Does Size (of dreams) Matter?

Growing up, I had many dreams of what I wanted to be or how I wanted to look etc.  We are taught as children to dream “big,”  that we can be anything we want if we work at it.  If you had asked me at 7, I would’ve said I wanted to be a veterinarian because I was thoroughly in love with and fascinated by animals.  Unfortunately, my allergies kept me from dedicating myself to that dream.   Over the years, my dreams changed from Oceanographer (turns out I’m scared of whales), to interior designer, to many other things over the years.  I did not understand, at the time, that I am a person of whim and am basically interested, to some degree, in everything.

This made following through on my dreams difficult since colleges don’t let you major in “everything.”  And most jobs don’t have enough variety to keep a person like me interested for very long. You can imagine that this has presented its challenges in my adulthood.  At 34, I have had numerous jobs including house cleaning, CNA, plastics factory worker and tux shop employee.  Currently, I work from home as a virtual assistant and have been doing that for 2 years, though my level of commitment wavers at times.  The only other job I have held for a significant amount of time is working at McDonald’s.  Though I left and returned a time or two, I think I totaled about a year and a half at that venture.  Funny thing is, I really enjoyed it.  The fast pace kept me going and I had no time to think too hard about anything. (For anyone who knows me, they know thinking is my worst enemy… but that’s another entry altogether.)

The one dream I remember always having is that I’ve wanted to have a family of my own.  For this day and age, and with women’s lib and all, that probably seems a little too simplistic.  After all, women can be anything and everything they want to be these days, and they can be all of it at the same time.  But, for me, I am a little old-fashioned about family: I actually enjoy managing calendars, cooking meals, washing clothes, and doing all of those “June Cleaver” duties.

I have spent many years in and out of the work force, and have always found myself feeling guilty and plain out miserable when I couldn’t be home to cook a meal or play with my pets.  I am simply happier when I am able to care for my home and those who live in it.  But finding this happiness has come at a steep cost.  Those “dreams” of my childhood have been put to rest and I have spent many years of my life in depression because I simply couldn’t find a dream that I wanted badly enough to sacrifice my family life.

I cannot describe the conflict I have faced with this dichotomy of working woman vs. traditional woman-hood.  For starters, I am an intelligent person:  I made straight-A’s and could get a degree in anything I wanted.  Society tends to burden intelligent people with the responsibility of getting a thorough education, and my parents were none too lenient on me about attending college (though I have yet to finish). Society also tends to burden women with the task of being everything all at once:  mother, wife, bread-winner, slut, and super hero.

As women, we are given numerous roles to play and the challenge of playing them all at once.  Many women may not feel this as a burden; they may be perfectly capable of filling all of those roles with panache.  I applaud those women.  Myself, I am simply unable to focus myself in that many directions at once.  The times I have tried, I felt as if something were pulling at all of my limbs all at once, threatening to split me down the middle.  I simply am not built to be a full-time career woman as well as a home-maker.  And, as I have gotten older, I have spent many tears and moments of desperation trying to make the decision on which road to take.

As a result, I have decided to land exactly where I am by no mistake.

Yes, I am divorced.  No, I don’t have any children… yet.  But I have a dream of having a family, and that has informed my life choices thus far.  You may think that getting a divorce was counterintuitive to having a family, but I knew I couldn’t have the family of my dreams in that relationship.  And, while that relationship had numerous problems, when he looked at me and said he was pretty sure he didn’t want kids, I was done.  It took a lot for me to walk away from that marriage, from the comfort and the dependability.  But I had this one last dream, and I knew I wasn’t living the rest of my life without it.

I haven’t changed much since I was 7:  I still want to grow up to be something different every day.  However, in this seemingly goal-less life I’ve led, I have discovered that I do have the ability to follow through with something if I want it bad enough.   As I continue my journey towards a family, I hope you find that one dream that is “worth it” for you and that you have the courage to give it all you’ve got.

 

On my Way

Well, I’ve given up.  On day 4 of my antidepressant cleansing, I gave in.  That day, my boyfriend was off work and we took his daughter to the movies to see the new X-Men movie.  And I don’t remember much of it.  All I know is, my face was tingling and numb-ish, and I felt like the world was swirling around me.  So, after the movie, I took a pill and a half.  It took a couple of days, but it finally leveled out.  I feel better now, but the idea that I need medicine to be “normal” makes me sad.

I hate that I am chemically dependent, or dependent on anything for that matter.   At this time in my life – divorced, building a business, and wanting to get back to school – I am dependent on so much, from antidepressants to alimony.  For now, I rely on my monthly alimony payment to help make bills, though it runs out in December.  Then, for college, I am hoping to get some grant money so I can afford it.  I know that it’s okay to lean a bit while I go through this phase, but it doesn’t do much for my self esteem.  Basically, I feel like pond scum.

On the positive side, I’m on my way to being independent – for the first time in my life.  For 13 years, I basically depended on my husband to provide, and my father provided before that.  Sure, I had some jobs here and there, and I bought some cute clothes and kept my nails done.  But essentially, I did not provide anything other than “fun” money.  That behavior, however, has created some difficulty for me now because I am not in the habit of “regular” work and basically have no marketable skills.  I have 3 years of college, but no degree of any sort because I changed my major so much.  Soooo… I have to teach this old dog some new tricks.  Hmpf.

Lately, stress has been my constant companion.  I am expecting checks from clients but, due to a move, my mail has been held up.  Now, it is almost the 1st of the month and I am still broke and waiting. This situation forces me to call on some serious meditation and pinot grigio.  I am not a patient person, and am even less so when I am waiting. With every tick, I get a new grey hair.  (You laugh, but I can count them.)  Of course, when the checks arrive, they will be instantly deposited and then sent to bill collectors.  But nothing makes me happy like knowing I can pay my bills… unless it’s knowing I can pay them and still have enough left for Starbucks. Now that, my friends, is bliss. 🙂

For tonight, I am watching Netflix and enjoying a glass of cheap wine before I hit the pillow.  Maybe tomorrow the checks will come and the bill collectors will be held off for another month.  And, with any luck, there might be some Starbucks in my near future.  Here’s hoping!

Day 2: No Delusions

This morning began with a trip to my doctor’s office to discuss my current antidepressant.  A few months ago, I was forced – by insurance – to switch to a new brand.  My doctor chose Wellbutrin and I have given it a try.  But, 2 1/2 months in, I am unhappy with the results for a variety of reasons.  For starters, my anxiety is no better and I feel like I live in a fog.  There is more to the equation, but you get the drift.  Anyway, my doctor and I discussed it this morning and he has changed up my prescription so that I have to take a pill twice a day.  In addition, I am to stop taking my sleeping med because, apparently, the mix of the two can cause seizures.  Seizures!

I left his office with a sense of determination:  I am going to get healthy without these pills. I realize that going off medications is a serious matter, but I also realize that staying on them has the potential to do a lot of physical damage.  From seizures to loss of short term memory, the list of side effects is daunting.  I also realize that I have never been in such a good place in my life: I am happy.

At 34, I have some life experience under my belt, as well as the knowledge that life doesn’t always have to be roses and lollipops to be worth living. Even in the worst of circumstances, I can find something worth the effort of existence.  These elements, combined with an awesome network of friends and  a counselor who has seen fit to arm me with power over my own emotions, give me the confidence that I can work towards a new sense of wellness.

I have no delusions: I know that I am going to struggle.  But I also know that I have some great weapons to fight with in my back pocket.  So, I am going to try.  Today is day 2 without an antidepressant.  In fact, I haven’t taken my sleeping med in two days either because I suspicioned that it was the culprit causing the extreme drowsiness.  Withdrawals hit a bit today and I fought a nasty headache, but my spirits are high.  I’m feeling okay thus far.

Of course, time will tell. And, if crisis becomes evident, I will do what I must. But I have to give myself a shot now.  With the divorce finally over and life moving in a positive direction, I want to see if I can handle life without a chemical crutch.

 

Say Something…

For starters, listen to this:  http://youtu.be/-2U0Ivkn2Ds

There are things no one warns you about when going through a divorce. No one tells you that, even after the papers are signed and life has begun moving along, there will be still and quiet moments of longing, of wondering why.  There will be a small voice within you, demanding an explanation.  “What did I do wrong?  How could he not love me?  Why does this hurt?”

For me, that little voice is the girl I was 13 years ago, the girl he married, the innocence.  She doesn’t understand and, now and then, she cries out and falls apart.  That little 20-year-old girl reaches out for her boy hero and begs him not to leave her. But all she finds is me, and I have to give her answers that I don’t have.   I am left with the duty of explaining the unexplainable.  This 33-year-old woman standing in a pile of shrapnel reaches out, takes the girl’s hand, and comforts her while she weeps from the fallout.

This song, for me, is the voice of my little girl.  “I’m feeling so small. It was over my head. I know nothing at all.”  But it is also the voice within me that grew for many years, that said to him “Say something, I’m giving up on you.”   I waited for years for him to say something.  Anything.  He was speechless.

And I screamed and acted out and made myself a fool.

Still, silence.

Then I realized, the silence meant something.

And I gave up.

That little girl may cry for a while, but I am stronger than her now.  And, one day, she will take my hand and walk with me.  She and I, we need each other. See, it’s her innocence that trusts and feels, and my intellect and life experience that tells me to think things through.  Now, please don’t think I’m schizophrenic.  I’m not. But I recognize that I have an emotional side that has tough moments in this process, and an intellectual side that has made sense of the war.  I think this is true for most women:  There is a life everyone sees, and then an internal dialogue with ourselves that we keep private and very guarded.   When we lose someone who has seen both of those sides, it is traumatic and soul-scarring.  And no matter how intellectual we try to be, our inner, fragile selves need an explanation.

First of all, stop trying to explain to yourself because there are no words.  Just cry, scream, laugh, feel.  Learn to let the emotions run through you.  I look around in our world and it seems everything has an explanation.  But I assure you, the emotional side of divorce is the exception.  No matter how you compartmentalize, organize, and prepare, emotions are going to seep through the cracks.  And you will only make it worse by hiding.

Do yourself a favor right now:  Play the video again. And again.  Listen close and close your eyes.  For five minutes just feel.  Fuck explanations and logic and any self-help book you may have read and just LET GO.  (That’s right, I said fuck). Acknowledge that you hurt, and that it’s okay.  FEELING IS OKAY.

Make the commitment to yourself to take a moment now and then and just feel.  Know that it will get easier with time, that you will never have an explanation, and that sometimes life defies logic.  Learn to accept yourself as temporarily broken.  I have.  And, in my brokenness, I have never felt more whole.

So, next time you hear your little voice demanding answers, say nothing.  But don’t give up on you.

All I Want for Christmas…

I discovered today, while walking through a large, high-end mall, that I need nothing for Christmas.  Absolutely nothing.  As I looked around at all the sparkling store fronts, it occurred to me that there was nothing in any of those stores that I needed or that could enrich my life.  Sure, I think there are many pretty things out there, from jewelry and dishes to cashmere sweaters.  But I see no benefit in filling my life with things.

That doesn’t mean my life is purposeless or empty.  On the contrary, my cup is overflowing. Now I know, you probably know what’s coming next: I’m going to launch into a speech about my wonderful friends and family and all of the “blessings” in my life.  Since you already know that speech, I won’t waste your time.  Just pretend I said all of that.

What I want to do is ask:  What do you need for Christmas?  I mean really need?

Spend some time with that question:  Take stock of your talents, your family and friends, and then your possessions. Be honest with yourself about your needs and why they are YOUR needs.  Once you’ve looked all of that over, I’d like to hear from you.  Send me a comment about a need you discovered in yourself, no matter its source.     It can be anything, from the need for approval to a pair of thick socks for your cold feet.  So, go ahead, take this little journey with me.

I’ll start:  This Christmas, I need the reassurance, within myself, that I have the gumption it takes to make my business successful.

It’s your turn…

At the Peak

newsFlagMountainI keep hoping I will sit down at my keyboard and bang out the words to something profound, something  groundbreaking on being single or an epiphany about the complicated feelings that go along with divorce.  But, in the mental space where I hover these days, words seem to escape me.  It isn’t that I’m broken or depressed or numb, I just can’t find the words for this middle space, this middle world where I’m making adjustments both physically and emotionally to the reality that I am now single.   I can’t muster words or anything remotely creative right now, and it’s making me a little frustrated.  And maybe that’s where I’m supposed to be.  Maybe, on the cusp of a breakthrough, it’s okay to be speechless.

Despite my creative frustrations in this new space of being, I am happy, and I don’t use that word lightly.  For me, happy is a complex emotion and an enigma.  Many people throw it around as a temporary thought, an emotion that passes a smile across the face and then disappears.  But in my circle of friends, when we talk about being happy, it is understood that happy is a soul-level emotion.  It is a deep-seated state of being that prevails even when everything is going wrong.  And now, for the first time in my life, I understand exactly how it feels.  The past couple of years have been an emotional hell, from admitting to myself that my marriage was over, to saying it out loud, to having the courage to do what I knew was right.  And now, as I stand near the top of this mountain of pain and look back at all the jagged edges and slippery footholds I have overcome, I can see that my quest for happiness was pretty rough, but I have arrived.  The question becomes, “What do I do now?”  My answer:  stake my flag in the peak and keep going.  I have arrived at happy, and that’s good enough for me.