I've never been great with transitions. This is nothing new to me, I understand it. But knowing what it is in my head doesn't make it any easier deep down inside when it's happening. When I was a kid, I would always have a hard time in the days before and after my visits with my Dad. As an adult, I still have a hard time with it. When I visit my family on the East Coast, I know that I will cry in the airport on the way home. Knowing it's going to happen doesn't make it hurt any less though, it doesn't make the week after I return home any easier. I walk around with a cloud over my head until I'm able to make the adjustment back to everyday life. I have always been a sensitive person, I have a big heart and I wear it on my sleeve. Even if it's just seeing my sister down in Seattle, I crash afterwards to some degree. Driving home from a wonderful day visiting with her in Seattle, I feel a wrenching inside, an unsettled knot of tangled feelings.
Two weeks ago, I sat in front of my computer and imagined the first night in my own home. I was wrong when I guessed it would be my first night there that would get to me. It didn't take that long. The night before I moved, I sat on the bunk bed in my kids room and cried. Not just a few tears, but those big, ugly sobs that feel like at any moment they might overtake you. When my Mom came in and asked me what happened, the only answer I could give was "nothing." Nothing, and everything.
There is a pain deep inside me that has started to heal, little by little, but hurts so deeply that there are no words for it, and it takes my breath away so completely that sometimes I feel like I might suffocate. This week has been extremely difficult for me. I have been looking forward to being able to provide myself and my boys with a home, with somewhere we can settle for a while, where things can stabilize for all of us and we can begin our new lives. Where their confidence and mine can build up, we can become strong and our lives can be full of light and love. Somehow, though, I didn't expect it to be so hard. I didn't expect all of these feelings to come bubbling to the surface and wrap around me like a thick blanket I just can't quite seem to throw off.
The future I thought was coming, the one I planned for... it shattered. I have had to pick up the pieces and try to build something new, something more beautiful, more stable, stronger than what might have been. But there are days when I feel like some of the biggest pieces are just out of reach. There are days when I feel like the glue that is supposed to be holding it together just won't stick, and I keep trying and trying, but I just can't.
Yesterday, my friend picked me up on my lunch break and held me for 45 minutes while I cried. When I finally managed to catch my breath, all I could think about was this: I was with him for 14 years, and he never took care of me like this. I don't think he ever really cared about me at all. The words escaped my lips, tore free from my soul. The person who I loved, the person who was supposed to be my biggest supporter, my biggest advocate, my cornerstone, broke me down into nothingness. So far that when someone tells me now that I am worth being loved, I still have to make myself believe it.
Today, I sat on the floor in the bathroom at work and sobbed for ten minutes. It has been months since I was so unable to get a handle on this. When J and I separated the first time, back in 2012, there was a period of weeks where I spent every waking moment trying to work through how I could fix this. If the kids were with me, I would cry in the car while they were strapped safely in the back seat and couldn't see me. One day I saw a movie that involved relationships, and I couldn't stop crying after it ended, in the theater, the bathroom, then finally in my car on the street in downtown Bellingham. There were times when I thought if I started to cry, I would never be able to stop.
There are things that I want to scream and answers I wish someone had. I have hesitated to give them voice, but I am starting to wonder if it is possible to move on without spilling all of this out somehow...
How is it possible that I was so in love with a person who would rather spend thousands of dollars on lawyers than support their own children in the barest minimum of ways?
How is it fair that he can go to the bank and get a loan to pay a retainer for a lawyer, but I cannot, because so much of what was ours was in his name, because he makes more money than I do, because he has better collateral and better credit than I do? Because I have a couple of late payments on the ONE store credit card I have because I was effectively homeless and jobless for a few months.
This is not what I signed up for. I love my kids, but I wasn't supposed to be a single mother. When bedtimes take 90 minutes because we just moved for the second time in less than a year and the kids lives have been completely turned upside down, there is supposed to be someone to switch off with or to comfort me when I come out exhausted and frustrated. When I find out that my son's encopresis is basically back to square one and we have to start over with treatment, I am supposed to have someone to go through it with me, to help me figure out when to keep him home from school, and make sure he sticks to the schedule. When I work 40 hours a week and then come home to two people who are small, and vulnerable, and desperately need me in every way, there is supposed to be someone here with me with an open heart to be something to them WITH me.
I try so hard to be strong, but right now I don't feel strong. I don't feel hopeful. I have been late for work every day this week, and my mind has been preoccupied. It makes me feel useless because I am not as productive as I want to be, and all I really want is to crawl up in someone's lap and cry like a baby. I hate feeling like I am letting people down, all I want is to hold everything together. I know it is time to let go, but I feel like I don't know how. I hate being out of control, vulnerable, and so raw. I have been afraid. I have been afraid to share too many details publicly, or to be honest about how truly broken I have been because I fear that it will be used against me somehow. I have told people that things were bad, really bad, but the story is so much more than that. I have been afraid that telling the whole story would give him another way to make me feel like the crazy one. I have been afraid that I would never be back in control of my own life. I have kept myself from sharing my side of what happened with some people because I was afraid it would get back to him and he would use it to take something away from me.
The truth is, there isn't much else he CAN take from me now. Once someone has taken your self worth, your belief that you're worth loving, there isn't much left for them to take. Once you have been broken down so completely that 8 months later, you still sit in your living room and sob because there is so much pain still inside you, what is left to lose? I believed that I was giving my children a good father, and what they got was a person who only cares to spend one afternoon a week with them. I believed that I promised to love and support someone who would do the same for me, and what I got was someone who neglected me emotionally so severely that I didn't even believe I was worth loving. I believed that I was asking too much when all I asked for was a partner, and I started to believe that I was crazy and asking too much until other people reminded me that what was happening was not normal. I believed that I had someone who would build me up, and what I got was someone who tore me down until there wasn't anything left. I tried to make him happy, and what I got was insecurity and doubt and invisibility.
The only thing I can think of to do now is to stand up. To try my hardest to let go of this fear. To try to say out loud that he cannot control me anymore. That there is nothing left for him to do to me, because I am strong, because I am the one who is, and has been, there for our children. Because no matter what happens, I will figure things out - not just because I have no choice, but because I am smart and will work hard to make a good life for myself and my children. Because I am surrounded by people who love me, who have watched me for years and know what I have been through. I am surrounded by people who love me the way I deserve to be loved, who think I am worth loving and worth fighting for.
Tonight, as I sobbed, I asked my friend to tell me again that everything is going to be okay, because sometimes it is hard for me to see it. When the tears are coming and my breath is gasping and fast, and I feel like someone has reached into my chest and ripped my heart out, I lose the ability to remind myself. So I reach out, desperately, to one of the many people who know that right now I need to be held up. When I got the reply, all I could do was weep, and pray, and try to have faith that it was the truth.
You are not going to be okay. You are going to be amazing.