Raw

I have to start off by apologizing if this post is more ramble-y and unorganized than normal. I am pretty emotionally raw right now & too utterly exhausted to do a lot of proof reading. So just bear with me here. Or stop reading. Your choice; this is ‘Murica.

My family has had some serious blows this past month. Like, rattle-you-to-your-core-make-you-reevaluate-your-entire-life blows. And even though these past two weeks especially have been hell, and I’ve lost weight & hair due to stress & can’t remember the last time I had a good night’s sleep…I have gained one amazing thing.ย ย  GRACE.

I rarely talk about religion, and even more rarely write about it, but I’ve been having an existential crisis over here & just really need to process everything. I grew up in a Lutheran household, had my First Communion around 8, took two years of Confirmation class in middle school & was confirmed in 8th-ish grade. But in my early college years I got confused, than angry, than skeptical. And I stopped. I stopped praying, I stopped going to church, I even stopped believing in God for awhile. As I got older & saw amazing things happened, I came to the realization that there HAS to be a greater power. There just has to be. And I left it at that.

Until about two weeks ago. My momma (who is my rock, my compass, my best friend) was preparing for surgery to remove a cancerous thyroid. I was 1000 miles away, trying to get ready for work & just an emotional wreck. Which I generally am anyway, but this time I couldn’t even pretend that I wasn’t. I just sat there and prayed for the first time in years, tears streaming down my face, utterly paralyzed at the thought of cancer taking my mother. I waited all damn day to hear the news (we were assure that as soon as they got the thyroid out, the surgeon would know for sure if it was cancerous and if/where it had spread) and then I experienced my first true-blue miracle; I was told that my mother’s cancerous thyroid was actually, not cancerous. That several tests & even a genome screening that is 99.9% accurate came were WRONG and her thyroid, though lumpy & sick, was not cancerous. I hit my knees like a sack of potatoes & just said “thank you thank you thank you” like a broken record. I wasn’t really sure whoย I was praying to, but I knew I need to say thanks. And it was then that I realized I was having a moment of Grace. A particularly gnarly word to define; but according to a Pinterest quote it “means that all your mistakes now serve a purpose instead of shame.”

Whoa. Heavy, right? But really, I feel that in that one instance I said “thank you” to some vague entity up beyond the clouds, the burden of the world that I created-the failed relationship, the resulting beautiful child, the daily struggle of having no money, the loneliness-was shifted off my shoulders & onto Someone Else’s. I still have to deal with the resulting consequences, and live my life & take responsibilities for my actions, but I don’t have to do it alone. (Which is a very important lesson for my stubborn, independent ass to learn.)

And just when I thought I was starting to figure it out, WA-BAM!

I got hit with another doozy. A bigger one. A scarier one.

My own personal Superhero was rushed to the ER by my 3 day post-op mother & by the end of the night was in a medically induced coma in the ICU. I flew down the next day, not sure of the news that would greet me & sat in stunned silence as my courageously stoic Momma carefully explained to me & my brother the dire situation our father was in. I had a running prayer rambling through my brain for days…it made no sense & I wasn’t even conscious that I was doing it until words would pop up in my head in bright RED as if that would make God realize how serious and desperate I was. It was the scariest week of my life, every day would bring a tidbit of good news & a dollop of not-so-great news. When he stabilized & we were all able to catch our breath I realized that praying was second nature to me again. I spit them out before I even realized what was going on…sometimes it was just a word. “Please.” Or, “thank you.” Infrequently it was a coherent thought, and very rarely was it a formal, structured prayer. But I knew God was hearing them, because I saw the improvements that medicine couldn’t explain. I saw family & friends ban together from all over the country & pray over my daddy. I heard friends I hadn’t talked to in months/weeks pray for a man they barely knew (my father is an enigma to anyone outside our very close circle) & ask their friends and their friends friends to pray for him. I watched him literally pounding on Death’s Doorstep & then a few days later argue with his nurse about letting him get up to pee.

Add this to my mother’s non-cancerous cancerous thyroid & I cannot NOT believe in the power of prayer anymore. I wouldn’t say I’ve been “born again”, or that I know EXACTLY what I believe, because I definitely don’t. I’m still very skeptical over the whole Jesus thing, and untrusting of organized religion. I have Buddhas all over my apartment & meditate (sometimes) & do yoga (occasionally). I use crystals and essential oils to heal. I still say the Lord’s Prayer to stave off nightmares. But I know in my heart of hearts that there is a God. I know that I was given a healthy dose of grace, with a side of miracles and I can’t deny that. I just can’t.

Tonight a family friend & I sat & talked with a woman about her husband who was 3 rooms away from my dad’s & struggling for life. We walked back together to the ICU just as her husband of 50+ years stopped breathing. I sat in Daddy’s room listening to the alarms go off & praying for a stranger I had never met. I realized how close our family came to being in that situation (like just by a few minutes), and how lucky & blessed we really truly are. That man died. My daddy didn’t. I feel just as shaken as I did the night I got the news that dad was slipping. Life is so fragile, even when you think it’s not. Medicine fails, even when statistics say it doesn’t. Prayer is powerful even when you doubt it. You’re not alone in the dark, even when you’re sure you are.

I am so tired of the pettiness. The Drone can’t just leave good enough alone…there always has to be SOME sort of drama. I left him 2 1/2 years ago & moved 2,000 miles away 6 months later. We have been to court 4-5 times, plus mediation & have written two parenting plans (well….the courts wrote them for us since mediation was a big fat flop)….and yet that isn’t enough. There has to be at least one new fight a week & it gets worse when he has Baby Bee. Like, just in case I wasn’t miserable enough without my child, here’s some MORE BULLSHIT for you!

I got out of work today & had 36 text messages. THIRTY SIX. All between The Drone & one of his girl toys. Talking about “our” son & how much Baby Bee loves her & she him & how they needed to get together in January when he had him again. He felt the need to send us BOTH pictures of Baby Bee & since we are all 3 iPhone users, it made it a group message. Which he realized, even warned her that I was reading the messages & to “be nice” & then continued to discuss my son with her as if I wasn’t part of the conversation. Granted, nothing bad was said about me or Baby Bee, or anything along the lines of her wanting to be his new mommy (they’re not dating but they have in the past. Or so the story goes.) but it still lit a fire in my gut seeing another “woman” talk about my son like that. All of this was after 4 hours of being cooped up in a classroom of 20 physically aggressive & extremely loud 3-5 year olds. So my patience were kaput & my temper was up. I took a deep breathย  & very calmly & civilly texted him (NOT in the group message), thanking him for the pictures & video but stating I wasn’t sure why I was a part of their conversation. That was literally it. Not the obscenities & insults that were racing through my exhausted brain, just “don’t know why I was part of this conversation.”

Then he calls me a bitch andImage says he won’t be sending me anymore pictures or videos.
You do that & see what happens.

As always, I throw my phone out of arms reach so I don’t respond with what I REALLY want to say & just rage quietly inside. I have gotten so fucking sick of holding back, biting my tongue & being the bigger person. He can say & do whatever the hell he wants to me, but God forbid I say ONE thing he disagrees with or views as critical, and all of a sudden I’m the psycho bitch who’s trying to keep his kid from him. And then it escalates into this huge clusterfuck that just spins in circles going nowhere, doing no good. So I’ve learned when and what to say what needs to be said, & the rest of the time I let him play his little mind games by himself. Yes, he pisses me off quicker than literally any person I have ever met (which is saying a lot because my fuse is shoooort), and most of the time I still fall into his traps. Just for a second until I smell the bullshit & scramble out before I say what’s on my mind.

It’s exhausting. To always be on guard, to always be protecting not only myself but my baby love. To be mentally strong 1,000 percent of the time & to be sharp enough to spot the lies from the truth. Although there is rarely any truth in what he says anymore. And that has taken me a long time to be able to recognize. It’s exhausting to always be fighting. I will continue to fight for what matters, but all this petty bullshit just needs to stop. I don’t fucking care what he does, where he is or who he’s with UNLESS my child is with him. But of course that’s when he refuses to give up info, even when the court order says to. I don’t care how his numerous relationships are going, or how bad his injury is or how awesome his car looks/runs/sounds now (yes, I get updates on all of this shit still. Even when i don’t respond or flat out say I don’t care, he still tries to drag me back in). I want nothing to do with him unless it directly relates to Baby Bee….how he’s doing, new developments, what he’s eating now NOT how great he gets along with the new Flavor of the Month & her kids. You can bet your sweet ass it’d be WWIII if I had ever mentioned to him how much Baby Bee adored the guy I was seeing & how excited he got when we’d go over there. And I didn’t ever mention it because 1.) It’s really not any of his business & 2.)That’s just not something that nice people do. (and I’m NICE goddammit!) As much as I wish he’d disappear, I’m not in to intentionally hurting him. About the only thing I still believe in from my days as a good Lutheran girl is the whole “Do Unto Others” thing. I don’t want to know about his dating life so I won’t tell him about mine. Not that there’s really much to tell, but he doesn’t need to know that either. I just wish he’d grasp that whole concept.

I have never been able to understand why people, both women & men, feel the need to use their children against the other. It is not that poor baby’s fault we were idiots & couldn’t get our shit together. It is not Baby Bee’s fault his parents hate each others guts & can’t go more than an hour without blowing up at each other. So why subject him to all the bullshit? Oh right, because it hurts me.

And that’s the most important thing, right? Hurting me? If I’m down, then he’s King of the Hive. He’s won, he’s the Big Man on Campus. WRONG.

WRONG.

WRONG.

WRONG.

All of his shit will come back to sting him in the balls. And I will fly away, laughing quietly to myself about how fucking awesome Karma is.

Hello, Darkness My Old Friend

It’s a quarter to midnight on a Sunday. The world is shut down, resting up for the new Monday ahead. Everything is quiet. There are no sirens. My loud upstairs neighbors and their 3 (count them THREE) children haven’t thumped in hours. Even the suspected rat in my ceiling isn’t scampering. And then there is me. I’ve been struck, yet again, with insomnia. My eyes can barely stay open, my head is getting heavier by the hour, but when I try to sleep the demons come a knockin’ and take my half functioning brain on a joyride down dark streets that are better left unvisited. So here I am, typing on an iPhone listening to the clock tick tock, trying to funnel these thoughts out so I can get some peace.ย 

Why is it that night is when our minds just go berserk? I can be “fine” all day but as soon as I snuggle down into my big bed, the most painful or nonsensical or absolutely ridiculous shit pops up and nags at me until I give up trying to sleep. I don’t need to rehash a painfully good memory from my past relationship, I need to sleep. I don’t want to create a completely theoretical argument (which I’ll win of course), I want to close my eyes & start snoring! Hey, I’m single. I don’t have to worry about sleeping all ladylike. And I especially DO NOT WANT to dream dreams that make me wake up either in tears or spitting mad. Just, no. Just peaceful, RESTFUL slumber. That kind of sleep where you wake up, certain it’s been 2hrs since you closed your eyes because you feel THAT damn good.ย 

There goes my brain, making up wild stories again.

I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a new blog for awhile now (I had one when I was pregnant & briefly after Baby Bee was born…but with the shit storm that was my life at the time, I quit writing), but the small logistical problem of not having internet at the house made me think it wasn’t such a good idea. But now I’m facing a long & lonely month without the Baby Bee, and 4 days in I am bored out of my mind. And I have this insatiable creative urge as of late, but the only creative thing I’m slightly good at is writing. So instead of working on my CDA (like I should be doing), doing laundry or anything else on my enormous To-Do List, I’m camped out at the library starting a new blog. Yay procrastination!

(Side Note: the word “blog” has to be one of the most ridiculous words in the English language. I mean seriously, could we not have found a better way to combine web & log?!)

So yes, Baby Bee is with the Drone for an entire month, and I am one. hot. mess (more so than usual). I waiver between being giddy with the freedom of staying out as long as I want & being able to browse the SAME STORE for more than 30 minutes, to wanting nothing more than to bury myself in my bed and cry/sleep/drink October away. When I tell people my 2 year old is gone at his father’s for a month, I get sad puppy-dog eyes and “Well at least you get a nice break!” in an overly cheery falsetto voice.

Are you f—ing kidding me right now?!

A month long break is a little excessive, don’t you think? Sure, I need alone time…a “break” from the constant sensory overload that comes with being a mom to a toddler (single or not!), but one night would work. Hell, even a few hours would suffice. A month is just torture. It is not a break. It is mental & emotional warfare. I can’t enjoy myself because my Mama Brain & my (very small, inexperienced) Single Girl Brain are constantly at odds with each other. I have never known how to be a twenty-something single woman without the responsibilities of also being a single mother. The few (but still too many!) times Baby Bee has been away from me have been the only times I’ve gotten a glimpse into how it feels to be single and “free.” And I’m so depressed, worried, schizophrenic when he’s gone that I spend most of the time holed up at my house or library. Party Girl I am not. The rare occasion I force myself to be social, I have random panic attacks every time I look at a clock. “Oh shit it’s 7:30 already!? I need to get us home so we can do a quick bath and…Oh wait. Yeah never mind. He’s gone.” *cue watering eyes and stomach clenching.* “What was I thinking staying up until 2 a.m.!? He’s going to be up in about 5 hours! Shit, but I won’t be there. I can sleep in. Keep reading/drinking/whatever is keeping me occupied at 2 a.m.”
Single Girl Brain is constantly telling me to enjoy myself & do things I can’t normally do with a toddler in tow. So I obey,ย  but as soon as I start to get a glimmer of happiness/relaxation, Mama Brain kicks in & tells me I am a shit mother for having fun while my baby is 2,000 miles away from me, being fed God-knows-what, being watched by God-knows-who and wondering why the bloody hell did his mother abandon him. All the air leaks out of my balloon with a loud fart noise and I slink off to bed with a bottle of wine & my Pinterest app.

So yeah, the 30 days of Baby Bee’s absence are no “break.” The first week is pure mental torture, the second week can be a little fun, the 3rd week is absolute & total boredom, & the 4th week is frenetic with anticipation of getting him home & finally cleaning up the hellhole that is our house (my domesticate skills leave with the Baby Bee & I live in squalor until 2 days before he comes home. I blame it on the depression, but it could just be the bottles of wine I consume). Yes, sometimes I have a great time that I know would be extremely hard to do if he was home. I do love sleeping in (even though my internal clock takes awhile to reset itself), and pouring a glass of wine at noon….DON’T JUDGE ME. I get excited with the prospect ofย  spending an entire afternoon in the library, (pushes glasses up nose nerdily) or not having to race to daycare/store/home/kitchen after work. But I would much rather do all of those mundane things with my child, than have all the free time in the world. Maybe I’m boring. Maybe I’m terrible at being single. Maybe I’m one of those women whose sense of self was lost after having a child (although I feel like being a mama has brought me to who I REALLY am). Or maybe I’m just a masochist who really needs to get back on meds & learn how to have a little bit of fun. All of those are probably true. Either way, if I hear someone tell me that I’m getting a nice little break, I may punch them in the throat.

I know they are just trying to be sweet & supportive & help me see the good side of things (which is often times really hard for me, even on a good day), but it doesn’t work. It makes me feel guilty for NOT being able to Carpe Diem every freaking Diem for 30 damn Diems, and angry at them for thinking I could just turn off my Mama Brain. I’m pretty sure you can’t EVER turn off Mama Brain (my mother still makes me call her after I get home at night), but maybe there’s a way to mute it for awhile? Or turn it down so low it’s just annoying murmuring in the background?

While I’m on the subject, and still procrastinating, another phrase I get ALL THE TIME that makes me want to start punching is, “I don’t know how you do it.”ย I know it’s meant for sympathy & encouragement & the completely human need to connect on all levels with another human being, but it really makes me want to snap. You want to know how I do “it?” I just DO. I don’t have a f—ing choice. Sure, I could sign over custody rights or beg the Drone to get back together & get married (hahahahahahahaha), or start smoking meth & have the courts take Baby Bee away. But none of those are an option for me. That child is literally, in ways he will never fathom, my saving grace. He is my heart, my soul, my everything. Leaving him for an easier life is not an option. Nor was keeping him in a bad-getting-worse situation. So I did the only thing that I could see to do, and that was plunge head first into being a single mama. Terrifying, challenging and exhausting but right now the only option (even if I stayed with my parents, I’d still be single. Albeit with built in babysitters). Perhaps somewhere down the road I’ll meet a decent guy that will love & cherish & take care of both of us. But I’m not holding my breath. So I pull up my big girl panties every day (sometimes reluctantly) & become the breadwinner & housewife, the disciplinarian & the nurturer, the teacher & the playmate. I send my baby off with a leaden heart & nervous stomach every 3 months because the courts demand I do. And because, despite everything, I still want him to have some semblance of a relationship with his father. To use one of my all time favorite quotes from The Perks of Being a Wallflower:

“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”