Friday, May 18, 2012

Choice is to Destiny as Chance is to Fate

I truly believe that loving requires taking a chance. There are always risks involved and, as we grow older and suffer through enough heartbreak and disappointment, we hopefully tend to get better at measuring those risks in a way that still leaves our hearts open to the experience of love itself.  To both give it freely and unconditionally, but to also receive it from another.

A little over a month ago, I took a chance on a friend I had met through mutual friends of ours towards the end of last year (he's known as James Dean here, for all of you that don't already know that).  By "chance", I mean that I made the choice to let him take me out on a date.  We've been inseparable ever since and I don't think I could have helped falling in love with him, even if I had tried with all of my might and will.

Choice is to destiny as chance is to fate, right? Maybe, what I'm actually trying to share here is my belief that we have to make a choice to take a chance when it comes to love; because otherwise, what the hell is the point anyway?

"Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could." 

~ Louise Erdrich, (The Painted Drum LP)

There is an aspect of loving someone in which you've got to take a chance. I have encountered many out there on this journey towards starting over wonderful, some divorced and some not (some just bitter, jealous and/or overly judgmental, let's face it) and I receive alternative messages regarding love. Some believe it is necessary to guard your heart completely.  To not let anyone in, until you are absolutely positive and you've measured every risk imaginable.  Especially if you've been burned before by a love gone wrong. Some advise not to let yourself get so completely close to anyone until you've taken complete stock. That it's always best to spare your emotions completely for anyone else, especially post break-up or divorce, and that you should just focus on loving yourself.

In my opinion, that's advice for living with your heart closed to receiving love from anyone unless you're allowed to give it back conditionally and only after you've spent considerable time loving yourself in solitude. It's a concept this serial monogamist can't seem to wrap her head around.

How are you going to love unless you open your heart? How are you going to love without becoming emotionally attached to someone? How can you be positive about your measurement of the risks without also letting someone get to know you and how you actually love yourself, both when you've been in solitude and when you're in a relationship? How can you adequately measure the risks if you only know how to love yourself when you're in solitude; if you never have the chance at practicing self-love in an actual relationship?

I really don't think any of that is possible. At least, for me it isn't. I don't think you can fully love someone without becoming attached, somehow ... somewhere. How can you know if you love someone if you don't let them come close, somehow? How can someone love you if you don't let them come close, somehow?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Single Phenom Mom, Episode 2: Secret Guilt

If you have even one child you are sure to feel guilty about something.

Guilt over things you've either failed been unable to do for your child(ren), decisions made over this and that, or things you've done to or around them. Then, there's that guilt that stems from comparing your child to another child of similar age, gender, aptitude ... whatever (we all do it, so stop pretending otherwise).  Of course, the worst guilt is the kind that happens when, against your better judgement and will-power, you compare yourself as a parent to another parent or, even worse still, you compare your parenting to another parent's parenting.

That last form of guilt there is a sure-fire way to bring the shame-train barreling into your life and there's usually no amount of reason that can stop it once it is en route.

Thanks to Time magazine's recent outrageous spectacle and the resulting fury that ensued in the media and online, we've all been reminded of that last form of guilt and the havoc it can wreck haven't we?  Oh thank you, Time for adding fuel to the blazing "Mommy Wars" that just never seem to burn out.  Ever.

Seriously, though?  Time's marketing department must be just stacked with an absolute genius brood (imagine me slapping my knee here for some sarcastic emphasis).  Exploiting the oh-so-obvious fact that moms, more so than dads, often carry this parenthood-induced guilt around with them wherever they go?  And, spreading misinformation as infuriating sensationalism right on time for Mother's Day?  That was pure mastermind and super considerate too.

Um, no.  

Phenom's interpretation of the "Mom Enough?" cover for the mag:  "Happy Guilt-Ridden Mother's Day, Bitches!"  Love always, Time Magazine. 

So yeah, guilt is pretty much guaranteed emotional territory for any parent, at some point or another.  Any parent that tries to convince anyone else that they are living a guilt-free existence when it comes to how well or not-so-well they're raising their kids is a cocky son-of-a-bitch.  Not to mention, a liar.

I liken my own "Mommy Guilt" to a bad hangover I can't seem to shake.  Or maybe the hazy memory of a bad one-night stand ... Yes, I have had a few of those over the course of my thirty years (I know, I'm such a slut! *snicker*) and said incidents were usually maybe sometimes followed by a mild hangover.  Ahhh, memories. 

Anyway, what am I guilty about exactly?  Certainly not any of the hyped-up crapola any judgmental pot-stirrers like to bicker about on the interwebs regarding the millions of parenting choices all of us parents have to make in the struggle to try and raise kids that grow up to not be douche canoes.  And nope, I'm definately NOT guilty over any of the hullabaloo that everyone seems to be blogging and debating about in response to Time's insanely outrageous cover.

Not. Even. Close.

Instead, my guilt has been a semi-secret form of guilt for quite some time now and I've often been ashamed to admit it. Even to myself.  I prefer to stuff it way down deep in the back of my existence; blur it out of my mind's focus as much as possible.  Thanks to the Time cover however, and it being blasted all over almost every blog I follow, the "Mom Enough?" caption has brought this semi-secret guilt of mine right back up to the surface for me. Thanks again, Time. No, really ... thanks a heap.

As a divorcing single mother with a full-time job and a million things to do every damn day, I needed to have my shame bubble back up to the surface almost as much as I need for J-dog to break out with a flea infestation right now (note to self, order more Frontline as early as yesterday!).

Every mother out there's life. Times ten if you're a a single mother.
Frankly, I'm kind of surprised at myself for being willing to share what I'm guilty about here; even if I have been known to share my raw emotions with all of you before on this journey towards starting over wonderful.

This one's deep. And it is quite shameful.

Here goes nothing ...

I suspected that my marriage might be doomed for divorce after I miscarried a month in.  Knew it deep down inside myself but irrationally rationalized my feelings away for a multitude of reasons I won't get into for this post.  I could even go so far as to say that I contemplated cancelling our wedding months before ever walking down the aisle at all.  I didn't because, back then, I was too concerned with what everyone would think to listen to my instincts and run ... a wonderful lesson learned the hard way, wouldn't you say?

Despite this "knowing" if you will, because let's face it -- hindsight is 20/20, I put getting pregnant again after losing a baby first and foremost over anything else.  I was terrified that something might be wrong with me since I miscarried the first baby I had ever carried.  Instead of facing the fact that our marriage was broken and never meant-to-be in the first place, I reasoned that my desperation to become a mother (something I have always, always wanted to be) was stemmed from needing to fully throw myself into our marriage through bearing a child.

I mean, the only way to make a relationship work is to throw yourself into it 100%, and in the moment, having a child is basically a way of saying that you're in it for the long haul, right? Yeah, that is the kind of rationalizing that went on in my head as I demanded the STBX "fertilize me" even if we were in the middle of arguing because damn-it-all, I was ovulating.

I just wanted to be a mom that bad.

I wanted C so much that I couldn't see past my fears of "What if I have a fertility issue?"  I had done everything "right" in preparation for my lifelong goals of being a mom someday. I went to college first. I established a decent career first. I got married. We owned our house. I did all of what you are supposed to do first.

I always wanted to be a mom and after losing a baby, that desire trumped everything else.  I was desperate to fill the hole left in my heart from losing one child with all the joy and happiness having another would bring.

Did I ignorantly believe that having a baby might magically "fix" our relationship?  Not for a second.  Yet I forged forward with trying to conceive anyway.

So, this is where my "Mom Guilt" comes from.  Not from feeding my son crap food sometimes, not from my struggles with breastfeeding and not even because I'm a working single parent going through divorce from my son's father.

I feel guilty because I brought my sweet, innocent little C-Man into this world with some sort of inkling that it probably wasn't going to work out with his father in the long run.  I feel like that was selfish of me; to want to be a mom that bad. To want to give my love as a mother that much despite what may happen between his father and myself.

Hopefully, my unwavering love and devotion as C's mother is enough to make up for all of the rest that comes with having divorced parents.  The fruits of my labor so far these days show me that just might be the case.

In my opinion, a mother's love is always enough.  Not to mention wonderful.

C having fun with Mommy on the swings at the park last week

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thoughts on Thursday, Episode 2: A mother's love as inspiration

Today's post is a little different, as I haven't been feeling well most of today and actually took a sick day for once. I'm curled up on the couch about to head to bed early for a change.

Earlier, I stumbled upon this video/slideshow I made back at the beginning of my separation from the STBX.  I put it together to remind myself that my son, C, is my inspiration and the reason why I decided to leave my horrible marriage in the first place. I'm finally at a place in my head, and in my heart, where I feel comfortable sharing it here. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

When you're blinded by a gaslighter ....

Dear STBX, a.k.a., the biggest douche canoe I have ever known:  It has finally hit me! I can see so clearly now, as I am no longer blinded by your gaslighting. Months of living free from your crazy-making has been enlightening, to say the very least.  I now know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I am not crazy or deranged; you are just a manipulative douche canoe and that's all there is to it ... 

Photo Credit:

Throughout my relationship with the STBX, he masterfully crafted a slow, insidious, break down of my self-esteem that was a subtle, yet meticulous.  Calm manipulation.  Gaslighting at its finest.  The best description I've read as to what exactly gaslighting is can be found over at the "Easy Come, Easy Go" blog:  when a douche canoe, like the STBX, "dismisses what you're feeling or thinking as a dysfunction of your personality ... in order to control the situation and, ultimately, you", that's gaslighting. Crazy-making at its finest.

Ironic that the STBX, being the douche canoe that he is, paints me as the controlling one.  I may be a type-A personality, but I am no douche canoe dear. 

It took me years to recognize what exactly it was that he was doing to me.  In short, he was trying to make me think that I was a crazy, miserable person.  A "miserable bitch", I do believe was the phrase spat at me whenever I caught him red-handed in one lie or another ... that, and a few other choice phrases ...

"You are so full of anger", he'd say and I would think, "It must be true", because his behaviors and choices anger me, yet he's able to stay so calm.

"You are paranoid", he'd say and I would think, "It must be true", because my gut instincts were constantly telling me that something was wrong, yet it was often hard for me to discern why things didn't make sense or didn't match up logically.

"You are messed up and broken", he'd say and I would think, "It must be true", because I couldn't see my true self anymore. What I mean is, I had lost sight of what I wanted from life, from love and from sharing my life with another person because it got to the point where I didn't trust my own feelings anymore. I didn't trust my own emotions as being valid, justified or even "right" half the time.

Having someone completely void of empathy constantly invalidate your feelings day in and day out can do that.  By the time we were married, he had turned my world upside-down and inside-out, to where I could hardly remember or recognize the woman that I used to be, before he came along.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The advice paradox for married parents versus single parents.

Photo Credit:
When you're married, after you have children it can seem as if everyone is always telling you to carve out time for romance so that you don't lose your relationship intimacy and the happiness that brought you together in the first place.  It took love and romance (or maybe, just sex? -- I really don't know your story, now do I?) to actually make said kids exist, did it not?  What partnered-up parents aren't being constantly reminded to avoid letting romance die when the kids are born?

As you trudge though the perils of trying to morph munchkin rug-rats into productive members of society as a parenting couple, there always seems to be that constant reminder coming from just about everywhere (your mother-in-law, Dr. Phil, newsstand magazines at the grocery checkout) that one mustn't forget that you are still a romantic couple just as much as you are parents. How many parenting websites and books are out there sporting articles directed at actively fostering a strong and fulfilling romantic relationship despite while also being parents? A zillion, maybe?

If I'm not mistaking the above climate of what may be considered as healthy "advice" for married folks with children, then why is it that for us single parents, it seems as if we're constantly bombarded with the absurd advice that it is somehow best if we forgo our own personal happiness and chances at finding a fulfilling romantic relationship for the sake of raising our kids?

Believe it or not, there's even the utterly ass backwards notion floating around in some parts that single parents shouldn't date or even dare to seek out a romantic relationship until their children are "older". By "older", I'm assuming most of these ignorant asshats mean until said children have reached adulthood.  Since my son, C, is only just over one and a half years old, that idea makes my chest tighten with panic wondering what on Earth it would cost me in batteries and vibrators over the next 18 years or so.  I have a hard time fathoming how I would make it through such a death-sentence of abstinence.

Anyway, the conflicting concepts between romance advice for married parents versus those that are single is perplexing to say the very least.

What gives?

I think I may have stumbled upon an extremely contradictory societal stigma here and I'm wondering if any other like-minded folks out there have every pondered the same paradox that surely does exist ... it can't be just my own somewhat biased perspective.  Can it?  To further add to the presumed absurdity, ponder this one:  if fostering romance is encouraged as a way to prevent divorce when married with children, then why isn't the same encouraged for the single parent as a way to provide stability and happiness in their lives since they too have children?

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