Handle With Care

I’ve been extremely fragile this week.  I have moments where I feel happy and confident, but one nudge and I’m shattered and scattered.  I assume whispered conversations are about me, because naturally, I am that important.  I analyze and misinterpret glances and words and text messages until they are so far from reality that I force myself to shift focus and see where my imagination painted the situation like a Picasso. . . So far from reality and to me, unappealing.

My 16th wedding anniversary is tomorrow.  My writing never planned or plotted and my marriage was the same way.  Like most of history, it was a cataclysmic explosion that created who we were and the children we share.  We met in April of 2000.  By August 23 he proposed and September 2, we got married.  The following September we had our first born and the September after that we found out we were giving him a sibling.  It was very spontaneous and in our haste, we had few milestones of our relationship before getting married.  I celebrated every August 23, even if he didn’t and every Labor Day weekend was special although it was years before I realized our anniversary fell on and around a legal holiday each year.  My family would get together, and keep our kids and we’d do something as a date or we’d run away.  My marriage ended for him sometime in late 2014 but I was informed in March of 2015 and I let go in February of 2016. Last year was my first anniversary without him but I had the kids.  This year he has the boys and I will be alone.  I don’t know what that will be like.

It’s not that I want him back or miss the marriage.  I’ve since learned that there were things I accepted as a normal part of marriage that I wouldn’t tolerate as a single woman.  I love balancing my checkbook.  I enjoy taking myself out on solitary dates.  I treat myself very well.  I take myself out to eat, and don’t embarrass myself in tipping.  I get pampered at the salon a few times a month.  I regularly buy myself flowers if I see a bouquet that grabs my attention.  I pick out jewelry I like and I no longer feel guilty about buying myself clothes.  I really like the way I’m treated and I don’t have to worry about being expected to put out at the end of the night.  I decided that if I’m going to share my company, I want to have no doubts that I’d have a better time than being alone.

Loneliness is not what being fragile is about.

I like to do things well.  I like knowing that I can accomplish what I set out to, and that if there is room for improvement, I will easily close that gap.  In school, that meant giving birth in the middle of the quarter, missing a week of classes and still passing above average.  It meant applying for scholarships and earning seven awards as an upper division english major, in spite of my grades, but based on my drive, tenacity and compelling essays.  It meant advocating for my family until I got what we were fighting for.  It’s hard to see my marriage as anything but a failure.  Yes, I chose to stay after he left, until I made the choice to move on.  No, we haven’t filed for divorce.  I’m stubborn and want him to file.  He doesn’t want to do anything I might suggest.  We’re at an impasse.  It’s marriage purgatory.  We don’t even have a legal separation.  We rarely talk and usually text but I try not to respond when I can avoid it. We have a custody agreement, with separate finances and separate homes, but we’re otherwise still very much married.  But it feels like a failure and I can’t fix it without taking it back and I don’t want it back.

I’ve had ugly moments this week.  Moments when my broken pieces are reaching out to hurt others.  Moments where I can’t unhear what my ex told me or what his girlfriend texted me from his phone.  Moments where I see nothing but a physically unattractive woman.  I know that is only tied to them and that situation though.  Most other times I can remember the times men have given me things just to make me smile.  I remember the times I get smiles and winks at work and an appreciative sidelong glance because some people like watching me walk.  I’m beautiful to myself most of the time, but this week I’ve felt really ugly.  Last night I even put away the mirror I keep on my desk. I keep it there because my resting face helps me keep self aware. Am I happy? Am I stressed and can I use a few grounding breaths? Am I sad, and what is bothering me? Am I just thinking. . ? Because that look is a combination of cute and hot.   It got so bad I couldn’t look at myself.

Earlier this week, a coworker was asking about my custody schedule.  We ran into each other in line at the 7-Eleven down the block.  The conversation went to my kids and weekend plans and I explained I don’t do much when I have them.  As I explained what a 2-2-5 plan is, I forgot about the hole in the pocket of my skinny jeans and threw my change in my pocket.  His curiosity was gentle but I was so fragile, my answers came out like pennies being pulled from a toddler’s mouth.  Reluctantly and messy with drool, and he didn’t realize he was risking sharp teeth, eager to bite him. I focused on the $.51 that was slowly making its way out of my pocket, shocking bare skin with cold metal.  I held the coins against my thigh as we walked and talked, and the cold became comfortable, warmed by my skin and then seeming to burn with discomfort.  I had this inner dialogue to be polite because his questions were polite enough and he was doing his best to normalize my situations with examples of people he knows, because in his mind, their experience fits mine, but in my mind, each is a separate hell we’re meant to grow from and those don’t come in cookie cutter shapes. I got to my desk and worked the quarters and penny down my leg while breathing deeply.

My family has been asking what’s going on with me.  I think that’s why posting so much about what I’m getting into is easier for me.  I can post it and avoid deeper connections through intentional communication.  I’ve been hiding.  I nearly had a melt down at the latest request.  Don’t ask and I won’t have to think about it.

I had a questionnaire to fill out this morning and it asked if I’m single, married, or divorced.  It didn’t even have separation listed, not that we’re legally separated.  It’s amazing how new couples try to define themselves to know how much faith to put in their relationship and I’m just over here wondering which box to check because this strange situation means I’m all three, depending on my mood.

Today at work I was feeling good.  I had a moment the night before where someone else gave me the perspective I usually have.  He is a friend I respect and care deeply about, so hearing it from him surprised and challenged the mood I was in.  In the end, I was amazed at what he said and better for it. Today I was throwing myself into work and fist pumping my accomplishments while dancing and singing in my seat.  It was going well, until it wasn’t.  I needed a moment because throwing myself into work meant taking my focus off of myself and I’m too selfish for that.  My brain kept wandering away from my computer screen. Nothing was making sense. I wasn’t making sense.

I took a moment to sit alone on the back patio and sing out loud while reading old blog posts.  I read A Profusion of Gratitude to the Men in My Life and A Moment of Gratitude and they gave me warm fuzzies.  It reminded me of the many amazing times men showed up for me in a great way. I re-read Closing The Book and Starting New Chapters and How My First Crush in 16 Years Is All About Me and these posts made me feel better.  They made me feel stronger.

The ex wasn’t full on trying to pick a fight tonight, but I could feel his antagonism in his texts.  I decided to ignore him and keep working, but when a coworker was leaving and said her farewells, I couldn’t ignore what I heard in my voice, and a short while later I left because I couldn’t see through the tears.

Yeah, transparency can be uncomfortable, but if I can suck it up, you can too.  I won’t know who has read this post, just how many times my homepage was seen. You can hide.  I’m not going to.

So, to recap . . .

I’m afraid of the unknown and what it will be like to be alone tomorrow.

I feel like a failure and it feels bad.

I don’t like needing to define what relationship I’m in or not in when it feels and looks like I’m a single and occasionally lonely cat and dog lady.

I’m fragile.


And yet, I’m okay again while writing this.  After work I went to the beach and walked the pier.  I saw a seal swimming in silent prayer for bait from the anglers.  I watched a bird fishing for dinner.  The coast guard was flying their helicopter over the water, and over a boat that must have been experiencing some sort of distress to still be on the water after the sun set. There were a couple of young guys surfing next to the pier.   I listened to live music, and music I would have been okay not hearing.  One of my favorite vendors moved on to a better opportunity. The world goes round in good ways.  I’m up past my bedtime but it’s about laundry because I can’t keep putting it off and I won’t leave wet clothes in the machine because I’ll forget them.  Again.

Even the finest china is delicate, but still a treasure to be able to touch and embrace.  I can be fragile.  I can be strong.  I accept me with all of my limits and boundless abilities.

 

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