Monday, July 31, 2017

A Lot To Handle Me...

Let me be clear: I am very, very bad at dating.

Like, painfully bad.

This has always been true. I'm not great at small talk. I talk much too loudly just in general, and I have a terrible tendency to babble on and on when I'm nervous. And if I'm talking, I'm nervous.

I didn't properly practice dating when I was a teenager. Never have I regretted anything more. Maybe if I had spent my days learning on someone-anyone-how to flirt, instead of just watching Meg Ryan movies and convincing myself that magic would just happen and that the right guy wouldn't want me to be anything but my geeky, loud self...

I still sort of think that. That the right guy will just want me, flaws and all.

It's so hard to quantify and put into words what it is like to just meet the person that you would gladly take a bullet for and have them feel the same way about you and you just sort of skip all the dating part and just start living your life together because it seems like it's always been that way. But that is what Nick and I did. We went on a tiny little handful of dates before we said "I love you," and basically moved in together. In retrospect, that seems like not the best idea I've ever had. But at the time it seemed like, how else would you do this? It was sudden and fierce and wonderful. Even if I had the sense to question it, I doubt that I would have done anything differently. I have read about studies that prove that when you fall in love, the part of your brain that is activated is the same part of your brain that is stimulated by heroin. I have certainly never done heroin, but I completely believe this to be true-I was addicted to Nick from the moment I met him. The final two years of my marriage were hard and hurtful, but I clung to him like the junkie that I was.

I know in my head that these two years alone have been like my rehab. I needed to be alone, to figure out who I am and why I allowed myself to fall so far apart over something that had clearly become so unhealthy. And it may take years and years more. It may take forever. Which is a horribly depressing thought, but a very true one.

I honestly believe that I am so uncomfortable on dates because I haven't learned everything that I'm supposed to be learning yet. The truth is, I want to fall in love like I did before, and not have it end this time. All of the good with none of the bad. And that is just not realistic at all. So I'm clearly not in a head space to really be dating yet.

In the meantime, I just write and pray and write. I'm trying to be brave about what I write on the blog. To allow myself to express my feelings, even when they really just serve to embarrass me with how little I know about what I am doing.

And hope that someday I am able to write down how I figured all of this out.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Tiny Dancer...

"And now she's in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand."

I always wanted a Betsy.

Her name wasn't Betsy at the time. Her name when I was growing up was always Brad, which eleven year old me thought was the coolest girl name ever of all time, because of a show called Hey Dude.

But, anyway, I always wanted a little girl.

When Betsy was a baby, we had so much fun together. We had tea parties and played princesses. Until Betsy could talk more, and told me in no uncertain terms that she really preferred horses (though she did love My Little Pony, so that was sort of girly) and sports and climbing trees and being with her dad. Nick was her hero, and I was that lady that was always there.

She loved me, don't get me wrong. But I was always at home, or with her wherever she was. Nick went off to an exotic place called "work." Betsy was a Daddy's girl, through and through.

My little tomboy has reached a crossroads this past year. Twelve and a half is awkward and moody and just mostly a lot of worry. All the time. About everything.

She still loves Star Wars and soccer and climbing trees. She secretly plays Barbies with her sister. She had her first boyfriend last year, and her first date, but she wasn't super jazzed about either. She understands that most of her friends are starting to be interested in boys, but she is ambivalent toward the whole thing.

I remember twelve. It seems like just yesterday that I was in the seventh grade, writing notes to my friends during class, making up secret sandwich names for boys so that we could talk about them without them knowing who we were talking about. (I loved Lettuce. Who was Tommy Werner. Just in case you wondered.)

Twelve is lots of wonderful things. Twelve is being brave enough to ride the really big rides at amusement parks. Twelve is old enough to ride in the front seat of the car and "navigate" for your directionally challenged mother. Twelve is watching all of the movies, staying up late and sleeping in, and having a room that is such a mess your mother just gives up on asking you to clean and simply requests a path to the rabbit cage.

Twelve is also hard. Twelve is not wanting to go swimming at the local pool anymore. Twelve is feeling prickly and sad and funky, all for no reason.

Add to that a personality of wanting to please everyone, and perfectionistic tendencies, and twelve can be pretty rough.

One of the side effects of my divorce is that Betsy and I are close in a way that we didn't used to be. I'm not just that lady who is always around anymore. I became her connection to the world for a while, when life was too confusing and overwhelming and sad. We were sad together. We grieved together. And we learned together, fought together, and spent the past two years growing up together.

When they handed Betsy to me in the hospital, when I finally got to look into those beautiful blue eyes, I cried and said, "I love you," over and over. I was so overwhelmed to meet this person that I had been waiting for my whole life. It was the best moment of my entire life.

I want to hold her still and tell her that I know in my heart that everything will work out, that despite her whole world turning upside down two years ago, and then all of the loveliness of puberty on top of that, life will turn out just like it's supposed to.

I don't know that I believe that anymore.

But I believed that with all of my twelve year old heart. Awkward and shy and nerdy as I was, I believed that someday I would fall in love and get married and have a beautiful little girl. And I did. Times two.

Maybe that should be enough.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Full of Grace...

I'm weird.

This is a given.

I've always been awkward and a good bit shy and at the same time overly loud.

Before you get to know me, you think that I am the quietest person in the world, and once you know me, you think that I seem to never shut up.

I'm a walking mass of contradictions-I don't want attention, but I do want to be heard, for my opinion to count for something. What I really want if I'm being completely honest is for you to think that I am a lot more interesting than I seem at first glance.

Life right now is very jarring. When I have the girls, my life is so full to the brim with their lives, their energy, their passions, I can barely stop to breathe. And then they leave for the week and my life comes to almost a complete and total stop, life becomes about quiet and books and rearranging the furniture again.

I've never lived alone before.

I recently told one of my closest friends that I think that Nick and I always felt like we were pretending to be grownups. It felt like someone gave us our life-Nick's job, and these two girls, and our house-and we were expected to know what to do, and how to save money, and, in short, "be adults."

I hate saying that, because in truth I know that we did a lot of things correctly-I figured out how to be the mom that I wanted to be, and I think that Nick figured out how to be the dad that he wanted to be. We bought furniture and appliances and cooked dinner and lived what surely resembled a normal life. We did things that felt so important-I taught Sunday School and was the Girl Scout leader and Nick helped to coach softball-they were practically jobs outside of normal life.

But we messed up endlessly. We were neither good at budgeting, or the careful planning that big expenses needed. We were both dreamers-not so much doers. We knew what we wanted life to look like, we just lacked any kind of map to get us there.

Nick leaving was like being thrown into the deep end of the ocean-I had to figure out how to tread water and eventually to swim. I'm still treading water but I'm so in amazement of how well I have learned to swim. I budget. Wisely. I make big decisions for sound reasons and not just based on how I feel at the moment. I don't just dream about what life is going to be someday, I take concrete steps to get to where I need to be.

When I look back on this time in my life, I'm going to realize that this was the greatest gift Nick ever gave to me. As lonely and stressful and maddening as living through all of this grief has been, this new person, this adult Joy, carved out of broken promises and such a great deal of hurt, she is strong and capable and fierce(ish). And weird. As ever.