Thursday, November 29, 2012

Remaining like a log

I finally had the opportunity to sit down with Little Buddha today. I can not express how valuable she is, with her experiences, understanding and wisdom.  Little Buddha validated that what I'm going through has nothing to do with the Lexapro or depression, it is standard holiday emotions post-divorce. She said all the right things are being done: awareness of the negative thoughts, attempt to change perception. I know my thinking hasn’t been right but a lot of this is just knowing ‘it is what it is’. Instead I’ve been judging and fighting against my feelings.  

I wanted to tell The Runner what has been going on. I’ve been missing my joie de vivre and I don’t know if he can sense it, but he shares his experiences with me and I haven’t been able to communicate the same to him. So I decided to write it out - if I wrote the letter below to myself to tell me what’s been going on, it doesn’t make me as panicky. Or make me judge myself for feeling down. It makes me think it’s a rough time, then it will get better.  It takes away some of the overwhelming feelings.

Email to myself (and the Runner):
Just a heads up - the holidays are super hard for me, so I've been feeling pretty down lately. This is when I became a single mom. The first month was December and I couldn't even leave my house. Last year I did the bare minimum and shut everything else out.  This year I have some holiday spirit back and am starting to indulge in Christmas cheer -- but it's been a rough few weeks and I'm overwhelmed and running on empty.

I've been consumed with so much guilt lately. About Grace - not doing enough with her, being exhausted by her, missing her when she's not there, being relieved when she's not there.  Guilt about not reaching the too high standards I set for myself - essentially that I should be perfect in every area.  Overwhelmed about the lack of job stability. The falling apart house (every time I get it to where things are in working order, it breaks again!)

Between the guilt that's been eating at me and constantly giving everything to a 2 year old who gives very little in return, I'm running on empty. I'm missing my joie de vivre!

So if I seem a little off kilter or strung out, I really just need a hug.

There are so many thoughts jumbled in my head right now that it was easier to write this out. I appreciate when you share about what's going on with you life, so I wanted to share with you too, so ya know what's up.

- Diana

Now that I’ve been able to sort through many jumbly thoughts, judgements and guilt, the question of how to survive the next month looms large. And as it always seems to happen, Pema Chodron’s thought of the week has impeccable timing:

The practice of “remaining like a log” is based on refraining, not repressing. When you realize you’re thinking, just acknowledge that. Then turn your attention to your breath flowing in and out, to your body, to the immediacy of your experience. Doing this allows you to be present and alert, and thoughts have a chance to calm down.

With this practice, it can be helpful to gently breathe in and out with the restlessness of the energy. This is a major support for learning to stay present. Basic wakefulness is right here, if we can just relax. Our situation is fundamentally fluid, unbiased, and free, and we can tune into this at any time. When we practice “remaining like a log,” we allow for this opportunity.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A shift in perspective

As I went home from work feeling rather crappy yesterday, it occurred to me that the things that I have wanted and/or been working toward are happening.  

What I’ve been telling myself...What is really happening...
I may lose my jobMy job function is such that job security is as good as it is going to be right now.
I’m spending too much.I’m taking steps to save more and realize December is pretty much a wash each year.
The Runner isn’t making me feel special.The Runner hung out with Grace and I on Sunday and he was really great with Grace. He came over early and made an effort to adapt to the whole kid thing. He has sent cute texts and called/talked for an hour last night.
I’m not being as good of a mother that I want to be.Grace couldn’t be happier and I am adding new things into our mix to help her grow and experience more.
My house sucks.My house is safe and affordable.
Being a single mom is really hard.Being a single mom IS really hard, but I will keep working to find a balance and focus on the things that are going well.
The holidays are really hard - like salt in a wound constantly reminding me of lost dreams.Last year I didn’t even decorate for Christmas. I did the bare minimum so Grace would enjoy the holiday and that was it. This year I put out lights, got a tree early, decorated the house, baked cookies and have Christmas outings planned with good friends.  So even though I may not be able to feel the warmth of the Christmas spirit yet, I’m definitely steps ahead of where I was last year.

As you can see, there are two sides to every coin. I don’t know if it is the holidays or going off of Lexapro that I was given back in March when the depression hit full force, but I am processing everything as negative. Forming negative pathways in my brain instead of forging new positive pathways.

Perhaps I asked Santa for the wrong thing, not peace of mind, but a shift in perspective. Because I already have peace of mind, I’m just not recognizing that it is there!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

All I want for Christmas is...peace of mind

Thanksgiving was my first holiday where I did not have Grace with me. I knew it would be hard but I was not prepared for the wave of emotion that hit the minute her tiny little feet stepped out of my front door.  I collapsed crying, somehow making it back to my bed where I called my mom and threatened to remain for the rest of the day. Between sobbing to my mom and sending mean texts to my Ex (such as: Why am I being punished when I didn’t do anything in the first place? 2 years ago to date you informed me you wanted to move out in January and no longer live with your wife and kid and this year you take her from me? WTF!).  My mom calmly reminded me that this was not about my needs but about Grace's - to bond with her family on a holiday and begin making those fond memories that all children have from both sides of the family. That was followed by a call from my Ex offering to bring Grace home that same day or else early the next. And while I appreciated his offer, I told him that would only be in my best interest, not in hers, and that I need to keep her first, therefore she needed to go for the holiday to see his family.

What a jolt. I was knocked sideways.  I finally started to recover by spending the next 2 days in a flurry of every kind of holiday preparation imaginable, picturing the delight on Grace’s face as she experienced each holiday item carefully laid out for her.

Fast forward to this week when I find out I have to have the front of my house redone because it wasn’t done right to start with (60 years ago). 
And I bought all of Grace’s shoes a size too small, not realizing her feet grew. 
And I’m scared I’m overspending on the holidays because I don’t have a lot of job security right now. 

I’m stressed right and left. And without someone to share it with, someone to ease the mental burden and provide a little perspective, I found myself wondering through the mall in tears. Overwhelmed by the emotion, the burden, the pressure of it all.

In the last week, I have decided that Single Mom has to be the worst job. No one proactively applies for it. And those of us who get the position are terrified that we may not be able to make the cut.  Something is always slipping. My kid isn’t having the depth or breadth of experiences of others. So much guilt and pressure.

I wish I could end this post on a better note but at the moment, I don’t have one. Not only is the bitterness of being a single mom hitting hardcore, but it is making it diffuclt to reach out to friends because it feels like you are on an island that no one can reach, much less relate to (apologies to those of you reading this).  When I did reach out to my 2 other single mom friends, their response was “yeah, it sucks”.  None of us having the first inkling of how to relieve the pressure. least I decorated my island with Christmas lights. And cookies. And color coordinated wrapped presents.  

Dear Santa, please bring me peace of mind this year.
Diana Prince

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hey Jude, make it better

Part of the reason I was so on edge yesterday is that I was feeling very alone. The full weight of being a very single parent of a very active two-year-old.  I wanted to take Grace to the nature center to go walking through the woods. I invited The Runner but he had other stuff going on. I invited 2 other friends and they did not answer or return my call, so we went on our walk through the woods. It felt great to get some fresh air with Grace but it also felt empty. Even now I still feel like I’m on an island. The Ground Hog’s day phenomena mentioned below being part of what keeps me separate from everyone else.

So I sulked all day (as mentioned below). Feeling the whole emptiness of being alone.  Feeling completely hollow inside. Knowing that I have only two choices 1) drown in this feeling or 2) come up with a plan and make it better (Hey Jude, make it better!).  So I am choosing number 2. Except in this case, rather than a tangible plan that I can execute with my customary persistence, I need to embrace being alone.  Not to register it as lonely but to register it as living my life. Find the fullness in my life as it is.

Part of why I am so upset about The Runner is that I do want a relationship. To help fill that void I feel of being alone. But that isn’t his responsiblity to fill. Or anyone else. It is on me.

I don’t know exactly how yet. I focus on Grace but sometimes it is exhausting try to engage with a 2 year old who either doesn’t want to engage with you or frequently engages in the opposite way that you’d like!  But my perspective needs a wake up call that being alone does not mean being on an island.

The reason I know I’m not really on an island: both friends got in touch later saying they would love to go on the walk but missed the call when it came in and got the message too late. They would have walked with us. We weren’t walking alone after all.

Ready...or Not.

After much thought over the weekend I realized that the ‘limbo’ situation with The Runner is causing me a lot of anxiety. The uncertainty if it will work out. The uncertainty if he’ll be there the next day or if that will be the day it is too much and he bails.

So following a very sulky day (being a single mom sucks, I’m very lonely, everyone else is moving forward with their lives except me)....The Runner came over last night and I proceeded to be pretty aloof because I was so annoyed all of the hurt and anxiety I’ve been feeling as a result of his unsureness.

After taking a sick day from work due to lack of sleep, quality food and complete mental and emotional exhaustion, we started to talk about what is really going on. He said he doesn’t know if he’s ready to fall in love. He doubts his own instincts and heart because he was messed over so badly last time around. That he’s scared if he gets attached to a family and then it doesn’t work out that he’s letting the family down and that is a lot of responsibility.  i.e. the ‘if you are in it, you are in it for good’ outlook. Which is an awfully hard decision to make 3 months into it.

At the same time, it’s not fair to me to keep waiting around to see what he feels.  It isn’t that he’s saying “please stick around because I will be ready”.  He’s saying “please stick around and I hope that I’ll be ready, but I may not be. This may not be for me.” How is it fair to me to invest more time and even more of my heart that I already have, placing it all on a bet rather than a sure thing?

I tried to end it today. I even said those two magical relationship-ending words again, “take care”. But he didn’t leave. He just kept staying. He wasn’t getting the hint. He said he didn’t want it to end this way. So through my tears I challenged back - then tell me how else this can move forward? Tell me how this could work? And he said we need to communicate more and cited an example of something over the weekend that hurt my feelings and had I told him upfront he could have cleared it up because it was a misconception whereas I was walking around hurt.  And of course communication sounds good, but how does that make him any more ready?

I was supposed to have lunch with two very good, very old friends today. I missed lunch because the pseudo breakup discussion with my pseudo-not-really-boyfriend continued through lunch time.  They were meeting to catch up on kids and husbands and families. And I was at home, crying over a boy who isn’t even ready to be my boyfriend.

It just seems like this is what life is like now.  Stuck in a permanent Ground Hogs day of being 23.  Everyone grew up and got married. But the reset button was hit on my life so I have the emotional stability and relationship support of a 23 year old and the responsibilities of a 40 year old. And yes, being a single mom sucks (as I mentioned above). I’m drained. Tapped out. I don’t have the energy to put into The Runner. I’m drowning in guilt from not having the energy to put into my daugther. It is so hard to give and give when there is nothing coming in.

So where do I go from here?  Right now, I’m not sure.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

3k and counting!

I’m pleased to announce this blog has had 3,000+ pageviews!  Very exciting to think that perhaps my experiences have helped someone else. And certainly your feedback on my experiences has helped me.

I invite you to create an anonymous google log in (or just post as anonymous) if you don’t want to post as yourself and add your comments/feedback to the blog. I receive email feedback frequently, but I have a hunch the other readers may be interested in the various feedback. Afterall, more minds are better than just one.

Thank you for all of your support and advice over the past 3,000 pageviews!

Diana Prince

Un-break up, day 1

I was wrong. He came back for me. He showed up with chocolate chip cookies and answers to all of my questions. We talked through what he sees as lifestyle differences and what causes him to feel he’s in a pressure cooker. In the end, it comes down to the fact he wants to adapt to integrating a child into his life but he doesn’t feel isn’t adapting so far and that scares him and he doubts himself if he’ll be able to do it because it hasn’t happened so far.

He wants to spend more time with Grace and continue seeing me. I informed him if is his perception of a child in your life is negative, then the experience will be too and he’ll need to give himself enough mental space to just experience time and build a relationship with her.

Moreover we talked about how much he hurt me and he apologized profusely. When I asked how he could see that we move forward from this, he said he needs to communicate with me more regularly. That we both need to check in to see how the other is feeling frequently. And that he needs to try to adapt.

He is saying the right things in terms of trying. I am nervous about his negative perception and his self-doubt when it comes to Grace. Because you can only change if you want to change. You can only adapt if you want to.  He’s used to living an unencumbered lifestyle where he can go anywhere and do anything he wants on a whim and adding a child into the mix means a big adjustment.

We talked a lot about change and he said a lot of this is scary and he has doubt because it is so unknown. He has no basis for comparison or information on what it should be like. That is where the communication should come in - level setting what is going on. If he does the work on his side, and this is not a fit, then so be it.  But if he gets scared and backs away without warning....I’ll punch him in the face.

So, I have tentatively agreed to try this with him. Recognizing that I’m taking a big risk. But also recoginizing that I’m not ready to let him go.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Break Up, Day 2

He’s gone. All I can think is that he’s gone and he’s not coming back for me. He isn’t coming after me.

He called last night and left a message saying he’d like to know what I’m feeling and to call if I want to talk to him. I missed the call. I did email him this morning though. I told him everything I’m feeling and everything I don’t understand.  But it won’t change anything, because he’s gone and not coming back for me.

I know he’s sad too but it’s hard for me to understand that instead of stepping up and dealing with this head on, he’s going to end something that could have been good because he’s scared.  And what he’s scared of - family - is something that is wonderful, something that is all good.

I’m pretty sure that he wanted to talk last night because he wants me to talk ‘sense’ into him and make this ok for him - but that is his work to do. I can’t do the work for him.  I ended my email with “I trusted you, I showed you my vulnerabilities. I cared for you and gave you everything I could, even overcoming my own fears of insecurity and abandonment. But you didn't open up to me in the same way. Never really letting me in. Trusting that I wasn't going to hurt you or leave you, but that I was there to comfort and support you.  I can't be the one constantly giving and only receiving half back in return. I want to spend my time with someone who is an equal in building together.  I had hoped that would be you. So as I said, I'm disappointed and hurt. I guess I could have tried to smooth it all over but then we’d be back in the same pattern of him holding back because of fear and the only way this would work is if he does the work too.

Why isn’t he coming after me? How can slowly becoming a part of Grace and my life be so scary?  I can’t believe he’s gone.

Thankfully I had some cookies last night.  More are needed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Why I deserve a cookie

Now that I’ve related the story of the disappointing end of the time with The Runner, it is time for a bit of cheer.  I deserve a cookie. Perhaps a dozen. And maybe even a cake. With a candle.

I told The Runner this wasn’t going to work, not because of his unsureness of the child, but because of how it was handled.  He did not treat me  in the honorable way that you show to someone you care about.  I was upfront with him about my situation and my expectations. Also about what it would take for him to be comfortable with Grace.  But he did not do the work. It is on him. At no point did I internalize or take an ounce of blame.  

The Runner actually thanked me for putting him in his place.  I don’t know what that means to him and I don’t need to care - I know that I was fair to myself. I put myself first. I even offered room for growth and learning for him, as a person. But he missed the boat to be with me.

Now I’m sulking. And I really want a cookie. But I earned this one.

911 chocolate chip cookie emergency

Last night The Runner said that he still feels like he is in a pressure cooker. He doesn’t feel he is emotionally steady enough to provide the support I need. He doesn’t fit into my lifestyle or family.  I listened and said “ok” to each, realizing that my gut has been right all along, he is looking at this through the perception of fear. And only he can change that.  I tried to cut the conversation short and wish him best of luck but he insisted that we talk.

So I informed him that his push/pull hot/cold was very hurtful and that is how people act in high school. All that had to be done was to have open communication and work together to make the situation with Grace comfortable for him. To spend time building a relationship with her, and likewise with me.  He said 2 weeks ago that he wanted to try, and I told him last night that he didn’t follow through. He didn’t do the work. I was out of town all last week - nothing was going to change. But he didn’t do the work.

He didn’t want to hang out, he didn’t want to let me go. Apparently he thought this would be a conversation, not a decision.  I told him that I also have a say in this. And that I have given him everything I have for it being early in a relationship. I got all in and give what I have, I don’t do half.  But instead of opening up and communicating and working together, he held back and left me guessing. Left me guessing each day if he even really liked me. It was so hurtful.  I was so hurt. And I do not want to be with someone who runs hot & cold in order to “make it so I wouldn’t like him as much so I wouldn’t be as hurt if it didn’t work” and I do not want to be with someone who can’t go all in (read: all in in terms of appropriate for that point in a relationship. Not declaring undying love but making the other person feel wanted, special, and doing the work to build the relationship and move to the next step up, and on and on).

I said “take care, good night” and he said “don’t say that, don’t say ‘take care’”, I don’t want you to go”. He wanted me to help change his misperceptions that he has about dating someone with a child. I told him only he can change his perception. From where I sit, it would be easy to bring him into the fold of my life, of Grace’s life, over time and naturally. And from my view, he is being handed a plate of gold. The opportunity to be a part of Grace’s life, as spectacular as she is. And the opportunity to be a part of Wonder Woman’s life.  But instead of thinking he’s the luckies guy ever, he looks at it in fear. I can’t change that, only he can.

He waffled throughout the conversation, saying he doesn’t want to do kid stuff but the telling me his looked over and over our pictures on facebook and feels he is so far behind and has so much to catch up on to develop that kind of relationship with Grace.  I told him that he won’t develop that relationship, that is MY relationship with her. There is no catch-up, you just get to know someone, showing them love and support. It’s easy.

He asked if we could talk today and it was so late that I said ok. But I am inclined to text him and ask that he write to me whatever he wants to say. Because the truth is, I can’t do the work for him. I’ve given him all of the information that I have from my perception of what reality is. But he is so set in looking at this in black and white and waiting for a click that he is missing out on the chance to live in the gray - where life is really lived. So I’d rather he just write to me. So he can assemble his thoughts, and I can move on. I have nothing more to say to him, I don’t want to make him feel better because he really hurt me and was unfair.  I don’t want to convince him that this has potential and is worth pursuing because he needs to come to this on his own. I can only hope that at some point, he will realized he threw away the best thing that came into his life because he was too scared to open his mind and heart and live in the uncertain.

Monday, November 12, 2012

London Calling

I was in London last week for work. Aside from productive work meetings, I had a milestone experience: I checked something off of my life long to-do list (otherwise known as a bucket list but that term creeps me out). Is that suspense killing you yet?  I did the lift from Dirty Dancing in the middle of a restaurant, received by applause and cheer from the restaurant patrons!  It was fantastic!

I felt uninhibited, confident, and completely carefree!  It was fantastic.  Little Buddha told me that I will find as I feel better that “better” will feel much better than it was before. That the strength and confidence acquired from the last two years have created a foundation that I didn’t have before. One that will not shake as easily and will provide a base from which to soak in all of the happiness, joy, and contentment that life has to offer.  My first glimpse at my new “foundation” was eye-opening and breathe-taking.  I didn’t know where the courage was coming from or why I wasn’t shying away and being insecure. And I didn’t care!  

Upon returning to the states with a renewed sense of confidence (and jet lag), I hung out with The Runner.  Hanging out with nice. I am still questioning once a day how into me he really is.  And once a day he comes through and is “there”. With a call, reassuring text or in person.  One thing I realized with the time difference and traveling is that I panick very early when I don’t hear from him.  Only to have him come through every time.  This has opened a mental debate if “being there” is the way that I know he’s really into me. It still isn’t back to what it was when we first meant, where he was constantly affectionate and reassuring. But it is getting better. He’s warming up from his month-long chill when he freaked out about the child thing.

Now that he’s thawing out, I’m wondering if he is still holding back or if this is all he wants from a relationship, avoiding the full responsibility of being “all in”. I suspect the former. Holding back slightly less, but still holding back. I know that he is capable of really being all in. But he’s not there yet with me. And as a result, I’m holding back with him.  Patiently waiting until he gets more comfortable and comes to things on his own time.

I’m living with uncertainty. But for today, at least, it is bearable. A pretty good upgrade from this time 2 weeks ago.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Small steps

I keep re-reading my conclusion from the last blog post - to let go of the anxiety because I can embrace either outcome (things with out with The Runner or they don’t) - yet the knot of anxiety is more present than ever.

We talked, again, about the topic of his adjustment to dating a woman with a child.  As we dove deeper in, 3 things became clear:
1) He’s not even sure if he can make the adjustment. I originally thought he was adjusting but he said multiple time that he doesn’t know if he is a fit for me given my ‘family environment’. We talked through some his perceptions versus my perceptions of the responsibility that is involved.  And in the end, he asked to spend more time with Grace to see if it ‘clicks for him’.

2) He admitted to backing off and being distant because of his uncertainty. I told him that was very hurtful to me. I wasn’t even sure if he still liked me!

3) I’m really scared to continue letting him spend time with Grace. Because it isn’t going to click. He isn’t going to wake up one day and be comfortable in a family setting. It is going to happen through building a relationship with Grace and having repeated experiences where he is more comfortable and at ease.

After giving the conversation more though, I continued it the next day and came to the following conclusion:
We are moving through the steps of a relationship in a condensed time. Accelerated by the presence of a child. It’s creating a virtual pressure cooker that is scary for both of us, so the only want to take the pressure off is to take very small steps and to communicate openly throughout.  So we agreed to take baby steps and I asked that he keep lines of communication open and honest. He can’t shut down on my again, as it feeds into my insecurities and the assumptions that each person makes when one shuts down is the quickest way to derail a relationship.

So we are giving it a try. This should be good, right? I stuck up for my needs (open communication, reassurance....I added that one in as well).  He expressed his concerns. We addressed them together and came to an agreement of how to move forward together.  And when we’ve been spending time together, it’s been really nice. It feels more of how it felt from the start, back to his Superman ways.

Yet in the time we are apart, the anxiety gets so bad I can barely breathe. I’m not even sure what I’m so scared of. Potentially it is a trained reaction to view it as rejection or a fear that I’m not good enough. Although my head is very clear that is not the case. So why is my heart panicking? Why am I analyzing every word he says, looking for a deeper meaning, rather than just looking at our time together and saying: this is good..

I don’t have the answer. If anyone has a suggestion, please do chime in.

I knew dating after divorce would be hard. Particularly because my marriage ended in a 6 week time period - an entire life derailed - so I come by my very low tolerance for uncertainty honestly. But the low tolerance for uncertainty is really hurting me.  The ‘monster’ inside is feeding old stories of fear. I have no sense of security in the situation.  Obviously the easy way to rectify this is to cut of off and say it is inducing too much stress.  But I’d be ending something that still has potential out of fear.  Not out of love for myself.  He’s holding up his end. I’m holding up mine. Small steps, open communication.  This is good. Why am I so scared?