Last night, I had a dream that I was in labor with Lucy, and Dave had disappeared and nobody could find him. So I left the hospital – while still in labor – to go look for him.
Yeah. I hardly need Freud to show up and interpret that one for me.
I struggle a lot with how to maintain a balance online, trying to figure out what’s an appropriate amount of my life that I can share. This blog isn’t anonymous, and I try to be careful not to hurt anyone among my family or real-life friends who may read it. I also try to be careful when I think about what my kids might read someday. My usual rule is that if it affects more people than just myself, I don’t talk about it.
Last week, in a state of panic, I talked about a lot more online than I usually would have. And I got a hell of a lot of push-back for it. I was accused of airing my dirty laundry in public, showing a shocking lack of judgment, etc. An anonymous Twitter account was created to accuse me of “setting the stage” for the events that happened (which, if you think that anything that happened last week was fun for me? You’d be sadly mistaken). The account was later deleted – I’m guessing that the person knows me somehow, but I can’t fathom a guess as to who it was. It doesn’t really matter anyway.
The fact is, right now this divorce is an integral part of my life, and that’s probably what a lot of my blog posts are going to be about for a while. I have no intention of dragging Dave’s name through the mud. Yes, I’m hurt and I’m angry, but I know I’m not perfect either.
But I need to be able to talk about some of these things, because as Aunt Becky would say, I cannot live a [redacted] life.
I don’t think it’s a sign of weakness to admit that I could use some support from my online friends. But in order to get that support, I need to be able to talk openly about what’s been happening.
I might password-protect a few posts. I don’t know. I haven’t decided how I’m going to handle this. I’ll figure it out as I go, I guess. Just like the rest of my life.
This past weekend, my mom took Catie to Charlotte to visit with my brother and sister. Seeing as how my siblings are two of Catie’s favorite people on the planet (and my sister’s best friend was there too, who Catie also adores), we thought this sounded like something she’d enjoy. And she did, for the most part. They took her to a children’s museum, she got to meet my sister’s new kitten, and she was generally indulged in ways that would never happen if I was around (like being allowed to stay up WAY past her bedtime, eat junk food, etc.). Sounds like heaven for a four year-old, right?
But she also had a lot of meltdowns, in which she cried that she missed Mommy and Lucy. On the trip back home, she told my mom in the car that she never, ever wanted to go on a trip again.
Last night, when I was snuggling with her at bedtime, I said, “So, you had a lot of fun this weekend, didn’t you?”
She quietly said, “Not really.”
I said, “No? Why not?”
She said, “Because I missed you.” And burst into tears.
It got me thinking that even though she was around people she loves and doing fun stuff, it was probably too soon for her to be on an overnight trip away without me. I think she still feels like the ground is shifting underneath her after the separation, and it’s already hard on her to be away from Dave, so being away from me too was just too much for her. I feel bad that it didn’t even occur to me to consider that, before we planned this trip for her.
To help calm her down, I told her that no matter where she goes, she’ll always come home to me, and that I’ll always be here waiting for her.
And I said that maybe, in a few months, when Lucy is a little bit bigger and sleeping through the night, then we can all go to Charlotte together, and she wouldn’t miss me or Lucy, because we’d be there with her. She seemed to like that idea.
On the other hand, Lucy and I had a pretty fabulous weekend. Compared to the usual craziness of having two kids in the house, having just one little baby to deal with felt like a breeze. (There’s the difference between kids #1 and #2 – with Catie, I was terrified to be left alone with the baby. Now, I’m like, “Just one baby? Pshaw!”)
Also, you know what’s great about only having a tiny baby in the house? You can watch R-rated movies and not worry about traumatizing them! I finally caught up on a few movies that have been sitting on my DVR for ages, which was great.
[Side note to George Clooney: I love you, but “The American” sucked. All scenes in which you were shirtless = WINNER. Everything else? Not so much.]
But it was a really nice weekend with my baby girl. We went to Target and Whole Foods, we went for a walk around the neighborhood, we experimented with solid food (she seems to like baby oatmeal), and we played. All in all, a very good weekend.
Dave moved out two months ago.
Overall, I think I’m doing ok. I get through my days. I’m doing a pretty good job at work, apparently. My manager is pleased with what I’m doing. And I’m lucky that I love my job enough that I can sort of immerse myself in various projects and forget about everything in my “real life” for hours at a time. That helps a lot.
But Lucy still isn’t sleeping, so I’m tired a lot. And I worry about Catie. I’m so glad my mom is here, because it keeps me from feeling lonely. We watch TV together, plan meals together, that kind of thing. It’s nice.
So, you know, I feel like I’m getting by ok.
And then, suddenly, I’ll be hit with this wave of sadness so hard that it feels like I’m drowning in it. The other night it hit me because I caught myself starting to fiddle with my wedding ring, only to realize it isn’t there anymore. (I do that a lot. I never realized how often I touched it every day until I stopped wearing it.) (I took it off the day after he moved out. I know some people take a long time before they can take off their wedding rings. I… needed to not look at it anymore, if that makes sense.)
I don’t want him back. Really, I don’t. The past several months have been so awful, there’s no way I would voluntarily go back to that. I don’t like roller coasters – literal or emotional – and now that he’s gone, things feel calmer. More steady. And that’s what I need right now, both for myself and for my girls.
And I’m realizing all kinds of things about myself now that I never realized. Like the fact that I bottled up so many things for years, because I hated the idea of conflict, and I never wanted to fight. Now it’s all sort of exploding out of me. I don’t think I could go back to bottling it up again if I tried. I’m feeling sort of like the Pandora’s box of emotions, to use a really bad analogy.
But even though I don’t want him back, sometimes I still miss him. We had these inside jokes, as you do when you live with someone for over six years. We made each other laugh a lot. I miss that. I miss the connection.
And yet… Sometimes I can envision what my life is going to be like in the future. And it’s not the future I had in mind at all, but I see myself with my girls, and I see us in our own little house, doing our own thing. Going on outings and vacations together, just the three of us. And I know we’re going to be ok. I really do know that.
But man, transitions really do suck.
I don’t know what to do about my Catie.
She’s always been a cautious kid, from the time she was a baby. She doesn’t warm up to new things quickly. She takes her time, assessing the situation, until she decides it’s ok. She wouldn’t even get on the swings at the playground until this past year. She is just not the type of child to jump into the deep end and start splashing.
And you know what? That’s FINE. There’s nothing at all wrong with it. In fact, it’s made parenting her a lot easier. I’ve never had to worry about her pulling some daredevil stunt if I took my eyes off of her for two seconds, because she isn’t the type of kid to do something like that. Heck, I never even really had to childproof anything when she was a baby. I’d point to the cabinet full of breakable glass serving dishes and say, “Don’t touch that stuff.” And she wouldn’t! She’d go play with the tupperware instead.
Because of that, this (relatively sudden) separation has been unbelievably hard on her. When Dave was just a few miles away at a hotel, it wasn’t so bad. She spent the night with him there a couple of times, he picked her up in the morning to take her to daycare a few times, and they still saw each other on a fairly regular basis.
I haven’t really blogged about this, but in early September, Dave moved to Seattle for a new job. His plan is to be back and forth a lot so he can still see the girls, but… well. You can’t really explain long-term timetables to a four year-old. A week in her mind might as well be a year. Telling her that Daddy will be back next month? Yeah, it doesn’t help.
And my sweet baby, she is such a daddy’s girl, and it is heartbreaking to watch her grieve this loss. The last week or so has been particularly bad. She’ll start crying about something that seems particularly non-tear-worthy – like, say, I tell her to wait just a minute before I can get her a cup of milk – and then it escalates into this full-on, “I WANT MY DAAAAADDY!!!” sobbing.
You know that scene in “Hope Floats” where the little girl is standing in front of the house screaming for her father as he drives away? Yeah, it’s like that. Nightly. It physically hurts me to watch her like that.
A couple of nights ago, I lay down with her in her bed to snuggle with her before bedtime, and she started to cry again. I just held her and stroked her face and tried to talk her through it.
She said, “It used to be me, Mommy, Daddy, and Lucy, but we aren’t that kind of family anymore.” I agreed that no, we aren’t that kind of family anymore. It just made her cry more.
She asked when she was going to get a new daddy (I have no idea where the hell that came from – there’s a little girl at her daycare whose parents divorced & the dad moved far away, and the mom has a new boyfriend, so maybe that’s it). I quickly reassured her that there will be no new daddies. Her Daddy will always be her Daddy, and he will always love her very, very much. He just doesn’t live with us anymore, that’s the only thing that’s changed.
I also told her that it’s normal to have lots of feelings about this: we feel sad, hurt, confused, and angry, and it’s all ok.
She said, “I think, tomorrow, I’m going to be angry.” I thought that was kind of funny, but I didn’t show it on my face. I just said ok, that was fine, we just need to talk about why we feel angry, but that’s totally ok.
I told her that this is especially hard right now because it’s all new, and changes are scary. But someday this won’t feel so sad, it’ll just be normal.
And I told her that one day, when it was just me, her, and Lucy? We are gonna have us some fun. We’re going to go on adventures together, just us three girls, and it’s going to be great.
I don’t know if any of that really sunk in, and I’m sure I’ll need to repeat it quite a bit over the coming days and weeks.
I know she’s going to be ok, I really do. I just need to figure out the best way to help her through this. I don’t want to accidentally say anything that will make it worse. This process of getting her from point A to point B is so unbelievably scary and hard.
Last week, a friend told me that I seem to be handling all of my recent life events in an unusually calm manner.
I laughed. I told her that she should take a look inside my head sometime. Apparently I’m pretty good at faking like I’m ok when I’m an absolute mess on the inside.
The truth is, I’m completely overwhelmed. I’m trying to juggle two kids, a full-time job, as well as the process of selling our house, all by myself. It would be panic-inducing on its own. Top it off with the fact that Lucy currently wakes up at least two times per night? The exhaustion factor means that I spend a lot of time feeling like I’m about to lose it.
Oh, and there’s the whole post-partum depression thing too. Let’s not even get into that. The timing of all of this could be a lot better.
I spend a lot of time wishing that I could crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head, and stay there for at least a couple of weeks.
For better or worse, these two seem to make that impossible.
Freaking kids, man. They have all these needs.
So, yeah, I’m functioning because I don’t really have any other choice. Falling apart isn’t an option right now.
I’m incredibly grateful for all of the people who check in on me to see how I’m doing. Honestly, I’m so, so thankful for my support system.
Speaking of my support system, my brother came up this past weekend to help me rearrange furniture and start getting the house organized. We also hung out and watched movies, and he bonded with his new niece.
That was really nice, I needed that break.
And more of my support system is still on its way. Greis is coming for a visit this weekend. Her trip was planned months ago, and was supposed to be a fun girls’ weekend. Now it’s turned into a “hey, come stay at my house and hold my baby while I pack boxes” sort of visit. Which sucks, but I have a feeling we’ll still manage to sneak in at least one margarita at some point during the weekend.
Next week, my mom is coming up. She’s driving up rather than flying, so she can stay for an indefinite amount of time. She’s basically moving in for at least a couple of months, to help me get everything sorted out. I can’t begin to describe how grateful I am for that. My mom is my anchor, and I really need her right now.
So, I know I’m going to be ok, mainly because so many people around me are there to catch me if I fall. It’s a comforting thought, and it’s what’s keeping me afloat right now.
Dave moved out last week.
Today, I’m meeting with a divorce attorney for the first time.
My heart is broken.
I don’t usually blog about the bad stuff when it happens. Mainly because so many people in my family read this site, but also because I worry about my girls growing up and reading this stuff someday. I worry about what they’ll think of it.
And oh God, y’all. My girls. My heart hurts more for them than it does for myself. I feel like I failed them. My parents have been married for over 40 years, it never even occurred to me when I got married that it might not last forever. That just wasn’t an option in my mind.
I don’t want to get into details or place blame. A lot of things went wrong. And they’ve been going wrong for a while. I don’t want this, but the decision isn’t entirely up to me.
This is, without a doubt, the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Please keep us in your thoughts, as I imagine that things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.