New Year's meme for 2011

Well, this is probably going to be depressing, but it seems to be my annual tradition…

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
Got separated. Hired a divorce attorney. A lot of other things I’d rather not remember.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I just checked last year’s meme, and this was my resolution:

Sometime in late spring/early summer, I plan to deliver a happy, healthy, preferably human baby. Let’s see how it goes!

So, yeah. I did that. Yay me! I didn’t make any other resolutions.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
ME! Plus about a hundred or so other friends and family members.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes, my dad’s cousin (sort of like an uncle to me). He was a very sweet man, and he’ll be very missed.

5. What countries did you visit?
Huh. I’m not even sure if I left the state of North Carolina this year.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
Stability. Calmness. Serenity. Less drama. Two kids who sleep through the night in their own damn beds. Little things.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
May 31st – Lucy was born.
August 9th – Dave and I separated.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I went from a temp employee at my job to a permanent employee in February. That was a pretty big deal at the time.

9. What was your biggest failure?
My marriage. Enough said.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing major, no.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Technically my health insurance paid for it, but I’m going to say it was the epidural when I had Lucy.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My mom. I hope that my kids grow up and know that 35 years from now, if they need me, they can call me and I’ll drop everything to be there for them. If that ends up being true, I’ll consider myself a successful parent.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I refuse to answer this for legal purposes. If you know the inside scoop on my life, you can probably guess.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Daycare. Lawyers.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The arrival of Lucy. The sale of my house.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?
Most stuff by Bruno Mars. For this reason.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Most definitely sadder. But optimistic because I know it’s temporary.
b) thinner or fatter? Well, I’m not pregnant anymore, so I guess I’m thinner.
c) richer or poorer? Poorer. So much poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Traveling. Reading books. Doing fun stuff with my girls.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Moping. Yelling. Crying.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
At home with Catie, Lucy, my parents, and my siblings. It was really nice.

21. Did you fall in love in 2011?
No. Sort of the opposite, in fact.

Unless you count falling in love with your kids, because…

And then the little one noticed my camera.

My god, yes. Them.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Not sure I had one. Probably Hoarders.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
See question 13 – no comment.

24. What was the best book you read?
I don’t think I finished a single book that I started this year.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The Piano Guys. Who knew I’d ever have an obsession with the cello?

26. What did you want and get by year’s end?
My parents moved here. We sold our house. I found a rental house for me and the girls.

27. What did you want and not get by year’s end?
A sense of closure.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
I’m suddenly completely blank. Did I see any movies this year that weren’t animated? I mean, I took Catie to see “Gnomeo and Juliet” and “Rio,” but those aren’t on my list of fine quality films, so… yeah. I don’t know.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 35. I don’t think we did anything since I was pregnant and miserable.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If my marriage hadn’t fallen apart, that would’ve been nice.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
Total lack of fashion, all functional. I’m working on fixing that, though. I bought some cute boots as a Christmas gift to myself, and my goal is to try to take the time to make myself feel cute, because I feel a lot better about myself when I do.

32. What kept you sane?
It’s probably bad to answer this question with Lexapro, but… yes. Lexapro.

Also, my friends and family who let me vent whenever I needed to. Y’all know who you are. And you’re awesome.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I will admit that I have a huge crush on Matt Paxton, the extreme cleaning guy on Hoarders. Because I love the idea of a man who knows how to clean up after himself. That Corey dude isn’t too shabby either.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Probably the Amendment 26 vote in Mississippi. It’s my home state and I still get worked up about a lot of political issues there. This is one of the few times one of their elections turned out the way it should have.

35. Who did you miss?
I missed my Grandmother a lot this year. She’s Lucy’s namesake, and sometimes I look at my two girls and think about how much she would have adored them. She died 15 years ago, and I still miss her. My sister and I wore some of her jewelry to church on Christmas Eve this year.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
My new friend Tanya, another single mom at Catie’s daycare, who has been an invaluable resource to me over the past few months. It helps to have a friend who’s been through all of this stuff before, and survived to tell the tale.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.
Sometimes the people you thought you knew the best, turn out to be complete strangers to you.

Also, I can survive a lot more than I ever thought I could. Who knew?

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
“Soap and water
Take the day from my hand,
Scrub the salt from my stinging skin,
Slip me loose of this wedding band.”
— Suzanne Vega, “Soap and Water”

(Yeah. I told you this was going to be depressing. Sorry.)

So, happy new year everybody. Let’s hope 2012 is far, far better than 2011.

taking a deep breath

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have witnessed my tweeting of a major family crisis that happened. If you missed it, well… I’ve deleted everything about it, because I decided it was probably inappropriate to share online. I was in a state of panic, and I reached out for support. That’s what I use social media for; however, I also don’t want to cause any additional distress to my family. So that’s the last I’m going to say about it.

Except this: we are all ok. It was really bad and scary and awful for a while, but it’s starting to gradually get a little better, and I can see that things are going to turn out ok.

happy Catie on the merry-go-round

Baby jeggings!

I mean, come on. How could they not?

two months later

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.

how to explain divorce to a 4 year-old

I don’t know what to do about my Catie.

Catie girl in her new horsey pj's

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.

Grumpiest. Princess. Ever.

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.

Pony ride. The 4 year-old's day = MADE.

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.

moving on (in so many ways)

I cannot even begin to thank y’all for all of the kind and supportive words on that last post. So many people also reached out on Facebook, Twitter, etc., and I’m just overwhelmed. This whole situation is so awful, but I also feel so blessed to have such an amazing support system around me, both online and in real-life.

Yesterday, I met with our realtor. We’re going to be listing our house on the market soon. I can’t afford the mortgage by myself, and it’s too big for just me and the girls. I feel the need to downsize and simplify our lives as much as possible. I think I want to rent a house for a while. I like the idea that if something breaks, someone else has to pay for it and fix it.

It’s sad because this place was my dream house, but now I’ll forever think of it as the house where my marriage fell apart.

The weird part? We bought this house from a couple that was divorcing. You know that horror movie cliche where the haunted house turns out to be built on top of an ancient Indian burial ground? I think this house was built on top of the graves of a really bitter and angry married couple. I even burned sage when we moved in, to get rid of any bad juju lingering around. Fat lot of good that did me.

Overall, I think I’m coping ok. Like I said, I have a pretty fantastic support system around me, and I’m so, so grateful for that.

But if you don’t hear from me much over the next few weeks, it’s probably because I’m going to be frantically de-cluttering and reorganizing this entire house to get it in “showable” condition. That should be… fun?

I’ll also be spending as much time as I possibly can hugging these faces.

Hard to get mad at these faces when they wake me up on Saturday morning.

Mostly successful, only slightly uneven bang trim. Yay, I'm improving!

You sure can't tell that she's sick.

Can’t really blame me for that one. They’re pretty darn huggable.