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.

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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Back to the Start

I’ve been wanting to write again for quite a while, but as usual, I had no idea where to start.  I currently have 9 notes in my phone about things I want to write about, but when I sit down and open up WordPress…crickets.  Every time.

So, today, in my all plague-induced sickness haze, I think maybe I’ll go back through my old blog posts and see what I used to write about.  Maybe it will spark something so I can get going again.

After all that, you know what I realized…I’ve fallen very far from the person I’ve become.

I used to think that the person I was in late 2013-2014 was so misguided and had no idea who she was.  I thought she was a mess.  I thought she was at the bottom.  But looking back over those posts I can’t believe how wrong I was.

She was strong.  She was honest.  She was brave.  She was motivating.  She was a survivor.

She climbed out of the darkness and found the light again.

I envy her.  I admire her.  I want to be her.

I know she is in here somewhere.  I just have to find her again.

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From the old to the new

I got my haircut today.  And registered to run the NYC marathon.  Two things that really needed to happen.

While my haircut is pretty great, we all know this isn’t what this post is about.

I earned my guaranteed entry by deferring my entrance from last year to this year.  Last year I wasn’t ready.  I thought getting in by lottery would make me ready.  It didn’t.  Life happened.  And then more life.  I stopped running. I stopped trying.  I stopped everything.

But now things are different.  I’m still not ready for this marathon.  Not by a long shot.  I’ll be one of those last finishers that everyone waits for, but I don’t care.  I’ll do it anyway and be proud of any amount of time it takes me.  Going from zero to marathon is no small feat.  I know this.

I knew my guaranteed entry was coming but I hesitated signing up again.  I would think yes, then no, then yes again, then no again…I think you get the picture.  Then the lottery opened and my emailed arrived confirming what I already knew.  And still I waited.  After posting on social media about how I was unsure of which decision to make my friends and complete strangers encouraged me: it’s a once in a life time opportunity, don’t hesitate – just do it, I have faith in you.  The words resonated with me so much and I began to think maybe I could do this.  Maybe I could “run” a marathon.

But still…I waited.  $295 dollars is no small amount of money and for someone who is paying the bills in two households, it’s more than I can waste.  What if I chickened out again?  What if the self-doubt and fear overtakes me?   What if I really can’t do it?  That’s a lot of money to flush down the drain.

And then, on whim, on a random Thursday night, I sold my old engagement ring.  A ring I had picked out and essentially paid for myself.  A ring that represented a marriage and a union that no longer existed.  A ring that was bought for a person who no longer exists.  I didn’t get a lot for it.  Not nearly as much as we paid for it almost 16 years ago.  But you know what it was enough to cover?  An entry fee to the NYC marathon as well as some left over (training gear, perhaps?).

With a few clicks of a button it was done, and I was registered, letting a piece of who I once was turn me into someone I know I can be.

NYC 2018…here I come.

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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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I’m not me. But I will be soon.

I started the post awhile ago and then stopped.  There are so many truths within it that I just didn’t know if I was willing to face them.  By admitting these things, I feel like my life course, my life as I know it, essentially all that I am, will be different.  And I’m literally writing this after I had a mental breakdown on the side of the road at 5:30 in the morning.

I started running when my dad died.  Ok.  That’s not entirely accurate, but that’s the truth that I tend to tell people because it seems more acceptable than the real story.  More acceptable and less ugly. But really, what have I got to lose at this point?  Nothing.  They say the truth will set you free.  Well, maybe that’s just what I need.  Freedom from who I think I am so I can become the real me.

After my dad died I fell apart.  Which was odd to me because we hadn’t spoken in 5 years.  But I had often seen myself in him.  He was angry a lot and tended to push those who were closest to him away.  As I watched him die sick and alone I worried that this is what my life was destined for.  And I tried to run away from everything.  During that time I got caught up in a relationship that I shouldn’t have.  I thought it was healing me when in reality it was slowly dismantling me.  When it ended, leaving me heartbroken and empty, I had no idea how to handle two losses in such a short amount of time.  So I went for a run.  And it truly saved me. I had found something that could put me back together, slowly and piece by piece.

And it worked…for a time.

I loved being able to say I was a runner.  It helped me feel accomplished, like I could do anything.  It made me feel more confident and pretty bad ass. But it also gave me an escape from my life, the escape I thought I had needed before; a way to “run away” so to speak.  In reality, it didn’t save me from myself.  It simply gave me the outlet to gloss over my problems; to bury them deep down and save them for another day.

Cut to me crying on the side of the road because I couldn’t run.  I have so much going on in my life that I had begun to use running as that escape again.  Now I have an injury and can’t run.  What am I supposed to do?  Without the running, I’m actually going to have to face the demons in my life.  I’m actually going to have to figure out what’s wrong and get to the root of my problems.

And I don’t know if I can do that.  I’ve been putting them in the background for so long that I don’t how to face my problems without running away.  I don’t know if I’m entirely ready to make these hard decisions that I know have to be made.  I don’t think I’m disciplined enough to make the changes that I need to make in order to actually survive.

But maybe that’s why this happened.  Maybe this injury is the universe’s way of telling me to grow a pair and handle my shit.  Because life is short.  And time is not guaranteed.

I need to say good-bye to running for awhile.  I need to learn how to cope without it. I need to learn how to love myself completely without the label of being a runner.  Once I’m whole again, we can start our journey all over, when running is something in my life and not the only thing.

Here goes nothing.

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Snow is serious business

The summer before I graduated from college (circa 2003) Mike and I drove across the country.  We visited 36 states in 3 weeks.  It was the most magical and fun trip I had ever taken.  And it’s this exact trip that convinced me that I could, in fact, get married.  I figured if we could basically live in a car together for 21 days and come out the other end alive, then we could pledge eternity to each other.

If knew me growing up, you’d know I never even thought about marriage.  Both my parents were on their second marriages before I came along.  I am also what caused their marriage (They were married in June.  I was born in January.  You do the math.).  Their marriage was tumultuous to say the least.  Fighting, screaming, throwing, cheating, drugs, alcohol, guilt, and insults were what I witnessed almost every day.  We would all beg for them to get divorced and my mom left a few times, always coming back in the end.  She would tell us it was for love, but we knew the real reason: loneliness and lack of money always won out in the end.  It wasn’t until I was 18 that they finally divorced and only because my mother had another person to help take care of her.

To say these experiences shaped the way I look at love and marriage would be an understatement.  From a very young age I had decided I didn’t want to be married.  Or have children.  I saw the strain they brought to things and having pretty much raised my younger siblings, I felt like my child rearing days were over.  Even when I would play with my dolls when I was younger, I never played house.  I always played orphanage.  That way I was still taking care of my “babies” but not having to be their mother. And I also wouldn’t be required to have a husband.

Sure, I had crushes.  Who didn’t?  But I never thought about them in the long term and I tended to flit from one person to another as my mood changed.  Finally, in college, I met Mike, we dated, and after our car trip I figured maybe I could do the marriage thing.  Maybe I wasn’t as broken as I actually thought I was.

Cut to the end of 2015/beginning of 2016.  14 years together.  Almost 11 years married. Three children.  And completely unsure of the future. Throughout this separation, I’ve spent my days convinced I am making the best decision for me and my family and my nights unsure.   Conflicted is an understatement.  Torn apart might be better analogy.

And then, lo and behold, a snow storm.  And not just any snow storm…the largest single snow storm in Baltimore history.  Not only would I be trapped in the house with my husband and kids, but I would be trapped in the house for DAYS.  How would we manage our hostility and hurt when there was no where to go?  It’s not even that I wouldn’t be leaving for work.  We literally could not leave the house. And I refused to simply use the children as a buffer as my parents had done so many times.

And maybe that’s where the real story begins.  Or, should I say, maybe that’s where a new story begins.  Maybe being trapped by this snowstorm was the best thing that could have happened to us.  Without a means to escape, we would have to face our problems head on and full force.  There was nowhere to hide.  And really no reason to.  Without being able to leave, we couldn’t lie to ourselves or each other anymore.  We would have to start being honest.  We would have to actually do some work.  Even if not to fix things, but to figure out a way to live in quiet harmony.

And you know what?  We did.  I’m not saying that everything is magically fixed.  It’s not. And it won’t be for a long time.  But without being able to escape I had to confront everything: my feelings, his feelings, the past, the present, the future.  And for the first time in a long time, I haven’t wanted to leave.  There’s a glimmer of something that I used to feel peeking up from behind the years of complacency and routine. Perhaps we need to see if this is anything worth saving.   Perhaps there’s a chance that it is actually worth working for.  Maybe it’s not…but maybe it is.

I feel a hope and a promise I haven’t felt for years.  Maybe, just maybe, we’re finally getting somewhere.