The Kids!

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I can’t believe the baby is going to have her first birthday in a couple days! I just can’t believe how fast this year has gone by. It has been one helluva year. Fuck. I think back to where I was last year at this time. Dida was here and cooking her fabulous food. Chance was on his way here and would be arriving in a matter of hours. I remember when he arrived the feeling was so immense –I was filled with such joy to have him and his mom under my roof; all of us together, I remember commenting on how happy my house was –that it felt like a Home. I wanted it to last forever. But then Chance flipped out. He started causing trouble. He became mean. Said really nasty stuff to me. He broke up with me and my sobbing was so intense it actually broke my water. I went into labor. He went to sleep and woke up twenty minutes before the baby was born. He continued to abandon me, reject me and cause more trouble. He got me flowers on Valentine’s Day, only to yell at me a short while later. All the drama affected my relationship with Dida and she left prematurely. Then began my intense efforts to win him back. To try everything and do everything –anything– to try it all to make it work. I wrote a 20 page letter to him to which his response was cold, mean and ungrateful. I printed pictures for him and his mom. I bought gifts for them. I called. I flew up there with the baby. I talked him into giving our family a shot. Just one try. He obliged and it lasted less than a week. I was relentless and got him to give it another shot. So he did, but that again was short-lived. I kept trying. Patience. Humor. Shelving my feelings and my emotions for the “bigger picture” that I believed in. It almost worked. But ultimately he did not want me. His divorce was finalizing. He became even crueler and more resentful of me. He projected all his negative traits and actions onto me and blamed me for everything. Then, he got hit by a car while crossing the street one night and hit his head. For a short time it seemed to have knocked some sense into him. He came around and our family blossomed. We were skyping for hours every day and again in the evenings. We talked constantly and grew closer. We made big plans to see each other for the holidays, first we would fly to him for Thanksgiving, and then he would fly to us for Christmas. We’d have 5 weeks total together. I was beyond exuberant. I’d wanted him for the holidays every year, and especially the year before when he was in Colorado with his soon-to-be-ex and he was utterly miserable, yet he still stayed thereon the couch with her literally locking herself alone in her bedroom every night for those few weeks. And then, mere days before the kids and I were to fly out, he breaks up with me again. Tells me not to come. Says very nasty things to me. Yells at me. And then I’m the one who has to tell our daughter the trip is cancelled. I’m the one who has to see her eyes well up with tears while she tries so hard to be big and shoulder the huge disappointment on her tiny 3 year old shoulders. “I’m not going to see my father??” she finally weeps as the tears fall freely from both eyes.

That became the moment I knew I had to stop. I had been holding out hope and fighting so relentlessly for the dysfunctional volatile unstable and unhealthy relationship that was now the cause for my innocent daughter’s first heartbreak. Something inside me broke that day too. And something inside me also became stronger. I started to snap out of it.

It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t easy for me to give up on a Dream. But my dream was becoming my daughter’s nightmare. I was being selfish. He wanted me to let him go. So I did.

I started working out at the gym. Riding my bike more. Focusing on improving my parenting skills. And I went on a date. And I had asked him out! I really just wanted an opportunity to get to know him better. I didn’t expect anything out of it. I was a bit desperate for the distraction, to be honest. Thoughts of Chance occupied every minute of my mind and my heart ached and yearned for him in ways I had never imagined. I’d wanted to just hop a flight there and show up at his door. But I knew whatever passion and peace would manifest would be a temporary elixir. And I would get my hopes up, only to be dashed yet again, and it would come back to hurt my daughter. So I called up this guy at his work, because that’s the only place I’d ever seen him. I asked if he had a girlfriend and he seemed stunned and confused. He said no, not understanding what this had to do with anything I might need from his place of work. I think I started to stammer at this point. Then it clicked for him. He suddenly realized I was asking him out. “I just want an opportunity to get to know you better,” I said genuinely. I thought maybe we’d become friends or hangout buddies. The social distraction would be good for me.

One date turned into two. And then 3. And then more. And after awhile we became romantically involved. We’d both been through some bad EXperiences and we each had kid(s) so it was important to both of us that we put all our cards on the table right away. Something between us just works. I kept waiting for a fight. For the shoe to drop, so to speak. I was so conditioned and sensitized to things going really well with Chance, only to have him subconsciously –or purposely, sabotage it. But the shoe never dropped. We never fought. We just work. He’s an amazing dad. He’s an amazing partner. He’s an amazing man. Family comes first for him. Then again, he is an Italian from Long Island! Family is everything! We have become quite serious. We’ve met each other’s family. Everyone loves everyone. Every healthy and amazing thing about our relationship only highlights how unhealthy and toxic my relationship was with Chance. I had been willing to settle and sacrifice being treated with common decency and common respect for a dream.

So, yeah. I’ve been reflecting a lot on everything that’s happened this past year. It’s been a crazy year. In a few days we’ll be celebrating my youngest daughter’s first birthday and I’m so blessed and grateful for these beautiful children Chance gave me.

Closure.

 

Real Time…

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I’ve needed someone here for a long time to help me parent. My childhood was spent with a mom who would verbally assault me while emphasizing with her fists. The beatings would go on for hours until she finally allowed me to go to bed around midnight. Then, around 1 or 2am she would wake me up, crying, and apologizing to me and I wouldn’t be allowed to go back to bed until I’d forgiven her. But I had to really really forgive her and say it with honest and genuine intonation, otherwise it wasn’t sincere and she would either get mad or continue on until I’d said it correctly. Anyway, my point being is that I struggle every day and work very hard not to repeat the abuse I suffered as a kid. I know I’m a bit hard on my daughter, and I’m very patient until I’m not…and then I’m just not patient at all. I’d come to rely on calling Chance afterwards and he would offer as much emotional parental support and advice as he could. Often it would help. Often it would be enough. Because we don’t miss what we never had.

I’d never had someone here in real time to step in and allow me a time out. I’ve never had parental emotional support jump in before I even knew that I was getting carried away. I’ve never had someone here, in the moment, saying, “Check yourself honey, calm down, she’s only 3, these things happen; they’re normal, it’s ok.”

And as awesome as it is to have someone here to step in, it also makes me feel publicly embarrassed, ashamed and like a horrible mother. I feel bad about myself. I feel bad about my mothering. And, of course, it dredges up shit from my past.

James stepped in and caught some of the bitchiness –but he told me to calm down and said something funny that made me smile which brought me out of the downward spiral. Can’t for the life of me remember what he said because I was in an emotional blackout stage where I was just being hard, irritated, frustrated, and bitchy at my toddler because she’d stormed into the room right as I was putting the baby to bed. So it was an immediate NO KINDLE GET TO BED RIGHT NOW GO BRUSH YOUR TEETH YOU’RE NOT DOING IT RIGHT COME HERE I NEED TO DO IT FOR YOU etc…. and then James steps up and deescalates the situation. James said it was overkill –I’d been bitching at her for 10 minutes already. I told him about my childhood and how my mom used to lay into me all night long. So I felt like I did good –I looked at tonight like it was a win, because in my mind; through my eyes, ten minutes of bitching is a fucking godsend miracle over what my mother used to do to me. But the challenge is that my punishment didn’t fit her crime and he pointed that out. Maybe I’ve gotten really good…but I could be better. And that made me feel like shit. It made me feel something like worthless and that no matter how hard I try I will never be a normal parent or parent in a healthy way.

But he’s here. And he’s helping me to become a better parent. I’m going to feel bruised and banged up along the way, especially when he teases me for being The Warden or calling me The Kracken, but ultimately, hopefully, I’ll get as close as I possibly can to being the best possible parent I can be. It’s good, really good, to have someone here helping me when I need it.

 

A First Fight…

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I knew the day would come. I’m not completely delusional. After months of the new relationship honeymoon bliss, we had our first fight. James had quit smoking cigarettes in order for me to start dating him. I told him it was a non-negotiable. He had to quit. So he did. I was in awe and shocked. He did great. Then a month or two later I casually mentioned that I love the occasional cigar. So he bought us a cigar. And then another. And another. I stopped joining him. He continued to smoke them outside without me. And more frequently. It got to the point where I said, “James, you’re smoking cigars like they are cigarettes. I think you need to check yourself.”

So he did. We made some ground rules. No cigar smoking during the week. And no smoking cigars while my daughters were in bed for the night.

That very first Monday he blew both the ground rules and acted all cocky and arrogant about it. So I told him nicely it was a big problem and that he needed to leave. He got pissed off, probably a cocktail of embarrassment, being insulted and shock. (Not my problem, though)

It escalated when he left not only without giving me a hug or kiss goodbye, but he also added a snarky comment on his way out about giving me back my key!! This is where I lost my shit. I ran to the door and flung it open and yelled at him not to threaten something like that unless he planned to follow through!

A stupid fight about smoking had escalated into something that now dangerously affected our relationship.

We resolved it by the next evening. He told me that he was unable to be a casual/weekend cigar smoker and he just needed to quit nicotine completely. I hugged him. He also has quit his daily Red Bull addiction, too. He was drinking like 5+ cans of Red Bull a day. He said the energy he gets from it makes him want to smoke, so he just quit that in order to “be a friend to himself” as I like to say.

 

 

James.

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Dear James,

If I could convey to you how grateful I am that you’ve come into my life when I needed you the most, I’d probably be emailing you this letter instead of posting it to my blog. If I could explain the depths and levels of humiliation and searing pain I went through with Chance –I worry if you’d still respect me. Would you be able to understand how I could give my heart to someone who was not only so undeserving, but also so blatantly cruel to me? You see me as a strong confident woman, not knowing how many nights I spent sobbing real tears on the floors of my bathroom, bedroom, living room, in my car, randomly at restaurants, etc. Would you see me as a pathetic fool? How could I allow myself to be treated this way? You see me as an intelligent person, but if you knew how I let him hurt me and abuse me would you see me as a stupid loser?

Would you wonder if I could ever love again; and so deeply, and would you resent me giving my heart to someone so undeserving? Would you resent me for my determination not to give up or applaud me for my perseverance?

I take the responsibility for the suffering I went through, yes Chance did put me through levels of emotional Hell, but I allowed it to happen. He was the cancer I refused to get chemo for. He was the poison I refused to take the antidote for.

James, tonight I told you, “I don’t know how long we will have together, but however long that is, you are the one I want to be with through life.”

I’ve had enough relationships that I’ve genuinely thought were The One to know if things are real or not. For one reason or another, it just never worked with them. As much as I tried to make them fit into The One landscape of my life, it just never materialized. Some came close. True. And I loved them genuinely. But ultimately it didn’t work out. I would get depressed. I would get angry. I would get sad. I would think they were my One True Love, but I wouldn’t –or couldn’t at the time–see that things were unraveling because they weren’t truly The One. I think there were a couple close ones. And then there’s my culpability in it, too. As experienced as I am in life, I still wasn’t skilled in finding a good partner for myself. I picked the wrong guys to give my heart to, and I worry that you might think you’re only getting the sloppy leftovers of my heart.

I was worried about that, too.

But you’ve made me realize that my heart is capable of building new architecture to expand over the dead zones. The foundation was strong enough to handle the additions. I love you even more because you allowed me to love again when I thought I never would. You allowed me to fall in love again when the thought had previously been ludicrous to me.

I had resigned myself to being devoted to someone who was completely undeserving of my love. It was a miserable place to be in. I was in love with a man who didn’t want me. And slowly that’s how I began to see myself.

They say, “You don’t miss what you never had.” For me, it’s true. I never had a husband. I never had a daddy for my girls. It’s true, my ex-fiance Nick was the closest thing I got to experience that, but it was always me taking care of him since he was a drug addict and completely irresponsible with his money. He was a walking liability wrapped up in drama and coated in lies. He was good with my daughter, I’ll give him that. It’s part of the reason I kept him around when I should have walked away sooner. I wanted to give my daughter a daddy. But he couldn’t take care of himself, let alone me and a kid(s). He was constantly broke and I once blurted out that if I was ever in an accident and at the hospital, he wouldn’t have the gas money to get to the hospital. He was borrowing money from me, a single mom with no earned income. As much as I loved him, and as much as I wanted the fantasy to play out, he just wasn’t the one. As my grandmother said, “It’s a blessing in disguise.”

What I have come to eventually understand is that I love you more, and I appreciate you more, because of these past mirages. I’ve learned exactly the type of man I need, what’s negotiable and what are non-negotiables. I’ve learned that it’s more important for me to have a loving partner who truly cares about me in a healthy relationship and who is physically here to be a daddy than a one-sided Dream in which I’m the only one believing in and fighting to make work.

James, I love you more than you can ever know. We just work. And it’s so nice. So truly sweetly nice with you. For however long we have together I will give you my life and my heart and you will get the best of both.

 

 

Better Than Ever.

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My boyfriend is incredible. Our relationship is amazing. With each day that passes I realize how dysfunctional and toxic my relationship was with Chance. At this point Chance is more concerned with being only a paycheck father and telling me he wants me to mail back his camera at my expense. He’s still hanging on to all that old delusional archaic irrelevant anger from fifteen years ago. It feels cathartic for me right now. Immense catharsis. So happy that is no longer my life. His outbursts, irrational tantrums and using me as an emotional punching bag are not my problem anymore! After months of not talking I had been hoping for a platonic friendliness. A sort of truce. However, when we texted the other day he could barely go 3 lines before the irritation and vented anger towards me started all up again. He’s a miserable person and I’m thrilled not to be wrapped up in that drama anymore. He’s only interested in holding onto his negativity and anger, and isolating himself from us. So be it. It allows my boyfriend and I to build and focus on growing our life together without the drama of Chance. I’ve said it frequently to my boyfriend but it’s worth repeating a thousand times, I’m so grateful to have him in my life and our relationship illuminates what a glaring cancerous tumor the relationship Chance and I had.

The baby turns 1 in less than a month!! Wow! We’re having just family, and between our two families there are 25 people. I’m unsure where to have the party. I’d love to host it at my place but I’m doubtful I can host that many people here. The next best place would be a pizza place.

The boyfriend and I are very serious. We’ve both had bad EXperiences. His ex was so bad that she had custody taken away from her. Do you know how hard that is in the state of Florida, or anywhere for that matter? She was that bad. SO he’s been a single dad for awhile. He’s got a 13 year old son. He’s an incredible daddy. He complements me so well, but especially in the parenting arena. I become a better mom because of him. He’s steady. He’s consistent. He’s fun. He’s playful. He’s amazing in bed. He’s reliable. He’s responsible. He does the cooking and he’s incredible at cheffing it up. He helps out around the house without any prompting or asking. He enjoys taking care of me. He wants me. He is truly and genuinely a good person. He’s a good man. He has the kindest eyes I’ve ever seen, and the most beautiful blue color, too. He’s funny and adds levity to situations that I would normally not do well in, especially when I’m quick to get angry at something my toddler did. He’s my rock. My best friend and partner. And the best part is he feels the same about me. ¬†We’ve talked about eloping. Neither of us wants to get legally married as we’ve both been burned before.

No one has ever made me laugh so hard and for so long, and so consistently, ever before in my life. We get along so well! Something between us just works in a way that never did with anyone else. I once asked someone how they knew they met The One. They said, “All relationships take work and it’s not always fun, and sometimes you want to kill that person, but it’s easy in a way that it never was with anyone else.”

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Who Will Come Find Me?

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I’ve had this repeated image flash in my mind over the decades. It lasts momentarily. It feels like a memory from someone else almost.

I’m alone. I’m inside a gorgeous living room with tall ceilings. Everything is white. It’s completely unfurnished. It is immaculate. There is bright sunshine streaming in through the window. I feel like I am waiting for someone.

Today I wondered if this was the place I’d go to when I’m dead. Who was I waiting for? Who would show up? Would it be the same person?

Who would search for me?

Another Dream.

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Several weeks ago?? Possibly a month? I had a dream that my boyfriend and I were in the living room when the baby took her first steps. It came true this afternoon. I was so elated about her first steps and then I remembered the dream. Her first steps…such a big moment for a parent!

But then my energy dipped and my boyfriend, who is so tuned into me, asked me immediately what was going on. I told him that Chance would have been here today–this is the time frame during what would have been his 3 week visit. And he missed it. He’s missing everything. He doesn’t want it. It all kind of hit me all over again in that instant. And then I looked up into my boyfriend’s beautiful light blue eyes and I told him how happy and grateful I was that he was here with me right now to witness it and be a part of it. Otherwise I would have been alone. Like all the other times I’d been alone during their milestones without anyone to share in it with and be a part of it. And I was grateful he was here because otherwise I would have been alone again, experiencing something momentous and beautiful without anyone to rejoice with me –without anyone to see the proud love in my eyes and fall more deeply in love with me because of the joy reflected in my gaze.

“I love the way you look when you talk about the baby.” –It was something my boyfriend said to me the other day.

I never thought I would fall in love again. I never thought I’d want to have kids with anyone but Chance. But this boyfriend has changed all that for me. He has breathed new life into me and my old heart. What was initially a safe harbor for me to be nurtured and healed has now become the ship.

And then, tonight after dinner after he left, my preschooler blurts out that she misses Chance and wishes he was here right now.