The Resolute Quitter

Someone once told me that to write I need to write about what I know. Luckily that’s all I know how to write about anyway.

In the past four years I’ve quit every thing I’ve started. You name it, I’ve attempted it…and then quit. Run streaks? I quit by week two. Running? I used to run 25 – 30 miles a week, and now I’m lucky if I even walk two. I’ve signed up (and wasted a LOT of money) on countless 5Ks, half marathons, and marathons only to quit about half way through…when I had decided that it got too hard. Being more environmental? I’m pretty sure I threw away a pile of paper yesterday instead of recycling it because the recycling was full and I just needed it out of my house. Hell, I’ve even quit my marriage. At this point the only thing I haven’t quit is my job, but I did switch schools so maybe that counts?

I wasn’t always this way. As a matter of fact, I used to be exactly the opposite. I would make a plan and resolutely stick with it, no matter the consequence or if it was the best decision in the long run. I was just that stubborn. I would see it through to the end even if it killed me. I used to think this was one of my biggest character flaws, but now I’m not so sure. The tenacity that would once push me over the finish line has now been replaced with apathy and indifference. I would do anything to get it back.

Maybe I’ve spent so much time quitting lately that it’s just what seems normal and comfortable now. I’m used to it. It’s familiar. It’s has the feeling of that soft, comfy shirt that is completely stained and threadbare. You need to throw it away. You want to throw it away. And yet, you can’t bring yourself to do it. As if parting with that one thing is going to increase your sadness even more than it already is.

Fear has become such a major part of my life over the past few years that it is literally ingrained in my soul. The fear of failure keeps me from making the big leaps. The fear of judgment keeps me from making the choices I know I need to make, the choices that are the best for me. Fear of retribution keeps me on my feet at all times…constantly looking over my shoulder and waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’ve spent so much of the last few years of my life being scared that I have barely lived at all. I’ve made so many goals and had so many things I want to accomplish which have all been brushed aside because of fear. And I don’t want to do that anymore.

If you know me at all, you know I love New Year’s. The blank slate, the new beginnings, the chance to start again all resonate with me on a deeply pure and spiritual level. I tend to make resolutions, grandiose goals, and big decisions all to have me eventually quit. I just can’t keep living my life like that anymore. I think this year I’m going to dump the resolutions. The changes I want to make within myself are big. Every single thing I want to change about myself I can control. And I don’t need resolutions or a New Year to do that. I can just do it. Plain and simple. It’s really that easy.

Of course, coming up with the idea to do something is the easy part. The hard part is the follow through…and that’s exactly what I plan to work on first.

The other day, as we were driving through the city on the way home, two runners crossed in front of our car. Joe’s immediate response was about how it was cold and they were outside running and that they were wearing shorts. It’s true, it was about 25 degrees…it was cold. But all I felt was the formidable tug of nostalgia. I remember thinking that I wish I was a runner. Or more clearly, I wish I was still a runner.

So you know what? I’m going to become one again.

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The Last Year of Marriage

There’s a very good chance that this will be the last year that I will be married. Though we have been separated for almost a year and a half, technically we are still locked in union according to the law.  I still help pay his student loans.  He is still on my health insurance.  Neither of us is in a rush to get this thing finished, to break apart a union that is 16 years in the making, but we also know that eventually the cord will have to be cut and ties severed.

Sometimes I honestly don’t know which times we’re harder.  Was is the years we spent distant and cold, simply playing the part of husband and wife, the outside world oblivous to the struggles we were having within ourselves?  Was is the year I said I was leaving, but had to stay, the couch my permanent home, so much hate traveling back and forth between us while our children looked on, bewildered and overwhelmed?  Or was it this year?  The year filled with anger and remorse, both wanting to be with my kids full time and knowing that doing that meant hurting all of us in the process.  I simply can’t be sure.

The only thing I do know is that all of them were hard and all of them have taken an irreversible toll on me.  Anger, guilt, despair, panic, and disappointment and utter sadness have been my constant companions  and some days it takes every effort possible just to remind myself to take in air so I can keep living.

I’ve spent so much of the last year and a half fighting with a person I was supposed to love until the end of time.  He knows how to push my buttons better than anyone else and knows exactly what to say to make me go from quiet and content to a rage filled nightmare.  Sometimes I think he does it accidentally, forgetting how much I look into every word spoken, sure there are hidden meanings.  Other times I know it’s purposeful, and those times are the hardest to bear and the hardest to break free from.  Because how in the hell did we get to this place where we’ve become vindictive and spiteful to each other on purpose?

The other day we texted back and forth about something completely innocuous; a movie quote from a movie I know is one of his favorites.  It was a short, but lovely, conversation simply because it seemed so easy.

And then, of course, in true Cassie fashion, I started to cry.  I wanted to crawl into that conversation and live there because for the first time in a long time, I felt safe in that relationship.  Did I want to get back together?  Absolutely not.  We were horrible as a couple.  Not in the beginning, but in the many years that followed.  Our relationship was passive aggressive at best and self destructive at worst.  We were mean.  And nasty.  And horrible to each other.  And that’s putting it lightly.  Love should bring out the best in two people and for us, it didn’t.  Not anymore.  But that simple conversation showed me something I hadn’t seen between us in a long time.  It gave me a glimmer of hope that maybe one day all the conversations could be like this.  Maybe it will get better.

And while we may not ever really be friends, maybe we would stop intentionally trying to hurt each other in ways we only know how.

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I Miss My People

A funny thing happened the there day.  It was pretty insignificant, really.  But my first thought was, “Oh my God, I have to text…” and in the place where you would insert a name, my mind thoroughly drew a blank.  I had no idea who I would text with this news, no idea who would laugh along with me at the oddness of it all.

As we progress in our significant romantic relationships, it’s only natural that our time with our friends diminishes and our “others” take the place of our best friends and most trusted confidants.  Add in a kid (or multiple kids) on one (or both sides) and its seemingly impossible that mutual time can be made available.  Thus the friendships break down even further, and personal contact is replaced with random texts and the like, promises of “we need to get together soon” and “I miss you”, until you feel awkward even texting with your random odd news, unsure and afraid that they won’t even understand.

I just know I miss my friends.

And I know that I am *at least* half to blame.  I am terrible at keeping contact with people.  If we feel like going the psychoanalysis route, to make a long story short, I tend to push people away, choosing to reject them before they can reject me (which I am absolutely, unequivocally sure they are going to do).  This was even confirmed today by a book I read about my birthday and being an Aquarius, so this is obviously scientific fact now.  The lack of confidence in my friendships even goes so deep as to HATE to invite people out or over.  I don’t want them to feel obligated and I know I’ll feel even worse if they don’t come.  So instead I sit and wait for my friends to invite ME to do things.

Yes, I know this is stupid.  Yes I know I am 37 and am acting like a 14 year old.  But the truth is the truth.

True, I have work friends.  We text about work stuff and funny family anecdotes.  We occasionally meet up for after work drinks or other events, but it’s not the same.  It’s not the same as finding those people who know you below the surface, those who have not only seen you go through hell, but have also gone through it with you. Those you can say just one word to and have them cracking up.  Those who have motivate you, and inspire you, and love you for who you are…even if you’re a psycho that constantly fears rejection.

I know I have a person who loves me.  I know I have my brothers and family members.  But sometimes, I just really miss my friends.

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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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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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Small and Sound

Happiness is a tricky creature.  It’s something we’re taught since birth to want while we’re simultaneously taught that it’s unattainable.  We’re constantly being bombarded with messages stating that what we have is great buuuuuut…it could be so much better.  The whole idea of “the grass is always greener” has never been lost on me, making me constantly and haphazardly jump between “YOLO” and “be happy with what you have”.

Then there’s the fact that lately I feel like I have let my happiness be contingent on other people.  Words of affirmation and love, little moments of attention, things that made me feel like I was worthy of something; worthy of being, all simply because someone else is making he effort and believing that too.  But when those things fade, or don’t happen, or minds get changed, then what do you have?  I’m left feeling empty, bitter, alone, and blaming not myself, but that other person who let me down, when really it’s my fualt for putting so much power into their hands in the first place.

I love to make other people happy.  When I’m around happy people, I tend to be happier. Unfortunately, because I like to make people happy, I believe others are the same way. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they don’t care about your happiness at all.  Sometimes they tell you what you want to hear, because they do want to make you happy, even if they don’t mean everything you’re saying.

And there in lies the conundrum.  I put my happiness into the hands of others instead of simply doing what I can to make myself happy.  Playing with the kids, watching a movie within someone I love, reading a book, talking to a friend, going to the gym.  All little variations of my happiness.  And all things that I need to focus on instead of sitting around and waiting for someone to make me happy.  I have the ability to make myself happy.  But it’s hard and sometimes I just feel like I CAN’T.

But not today.  Today was different.

It’s days like today where I really feel like everything is going to be ok.  Me writing outside enjoying the beginnings of a sunset and the early evening breeze rustling through the gazebo. The house is quiet.  The wine has been poured.  I feel put together, whole, complete just being in this moment.  It’s almost as if over night my entire world has begun to make sense.  Recently, I’ve felt like my life was a puzzle and as I’m trying to put it together there are just too many pieces.  Figuring out the ones that fit together and deciding which ones need to be discarded to make the most complete picture has been difficult.  So many times in my life I feel so lost and pulled apart, that when I get moments like this, it feels like heaven.  No anxiety about the future, just clarity and peace. I’m praying it is simply not the calm before the storm as it has been so many times before.  Unlike those other times though, I’m choosing to believe that things are headed in the right direction.

Everything up until now has been leading me to this moment.  I feel like my life is on the cusp of something big.  I have no idea what it is, but the best part is that the possibilities are endless.

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Complacency, Love, and the Weather

As is too often with these posts, I start by saying…it’s been too long since I have written anything new.  I could blame work, school, kids, life,  but really that would only be the icing on a cake too tall to tackle.  The real problem is myself and even that is not enough to explain what has happened to me over the past few months.  As is usually the case I am torn between being happy (complacent) with the life I have and wanting (needing) something more.

While I feel like I say it every year, this one, by far, has been the hardest one to navigate.  Between friendships found, and lost, and found, the bumpy and panic inducing ride that is 11 years of marriage, losing and finding myself over and over again, and simply finding time to breathe through it all, I feel like I’ve been broken and put back together so many times that I wonder if all my pieces have survived.

 

I wonder, sometimes, if my biggest problem is more simple than I realize.  That maybe my expectations for people and their behaviors are simply too high. Mostly, I feel that people will never meet mine and am forever doomed to sit and silence and ponder if it’s them or me.  And yet, why ponder?  I know it’s me. I simply assume everyone puts forth the same amount of everything I do: love, effort, understanding, movement, change.  And when they don’t I am undoubtably dissapointed.  “They” say expectation is the root of all heartache and this is something I wholeheartedly believe.  But do we give up, accept this, and work to assimilate to the “others”; the ones that we feel are disappointing us?  Decide to live in quiet complacency, knowing we could have it worse?  That maybe if we just let things go, decide to give up what we feel we need, that we could live an almost happy life?

Or do we simply wait?  Wait for the changes we are asking for.  Wait for love we know we need and deserve. Wait for a life we know we are not going to simply exist in…but actually live in.

The conundrum exists: do you hope for the hurricane or simply enjoy the calm and still air of almost?  Sometimes, the hurricane is worth it.  It’s beautiful and perfect in its power and destruction, changing the landscape of your life forever, tearing down the extraneous walls you’ve built up to keep things out (or in).  Other times it simply destroys everything, coming and going in meer moments, leaving an empty hole where something stable (maybe not profound or amazing), but stable used to be.

I’m watching people take these leaps and bounds in their lives and am becoming completely envious. Picking up and moving away.  Finding a new and meaningful job.  Leaving behind a mediocre life for a great one. For a while, it was hard to watch their journey because of the jealousy.  What luck to get exactly what you want; what you’ve been hoping for. They made it looked so easy.  But now, I know it is their bravery I covet.  The sheer courage to say “This is what I want and I’m going to go for it.”  They decided take some action instead of sitting around and talking, wondering, or even writing about it.  Taking the risk in the hurricane, even if it destroys everything.

No matter how much back and forth I do in these situations, deep down, I know what it is that I want.

And it’s time to go and buy an umbrella.

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