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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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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Processing

It’s been a while since I have written anything.  Life has been busy, and wonderful, and messy and excruciating all at the same time.  But that’s usually how life is; the good with the bad, the best with the worst.


As the weather gets warmer I tend to spend most of my time outside, soaking up the sunshine, recharging my batteries, and just letting my mind wander to the tune of a gentle breeze and warmth on my face.  Lately my mind has been drifting more and more to the relationships in my life; friends, foes, loves, lovers, children, colleagues, etc, and how some stay and some go.


Recently, I lost a friend.  I’ll save you all the dramatics that surrounded it, but quite simply, one minute we were friends and the next minute we weren’t.  And quiet honestly it was for a stupid, arbitrary reason that I won’t even dignify by putting it into writing.  There was no falling out.  There was no betrayal.  Quite simply, it just ended.  But irregardless of the reason, I have one less friend than I had before.  Because of that I feel like “less” than I was before, like something in my life is missing…because it is.


And I’m sad.  I miss my friend.


There’s something so refreshing about having people with which you can be your unequivocal self, with no questions asked and no judgements posed.  I have very few people like this in my life, so when I find someone who’s soul meshes well with mine, I try to hold on to them for as long as I can.  I’m fiercely loyal and protective of these friends, so when one of them has to leave, it hurts.  A lot.


But all this aside, my most recent friendship ending has led me to evaluate many other friendships and relationships in my life.  I have best friends, and close friends, and acquaintances, all of which play integral roles in my life and help shape who I am.   And they all play their self-selected roles well.  We’re there for each other.  We check in.  We do the celebrating when it’s warranted and the cheering up when needed.  Just by being in my life, every single one of them makes me a better person.


But if that is the case, if I have some truly amazing people in my life, then why, oh why, do I continue my relationships with the toxic ones as well?  Those are the friends that lie, cheat, and manipulate their way through friendships and relationships.  It’s usually directed towards other people, not at us.  And we sit back silently and watch the way they treat other, judging quietly, but not saying anything.  Because it will never be us.  They’ll never lie to us or manipulate us.  We’re safe, we believe.


Until we’re not.  Until we realize that we’re the ones being lied to. And the moment you catch them in that lie, it’s like the wind gets knocked out of you.  You have no breath, you have no words.  And then comes the anger…followed shortly after by the overwhelming sadness.


And we tell ourselves that’s just the way they are and it’s something we need to put up with in order to keep the friendship.  And up to a short time ago, I would have believed this.  I would have put on my game face, hoped they didn’t do it again, and let our lives move on just as they had been doing.


But today…no.  Today I say THIS IS BULLSHIT.


Why the hell am I going to continue to put up with someone who treats me so poorly?  And not just me…but everyone else as well.  And the plain and simple answer is: I’m not.  I have some amazing people in my life, including my most recently lost friend.  I don’t need to continue to be friends with the toxic ones; the ones that make me feel less than, the ones that always make me second guess the truth, the ones I simply do not trust.


I’m 35 years old and I know that I still have a lot to figure out when it comes to life, love, and relationships.  Most days I feel like I don’t know much at all.  But I do know this.  I’m no longer going to allow these people to be in my life.  I may not always be the most self-confident person, but I do know I’m better than that.

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.

 

What defines us…

“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.” ~ Walter Anderson

It’s been a long time since I wrote a post.  Too long.  I really have no excuse.  I seem to form a million posts in my head every day but they never make it down.  Things have been busy, school was ending, and a million little things kept piling up and it was hard to keep my head above water most days.

I did accomplish something though…I ran my first 10k.  I won’t go into too much detail here because that is a post in itself but it was hard, scary, amazing, wonderful and a million other things all rolled into one.  It was the most fantastic accomplishment I have to date and has actually made me a little excited about tackling the half marathon in October.

I posted a few pictures to Facebook earlier today and although I live with myself every day, it’s crazy to see the changes that are happening, especially within the last year.  I run everyday. I’m in the best shape of my life. I’ve never felt better.  I have made so many lifestyle changes that I can’t help but be proud of all I have accomplished.  And yet…

There are other things I know I still need to focus on.  Character, emotional instability, and simply overall personality.

I tend to get angry too easily, and sometimes for reasons even I can’t identify.  I yell too much, and usually at the people who love me the most. At times I can be completely and utterly selfish…forgetting that it’s not just me in my life anymore, but that I’m also a wife and a mother.  I tend to push people away and challenge them too much…and not in a good way. Most days I am simply too much; too overbearing, too emotional, too demanding.  A tornado when most people can only handle a rainy day.  A hurricane when most people only want a light breeze.

And the worst part of it all?  I know most people can’t handle it.  But I still fault them anyway.  And the ones that can handle it?  I don’t cherish them as much as I should.

I seem to have the physical changes down…but maybe it’s time I start working on the other aspects of my life.

Because what’s the point in moving forward if I have no one to share my life with?

And today we rest

“Rest and be thankful.” ~ William Wordsworth

Normally about this time I would be heading to the gym or out for a run or even work (yuck!).  Not today.  I’ve decided that as 2013 comes to a close I need a day off, a day to rest and reflect, a day to mentally prepare for 2013 ending and 2014 beginning.  This is the time of year that so many articles are posted on the internet about letting go, moving on, and making peace with the past.  That is exactly what I intend to do today.

2013 was a truly excruciating year.  Between issues with Max and learning about his profound hearing loss, a miscarriage on mother’s day, my dad dying, summer time discombobulation, relationship woes, and a tough beginning of the school year I wonder how I was able to come out of all of it still breathing and right side up.  I’m ready to let all of this go, to be finished mourning the losses, to end the regrets I have, and to march into 2014 with a clean slate, ready to take back my life.

I’m even going to take the day off from working out, from running, from stretching, from all of it.  With all the new stretches and exercises I’ve been doing in order to improve my running, plus the running itself, my legs are sore!  It’s a good kind of sore, one that shows me that these muscles have been underutilized for a long time, the kind of sore that shows me that I am actually doing something and making progress.  I love how I feel after a good workout and run, but every now and then it’s good to take a break.  It keeps me motivated and aching (literally) to get back into my routine.  Plus, with the goals I’ve set for January, I need a day to simply mentally and physically prepare.

So today I rest and reflect and let go, for tomorrow is not only a new day, but a new month and a new year and I plan on making it fabulous.

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