Monday, December 14, 2015

dressed in the fabric of a world unfolding

Dearest girl,

Today you are 5. The last five years...that's a musical, you know.  It doesn't work in this case because it's about a broken heart. It's about a love shown backwards to the audience, that way it breaks their hearts too. Which you know me, you know I like that stuff. Because it's real. Plus Jason Robert Brown wrote the music so it's quality.

I like things that are real. The last five years have been the most real of my 35.  I came to the NICU to feed you and see you and breathe you in and the lady saw me at the locked door through the tiny window and told her colleague: "it's Sloane's mom, open the door." I'd never been anything but "Shannon" and from that moment when you were just a day old I never was "just Shannon" again.

So the last five years have been full of heartache and regret and anxiety.  I married your dad. I tried for many years with him (before you came and after) to make us work and we couldn't.  My heart broke. I divorced your dad. And nothing during any of that was worth much to me unless it was a measurement of your happiness.  So, I felt like a ratty mom. A mom who gave up on keeping her child's family together. I felt selfish.  But slowly because of you I rebuilt my shaky confidence in my motherhood. Every time you'd put your chubby hands out to me I grew a little bit stronger. "Your beauty trumped my doubt." (it's a lyric by Mumford and Sons, there's always a lot of supplemental reading when it comes to your mother's writing).

So it wasn't perfect. But somewhere I had and still have this dream in me that our happiness isn't mutually exclusive. And in fact that if you didn't have a mother who could be happy you could never learn to be happy either. And I think a lot about that hymn from when I was a little girl that we would sing in church and I hope it's true: "farther along we'll know all about it, farther along we'll understand why. Cheer up my brother, live in the sunshine, we'll understand it all by and by."

There are people who will tell you when you are older that you shouldn't have regrets, or that they in fact don't have any regrets.  I will tell you that if you become a parent this idea is utter bullshit.

I have one million regrets and they are all, every single one (besides everything I did in the year 2001) about you. They stem from how I could've made you happier, or how I could have prevented you from hurting.

I try to best navigate by how to make you not only feel happy but how to help you turn into someone who is kind and intelligent, a woman who doesn't fear any part of herself, a person who passionately seeks but who is not too involved with herself to help others find.  It's hard to navigate. I mess up a lot. You'll know soon: I'm bad at maps, directions, and even Siri gets me lost sometimes.

Until I figure out the next step though, I have a constant companion. You sing silly made up songs a lot of the time, some mornings you are quite grumpy, some days you tell me you don't want to live with me (some of those days I don't want to live with me either), but when you are away the sound of the quiet is different. The quiet when you are asleep is a blissful quiet, sweet and colored with the exhaustion from going through another day together. The quiet when you are gone feels like a humid room. It gives me time to think about all the missteps and how to correct my navigation and it makes me count the hours until the quiet is replaced with your voice.

For everything that ever hurt or will hurt, I am sorry. I promise I think of you more than you will ever know. I am prouder of you than anything I've ever achieved.  And I love you more than I love anyone else including myself.

Happy birthday, all I want for you is everything good and many, many more.  



the title is from a song by ani difranco, I hope there is a woman musician who does for you what she did for your mommy a long time ago...the song is called The Slant. The full lyric is this:

I am a work in progress
dressed in the fabric of a world unfolding
offering me intricate patterns of questions
rhythms that never come clean
and strengths that you still haven't seen

Friday, December 4, 2015

You can keep all the memories

I'm not listening to Adele, but Gwen, she's a different story.  Adele can keep her calling up so long after breaking his heart. Gwen saying this split wasn't the plan and writing "Used To Love You" that I can get on board with.  

Just wanted to check in because I'm still living and shit. 

Gwen Stefani who's performance will give you the feels Used To Love You for the title

Monday, November 23, 2015

She don't want anybody to see what she looks like when she's down

I broke my rules. On the weekend. On the weekend without my daughter (see also: extra quiet and lonely).  I looked at Pinterest which is like a barrage of visual and mental "your heart is broken! don't you miss him!" madness.

And I went downstairs. Where I have his stuff in a box. Including his cologne that smells like the best thing on the planet and sort of like the old lady who swallowed a fly...I guess I'll die.

Not actually. I just feel like her. I did something silly and felt like a fool and like dying or such.

As soon as Sloane's party is planned Pinterest is finding itself deleted again.

Thankfully I have avoided that bitch Adele.  And there is one thing I absolutely refuse to concede to: any of these "broken" sentiments.

I am not broken. Lies and wasted time and empty promises are just that. I'm the kind of badass bitch who has been through a lot worse than this and still manage to run an amazing life and look pretty fashionable while I do it.

No one is going to ruin my track record.

She don't want nobody near, from the Counting Crows for the title 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

When the morning comes, let it go, this too shall pass

In my early twenties, I like many other women my age and older was obsessed with Sex and The City.  I identified (still identify) with Carrie. The longsuffering, overthinking, terrible man choosing albeit fashionable Carrie.

On Sundays I'd watch SATC with my very best friend and a total Charlotte, Breann.

So Breann over the years has taken to describing my relationships in SATC characters. I've had way too old for me Aleksander Petrovsky (must be in the name), I've had my sensitive and wonderful Aiden that I destroyed chasing who I thought was Mr. Big at the time. And Now I have my very own Jack Berger.

Hollywood kisses with a post-it note ending.

What I'm beginning to come up with is maybe there isn't a Big and maybe Big was a giant douche anyway. And maybe, just maybe, I'm not a Carrie. I mean I'm not a city girl. Maybe I'm more like the teacher from Stuckeyville from the other show we never missed, something more original, more obscure. Maybe I'm just a Carol Vessey. Looking for her Ed Stevens.

title from OK GO: This too shall pass 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

You don't need to change a thing about you, babe

How To Mend Your Broken Heart in 7 Steps 
(Badass Bitches Only)

1. Uninstall Pinterest for 4 months.
You're welcome. 
2. Fuck Adele. Yes, I know, Adele's new album drops next week, yes I know she won a crap ton of Grammys. DO NOT DOWNLOAD. 

3. Your smart phone was made for break ups.  Use all functions available until emotionally stable enough to delete.  a) HIDE all the pictures. b) give him a new name that reminds you to STOP that behavior this instant, missy! c) delete the playlists d) block that number baby

4. You are not friends. Therefore you are not "following" on apps you are not "friends" on FB.  This one hurts but rip that disgusting band-aid that's hanging from your scraped up ego off. And throw it away. You also need to unfollow his sister.  Don't forget his mom, even if she did send you a message indicating she thinks her son is a complete moron.  Do it. And do it now.

5. Congrats you are a girl.  You are allowed through society's patriarchy to post a GORGEOUS selfie as your new profile picture to every social media outlet you have available.  If he posts a selfie to FB he looks like a desperate weirdo or a total douche bag (unless he's under 21). But you my dear, you should look flipping gorgeous every time he searches for you late at night (or even if he doesn't, whatever he does, he totally does).

6. Post sappy things only where they WILL NOT, CAN NOT get back to him (that's why you do #4 and #5 first and keep a blog that he doesn't know about).  Everywhere else you have your one new picture (don't look desperate girl) and nothing but rainbows and roses.

7. Have an ample supply of straight men in your life who will tell you he's a dick and he's out of his mind.  If you don't have any use your brother and download the Griffin House song "The Guy That Says Goodbye To You."  (also staring at Griffin House is implied in this directive).  Gay men are great too, but this one's better coming from a guy who likes vaginas lots.
Again, you're welcome.

Post title from the hottie with the hair and eyes and arms, Griffin House - The Guy That Says Goodbye To You Is Out Of His Mind 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

But no word or warning do you say. One minute right beside me, another you're a thousand miles away

When I said "I'll take it." I meant: as is. Just give up and admit you're an asshole... And I think you'd find that your friends would forgive you but maybe I'm just speaking for me.  - As Is by Ani Difranco

In an effort to practice what I preach...

I often tell clients that sometimes their pain lives in a place without words. Which seems only poetic, but it's actually true.  Trauma experiences are stored in the opposite hemisphere than language. So asking someone to process with words could be asking someone with a broken leg to walk to a hospital to set their leg.

I use Mandalas with clients in lieu of journaling occasionally because it provides a container (the circle) for their feelings, and a boundary. Also because if a client is not highly literate (or young) words can be intimidating and feeling like they are set up for failure before the activity even begins.

So here are two of mine.  I prefer oil pastels because I love to smudge and get my fingers messy and I title mine, a lot of times with song lyrics like the one below is a lyric from Possibility Days by the Counting Crows or with thoughts that I think they capture, like the top photo.  I always date them. Titling and dating is not necessary. It's just something I do to make it like a visual diary.  And yes, the top photo is inside my car.  I had the supplies in my work bag and I just had to "get it out."

Here's to the next step, which I am not happy about taking but not all of our steps make us feel thus.

Title from You're No Train (from Songs for a Hurricane) by Kris Delmhorst 

Monday, November 2, 2015

"Sorry," is all that you can't say

I came home weary from traveling to NYC for a work conference but I was ecstatic to get back to Nick and me, the way we were before he was hospitalized. I couldn't wait for text messages and photo sharing and talks without people listening in a hallway and most of all for FaceTime.

None of that happened.

On Tuesday evening after getting home early Tuesday morning and feeling something was off all day during our usual evening phone call I had to ask. "Are we okay, are you okay?"  I didn't expect the answer.

I didn't expect this. Not in the way you don't expect your car to breakdown.  I drive around acutely aware that my Subaru can break down (and does) at any moment.  This was the kind of unexpected like you don't expect the sky to fall.

I believed Nick each time he reiterated how he'd never leave me, never give up on us, never divorce me unless I did something unforgivable.

He said "no." I said "what's going on? Do you still want to do this?" I wanted him and expected him to tell me how absurd my question was.  Instead he said "I don't."

So without telling about how I got through sleepless nights of a deployment where his life was in danger often and telling you how I planned to be there come hell or high water (including delayed flights, a flat tire on my rental, waiting for a key to his house to come in the mail from Iraq) and how that weekend I got him from the airport and was in his arms again he planned the most surprise and beautiful heartfelt proposal on the beach in the moonlight with the most glittering and beautiful ring that meant the world to me, without telling you all that I'm here now.

I'm where I never wanted and never thought I'd be.

I never got a real explanation, it was a flurry of doubt, protecting me from himself/finding himself/you never did anything wrong I just wasn't happy anymore/the distance couldn't work anymore.  I asked for a face to face conversation (via Face Time) to try and accept what he was telling me and I didn't get that either.

What hurts more than all of that is that he never told me he was sorry.  He told other people he feels sorry, feels guilty.  But when I confronted him via text (because it was my only choice) about how I just wanted him to apologize, well that was the final word between us.  He never wrote back. Not even just two words.

Of course I'm left with one hundred thousand other words. Words that I don't know if he meant but then couldn't mean anymore, or was just pretending the whole time. iMessages, letters, notes, cards, inserts from flowers, a diamond ring, gifts, hundreds of song lyrics that he picked just for me to listen to, poems he'd find and send, words words words words words words words.

title from my girl Tracy Chapman: Baby, can I hold you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A drop in the ocean, a change in the weather

When on the first day of your significant other's 28 day in-patient treatment you dream that you were on a ship together and so in love that the other people admired you and then you get separated. It doesn't take a lot of experience in dream interpretation to see what your subconscious was trying to process.

It was just one of those awful dreams where it mostly makes sense so you can't even feel better due to the absurdity of it. We were on a steamboat and at one of the stops we got out and jet skied and we got in the ocean. The water was clear like the gulf is where Nick lives. So we didn't bring our phones. (I have been mad at myself since August that I didn't bring my phone with us into the water because I have no pictures from that day in the ocean). Then we stopped at a chocolatier and got treats and then we were supposed to get back on the boat. I did but I couldn't find Nick. 

All the way back to shore I screamed for him through the crowded boat but he was nowhere. Then I watched 3 boats after ours come ashore and he was nowhere. 

I miss the ability to write him messages. During deployment I could FB message or email and when he's stateside we text throughout every day. 

So I started this and a journal. With all the stuff I would say. I can say it at night on our 15 minute phone time (no FaceTime which is also hard). Or I might just give him to it at the end. 

One whole day done. My life wasn't easy at all in any way today outside of Nick. So if I can do this I've decided to promote myself to "boss ass bitch."  

Title courtesy of Ron Pope: A drop in the ocean

Monday, May 18, 2015

I do not love you for the way you’ve been exactly what I’m looking for

I love you for all of this, and so much more.

On the first full weekend of June, last year my friends made a drive to my town from theirs to make sure that I was faring okay following the divorce.

 They wanted to make sure I was eating, that I wasn't pretending to be tough.

While they were here we discussed dating. It had been about 6 months of separation (and of course what felt like years of solitude).  We talked about my patterns. And they served me a bit of "real talk."  I had a tendency in my past to choose men with strange relationships with their mothers: either fractured and unavailable (their grandparent or father raised them) or their mother was somewhat emotionally unavailable.

I have for a long time been jealous of my friends and my sister-in-law because they have a positive relationship with their mother-in-law. My last mother-in-law was not emotionally available to me. I felt like in the end she respected me as a mother and as a professional but I never felt she liked me. I am much like my mother in that I try to make occasions special with little notes and cards or baking something, or decorating something pretty.  I tried this for years in my ex-husband's family but they were not receptive.  Also other members of the family treated me with utter disregard and were impolite and rude to my face.

I tried for a long time during our courtship and marriage to win over my ex's family. I believed that kindness counted and that eventually they would really like me and want me around, they would appreciate me and respect my wishes for how I raise my child.

Most of my life I thought kindness and being nice mattered to the point of my own detriment. I often let people abuse me emotionally because I didn't want to cause a stir. Although I had this very strained and almost invisible relationship with my ex mother-in-law I allowed her to stay in the room when I went through the most intimate thing in my life: natural childbirth of my first and only child.

She was there and she never really asked to stay and I didn't speak up. In fact, many times since that day I have been sad that the act of allowing her to be there didn't seem to earn me much in return after it was such a sacrifice of privacy on my part.

So part one of my friends NO COMPROMISES list was: he has to have a normal relationship with his mother. His mother must have the capability to allow someone in to her son's life. He will not be "needing a mother" (i.e. using me as such) and I will not feel that this is my role either.

Not long into dating the man I am with he was set to deploy. His mom lives far away from him and me and he told me that she asked if she could "friend" me on Facebook.  I said of course.  And from moment one of interaction with Cindy I have felt completely at home.

She made sure throughout the deployment that I was faring okay, she knew I was new at being a military girlfriend and so she explained a lot about how things would go/feel.  She and her daughter made sure I didn't get too lonely on the nights when I used to talk to her son. They would keep me upbeat by chatting online with me and telling me funny things about him or including me in family celebrations with pictures and telling me how they can't wait to meet me and my daughter.

I loved Cindy immediately because she didn't have an expectation of communication back from me. I suppose that sounds callous but I am so busy that I sometimes can't message back to people and I am extremely introverted and I have to play an extrovert at work. This wipes me out and sometimes when I've put my daughter to bed I just want "0 people time."  So she's never pumping me for information or interaction she just wants me to know she's there for me and that she was thinking of me.

I felt for the first time in a long time (God bless my one college bf's mom, her name was Judi and even after we broke up and I graduated she sent me a little bracelet with my birthstone in it and a sweet card, I wanna be a mama like that some day) I felt appreciated for just being me. Busy, single mom, crazy me.

And I treasure my relationship with this woman for all of this and so much more.

She asked me if she could print out photos of me from FB and send them to her son in a little WE LOVE YOU book while he was deployed. He sent me this pic and said "my mom is never this impressed with girls I date, lol."

She was sad that she didn't get to be there for homecoming so I wanted her to feel like a part of it. I sent a photo of the obnoxiously large balloon I bought and wasn't expecting such a sweet response. 

This made me feel super special.  In 8 years together there was never a photo of me displayed at my inlaws home.

I sent this bracelet to her for mother's day. 
title and text in blue from Ron Pope, one of my current favorites "I do not love you"