Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Feeling the Feelings

















When you go through a divorce, it's a lot of loss, more than can be counted on both hands some days. Memories. Dreams. Friends. Faith. Things you thought were true turn out to be false. Things you thought were false turn out to be true.

Lately I've hit a turning point. Instead of dwelling on the hurt, I've been able to dwell on the gain. 

First and foremost, I've gained the time to focus on Jane and put her first. We've gained time spending nights putting together her puzzles, or swimming in the pool, or taking road trips. Time lying in bed with her when the light outside turns purple, talking about her friends at school or giving each other Eskimo kisses. 

I've gained friends, really loyal friends that genuinely care for me and my daughter. And while I've lost friends, in some ways, even while painful, it's a bittersweet gain. Situations like this have the ability to cull people from your life that weren't perhaps the close friends you thought they were. And I've cried over that, but I'm also okay with it. 

I've gained self esteem. I no longer spend minutes and hours and days trying to figure out what I could change about myself to be more attractive, or more fun, or just... more. I've gained the ability to look in the mirror in the morning, frizzy hair and eye circles staring back at me, and think, "I'm okay just like I am."

I've weaned off my antidepressants. In some ways it's disconcerting, because there are days where I think "I FEEL ALL THE FEELINGS." But then I realize that when you don't feel feelings, you don't really live. And in order to cope in my past, I had to not feel the feelings, because for so long the feelings crushed and hurt and confused me past the point of coping. That isn't to say antidepressants aren't important, and vital when needed. They absolutely are, and if I needed them again I would not bat an eyelash.

But I've realized that my depression and anxiety were a long, long time coming, and a result of repressing and not dealing with the big issues in my life. It's amazing how freeing it is when you finally do deal with them, and come to terms with reality. And then you realize that maybe feeling the feelings isn't so bad after all.

I've gained strength, and a voice, and the ability to carry forward in life with my chin up despite what others have said, or assumed, or heard, about me. It's not easy in this small town (and boy does it ever get small when something like this happens), but I'm doing it. I've tried my hardest not to fuel the fire. I'll continue to do so, but I've also gained the ability to no longer feel responsible for the burden of secrets that aren't mine.

I'm thankful, beyond thankful, for these "gains." I'm thankful to be a better mother, and be fully myself for the first time in a very long time. I'm thankful every morning when I wake up and see the sun patterns on the ceiling of my bedroom, and take a big deep breath and know that everything is getting better. 

I'm thankful for all the gains.

I'm thankful to feel the feelings again. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

State of the Union


The Honorary TT (also known as Rachel)...


The best way I can describe this summer so far, is that it feels like a flashback to another time, a time when summers meant sunscreen and long days and good food.

It's been a long time since I've had a summer like this. A very long time.


I've been experimenting in the kitchen and I've learned a few things. I've also learned that I'm not a bad cook! Am I great cook? No. Have I poisoned myself? No. So I say.... score.

But in all seriousness, I cooked for Rachel and she said it was delicious. And since Rachel makes the best fried chicken I've ever eaten, I take that compliment to heart.


Jane is having a good summer. I've learned that clip on earrings and crowns and reenactments of "It's A Hard Knock Life" dance sequences trump laundry or bill paying any day of the week. 

She likes her new room, and is also verrrryyyy slowly acclimating to potty training. Sort of. On most days. Or some days. But whatever. This is the kid who waited until she was 18 months old to walk because it suited her. I've learned to accept her little time table.



I've been planting and re-potting some of my plants. There is super good light in our apartment, and they're very appreciate of it. I realize how boring this sounds.

"Greeeaaat Liz. You're having fun with your plants. So exciting."

But hey. I actually have the time and mental energy to think about things like that. Things I used to really love and find a lot of joy in. And yes, they're little. But it's those little bitty things that come back to you. And you remember, "Hey, this is what it used to feel like when I was happy." And then you walk around grinning like an idiot because your succulents are growing well.

Fine. I've painted myself into a corner with my own logic. I'm a huge dork. 


The pool, people. The pool.

I have to say, I love this apartment complex. I've made friends. The grounds are pretty. The pool is never crowded. I have zero maintenance. There is no yard. I am such a city girl. And on the plus side? I have a small tan for the first time in at least five years, and our apartment always smells like sunscreen. This pool makes me very, very happy.



But even more so, more than the pool, or my plants, there's Rachel. I haven't seen her since last Thanksgiving. We've been staying up late talking. And hanging out. And swimming. And eating.

I have a serious peace with my sisters that I don't get anywhere else. These are my people. The women who know me better than anyone on the face of the planet. They've seen me at my best, they've seen me at my dirt floor worst. We can tell each other anything, and it's safe. I love them with all the square footage in my heart.



I've found it very hard to pray lately. It seems like God hasn't been listening to me for a long, long time. A very long time. I've been angry. I've wanted to repay his silence with a little silence of my own. Juvenile, yes. But it's the truth.

But slowly, every slowly, I've dipped my toe back in the water. My prayers aren't anything fancy. And they aren't necessarily the most devout. But I've been able to say a few words here and there without wanting to put my foot through a wall. 

Between the small prayers, and TT, and the pool, and this apartment that's turned into a tiny sanctuary from the world... my state of the union is a positive one. 

Happy summer ladies.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Just In Case Anyone Else Needs to Read This As Much As I Did...

The Journey

-Mary Oliver


One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Good Old Nora





"Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim." -Nora Ephron

I have no doubt that one day, probably very soon, Jane will look at me, roll her eyes and think to herself, "Cheese on a cracker, my mother is so embarrassing. She's like a hillbilly and a hippie had a baby together, and then that baby went through life visiting Sonic Drive Ins on a religious basis telling the waitresses on skates 'that dog won't hunt' when they forget about happy hour prices."

But right now, she likes me.

We were sitting at the pool watching the big kids swim last week. She likes to stay on the steps, because hello. It's just safer there and despite her arm floaties she's pretty convinced that water is the devil. So we sit there, splashing each other and she thinks it's the greatest thing ever.

A little girl came up to her and said, "Do you want to come play with us?"

Jane just smiled, moved a little closer to me and said, "No fank you. I playing with my mommy."

Of course my heart burst at the seams and I thought I might pass out from happiness. 

But that's the thing. Even when someday she thinks I'm a gigantic uncool albatross hanging around her neck, I'll still be her mom. I'll still be the woman that she looks to as an example. Even if she looks at my example and says, "Nope, that's not for me." She'll still be looking to me.

Lately I've fielded a lot of personal questions. And truthfully, I find myself minding less and less. The people who ask questions, who talk to me, are the ones who really care about me. And sometimes I choose not to answer the question. Sometimes I do. One of the questions is, "How will you explain the divorce to Jane?"

I suppose that's something I'll play by ear, the when and where and how of it. She's only three right now, and her biggest hurdle in life is using her big girl potty (as opposed to hiding in the corner, straining and saying, "Go away, don't look at me.").

But someday I'll tell her that when you make a decision, and you pray about it, and you talk it over with the people who love you most, and you wake up in the morning with joy and peace in your heart... you know it's the right one. And best of all, you stop playing the victim. 

I hope Jane chooses to be a heroine instead of a victim in the story of her life. 

In friendship.

In love. 

In marriage. 

In work.

In all things. 

And that's exactly what I'll tell her.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Breathing






Breathing is easier as of late. It has a lot to do with time passing.It has a lot to do with my family and closest friends' understanding and unwavering support.  It has a lot to do with going to a new church.  It has a lot to do with swimming in a pool and Jane yelling, "HEY MOMMY, I ARIEL!" 

Even though perching on the side of the pool is as close as she's coming to actual Ariel-like swimming so far.

So that's where we are. 

Breathing. 

Hanging out by the water. 

Pretending we're mermaids.

Welcome summer.


Monday, June 2, 2014

Put On a Happy Face



"Re-examine all that you have been told... dismiss that which insults your soul."

-Walt Whitman


In the last few months I've heard this phrase more times than I can count.

"I had no idea what was going on in your life."

Truthfully, neither did I. I had perfected the act of "putting on a happy face" so well I even convinced myself.

 I was the little engine that could, right up until the point where I crashed into a brick wall.

Accepting anything less than perfect about yourself is hard. We all like to believe the best about ourselves, and those around us. And that's good in principle, but it also allows us to lie to ourselves. To deceive ourselves. To put on a happy face and ignore the oncoming wreck.

 Authentic living, and feeling, and reacting, is hard. It's hard to be honest when you know it's not what someone else wants to hear or see. It's hard to be truthful when you know you may get yelled at. Or rejected. Or made fun of. And over the years it was easy to get worn down, and get quiet, and put on the front others expected. But the fault was mine. I wasn't strong enough. I was weak.

I would rather be truthful than have a million happy people around me, people that are only happy because I'm doing everything in my power to make them that way, at the expense of the truth.

I've also discovered I'm not the only one. We're drifting around in an ocean full of people who are afraid of admitting how they really feel. People who are miserable on the inside. People who smile and wear the right clothes and say all the right things and go to the right church. People who have blogs and post pictures and all the while are dying a little bit on the inside.

It's not the club I want membership in anymore.

Christians like me, the ones of us who divorce, face a particularly big hurdle. Because the church likes a happy face. The church likes things all lined up in a row, boxes checked off, just as it should be. The church, I'm really sad to say, judges really quickly... and sometimes without any semblance of compassion.

I'm not lumping all churches into the burn pile, please don't misunderstand. And the church I formerly attended does have some compassionate people. But it is still a sad fact that the pressure from "church" is the reason so many people are putting on a happy face instead of revealing their emotions or becoming more transparent. It's the precipitating motivator for so many people to hide their problems, or struggles, or pains.

The past few months have without a doubt been the hardest of my life. Being truthful and authentic has been harder than postpartum depression. It's been harder than dropping my six week old baby off at daycare for nine hours a day. It's been harder than losing Angela. 

But in the end, even with the rejections, and anger, and judgement, and church hurts, it's been worth it. It's been worth it to wake up in the morning, stare at my ceiling fan and breathe a sigh of relief. It's been worth it to know I don't have to pretend, or walk on eggshells. I feel great relief that for the first time in many, many years, I'm able to live truthfully.

I'm no longer putting on a happy face.

And that makes me very, very happy.










Thursday, May 22, 2014

Banana Rescue



This week I was involved in a meeting. It was an interesting meeting to anyone who had a pulse.

I did not have a pulse.

As my head got heavier and my eyes became glazed from the lack of moisture and lack of blinking, I realized I hadn't eaten all day. And then I realized I had a banana in my purse, because who doesn't?

I like to be prepared for all possible disasters. My mom purse currently contains a small bottle of children's benadryl, diaper wipes, a roll of pennies and a lighter. Suck it Survivor Man.

So anyway. As my blood sugar continued to drop and my soul began to leave my body I thought, "This is dumb. Eat the banana."

I've sneezed in the face of etiquette more than once in my life. Like the time I forgot myself and stuck my finger in a chocolate fountain at a wedding and licked it before I noticed the glares. Like the time my friends Carrie, Jared and I rode triple piggy back down the hall in high school. Like the time I went to my female doctor when I hadn't shaved my legs for a week. Yesterday.

So there I was, mid meeting, glassy eyed, and I flop a banana out of my purse and start to eat it. Within two bites I immediately perked up. I don't know if it was blood sugar. I don't know whether the simple act of mastication triggered my brain activity. All I know is that banana rescued my bacon.

I need one of those for my life.

For when I pull up into a parking space too far and hang my front bumper on the concrete parking thingy and rip it off.

For when Jane decides she wants to go to school without a t-shirt on.

"I don't wanna wear it, I go like this," *slaps bare belly*

For when I order the wrong number of sandwiches from catering.

For when I put eyeliner JUST on one eye and then Jane distracts me and I forget to finish and then I go to work that way and one eye looks bigger than the other one and I spend the entire day looking like I'm wearing some invisible magnifying monocle.

For when I realize that the one thing I didn't buy for my new apartment is a plunger, and you know, when you need a plunger you need it RIGHT THEN and not one millisecond later.

So yeah. I need a banana rescue. And some milk. And an extra set of sheets for Jane's bed. And a David Sedaris book. And while you're at it, rescue banana? See that house up there? The awesome one that looks all Grimms-fairy-tale-Harry-Pottertastic? If you could throw that in as a life bonus I'd appreciate it.

Merci.