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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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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Second Place

Throughout their short lives I’ve tried to teach my kids that you don’t always have to be in first place.  Winning isn’t everything.  As long as you had fun, that’s all that matters.  As long as you really try, it was worth it.  These are wonderful sentiments when it comes to sports or grades, but in the world of relationships, it’s harder for them to find a place.  As children we rank ordered the people in our lives quite frequently.  There was usually nothing more devastating than finding out you were someones “second best friend”, especially if you considered them your “first best friend”.

Luckily, as adults, this isn’t a problem we frequently deal with.  It’s usually pretty easy to figure out where you stand in someone’s life.  When we were little we were verbal about it, having no problem shouting to anyone who would listen about our important list of people.  As adults, we tend to be more subtle, and actions, rather than words, show all we need to know.  When the words do come, they are not surprises.  We already could feel the love and understanding through each action, small or large.  Effort made.  Heart full.

There are those times, of course, that the words and actions don’t match up.  There is a disconnection, a breakdown in communication that makes us feel lost and confused.  What I’ve found most often is that the words are there but the effort is not. It can usually be broken down into two types of friendships.  One of them superficial, at best, and we know that it’s only a matter of time before these friendships are filtered out.  The second kind is far harder to break free from, usually because it causes a great hole in our lives that we are not sure we want.

The Superficials: We have the friends that are nice to our face, but tend to lie or tell half-truths (Past post about this) in some sort of effort to feel better about themselves or “seem cooler” to us (sorry for the middle school terminology).  While this is less than an ideal friendship, those types of people are easy to spot and even easier to let go when the time comes.  Eventually we get fed up being lied to and simply let the friendship dissolve until all we have left is the memories.  This is an end we see coming and usually, it’s one we’re ok with.

The Devastators: The other type of disconnect is more brittle and reaches the depths of our core a little more.  It’s the people who tell you exactly what they think you want to hear, but only because they’re truly nice people. They know all the right words and they say them at the right times, essentially causing us to believe everything they say.  And really, it’s because they just want to make us happy.  The trick, as always, is to look deeper, to see how much the actions match these words. In the best kinds of friends, you don’t have to look hard.  They match right up.  These are the people you want in your life.  These are the people you never let go.  And then there are the devastating times when they don’t.  You keep listening.  You keep wanting to believe.  You keep hoping the effort catches up to the words.  So many times, it doesn’t, no matter how much you want it to.

And when it doesn’t you have a decision to make.  Do you stay in that relationship, knowing you are essentially “second place”, a back-up plan only worth half?  Or do you simply break free?  Which pain do you endure?  The pain of staying or the pain of going?

Well?

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Maybe I’ve been doing it all wrong

““It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.” ~Paulo Coelho

As much as I complain about being a public school teacher, there are some wonderful perks, such as my 12 days of winter break.  The first two days were very busy with last minute Christmas shopping, food shopping, house cleaning, getting ready for relatives and trying to give the little ones a semblance of calm in our chaotic days.

We always celebrate with our family during Christmas morning.  It starts at 7 and we gather for presents and breakfast.  It may seem early, but the benefit is that it is over by 10:30 leaving us the rest of the day to lounge in our pajamas, enjoy our new gadgets, and otherwise veg about.

Usually the days running together with no set schedule and nowhere to be cause me a great deal of anxiety.  When my days are less busy, my mind tends to wander and worry, reexamine and remember and these things are never a good combination.

What I found this year is that instead of he foreboding and anxiety I was greeted by an eerie feeling.  I felt calm and at peace almost as if so many of the weights I have been carrying around with me were lifted off and simply floated away.  I know that not having to go to work definitely made me happier, but it was more than this and I really wish I could do a better job of explaining it.

I feel as if the impending-ness of 2015 made me shed my 2014 skin.  Ill feelings I had were erased.  Worries that constantly plagued me, while still there, seemed less overwhelming and important.  For the first time in a long time, or maybe even in forever, I felt like everything was going to be ok; like everything is exactly as it should be.  I feel like I’ve truly let go of all of the baggage that has accumulated in the past few years.  I feel like these moments, regrets, fears, mistakes, will no longer rule my life and be a constant influence on the future decisions I make.

I’ve mentioned before how much I love New Years (https://hereswhatimtryingtosay.wordpress.com/2013/12/27/the-time-has-come-the-walrus-said-to-talk-of-many-things/) It’s this wonderfully magical time when you can just start over.  I’m not naive enough to think that the world actually resets itself or that you can’t simply start over any other day of the year, but something happens when you get close to a new year.  You can feel the difference, the change in the air, the realization that hope is on its way.

I am no longer the person I was when 2014 began, and I really couldn’t be happier with the changes that have occurred, but I think there’s more.  I’d like to keep this feeling of peace and calm.  I’d like to do better.  I’d like to be better.  The changes I’ve made to myself are indisputable, but with baby #3 on the way, there is no doubt that I can still grow, I can still change, I can still become a better person, a person that all my children can be proud of.

A person that I can be proud of.

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Challenges: The Obligatory Resolutions Post

“It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believe in myself.” ~Muhammad Ali

So, I guess this could be considered my obligatory New Years Resolution post.  I could bore you with my endless downpour of yearly recycled resolutions (drink less, eat more vegetables, be a nicer wife, be a better mother, etc.) but I won’t.  These are the same hundred or so plans that I make every year and every year I feel like a failure when I still occasionally suck at being a mom, when I still occasionally yell at my husband for no apparent reason, when I still occasionally have one too many glasses of wine, and when I still occasionally choose party mix over carrots.

And somehow, when I keep making the same resolutions year after year, I wonder why nothing changes; why I’m still depressed more than I’m happy, why I’m still not at the weight or fitness level that I want to be, why my home life is not as wonderful as it could be.  Part of this, of course, is that I never put forth enough effort.  For about two weeks I do everything in my power to change what I think needs to be changed, and then when things do change, I stop putting forth any effort and slack off…and things tend to go back to sucking. Shocking, I know.

Which is why, this year, I’m making monthly resolutions as opposed to yearly ones.  I’m hoping that this way I can keep things fresh, change things up when I need to, evaluate what’s working and what’s not, tweak and add and subtract when needed.  Also, I’ll be able to see a light at the end of the tunnel.  I tend to loose focus or get discouraged or simply become complacent when I have too long to complete something.  And, of course, there is the procrastination aspect as well.  Why do today what you can do tomorrow instead?

A resolution, simply put, is the firm idea to do or not do something.  I guess, these ideas that I have for the month of January aren’t really resolutions so much as they are challenges and goals…things I am hoping to accomplish, though in the strict sense of the word I am resolute about accomplishing them.

So, long story short, each month I’ll come up with some sort of theme that encompasses the things I want to accomplish and at the end of the month evaluate how I did and make up new goals (or keep the same goals) for the next month.

January’s theme is simple: Take yourself seriously.  You are important. So many times I decide I can’t do things simply based on what other people would say if they found out I was doing them.  If I want to be a runner, I will.  If I want to learn a new language, I’ll do it.  If I want to dye my hair green, so be it.  Sometimes it’s ok to be selfish about things you want, especially if it will make you a better person in the long run.  And for those people who will judge, or be jealous, or try to bring you down, screw them.  I’ve got too much other crap going on. I don’t need any added negativity.

January’s Goals and Challenges

Body
1. Run 3-4 days a week

2. Be able to run 3 miles by the end of January

3. Complete the planking, squats, and pushup challenge (on pinterest)

4. Give up diet coke

Mind:
1. Take the opportunity to write at least twice a week

2. Read 2 new books

3. Learn a different knitting stitch than the only one that know

Soul:
1. NO cellphone, ipad, computer after 9:30 pm unless an emergency (or reading a book on the ipad, as I wind up downloading most of them).  No more mindless surfing and time wasting.

2. Do something scary each week: call someone on the phone, wear my running pants without feeling the need to hike shorts over them simply because I’m self conscious, etc.

3. Make an effort to be more world-conscious: shop more at local businesses, stop being so wasteful, etc.

4. Stop being so damn angry all the time: at my students, at my own kids, at my husband, at friends who have let me down.  I need to stop carrying this baggage every where I go.  It’s not solving any problems.

Honestly, these don’t seem so unreasonable (except maybe the diet coke :).

I know I can do it and I know there are people out there who will support me in this endeavor, and really, support me anything I decide to do.  And those are the people I really need to keep around.

Blast from the Past: 2012 New Year’s Post

Here is my New Years Resolution Post from 2012.  Oh how things change and still remain the same.

Each year I try and come up with a few (dozen) New Year’s resolutions, and every year I fail miserably when trying to follow them.  Maybe it’s because I know that 7 million other people are making the same exact ones (eat healthier, exercise more, yell at the kids less).  I don’t know.  The point is that this year I am only going to make one resolution: no regrets.  I have spent so many years regretting almost every decision I have made and I realize this is a giant waste of my time.  No matter what choice I made I always figured that it was the wrong one, that maybe the grass was greener on the other side of the fence.  Then I worry and complain and whine because yet again I didn’t get my way (when in fact, that’s exactly what I got).

I came up with this resolution a few nights ago when a friend asked me and my husband out for New Years Eve.  I had to decline because of the kids and I began to reminisce about what it was like before I had kids.  When M was first born I was too scared to ever think that way.  M was our little miracle baby after a bunch of mishaps so it felt almost blasphemous to feel tired and simply need a break.  Once O came along though, the weight of working full time and having two tiny kids really did start to take its toll and I began to remember what it felt like to sleep in, eat whenever/whatever I wanted, drive out to the beach on a moments notice, pick up and move to a different state, go out with friends when they invited…

I started to think where I would be if I hadn’t had kids.  Would I be teaching english in Chile?  Would I have joined the Peace Corps?  Would I be getting my Ph.D?  All these little thoughts begin to creep into my sub conscience and I start to feel jilted, like I would be so much happier and better off if I had waited for a few more years and really done these wonderful, un-kid friendly things.

And then O looks at me a cracks up and M comes over to give me a snuggle and I realize had I become that person, running around the world doing all these wonderful things, what I would be thinking is how wonderful I bet my life would be if I had children to share it with.

Here’s to no regrets in 2012.

How nothing and everything has changed…

“Driving home, the sky accelerates
And the clouds all form a geometric shape
And it goes fast
You think of the past
Suddenly everything has changed” ~The Flaming Lips

Since I hadn’t been on Facebook in a few weeks, I missed random things that were happening.  As I perused a little this morning, I saw my brother had posted that last Thursday marked 6 months since my father passed away.  I couldn’t believe it.  Had it really been six months already? Had close to 180 days truly passed?  Have I simply been asleep or in a coma to suddenly wake up and find out this information? How can something feel like yesterday and years ago all at once?

I can honestly say that I have been through more in this 6 months than probably the rest of my life put together.  The dizzying highs and lows, the turmoil that was self-created throughout the summer, it caused a sort of retreat into myself that I have not quite been able to come out of yet.  True, I am not the person I was in August, not quite knowing which way was up and which way was down, confused about the sheer aspect of living life on a daily basis at time.  I am far from that, but I still sometimes feel the need to protect myself from people, and even from feelings, making sure I don’t become that summertime person I was.

While I have let go of the summer; of my dad, of memories, unsure decisions, and enlightening life changes, I haven’t truly let go.  Everything about these few months still hang around me like a dark cloud that could either blow on by or begin pouring down on me at any minute. Every time I think my stride has become right again and my path is straight and narrow a turn, or a rock, or even a small pebble comes out of nowhere to cause me to stumble and fall.  It causes me to relive and remember things that I don’t necessarily want to.

While I may have used the excuse of my dad dying before as the reason I was so off kilter this summer, I need to stop. First and foremost, it’s not fair to him.  He wasn’t a great man, frankly, he wasn’t a good man either, at least not to me, but when someone leaves us we can choose how we see things, and I choose to remember the early years over the later ones.  It’s not fair to continue to blame him for my short comings.  True, his death contributed, but only in the way that it caused initial strife and turmoil within myself.  I had the choice at that moment to begin getting better or continue down a path of self-destruction and we know which one I chose. I had no way to handle my feelings, or really simply to understand them, so I created myself anew, became someone that I wasn’t, simply so I wouldn’t have to deal with the effects of the pain; simply so I wouldn’t have to deal with feeling anything at all.

So many things died this summer, most notably, important parts of myself marred by uneasy choices and decisions along the way.  I have used the fall to rebuild what was lost and broken, and find the parts that were stolen and forgotten about. Some times I feel like I am back together better than ever and at others I feel like I am still a giant pile of rubble ready to be swept into the trash, missing pieces that are so integral to my survival

I’d like to be all zen and believe that all the decisions, even the bad ones, contribute to who you are. I’d like to think that even the bad decisions have gotten me to the place I am today and I should be grateful.  But I’m not all zen. I’m not even a little zen.  I’m not an optimist, I’m a realist.  In the words of Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Life could be a little sweet, But life could be a little shitty.”  And really, in a nutshell, that’s how I feel.

But if we’re still breathing, if we’re still upright, if we can still find something to smile about, then we haven’t lost our hope.

What I know now more than ever is that sometimes life sucks.  But then again, sometimes it doesn’t.