I want.

I want to write so many posts, but I never seem to get the motivation at the right time.

I want to write about how I’m trying to rid my life of the negativity I can control and live more gratefully and gracefully.

I want to write about how I am about to start a new teaching year and I don’t even know if I want to be a teacher anymore.

I want to write about how I am trying to change my parenting style and my relationship with my kids and not get to frazzled and controlling all the time.’

I want to write about how I gave up on the marathon, and the half marathon, and I’m sincerely, trying so hard not to give up on myself.

I want to write all of this and more. But I sit down to write and feel like a fake. And like I have no idea what I am talking about.

But I wrote this and that’s a start.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll pick more and go with it.

I want to.

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The Get Up Kids years

A friend of mine passed away a few weeks ago.  I guess, in this respect, I use the term “friend” lightly.  We were friends in our teens and twenties but have since only kept up the way adults our age seem to – through Facebook, Instagram and the occasional twitter update.

We were all especially close during those pivotal late teen and early 20’s years, marked by college, part time jobs, and finding ourselves, all of which mixed together in some inexplicable fashion, creating people, who at least for me, make me cringe when I look back.

We rode the bus together from 6thgrade (7th, really, because he was a year younger) until late high school when we either got cars or caught rides with friends who would drive way out of the way to pick us up, simply for the extra driving time.

In true Cassie fashion, I knew him mostly through his brother, who I had a giant crush on for most of my teen and early 20 years.  I can say that now, right?  Now that I’m 37, have three kids, have waded my way through marriage, three kids, separation, and new relationships.  It’s ok to admit that I had a crush on this person.  Who am I kidding, we all knew it.

When I first heard he passed away (through Facebook, as you do), I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The standard thoughts floated through my head, he was so full of life, he passed away so young, how is this happening? Then my thoughts floated towards his brother, the person I grew up closer to, the person who had now lost a sibling, something I can never imagine.

And then, of course, as egotists do, my thoughts turned towards myself, and those years we were all together almost daily, a random group of us, living with each other in a variety of configurations, until we all grew up, got married, and went our separate ways.

My late teens and early 20’s for me were chock full of so many huge events that when I think back on them, they tend to blur until I can barely tell what was reality and what I may have made up in my head.  My real first kiss (by someone mentioned in this diatribe, no doubt), my parents finally divorcing, transferring colleges like it was my full time job, being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, meeting my husband at 21, picking up and moving away once I graduated.

But really, it was those two apartments; the one on walker avenue and the one in Evergreen, that truly defined my 20’s for me.  Where we basically lived in a huddled bunch.  Even though some of us didn’t even live there, we were all together enough for it to not make any difference.  Each only lasted a year, but honestly they felt like so much longer.

It’s during these years, and the ones directly proceeding it, that I can remember the little things, the little moments that made my late teens and early 20’s what they were.  I remember the arguments about new wave pop artists like the psychedelic furs at the Valley View apartment for hours at a time. Learning about new bands and new music, songs that if I heard them now bring me back to road trips and car rides in a Subaru Justy.  Me and my best friend J, sitting at Starbucks for days at a time, discovering frappachinos, because one of us had a crush on the very cute barista (note: it was not me). Seeing bands I never would have seen, (hello Dashboard Confessional, when he was just guy, with a guitar and stool, at an all-ages show in a church).  That one Mineral song that seemed to play on repeat for days (or months, or years…I can’t remember).

Ever since “growing up” I’ve tried to forget these years.  Maybe forget is a harsh word.  I’ve tried to put them away, locked up nicely and decorated with a little bow, so I could pull out the happy memories when I needed them, leaving the memories of the mess of a person that I was far behind.  But maybe now, even just for a little while, I’ll sit back and let myself remember it all, the experiences (both good and bad), the music that shaped these years, and most of all the people, those who during those times, I could not imagine my life without.

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Summer is different this year.

I assumed that summer would be different this year.

I’m having a difficult time putting it into words.  I’ve written and then immediately erased at least 5 sentences before writing that one.  It’s not that I don’t know what to say, it’s simply that I don’t know how to say it.  Or maybe, it’s just that I’m too scared to say it.

Scared seems to be an overarching theme these days.  I only have the kids 50% of the time during the summer and I thought, at first, I would relish the down time.  I’ll have time to read!  I’ll have time to go to the pool!  But instead I just seem to have a lot of time with my thoughts, which has never meant good things for me.  I spend my days overthinking, overanalyzing, and simply being on such a high level of alert and anxiety that my body seems to vibrate constantly.

I’m buying a car, which for someone who has always had money issues, is highly stressful.  Can I afford it?  Yes.  Do I need it?  Yes.  But I keep hesitating, picking a different car each day, simply so I don’t have to do this thing.  Then, I start thinking about what Mike will say if I get a new car.  The arguments form themselves in my head seamlessly and without help from me.  My rational mind says:

“Who cares what he thinks?”

“He has bought a ton of stuff for himself without consulting or caring what you think.”

“You are separated.  You need a car to get to work.  All that matters is what you think.  The end.”

But it never really is the end.  That damn subconscious comes around to rear her ugly head to remind me in no uncertain terms that she is really running the show and it’s stupid for me to think otherwise/

And yet, I am 37 years old and I know this is a problem. The amount I seems to care what other people think is astounding.  I have always tried to pride myself on the fact that it only matters what I think and feel, not others.  But here I am, with all this time on my hands, CONSTANTLY thinking about it.

I tell myself to write.  That this process will help me work out what’s in my mind.

*What if people don’t like what I’ve written.*

*What if they think what I have to say is stupid.*

*What’s the point of writing.  No one is even reading it.*

I tell myself to throw myself into my half marathon training and the gym.

*Why?  You’re just going to quit again like you always do.*

*Why do you even thinking you can do this when clearly you can’t.*

I tell myself to put down the screens and read, go outside, do anything.

*Right after one more scroll through facebook to see that my friends (and others) are having a way more fun and happy summer than I am having.*

I don’t even know how to write more to this post.

I know I need a break, but I am simply too scared to take it.  I know I know I need to find the person I lost over the past couple years, but I just don’t know what to do to find her again.

When I was little I used to run around and smash lightning bugs.  Cruel, I know (at least now I do), but when I did that I was never thinking about their death, only thinking about how they would make me sparkle.  How, for a brief time, I would shine.

I never imagined that I would have to find a way to make myself sparkle and glow without the help of the lightning bugs. That I would have to do it on my own.

When did I stop believing in myself?

I have no idea.  I just know that I have to find a way to begin again.

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Confidence and marriage and running.

We met in college.  We were in the same biology class and lab.  It was an 8 am class and I clearly wasn’t interested in impressing anybody since I showed up almost every day in my pajamas.  We became late partners (or rather a group of three) out of basic convenience…we sat near each other and it was easier than seeking out others.  I actually had a crush on the other guy in our group, but alas, he had a girlfriend.  We started studying together outside of class.  One thing led to another, and Poof!  Three years later we were married.  Now 13 years after that we are separated and headed towards divorce.

I was a mess when I was in college, even more so than I am now (for those who know me in “real life”).  I battled depression and manic episodes.  I was unhealthy.  I was “in love” with a boy from high school who was dating another girl.  I transferred schools every year or so and my debt was out of control (hi credit cards).  Because of all this, and I’m sure so much more,  I had the confidence of…well, I don’t know.  Let’s just say I had really low confidence.  And it took me a  long time (16 years to be exact) to realize this is the main contributor of me getting married and the age of 24 to my first “real” boyfriend.

In the beginning, I think I was just trying things out and having fun and then it became a dependency.  Here was a boy was was relatively normal and seemed to like me.  I’m lucky, I would think.  I don’t have to be alone anymore.  Did I love him?  I’m sure I did.  But I don’t think it was a life changing, earth shattering love.  And I know (especially now) that it wasn’t a love that could sustain a marriage.  I thought so little of my self and my self-worth that I  reveled in the attention. Someone likes me and I owe it to him to be with him.  It saddens me now thinking about how much my low self confidence contributed to this MAJOR aspect of my life.

There were times I felt that I should leave.  That I should break up with him because I knew I didn’t have what it takes to be his girlfriend and then his wife.  He deserved someone better, someone that was completely over the moon for him.  But instead I stayed.  I convinced myself I belonged there.  Someone loved me so much and I should stay with them because of this.  I worried I would hurt him and I didn’t want the guilt of hurting anyone.

In reality now, I realize I also stayed because I didn’t think anyone else would ever want me.  How horrible is that?  It took me a very long time to admit that to myself.

Our marriage was so tumultuous; up and down constantly that I couldn’t keep up.  I always wanted to leave, but never wanted to leave at the same time.  I didn’t want to be alone.  I didn’t want to have to start over.  I was safe here in this place.  Unhappy.  But safe.

I wish I knew what it was that finally made me realize it was OK to leave and that I deserved to be happy.  I know a small part of it was finding someone else who really did love me for me.  Another part was the kids and realizing that they shouldn’t be growing up in an unhappy home.

In all honesty, I think the biggest thing was that my confidence was improving and I know it had a lot to do with running.  Running made me happier and helped me become healthier, which of course led me to be more confident.  It was an outlet for my anger and frustration and gave me time to think and decide.

I loved myself during those times.

I haven’t run consistently since I began dating Joe.  I guess when I found another source of happiness running just fell to the side until it was almost non-existent.  While I am happier now than I have ever been, I miss the confidence.  I think that’s why I’m chasing running again after two years, and why I’m chasing this marathon.

I need to get that feeling back again…and I’ll make myself run until I do.

Shit’s about to get real.

*I’m writing this post for both of my blogs because it is equally pertinent to both.*

It’s gotten to that point again…the point I never thought I would be at again.  The weight is slowly creeping up and has been for the last few years, ever since Charlie was born.

It comes so slowly that you don’t even notice it.  A pound here, a pound there.  Then you realize that you are tired all the time and you just don’t have the energy to do much.  Just thinking about doing something *anything* makes you feel more tired.  You’ll do anything to NOT step on the scale (I just ate, I just showered, I’m wearing too many clothes it won’t be accurate), but when you finally do the number staring back at you takes your breath away.  And not in a good way.  Not in a John Cusack holding a boombox outside of your window way.  A sickening way.

Your clothes start to get tighter.  It must have shrunk in the dryer. Then there is no denying it.  They just don’t fit.  You need new ones.  You promise yourself you’ll just get one or two things until the weight comes off again and then you’ll reward yourself with brand new clothes to celebrate your hard work and perseverance.  Waking up is a drag because you have no idea what to wear.  Nothing really fits and nothing really looks good.  Every outfit becomes a best effort, one that your throw an over-sized cardigan over and hope for the best.

Things hurt.  Your body that you worked do hard to get healthy is now betraying you and groaning under the extra snacks and libations.  Your knees hurt.  Your hips hurt.  It is hard to get comfortable and sleep well at night.  You used to run miles after mile each week, now you loathe walking down the block when you don’t get a close parking spot.

You make promise after promise to yourself.  You will get healthier.  You will have energy again.  You will stop hurting.  You are two young to feel this way.  37 is too young to be falling apart.

But you’ll do it tomorrow.  It’s always tomorrow.  Because we always feel like we will have tomorrow.

I’m supposed to run the NYC marathon in 177 days.  Fate, destiny, a higher power, luck, whatever you want to call it, has landed me this opportunity and I told myself this is what I needed to get back again.  This would be my comeback.  I would DO THIS.

But I have 177 days until this marathon and I haven’t run in weeks.  And even though I used to run 10 miles at a time (albeit slow, but I did it), I know I can’t even run one anymore.

It breaks my heart.  More than leaving my husband.  More than my impending divorce.  More than anything, this is what breaks my heart.  That idea that I’m not who I used to be anymore.  The idea that I am not who I am SUPPOSED to be anymore.  The idea that I’m not who I was MEANT to be anymore.

It’s sobering and humiliating that I let it get this bad.  That I crashed to the bottom once again only to feel that there is no way up at all this time.  That I’ll tell myself I WILL get up and run tomorrow.  And I WILL be healthier and happier for it.

And I don’t.

I want to but I don’t do it.

Even though I know I need to.  I truly need to.  To save myself before I’m swallowed up whole again.

Half Life

“Please mom? Can we go the waterfall way?”  all three kids shout from the backseat in unison.

It’s just a dam.  And half the time it’s off and there’s no “waterfall” anyway.  But it means 20 extra minutes with the kids, singing the Despicable Me 3 soundtrack at the top of our lungs before dropping them off to their father.

So I always say yes.  Always.

This is the part of divorce that I wasn’t prepared for…the part where I see my kids less.  While I am a full time teacher, I am a mom first and foremost. I made breakfast each morning.  I packed the lunches, signed the permission slips, did the homework.  I made dinner each night.  I did the baths and showers and the bedtime routine and then also the house cleanup after bedtime routine before slumping exhaustedly and somewhat defeatedly into the couch for the rest of the evening.  365 days a year this is what I did.

It’s not the case anymore.  Two days a week I don’t see them at all.  I always feel like I’m going to be happy about having a break.  “Yay!  No kids tonight!  I can relax, or watch TV, or sleep in a little bit tomorrow morning!”  But that feeling lasts for about an hour and then I just want them with me.

It’s because of this whole half time phenomena that it took me so long to leave.  It was an unhappy and unhealthy marriage for far too long but I couldn’t not see my kids every day.  I assumed they would fall apart.  But in reality, I seem to do way more falling apart without them.  And no matter the sadness we feel at being apart sometimes, we are all happier.  All of us.

I think back on last year and get nauseous knowing how much I put them through when I couldn’t leave, but I couldn’t stay.  The shortness of breath.  The tightness in my chest.  They rush in when I think of last year, a panic attack on the brink every single time. It’s the year I would take back if I could ever take back anything.

But I can’t take it back.  It’s there.  It happened.  It changed us.  It scathed us.  It traumatized us.  But it also taught us.

It taught me it was ok to not see my littles every single day if that meant a better quality of life for all of us.  It taught me to leave the pile of legos for the night if that meant feeling like they were here when they weren’t.  It taught me to put down the phone and really be present in the moments because they were no longer unlimited.

And no matter how much longer it makes the drive, always say yes to waterfalls.

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Starting Over

Don’t call it a comeback…

I’ve started going to the gym before work again.  On Monday when my alarm went off I immediately turned it off, rolled over, and went right back to sleep…just as I had done the last two weeks.  But after 5 minutes of laying there I knew I had to get up and go.  And I actually did.  I was so proud of myself for getting up on Monday that I was able to easily rise out of bed today.  Fingers are crossed for tomorrow and the rest of the week.

I’d forgotten how much better I felt during the day when I worked out in the morning. I feel calmer (though it’s probably just that I’m tired) and more focused.  I’m able to tone my anxiety down quicker and compartmentalize better (This is a school worry.  You are home with the kids.  Stop thinking about this).  And this is just after 2 days.

But 2 days seems to be the most I can do these days.  Usually by day 3 I convince myself I need a “break” and the one morning off turns into a week or more.

It’s amazing how much easier it was to work out when I was unhappy.  When it was hard to be at home or spend time with Mike I would always find time to take a break at the gym.  When my dad died and I spiraled into my summer of self destruction, running was the thing that was able to pull my back to the surface long enough to take a breath.

But now, bed and home are my safety nets.  I like being here.  It’s cozy and warm and far away from the anxieties of a bad marriage and an overly stressful job.  It’s hard to get up and go.  It’s hard to leave the place where I feel the safest.

But I’ve done it twice this week.  I managed to get myself up and go, even when I did it alone.  So I can do it again, I know I can.

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