Monday, October 29, 2012

Leaps of Faith

My to do list is overwhelming me.  This weekend, while working on the do-to list and spending a large amount of time in home improvement stores - not upgrading my home, but keeping it operational - my chest squeezed so tight that it was difficult to breathe, as the zeros on the estimates kept climbing.

I came home feeling glum and overwhelmed.


I'm trying to focus on one thing at a time.  One large project (replacing basement carpet) will simply have to wait.  I will focus on the kitchen issue instead.  The basement will wait a year, and I will not die of a concrete hallway in my house where there ought to be carpet.


I have not given myself time to celebrate, yet celebrating is on order.  The refinance went through, which basically means that I just purchased my own house.  The loan is in my name only, and when the money is deposited this week, I will write Bryan the biggest check I've ever written, and he will walk away from the house, and it will all be mine.  It is extraordinary to me to think that I've been able to make this happen, and it is worthy of celebrating.

A year ago, Bryan was still living in the basement, I didn't have a job, and I didn't know how I was going to make anything work.  Now I'm deeply immersed in my job, it's going well, Bryan has moved out, AND I've purchased the house.  Not only that, but almost all of the divorce paperwork is done, and I have made that happen.

So, I've made progress.  Giant strides, as a matter of fact.  A year ago, my current life seemed only like a fantasy, and I could not imagine how to support my daughter and myself or get Bryan moved out....and yet here we are.

So, right now, in the midst of far too many looming problems including major home repairs, a budget that is always too small, and deep fatigue from the day to day of my life mothering and working, I am realizing that I need to take another leap of faith.

When I told Bryan I wanted a divorce, it was a leap of faith (because I didn't know if I could handle my life, or if I could find a job, or if Katherine and I could survive the blow).  When I picked his move out date, it was another leap of faith (because I had no idea how we would make it).  When I took a job working for a small business, it was another leap of faith (totally out of my comfort zone).  Refinancing the house was yet another leap of faith - who on earth would offer a good rate to a woman who had been out of the work force for nine years?!  (HomeStreet Bank, that's who.  The rates are amazing right now, so check it out.)

But these leaps of faith have brought me a job, my own home, a thriving daughter, independence, and hope for the future.

So, now I take additional leaps of faith.

I will manage my home.  I will rule my finances, not letting them rule me.  I will help this business to grow.  I will love Katherine with all of my might.

I will leap into the life I want.  I will have enough money.  And I will find love.

I will get the life I am seeking.  In the middle of life's storms, it is so easy to forget that I've already accomplished the impossible in my life, so maybe accomplishing even more "impossible" tasks isn't so impossible after all.

I'm still swimming.  I'm going to make this happen!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Rolling with the waves

Things seem to come in waves.

Right now, I'm dealing with a divorce, refinance, house repair issues (major ones), a dying father in law.  As indicated in the last post, I was starting to feel pretty good about all of that: I have been working hard at managing my business.

So the next wave has arrived: a beloved aunt has early signs of colon cancer, and it appears to be genetic, and linked to breast cancer; she needed copies of my genetic testing and called me with the news.  This prompted calls to my own oncologist, who tells me that I need to get in for a colonoscopy, stat, and that it is of some concern; she also tells me that I need additional genetic testing done for breast cancer.  Having lost both of my breasts as well as my reproductive organs due to breast cancer, I'm probably even less excited than the average person concerned about colon cancer.  And I don't need to mention that I have a daughter who doesn't even HAVE breasts yet, and that new information might mean genetic components to my cancer, which I may have passed along to her.....

And then her school called.  Maybe a bit of testing for dyslexia is in order?  Her comprehension is incredibly high, but her spelling of even sight words is really off, and maybe testing is in order....?  She's performing at grade level but the spelling is below and this can be a sign....?

And my father in law moved to hospice yesterday.

I'm sure that there is humor in here somewhere.  When the waves come, they come hard and fast, and I'm spluttering, turning my head to take a breath only to discover that there is a different wave there, and I take a gasping breath only to inhale water.

It's a good thing I'm a strong swimmer, and that I'm not a quitter.  There is shore out there and I am not stopping until I reach it.

This week, we notorized our decree of dissolution.  Today I sign my house refinance papers, and for the first time, I will have purchased a house all by myself.  My job is going well.  I can use the refi money to do the house repairs (hallelujah) in time for winter.

I do not have colon cancer.  I refuse to have colon cancer, and I refuse to panic.  I will do the testing because it's important, but I will expect good results.

And my daughter doesn't have dyslexia or any problem other than that she's a terrible speller.  She's doing well in math, reading, and science and always performs at grade level (above grade level for reading) in all things except spelling.  I will not freak out about this. I will take necessary precautions, but I believe this is going to work out.  (And I also believe that I need to post about studies of long term stress on children - like having a mom with cancer and then going through a parents' divorce - and how that impacts them.  Stay tuned.)

And I visited my father in law not long ago, and told him I loved him, and last night Katherine and I talked deeply about dying, and then Katherine slept in my bed with me and we were both peaceful.  We are at peace with our relationships with him, and with his death.

This weekend I will spend some quality time in home improvement stores and on the Consumer Reports website, but I will also go to a Halloween Party, and with a little luck, tomorrow I will drink coffee for two hours uninterrupted while Katherine sleeps in, and I will catch my breath.

I am doing the best I can.  I am still swimming.  Sometimes I swallow water and choke, but I am not going to drown.  As a matter of fact, when I reach that sunny shore, I'm going to drink tropical fruit juice and lay on a towel reading a magazine, and then I'm going to build a sand castle with Katherine.

But right now, pardon me, I have to keep swimming.  Back to work.


If you are going through hard times, you're not alone.  But we can do this!  We've got this.  See you on the beach!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Oh, optimism, how I have missed you!

It's a fresh week.

It even FEELS fresh.

Maybe it's the rain and gray skies; so many people in my part of the world dread the rain, but to me it feels cleansing.  My region was so much drier than usual this year that I was starting to feel dehydrated, wishing for the rain on my skin, and now that it's back I feel like I can breathe fully again, as if the oxygen goes deeper into my lungs when moisture is added to it.

We met with the mediator again, and I feel like I am that much closer to freedom: freedom from a marriage that wasn't good for either of us.  Freedom to be who I should be.  Anything feels possible, once again.

I'm back on track.  Soon, the divorce will be done, and I will be free of its dark cloud.

I still have so much to deal with.  If the house refinance does not go through, I'm not sure what I will do.

But you know what?  It's all going to work out.  All will be well.  I've got this.  I can do this!

Happy Monday, everyone.  May the rain wash away your troubles, too.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

That breathing thing

I clearly forgot everything about breathing for the past two weeks.  It was a rough go - too many giant things to deal with, including mediation, filing divorce paperwork, an ailing father in law, an all-nighter helping said father-in-law, a refinance in jeopardy, work, motherhood, financial fears, and oh, just life in general.  It's a long list, too much to deal with.  Add in a sewage flood in the basement and it was just too much.

So, I did it wrong: I didn't work out, I ate comfort food, and I basically went into a panic.

But I also did it right: I cut myself some slack, I called in my posse (best friends ever!) and asked for help.

But this weekend I've caught my breath again.  I actually read my book of guided meditations, we went for a walk in a beautiful location, we went to a pumpkin patch, I spent time with friends.  I invited several of Katherine's friends over for a spontaneous sleepover, complete with chocolate chip pancake breakfast.  I caught up on chores, filled out yet more divorce paperwork, taught Sunday school at my UU church (a lesson about finding what is good in each of us; the children were so kind to each other and shared such sweet compliments towards each other during the lesson that it restored my faith in humanity....what a gift!), helped Katherine get her Halloween costume ready.

And Katherine and I even did our new (few weeks now) tradition: Sunday roast followed by some fun TV watching.  I don't eat a lot of meat in general, but the Sunday roast just screams "happy home" to me and I'm working hard at making sure this home feels like home.  And I'm a pretty granola mom, so when I let Katherine watch TV she is pretty blissful - it's really a treat.  Our Sunday wind down is a favorite for both of us, now.

The fridge is full, the house tidy.  I've had exercise, I've been in nature, I've shared with friends.  This week, I am determined, absolutely determined, to keep remembering to breathe.  My "to do" list is just as long as ever, and I still don't have flooring in my basement, and I have two mediation sessions this week, hoping to get it all finished and submit for the refinance.

But I feel like I have my feet under me a bit better this week.  Breathing in, breathing out.  I can do this.  I've got this.  Let's move forward!

When I breathe in, I breathe in peace; when I breathe out, I breathe out love.  Ahhhhh.

(Want to sing along with me?  Picture standing hand in hand with people you love, singing only the the part "When I breathe in, I breathe in peace; when I breathe out, I breathe out love," in a round so many times that time and space gets lost and you only feel the words love and peace and your own soft breaths...  It can bring me to tears it is so beautiful.  Here, take my hand.....let's do this together....)

PS  Does anyone out there have a version of this song with all of the harmonies?  It's not exactly pop music; I couldn't find it on YouTube and the UU Association website only has a little electronic file.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Doing the Best We Can

Last week at the mediator, I had to confront Bryan about a lie.  I found out that he was laid off or fired months ago, and I had not revealed to him that I'd inadvertantly learned this information.

The mediator asked his salary, and he used old numbers.  I let it go.  The mediator asked him directly about health insurance, costs, employer coverage, etc. and he used the old information, even though I knew with certainty that he was now on COBRA (and that I was too; I'd been panicking about it because as a breast cancer survivor I know how vitally important health insurance is!).

He looked the mediator in the eye and lied.

In that moment, right before I revealed that I knew the truth, I felt so overwhelmingly sad for him.  His life is not going well, and he does not seem to have the tools to fix what needs fixing.

I spoke quietly, and my eyes were full of tears when I said, "I really hoped that you would bring this up so that I did not have to, but I know you were laid off a few months ago."

I think he wished that the ground would swallow him up in that moment, and I hated that I had to bring it up.  I believe he felt shame, and I was so sorry that I was associated with those feelings of shame....again.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating: Bryan suffers from clinical depression, and he doesn't manage his depression.  He is not in therapy, and I don't think he's taking meds any more, and yet he has classic symptoms of depression.   If I had to name one reason that our marriage failed, I would say that it was "untreated depression" or "undertreated depression."  He is a mere shell of the man I met and married, and bears no resemblance to his former self.  His humor, intelligence, and generousity have vanished, and in their place is anger, confusion, and closedness.  He went from being a person with many good friends to a person with few contacts; he went from being a great employee to....well, not great.  He went from being romantic to being self absorbed.  He lost his libido, his sense of self worth, and so much more, and I blame it on the depression.

So, sitting in the mediator's office, I saw all of this with great clarity, saw the pain he was in, and I felt deeply compassionate for him.

With that compassion came a new understanding: he is doing the best that he can right now.

I get so angry that he doesn't spend much time with our daughter, that he does the bare minimum in so many parts of his life, but especially in parenting.  I can not count on him to make sure she takes showers, or gets her homework done, or eats anything healthy, or goes to bed on time, or does any chores.  I get so angry that he expects me to do it all - every doctor's appointment, every birthday gift, every homework assignment (helping), every new pair of shoes.  I was so frustrated when we were living in the same house and he would sleep in every morning so that I would get up, make Katherine's lunch, serve her breakfast, get her backpack re-packed, etc. even though I was the one going to work and he was not.  I couldn't believe that he'd watch me flying around, and that when I walked in the door from work he'd watch TV while I cooked dinner and helped our girl with homework.  I found it astonishing, and it made me very angry.

But in that mediation, in a flash of insight, I think I saw it for what it is.

He loves his daughter.  He is taking less than he might from the house because he wants her to live in the house.  He's paying child support even though he's unemployed.  But he has nothing else to give right now.  He's doing the best he can.

He only has our daughter four four nights a month, and he usually only takes her for two of those nights (sending her to sleepovers the other two).  I have been so angry that he has given her so little...but suddenly I see it, he's doing the best he can.

Yes, I'm exhausted.  Yes, it takes a toll on me.  But I am so incredibly proud of the job parenting I'm doing.  I'm setting a good example, I'm raising a kind daughter who has a great work ethic.  Katherine and I have fun together (this weekend's agenda: a sleepover at our house with a couple "BFFs", a visit to a pumpkin patch followed by pumpkin carving and hot apple cider, Sunday School where I am her class's teacher, and then our new tradition: a quiet evening dinner followed by a movie every Sunday night), but still get homework done, eat veggies, etc.  I am working hard at work.  I'm balancing the oh-so-tight budget.  I got up at 5am the first fall day of rain to check the gutter in the corner where it causes problems, making sure that the water was draining away from the house.

I'm doing the best I can, and he's doing the best he can.  It's not fair, and perhaps I am owed much more, and perhaps Katherine is owed much more, but all anyone can give is their best.

So, I feel more at peace with him than before.  I'm so relieved that we are getting divorced - I can not have a partner who refuses to manage his mental health and expects me to deal with that fallout from that decision, and I can not live with lies, and I need to be married to someone I respect - but I see him differently now.

No, it's not fair.  However, I got the better end of the deal.  I CAN find joy in tiny things, I am proud of who I am, and I love my relationship with my daughter.  Yes, I have to work twice as hard, but I have more than double the benefits of that work.

 Tonight when I get home from work there will be three girls - Katherine and two of her besties - in my home, giggling and asking me funny questions about boys (they are at an age where they alternate between the idea that boys are weird and that boys are cool), and maybe we'll all dance in the kitchen to Carly Rae Jepson's summer hit "Call Me Maybe."  Katherine will roll her eyes at me - "oh Mom you're so embarrassing" - but then she will "accidentally" bump into me and I'll grab her arms and spin her in circles and she'll laugh and her friends will say "do me next!" and by the time the song is over I'll be out of breath and we'll all be laughing.  In the morning, her friends will say, "oooooh are you making chocolate chip pancakes?!" and they will be so excited when I say yes, because I have been informed that my house has the best sleepover breakfasts ever.

I know that this is all true, because this is how it always goes.  Or maybe we won't dance, but we'll bake together.  Or maybe they'll have me look up You-Tube videos on my computer, bands I've never heard of and would never listen to on my own (um, like Carly Rae Jepson) but which appeal to the tween set, and I'll indulge the girls because I love that they still include me on these activities, and because it always comes out who has a crush on who or what happened at school last week.  Sometimes they ask my advice about navigating a tricky friendship, or about how to ask their moms something.  Sometimes they ask how old I was when I got to do some things, or they'll ask me to tell them a funny story about when I was their age.  Then, they'll bounce off into Katherine's room, and I'll hear whispers and laughter, and sometimes they spend three hours without coming up for air, organizing elaborate fantasy worlds with Littlest Pet Shop, and I'll be able to light candles and read a book in the living room with few interruptions.

When it's bedtime, they'll talk longer than they're supposed to, and finally I will say "this is your last warning and so if I have to come in again I'm afraid I'll have to separate you" and they will stop talking because this is about the 100th sleepover for these girls and they know I mean it.  They'll say, "Okay" and they won't be upset at all; they'll roll over and go to sleep.  In the morning if I sleep longer than they do, they'll bounce onto my bed like a litter of puppies, and I will say "when are you girls going to learn how to make me coffee?" and they'll call out a chorus of "yuccckkkkkk coffee is so gross!" before they wonder if there is any hot cocoa available.

Bryan misses out on all this, and I feel sad for him.  He may not be treating me fairly, but still, I'm getting the better deal.

I am grateful for my life.  Thank you, Bryan, for giving me perspective. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

One step closer

I went to the courthouse, and was not turned away, even temporarily.  I went through the security, and the woman there smiled at me and told me she loved my dress and that my boots were fabulous.

That helped.  Of course, I took her words to mean that I was smokin' hot with a great sense of fashion and that men for miles around would be craving my company in the near future.  Because if I didn't have some small fantasy to get me through I think I would have run screaming from the building.

I spent a couple hours waiting in this line then that line, and I was done.  I have filed for dissolution of marriage (I don't believe that the word "divorce" was on a single piece of paper - why is that?), and on January 16th I will stand in front of a judge and say "yes" or something, and then I will be divorced.

Oh, after I attend a half hour parenting class, and a half hour family law class, and visit the mediator two more times to finish paperwork.  But that seems smaller now that the papers are filed.

First of all:
That sucked.  No fantasy could erase that I was there to officially declare my marriage dead.  It wasn't a good marriage, I can't benefit from it any longer....but I mourn its death anyway.  Of course I do.

Second of all:
What crazy fool believes that a half hour parenting class makes any difference whatsoever?  Seriously?  For me, I'm pretty sure it's a major waste of time (I have a fair number of parenting classes much more than a half hour in duration under my belt, and I've read every parenting book I can get my hands on, I've been to lectures, I participate in a mom-group, I used to be a teacher and I have a masters in education....need I say more?!), but for those people who really need it, who haven't had access to resources like parenting classes or don't come from a background where it's common to read a zillion parenting books (and I've graduated to parenting books about children of divorce), well, what on earth is going to happen in that half hour class that does much good?  I expect that I will hear that I should not belittle my daughter's father, that I should encourage their relationship, that I should set aside my feelings about the marriage and put my daughter's needs first.  I expect that they'll suggest that I do not make her act as a go-between, that I look for mood swings and other indicators of anxiety or distress.  I suspect that they'll make suggestions about introducing dates only after they're serious relationships.  I'll bet we get a list of parenting websites and books.

I guess I'll find out.

Anyway, now my divorce - ahem, sorry, "dissolution" - has a number, and that makes it official.

How appropriate that as in marriage, it is in divorce.  I'm running around like a fool, and I deliver it to him on a silver platter.

I had a minor panic attack.  I hid it from the world - I'm good at that - but it hurt.  Literally.  Like my rib cage was two sizes too small.

I'm laying low tonight.  I just need to catch my breath.

One step closer.

Making it official

In a few moments, I will take things to the courthouse and officially, legally notify the world that our marriage is over.  Ninety days later, as long as we take the parenting classes on time etc., we will be divorced.

I'm not sure how to mark the occassion.  It seems only fitting somehow that I ended up being in charge of the divorce, just as much as I was the marriage.  It doesn't matter that Bryan is unemployed (that is the great secret that he's been holding for months, that I accidently discovered a while back, that he lied about in mediation and I had to confront him with.....sigh.....) and that I am supposed to be at work and not the courthouse; these things have always fallen to me and nothing has changed.

I remember going to the courthouse to get our marriage license.  We were turned away because each of us had small pocket knives on our keychains, so we didn't get through security.  Undaunted, we went back to the car, ditched the little knives (more appropriate for cutting tiny apples than causing any actual damage), and went back to get the license.  It was probably a sign, like many others; like the other signs, we ignored it.

So today I will leave my tiny pocketknife behind, and hopefully I will not be turned away from my divorce.

I am mentally and physically feeling a bit better today than I was in the last couple of days.  Lack of sleep is a terrible thing, and I've made sure to get decent rest the past couple of nights.  I sent out the cry for help (a request for emotional support) to my closest friends, and two instantly responded by bringing me dinners (one is coming tonight, the other is coming tomorrow) to help me get through.  They symbol is just as helpful as the food itself: I am not alone, I am loved, I have support to get through the hard times.

I am trying to break down my tasks into smaller pieces.  I can not be at work and the courthouse simultaneously, so I'm not going to think about work this morning.  One foot in front of the other, one thing at a time.  I am not going to fret about the refi: I've done what I can, and if it works, that's great, and if it doesn't, that's fine.  I'll figure it out.  If I have to sell this big old house, Katherine will be sad, but she would be fine in the end.  And if I get to keep it, that's great too.  Whatever happens will work out.

I think I forgot to breathe for a couple of days.  I was worried that I would - lack of sleep does that to me.  But I'm breathing again.

And I sent out email to those girlfriends - 90 days from now we need to have a party.

Peace and love.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pouring Rain

I left mediation, scooped up my girl, and went a couple hundred miles away to visit my inlaws.

I think I am the only daughter-in-law in history to leave a divorce (mediator) lawyer's office and go straight to to the in-laws, where I learned how to lift my elderly father in law from chair to wheelchair, wheelchair to toilet.

My father in law is dying, and it will be a mercy if it comes quickly now.

I spent the weekend caring for him and ignoring Katherine (who was an angel throughout), then drove home in the pouring rain.

We will miss our next mediation because Bryan needs to go be with his dad, and that puts the refi in jeopardy.  It is what it is.

I am at work, where I have so much work to do, including researching group health insurance policies, because I am going to lose my coverage on January 1st.  But I feel like I'm spinning.

While driving to pick up my dog (who stayed with a friend while I was at the in-laws) in the pouring rain, alone for the first time since mediation, physically and emotionally exhausted from the weekend and all that is going on, I burst into tears.  I cried out loud, "This is too much!"  I said out loud, "I'm doing my best!  Isn't my best good enough?  Please, I'm trying so hard...." and I sobbed as the rain hit the windshield.

Thenn I picked up my dog, went to the grocery store so that we could eat this week, and picked up Katherine from her brief visit at her dad's (unscheduled, but he will not see her on his Wednesday and he will be at his parents' next weekend and she really misses him).

I need to figure out my new financial picture (paying for health insurance), my refinance, my home repairs (I think I need to rip out a wall after last week's flood, and now I have no flooring in my basement), my divorce (I was supposed to file papers today but I haven't even had a chance to go to the website to download confidentiality papers (?) - which I guess I could be doing right now but since my work printer quit it wouldn't even help until I got home!).  I need to be a great employee and a fantastic mother.  I need to go back to the in-laws next weekend, so that Katherine can either say goodbye to her grandfather again or just support her grandmother or both.

I feel super overwhelmed, and I really, really, really want a break.

But instead, I'm going to do my best to get it done.  This too shall pass, right?  I can do this, right?

I'm still PollyAnna.  I know I am, because if I wasn't an optimist, I'm pretty sure I'd give up now.  I am just emotionally and physically exhausted, but somehow, I'm going to keep going.

It helps to vent here.  Thanks for listening.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Reclaiming My Name

Today I learned that my divorce will be final some time around/after mid-January, and we're ready to file paperwork on Monday.

I will reclaim my maiden name, the one that is rightfully mine.

I am emotionally exhausted, but I survived this.  I will survive this.  But today the grief caught in my throoat when I wrote down the name of the favorite beach town where we got married, and when the mediator, in a quiet moment, asked to see a picture of Katherine.  There was so much hope at the beginning of our marriage, and to bring up the wedding location and our beautiful daughter's face was gut wrenching, just when I thought I was done with that.

He will pay appropriate child support.  I will get the house.  I'll make it through this.

But don't mind for a while if I'm just sad, okay?  I know all about the silver linings, and I know that that the divorce is the right thing to do, and that it's what needs to happen, and that my life is better with it.  I know all that.  But today, please, let me grieve what is lost.  I'm just so incredibly sad.

Looking for the Divine

Today I enter a marathon four hour mediation session with Bryan.

I am determined to find the Divine in all of this, to remember that all human beings have worth and value and deserve to be treated with dignity.  I will remember that he comes from a place of pain, and that though I can not understand his pain, I can respond with compassion.

I am also determined to bring to light the Divine within myself, as I am also of value and worth, and I too deserve to be treated with dignity.  I will stand up for myself, and I will do it with kindness.

At the end of this day, I would like to have a formal separation decree that includes formalizing child support and home ownership in a way that helps Katherine and I.  But I'd also still like to have my integrity, and I'd like to be fair to Bryan.

And then I will finish up my work day, go home to collect Katherine, and hit the road to go to my in-laws.  My father in law is very ill, and perhaps at the end of his life.  I want to tread gently into this, honoring him, honoring the family that is Katherine's blood.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.  I am over my head, frightened of all that I must do.

When I breathe in, I breathe in peace; when I breathe out, I breathe out love.

I hope I remember to breathe!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Birthing a new life

When I was pregnant with Katherine, I read a birthing book (okay, I read about twenty birthing books, but let's just keep that between you and I, shall we?) that described the inner dialogues that we hold with ourselves during birth.  The book contained two passages narrating the inner dialogues of the same exact birth experience, and one of them sounded like this:
Oh my God that hurts!  Make it stop hurting!  I can't do this!

and the other sounded like this:

This is a really big contraction, my baby is getting closer, and my body is doing what it is supposed to do, and the bigger the pain then the closer I am to holding my baby in my arms...

I can still picture what the text looked like, where it sat on the page of that book.  It made a huge impact on me, and I took the idea not only to my birth experience but also into life.

In birth, I used the deep breathing exercises that seemed so funny in class, and I thought "These are the same exercises that have been used for centuries, and they worked for other women, and they will work for me."  I decided to embrace the birthing process, pain and all.  On the giant contractions, I imagined that I was a dolphin fighting my way to the top of a wave, and then as the contraction subsided, I would sail down the wave.  It worked better than I imagined it would.

Lest anyone reading this believe that I had some magical painless birthing experience, I'd like to tell them otherwise.  I had dreams of a zero intervention birth, but I was on Pitocen, delivering two weeks early because of pre-eclampsia, on bedrest even during labor because even sitting raised my blood pressure, and there were complications that including calling in crash carts for both my baby and myself and a dozen medical personnel flooding the room, and that at the end the doctor was fearing for my life and my baby's if the baby wasn't born quickly so she told me to push with all my might and I did so, feeling exactly where I was going to tear, and feeling the tearing that required more than 20 stitches.  It was not painless.  My best friend was in the room with me, and she was sobbing in gasping breaths just watching it, because it was scary.  Deep breaths manage pain, but they don't make the pain go away.

But I managed it all through self talk ("I can do this"), imagery, and breathing exercises.

When I told my new mommy friends this story afterwards, they looked at me blankly.  One of those women is still one of my closest friends, and she only confessed years later how bizarre my birthing tale seemed to her at the time.  Most people I know had very different experiences.

But I've come to realize that this is my special gift:  I know how to breathe through pain.  I know how to walk into the pain, and thus walk through it.

I did it for fifteen surgeries.  I did it through sixteen rounds of chemo.  I did it through third degree radiation burns.  And I'm doing it now.

My house is falling apart right now, dealing my finances crushing blows.  Mediation is on Friday, and I will find out if Bryan is going to continue some lies that I'm aware of, or if he's going to come clean.  Mediation results will determine whether my refinance is going to go through; if it doesn't, then I will have to sell the house and move.

But I am going to birth my new life, one way or another. 

I birthed my daughter, a magical creature made of fairy dust and starlight, and I would go through the birth a hundred more times to have her in my life if that's what it took.  I birthed my own life once before, continuing with incredibly painful cancer treatments as a conscious choice in order to have a future.

And now I'm in the birthing process again, birthing my life anew.  I keep telling myself that I can do this, that I have what it takes, and when the little voice says "you'll never make it" I wipe away tears and tell that voice to be quiet.

I will make it.  I will envision Katherine and I playing on a beach at the Mediterranean next summer, gentle waves at our feet.  I will envision the peaceful feeling of a signed divorce, knowing that I am free to live my life on my own terms.  I will envision a home with completed repairs, filled with friends, children laughing.

And I will envision lying in the arms of the man I love.  He's out there somewhere, and he is going to love the strength in me that will land me on his gentle shore, coming down the crest of the giant wave that I'm fighting right now.  I don't know when, I don't know where, and I don't know how, but I am certain of him in a way I never have been before.

When I breathe in, I breathe in peace; when I breathe out, I breath out love.
Peace, love.
Peace, love.
Peace, love.

I can do this.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Is this supposed to be funny?

My refinance is falling apart because I'm not divorced yet (something I was very clear about with my refi guy, and he assured me that all was well), and I need money from the refi to pay for the divorce.

I'm exhausted, as per the usual.

Today my daughter was sick, so I tried to work from home, but two things prevented that:
1)  The phone, cable, and internet went out; and
2)  My basement toilet overflowed raw sewage into the bathroom and (carpeted) hallway

I have spent the day ignoring my sniffly girl, spending money on a plumber, paying to have my carpet ripped out (and my rough concrete floors exposed, and let me assure you that 1920's basement concrete is not chic or hip, it's just bumpy, uneven, and nearly uninhabitable), and getting on my hands and knees to clean up unmentionables. (I started with vinegar and water, then graduated to some enzyme cleaner that brings down excrement (!) and then used hard core bleach.....surely something will have worked?)

This is testing me at every possible level.

I know that I can get through this, but I have no idea how.

My old house appears to be falling apart right around me, and I don't know why, but I am so, so, so tired.  I am worried that the drywall will get mold, I am worried about replacing the doorframes, I am worried about taking on this sudden unexpected expense in addition to the giant expenses I've been trying to prepare for.

And did I mention that right before this happened I received, and paid, a big unexpected medical bill?  (What do you mean the whole thing is part of my deductable?  ARGHHHH!)

On Friday, we are entering mediation with a four hour appointment.  Apparently the bank is worried that I will have to pay HIM child support, which is so funny it's laughable. (I have her 26 nights a month and buy all of her clothes, supplies, medicine, activities, birthday presents, etc.... I think even he would laugh at the notion of me paying him.)  But we have to hammer out the separation agreement.

And then maybe I can put new carpet in my basement........and not have to walk on gravelly concrete with the memory of human excrement on it.

I do not have a sense of humor left.  I'm tired, sad, and grouchy.  I have ignored Katherine all day and I feel horrible about it.

And this weekend I'm visiting my inlaws, because my father-in-law is very ill and I worry that he will die soon and I want to bring Katherine to him because it's the right thing to do.

I'm barely holding on here, folks.  My inner PollyAnna is glad I don't have cancer and glad I have a good job and glad Katherine only has sniffles and not meningitis or something....

But I want to crawl into bed and not get up until this has passed.

Instead, I'm going to make my daughter dinner.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Breathing in and out

I am getting a lot of practice at being compassionate these days.  I am focusing on my breathing, in and out, in and out, trying to think kind thoughts, trying to be the person I wish to be.

But some weeks are harder than others, and this one's been tough.

I worry about child support drying up.  I worry about health insurance drying up.  I worry in particular because the house refinance that has me so excited might fall through at the last minute - after passing appraisal, credit check, income, etc., because I'm not officially divorced or even legally separated.

Bryan is particularly snappish with me.  I'm determined to keep things amicable, and I won't snap back, but the amount of effort this takes is Herculean (or, it seems, Sisyphisian).

So, in the bleaker moments of the night, I've been wondering if I need to sell the house.  I've been telling myself that the trip overseas that I have planned is not necessary for my happiness.  I've been reminding myself that if Katherine and I are healthy and our relationship is good, nothing else matters.  I've been reminding myself that I have a good and stable job.  I've been telling myself that a house is just a house, and home is anywhere that Katherine and I live, and we don't need a guest room or a second bathroom to be happy.

I've been taking deep breaths.  Sometimes, I get too caught up in it, and I take gulping, sobbing breaths, because I am only human and what I'm going through is HARD.

Today, I think I'm on the upside.

I know I'm living my life with integrity.

I believe that the future holds great things for me.

I do not need my house to be happy.

I will adjust as necessary to live without Bryan's financial support for Katherine if I need to.

The good news, the true silver lining, is that we have just sped up our mediation timeline.  We have three appointments on the books right now, and we are going to try to move through this as quickly as possible, hopefully getting the paperwork complete before the rate lock on the refi goes away.

If things go well, I will have a refinanced home that I will be able to keep, and I will be able to buy Bryan out of the house, and I will be able to make some house repairs that are necessary, AND I'll be divorced early... maybe even in January.  Maybe this recent "glitch" will just free me from the burden and fear of mediation sooner than I'd expected; maybe I will reclaim my maiden name sooner than expected.

Breathing in, breathing out.

Living in integrity.

Focusing on what's important in my life.

I can do this, even on the really hard days.  I know I can do this.  I've been through worse, right?!

Thoughts and prayers appreciated.