Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Behind This Wheel

I used to feel like I was at a crossroads.   Stopped, engine idling, but so very unsure of where to go.   Did I stay straight (and narrow), the easiest, most obvious path?   Or did I diverge somehow?   Fully, consciously, turning the wheel either one of the 'lesser' directions, the off the beaten path direction or the other?

For months, no years, I struggled with that decision.   I sat, my car essentially in park, as I pondered which road to take.   Miles of people lined up behind me.   Many were patient and waited for me to make my decision, while others politely and silently just eased on by.    There were a few though who weren't content with anything other than honking their horns incessantly and waving their clenched fists my direction.

I let those people really derail my decision, I must confess.

Time has passed and I let my engines cool and in the end, I chose my path.   I eased my foot off the brake, ever so gently, and turned the wheel in the least likely direction I would have ever imagined or chosen for myself.

I didn't plod onward.  I'd already tried that method for miles and miles and endless miles.   And while the ride was mostly smooth and agreeable, the scenery was monotonous and painful and mind and soul numbing.   With ALL due respect to my driver, or passenger, however you view it, I just could not continue down that road any longer.

I looked left and seriously pondered the road in that direction.   Just past the turn was a bend in the road and the trees shrouded the path into the unknown.   My heart squirmed, perhaps danced a bit, at the prospect of heading down that path.   But something stronger made me look in the opposite direction.

To the right.   The right.    I saw a road that unfurled, gloriously, before me.   With eyes full of wonder and hope and not much prodding, my car veered in that direction.   The road I saw held hope and wonder and bumps and treacherous curves, but still I ventured onward.     To the right, I saw my future, all of my untold dreams, unrealized hopes, all of the things in my life that I'd known were home but had never quite found the direction towards.

A few impatient people behind me blew past in a huff.   Many more sat behind me, honking their horns non stop.   But finally, and with no doubt at all in my mind, I turned right.


And I've never felt more at home behind this wheel.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Finding Forty; Sunday Blues

I've got a mean case of the Sunday blues.   The storm clouds blew in this afternoon around 4 and since then I just can't seem to get myself out from under their ominous shadow.

Crying didn't help, nor did snacking (does it ever?), offering to watch a movie with the boys, folding laundry, walking aimlessly around the house, etc, etc.

When I get this way, admittedly, it's hard for me to snap out of it.   I tend to start dwelling in my head, with my heart bearing the full brunt of the thoughts that sneak in.

I know I'm sad about having to sit in an all day meeting tomorrow.   The truth is, I'm not ready for school to start back up just yet.   I've had a very hard summer in many ways and having the freedom to spend my days leisurely has most likely been my saving grace.    Each day that passes signals the end of this era, this small chapter in my life and typically, I'd embrace that, but on this Sunday evening, I don't.

I'm sad about changes in my life of late.  

I feel so bad about my marriage ending.   I miss A's friendship and support.   For all of our mishaps and misfortune, he was a great person and a good friend and I threw that away.   I feel really stupid.

  I miss having someone to help me remember to water the grass, unload the dishwasher, touch in the middle of the night.  I miss J.   During the parts of the week that we are able to be together, I'm in heaven.   Happy, satisfied, comfortable and excited to see how our relationship blossoms.

When we have to be apart, I feel lonely, lost, off track.   I hate it.

I know that I must learn to live alone.   Be alone.  And there are moments when that is a very doable and agreeable task.   But not on Sunday nights.   At least not yet.

Tonight 'm apathetic, blah, moody and tearful.  

Maybe I'll just brush my teeth, don my pajamas and go to bed.  That's one way to get past Sunday.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Finding Forty: Bubbles

I think I live in a bubble.  Self inflated, of course.  

It's finally dawning on me that A and I cannot be friends.  At least not yet.   We both need distance, space, time to let the oozing, raw wounds heal.   Time to sort our frazzled brains and pick up the pieces of our shattered hearts.

It makes sense that he would not want to see me or be around me.   And I feel selfish for letting that hurt my feelings.   I destroyed his.   The least I could do is give him some space.

When I'm in my bubble, I can pretend that life is nice and easy.  Things work out just fine.  My  happy ending is just a page or two away.

I've yet to watch a bubble float through the air and not burst.  Poof!  Gone.

I do miss him, though.   A.    I've dreamed about him the past two nights.  Sad, lonely dreams where I reach out to hug him or hold him and I'm met with cold indifference.    Do dreams really mean anything anyway?

In my waking hours, I think constantly of J, my new love.   The person whose friendship continues to deepen, whose love continues to grow.   I haven't written about him much because I cherish what we have and I don't want to jump the gun.   I don't want to be the way I was about S-impetuous, foolish, ridiculous.    I want to know.  I want to be careful.  I want the roots to be firmly planted, solid and strong.

I also want to continue to work on me.  Just being me.  Being alone.  Learning to love myself and be okay with where I am.   I honestly feel like I'm doing better with that.

I'd like to think I've learned from my mistakes.   I'd like to know that there are more to make, but that life is full of doing and being and learning and forgiveness.

I hope A feels that same way.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Finding Forty: Redemption Run

It's 1984, some random spring day.  I'm in 9th grade and our school, Elysian Fields High, is hosting a track meet.   Always wanting to be a part of the mix, I'd signed up to run track, despite having zero aptitude for competive running.    My event:  the 3200m run.

While I loved the workouts and being with my best friends, I hated the track meets.   I wasn't good, had zero faith in myself, and felt embarrassed and horrified every single, slow, laborious step around all 8 laps of the track.

On that particular day, I was feeling worse than usual.   It could have been teenage angst or the fact that my heart was about to beat out of my chest because of the diet pills I was taking in an effort to lose weight.   Regardless, on that day, I was miserable.

The race was like all the others in my track career.   Painful and humiliating.   I hated being so slow, feeling like all eyes were on me, pitying my performance.   Rather than endure and perservere, in a moment of impulisivity, I stepped off the track, mid run, and quit.

As soon as my foot hit the grass, I instantly regretted not finishing the race, not seeing through to the end something I'd begun.   I was ashamed and felt like I'd let people coach, my parents, my friends, and more importantly, myself.

Over the years, I've never let go of that moment, despite having now run a full marathon, six half marathons, and a thousand more miles on the streets of my neighborhood and around Austin.

In a moment of self revelation and introspective talk with my oldest son, I told him the story of me not finishing this race and how I'd always regretted that decision.

Without blinking an eye or hesitating, he said, "Well Mom, I think you should run those two miles again the next time we go visit Aunt Michelle."    And I knew that he was onto something.

Fast forward 28 years and I'm standing on the starting line of the Elyisan Fields track.   It's a humid Friday morning in August and this time I'm alone.  I'm 42, not 14 and I'm scared.   I've run two miles a ton of times, but I feel nervous.   I wonder if my legs will be lead, if my self talk will remind me of my failure, if I'll flashback to those moments of loathing and insecurity.

I start my RunKeeper app on my phone and set off.   There will be no wind assistance, but I do get to listen to some of my favorite songs on my running playlist.    Mostly though, I'm listening to myself.

And what I hear is amazing.  

Instead of self hate and doubt, I find that I am awash with love and respect for the woman I've grown to be.

I have a friend who teases me about making everything a metaphor for life, but in this moment, I can't think of a better example.

With each step I take, I am more sure of this.

I'm jogging 2 miles, determined to finish and give it my all.   I have 3 amazing children, 1 marriage that has 'run' it's own beautiful, bittersweet, heartbreaking course,  a heaping handful of regrets, and a lifetime of infinite possibilities.

In this moment, despite the sweat that's pouring into my eyes, salty and wet, I am okay.  Dare I say, even happy?

My life is much like a long distance run.   There are periods of anguish, dull aching pain, free spirited leaps and bounds, and the elusive 'runner's high'.     There are a series of starting guns and personal bests, but also days when walking, crawling, or even staying in bed are the choices I make.

I've learned that there's not just one finish line.   As soon as you cross one threshold, life presents you with another opportunity to decide which path you will take, which course you will traverse.   

My path has been varied, full of moments of heartbreaking pain and happiness so intense you think you can't breathe.   I've known love that overwhelms and overflows.   I am blessed.

The finish line for this particular race on this day looms ahead and I surge towards it.   I know that I'm doing well (for me) and as I step across the line, I'm quite pleased.

I've just run 2.04 miles in 17:06.   Not too shabby for this old girl.   I smile, big and beaming, and pretend I"m 14 again and I've just finished that race, the one I thought I couldn't handle all those years ago.   

There are more finish lines in the distance, more running to do, so much more life to live with all it's pain and glory.

And there I'll be.   Taking it one step at a time.   Moving forward, not stepping off.   

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Finding Forty: Hope for the Hopeless

The sadness is seeping in, ever so slightly, ever so slowly.   Ironically, it is in some of my most happy moments that I suddenly become acutely aware of a melancholy lurking deep and dark within me.

Could it be guilt?   I have definitely moved forward in many ways.  Am I feeling guilty for moving on? Or do I just miss the friendship I shared with A?

The other day, he sent me a text saying he needed to talk to me.   He seemed adamant that we talk in person and wouldn't elude to what the topic was.   Immediately, my stomach lurched and churned.   I'm divorced now, free, so to speak, and I still felt like I'd done something wrong.   Or was it something else?

Did he want to tell me about a new girlfriend?   Had he had a one night stand on his business trip last week?  Did he discover something about me and my new relationship that he needed answers about?  Even though I have no claim to him now and I moved on, those thoughts still haunt me at times.  The possibilities were endless and it bugged me.

All night I tossed and turned.   Finally, at 2:48 a.m. I typed an email telling him the ambiguity of his comment was distressing to me.   I needed to know what he wanted to talk about.

The morning dawned and we exchanged a few more texts about the boys.   He said nothing of the email.   I asked him to lunch to see if he wanted to talk then.   He told me he'd already made lunch plans with co workers.   He then texted that he didn't think we needed to talk anymore.


At this point, I was frustrated.  It was all sort of starting to feel passive aggressive and manipulative.  

Then I got an email, a response to the one I'd sent in the wee hours of the night.

Basically, he was having a hard time with something about me, about us and he hasn't yet figured out the nature of our relationship or what he even wants it to be, other than co-parents.

My heart broke a bit more as I read those words.   How selfish of me, I know.   I ripped his out and moved right on and I have the nerve to be upset because he's not ready to be my friend.

Thing is, I can't fathom him not being in my life.   For 24 years this man has been there, at least in some ways, and I don't want to lose that.

I know he needs time.  We all do.

And so, the sadness seeps in as the friendship fades.

Is there hope for the hopeless?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Finding Forty: Summer Swells

Is this normal?

I feel happy.   There is a smile that is perched just behind my lips, hidden.   But I feel it dwelling in my cheeks.

It's been four days since my divorce was finalized and I've yet to have those storm clouds and summer swells engulf me, suffocate me, drown me in sorrow.

Instead, I move with an ease through the day, my step a little lighter, my thoughts a bit brighter.

I can't help but feel a bit guilty about this.   While I'm not rejoicing and I do respect the gravity of the situation, I also have this underlying sense that we did the right thing for us.

The main problem I am having is how to let people know that this has happened.   I certainly don't want to post it on Facebook or Twitter.   Yesterday I googled "divorce announcements" and my search resulted in several hateful, spiteful, negative cards.  

I don't feel any of those ways.    I am sorry that my marriage of almost 20 years ended, I have regrets for sure, but I also feel a peace about it.   And it's not a peace that needs to be flaunted or waved about like some sort of flag.  I want to take my victory lap as quietly and amazingly content as possible.

I suppose for now, I will just sit with this new knowledge and let the reality slowly dawn on me.  There is really no need to inform people, other than my HR department and well, I actually can't think of anyone else.

When the time is right or the need arises, I will just politely, calmly tell people.  

Until then, I'll keep coasting on this wave of quiet resolution.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Finding Forty: Divorced

It's done.   I'm divorced.   After years of soul searching, tears, hurtful actions...the end has come.

Tonight I am numb.   Today, in front of the judge, I cried.   I'd like to say that as I stood next to A our years, our time together, the memories we created flashed by.   But in that moment, it didn't.   I don't know if it was nerves or fear or shock, but I wasn't overly nostalgic.

As an uncontested divorce,  I must confess that the entire process was fairly painless.   We were in and out of the lawyers office and the courthouse in less than an hour and a half.

Since we are still amicable, we rode together and even went for lunch afterwards.   It was pleasant and daresay, at times, light hearted.   That lightness is a blessing that I cherish when it is around.   I know it's not always there, so when it is, I'm happy.

When A dropped me back at home, I changed into comfy clothes and have pretty much vegged all night long.   I can't seem to get out of bed.   I've only just cried about it, but I fear the tears will be coming in storm sized waves soon.

Divorced.   Divorced.   I keep saying it to myself to see if it makes any sort of sense at all and it really doesn't.   It's a very strange feeling.

I don't want to dwell on our years past.  At least not tonight.   I don't think I could bear the weight of the hopes we fostered, the love we shared, the lives we nurtured.    In due time, I will reflect and smile through tears about those days, long gone now.

I am not quite ready to think of the future either.   Too vast, too broad, too scary and unknown.   Soon enough, I'll be ready to start dreaming and planning.   And that's exciting.

Tonight I'm content to just be here, in the now.   Breathing in and out as best I can.