultimately unable to just be a good partner. I don't actually think my marriage ended for any of these reasons, but I nonetheless wonder if I'm, in the end, a good partner.

So there's that, but there's also the ways that the last few years have changed me. It's not been in any grand, dramatic way, but I regularly catch myself and realize that my attitude or behavior or perception at that moment comes from this new place, a place where there is no resting easy, no chance of soaking in pure happiness and goodness because no such thing exists anymore. How can it? I am not the kind of mother I wanted to be, and that taints everything. It is the cloud that looms over me no matter what, the shadow that reminds me that I may be happy and this new life is so beautiful and sweet, but I am now and always will be broken in a way that can't be repaired.

I cannot run from this, and there is no reprieve. I am just used to it, and I think I handle my feelings well, but it persists. Time lessens the sting, and the picture is not all bleak, but still. There is the constant shadow, and days when my son's absence (however happy he is, however good and important his time with his dad is) is like a giant hole in my gut. And this one thing has affected everything else, in ways I'm not always aware of, or rather, in ways I've only recently become aware of.

Jevo's move has brought this to the forefront. It's made me think about how deeply I've placed myself in the "single mother who's perpetually fretting about her son and feeling sad about the 50/50 time split" box, to the point that it's prohibited me from believing that this new life and all the wonderful, sweet, solid things about it are real. I placed myself in this box without the intent to do so, but I did, and I brought with me a lot of the damage - not the harshest stuff, but the subtle things that seep into your brain without your even realizing it.

And in this box, there's been very little room for me to just balls-out embrace the sheer awesomeness of this relationship and the way it's turned my whole life around. This is a very difficult thing for me to do, because among other things, it requires a level of faith and trust and hope in things greater than me that life has frankly beat out of me.

But the thing is, it's been in the midst of this move that I found I was just so mad - so, so, so mad - at myself because I finally saw very clearly that between my experiences and these last few years, I somehow stopped allowing myself to express happiness. I realized that I was thrilled - indescribably, want-to-break-into-tears-of-happiness-every-hour thrilled - over Jevo's moving in, and yet I could not express any of it. Every time I almost did, I stopped myself, convinced that if I showed my emotions and reveled in how wonderful life is right now, I would doom it. I know - it makes no rational sense, and I sound like a superstitious idiot. But it feels like the notion that I've really, truly embarked on a new life that contains so much beauty and promise is just not possible, not for me. I've had a total block about this. It's been a huge step for us, one we knew since pretty much the beginning we'd make but for which we've wanted to really prepare for, and I've been petrified to burst out with happiness.

As Jevo himself pointed out, I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop (because in my life, the other shoe always drops the second I think everything's o.k. and mentally or emotionally relax, and it's always bad, and I'm like a sick, conditioned Pavlovian dog about this now). He's right: I am. And it's not really him, or anything he's said or done; this comes from somewhere inside me. When we last spoke about this, he told me something that just made me love him even more: that with him, there is no other shoe that will drop. Not now, not ever. Trusting him is not an issue - he is a thoughtful, honest person who doesn't speak so directly unless he means it and who has shown me, over and over again, the depth of his love and commitment to me and to us.

I guess with the changes of these last months, I've just gotten fed up with myself, with this block, and I want to break through it. I want to take everything that I know to be true - that he is a true partner, my rock, the source of such tenderness and warmth - and know that here, shoes have stopped dropping.

Everything is different now. He's here, sharing a home with me,and it's flat-out great.

And if any other shoes drop from other parts of my life, I know I have someone by my side who will help see us through it.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/14/2011   | | | links to this post