Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Just got back from an awesome vacation with one of my best friends to NYC, my absolute favorite place in the entire world. This is my 4th trip to NYC in 18 months.

I cannot describe the feeling I have when I am there. I don't know where it comes from. I have a connection to that city that I can't explain. Maybe it is from growing up watching Sesame Street, maybe it is the perfect environment for my ADD brain, maybe it is just the coolest place in the universe. Not sure.

We planned the trip this weekend on purpose: 2 weeks post divorce, 2 days before my birthday, and right in the middle of the busy season. It was a total mind vacation from all the stress both good and bad from the past few months. I really, really needed it.

We saw three Broadway shows, ate tons of mind-blowing food, navigated the subway and streets like old pros, shopped like crazy, and my favorite: just sat in Central Park on the most perfect of fall days and enjoyed the surroundings.

I accomplished another one of my little "dreams" by spending a morning running the Brooklyn Bridge, like a real New Yorker. It almost killed me (did you know that the first half of the bridge is all uphill??? I forgot) but I did it. Me, little old me, ran from Manhattan to Brooklyn and back again. Pinching myself the whole way:

The last time I was in NYC was last December, 4 months post-separation. The night before I left, my then estranged husband informed me that he was moving out of his mom's and into his own apartment. He seemed so excited and happy to be doing it. I thought I didn't care, but spent my entire trip in NY thinking I had a stomach bug. On the plane on the way back, I realized what I was flying back to--a new world, a new life with just me and the kids, sadness and anger and depression. Any tiny glimmer of hope I had of him magically figuring out how to make it all right and coming home began to melt away. I cried my eyes out looking at my city from the plane, and tried to tell myself that it would all be ok. The weeks following would bring major depression and grief, and the next month would bring the news about my father's brain tumor.

This time though, leaving NYC wasn't so bittersweet, as it has been. I loved my trip, but I also love my life at home. I love being a single mom to these three amazing kids, I love how strong I have become in such a short period of time. I love that when the plane hit major turbulence on takeoff and I was scared to death, I knew I could get through it because I can get through anything. I love that my home is happy and carefree, that my friends are always here for me and make me laugh constantly, that I always have someone to talk to, that I love my job again, and that I MADE THIS HAPPEN. Me, all by myself, like a real grownup. I am so proud of my life.

And then there is Mr. Wonderful, my "icing on the cake" who is becoming so much more than that. The morning of my run across the Brooklyn Bridge, I had an email waiting from him with encouraging words and a weather report. He encourages me every single day to continue on the path that I was on before I met him, just now with him by my side (figuratively for now, but literally soon), cheering me on every step of the way. I met his mother last week, and our amazing conversation ended with her hugging me and telling me that her son and I were obviously meant to be.
My happy ending, complete with Love...I got it.

The next time I'll be back in NYC is in December. This trip was an early birthday present from Mr. Wonderful, and it will be our first vacation together. I can't imagine anything more perfect to end this year, it has all come full circle in such an incredible and unexpected way.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Aftermath

It's been almost a week since I finalized my divorce to my now ex-husband. I still kind of flinch when I say that word. I've wanted to call him that for so long, it's so strange that it is now actually true. I remember when we first got married, we loved to introduce each other to people as "my husband" and "my wife". My how things can change.

The first day I couldn't get out of bed, didn't want to talk to anyone.

The second day I got out of bed (only because I had to work), but still didn't really want to talk to anyone. It wasn't so much sadness anymore but more of a numbness that had set in. As I've mentioned earlier in this blog, numbness is my defense mechanism when things get too hard. It's great for getting me through trauma, but also sort of puts off the inevitable.

By Thursday I was feeling well enough to get to the gym and hit the treadmill and yoga. I worked off a ton of stress by running the hardest I have in a long time, and then centered myself with the yoga class. I felt much better.

Somewhere in those few days my ex had a literal nervous breakdown. He called me from his car in the middle of a total panic attack, had to leave work and get his mother to take him to the doctor. He has been put on medication now, thank God. But not before having another crying attack while picking up the kids for the evening. I kept firm to my boundaries...but to say watching him have an emotional breakdown isn't draining and upsetting would be a lie, especially since it's happening in front of the kids.

I also struggled with my own internal "freakout" dialogue again. I told myself I was crazy to be putting myself into a vulnerable position with Mr. Wonderful again. That there is no possible way I could ever go through with getting married again because look at how this ended and I refuse to EVER, EVER go through this again. I honestly had NO IDEA how difficult this divorce would be. I still haven't had a glimpse at those feelings of "freedom" that I was sure I would experience. Just sadness, mind-gripping fear of falling into the same traps in the future, and a lot of numbness.

I'm talking myself through the freakouts by asking myself daily if the good that can come of the risk of trying again outweighs the potential bad of losing another love or going through another divorce. Not even just daily....sometimes lately hourly. I had to get myself through another disagreement with Mr. Wonderful while battling those feelings, and I've so far come out on the other side feeling like I can keep going forward. It's a battle right now, but I'm sure that once I get some distance from the pain of the divorce it will get easier. He's an amazing man, and I'd regret letting go of him for the rest of my life and that always wins out over any fear of possible future pain.

I go through periods of feeling really strong and unbreakable, and then I go through times of feeling completely broken and exhausted. During those times my body literally shuts itself down...I had fever all weekend and today a migraine. It didn't help that Saturday I was out with my brother and a bunch of friends at an outdoor festival and ran right into my ex and my children. It was so jarring and unexpected that I felt as if I'd been in a car accident.

On top of everything, something has been building up under the surface regarding my father. It's the time of year I think...fall with my Dad means watching football together EVERY sunday, it means my birthday (he always does something special for me), it means him helping me with my kids' birthdays (two of them a week after mine), it means going to the State Fair with him, it means him trick or treating with us, it means Thanksgiving at his house, it means his own birthday at his favorite German restaurant. All of our traditions since I was born, every single one of them in the fall and every single one of them without them this year. It's hard to accurately describe the state he is in right now, but he is not Dad anymore, and I'm coming to a place of realizing that he will never rehab from this. That he's stuck, forever, in a body that makes him like a baby. On top of this, his wife has stopped all communication with me and my brother. There is guilt for not visiting him enough (I have major panic attacks everytime I go now, so I have to limit my visits). I wish this situation would somehow resolve, but it seems like it's going to be a wide open wound that I carry around for a good long time. I don't know whether to grieve or hope. I don't know how to do anything in between.

I realize that I'm dealing with two major traumas at once and I am cutting myself slack for wanting to just crawl under the covers and avoid the world and all of it's cruelness at times. I also know that I always come back to a place of happiness and strength and I just have to be patient with myself and pay attention to my own needs.

I have planned a "Divorce Party" for myself in a couple of weeks. I'm hoping that celebrating my freedom with my friends, who I love so much and without whom I never would have made it through, will help me get to a place of being proud of everything I've done and to feel the freedom of being out of a bad marriage. If nothing else it will be an evening surrounded by people who love me and have supported me through my decisions and have lifted me up in the bad times, and will be here to celebrate the good ones with me too.

Friday I leave for my favorite place in the entire world, NYC, with one of my best friends. I'm hoping being in my very own "happy place" will pull me out of this lull or whatever it is. Four days of pure bliss and self-indulgence and enjoyment.

Until then I will just stay here under my covers I think. It feels safe for now.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I'm Divorced.

Today was the big day that I've been anxiously awaiting/dreading/apathetic to for an entire year. Well, really, three years.

It all began three years ago when I was pregnant with my youngest child, and discovered my husband's infidelity while in my 35th week. Upon this news I went into pre-term labor, and delivered my youngest just 3 weeks later.

We worked on things for another two years until last August, when I found out that he was at it again. I made him leave. Part of me for a few months hoped he would have some big realization after leaving. He didn't until this week, and of course it was too late.

It was a very, very long year. With moments like this, this, and especially this making the decision easier to file for divorce. Dad's brain tumor and then disaster of a surgery threw me for a major loop, to say the least, and delayed everything quite a bit. Then there were moments that led me to the point of feeling strong enough to go through with the divorce, like this, this, and even recently this.

It's been an emotional process and one that I am glad to say is finally over. That doesn't mean the last step wasn't the hardest one of them all.

I woke up early this morning to get ready and felt nervous and shaky. Considering the emotionally draining week I've had, this wasn't surprising to me. I dropped my youngest off with a friend. For some reason, getting back in the car after leaving her, I started to cry and couldn't stop. I tried to tap into why I was feeling this way...desperately searched for the feelings of relief and freedom that I've been feeling up until now, but all I could come up with was this overwhelming sense of grief and finality. August 2nd, 1997-September 15, 2009. 12 years of ups and downs, three beautiful children. Being married to my husband was part of my identity for all those years, a third of my life up until now. Today was the final nail in the coffin of our marriage.

Driving to the courthouse, I got a call from Mr. Wonderful all the way from Afghanistan. He is completely understanding of my feelings and my tears, and offered loving support and encouragement. He even found me directions to the courthouse when I got lost (thank God for technology)

I finally arrived, still teary but hoping I could keep it under control. Of course, the same apathetic clerk from the day I filed called my number today. And yes, while tears ran down my face in the office again, she was just as apathetic today as she was 60 days ago.

They gave me my file, more paperwork to fill out, and sent me to the courtroom. I sat outside the court and filled out paperwork, having to text my ex the whole time for information. He kept it businesslike thank goodness, because filling out the paperwork was the only part of the entire morning that I didn't cry.

After being sent first to the wrong courtroom, I finally figured out where I needed to go. I had a little "conference" with the bailiff as he explained to me the procedures when my name was called. I managed to keep the tears stifled long enough to sit back down and wait my turn.

And then, one sad face after another sad face after another sad face filed before the judge to ask for a divorce. Every 3 minutes, someone in that courtroom ended their marriage. Just THAT courtroom. This of course did me in, and I went from teary to downright sobbing. Luckily, the courtroom clerk was more sympathetic than her co-worker in the office, saw me sobbing and brought me tissues. This just made it worse. I sat and prayed that I would just be able to speak when it was my turn.

I was the last person in the courtroom to be called. The judge called my name, my husband's name, and "in the interest of" and then named off my three children one by one. Dagger, dagger, dagger.

I stood in front of him, raised my right hand, and read my "prove-up"; explaining that my marriage was over and could never be reconciled. I sobbed hysterically through the whole thing. The judge never looked at me. When I got to the section where I had to list my children's names and ages, I had to stop and compose myself. I can't describe the feeling in that moment. Not only was I changing my life, but I was changing theirs forever too. I managed to get out two of their names, but on the youngest, my voice broke and I had to stop again.

Somehow I finished reading what seemed like the longest page ever. Looked up, and the judge, just like that, approved the divorce, handed me my paperwork, and I was done. I was divorced.

I ran out to my car, got in and just sobbed into my steering wheel. The whole feeling was so unexpected. I honestly expected to feel so free and imagined myself practically skipping to my car.

But my mind was like a movie all morning. I saw clips of the good moments, the bad moments, the amazing moments, the tragic moments, the beginning, and now the end.

Came home, climbed into bed, and didn't leave that spot until 6pm. I've been getting texts and phone calls all day from concerned friends, and I just can't face anyone.

I hope this is over tomorrow, and I wake up finally feeling the relief I expected. Maybe it will come slowly, I don't know. I'm lucky to have a partner who understands that these feelings aren't about still loving my ex, but just about the death of a dream, and the culmination of years of emotional ups and downs coming to a head. I know he is relieved that my marriage is over so we can truly be together, but he is also just as concerned for me and I love him so much for that.

I think my sister-in-law put it best (she always has the best words of wisdom) when she said "You are so strong. I know it hurt like hell. You just climbed Everest. People are often emotional on the peak of mountains."

Here's to a long period of time with no drama, no major life-changing decisions or moments, happiness, and just plain boring coasting along. Cheers.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Add it to my List of Me

This morning I accomplished something that I NEVER thought I would do.

Years ago, pre-kid religiously and then off and on as a mother, I was a runner. I LOVE to run, love the high and the way it quiets my mind. After my youngest was born, I developed achilles tendonitis in my right ankle and wore a boot and then a cast for an entire summer. I was told by doctors that I'd never be able to run again, and for the longest time had trouble even walking long distances.

A few weeks ago I started going back to the gym and to yoga again since school had started back. I was doing the elliptical machines but had to keep them on the highest settings to even break a sweat. I guess after losing 30 pounds my stamina had improved that much on it's own. So I started kind of eyeing the treadmills again, and one day hopped off the elliptical and decided just to try it for 10 minutes. No pain.

So the next time I did it half of my cardio. Again, no pain.

And eventually I was able to run my entire workout and haven't had one bit of pain in my ankle. The lost weight? The lost "baggage"? I don't know, but GOD....it feels great.

Every year my close group of friends go to a 5K together, put on in memory of our friend's daughter who passed away from cancer. Usually, they walk the "Family walk" which is 1K. I was planning on doing that, and then last week I was at dinner with one of the girls, and she said she was going to try and run the 5K...just for fun. She asked me if I wanted to join....sure, why not? A 5K is just about 3 miles, and I had done that much on the treadmill just the day before. Couldn't hurt to try, right?

I honestly didn't think too much about what we were taking on until we arrived this morning. The families took off in the 1K, my kids included (except my youngest, I kept her in a jogging stroller). I looked at my friend and we sort of had this moment of WTF are we doing?????

And then the race began. We walked for a minute then decided to go for it. It was really, really humid and having the jogging stroller made it more difficult than I had anticipated. We did some walking, but pushed ourselves to jog it as much as possible. We got to the last mile marker and started to run...the whole final mile there were volunteers cheering us on, then a photographer taking our picture, then the last stretch where I thought I was going to throw up from pushing myself. I looked to my left and saw my friends and their families jumping up and down cheering for us, then looked to my right and saw my children with the proudest looks on their faces yelling for their mom. The adrenaline kicked in and I ran the final stretch without throwing up :)

We were so incredibly proud of ourselves after the race was over. We hugged, we high fived, we took pictures, we planned our next 5K. What an amazing high and such a great metaphor for life. You start out with no idea how you will do, you reach a point where you don't think you can take it anymore, then suddenly you get your second wind, put your head down and push yourself farther than you ever thought you could; and if you're lucky, your friends and family are at the finish line cheering you on.

When all was said and done, we did the 3 miles in about 40 minutes, not bad for a bunch of first timers who didn't even train!

I'm so incredibly proud of myself, not just for today but for all that it represents.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Ex Factor

Mr. Wonderful has been counting down the days until my divorce is final (as of today, 5!). I thought it was cute and when I've asked him about it, he has expressed his concern that the Ex would suddenly change his mind and come running back before everything was finalized. I scoffed at this idea, knowing the Ex, and knowing that in the past year since we separated, he has never expressed any interest in "winning me back" or whatnot. I expected the begging and pleading after I kicked him out or after I told him I was filing for divorce, and never heard it. So why now?

Wow was Mr. W dead on.

A few weeks ago the Ex was dropping my youngest off in the morning, and looked very disturbed. He told me he had a dream that morning that I was seeing someone, and that I was pregnant with the new man's baby. It had shaken him up so much that he had sat straight up in bed in a cold sweat and complete panic.

This past weekend out of the blue, the Ex called and asked if I had time to talk. He wanted to know if I was seeing anyone.

He took me by surprise. I told him that yes, I had met someone, and we had been dating just a couple of months. I didn't go into details at first, wanting to gauge his reaction. He seemed pretty devastated.

Then came the crazy psycho babble. "Are you sleeping with him??? Does he do for you what I never could??" He was OBSESSED with the sex subject. I let him know this subject was completely OFF LIMITS and if he continued to push it, the conversation would be over.

And then the apologizing and regret began. "I'm so sorry. Everything was my fault. You always tried with us and I don't know why I wouldn't try too. I regret everything. I will always love you."

I'll admit that during the phone call, I felt a little smug. It was nice to hear after three years of never hearing any apologies or regret, just blame (it took me almost that entire time to figure out that I was NOT the one to blame).

And then, after hanging up, he TOTALLY lost it. Text after text after text started coming in. "I cried today." "This is really hard to accept." "I wish I could take it all back." "Losing you is killing me." "I never stopped loving you." "I can't bear the thought of someone else losing you." "I didn't know how to fight for you." "You are so beautiful....tell me you feel nothing for me..." "I am feeling very inadequate, he is good looking" (at this point, he had managed to find Mr. Wonderful's facebook profile)

The next day, email after email. More truth comes out. He has just been dumped by someone.

I didn't respond to him except to say that his emotional diarrhea was inappropriate and that if we were going to continue to be civil, he needed to talk to someone else besides me. I've moved on, and even if I had never met anyone new nothing would change. The damage is done and I'm too happy and healthy to be dragged back into that black hole.

I'm glad that this happened when it did, because this time I feel strong enough to handle it, and I have the absolute knowledge that I can never be with him again. A year ago or even 6 months ago I might have convinced myself to take him back for the children's sakes. But now I have the perspective that our relationship is toxic, and I am not healthy when I'm with him and therefore the kids cannot be healthy if we're together.

Not to mention, I have ZERO feeling left for him, except that I feel sorry for him. I wish that he could get his shit together and become a whole person the way I have, for his sake and for the kids' sake. I don't see that happening. I look at him as a child who may never grow up.

When he saw that the begging and pleading and emotional threats weren't working (he made me feel like he might hurt himself, which I quickly turned over to his sister), he decided to go for the jugular...child support.

He is now saying he can't afford to pay me child support. He says he shouldn't have to anyways, because he has them about half the time (I have them 80% of the time, even though he does keep them an extra night from the norm). I won't back down here. Luckily he has already signed a waiver saying that he won't fight the terms of the divorce decree. Whatever I turn in is what he has to agree to.

Even though I've tried to keep my distance from the situation, being bombarded with texts and emails and phone calls has been truly emotionally exhausting. There is only so much ignoring I can do, because we have to stay civil for the kids. It has been draining. I find myself tired all the time.

I'm angry about this because I had an amazing weekend of celebrating all that I have accomplished over the last year. Leave it to him to find a way to taint it.

More on the celebrating later...that's a whole other post :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

It Ain't Easy.

It's amazing how naive one can be when one is madly in love.

My last post was just the tip of the iceberg.

I have been picking fights with Mr. Wonderful. Like. MAD.

I knew I was doing it. I knew it was my fault and that he was still being Wonderful. I called myself crazy and insane the minute we would hang up. Luckily, I was sane enough to call my girlfriends and say "WHY AM I DOING THIS TO MYSELF!!!"

And of course, being the AMAZING friends that they are, they offered me the insight I needed to get through this and be forgiving of myself.

Mr. Wonderful kept telling me "I make you cry all the time and upset. Are you sure you want this?"

And I told myself...if not him...then WHO???? Because he is the absolute definition of the PERFECT man for me. Should I just be alone forever? Maybe I am too screwed up to be in a relationship with someone so amazing?

But then my friends pointed out that Hey...someone else told me not only that he loved me and would never leave me, but he stood in front of a church in front of all of our friends and family, had three kids with me, and promised. And look how that turned out. Mr. Wonderful is the first real relationship after this heartbreak. Of course I'm going to freak out. Of course I'm going to be scared!

Ideally, there probably should have been a couple of trial run relationships to figure this all out on. But we're together now and he's the one I want, so we have to figure this out.

As I mentioned in the last post, I am incredibly lucky that he is willing to be so patient with me and my freakouts. And everytime he does, it helps me trust him a little more. I freak out, and he reassures me that he loves me and will never leave me, he sends me flowers, he sends me messages reassuring me of his love. It's like he's read a manual on divorced women or something...

Another friend who has been divorced and remarried went through the exact same thing with her new husband. It has done wonders for me to not only know and understand where this is coming from, but to know I'm not alone.

While I'm sure this won't be the last freakout, I do feel very empowered now with the knowledge of what is happening and how to handle it, and also just knowing he will stick with me through them. I think it's all gonna be ok.