Life On The B Side

Taking all that life throws at us one moment at a time

The Knowing September 13, 2019

I recently came across something I had written (but never posted) on August 7, 2018.

 

 

Therapist:  So, what brings you here today?

Me:  I don’t know.  I just feel overwhelmed.  With my life.

 

That was how my very first therapy session started.  It was the spring of 2013.

At the time, I had a job that I wasn’t happy at.  Pretty much no money.  A 7 year old with not-yet-diagnosed ADHD, who was struggling in school.  A 6 year old, whose autism had a chokehold on the entire house.  The relationships with my husband, father, mother and grandfather varied from shitty to non-existent.  I had curled inward; away from my friends.

I felt very alone.  I was a mess.  Drowning.  And I saw no way out.  I didn’t go to therapy thinking there was anything they could do or say to “fix” my life.  I mean really.  What could they do about any of the things I was anxious about or overwhelmed by?  But what other choice did I have?  I had to try something.

 

I ended up going to 5 sessions.   It helped, but not in the way I think most people go to therapy expecting it to.  My therapist helped me to simplify and organize my thoughts.  It was a relief to say some things out loud that I’d been guarding tightly.  Ultimately, we decided that my life boiled down to 2 things.

  1. Sometimes things suck and you just have to get to a place where you accept that they suck and you have to stop looking for/hoping for/expecting different. Just accept.
  2. Some things – like your job and your marriage – can change, but they won’t change (for good or bad) on their own. You play an active role in what you allow. How much are you willing to tolerate before you make steps towards making that change?

 

 

August 2018.

Shaunie (my wife):  What’s wrong?  You got quiet.

Me:  I’m just in a funk.

 

How do I explain it to her?  She’s a “fixer”.  But there’s no easy fix when depression creeps in.  You know all the things.

You know it could be worse; there are people who love you; you have lots of reasons to be happy and grateful.

You know that if you ask her to do something specific she will make it happen.  It’s who she is.

You also know that she’s dealing with her own schtuff and the last thing she needs is you adding to her plate a bunch of “to-do’s” that will ease you to some extent but won’t magically “un-funk” you so there’s no point in putting her through that.

Everything feels like a huge problem and like it will take energy I don’t have.  The house needs tidying up.  I feel fat.  I look old.  I have to renew my license.  The kids need new passports.  I need to catch up on over 200 work emails.  I have a phone call to a sick friend I’m supposed to make.  I need to make arrangements with the kids dad for him to see them again before the summer is out.  I got an email saying my credit score had dropped.  I always have another dentist appointment I need to schedule.   And I always know that the next one won’t be the last one.  I am SO OVER THE DENTIST.

No, I don’t want tea or to laugh or sex.  I just want to curl up in bed.  It’s all I can manage.  That’s what feels easy.  Doable.

We cuddle and I fall asleep.

It’s a sweet relief.  From life.

But now it’s the next day and I can’t stay in bed.  I have to shower and go to work and make phone calls and wash dishes and hang back up the picture that fell off the wall.

 

I think back to my therapy sessions.

What can I control?  What do I have to let go of?  What feeling is weighing me down that I need to just accept/let go off, instead of trying to make it be different?  One thing at a time – The tension in my brain starts to unwind.

 

Ace starts 7th grade soon.  It comes with certain stresses, but, in quiet honest moments, I am not too worried about that.  It’s his second year of middle school and last year went pretty well.  He has a cell phone now, thanks to his Grandma, so I’ll have to figure out some rules around his use of it as well as install some parental controls; but that’s stuff we can manage.

Jay.

This one is a little harder.

My heart constricted a little when I typed his name.  For the last couple of years, I had not fretted about the start of the new school year.  But he’s going into 5th grade which will be his last year of elementary school.  I cannot handle the thought of him leaving that environment.  Elementary school had begun to feel safe for him.  Comfortable.  Predictable in its own way; even as we moved up the grades.  His teachers, the mostly innocent and friendly and understanding kids, the routine.  The special education team was always the same at IEP meetings etc.  Middle school will be different.  There will be a totally different set of students as none of his current friends will attend the same middle school as him.  A different school staff who don’t know and love him – yet.  A vastly different daily routine.  Different expectations.

“Different” with Jay is scary.

 

BUT, I can’t control these things – And certainly not now.  Why am I already stressing about next year?  I don’t know.  Ask my old friend anxiety.

 

Things will settle down soon enough I reassure myself.  I will get over these feelings eventually OR we will address the things that need addressing – Which will serve to calm me down.  I KNOW this.  I know this because I’ve been down this road before.  More than once.

And in this case, today, the knowing is the force holding me together.  It is my life jacket.

 

 

To Be Continued ………….

 

In The Bedroom Down The Hall February 1, 2018

We had a talk.  You and I.  There were tears and hugs and realizations and assurances.  It was hard on my heart because there is so much more I wanted to say but it wouldn’t have been right.  I will take all the blows I need to take for now in order to shield you.  One day, maybe when you are a parent, you will see all the things you cannot see now.

 

Sometimes there is no easy answer.  Sometimes being the bigger person means you are not seen as the better person and that’s a tough pill to swallow.  It’s tricky water to navigate.

 

It’s hard loving and listening to and trusting two people who have different ideas about what you should do.  I know.  It’s especially hard when one says what you want to hear but in your heart you know it’s not what you need to hear.

I fear it will get harder before it gets easier.  I know it will get harder before it gets easier.  For everybody.

 

But here I sit  thinking back on your cherubic face from years ago.  Back then you didn’t know any heart ache.  Your world was full of toy trains and Nick Jr.  Back then it was easy to keep you happy, even in the midst of a {figurative} storm.  We’d play hide and seek or go to a park.  Oh how you loved the park.  You preferred the slides and the climbing apparatus to swings but your favourite was making new friends and playing tag.  No matter how long we stayed, it was never long enough.

 

As you grew, there were big life changes and there were diagnoses.  You had a lot to balance.  You had to sort through a lot of emotions.

I thought I knew some way that I’d get through to you.  Remember?

In the bedroom down the hall, we fought a war where no-one walked away a winner.

Cause everyday you pulled a little more away.  Remember?

Saw the counselors and the clinics and the cures a mother tries.  Cause maybe they could take away that anger in your eyes.

Except, in your case it wasn’t anger.  It was mostly confusion and sometimes, sadness.  

 

We need to have another talk.  I don’t know yet how it will go, but I know it will include what I said the other day – I’m not going anywhere and everything I ever did, everything I do, is all for you.  Anything to make you be your best.  Anything at all.  Anything for my boy in the bedroom down the hall.

 

 

 

 

*Post inspired by and the quoted block are some of the lyrics to the song “In The Bedroom Down The Hall” which was cut from the show Dear Evan Hansen.*

 

Get You Somebody Who: August 24, 2017

Filed under: Family,Marriage — The B Side @ 12:02 pm
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As much as I get on her case sometimes, I do love the USA.  I love travelling around her and taking in all the natural beauty and seeing the diverse cultures and eating new foods.  There is so much to do and to see.

Our newest USA adventures took us to Alabama and Tennessee.  2 states I’d never been to before.  That brings my total number of states I’ve visited to 20.  (21 if you count Texas although I never left the airport there.)

Anyway, I was scrolling through our pictures from the Alabama/Tennessee trip and while it chronicles the great time we had and all the cool things we saw, it also illustrated nicely that I’m in a really great relationship.

As I looked at the pictures, my thought was that everyone should be so lucky as to have someone who:

 

–          Truly is your best friend.  Someone who tells you stories about their day and wants to hear all about yours.  Even if it’s just that you saw a baby basically stalking someone who was not their parent in the airport.  (Yes, there are pictures to support that example because without pictures it didn’t really happen.  We all know that.)

 

–          Is happy when you are happy even when they are not with you.  When Shaunie was stuck in class, I went to the Huntsville Botanical Garden and walked around their beautiful grounds and enjoyed their butterfly garden and lay in a hammock under a canopy of trees and read my book.  It was AWESOME!  She was happy for me that I got that relaxation time.

 

–          Indulges your nonsense.  We went out to dinner and I ordered a sangria.  Peach to be exact.  Shaunie gave me a look that I can’t describe.  Part eye rolling, part amusement, part annoyance, part resignation.  Then she said: “You always do that. Order a drink and then you only have half of it. I’m not paying for it.”  I promised that I would finish this one.  I didn’t.  The next night that we went out she asked me if I’d like to order a drink.  (p.s.  There’s really no “I pay” or “she pays”.  We are a “we” on the bank account.)

 

–          Will go on and take you on crazy adventures.  We spent an unscripted day in Nashville roaming wherever our hearts took us.  We caught a free outdoor concert in a park and toured a Parthenon replica and browsed stores selling cowboy boots and heard live bands playing in bars as we walked down the street and saw drunk girls dancing on top of a bar.  We waved at groups of women on party buses having bachelorette weekends and stood on line for an hour and a half just to have the supposedly world famous Hot Chicken from Hattie B’s.  We went to a museum and struck up conversations with strangers and took the advice of Uber drivers on where to go and what to see.   We even attended a rodeo – A first for both of us.  (Another p.s. Let me just say, the rodeo was great.  We had so much fun.  If you get the chance to go, I recommend it.)

 

–          Appreciates the “real” you.  We spent a few hours at the Air and Space Museum and as I was looking through our pictures I noticed photo after photo of me.  Pictures that I was unaware that she was taking.  Mostly of my back or from the side.  Pictures of me looking at exhibits or of me laughing.  I loved that.  There were so many interesting things to learn about and to see, but she was looking at ME.  Not the carefully crafted, posing, me that I show to the rest of the world on Facebook.  #Swoon

 

–          Sends you memes throughout the day just to make you laugh.

 

–          Encourages your intellectual growth and is eager to expand their own minds.  In addition to museums and such, we also hung out in a book store.  That’s something we actually do fairly often.  Due to her recommendation, I am currently reading “Behold The Dreamers”.  It’s a really easy read, but I am enjoying it.  I’m interested to see how it ends.  Next up to bat is a Wilbur Smith thriller.

 

–          Can be silly.  We did corny poses for pictures (flying through the air in front of a space shuttle, matching the stance of a dog statue, photo bombing other tourists, greedily eating a cupcake).  We “sang back up to Ray Charles” and played instruments and climbed into tight spaces that were hard to then get out of due to our aging bones.

 

–          Can’t wait to come back home when they are away.

 

 

For my part, I have delayed watching our favourite TV show so that we can watch them together at home.  I am now 2 episodes behind and even though I have seen some spoilers online, and I’m itching to watch, it would not be fair to my girl.  That’s how I show my love.

 

Not Special. Not Strange. February 9, 2017

 

In my marriage we support each other.  We cheer each other on.  We offer a shoulder.  We both have 9 to 5’s and we share the household chores.  We drop kids off at school and we check homework and we figure out what’s for dinner each night.  We have disagreements and we can never decide what to watch on TV.  One loves coffee and cake and that same one hates yogurt.  One has food allergies and that same one carries an asthma inhaler.  We have inside jokes and  random things that bring back warm fuzzy memories to us would mean nothing to anyone else.  We talk about bills and taxes and we share a bank account.  The kids know who they should ask depending on what it is they want.  We each have our own sensitivities and our own strengths and our own interests.  We have some of the same sensitivities and strengths and interests.  We get on each others nerves at times but mostly we like each other and like spending time together.  We wonder if we should have one more kid.  We wonder when we will go on our next vacation.  We enjoy a glass of wine here and there.

We are neither special nor strange.

We are like all married couples.  We are like you.  And you.  And you.  We’re just trying to get the kids to bed on time and clean up the mess in the kitchen and remember to water the plants.  We are trying to find a babysitter so we can have a rare night out and we are searching the basement closet for some wrapping paper.  We have no idea where the other foot to all the socks are.  We share stories about our co-workers and we complain about our families.  We step on Legos and we curse the fools who invented toy megaphones because inevitably that is the toy the kids choose to play with at 6am on a Saturday morning.  We are nice to each other.  We care about each others feelings.  We are not disrespectful even in anger.  One irons the others work clothes the evening before and one puts gas in the others car.  We gripe about our weight (well, I do) and we’re still trying to figure out which one of us should really be in charge of plunging the toilet when the boys clog it up.  (Neither wants the job).  We gladly offer up the last (and always most delicious) bite of the thing we were just eating but complain when someone takes the first sip of our drink without asking.

Like I said:  Neither special nor strange.

We are multi-dimensional beings in a multi-dimensional marriage.  Going through all the same things as everyone else.  Struggling with all the same things as everyone else.  Finding joy in the same things as everyone else.

We have to work at keeping our love strong and our lives happy and healthy.  We have to make effort everyday to not take each other for granted.  We make fun of each other and are affectionate to each other.

Above all, we are a team.  We truly are best friends.  We appreciate each other and what each adds to this equation.

 

I know in my marriage we are both women and in most others there is one woman and one man but I don’t know why people like to reduce us to what happens in our bedroom.  I don’t know why people care so much or are so angry about what they assume happens there.  Like all married couples, we spend less time there than we do out in the world.  What happens there is private – Just as what happens in yours is private.

Can I make certain assumptions about what I think is happening in my bosses bedroom?  In my friends own?  My sisters?  How about in my pastors?  Of course I can.  Might I get some of it right and some of it way wrong?  Probably.  Is it my business?  Does it help me to know if any of them are decent people?  Does what you do in your bedroom, or who you do it with, make you a better friend to me or daughter to your mom or employee?  

NOT ONE BIT! 

 

One Big Happy And Kinda Odd Family October 6, 2015

CC got remarried so my boys have a new step-mother.  I’m in a relationship too and it’s a matter of time before they have a second step-parent.  It’s kind of an odd thing speaking to my ex-husband about his new wife and my new partner and possible future (half) siblings for our children.  But I love that we can.  It’s not awkward or tense at all.  We both had our own step-parent relationships.  His was ok-ish but not great.  Mine was awful.   We do not want that for our boys.  We are committed to making this life as easy and as smooth and as happy for our children as possible.  Where that is concerned we are still very much on the same team.

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The boys know that we frequently communicate so they can’t pin us one against the other.  They can’t get away with one thing at Moms house that Dad has forbid or vice versa.  CC and I send each other pictures if we have the boys and are doing something fun or interesting.  We are pleasant when we see each other and we don’t speak badly of each other or each others partners.  Whenever possible, we both show up for doctors appointments and parent teacher conferences and the like.

I have made it clear that CC’s wife is always welcome as well.  I will never purposely make her feel uncomfortable and I make it clear to the kids that she deserves their respect as much as CC and I do.  As far as I know, he does the same on his end.  All she has to do for my attitude towards her not to change is be good to my kids.

Don’t get me wrong … We’re not all going on vacation together any time soon.  But you know what?  I don’t think even that’s totally out of the question.

Down the line if/when there are more graduations or birthday parties or school recitals or weddings or grandchildren, I’d like all of us to be able to share in the joy together.  After all, every one of us would have played some role in getting the children to where they are and all of us will feel pride and excitement and want to share in the moment.  Whatever that moment is.  I wouldn’t want to rob CC or Emma or my person of that.

Additionally we don’t want the boys to feel like they have to choose between having a good relationship with a loving step-parent and making their other parent sad.

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I understand  that none of this will guarantee a good relationship between my boys and any step-parent they get, but if it’s not good it won’t be because I made things difficult.  I believe Ace and Jay will benefit from it if CC and I can maintain this level of respect for each other.

Divorce is not easy.  I’m in no way trying to make light of it.  The last couple of years have had some really rough patches.  Making the decision to introduce new people into your childs life is not easy.  I’m certainly no expert, but I do think that there’s a righter way and a wronger way to do it.  Sooooo, welcome to our  wild, loud, messy, busy, kinda odd, mixed up family Emma.  Let’s all do this right.

 

New Year. New Chapter. January 3, 2014

Filed under: Family,Marriage — The B Side @ 9:17 pm
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I’m sitting here with a box of tissues, a glass of wine and trembling fingers.  There’s something that I should acknowledge.  CC and I are not doing well.  So not well that he’s been living somewhere else for the past couple of months.

It’s been incredibly difficult on many different levels.

I never expected to be here.  Wherever here is.  But I know that everybody goes through hard things and that I can and have gone through hard things.  I know I have been lifted up by my friends (the few who knew) and I love them for that.

I do know that me and the boys have been doing the best we can at the times when it’s just us.  I’ve really tried to keep things as normal for them as possible.  We’ve stuck to our routine and we’ve played and we’ve laughed. 

I also know that CC is a good person and a great dad and sometimes it’s not about who’s right or wrong. 

I think I can speak for him when I say that we don’t hate each other and we deserve credit for the way we’ve handled things. 

Sometimes you do your best and … well … it’s not good enough.  You’re not good enough.  Strong enough. 

Sometimes broken things can be mended. 

 

I don’t know what the future holds. I’m scared and nervous about that.  I’m taking one day at a time.  Some days are easier than others.  I’m focusing all my energy on the 2 great loves of my life; Ace and Jay.  They, more than anyone or anything else, are saving me.