Tag Archives: heartache

Wasted

broken heart

 

There are few things that can bring the past back to me quite as viscerally as music can. Memories I might grasp for another time come sliding back to me, unexpected, with the right (or wrong) song playing in the background.

When you have the kind of past I have, it can be painful, sometimes- even the happy memories. Today, we were listening to the Dixie Chicks, a CD that once had permanent residence in my old Camry’s stereo. Cowboy, Take me Away came on, and I remember driving around, with the song turned up loud, the windows down, the sunlight streaming in- and this little tiny dark headed girl in her car seat in the back, singing along with me.

She’s all grown up now. Our lives were such a mess back then- well, my life was, and hers, by association. Any happy memories I can find, I cling to, because there just aren’t that many of them. It was a dark time for me, and I was very, very deep in my addiction. I didn’t know how to be a mother, or what it meant, or what, exactly, I was robbing her of. Oh, if only I had known. You know, my heart will very probably never heal from that. I know, I know- we are supposed to learn to forgive ourselves, to leave the past in the past…but I think there is a part of me that honestly doesn’t feel like I ought to forgive myself.  Like maybe punishing myself for the rest of my life is my penance for robbing my daughters childhood of the joy that was hers by right. I don’t know, but I do know this: However it is I feel, I won’t be talked out of it. Trust me, it’s been tried.

Heartbreak Town. I remember listening to that on our way to Reno, where I ran off to, to escape myself. There she was again, that little person in the back seat…always in the back seat. If you are curious, I didn’t fool myself into being someone different just because I crossed state lines. I was still me, still sick, still not a mother anyone should have had. Sometimes I try to imagine what it must have been like for her, but when I do, it hurts too much.

It is only recently- maybe just since she has been sort of a “grown-up”, or maybe it is because I am raising another daughter now, in such a completely different way- that I have started to sincerely wish there were some way I could go back, and do things differently. I know that kind of thinking is useless and foolish. I know I would be better off trying to make my amends to her now, by being the best mom I can NOW, and I do that, I do…but still. If I could just go back, just for one measly little day, and be tender with her. Give her my undivided attention. Just hold her, and love her, and do all the mommy stuff I have learned to do now…I would just really like to do that, that’s all.

This is a lot of stuff to carry around inside of one small heart. The memories, and the worry about what you may have inflicted upon another small heart, one that you created. To look back and see all of the time, and the chances, and the love you wasted. It doesn’t feel very good. I’m glad to say I don’t sit in this shit every single day, but when I do, I don’t even try to deny myself the opportunity to cry about it anymore. It’s a sad and terrible way that I chose, and if it didn’t make me cry, I guess that would mean I haven’t changed much, wouldn’t it? But I have. So at least there is that.

Exquisitly Tender, Beautiful, Bittersweet Life

Let me preface this by saying I really do not feel like writing right now. It is eleven o’clock on Monday night, and I am tired. I am also being subjected to Doc McStuffins, when I would way rather be watching New Adventures of Old Christine,  or something else fluffy and comforting, that would overshadow the never ending babble in my head enough to lull me to sleep. But I am afraid that if I don’t write this down now, tomorrow, the feelings will be faded and I won’t be able to access the words I want to get down…and also, I am learning to push a little harder to find space and time in my life for the things I really love (writing), and to relinquish a little control, to compromise sometimes (the Doc McStuffins thing).

So, here I sit. I don’t know if you noticed or not, but I am a little erratic, a little mercurial, and perhaps wound up just a wee bit tight. If you can sense it in my writing, imagine what it might be like living with me. No, seriously, imagine it, for a minute. Actually, never mind, stop imagining it, it upsets me. I want you to like me. I can joke about it all day long, but the reality is, I am a tyrant around here. Or, as I told my sister on the phone today, it crossed my mind that I am a bully. I use noise and menace and flat out threats of physical harm to keep things in line at home, and this extends to EVERY member of the household, right down to the animals. Now, this was never my intention, of course- as a matter of fact, I didn’t even realize the terrible extent of it until the other day.

Have you ever had something happen to you that forced you to suddenly see yourself the way you actually are, rather than the version of yourself that yourself allows you to see? Like, not the you that your coworkers think you are because when YOU tell the stories of your life to them, they get the benefit of your calm, and the things that you felt that led you to react to your husband/ child/ dog the way you did…not just your banshee screams and tantrum, barely intelligible tirade, slammed door, cold, dead silence? Because this has been my routine, this has been a pretty regular thing around here-REALLY regular- and I am betting that most of the time, my people here didn’t really know WHAT the fuck was wrong with me (now), or WHY I was so pissed off all the time. I didn’t even know. I feel like I have been upset for like two years, and it would fade for a while, but never actually resolve.

The other day, I was just miserable (again) and I had that gnawing, anxious, tense knot, right dead center in my stomach. When I feel that way, I get so antsy and unsettled, and it HURTS, but not just physically. It hurts emotionally, like, my feelings are on edge and crazy, achy. I don’t know what to do with that pain, or why it is even there, so I start looking for the source, or plausible stand in. Long story short, I heaped it somewhere it didn’t belong, and I think it was nearly the last straw. I looked at this person I love, deeply, and saw for the first time the strain loving me was causing them. And it horrified me. In that one tiny little moment, my entire perspective completely shifted, and I saw all of it- how caustic and awful I have been, and how totally self absorbed. I don’t want to totally bash myself, either, because I think that is a big part of the problem- when we aren’t happy with ourselves, we find fault everywhere we look. But I understood that my behavior has been TOTALLY unacceptable. Totally.

When this happened, and my perspective changed just like that, my pain changed, also. It was still there, but the quality was different. It wasn’t a spite driven pain anymore, it was a sorrowful one. I was standing at my dresser, trying to process it all, and the self loathing and sadness were sort of duking in out, and I closed my eyes and tried to breathe, Out of nowhere, my mind began to think of every single person who loved me, one by one- I could see each person like they were in front of me, and I could feel their love for me ( I guess this was my subconscious ploy to prove to myself that I wasn’t all that bad), and it hit me that not only could I feel their energy as clearly as if they were actually there, but each of them had a totally unique feeling love. Every love from every person feels totally different. This blew my mind. Then I began to think of people that were not even alive anymore- my grandparents, friends I’ve lost…guess what? Whether they were around or not, I could feel the love they had for me. It didn’t matter what dimension they existed in- that love was forever, period. Once it was given to me, it was mine forever.

This was a comfort to me, but it got me thinking. What kind of love was I putting out for people to take? Was I giving something worth having? And what if I wasn’t loving anyone at all, not really? Like, if you know you love someone, but all of you they get is tension, resentment, frustration…then that is what you are leaving them with. If you die tomorrow, that is your legacy. It isn’t enough to just know you love people. You have to give it to them, too. You need to hand it to them willingly, and show it to them by the way you treat them, the things you say, the quality of your attention. Maybe you do this already, maybe I am just an asshole with problems. But in case you do make people try to pull a little to get some of your love or attention, in case you are an overwhelmed mom who isn’t thrilled with life and doesn’t realize she is taking it out on her kids…in case you are a human being who acts a little fucked up sometimes just know you aren’t alone. I have been out of control. I am really sad about it, but I am glad I am seeing it now, painful as it is. Because now I can change.

I have been terribly sensitive since all of this began a few days ago- the way a boo-boo always is after the hard scab comes off and exposes the shiny, pink, brand new skin beneath. But it’s a great kind of tenderness, because I can HEAR myself, and I can SEE the people all around me, and how important who I am is in a MUCH bigger picture- how important ALL of us are to each other, in a way that I really never, ever even would have guessed before. Everywhere you go, you are radiating your energy, and effecting the energy of everyone around you. The closer they are to you, the more closely tied, the more they are going to feel and be effected by you. I was hurting everyone around me, the ones I love most, worst of all.

I have made my mind up that I will be better, NO MATTER WHAT. I will start from a good place every day, and no matter how many times I falter, I will start over. I am not going to make the people I love bear my love like a weight. I want to lift them up, to lighten them. How could I not have always done this. or even understood that I needed to? I’m not sure how I didn’t understand how to love another human being, but I missed it by a mile. I have to forgive myself to move forward, but mark my words- these kids, this dude, my friends, my family- they are going to know they are loved, they are heard, they are cherished, and that they have my undivided attention. And they are going to think of me and smile…long after I am gone, they will feel the great and deep love I have for them.

Not Your Mama’s Broken Heart…But it Sure Feels Like it.

broken_heart3I’ve been going through one of the hardest break-ups of my life, recently, and it isn’t even my own. It would be so much more bearable if it WAS, I think, because at least then I could be an active participant, rather than this spectator on the sidelines, watching helplessly as my beautiful daughter finds her way through this age old struggle. Everyone goes through it. Everyone one of us has loved and lost. It’s just part of life, I KNOW that…but what I didn’t know was how devastating it would be to watch your child go through it. Another thing I wasn’t prepared for was my own feeling of loss- I’m not sure if I should count myself as lucky or not that I really, sincerely LOVED my daughter’s ex. We ALL loved him. My MOTHER loved him, for Pete’s sake, and she has rarely been able to muster a crumb of enthusiasm for any guy I’ve ever dated.  That ought to tell you something.

Josh wandered into my life about a year ago. I believe he wandered into my daughters life a little before that…according to her, she wanted to make sure they were really “together-together” before she introduced him to me. When I finally did meet him, I was prepared to despise him. I wanted to- I even tried to- stay ambivalent, keep him at arms length. But he was so damn personable! He didn’t mind talking to me, even though I was technically the enemy, as the mother of the girl he was making out with all the time. I’m not going to lie, that part made me want to puke, and I tried to pretend they were like characters from a Disney movie, sweet and chaste. But I’m not completely stupid. I just wound up liking him in spite of all that.

I liked him because he sang along to “Bennie and the Jets” with us the first time I gave him a ride in my car. I liked him because he went with us to the pumpkin patch in October, and he wanted to know if he could pick out a pumpkin, too. I liked him because he was sweet to my two year old. I liked that he brought out the happy kid inside my surly teenage daughter, and I got to see her play again. I liked that he walked my dog for me, and helped with the dishes, and even took out the garbage for me from time to time. I loved that he looked out for my daughter- he had his dad drop him off at my house every morning at six thirty so that he could walk her to school, even though he didn’t have to be at school himself until nine.  One time, when they were fighting, my daughter locked him out of the house. When I went to let him in, I heard him start to say something to her, then he sighed, and said “I just can’t be mean to you.”

I guess I knew that they would break up. I mean, they are KIDS, really, really, young kids…the odds of them staying together were super slim. But it does happen from time to time, right? The thing is, I SAW them together. I saw the way they laughed, and the way they treated each other with such tenderness, and I don’t care how old you are, love is love. Those two REALLY loved each other. They would fight, and break up, then the next day it was like nothing happened. I stopped paying attention.

But the last time they broke up, it stuck. Josh went off the grid. They had a pretty serious situation, and I guess he was just done. That happens, doesn’t it? You get used to someone putting up with something, and then, one day, they just won’t anymore. I know I’ve certainly stood where my daughter found herself standing. It HURTS. And it damn near killed me to watch.  I’m not going to lie, I stepped over the line, and I tried to reach out to him, myself- he had just disappeared, and I was worried. I realize now there was probably more to the story that I didn’t know…but this boy was like a kid to me by the end, and he practically lived at my house. He didn’t want to talk to me, either. He just said he was too hurt, and he didn’t want to ever feel the way he felt, ever again. I had to leave it be.

Aisley has had her good days and her bad over the last month or so. She is learning all about the void left behind when someone you love is no longer there. She is learning all about the old cliche “Don’t know what you got until it’s gone.”. She is learning what it is like to have to really look at your behavior and not like what you see. I am not saying this is all her fault, don’t get me wrong. I am just saying she is going through what everyone of us goes through when a relationship ends before we want it to. And it is HARD, HARD, HARD for me to see. I know there is nothing I can do.

Josh came by for a second yesterday to pick up something of his. Aisley made me promise to stay inside so that she could talk to him. Of course, I agreed. Of course, I totally reneged, and had to poke my head out. He smiled and ran up to give me a hug. He came in real quick to say hi to the baby (who was not ready to be nice to him, I guess. She misses him, too.). I left them alone after that. In just a few minutes, Aisley was back inside. I asked if she was okay, she said she was. She said “I actually feel a lot better, mom.” Which made me happy.

I guess now I’ll have to start getting over it, too.

Gratitude For Heartache

This is a letter of thanks- to the people who yelled at me and mistreated me, when I was still a little girl. To the girls and boys who were so mean and cruel in middles school. To the friends who wound up not being friends at all. To the men I loved so much that threw that love away and broke my heart. To the drugs that almost took me out. To my own stubborn self, for standing in my way so many times…thank you.

I am not a little girl, not anymore.  I have forgiven you, forgotten you, moved on…but I know now how I do not want to be talked to or treated, and I will not allow it. I had to learn that it was not okay to treat other people the way you treated me, but it was good that I could tell that I was wrong, and why, and now I am a better person for it. So thank you. I hope you have a better life today than you did when I was small.

You twelve and thirteen and fourteen year old little heathens of yore…I get it now. You couldn’t have known about my miserable home life, about how terribly your words hurt me. Not that you would have cared, such is the nature of the beast. But kids are cruel, and you (nor I) were any exception. The ones of you that remember and feel bad have grown up and are probably decent people…the ones who have forgotten are normal. But if you look back and still find your antics funny, you probably have an ass the size of a carport and a rotten life. I will pray for you.

To the friends who were not friends at all- I’ve stood where you stand, and it’s a lonely place. Sorry is not just a word, you know. Sometimes it’s a knock at the door. Life has given me a heart full of compassion and a head full of understanding, and you know, maybe I miss you, too.

Oh, and you men. Yikes. You are my Achilles heel, and I can’t blame you for my reprehensible taste, but still…one thing I am good at is loving you, and you have been disappointing. You know who you are. That first one, who got all of the best love I had, and played me like a hand of cards…like, five hands of cards, actually. So many lies, betrayals, dashed hopes and sleepless nights. But it’s okay, because you taught me a lot- about what I want, what I don’t want, and how to tell when I am heading down a bad road.  So, thanks. Don’t call me or anything, just thank you.

Sigh…the drugs. I can’t leave you out, not if I’m being honest. You were the hurdle I almost couldn’t clear, and I am so glad you are gone. You stole me from my family, my children, my dreams and I almost couldn’t escape. I know you are out there, cruising my street sometimes- when I am hurting or fed up or too sad- just waiting for me to stumble, and I know you have all the time in the world. But I have learned to sit on my hands. I have learned to think about the end result, the inevitable conclusion you will lead me to, and I stay inside until you are bored and move on. I have been someone I couldn’t stand, did things I would never do, gone to places I wish I didn’t know about, all with you. But you made me better than I ever could have been without you. You stay away from me, but thank you.

And stubborn little me…well. I forgive you, and will continue to do so, when necessary. Despite the worst decisions you have made, the repeated wrong turns and backslides, your heart remains good. I wouldn’t change a minute of it.

So, thank you, thank you, thank you- all the heartache life has dropped at my door has made me stronger. I value real love like the treasure it is. I am a fierce and loyal protector of those I love- whether children, lover or friend. I am not afraid. Because of all the bad times, I know I can survive just about anything you throw at me. Because of the good times, I know it’s all worth it.

I am still learning. When to give up, when to let go, when it is not for me to decide.  But I have learned, because of past mistakes, to listen closely to my instincts, to pay attention to what my body is telling me in its own quiet way.  I know that facing the truth now is better than pretending things aren’t what they are indefinitely- you can’t always avoid heartache, but you don’t have to prolong it. I know that actions really do speak louder than words. I know that time really does tell.

I have been let down, let go, locked out, beat up, messed with and leveled along the way. I have cried, a lot. I have had moments where I was pretty sure life as I knew it was over- and you know what? I wasn’t wrong. Because every single time I got back up, pulled it together, sucked it up and decided to persevere, I was better than before. That life had ended and something better began.

Now, here I sit, at 37, and my life is what it is because of all the challenges, the failures, the successes, that shaped me. I know who I am, and I know what I want. I am stronger and better, deeper and more compassionate than I ever thought I could be. I am more capable and less afraid, more certain and more open minded than I believed possible. I am a better mother than I was, more tender, more patient, more aware. I am a better friend than I was, more able to listen, more loyal, more honest, more practical. I am a better woman.

I am not who I thought I would be, but everything I need to be today. And better than I’d hoped, so long ago. So thank you for the lessons that you taught me, that led me here. I am more grateful than you could ever know.

Inevitable Sadness

I guess it was stupid of me to think that I could feel ONLY good about what is happening here, within the walls of this house. The fact of the matter is, a long and important relationship that I cherished and worked at and tried my very hardest to salvage is ending, and it would be weird as hell if it didn’t hurt  to let it go.

I thought Thanksgiving would be hard without him. I left on Thursday morning and drove, just me and the girls, to my late grandparents home up in Oakhurst. My family was all there- my mom and stepdad, my cousin Heidi whom I adore and look up to, and her husband Tom, who I also adore, her kids…my two uncles and various other folks. Thanksgiving was WONDERFUL. I didn’t have one moment where it felt weird or bad or lonely or anything. It was the first time I’d been home for the holiday in five years- all the time Devon and I had been together- and I can’t believe I missed it.

As a matter of fact, the entire time I was gone was like that- I spent the night with my sister in Fresno, and for the first time ever, we got to hang out, just her and I, with our kids, and do NOTHING. All of that pressure that comes with worrying that your significant other is okay, not bored, wanting to leave- it was gone, and it was wonderful. I am pretty sure that it doesn’t have to be that way, but in this relationship, it was always that way. if it wasn’t him wanting to leave my family, it was me wanting to leave his. Not that I don’t love his family, because I really, really do. I think it always had more to do with us not wanting to keep up the charade of happiness and harmony that made it hard…I don’t know.

To be honest, I sort of dreaded coming home to him and that familiar hostility more than anything. He hasn’t said much to me since the break up. I mostly have just left him alone, knowing there is nothing I can say that he wants to hear.

Yesterday, I left the baby with him and took the kids up to San Francisco for the day because I promised them (Aisley and her boyfriend) that I would. At the last second, and old friend of mine asked if I’d meet him for breakfast, and since it was on the way, I said yes. He ended up riding along with us for the day, and I had a fantastic time. I was so glad he came, since the kids didn’t want me tagging along with them, making gagging sounds every time they kissed (which is WAY more than necessary, in my opinion.) He just recently ended a ten year relationship, and is still trying to figure it all out- he’s dating a lot, or rather, he was, and now he’s sort of started seeing only one girl that he really likes, but you can tell he’s still a little wobbly- trying to get his land legs, as it were.

I spent a lot of time talking about my situation, which is how you could tell it wasn’t a date- we both talked pretty constantly about our big, significant, failed relationships. But we had a great time, and being with him, who paid for my breakfast and had an all-day conversation with me, full of actual WORDS…well, it gave me hope. And it reminded me of how much I like to laugh, and flirt (innocently), and be heard. I came home thinking I would be okay. Better than okay. Better than ever before, maybe.

Then I got a letter from Devon, via Facebook (?), late, late at night. I read it twice, and then I replied, and that’s when the tears started. Just writing about it is starting them up again. He told me that he is hurting, and I could tell that he is angry and resentful and scared. I think it is finally sinking in that I am not bluffing this time.

The idea that he is hurting and feeling afraid, and that I am the source of this, it’s pretty unbearable for me. I understand that it’s a lot more complicated than that, but in a nutshell, in it’s simplest form, I am hurting him. I HATE that. I’ve said it here before, that I still love him, so it makes sense that it hurts me terribly to cause him pain. So many times I’ve felt like I could see the little kid in him, right beneath his grown up face, and a part of me is fiercely protective of that, even now.

But the fact remains that I want out. The truth I can see, through all of the heartache, is that there is nothing left of our relationship to save. It’s gone. And I am just not going to pretend. The letter I wrote back to him is not what he was wanting from me, which is going to cause him more pain, and I am really, really sad and sorry about that. At the bottom of it all, I feel like I am really making the best decision, not only for me but for both of us- that he deserves to be happy just as much as I do, and we can’t be happy together. Hopefully, he will see this eventually, too.

I am only responsible for myself, though, really, and trying to be in charge of his happiness is part of the reason we wound up here. I think if I would have let things run their course naturally, we would have broken up the first year.

Ah, I don’t know where to go from there. I guess I will just end here by saying this- I will let the tears come when they need to, and I will be enormously loving and gentle with myself, knowing that continued joy is ahead. I will pray for him, myself, and our children, and practice turning it back over to God when I start wanting to fix it.

Have a great day.

The Heart of a Mommy

courtesy of Gail Nogle Photography

I would like to dedicate this post to all the moms I know, but especially to Amanda Davis, and her one month old baby girl, Maxine. I love you with all my heart.

The day that each of us got the news, either from a doctor, or, more commonly, from the stick we just peed on that had the nerve to turn pink, our lives began to change. I cannot speak for everyone, but I know for me, the first few months were a mixture of fear (is everything alright in there? What the hell will I do with a baby!?), excitement, and that weird, buoyant radiance that feels different from any other thing apart from pregnancy. We become so in tune with our bodies, and every day we wake up with a new sense of purpose- to carry this life within us carefully, safely, to it’s fruition. Not everyone of us gets to do this perfectly- I have friends who have lost babies, friends whose babies were born so, so early that they spent months in the hospital keeping vigil at their tiny infants bedside. For many of us, as mothers, this is the first time our lives are every truly hard or scary- it’s like everything before this pain is NOTHING in comparison.

From the time we feel their movement inside of us for the very first time, like a butterfly’s wings fluttering or a flurry of tiny bubbles brushing against us, to the alien rolls and elbow jabs of late pregnancy, we begin to develop a relationship with this little person. Then the moment arrives when they are ready to come out into the world, and time stands still the first time you see this marvelous, beautiful human being for the first time, or hear their tiny, gorgeous voice. There is nothing in the world like this.

You have expectations. What you think they will look like, what you think they will be like. Then, here they are, so different than you imagined- and yet perfect, better in every way than you could ever dream up on your own. A lot of times, we are so busy and caught up in them, these little miracles we get to claim as our own, that we don’t see what is becoming of us. The  biggest miracle of all, for me, was what happened to my heart the day that I began to love my first daughter.

Before she came along, I was very, very self- possessed ( I”m not saying I’m so damned perfect now, I’m just saying you should have seen me before!) and it was incredibly hard for me to be empathetic for others. But the love that came to me with her was so profound, so incredibly pure and perfect, there was no way I could accept that love and not be fundamentally changed. My heart was just laid open, and it changed who I was. It was really the best day of my life.

I was very, very young, and messed up countless times with that child. I will go so far as to admit that she got a bad deal with me. I wish I could go back and change it all, I really do, but you know how useless that is.  But I will tell you this- because of my love for her, I had the good sense to feel guilty about the way I was living, and the desire to change grew from that. Because of my oldest girl, and my love for her, I found my way out of the mess I was living in, and became someone better.

My second daughter knocked out every barrier I had left, allowing light in all of the places I had hidden away for myself. There was no place left in me now that was safe from emotion. My second daughters birth obliterated me with that love, and I was so ready and receptive to it. My heart expanded, making room for both of my girls and so, so much more. You think you know about love before you have kids, and I hope I don’t offend you when I say, with all sincerity, you don’t. You can’t, it’s not possible, it’s different, it’s rare and perfect and amazing. I know you love your dog, you love your parents, you love your husband. But this love, while absolutely worthwhile and good and necessary, is not the wrecking ball love you get with your babies. It destroys you and resurrects you into someone so much better than you were before- softer and stronger, deeper and…just better.

As our children grow, and the time flies by, there comes a moment when you realize that there is a distance growing between you. Then you come to understand that this was always the purpose of all of these years- to raise them and to let them go. It happens so fast. So, so much faster than you would have believed fifteen or so years ago…it breaks your heart. No matter how rotten and selfish and foul mouthed they have become, they are the same big-eyed, sweet smelling, little miracles who latched onto your heart with their sticky hands and kissed you with their runny noses underneath all that teenage loathing, and it hurts to let them go. But that is all you can do.

My advice to you, just starting out, is to relish every minute of it. Every time you start to feel fussier than the baby making you climb the walls, look down into that tiny face, and memorize it, because in five minutes they will be someone else. It goes by in a heartbeat. You cannot love too much, listen too much, be too affectionate, be too present …when they are small. But you can  do and be too little of all of these things, and you will carry that pain with you for the rest of your life-so do yourself a favor, and be the kind of parent you can be proud to be. You will not regret it. Welcome to the mommy club. May the force be with you.