Small Love

I haven’t been feeling well for the last few days.  Joe has class from 7-9:40 three days a week.  Even though he wasn’t going to get home until late, he offered to head to the pharmacy after class in order to get me some much needed medicine.

To some this might not seem like a big deal, but to me it means the world.  I know how long class is for him.  I know how much he just wants to get home afterwards.  But he offered to go out of his way to get me something I need…even though I very well could go out myself.  Let’s not even mention the fact that he’s the one who gets me out of bed to marathon train at 5 am most mornings.  That’s more than dedication.  That’s more than caring.  That’s love.  Plain and simple.

It’s the small tokens of love that are the most meaningful and important. These are the tokens that had been missing from my life for quite some time.

Had I been sick before it would have been met with contempt, almost as if my sickness was a major inconvenience that I contrived in order to make someone’s like more difficult.  Or I would be met with the fact that he was also sick…and even though I was working a full time job, along with being a full time wife and mother, I was still expected to take care of one more person.

I think about these small moments when I feel someone judging me for leaving.  They don’t know what it was like; to never feel like someone cared or to never feel “taken care of”. I think sometimes people forget that meanness and non-caring isn’t all about outward nastiness.  It’s not always name calling or a controlling nature.  Sometimes it really is the fact that you are overlooked and feel completely unimportant in everyday life.

Sometimes someone taking 15 minutes out of their day to show you small tokens of love is all you need to realize you’ve found “the one”.  It’s moments like these that make it all worth it.

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Lenten Promises

Sigh.  A week without wine. I’m ready to throw in the towel.

I’ve been thinking about Lent a lot lately.  I’m not sure why, because I’m not particularly religious.  I think it’s the whole idea about willpower and of beating myself at something.  I’m nothing if I’m not competitive.  I assumed that the hardest thing for me would be to give up wine and that if I could do it for Lent, I could do anything.   And let’s all agree, this is not true.  Giving up wine is not going to give me some insane super power that is going to magically change my life.  It’s just not, and I feel foolish for even thinking it.

As I sit here in my dining room, the sun shining outside, and the wind blowing through the windows I opened, I’m pretty sure I’m doing this Lent “thing” wrong.  As a matter of fact, I’m positive that I am.  Joe and I each decided to give up something for lent that we felt we over-consumed.  For me, wine (though I gave up all alcohol) and for him soda.  And do you know what we did the minute we decided to give them up?  We began planning for Good Friday when we can have them again.  We know exactly where we are going to eat, and exactly what we were going to drink.

Each day we count how many more days we have until we can imbibe again.  Our conversations and communications with each other throughout the day have picked up, but it’s basically each of us telling the other that we want wine or soda and the other one agreeing wholeheartedly before ushering in the “we can do it”s and any other encouraging comments we can muster.

So in a nutshell…we’re talking more but simply about what can’t have and planning for the minute that we can have it again.

I’ll say it again…I think we’re going about this the wrong way. Or at least I am.  What is the point of giving up wine for lent if I’m going to go right back to it? What is the point of giving up wine for lent if it does not affect my life in any way (neither positively or negatively)?

No.  This is not an excuse to go out and buy myself a bottle of wine right now and call it a day.  It may seem like that, but it’s not.  While many people tend to focus on the “fasting” portion of Lent, giving up something we don’t need, depriving ourselves of the excesses and luxuries we may have in order to become more attuned spiritually, we forget that Lent is really a time of self-examination and reflection, a time in which we look inward to really determine ways we can be better: whether it is ways to better serve the Lord, ways to grow spiritually, or simply ways you can make a positive impact on the world, or others, or yourself.

Maybe instead of depriving ourselves of something it would be more admirable to find small ways to change our habits.  Maybe I should add in a reading time each day instead of TV watching.  Somehow I feel like I never have time to read for pleasure, but have no trouble finding time to binge watch 10 episodes of The Office.  Maybe I add a mandatory “no phone” time for myself (another black hole of time suckage along with the TV).  Maybe I make sure I complete a mile every day (whether it’s walking or running) just to get some time outside away from technology with my family and boyfriend.  Maybe I do all three.

To make a long story short (too late) I need to rethink this.  If I want to do this right…really do this right…I need to start thinking of ways I can better myself for more than just 40 days. I need to be in it for the long haul.

 

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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Giving Up

Ah…

The season of Lent is upon us.  A time when people give up something they can live without for 40 days.  While I’m not overly religious (or even religious at all) I try, each year, to give up something in order to test my willpower and hopefully make me a better person.  Or at least, a semblance of a better person that one can become in 40 days.

The idea behind giving something up is that it is something that, in some way, negatively affects us.  Some people give up chocolate or caffeine, time spent on facebook, television, sugar, etc.  I thought long and hard about what I wanted to give up this year…and finally landed on the obvious…wine (any alcohol really).  I know, I know, I’ve said it before.  But I really do think I’m going to make it this time.  I’m trying to get back into running, trying to eat healthier, and trying to save money…all things that are very much affected by wine drinking.  I know it will be hard (it’s day one and I’m already dying after Kindergarten Valentine’s Day Party insanity), but the hard things are usually the most important.

But will I become a better person simply by giving up alcohol?  In that respect, I’m not so sure.  For the first week or two I’m probably going to be more grumpy to be honest, but that’s probably it.  So I feel like I need something else.  Something that will really help me become a better “me”: a better mother, a better teacher, a better girlfriend.  Something that will make me happier.  Something that will make me more whole.

So I have decided each day during lent I’m going to give up something that I feel is holding me back or holding me down.  Something that is toxic or negatively affecting my sense of self.  Something I may be too scared to face, or think, or do.  I’ll try to write about it as much as I can (which will also help me accomplish my goal of writing more) but life happens and I know I can’t make any promises.

Day #1: Giving up the guilt over my relationship.

Joe and I have been dating for almost a year and a half now and not a day goes by when I don’t feel the guilt over how our relationship started or how my marriage ended.  Those that I am close with (and have remained close with) know the whole story, but I know many people only know bits and pieces that they may have heard from me or from another source, or simply through the grape vine.

My marriage had been rocky for awhile.  And by that I mean about 5-6 years.  Things would occasionally get better and then get worse again.  He was mean and controlling, or passive and lazy (we worked in extremes), and I spent a lot of time wanting to leave and not knowing how.  I felt bad about leaving him with nothing, I had no idea where to go, and so many other excuses I continued to make over and over again.

While we had known each other for a few years, Joe and I became friends at the downward slope in both of our marriages.  And as we became closer, we realized how much we had in common and how much enjoyed each other’s company.  Then we fell in love.  Plain and simple.  It wasn’t planned.  We didn’t set out to do it.  And we sure as hell didn’t set out to hurt anyone else.  I’m sure if you listen to the other side of the story, thats the way it would sound.  That certain people were complete innocent and I was the vindictive one.  I know that’s not the case, and honestly, so does she.  I could say more, but I won’t.  It’s not my style.  And that’s not what this post is about.

While I know the timeline wasn’t the best, and there are things I could have done better, I don’t regret it.  I’m happy. Happier than I’ve even been.  And Joe’s happy.  And my kids are happy.  Though he won’t admit it, I think Mike’s happy too.  And so is Joe’s ex.  While we all felt horrible while going through the fire, now that the flames are out and we can finally breathe, things are looking so much better for everyone.

So, I’m going to stop feeling guilty.  I’m going to forgive myself. I’m going to enjoy my relationship and i’m going to let it continue to change me for the better.

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My Latent Love

I wrote this post about Oliver a few short days before his first birthday.  It is still so pertinent today.

My little Oliver is about to turn one in just twelve short days.  I have really been reflecting on this lately because, as I look back, I can’t believe how far we’ve come and what we’ve overcome together.

Max has always been considered and probably always will be considered my little miracle baby.  Born after 2 losses, arriving almost six weeks early, it was hard not to love him at first sight.  This was something I had worked so hard to obtain, not just for for nine months, but for the three years before he was born as well.  He looked exactly like me and we were inseparable since our first day together.   And, in all honesty, we still are.  We are two peas in a pod, cut from the same cloth.  Our personalities are so in sync that at times it is hard to figure out where I end and he begins.  There is, of course, a bond between father and son, but not quite like the one we share.

In opposition, being pregnant with Oliver felt like a chore.  I know it had  a lot to do with having a toddler already, having to keep it a secret because we lived with my in laws at the time, and spending all my time worrying about where we were going to live, how we were going to pay for things, etc, but still I wanted it to be over.  I was ready for him to be born and ready to get the “parenting two under two” show going.

When he was born, he was absolutely perfect in every way a baby could be, but I was still worried.  Not about him because he was everyone’s favorite, but about Max and how we would take it.  I know I should have been more worried about Oliver, trying to spend more time with him, but I felt like, for some reason, he didn’t need me as much.  He had daddy, and the grandparents, everyone fawning all over him and all I could think about was how to make sure Max was included in all of the newness and excitement.

I know moms that will sugar coat things and say that bringing a new baby into the fold was easy and natural, but I’m not going to lie.  From the minute we walked in that door and we were all left alone it was hard.  Taking care of two in a tiny house was insane.  Having no income at all while on maternity leave was a nightmare.  Oliver was sick a lot and in turn we were all sick.  My sleep suffered.  My marriage suffered, everything seemed to be changing and I really wasn’t ready for it to.

My siblings and I are completely different, so I don’t know why I thought that Oliver would be easy just like his brother.  There were/are so many differences, even from the beginning.  Oliver wanted a lot of attention.  He loved to be held and be around people, especially his brother.  He was noisy and cried a lot and ate a lot, and was a terrible sleeper (still is!)

But with all of that came his smile, his huge blue eyes, and his ability to find joy and laugh at everything.  My day doesn’t feel complete if Oliver isn’t up to say goodbye to me in the morning.  No matter what kind of day I am having, seeing him run to greet me when I come home with that huge smile on his face is all I need to change my day around completely.  He is definitely daddy’s boy, through and through, but I know we have something too, a connection that only a mom and son could have.  It may have taken a little while, but now I realize that I would not be able to function if he were not here with us.  He is the puzzle piece in the middle…the one without which you have no idea what the picture actually is, the one that keeps everyone together.

At first I felt guilty about these feelings I had, like I wasn’t a good enough mother for some reason because my heart did not burst full of love the minute he came into this world, but I know that I shouldn’t.  My love for Oliver grew a little bit each day and I know that even now it is not done growing.  Today I can say I love him to the moon and back, but I know we still have the rest of the universe to conquer together.

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Happy Birthday.

The day before I left Mike it was his birthday.  Having postponed the move so many times, I finally decided that would be the official day.  Determined to have one last day of family and one last day of togetherness, the kids and I spent our day creating the illusion of happiness.  We went out to buy presents, made a cake, decorated cards, and prepared a favorite dinner.  None of it was really appreciated, as I knew it wouldn’t be, but we did it anyway.  It was important to me for the kids to see me still making the effort to do nice things for their father, even though we were no longer together, even though our world was going to change dramatically in the next 24 hours.

I still made the effort. And that seems to be the one sentence that can sum up my 13 years of marriage to a man I am no longer in love with.

I still made the effort.

And now, today is my birthday.  A different birthday than every other year. Since Oliver and I are two days apart, my birthday usually falls in the shadows of his.  But this year, some one has gone out of their way to make it extra special and for that I will always be grateful.

I have loved the calls and the voicemails, the facebook posts, the emails, and the text messages telling me Happy Birthday.  I even received one from my father-in-law (ex-father-in-law? Too many hyphens to be sure) telling me Happy Birthday!  Happy birthday exclamation point…as if he really is being genuine even though I have left his son.

Yet, as of 11 am, there have been no texts or calls from Mike wishing me a happy birthday.  There were the texts asking me about emailing Max’s teacher since he is sick and home from school.  There were the texts asking me about bills that need to be paid.  These texts began at 6:32 this morning, and yet, not one saying Happy Birthday.

At least once a week there is the text asking me when I am “coming home” and getting back together with him. But not a single happy birthday.  Yes, I know it’s still early in the day, but still…you’d think if you loved someone so much and wanted them back in your life, it would the first thing you say.

I can’t really act like I’m surprised.  He’s notoriously famous for forgetting my birthday, even when we were together. Really, that’s a tiny piece of the enormous puzzle of why I left.  I’m sure other’s have their judgements.  I ran off with another man.  I broke up a marriage.  I put my happiness above Mike’s.  All true, of course, but also insignificant pieces to the larger picture.

Do I need a happy birthday from him?  No.  Not in the least.  I’m glad to know that even when he didn’t care about my day, I still made the effort for his.

And I will choose to do so with the kids each August 14th.

 

 

 

Nostalgia

Nostalgia is a funny thing.  I usually try and shy away from it as it tends to make me sad.  I sugar coat the past at times, putting the shiny crystal sheen on things making me think I had it better when, in actuality, I probably didn’t. Charleston, kid free times, college – all things I think back on fondly, wishing I was still there in those moments, never really remembering the times that weren’t so good.

Today, though, was different.

I’ve been contemplating the idea of accepting my guaranteed entry to the NYC marathon since I dropped out last year.  I told myself that maybe this was the year I would *actually* do it if I could just take the first step and get out the door to exercise.  Today made three days in a row and I’m pretty damn proud of myself for that.

Today is cold.  And snowy.  But I managed to get the workout clothes on and out the front door to run/walk/jog/slide for 30 minutes.

As I began navigating the neighbor streets where I now live, the neighborhood streets where I lived years ago when I first began running, the nostalgia was overpowering.  This is where it all began…my love for running.  The shiny beacon in an otherwise tumultuous time in my life where I could barely stay afloat.  And then out of the blue “Summertime Sadness” by Lana Del Rey came on and my heart stopped.

This could be the fall of 2013 when I first started running.  That song took me right back to those moments so many years ago.  The early mornings and sore legs.  The darkness of running pre-dawn.  The excitement I felt when I ran down certain streets and crested certain hills and the annoyance I felt with others.

Not only did I fall in love with running on these streets and sidewalks, for the first time I actually fell in love with myself.

This girl.

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And this one.

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The girl who completed her first Runner’s World Run Streak.

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And her first half marathon.

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The girl who was happiest and had the biggest smile when completely covered in sweat.

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This wasn’t the same kind of nostalgia that I was used to.  It wasn’t so much remembering what I had as discovering what I can absolutely have again.

With this short 30 minutes this morning I began to realize that maybe I never lost my love of running or even myself.  Maybe it’s always been here.  In this neighborhood.  On these streets, waiting for me to return.  Because this is where I belong.