Letting Go

Like a nightmare, I awaken, reminded my life is in fact, quit real, indeed.

Last week I received an email from my youngest daughter; her goodbye, her request to please let her go. Holding on, even the slightest shred, gave me hope. And though it may be a long time until I see my girls again, I am finally willing to do so – no more small, random texts, short notes, birthday gifts. I wanted to show them I would never give up on them. I wanted to make certain they wouldn’t come back someday and say I never reached out, that I made no effort. The real effort is in letting go.

Feelings of self-pity, once so prevalent and unshakable, are now eroded. Replaced is self-compassion which helps in the journey of healing. The pain of which I’ve felt for so long has now shifted: practicing self-compassion, the pain transfers to my girls, the hurt that is so deep, I am able to finally feel theirs. Like a new-awakening, this brings new hope. I’m dealing with my loss. It is a death of sorts. A death of my former life. But they too, are letting go of their former life. Letting go of a mother they were once so close to, their family unit, their refuge, their stability, their certainty.

In Their Shoes

October 12, 2012, I wrote a blog post about what my girls must be feeling. It’s weird to read it now for it sounds as if I could’ve written it today. Yet there’s no way I was able to be in their shoes at that time. I’ve just begun now. After the last correspondence from my older daughter a few months ago and now the email from my youngest – denial is no longer an option. Time to awaken, look at life differently. Letting go, the loss, it is grand, devastating, leaves me breathless. But it is necessary. It is the greatest kind of love I can give my girls right now.

More to come….

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Transition in Feline Form

Death, its meaning, questions raised, the symbolic dance of it reverberates throughout my heart, mind, soul. 

Upon the death of my Mom, awareness of life quickly rose.  All that was within me, heightened, propelled me to think more clearly, look at myself and take action. I began questioning what mattered, what my true beliefs, values and purpose was.

Ok, maybe because I’m in my fifties now. Maybe because I’m that much closer to the senior menu at Coco’s or Denny’s. Maybe because I’m now divorced, a freer thinker, allowing myself to be. Whatever IT is, something stirs inside of me and there is a new shift taking place….again. 

My cat died this week. Well, she was my daughter’s cat, though again, whatever, I loved the shit out of that sweet old girl. She was 16 years old. 

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I write about her, as her death has changed me.  Just as with Mom, the cat represented love.  And like Mom, the cat is gone from this Earth, though the love continues through me. I can feel it. What transpired upon the cat’s death is what has caused me to take pause. I am listening once again.

To grieve a death, one must never be alone. It came to light, through my dear girlfriend, that upon the death of my mother, neither of my girls were there for me. Her celebration, six months after she died, a most glorious day for me, full of love, joy, loss and pain, that day brought me to another level in life, the beginning of what true legacy means. I have honored that legacy ever since.

The girls had come to know of their parents’ divorce only a month after the death of their Nana. They too, so close to the magnificence of who she was; we were all devastated by her death.  During this time, the estrangement was new. By June of 2012, all communication was gone. I had endured 2 graduations; one daughter from college, the other, high school. No photos taken with their Mom (their choice).  I rose above that, kept my public tears at bay and stood with grace during those joyful yet painful events. Then my Mom’s celebration within days of graduation. At no time did either girl come to me, embrace the loss of such a wonderful woman. At no time did they approach me, make eye contact, none I could see. I stood onstage with my brother, both he and I loving this night, a time to not mourn but to celebrate the wonder of Mom. How I longed to embrace my daughters that night. To let them know how much their Nana loved them, how much I loved them. My older daughter sang, like an angel, the purity of her voice so beautiful. My youngest, her humor interjected, balanced with poignancy, so expressive in sharing what her Nana meant to her. And yet all the while, no solace between the three of us.

At that time, I was unprepared to cope. I was coping, yet my strength had yet to emerge. Looking back, as my friend reminded me this past week, where were the kids when you were grieving your mom? I had not thought of this, never crossed my mind, in fact.

My cat’s death brings forth new feelings. If not for my ex, his email, phone call, I would not have known of her death. I do not see the as heroism on his part. He is far too pragmatic; our relationship far to emotionally disconnected for heroism to me. He simply does the right thing. For that, I am grateful. But I digress.

I will write more soon. I am coming to a new understanding of myself. I am coming to a new understanding of the estrangement, all it entails. New feelings are arising and I’m listening with more abandonment. It’s loud, becoming more pronounced.  I’m dealing with it head on.  I believe it’s called anger. 

Exhausted yet inspired by LOVE

The exhaustion comes from holding back. To love freely is to LIVE. To live is to freely LOVE. 

In the experience of estrangement, I now realize fear is exhausted. I’m not sure if or how much afraid I am of rejection anymore. I say this, right here, right now, knowing that if my kids were to again reject a phone call, letter, text, my heart would sink as it has many times before. I want to break free from this exhaustion. I want to inspire my girls as they inspire me from afar.

I’m just as uncertain if the pain shall continue as piercing. I want to call my daughter. I want to pick up my damn phone and make an actual phone call. What if she doesn’t pick up? What kind of message shall I leave? How careful should my words be? What if I completely fuck up any other chance of reunification by calling her? Why do I feel I need permission to call? Why am I still so scared?

Time and time again….this is not about ME. It’s about them. And again, I concentrate on me, my feelings. That’s my problem. To be fair with thyself, much of what I’m afraid of is making their life worse. They are on a path of healthiness. As am I. At the same time, here I am, now following them on Instagram, images of them, their lives, only a short distance from where I sit. There is something deep inside of me which longs to reach them. To let them know that no matter what, I AM HERE. FOR THEM. Whatever they’re going through, I will ALWAYS BE HERE. NOTHING diminishes my love for them. NOTHING. I love them FREELY. It is the way I choose to live. It is who I am. 

 

Grieve Divorce, It’s Real

Is it the family times I miss, all of us together or do I miss my former marriage? I’ve thought a lot about this and have come to a semi-conclusion.

I miss the hell outta my family.

My kids are older, young adults now. The great memories of my family, kids growing up, far supersede the negative. While that’s a beautiful thing, thereby the grieving so deeply entrenched as I continue moving forward.

Does estrangement make a difference?

If I were to talk, connect with my kids now, how much of a difference would it make in terms of my grieving process? I think a lot about this as well. Interestingly enough, ex (I really dislike that term – perhaps former…) and I still communicate, mostly about our children. At the same time, there was a time, he truly was my best friend. Which begs the question:

What the hell happened?

After almost thirty years together the reasons are endless. Well, the small ones anyway. More pertinent reasons involve love, acceptance, tolerance and respect. Pretty heavy shit. And somewhere along the road of my marriage, I began feeling very little of this from my former. This is not to say I held no responsibility on my part. Our demise is much greater than behavior alone.

A side note…

I have purposely decided to not write about the man I now love. He is his own man, has his own life and I am not quite ready to share. I’m discovering the further along my own journey continues, so are our lives intersected. That is its own story I will share soon. His story is a familiar one very much like mine. Grieving is a process that must come at its own time on its own terms.

Let the grieving continue. I don’t know where exactly I am in my own process yet I know I’m still grieving. Fighting it is moot. The sad feelings will never dissipate until/unless I allow myself to feel.

How does one know if they are wallowing or merely grieving after divorce?

My answer lies in healing. Awareness is part of healing. And I am acutely aware of who I am now, what my family means to me and where I want to go. And so I carry on, write here, share myself, listen to others. An open mind leaves room for more healing. As painful as this process continues, so am I able to help others. I think that is where I long to be.

Reality Speaks LOUDLY

Yesterday I wrote a semi-timeline, a quick (haha) synopsis of my experience since early 2010. There’s something to be said of visual cognition. For as I read and re-read, seeing those words, it’s hard – almost implausible to imagine why I did what I did. The way I am today, my core beliefs, once questioned, unsure, each day knowing believing in what’s right, what’s wrong for me, ever stronger.

With such a rough week behind me, I still feel numb. The sadness, still in the forefront, my love and care, never waning, flourishes and I am convinced my heart shall always be open to my kids. Nary a worry about that.

Question of estrangement came up on another post, a therapist from Portland, who asks, “Is this a relationship worth saving for you? Was there value before the estrangement?” Significant questions, easy answer, resounding yes! The pain felt this past week, answers remain elusive.

As of the moment, THIS moment, the loved supersedes any, all of the pain endured. And with that, again, disbelief I could of allowed my life to become so destructive and chaotic.

To much dwelling on the past? Not if under a mere few years, a blip in the big pic of fifty-something years. It is my belief that as I dig deep into the past few years, including what led up to certain behaviors, only then will I begin experiencing the freedom of self-forgiveness. There are no digital timers for this, no certainty of specified time. There is escalation, movement towards resolution, though I have not yet arrived.

My reality grows as do I.

Still Mom

It came, it went, it is.

I am, shall always be a mom.

Mother’s Day, despite cheesy Hallmark passages, overpriced yet underwhelming brunches, always sincere in my eyes. My Mom and I used to joke about this holiday. Sarcastically I’d say,”Well Mom, here’s a card, corsage and brunch for you cause it’s Mother’s Day and it’s the day I gotta make a fuss…” Point being, there needn’t be a special occasion to honor Mom: she and I both knew how loving and special out relationship was – never an ounce of obligation to make a fuss over her.

And with my girls, the estrangement and all, I now, just now, feel my own maternal instincts kicking in. Only this time those instincts are solid, more grounded, sincere, undeniably loving and real. Loving my children, never in question. It’s now evident, the time spent dealing with ME, I’m strong enough to now put myself aside and be there, I mean TRULY PRESENT for my kids.

I see Mom’s who seem to have their shit together. Whether single, divorced, their relationship with their children remains in tact. Over comparisons, I made horrible mistakes yet not a horrible person. And I made those horrible choices due to my OWN unhappiness, not because of my kids.

In time, a better person, a better Mother, a better thinker. My own mother’s death, the demise of my marriage, forcing the issue at hand: time to REALLY grow up, kid. Face your own reality, deal, cope. Live with acceptance what you can not change, embrace what you can – yourself. For there is no other way, none with meaning, none with the authenticity of love. I shall never accept estrangement but I must cope. It is my choice to do so. No wallowing anymore, feeling sorry for myself, new realizations of my frailties, what I can not change, what I can – myself. In doing so, a complete, more whole human being.

Through my tears today, I smiled. I smiled thinking about my beautiful children, the young adults they’ve become, their own evolution. And in this way, it was a Happy Mother’s Day. I am, after all, still a Mom.

More Awakenings of Divorce

Divorce simply by virtue – a piece of paper, a judgement, a settlement, does not so much make one divorced. Legally, all complete. Mentally, emotionally – stop right there. 

Not so surprising when I consider how long I’ve known my ex: met at 18, dated at 19, married at 24, divorced at 52. That’s a helluva long time to know someone; their dreams, desires, fears and joys. Come to think of it, never gave much thought to my dreams, desires, fears and joys. Never occurred I could attain what I wanted. Did what needed to be done, ever the diligent and pleasant person, conflict was a stranger and I wanted no part of mingling with it. Thus, off I went, merrily along, many years of happiness, though lo and behold, not the most alert of the stay-at-home-Mom bunch. It is little surprise it’s taken me a while to let go of him, our roles, what I’ve known for so long.

To speak up, have a voice, I’m still learning to use both. This is especially challenging with my ex though not for reasons they once were. Fearful of his disappointment in me, the possible conflict of disagreement, I learned to shut down, was rather adept at looking the other way, my main concern keeping peace in my marriage, in the family. It’s what I knew.

Now I find myself not so much fearful,  just having difficulty letting go of old patterns. Amongst all the growth, pain and turbulence, there is still comfort in old behaviors. Or is it I don’t wanna let go of what he and I had, or what I thought we had? No. I think I’ve had this wish, this hope, he would be different with me, how he treats me, put himself aside long enough to see how passionate and determined I am to reconcile with our children.

There was a time not too long ago I approached him for help – to work with me in terms as parents, show our kids what unification is, stand together in our love for them. I sent him a link, how to help young adult children when upon learning of a parental affair. Our marriage, the lack of emotional connection took little from our desire to be awesome parents. He turned me down, said nothing he could do, that I was on my own.

Divorce, no matter how amicable, it just plain sucks. It’s painful, rocks one’s world like nothing else, an alteration of such magnitude, reconstruction must be done with tremendous care, at everyone’s own emotional pace. One can not force another when, how, what to feel. Truly eye-opening for everyone involved. 

I care. I must learn I can still care about my ex though remove myself from old roles. This has proven challenging more than willing to admit. I empathize with his own difficulties relating to his daughters.

Much of what I’ve learned about myself has been on my own. I’ve shared some my own progression with my ex, holding back yet allowing for expression of who I am now. The feelings of isolation from estrangement take me places I never thought existed. When there now, I don’t allow myself to stay too long, the recognition I’m a person who made bad decisions does not equate to a bad person. I can’t help my ex-husband anymore, not like I used to. This is a hard to face. It is not for me to judge how he is with his daughters or make things better for him. Allowing to keep an open mind, I desire nothing more than both he and I come to our own resolution within ourselves and who we are. Only then, I am willing to work together, the intention of being here for our girls, that our family, though dismantled as once was, never broken completely for there is something greater to behold – love, respect and forgiveness. 

 

Unconventional Traditions of the Holiday Kind

Thanksgiving, like most American rituals, not so much a conventional holiday growing up, this year, new meaning, a yearning to embrace tradition of the most unconventional way.

Greg Brady’s fabulous student film aside, his version of what Thanksgiving means, those other Brady pilgrims, Indians, Carol with her hideous haircut, my vision remains as always; family, friends and tradition of the most untraditional kind… Hey, Christmas was all about lasagna in my house, Mom’s closest tradition of a Christmas feast consisted of red (meat and marinara sauce) and green (spinach and mozzarella cheese) lasagna, nothing close to poultry of any kind.

Cut to my own marriage, children and traditions take on new traditions. My husband, his version similar to Greg Brady, I felt complete those many years of conventional tradition. My girls longed for a bigger family, the thought of a boisterous, loud and sprawling dining experience at Thanksgiving, instead, our small nuclear unit, though loving, humor always injected somehow, the day never felt quite normal to me.

Thus, on this Thanksgiving Day, the first without my precious Mamma, daughters, soon-to-be-ex-husband, I find new traditions, visions of what means most. A day of reflection, sharing, cheesy Facebook status’, great friends, sumptuous eats, another year of good intentions to participate feeding the homeless without actually doing it, writing blog posts, life is what one makes of it, holiday or whatever day.

Carpe diem, baby. Grateful to be a whole person, figuring shit out, longing to be with my girls a better person and simply loving others as much as I love this wonderful life I see in front of me.