The happy ending (no, not that kind).

I felt the need to do a follow-up post to yesterday’s whiny rant.

I do believe in feeling one’s feelings. I believe in sitting with your shit and moving through it. I am not a proponent of hiding from uncomfortable and persistent thoughts. That is what yesterday was about. I realized the age thing was bugging me so I did what I do best, I wrote and cried and worked through it. I think that post was the most uncomfortable one for me to write yet (which is saying something!). It dove headfirst into some very personal insecurities I was having trouble acknowledging I even had.

I hold myself to impossible standards much of the time. It’s kind of exhausting.

Here is what I have learned since writing yesterday:

I have this outer shell, a husk, a body – it’s got wrinkles, stretch marks, freckles, gray hairs, and sagging breasts. I have hazel eyes with blues and greens and spots in them, brown hair with streaks of red and blonde, a myriad of tattoos, a partly shaved head, and a petite frame.

But these things aren’t who I am. Not even close.

In my 42 years, I have moved a total of 19 times, raised 15 cats, 8 dogs, a smattering of fish, hermit crabs, mice, and snakes. I have owned 3 homes and been married twice to two different guys with the same first name. I went to 5 different colleges and finally graduated at the age of 30. I was an english/philosophy major, then studied to be a vet tech, then settled on developmental psychology. I got into college one time by just writing a poem. I used to read at least 3 books a week. I went to graduate school and left with just 3 classes remaining. I am going back to finish graduate school this fall. I have lived in 5 different states. I got pregnant at 19 and had a miscarriage at 12 weeks. I had 2 babies both over 9 pounds (one was nearly 10). My daughter was born blue and non-responsive (she’s just fine now). My son was in the ER 3 times before he was 5 months old. Over the course of my life I have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, co-dependency, bi-polar disorder, and PTSD. Only two of those turned out to be accurate. When I was little, I used to talk to a tape recorder and pretend I was a game show host. I still have one of those tapes. I lived with a parent who was so mentally ill he had to live in an institution for 3 months. I have been divorced twice. I watched my dad die at the age of 9. I had a suicide attempt at the age of 19. My husband leaving was my first real break up and I am quite certain that I have many more of those to go through. There were moments of pure joy and unspeakable heartache in there. Things I wish I could forget and things I never want to.

It’s a life. It is my life.

I have lived and loved and lost.

And you know what? I own all of these things. I am not what I look like, I am what I have lived through. All of my stories, all of my growing and learning and living, are what make up who I am. All of the shit I have been through, it all fits together to make up one me, an Amy! I am not the same person I was at 9 nor am I the same person I was last week. I keep changing and evolving. Rolling with the punches. I keep choosing life. I keep creating more stories.

Society tries to dictate SO MUCH. I ‘should be’ wrinkle-free, ageless, and dress appropriately for my age. I need to dye my hair because gray hair is just – ewww. I cannot look old or grow old because society believes that once you are old, life simply sucks. As a woman, I need to make sure that I am sexy and fit for as long as I can possibly hold out. I should get Botox and a tummy tuck. Maybe even a breast lift too! I need to date older men or people will call me a cougar. And the connotation there is DESPERATE. I can’t sleep with too many men or I will be called a slut. Also, just to confuse things, I can’t know that I am sexy or smart or confident because then I will be called a bitch or stuck up.

FUCK THAT.

Please, for the love of god, can we just celebrate life as we live it? See each other as beautiful souls filled with love and light and stories worth sharing? Look past the physical and embrace our imperfect bodies and meet each other someplace more meaningful? More vulnerable?

I see you. I accept you. I love you – just as you are.

I think that’s the happy ending I couldn’t find yesterday.

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Age. Apparently, It’s a Thing.

I am finally acknowledging something that hurts to admit.

My age is starting to bug me. It is becoming a ‘thing’ my mind keeps coming back to. And per usual, I need to pay some attention to these thoughts; to process through them and make sense of the acute physical distress they are currently causing me.

I didn’t mind growing older until now. Age made no difference! I had a husband and a family. I had my partner in life and in love; we were growing old together! That was the plan, god damnit! Now that I seem to be growing old alone, I feel sick to my stomach about what this means. I constantly feel the pressure of time; and I feel as though it is running out.

I can’t explain why, but I feel terrified and alone and scared. This is causing me distress and the fact that it is causing me distress is pissing me off. Royally.

Get it together Amy!

I don’t want to feel old. I don’t want age to be a ‘thing’ but fuck, it is and I cannot ignore it any longer.

I have no idea why it is that I seem to keep connecting with people who are 10-15 years younger than I am. I am one of the older people in many of these new social circles I seem to gravitate toward. I am starting to feel self-conscious, a new feeling for me. Is it because I am in this new ‘adolescent’ stage in my life? I am literally rediscovering who I am and where I fit into the world, and this has me out and about, meeting new people all the damn time. But why should it matter what age these new friends are?

I suppose that most people my age have families and marriages and lives that involve family stuff. I don’t have that any more (that fact still hurts like a mother fucker). But at the same time, I don’t want that. I don’t want that life of complacency or stagnation. I don’t ever want to stop learning, growing, or playing. That doesn’t seem like really living to me.

At all.

I want adventure and laughter and new experiences. I want a partner in life and love. Explosive love! Unhinged, unabashed, unfiltered LOVE. Bring it.

(And yet, don’t. Because I am scared shitless of getting hurt again).

I seem to like younger men and society dictates that I am a ‘cougar’ because of this. I do not like that label. Actually, I fucking hate it. It is disgusting and rampantly sexist. Being called a so-called ‘cougar’ takes away from who I am as a fucking HUMAN BEING. I am a woman, and my age or my status in life should not be what define me. Sure, those things make up an integral part of who I am, but I am much more than that ridiculous label would imply.

I don’t like being called a MILF either. Aside from the gazillion reasons this label is offensive, I know exactly why it irks me. Being referred to as a so-called ‘mother-I’d-like-to-fuck’ defines me in terms of my physical self and also in regard to my kids. I am literally in the process of clawing my way back to myself outside of that role. It has taken a momentous amount of energy to untangle those cords that bind me to my children.

Labels such as these make me feel ashamed and embarrassed – like there is something wrong with me. Age doesn’t matter! (That is what I tell myself, constantly). A connection is a connection regardless of how old I am or how old someone else is. But I can feel myself silently snickering – laughing behind my back so to speak. This older woman hanging out with much younger people. It turns my stomach and makes me feel like some hopeless loser chasing something that doesn’t exist. A life that isn’t for me. I feel separate; like an outside observer.

I am also endlessly running in circles trying to figure out my path as far as all of this romantic/love shit goes. I am drawn to real, genuine, honest people who are doing the hard work of knowing themselves and working on themselves. It doesn’t matter if they are 27 or 37. At this point in my life, I can recognize a meaningful connection within the first 5 minutes of being near someone. I have come to understand that I am a highly intuitive person with a gift for connecting with people. My heart is huge and I am still trying to be ok with this – to celebrate it instead of curse it as I get hurt again and again.

This post isn’t going to end with something uplifting or happy.

I can’t bring that to you today and for that, I am sorry.

When I sit, and give all of these nagging thoughts about age and time a voice, I feel like an old lady. I feel used up, beat up, like a weirdo with kids and a life of responsibility. I feel like I’ve lost an entire decade of my life. My marriage feels like it was a joke. Resentment toward my children rears its ugly head and I feel a loss so deep I feel scared I will never be able to move past it.

Big, deep sigh.

A Letter To My Kids

Love fiercely

Without boundaries

Rules 

Or limits 

 

Fail

Make mistakes

Make more mistakes

Own your shit

Apologize when you hurt someone

Especially yourself

 

Be kind

Be brave

Be generous 

Say thank you

Say please

 

Do not listen to that voice in your head that might tell you that

You’re not good enough

Smart enough

Or worth it

Tell that voice to shut the fuck up

 

Be your best friend

Because sometime at some point, you’ll be all that you have

You will feel scared

You will feel alone

Your heart will break

But no matter how much you hurt, don’t stop those feelings from coming

Let them come

They will hurt

And they will pass

And every single time you let this happen

You will grow stronger

 

Notice the little things

The magic moments in falling leaves

Pollinating bees

Nature

The stillness of the woods

Making someone smile

A kiss

A hug

A tender embrace

 

Life is happening all around you

Every second of every day is a gift 

Choose life

Choose love

Choose you

 

I love you with all that I am 

and all that I have 

forever and always

Momma

When Introversion Hurts

Sometimes I hate being an introvert.

It feels yucky and icky; like a disease I want to get rid of.

I find that I am resenting this part of myself a lot lately, and though this feels unhealthy and dangerous, it’s there; no use in pretending it’s not. I am acknowledging it and trying to figure out how to make peace with it.

Being newly single, at age 42, with 2 children is tough enough. Losing what feels like my entire life, family, and community to this fucking divorce, and having to rebuild my life from scratch, has been nothing short of terrifying.

My entire social network was made up of 40 year-old couples, married with kids; families. They don’t go out dancing on Saturday nights, they don’t want to go try acro yoga in the park, be wild and stay up late, go out to meet people, date. They stopped inviting me to do much of anything. I became the scandalous divorcee, the 3rd wheel, the one who gets the pity party. I am covered in the social stigma that is DIVORCE.

I have done my isolating, my sequestered hunkering-down. I did that for about 3 months straight – I went out maybe once a month, binge watched Netflix like it was my job, and literally came undone. It was what I needed to do. I needed to fall the fuck apart.

So I could put myself back together.

But for the last few months, as I continue to find my center, and myself, I have been venturing out into the world. I try to go dancing every weekend. I try to meet people and make new friends. Age has stopped mattering to me completely. I have more in common with people 10 years younger than I am and that is okay. I may be ‘in my forties’ but I feel like I am 30-something and I have never been in better shape than I am now; physically and psychologically.

The really hard part? All of this newness and adventuring out of my comfort zone has me resenting being an introvert.

I am no mildly introverted human; I am an empath, HSP, 84% introvert (I used to be a whopping 95% – I am making progress here!). I am an INFJ and we are creatures of habit bordering on rigidity. Everything overstimulates me. Everything overwhelms me. Yet, I have found that I can push through it in the moment. The pushing through it is HARD though; physically painful at times. I used to rely on alcohol to get me through it. I would take that edge off with a beer or two. (I am sober now – though I do have the occasional IPA).

I sit and listen in new group situations; I am the watcher, the observer. I rarely feel comfortable in sharing right away. I feel awkward and uncomfortable and it takes a momentous amount of effort to focus on everything going on around me. The really shitty part of this – I am left reeling for days. Seriously. Days spent not talking to people and recharging at home, feeling spent, sad, and a lot like a misfit.

Trying to find out where I fit in on this crazy, nutty spectrum of human interaction.

I watch the extroverts with envy. They seem so relaxed, so adept at all of it: the chatting, the funny/witty comments (I have those but they come hours, sometimes days later), the charming outward ease with which they interact with other humans. I am the shy, quiet, reserved, awkward girl watching it all.

UNTIL YOU GET TO KNOW ME. And then I am an explosion of amazing.

But then this: I have this paranoid feeling; how the fuck can anyone get to know me when I am constantly having to navigate these uncomfortable social situations and I can’t be myself right away? I want to make a business card that reads:

please excuse my introversion. I swear, I am awesome as fuck.”

I think this is one of the (many) reasons I have always gravitated toward being in a relationship. Having a partner by my side acts as a social buffer – someone I can anchor myself to when I feel overwhelmed and unsure. Having a person to do things with takes away that pressure to go out and meet people. Staying in and watching a movie with someone is absolutely my idea of a dream date.

I know that introverts are amazingly complex people (not to say that extroverts aren’t). I know that my introversion is part of what makes me an incredible mother, partner, friend, and teacher. I see everything and everyone and absorb it all. No one goes unnoticed in my universe. My inner world is rich and complex and goes well beyond the chit-chat that makes up the many conversations and social interactions I witness.

I just find it frustrating that I can’t be more outgoing, socially comfortable, or at ease in the larger world. I feel exhausted from constantly challenging myself and stepping outside of my comfort zone. But this is my path. This is healthy, good, and totally necessary.

I cannot and will not hide any longer.

Denial.

No one is immune.

No one gets a free pass.

Every single person in this world hurts, suffers, rages, and cries. Not all of the time, but definitely some of the time; some people more than others. We all ebb and flow through our emotions just as we ebb and flow through our lives.

I am working toward being okay with emotions – all of them. Embracing them like old friends instead of running from them. They feel so scary for me; even happiness. I don’t fully trust them yet and I still have this deep-seated fear that they will take over my being completely.

I think this stems in part from watching my dad die when I was 9. My emotional landscape permanently changed that day. I went from being a happy-go-lucky kid, without a care in the world, to seeing something (him die) to experiencing something (loss of a parent) that no child should ever have to go through. I didn’t have the emotional aptitude or cognitive capability to handle any of it. And after it happened, no one taught me how to process through my terror, confusion, guilt, or hurt. For the rest of my life, when those feelings of grief would pop up, I would shove them away like a plague. I was desperate to avoid them. They felt like they would swallow me whole.

And, at age 41, they did.

For a long time, I pretended that my dad was alive, and living in California with another family. It was easier to pretend that he just didn’t want to live with us anymore. Then I pretended he was a knight on some other plane of existence – another reality – one in which he would slay dragons and protect people.

My dad couldn’t be dead because that meant he was gone. And never coming back.

Denial is something that our brains latch onto for a time when we are navigating something too emotionally difficult to really comprehend. Sometimes we need to ignore certain things until we have the strength to move forward in our grief and on our path toward healing. We need to compartmentalize things that are simply too painful to grasp. Ignore, deny, avoid, and check out. And, for at least a little while, I believe that it is healthy and completely normal to do so.

Not healthy? Living in that space of false reality and clinging to a truth that isn’t real or does not exist, indefinitely.

Denial is something I have watched my kids going through since their dad and I split. My son would say, “but you aren’t divorced, you are separated.” Yes, this is true, on paper, but it’s for health insurance reasons. Our marriage is irrevocably broken. For good.

Denial it is something I did not want to admit I was doing, but fuck, it most certainly is. I like to think that I have been working hard in therapy to tackle my past hurt and childhood trauma and now it is finally time to work through this last year of my marriage breaking, my PTSD, and the fact that my husband is never coming home.

Ever again.

Shit, that hurts to type.

When people ask me if the split was amicable, I say no, it was not. If he were to call me and say, “hey Aim, let’s talk, let’s work this out. I miss you and I miss our family”, I would be lying if I said that isn’t something I have wished for a thousand times. A million times.

But that fantasy gets me literally no where. Every time I entertain thoughts like this, I do more damage. I cannot live or exist in a world where I create false realities anymore than I could have kept living in a very emotionally abusive and unhealthy marriage. It makes no sense.

But still, the thoughts pop up; Unwanted and detrimental.

I am now willing to acknowledge that it is over. I am radically accepting that he is NEVER COMING HOME. It hurts, but I recognize that this is the next step in my journey. With practice, I am gently acknowledging the thoughts as they arise, not giving them the attention they demand, and letting them slip away. I am practicing bringing myself back to the present moment, whether that is writing, doing dishes, watching my son read or my daughter play with her Legos. These thoughts have no power over me unless I allow them to.

And I will not allow them to any longer.

Grieving. Sucks. Ass.

Sorry for the graphic title. I am pissed. I am smack in the middle of the so called ‘grieving process’ and I needed to give it a description. An outlet. Sometimes I feel as though the ‘process’ is eating me alive. Writing helps me move through difficult things.

Grieving feels like being tangled up, suffocating, choking on your own emotions. It feels like a wave, a tsunami of unknown and uncertain. It feels like falling through space with nothing familiar to land on. It feels like pulling out your hair, running around in circles and hitting wall after wall after wall. It feels utterly hopeless, never-ending. A giant gaping hole of hurt and confusion. It goes up, then down, then sideways, and then does spiral loopty-loops through your head and your heart. With a hot knife. It makes you feel physically ill and then utterly exhausted. It is unpredictable and nasty. And when you feel as though, finally, you’re through the worst of it, it’s as though something punches you in the gut and you are back in your bed, on the floor, on the couch, bawling your brains out.

Again.

Grieving is the loneliest process I know of because you are on your own in your particular brand of grief. You try to connect with others going through it, but you are alone; separate. People tell you it will get better but all you can think is, “what if it DOESN’T?”. I can’t do this for one more minute let alone one more hour, day, week, month, year! No one can save you, heal you, or fix you because this is your ride. It is the path you are on, though you most certainly did not choose this. No one in their right mind would ever choose this.

This crazy, wild, terrifying ride from hell.

Patience.

Patience.

I seem to have lost mine. Not sure I ever had much to begin with though.

I have been trying to be mindful of that secret inner voice – the unspoken push from my busy brain. It has been sending me messages of:

Should.

Could.

Would.

Those 3 words in all of their variations do so much damage. And I struggle with turning them off; stopping them completely. I can tell them to fuck off when they pop up, but come they may, with or without my consent.

I Should Have known that I had PTSD. I Should Have been better at loving and feeling regardless of my PTSD. I Should Be over this by now. I Should Not be hurting this badly or this often after 8 months. I Should Be more present and mindful. I Should Stop judging my every thought and emotion. I Should Stop waking up with anxiety. I Should Not feel so much, love so much. I Should not be vulnerable.

I Could Have done things differently. I Could have controlled my PTSD-fueled rage (not actually possible). I Could Have no more feelings. I Could Have more patience with myself (absolutely true). I Could Have made better decisions last year.

I Would Be happier with my ex. I Would be loved more if I wasn’t such a weirdo. I Would be happier if I wasn’t alone. I Would Be healing faster if it weren’t for my fucked up broken brain. I Would have more friends if I wasn’t so damn introverted. If I were at all ‘normal’ I Would Be better by now.

Nastiness. All of it. Unhelpful brain doodling (I just coined that phrase and it’s fucking brilliant).

I know that my path is hard. I understand with a beautiful introspective logic that I am exactly where I am supposed to be on said path because how could I be anywhere else?? But I also feel that nagging, incessant nudge of:

I SHOULD BE BETTER BY NOW.

I SHOULD BE OVER IT.

I SHOULD BE THIS, THAT, OTHER.

Not this achy, hurting, uncertain creature who wakes up with a hole in my chest.

Every. Single. Day.

Patience. What does that look like? What does that feel like?

A deep breath. A long overdue sigh. Letting go of the should, could, would. Being present in every moment. Making space for the hurt and the ache and treating them like an old friend, not an unwanted enemy. Allowing myself the tears that still come. Allowing myself to embrace the difficult feelings and not trying to block them; run from them. Giving myself a break from the constant (unspoken) pressure I put on myself to be someone other than I am able to be right now. Thinking gentle thoughts. Loving thoughts. Kind and peaceful thoughts. Embracing the rollercoaster instead of fighting it tooth and nail. Acknowledging that I might not be okay and that that is okay.

I will breathe. I will pull myself back to the present moment.

With patience.