Another Move

This weekend we moved my grandmother from her longtime, old victorian home in a town near none of us, into a smaller home closer to family and her doctors. It’s a really wonderful move for her and I’m so excited she is finally out from under the weight of that old house.

Growing up, my grandmother’s home was always a wonderful place to visit, and there’s a small pang of sadness for me at saying goodbye to that old house. The way the light came into the kitchen, the tall kitchen cabinets, the beautiful stairs where I used to sit as a kid and stick my head through the spot where a baluster was missing, the maze of rooms upstairs, the beautiful wallpaper in the guest room. And while the house was really unique and special, it was special because I was with family. It was the home of my amazing grandmother.

This move is also a bit layered for me because the home my grandmother is moving into is the home where X and I lived for three years, just before we got married, as he worked his way through undergrad and I became a teacher. The house is owned by my parents and we rented it for those years. Now, it’s the home of my grandmother. And while my parents did a lot of interior renovations since we lived there, I knew it would still feel like our old home.

It was a bit hard, but not as bad as I expected. It felt like our own home, and to be sure the memories were there in each room and as I walked down the hall. But the memories were very distant, as from a bygone era. And really, that time is long gone. I think those were our happiest years, but they were over ten years ago. I had pangs of sadness and longing for what once was. But it was sadness with perspective. It was okay. And honestly, the house is so wonderful. It will be the perfect place for my grandmother and I love the idea that it will hold her the way it held us, each in our own time. I continue to move on.

Packing up the kitchen. I loved that kitchen.

Thanksgiving

I survived Thanksgiving. All things considered, it wasn’t all that bad. I did feel a tad blue, off and on throughout the day. I thought about X more than has been normal as of late. I wondered what he was doing with his day (something I really don’t do), and thought painfully that he probably wasn’t wondering about me. There was even a weird part of me that hoped I’d have an email from him. I wouldn’t have responded if I did. I think there is still a part of me that wants to know that he valued me. It’s so weird to have this person who I gave so much of myself to not even care. Most of the time I’ve accepted it, but the holidays bring those wounds to the surface.

I did make spinach balls. We used to make them every year for Thanksgiving, and they were always a hit at our Thanksgiving gatherings in Alaska. My grandmother always made them and I brought the tradition with me and then back. They were a hit, and people enjoying the food I make always makes me feel good.

There was a sweet toddler at our Thanksgiving gathering that brought lots of joy and laughter. My family was together and it’s something I missed when I lived in Alaska. Being with family was good.

All in all, it was okay. I survived and even had some good moments. I continue to move forward.

Delicious food and family.

Being Taken Care Of

I’m beginning to realize that my default has become to ask others to do things for me. I remember so vividly, back when I was 20 something and living alone in NYC, that I could do everything for myself. It was such a point of pride. But when X and I started dating, I discovered how wonderful it was to be taken care of. I loved being cared for when I got sick, and having someone else to help with the chores. I had someone to help with technical computer-like stuff. I didn’t have to figure everything else out for myself.

Now that I’m single again and living alone, I’m noticing this desire to ask people to do things for me. And I’m realizing that, though the pull to ask for help is strong, I’m uncomfortable with it, especially when I know deep down that I can probably figure it out on my own.

So today I tackled the project of hanging up the new curtain rod for my living room windows. I ordered them two weeks ago and they’ve just been sitting, in the box, in my living room, apparently waiting for my father to come install them. I never asked him though. I think I knew it was something I just needed to do for myself.

Tonight I finally did it. I measured to place the rod brackets equidistant. I drilled holes. I put in screws and slipped over the brackets. Then I made sure the rod was even and I tightened the fixture to fit.

I did that!

It was as simple as that and I’m feeling really proud of myself! The curtains need to be steamed, and I’ll get to that this week. But I did it, and it looks good. Just another notch in the category of taking care of myself.

Sweet Little Fantasies

Lately I’ve been feeling really good. Like, just really good. I’m feeling confident at work, feeling good about my ongoing weight loss, and generally like I’m coming out of a fog. It’s kind of great, actually. And with this good feeling comes hopeful thoughts for the future. In fact, I’ve been having little fantasies of a first date.

I don’t actually know if I’m ready to start dating, but I’m definitely enjoying the day dreaming. I’m remembering the feeling of little flutters. I’m getting excited about getting to know someone and sharing bits of myself. I’m excited about going slow and enjoying the process. And in my sweet little fantasies I feel confident and beautiful. Not bad, I think!

Red Berries

A few days ago I was driving home in daylight hours and noticed a bunch of bright red berries growing on the side of the road near my house. These winter berries are so beautiful and I’ve always wanted to cut some to put in a vase and bring inside. As I was thinking about this, I had a flashback to my time living in NH with X. This time of year I would always comment on how nice it would be to pull over and cut some. I would ask if we could do that some day. I would suggest how lovely it would be. I remember even thinking, I’ve dropped some hints – maybe he’ll surprise me! But we never stopped and he never surprised me. I know, you might be thinking, “why didn’t you just go get them yourself?” It’s an excellent question and the only real answer I have is that when I would make suggestions and he would say no or just say nothing (which was more often), I would shrink myself down. I intentionally made myself small to fit into his small, shallow world. It’s so funny how I can see my patterns so clearly now but everything was so foggy back then.

Anyway, having this memory made me more determined to get those darn berries! I even made a plan! I bought shears at Lowe’s. I scheduled my berry picking around my grocery pick-up time (and before the freezing rain started). And today, I put on my Weller Whale Wellies (Extra Tuffs from dear friends) and set out!

My Weller Whale Wellies!

It took all of ten minutes. I only got enough to fill one vase, because that’s all I needed. But I am so ridiculously proud of myself. I wanted to do something, so I just did it. May seem small to an outsider, but I feel amazingly strong and empowered. And now I’m thoroughly enjoying my beautiful red berries!

Berries at home in the kitchen!

Apprehension

The holidays are quickly approaching and I’m feeling apprehensive. I haven’t spent Thanksgiving with my family in nine years. Family gatherings have been a bit triggering because I feel the absence of X the most at those times. Not that I miss him, but sometimes I do miss that closeness.

I’m also nervous about the memories. Looking back on our awful Thanksgiving from last year, I know now X had already decided to leave me. We went to his friend’s house. I brought a turkey craft I had made at school to give as a gift. When we walked in, I said, “I brought the turkey!” They all just kind of looked at me and then returned to what they were doing. And that was it. I sat on the outside watching strangers make pizza. And when I told X I was ready to go, because I just couldn’t do it any more (I think I put in a good three hours), he said nothing to me the car ride home. He made no gesture of affection. It was a very painful, hurtful night. Just typing this, I had to stop so I could cry.

Then there’s Christmas. X told me he didn’t love me three days before Christmas. He went to stay in a hotel Christmas Eve, because I told him I had been looking so forward to Christmas with him, a day with no other obligations. It was always my favorite day, just him, me and Moose. And I told him if he couldn’t be present with me, then he couldn’t be in the house. So he left. He made the choice not to spend the day with me. I had to survive it. I had to wake up and force myself to make a good breakfast. I had to open presents alone. I had to walk Moose alone. He called me once, as I was beginning my walk with Moose. He told me he told his mother that he wasn’t throwing in the towel. That was also a lie. A lie to make it look like he was trying. A lie so others wouldn’t see the secrets of the other woman. That lie gave me some hope. It was false hope.

I love Christmas. It’s my favorite time of year. I’ve always loved decorating the tree, and having a quiet day with my husband and animals. I don’t know how I will do it this year. I don’t want this event to ruin Christmas for me. I just need to figure out how to get through this first Christmas.

My Limitless Mind

I had been in a real funk for the past month or so. Really, funk is an understatement. I think I was staight-up depressed. I didn’t want to teach. I didn’t want to be alone, and I was miserable because I was always alone.

I’m not totally sure what changed, but I am feeling better this week. The other day I remembered the swings that would happen around months 3, 4, 5 and 6. I’d have a good day, then a horrible day; then a good few days, and a tough couple of days. The stretches got longer but I would still swing up and down. I think this is normal, and I wonder if maybe I’m currently in a swing up.

One thing I know has changed a bit is my mindset. I have been listening to Jo Boaler’s latest book Limitless Mind. I listen every morning on my way to work. I think not listening to politics and the news so much may be helping. But this book is really coming to me at the perfect time. Boaler is a researcher at Stanford and she studies and designs math programs and approaches to teaching that help students learn math. I was privileged to spend a day in a workshop with her in Alaska and love using her work in my own class. In the book, Boaler is sharing the research on how our minds can change. They are plastic and not fixed.

I knew this already. But the research studies are fascinating and are giving me hope! Like one study about how people who just thought they were exercising enough were healthier than the people who didn’t think they were exercising enough, even though they exercised the same amount. I just really feel like the things that have been getting me down, or have honestly been a bit hurtful, I can change my mindset around them. It feels like I have control over my life in a way I haven’t felt before. Like ever! I’ve been thinking about my writing dream and how scared I am that I’m not good enough. But lately I’ve been thinking about how I can learn, and the only way to do that is to dive in, try some things, and see what works for me. I feel like I can stick to my weight loss plan, and plan to live a more active life. I actually believe I can do it. I’m not feeling the doubts I was. I don’t know if this is a manic type episode after a long time in the struggle gutter. But I feel good and I feel like I have some power over my life. My mind is Limitless. I can make it what I want!

The Craziest Dream

I woke up this morning from the craziest dream. I dreamed that I went out to dinner with my parents and aunt and uncle and as we were being seated, I looked down over the balcony and saw X, there with his wife and two other drop dead gorgeous women. Somehow, in true dream fashion that makes no sense, we ended up talking, just the two of us in the restaurant after closing, and I was able to ask him questions. I don’t remember my questions. But I remember him telling me that he knows he handled everything poorly because everyone had to see him go through this (like, it wouldn’t be so bad if no one knew what he did). He also told me he didn’t miss me. He told me all the things that were wrong with me, all the reasons I wasn’t the woman he wanted. My first impression upon waking was, maybe this was a more compassionate way of seeing his story? Then I thought, I’m still the same person not living my life. In the dream, he and his wife were active and had friends and did things with friends, while I was just a sad shell, still, like I was in our marriage.

Seriously, these were my thoughts upon waking. Not, “What a fucking asshole for making me feel this way, for saying and doing things that no kind person would ever say or do! Seriously, my first thoughts were, maybe I can see his side with compassion. I think back on all the times I did this in some way in our relationship, tried to understand his perspective. Dismissed his lack of attention or care or concern as me just over-reacting, or not understanding his side of things. What the actual fuck? That’s not the kind of woman I am at my core. How did it get like this? I felt small in the dream. I think so often he made me feel small in our marriage. My belief that I’m not really good enough is so deep seated it’s even showing up in my dreams.

As I drove to work, I noticed my thoughts had changed. I didn’t feel that churning stomach feeling that usually lingers with dreams like this. I thought, I’m not going to let him make me feel like this is my fault. I seriously think he confused me by gaslighting our relationship and now is he doing it from the relationship grave? Could they really be so much happier? Was I really the problem? How am I so fucked in the head? When I woke up, there was very much a feeling of me being the sad lonely sack left behind and him living this glam life with his beautiful new wife and their beautiful friends. But I shook that feeling pretty quickly, more quickly than in the past. I’m grateful for these small markers of healing.

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