It was a day that changed the course, the moments all piled into one another…
“You want to meet my family?”
… I remember the look her mother gave us
“I’m in love with you” on a street corner
“Let’s just go get your things and we will figure it out”
… She took my hand and that made it I swear
He kissed me in my car to that song, sitting outside of what eventually would be our home because he just stayed and we never looked back.
… without a purpose or direction
“I hope I don’t regret this”
And that’s all it took. One day, many moments and a song to match.
I had a hard time listening to that one for a while because it embodied a flood of memories and feelings and when you’re going through the inventory of moments that have led you to where you are, you can’t help but look back and wonder what you could have done differently.
It’s weird how when you’re caught in the moment, especially those when you’re falling for someone, you don’t see, think or act rationally. Who does in their 20’s after all? I know I didn’t… I just did and rolled with it cause it’s what felt good for me at the time and I really didn’t think about what I said/did and how it affected others. I was naive and believed everything and everyone and when it feels like the world is being promised to you on a plate, and it’s like a perfectly cooked meal, you can’t help but want to eat it up. Especially when you’re starving.
And I look back… and it was always there. That person is still there but I see it now. Here I am, 18 years later, reliving that moment from back when, but now I am the one on the outside looking in and it’s being served on a paper plate with plastic utensils. The boasting, the parading, their not caring for how their actions hurt others… even when I practically implored for kindness and was told it wouldn’t happen that way. You got it. But then, it did*. Shit, for all I know I am also being branded as bitter and crazy** too…. and the blame will fall on my hands as if I had orchestrated and painted that portrait with a brush I wasn’t holding.
…We don’t owe anyone a fucking explanation
You know, it’s probably karmic retribution because I fell victim to unintentionally hurting someone for the sake of our happiness many years ago. In hindsight, I am pretty ashamed I ever acted that manner but I was so young and was fed all kinds of beautifully cultivated words that now I wonder if they were even true. Naïveté and the lack of self esteem veiled me. But it’s what you’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to believe that people who love you meet you with the same honesty and sincerity you’re giving them.
While everyone tells me I need to fake it till I make it, I am also drudging through the mud like that horse in the Neverending Story, except I am allowing myself to feel all the things, without masks, distractions, shiny new things to keep me away from my pain. This is so hard! But the lesson to be learned here is above and beyond anything I could have seen coming or imagined. And holy shit am I doing me a solid learn and when I finally reach the brighter end of the tunnel, the growth will be so exponential. And I won’t sink.
But then there’s this song that reminds me of this moment in our life. We attach memories to sounds, sights and smells… and when we hurt we tend to avoid them and I have been doing the opposite. An audible embodiment that stings when it’s on, so much so you have to skip it to avoid being kicked in the proverbial dick. Yet the other day I didn’t.
Reza and I had had an absolute shit day. We were both really sad because we were both processing the same thing but from two very different ends. We were sitting at home and I decided to spontaneously take her to this build your own noodle bowl/Mongolian place she had never been to and afterwards we hit a new store to see their Halloween offerings that yes, are already out in July. Bite me. It brings us the most joy and was pretty healing to the mood we were both lifting. And the time with my girl has been the best medicine cause we cry, laugh, and eventually let out a fart to make each other snap back into the moment.
It was a warm Summer evening, I’m driving way too fast on the freeway with the windows down and we were blasting Blink 182, singing loudly.
The Rock Show.
It was one of those moments where something that was once great, then hurtful, became something else because in that moment I took it and transformed it into something new. Something beautiful.
And then it came full circle.
… I fell in love with a girl at the rock show
* People never seem like “the type” until one day, they just are.
** Pay attention to how your partners talk about their exes. It says a whole lot about who they are
Happy Anniversary, Ivonne. It is the 2 month mark from the day you moved out and wrote the first passage in what is now your new life chapter. It comes with bittersweet arrival because the time has flown by and yet dragged itself like a dull blade on cardboard.
“It feels like YOU”, seems to be the general thought that is conveyed to me when people set foot in my space. I knew it from the minute Reza and I peeked through the windows and still, I pinch myself that it’s ours now. Every day I get to see the ocean water, drive through concrete landscapes, feel ocean breezes, even reveling in the feelings of joy from the roaring planes carrying people to new adventures and loved ones at the airport nearby. The other day we were gifted with the most incredible sunset and we couldn’t help but stand in our doorway reveling in the pink and purple light of her magnificence. I love this fucking city so much.
The universe delivered us something truly special.
Yesterday was also the 4th of July. A day meant to celebrate liberty and freedoms… yet to me the word “freedom” has taken on different meaning. They say holidays are the hardest, and this without a doubt certainly was one of them. Not sure why it was so difficult in ways, because over the past few years he always had to work on the 4th so we were left to our own devices to celebrate or get out of the house anyway. I think I can count on one hand how many times we watched fireworks as a family and I get it, it was part of his job. Yet this year it stung. We live pretty close to an incredible vantage point of the city’s biggest fireworks display. Walking distance, even. And in an effort to make new traditions, my girl and I walked down there with everyone else in the neighborhood to go take a peek. We stood together, arms locked and it took everything in me to not weep silently. What has my life become? We walked home and she expressed disappointment and how hard it was for her to see all the kids with their dads. Even more when he didn’t have to work this year and he chose to go out of town for it. Color me destroyed.
Holidays are all so very triggering. There is so much focus on gatherings and intoxication and I can’t help but be reminded of how much of it I dealt with over the years. The gatherings where it got taken too far, too much was had, said, or done. Observing myself watching the Self Destructive Channel, in sadness or discomfort as I counted how one led to one too many, in embarrassment, or the anxiety built from the shame of onlookers or worse, sometimes just pretending it wasn’t happening. And yesterday was no doubt a hot poker in my feels chest, if anything to serve a reminder of just how much more work there is to be done to unpack the trauma of it all.
It’s hard, especially when your daughter is cut from the same bolt of intuitive cloth. She can look at me and know that I am not in a good space. She saw right through me and calls me out when she sees it and if there’s one thing I swore to myself was I would always be honest with her about everything. It’s important. She needs to see me fall and pick myself up over, and over, and over. That underneath it, I too am human and am working through the disappointment just as much as her. And every time she prods those doors open we have the most beautifully bonding conversations, we hold hands or she puts her head in my lap and we hold space for one another. Holy shit, this not so tiny human is one of the most incredibly brilliant lights I have and will ever know.
So now I get to make new holiday memories in spaces that feel safer and welcoming. Don’t get me wrong, all of this is so uncomfortable but I am wading through the pain and sadness of it all, in hopes for lighter hearts and brighter futures and a lot less tears so maybe I can look back without it hurting so much and moving onward and forward.
It’s amazing how one small word can encompass so many things all in one. I always thought that it was a word reserved for feelings when someone dies but what I wasn’t prepared for were the amount of facets that have shown themselves to me, kind of like a disco ball once it is hit by the light.
I find myself in a stage of actively mourning so many things in regard to my relationship. What it was. What I thought it was. Who I thought he was and who he probably isn’t anymore, or never really was. What it won’t be. What I wanted it to be but we just never got that far. Where I hoped it could have gone and I just never got to a point where my head could fully break the surface to fully breathe to get there. It’s just so much to process. In hindsight, this started unraveling a lot farther back than we care to admit, but up until a couple months ago, I never really had wrapped my head around the reality of where it truly was. And here I am: two months of learning to be on my own again, working to learn how to slow my mind, to undo the enhanced state of hyper-vigilance that had become my new normal. It is a scary yet peaceful place, to be alone with my thoughts. Almost half of my lifetime, a triangle without one side, that has shifted so drastically in such a short amount of time and continues to almost daily, sometimes in the form of closure, salt in a cut, a trigger in the smallest of sounds or things, or an unwanted finger prodding me in a gaping wound I am desperately trying to heal. And yet, I will still grieve.
Then there is our Mother. She has been in the throes of Alzheimer’s Disease for a while now but this year it seems to really have advanced. She doesn’t walk anymore, barely speaks, her mobility is pretty impaired. On top of it all, she started experiencing seizures and well, the illness advances until one day it is done with what remains of her. I have been preparing myself for that day, in my own ways and on my own time. I have been grieving this one for years now.
And of course, then there is the inevitable shift in direction of my friendships. When someone goes from key to the background, even when the most well intended distances arrive, it still hurts when things head where I never thought they would. When you experience magical connectivity and humanity only to watch it dissipate to background noise and silent observation… especially when you know you need it the most, now more than ever. You can’t help but miss what it was.
I do. Every. Single. Day.
So you can imagine the maelstrom in my ribcage. An ice cream parlor of grief. A freezer of cardboard gallons filled with a type of grief that you are probably familiar with. Except I am living several of those types. Simultaneously. And it doesn’t smell like waffle cone or sweet cream.
The loss of a friend, lover, partner and spouse of 18 years
The loss of my daily family unit as I knew it.
The loss of the safety in knowing my Mother and who she was.
The loss of her physical vessel that is slowly but surely coming.
The loss of one of my best friends who has been painfully silent
The loss of my faith and trust in the integrity of people that should have never had it from me in the first place.
The loss of who I thought I was and what my life would be.
And all of this is met with a form of grief. And no one has died. It is a term I read and refer to quite often as “mourning the living”. You got to wonder what is worse, having someone pass away or watching something or someone wither away and disappear over time?
This is what I carry around with and in me.
Almost daily. Silently.
And I won’t be silent about it anymore.
And yet, I still grieve.
I decided today would be all about that rad self care and quality alone time….
Slept in and texted with my girl Carolin in bed
Made an amazing batch of coffee
Killed it at Pilates today. My abs will be sore af tomorrow (update: they sore)
Treated myself to post workout poke lunch
Scritches on a neighborhood kitty
Cleaned the house up to smell of pipe tobacco candle, incense and a “made for you” playlist on Spotify that was on lock! Reza’s room looks aces. Looking forward to a week of solid time with her.
Washed, folded and put away all the laundry while getting caught up on Handmaids Tale and So You Think You Can Dance.
Teavana peach tranquility tea
Hung up more art and unpacked more treasures
An almost 2 hr convo with my mother in law that was very nice despite the tears and subject matter
Reorganized the bookcase and it just makes me feel so good to see a space that’s “me”
Quiet candlelit bath with a Tadaima Okaeri bath bomb from LUSH. Funny enough, I just learned that those phrases mean “I’m home” and “welcome back” in Japanese. The magic that I picked that one bomb and used it today does not go unnoticed. And yes, it’s worth the price tag.
Freshly made bed with clean sheets and one of the familiars coming in for a snuggle.
LUSH Sleepy lotion and bedside talismans gifted from beautifully, well intended friends
Revisiting something I used to do and gave up 18 years ago… falling asleep to music. Tonight: a Sleep and Relaxation playlist by Hammock.
Today was a *good* day.
You do not owe anyone support, approval, validation or even as much as a conversation about things you do not agree or are not comfortable with.
Today I said I was going to do laundry, pick up my place and take my fancy new vacuum around for a spin. Instead I drank a lot of coffee, watched all of the new episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale and spent a lot of the day crying off some serious anxiety in my body. I hadn’t felt it like *that* in over a month and that reminder was more than enough for me to know I am getting somewhere, even if the pace is at sloth speed.
I hate having discussions over text. My therapist told me to knock it the fuck off one a many times. We all know it’s a bad idea, yet we still do it. It just feels safer but in the long haul, all it does is create broken lines of communication and receipts that you will read and re-read to the point of deconstruction and misunderstanding. What was supposed to be my putting up a boundary I wasn’t comfortable with, turned into a heated game of catch with a ball of mud that no matter how much it went back and forth, only left me feeling dirty and gross.
Boundaries are hard, especially when you’re trying to exude them with someone you never had them with. Or with anyone, ever, for that matter. It’s tough as fuck to say “no” or “I am not ok with this” and stand your ground when you’re so used to just caving and being all over the place. I am awful at it because in many cases, it totally goes against my nature. It’s hard to say no to loved ones and that is part of the reason why I am where I am. I couldn’t speak up, say no or push back hard enough to be heard. And when I did, I went about it in all the wrong ways.
I tend to believe that the undoing of bad and old behaviors require a lot of active and consistent work. But somewhere in there is also the balance of allowing the cards to fall where they are meant to. Without force of direction, push or pull. Organic change: a gift from the two wise men of Time & Space. Granted, I don’t like waiting long for things, I’m impatient as all get out and this has been long and purgatorial…. but I keep hoping the long haul through it all will bring smoother sails, greener pastures and a lot less G.I. distress.
This is some really hard shit.
I started going to Al-Anon back in October and honestly I wish I had done it sooner. There is something to be said for things that arrive when you require them the most and maybe I was just ready to start the very long journey into my own recovery. In this case, later is better than sooner. I recently took on a Sponsor and started journaling, privately, in order to really start working through the steps. The trauma of being with an alcoholic took a toll on me and in ways I didn’t even know were there – and I took so much of it on, including the self-imposed blame like somehow I was responsible for it. With the amount of resources out there to help me, it would have been stupid of me to not give it a shot. I know this shit seems all out of character for me in ways especially when you know how anti-religion I am, but when you’re desperate to learn more about yourself, gain some insight and support, well, we do shit that is out of character that at times is helpful or can be totally destructive. I am no exception to this rule. I got very fortunate to find a night and group that I meshed with straight out of the gate and I am now infamously the one lady who always says “fuck” at least once when she shares. Funny enough the use of the words “god” and “higher power” don’t make me squirm as much anymore… they’re just words and we all shape them into what we see it as…. in my case I think it’s the Sea. They miss me when I don’t go and you don’t know how many times, on a night where I felt like my world was crumbling, like I was alone in IT, a stranger from that room made me feel more seen and supported than some of the closest I hoped I would get it from and didn’t.
One thing that Al-Anon has really helped hammer in is that I cannot take on the behaviors of others. I do this a lot. I say “do” because it is something I still find myself doing. Again, unwiring knots is hard! I have also come to understand that I have control issues. And we all know what that means: I have no control over X therefore I am going to do my best to control it, served on a Hungry Man foil tray with the hard edged insecurity brownie and fear pie for sides. I look back on the past 2.5 decades and it just becomes far more clear just how much energy, time and tears I put into people, relationships and situations trying to gain a false sense of security I was never going to have. Head explode. And I still catch myself doing it… and when I do catch it, I have to forcibly stop myself and redirect into better behavior. It is hard to take the reins of others and that was my mistake because the only reins I should be focusing on yanking are the ones steering my sled.
And just like that my boys from Nothing delivered lyrics at the most appropriate time….
“And if you feel like, letting go… and if you feel like letting go”
They say that a good exercise in helping mend a broken heart is to write down all the things, moments and times. The words that cut you that “I’m sorry” couldn’t wash away.. all the things that the other person did or said that wounded you. The words you carry under your skin like ink of a deeply and poorly done tattoo.
I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now because it is all part of the process of cleansing, healing and trying to move forward. I couldn’t bring myself to do it until this morning. I was up early as my girl slept in, with my coffee, music and roar of the planes landing at the airport nearby. I wrote and it just kept coming and coming and coming… tears streaming down my face, a pounding in my chest that moved in a circumference from sadness, to anger, to disappointment, and loop.
I had to stop myself after I reached the second side of the 3rd page.
“I had no idea, Ivonne” seems to be the general response I receive from those who have been willing to listen to me with kindness and compassion. And then you step outside of it, take a further step back and the image becomes even more clear. Kind of like those jumbled up 3-D mall “paintings” from the 90’s that I could never see no matter how hard I tried. The paintings I never saw, but this I did…
Sure there were many moments of greatness and happiness. No doubt. But when something consistently chops at the base of your tree, even when done over a long amount of time and in small increments, there comes a time that tree eventually falls over. And my god, did it. The crack of a sequoia falling over in a forest of silence. So much silence. So much bottled up truth on my part. I held in so much. Fear masked as strength. Pain masked as resilience. Shame covered with excuses. Unrecognized trauma that surfaced as depression and anxiety. Crisis management masked as survival. Emotional abuse packaged as respect and compassion. No wonder I broke as hard as I did.
Years and years of my pain, held in truths, fears, anguish, silence. I saw it all on paper, bullet listed without waxing poetic ink and in my handwriting. And there it was, staring back at me. Sadly, it was there for a very long time. Longer than it ever should have, I just didn’t see it.
So when you say to me, “I had no idea”… you know?
Neither did I.