Archive for Feelings

Sigh.

I burned the tacos tonight.

I didn’t mean to, really who ever means to ruin dinner.

He would ask me if there was more food and I would surely reply that yes there was.

“Then what’s the big fucking deal, you’re human”

We had this interaction a million times, never about tacos but about all of life. The day I walked into his office I was at my wits end, lost beyond belief, overwhelmed to my core. “You pick the counselor or get a goddamn lawyer” I screamed at my husband. I was 28 weeks pregnant with my second child, I had a 12 month old at home and for the second time in as many weeks he had pulled an all night party situation, no communication, just off the grid. Me sitting in our dinning room until the sun came up, rubbing my stomach staring out the window, alternating between tears and fury. Absolutely unable to grasp how I had come to be there.

He picked a counselor and we went and when we were walking in I was unprepared for all the ways my life would change over the next five years let alone the next 45 minutes.

His office was in a little house, converted. There was a couch, his chair, tables, lamps and him: a short, solid, gray haired hippie, barefoot and with the warmest eyes I had ever seen. I mostly listened that night, tears sliding silently down my cheeks as I heard all of the ways I wasn’t living up to being a wife, how I was stifling my husband and wasn’t any fun. Al stopped him there and said with all due respect, Jenn is clearly fun.

Through the tears, and shame and fear and doubt he saw me. Who I was, who I could be, who I wanted to be, he saw the good, the scared, ugly, joyous. He celebrated next to me and picked me up when I couldn’t. There would be no bridge shopping on his watch. He saw me weekly for years, through the birth of claire and the fog that enveloped me, through major surgeries and the end of my marriage. As long as I promised to show up he would be there… I never received a bill

I can say with 100% certainty that he loved me unconditionally. Wholehearted. He and I are a rare breed, arms so open, minds so understanding, hearts so full of joy and love. Giving all of our space to others and often forgetting to reserve anything for us. It wasn’t all shits and giggles but man could we laugh, foul jokes and silly limericks.

The message came in today, “happy belated birthday… on a more upsetting note Al has taken a very bad turn”

The words slammed into me. I knew this could happen. I didn’t want to believe it. The last time we saw each other he didn’t want to burden me, always giving the most space, “you’ve been through this too many times” he said. We talked, we said our things. On a level I knew this would be the last time.

He has given me every tool he had, every hug I needed, every word I needed know. I’m a better woman because of him. I’m a better mother and someday I will be a better partner because of his patience and refusal to give up until I knew I was worthy.

My thoughts are with Jan, his amazing wife and partner in crime. The way his eyes would light up when he talked about her… His kids who he adored and his beautiful granddaughters.

I’m writing this because he would have told me to, if it’s too big to hold in then let it out any way you can.

“There is always a door, Jennifer.”

I love you, Al.

The feels man

written on 01/08/2015

In July of 2013 I found myself staying in an upscale private hotel/social club, I had run away from Medford for the weekend, using the excuse that I was visiting a friend who had just had a baby. I wasn’t running to anything I was running away from a disastrous month that had seen my ninth wedding anniversary come and go only to be marked with a fight and him walking out for the night and me calling a girl friend who showed up with plastic cups and a bottle of wine, no dishes necessary. It became a month in which I knew to my very core that this couldn’t go on and that more than once the phrase “I’m only staying for the kids” had been tossed my way with a slur and a glare, as casual as “take out your own trash” and “hmmm salad or fries? I just can’t decide”. It felt awful and hard and like neither of us would call uncle so I left for the weekend.

I was sitting in this hotel room, drinking coffee and listening to the city and thinking about how I ended up here. where did we go wrong or for that matter right? The girls. It always comes back to them, no one for a second would call us less than devoted, I may not be the most conventional but I’m unwavering in my devotion and love. I knew we were on the brink of irrevocably changing their lives forever and ever. Some parts for the better some for the worse. I have said it before but I will say it again, the worst part of motherhood for me is that I have no control over the memories they keep, I can do my best to try and provide more good than bad but even then who knows what other bits sneak through.  Below is a letter I wrote that morning, through my tears, sealed and stuck it in my safe deposit box, I just recently came across it, one year, five months and seventeen days later. My oh my….

S+C

I am in a swanky hotel room on Salmon + Park. I can hear the city coming to life below me this morning and yet I feel myself shrinking inside, an inner storm I have fought too long. Things are changing in our lives. It is going to feel scary and unsettled but I promise it will be exciting and eventually peaceful.

Things you can count on from me:

Unconditional love – You are forever my always, nothing and no one can ever change this.

Trust – I will do my VERY best to care for and anticipate your needs, I just need you to trust in me enough to use your words when you have them, you won’t always have the right words  and sometimes you won’t have any, it’s okay to be inconsolable, just don’t get stuck in that feeling. You both shine so bright, remember that and create it for yourselves.

Firmness – You’re going to test me, I know this but know that no matter what words or actions you throw at me I’m not going anywhere. I may be sad sometimes and you may feel I’m at a distance and sometimes when we have to be apart it will be hard and hurt, but we will always come back to each other.

I don’t claim to have any answers on the big things in life but I do know that it is ever changing, as people you have to keep growing, you will one day make your ways into this world, you will keep some of the values I teach you, some will fade and you will find you have strong feelings in the opposite direction of how I feel. Never be afraid to be who you are, I will love you without judgement forever. Failure and fear are two things I loathe, they tend to go hand in hand, one of my greatest wishes would be for you to see your failed attempts at things as a stepping stone rather than a step backward. At the very least striking out means you stepped up. Vulnerability will be at once the hardest and most exhilarating experience of your lives, my assvice? FALL INTO IT no matter how it turns out you will be grateful you didn’t hold back. The opposite of love isn’t hate, it is indifference, remember it takes more energy to hate than to let go and go forward.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Je ne regrette rien

                                                                                                                                                                                                     You are my greatest joys,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Mom

Picture, if you will, me finding this unmarked envelope not remembering what was inside and being met with that. So many tears, so many fears and yet one year, five months and seventeen days later we are still standing.

 

#justcanadaday

Shhhhh Do you hear that? That’s the sound of a thick manila envelope landing with a thud in my mailbox, it’s contents will announce that I am legally single.

The last time I was single social media didn’t exist…let that sink in for a minute, I’ll wait.

This is a good thing, I mean I have my own hashtag now and I hear those are hard to get. All told we made it through the process with only a mild sense of absolute failure. The kids seem to be doing okay (Sasha is having an impossibly hard time adjusting to kindergarten but that is a whole other post). I took a tongue-in-cheek approach for the most part with a sprinkle of Xanax and a large vat of Jameson.

This hike came with many new titles: single mom, co-parent, ex-wife, respondent. Let’s just say I’m glad I never purchased one of those sweatsuits with the word “wifey” or “Mrs.” on the ass, saved me sometime when I was cleaning out my closet. Speaking of closets we have relocated to beautiful overcast Portland!

To be fair when I first began meeting with attorneys they warned me that divorcing would be financial suicide and I totes believed them, as with most things the perceived reality and the actual happenings were two different beasts, I feel like there is an animal kingdom joke somewhere in there.  The postwar abode is about 2000 square feet smaller than the prewar McMansion, it feels decadent in a whole different way.

I have many more rambling thoughts about this last year, there was so much I wanted to write but common sense (Hi Stefanie!!) told me to wait until matters were settled. I’m trying to find a balance between sharing these things and respecting everyone involved, including my tiny humans who will someday find this site…this is a start and it’s all up from here.

On a final note, I have been asked about my awesome hashtag, we were married on Canada Day in Banff (and no we are not Canadian) in 2004.  It’s just Canada day now but feel free to still send me cards and buy me gifts.

 

“Bearing Sorrow Havin’ fun”*

I’m sitting at my desk today, it’s in general been a good day, getting stuff done and looking forward to seeing three of my favorite women who are driving down from Portland tonight. It’s a funny and long story how the four of us came to be, that is something best saved for another post, but the short version is that we worked together at the same company ten years ago.

Before this group of amazing women and I bonded together I was all alone at the company, the youngest in my department a fresh 24 year old, branching out with my first “real” job, engaged to be married, startlingly crass but kind nonetheless. I worked for a home builder and lived in one of the neighborhoods (The Vine, as we called it) one day on my second week there I bumped into a similarly aged female in the lunch room, we chatted, discovered our backyards bumped up against each other and a friendship was born.

Melissa and I had much to bond over, music, food, baking, dirty jokes, talking trash about our co-workers over margaritas at Chili’s, eventually marriage and down the line babies. The worst thing we had in common was losing our parents at a young age (her Mom when she was a teenager my dad when I was 13) it’s a weird club to be in at that age, your parent didn’t elect to not be in your life, there is no one to really yell at, you don’t fit with the divorced kids (even if they were divorced before the parent died, I found this to be the weirdest) it’s just weird. As you get older you find other people who are like you and you create this effed up little club who’s members are all super awesome. Why? Because we learned before everyone else that life is not permanent, that you are not invincible and really terrible things happen to good people who are doing everything they are supposed to.

One of the conversations we had frequently was our fears over whether or not we would face a similar fate as our parents, Melissa already had a son Austin and was planning on another child, it would be five more years before I had one of my own. Less than a year after becoming friends Melissa moved to North Carolina but we never lost touch, as more tiny humans came into our lives the emails were more sparse but always as heartfelt and genuine.

When Melissa was diagnosed with cancer we cried. We never spoke of our long ago conversations about our fear of this happening. Never. She carried on and her fight was mighty. She endured more than most people can handle and she did it with grace, humility and a mega watt smile on her face.

As I sit here today, going through emails in another office not so different than the one from before I realized I hadn’t heard from her in awhile. Or seen her post on Facebook. Or receive a Christmas card…..

Melissa passed away December 9th, 2013. She is survived by her amazing partner, friend, husband Todd and her precious tiny humans Austin and Logan.

I feel like a giant asshole for never having replied to her last email and yet I can see her, huge smile on her face reminding me that we always said everything we needed to say. It’s the first rule of our club.

*from the song “Melissa” by The Allman Brothers.

RIP Selfie Mirror

A week ago we had a sad loss in the house. My tiny humans decided to turn the mirror I use for my outfit posts into Glass Mountain. It failed epically. One second I was doing dishes and the next Sasha was crying hysterically asking me for help with Claire. Long story short, She’s okay, Claire is okay, the selfie mirror is not okay.
Le sigh….

20140310-211731.jpg

J.

At first it seemed we may be friends, bonding over inappropriate jokes and a love of food. During my second, awful pregnancy and even though our jokes had turned mean and our humor insensitive, you still snuck me bowls of cassoulet, often it was the one thing I could keep down. By the end of your time at the restaurant we were less than friendly, I made a mean joke about your ego, I can’t remember your retort.
After a few years I ran into you at Britt, you were sick then, how far I didn’t know, I had heard bits and pieces from our mutual friends, I apologized that day in line waiting for ice cream. I began running into you more frequently, at farmers markets and social gatherings.
The last time I saw you was this summer, again at Britt surrounded by people who love and adore you, this time we all sat together, I had tequila soaked watermelon and other things for the first time. There was laughter and selfies and joy.
Thank you for helping me learn about forgiveness, thank you for nourishing me during one of my lowest times, thank you for always being unapologetically you.

It’s been one year and one day.

I would like to be able to say I am a better person than last year.

I would like to say I am more patient than last year.

I would like to say that I yell less at my children than last year.

I would like to say that I try to look past the outside of people to see what is really going on within.

I would like to say that my children are safer than last year.

I would like to say that I can’t still see, in vivid detail, the look of fear, pain, and grief on my friend’s face.

I would like to say I have become better at making popcorn and pancakes.

I would like to say I don’t think about it most days when I drop the girls in their shared classroom.

The truth is I still yell and burn popcorn and think about it all the time. I can still remember the sounds, and boxes of letters, and massive amounts of pain and love all coming together to form this strange tsunami of fear and affection.

I spent yesterday with old friends and new, texting with the lady who has a piece of my heart, a lady I will drop anything to be next to if she needs it… I have no doubt she would do the same, she would show up with a shovel, no conversation and no questions asked.

Speaking of conversations, there are ones that our country gave up on, conversations that still need to be had. I don’t care if you are pro this or anti that. Noah and the other twenty-five people who passed on that horrific day deserve to have these conversations continued. I don’t give a shit if you think they are hard or uncomfortable, try on the alternative for five minutes and you’ll never shut-up again. Trust me.

I’m pro-tiny-humans-going-to-school-and-coming-home-safely.

I’m pro-never-seeing-another-family-that-I-love-bury-their-tiny-person-because-he-went-to-school.

I’m pro-honest-love, because if you can’t be honest with love what can you be?

I’m pro-conversation, all conversations, even the yucky, vulnerable, scary kind.

I may not have accomplished all of those things above but the one thing I can say is that I love brighter and bigger and more loudly than I did 366 days ago.

 

I swear this post isn’t sponsored by Band-Aid.

 

One of my tiny humans came to me after breakfast this morning. She is my fretful darling, smart beyond her years and caring to a fault. She told me she was very concerned and worried (yes, those were the words she used), she had a Band-Aid on her knee and she knew it was time for it to come off but she was afraid it would hurt and then she would need another Band-Aid and then that one would have to come off and so on and on and on…

You get the picture.

Normally I would just be flip and point in another direction, “oh look at that!” and then rip it when she looked away (effective, no?) this time I crouched to her level, looked into her beautiful, blueberry eyes and told her the truth.

You will find in life, my darling, that anticipating an event, change, anything unknown will always be scarier than the actual thing you are worried about.

She looked at me for a minute, a kind of side eye look, brandished her knee, I ripped and she hopped off claiming that “was nothing”.

I was still crouched in the kitchen thinking about how I should really take my own advice; no one wants to feel vulnerable whether it’s the ripping of a Band-Aid or the fear of rejection. I have been making strides, letting go of assumptions and asking the questions I’m afraid to get answers to. I have a long way to go, I’m hoping like anything else that with time you become desensitized to that gut check fear and it becomes a habit. Could you imagine being open to new experiences without the fear of judgment or anxiety of rejection? What would you do if that was possible?

What is your Band-Aid?

Image credit: Neal