Monday, December 31, 2012

A Collision of Selves

A little over a week ago, I was at a team huddle meeting at work.  My boss was telling a story about the talent show/variety show at a local medical college for it's first graduating class.  It is not so much of the talent show from elementary school, as most people who were performing were quite talented in their performing arts.  It serves as a celebration beyond the sciences before the students have Match Day to find out their assignments for residency.  My boss was briefly cluing people into the Match Day process, where the medical students go on interviews for residency and then the students and the hospital programs rank their preferences.  All of this information is submitted into a computer program for the entire country and it does its computing and matches most all of the students to a program.  Then on Match Day, each student's name is called and they are given an envelope to open and find out where they will go for residency.  Match Day is in late March, and most students have about six weeks to finish classes and pack up and move for the next step.  The talent show/variety show is an opportunity to take pause and celebrate before the mayhem begins and everyone goes their separate ways.

My boss was very impressed and touched by the talent show/variety show experience.  As he was describing it, I found myself swept away by an emotional wave that took me back to a place I did not anticipating revisiting.  My eyes started to get teary and I had to look away and not make eye contact with anyone in the room.  All with that brief summary of Match Day, it took me back to the time when I was with A~ and going through that process.  It felt like my past life was flashing in snippets before me, with the excitement, nervousness and wonder about what was going to be the next chapter in our lives together.  I remember when he came home after the first round of interviews.  He was bounding with a brightness of fantastic possibility that we did not realize was before us.  Our initial expectation was that he was going to probably rank Pittsburgh or Cleveland as top choices.  But when he came home and told me about some of the other programs and what they had to offer, I felt it was important to be open to those other choices.  So, I went with him for other interviews and second looks to check out other cities and take it all into consideration.  It was a beautiful time when A~ and I really worked as a team and he included me in his career choices because it was going to impact our life together.  We were giddy with the new found adventure before us, and we were scared to let our parents down if we ended up in another city.  We tried to buffer the news, but we were also cautious about sharing too much because we did not want them to try to convince us otherwise.  This had to be our decision.  It was a chance to see how we could make it as a couple, and it would push us to grow in ways we could not imagine.

And so I sat there with all of these warm, bubbling memories of a life past, a life now gone.  As quickly as these moments surfaced, along came the crashing flood of sadness and grief.  I thought back to my old self, feeling sad for her not knowing what was to come.  How brave and trusting she was in her relationship with A~ and feeling like they were on the edge of something incredible.  All of the sacrifice, the dreaming and the determination of really making it together with him...gone, all very gone.  All of that work and planning and hope...all just so far away gone. 

Was it all for nothing?  Is it now meaningless?  What was the point?

And there I sat, with my job... in a hospital... in Florida... in a place that my old self would have never imagined, especially not without him by my side.  For a moment, I felt outside of my own body and I just felt so sad.

How long had it been?

Ten years.

Ten years ago this holiday season, I was out on the road traveling with him squeezing in interviews and second look visits while popping in to see our family for the holidays.

My life feels like it could be nothing further than what my old self would have or could have imagined.  And now where am I?  How was it that I came to work at a hospital?  Is it weird or strange that my life has taken this path?

What will happen in the next ten years?  How much will change?  How much will I change?  Will I be happy?  Or will I be lost and waiting?

The emotional swells have been reverberating within me, as I try to find a place of balance, strength and acceptance of my current reality.  I know I am in a place of transition once again.  I just need to be patient.  It is okay to grieve what was lost, honor it and put it down again.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Broken Foot

Meh...

So, it seems this was a work in progress, maybe.  I enjoy running.  It is one of my favorite ways to release stress because I usually get to be physically active and be outside while doing it.  Unfortunately, I started having pain in my foot around the end of April, beginning of May.  I just wanted to make it through the Cleveland Half-Marathon. 

Cleveland is my hometown and to have the opportunity to run in this race meant a lot.  I remember sometime in middle school and hearing about the race and thinking what fun it would be to run in the city.  When I found out how long the race was, I wasn't sure if that could be something I could do.  In grade school, I was often the smallest and slowest runner in my class.  If I was playing tag at recess, it was only a matter of time before I was "it."  That usually meant that I was "it" for the remainder of the time because I couldn't catch anyone.  After a while, others began to catch onto this pattern and found that it really wasn't fun to have me hopelessly chasing them around the playground.  So then, mercilessly, someone would eventually volunteer to be "it" so that the kids could resume running at full speed and I could try to catch my breath...praying that someone would not say the chant (I cannot remember) that makes it so that everyone has to leave base.

Needless to say, it wasn't until I was an adult that I discovered the joys of running.  I may not be fast, but I do enjoy it.  So, I think I weakened my foot and tried to give it a rest over the summer.  When I finally decided to go see my doctor about it, I got back into my car and my phone rang with the job offer for Orlando.  I had the x-rays done in Pittsburgh and they did not show anything.  During my moving into my new apartment, I tripped on a step and my foot just did not feel the same.  I think that was when it was officially pushed over the edge.  I had x-rays done and now the break was clearly visible.

Since September I have had a series of steps in trying to heal my foot.  I started with an air cast and a knee scooter.  The lady who completed the paperwork for me to rent the scooter at the store said something about, "Now that you are disabled..."  That did not go over well.  Me, disabled?  No.  I decided to make the most of it by installing a bicycle bell on it so at least I could bring some kind of humor to the situation.  With the hospital being so new, I was quickly recognized as the girl on the scooter.  At first, people thought it was a toy and part of my job as a Child Life Specialist.  "Oh, you Child Life Specialists have all the fun toys!  You are so fun...oh, wait.  What's that on your foot?  Oh, your foot's broken.  Sorry!"  I will say the scooter was better than crutches.  I could pick up some real speed on the straight aways.  Some people teased that I would get a speeding ticket.  Others would say that I would miss the scooter because I would be so much slower.  Not so much.  As much time as I could save with going fast in a hallway here and there, I spent more time backing up and going back and forth to maneuver in and out of doorways and tight spaces.  A time or two I got a little jammed and stuck trying to get out of the elevator that I felt like Austin Powers in the golf cart in the first movie.

Over time, I realized I was in a safe bubble at work and people were just used to it.  Granted it made for a lot of extra conversation and inquires of how I was healing.  But, it was well intended and I preferred to think of it as people cheering for me, even if it was somewhat tiresome having the same conversations about ten times per day.  I usually had my canned answers, but tried to say it with a smile.  Then it started happening at the Publix.  The people who worked at the store began to recognize me and would strike up conversations with me about my progress and giving me well wishes.  It was slightly invasive and I really didn't want to be drawing extra attention.  Again, I took it as more people sending me good vibes for healing.  Then, I went to the mall and there were a lot of people who openly stared at me.  It made me feel uncomfortable.  I suddenly appreciated my safe bubbles of work and the Publix.

I was also irked when people would ask me if I had a handicapped parking pass.  What?  No.  I am not disabled...even if technically temporarily...I did not identify myself that way.  It ticked me off when people would say that I should take full advantage of my situation with the parking thing or milking it for some other favor out of pity.  NO!  That was one reason why when there was one guy that I dated for a bit that I appreciated that he did not say those kind of things.  He joked with me as was my way of coping, but he did not treat me any differently.  And he was good at listening when I could be honest about my frustrations with it.  (More on him in another post.)

After about a month, I started to transition off of the scooter and try walking more with the air cast.  Sometimes it was strange and somewhat comforting when some people didn't even realize that I didn't have the scooter anymore because it had just become no big deal.  The transition was giving me some hope.  But, I still felt awkward and it was starting to wear on me.  I found myself not wanting to go out in public for longer stretches where I might need the scooter.  I was just so done with it and my mood was dark.  I was getting into a funk.  Being restricted in not being able to really exercise was not helping and starting to take its emotional toll.

Last week I was down graded to a "walking shoe," which looks like a sandal version of the walking cast.  At least now I can swim laps in the pool, as long as I don't push off the wall.  I went for a swim after an unseasonable cool spell.  It felt great and really helped my mood.  I look forward to doing more of it, as long as the weather cooperates.  Fortunately, the pool for laps in my neighborhood is heated.

Supposedly, I'm moving in the right direction.  As long as I can handle the progression to regular shoes and walking, I *might* get to try running in February.  But, what totally stinks is that after all of this, the pain could come back to my foot and all of this could be for nothing.  That is what I fear the most.

And as much as I am trying to stay positive, it is wearing on me.  I miss wearing matching socks and shoes.  I miss wearing my cute shoes.  I haven't even been able to wear my Florida shoes yet!  With the holidays coming and the New Year, I feel like I can't really get excited about dressing up all cute.  I don't feeling like wearing a cute dress and then this aweful velcro sandal.  Maybe I'll head to the beach for New Years.  It's a good place for a flip flop.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Text

RJ sent me a text last weekend.  He congratulated me with the Browns beating the Steelers.  Then, he said that he hoped I was doing well in Orlando.

I don't think his text is fair.  Sure, he may have been reaching out to let me know he was thinking about me.  Good for well wishes.  But, it hurts, even if confirming that I had some significance in his life.  Just let me be.

I didn't respond to the text.

Instead, I decided to write him a letter through email this weekend.  I took it as an opening for me to kind of respond to the note he had written in his card over the summer, the last of the processed thoughts that I had upon settling in Orlando and when the numbness wore off.  I thought about hand writing the note, but I wanted to include some links to a song...music speaks to him.  That, and I just didn't feel like giving him any more of myself than I needed...my handwriting, my touch on the page.

I'm not going to post the letter, as some of it is more personal than I care to share in my blog.  Also, some of it touches on reflections I have already said.  My letter was my last attempt to say whatever was left unsaid that I wished I had been braver and more aware to say in the moment when I left Pittsburgh.

However, the excerpt below touches on an important conversation I had with my aunt.  And I want to remember her words.

Shortly after moving to Orlando, I had an interesting conversation with one of my aunts. We were just talking about relationships in general and some of her words resonated with me. When couples seem to come to that place of having to make life choices, it seems sometimes it may be between the relationship or career. She said neither is right or wrong, they just are. They will take you on different paths of happiness and fulfillment. 

There were times I thought that maybe RJ ended the relationship with me because he was afraid or unable to be trusting in us for things to work for the long-term.  Or, it could be what he said in that there was something missing for him.  It doesn't matter because it is done and over.

I am moving forward and letting go more each day.  The holidays make it a bit tricky sometimes.  And his text does not help, pulling me back.  If he contacts me again, I may just have to say no more.  I think I am at a place where I am okay with that, which is the important part.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Turkey Day Thoughts

While it is still Thanksgiving weekend, I want to remember to quickly get down some thoughts while they are fresh in my mind.  So much has been happening in such a short amount of time that I am not getting to all of the posts that I have floating along in my head.
  • I am thankful for my new job and I am loving it!  Even with not being a morning person, I find myself happy and looking forward to the day when I get up around 5:15 am.  My spirits are usually high as I jam along with my early commute watching the sun start to come up.
  • I am thankful for family and friends who love me.  Emails, texts and phone calls carry with me as I often wonder how everyone is doing.  My thoughts and prayers are with you all for health, peace and happiness.
  • I am thankful for the new friends that I am making in Orlando.  I am starting to make connections here and it is helping me to settle into my new home.  Just want to keep going with the exploring and adventures that come my way.
  • I am thankful for this new chapter in my life.  Moving to Orlando has given me a fresh start and a new perspective.  I feel more open and free than I have in a long time.  I am hopeful for what is on the horizon as I try to remember to take it one day at a time and live in the present.
  • I am thankful for healing space.  It takes a lot of strength to let go and I imagine myself more and more on the side of freedom.  My past will always be part of who I am, but there is more focus on the present in who I am now.
  • I am thankful for my family in Florida and having the opportunity to spend my first Thanksgiving in Orlando with them.  Of course I missed my parents, brother, sister and cousins this year.  But this holiday was I think the first that my heart did not hurt for a longing of a life I so desire to have.  I needed that.  Even with other holidays being better since my divorce, there has always been that little stab of emotional pain that crept into my heart.  A friend of mine suggested that I spend a holiday doing something totally different.  Part of me wished I took her up on that offer a few years ago, but I think I got to experience some of that relief this holiday.  There are times I feel sad with lost dreams, not being able to provide my parents with grandchildren, and a longing to share a life with a love.  Thank you to my cousins for being so welcoming.  It was a lovely day.  And it was funny because my cousin's mother-in-law makes homemade stuffing very similar to my mom's.  So in some ways, my Cleveland Thanksgiving was not too far off from the Thanksgiving table in Florida.  My mom's stuffing is better.  But, this was a good close second.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Clues of Moving On

To help me validate the closure and end space between me and my most recent significant past relationship:
  • Find myself sleeping in the middle of my bed.
  • Feeling less angry and frustrated with it ending.  Moving towards acceptance.
  • Having no interest in lurking on his fb page.
  • Fewer instances of seeing things that remind me of him.  (Moving certainly helped.  But surprisingly, initially there was more around than I thought that reminded me of him.)
  • Wanting to purge and clean out my closet.  I kind of started that before the move, but still find myself doing that a bit more.  It's kind of like shedding an old skin or old self.
  • Reflecting on what I learned from the relationship.  Appreciating what was good about it and what I can apply going forward.
  • Find myself shopping and eyeing up cute dresses and tops with thoughts of, "That would be cute for a date."  I'm kind of in a reinventing phase.
  • Going on dates.  :)
  • Adding more music to my current collection.  Always looking for good music, but it tends to increase when I'm looking for some good pick me ups to get pumped about the next adventure.
  • Looking to do something new with my hair.  I trimmed my bangs a little different and I have been trying to grow it out a little more.  I'm thinking the new bangs go better with the length that I would like to grow it.
  • Noticing men and picking up more on the vibe when there might be a little something there worth investigating.
  • Going on a date and not comparing him to what I had with RJ.
  • Feeling more free and excited to explore my new home and people around me.
  • Being fully in the moment with a man and noticing and enjoying what is special about him.
  • Seeking connection, engagement and satisfaction in my work, play and daily activities.
  • Allowing myself to dream, considering new possibilities and itching to travel.
  • Generally feeling happier and at peace within myself.
Yay, me!  Stay positive, build confidence and feel the strength within myself.  Let my true self shine and see what comes my way.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Some Books Are Better on the Shelf


So, my sister sent me this link to Darwin Deez's Bad Day a bit ago when I was in the throws in feeling angry about my most recent relationship ending.  While I am sometimes uncomfortable with being angry with a person who has left me in a relationship, it still surprises me how much others can feel angry for me.  It kind of comes as a relief in being angry myself.  It's normal.  It's okay.

So the song starts with, "I hope that the last page of your 800-page novel is missing."

No, sometimes actually finishing a book can be downright disappointing, too.

The book that had been on my shelf for several years that I bought as a vacation beach read is called Holy Cow by Sarah Macdonald.  It is an autobiography of sorts where a woman in her thirties from Australia revisits India for a gamble on love and takes a spiritual journey.  This helps her to make sense of the world, to figure out what is truly important and to learn more about herself.

It caught my eye while walking around the book store.  Funny thing is that I started reading it on a beach vacation the summer before A~ and I were just starting to try to conceive a baby.  The first chapter or so was good, but I was distracted with wanting to read Harry Potter, too.  Harry Potter won.

The vacation ended and the book returned to my shelf.  There it sat, replaced with reading material about infertility, mending relationships and soon grad school required reading.  I wanted to read it.  But after the fallout of my divorce, I hesitated because it reminded me of the last happy vacation I had with him.

Next I began my relationship with RJ, and I didn't feel like tainting my happy thoughts with sad thoughts of reminders of my past relationship.  I was trying to move forward.  Plus, I was still busy with grad school readings.

Then when RJ ended the relationship and grad school was done, I felt that I had no more excuses.  I wanted to read the book to be done with it.  Maybe it would surprise me or maybe I could justify getting rid of it because giving away a book I purchased and hadn't read seemed like such a waste.  It became my book to read on the bus going to and from my summer internship job.  Perfect!

As I read the book, it was interesting to read how the main character had to learn how to let go of so much.  She faced herself and her broken preconceived notions about life.  She embraced life as it was and found the good in people.  She changed her perception.  The people and places had not changed, but she changed the lens that she viewed them.  She found a certain peace, acceptance and happiness.  It also touched on the importance of balance in a relationship and not to lose oneself--having personal grounding and independence while flexibly creating a life together with someone else.

Sounds good right?

(Spoiler Alert)

As I was reading the second to the last paragraph of the book, the author tidies up by writing about what she has learned from each religious group she meaningfully encountered in India.  She reflects on what she learned before returning home.  Good, strong woman stuff.

Then, the very last paragraph washes it all away.

Basically, the author goes onto say that all of that stuff really doesn't matter because she is with child that she and her husband conceived before leaving India (mean while most of the story is spent with the couple spending nearly all of their time apart because of his job assignment).  The baby is special because it will remind her of the sacrifices and growth during her two years of life in India, but that having a baby is where the real meaning in life can be found. 

So, diluted enlightenment and I'm better than you because I can get knocked up by my husband.

I closed the book with disappointment.  Really?  The last paragraph did not seem relevant to the story.  They were never trying to have a kid.  What happened to the personal grounding and finding happiness and contentment within yourself?  What happened to realizing that a relationship is fragile and when one person's career dominates the relationship, it can hurt it when it is at the expense of that relationship?  What happened to two people who realize that their life together is more important than if they have career success without that special person to share it?  Fine that the baby will remind you of your time in India and that the conception was special.  But, to imply that the spiritual journey didn't really matter because being a mother supersedes it?  Really?

Then, I think back to all of the times that I started reading the book or picked it up and thought about reading it.  It would have been far worse timing.  It may have been chucked into the ocean.

This is not helping me to be okay with being in the temporary* space of not having a baby at the moment.

(*Working on being happy and while being open to find a man first, while holding onto hope for possibility.)

Feel free to make book recommendations.  I could use them.  I live by a pool.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Space Between 35 and 42

Lately...I've been thinking about what it means to be turning 35 and searching for some kind of grounding in where I am in life, or rather trying to make a space to be comfortable in accepting and celebrating this new chapter in my life. 

I find it difficult to find the balance of being happy with being a single, childless woman with a challenging, fulfilling career path and not becoming consumed with wanting to be a mother that I lose sight of the wonderful I have in my life in the present.  I do not want to have those thoughts of hoped motherhood looming in my mind that I miss out on capturing and living in the moment now.

To lay this out now--I want to be in a committed, loving relationship, which I see as being married, to a man whom I want to spend the rest of my life.  And a child is a blessing and an experience that I want and hope to share with someone together.  A baby is not a requirement for happiness or satisfaction in that hoped life.  I am looking for someone who is open to the possibility and desire to have children.  I feel confident that I will find that man--someday sooner rather than later, I hope.  Part of my fear is that I will not find him before the window closes...before my physical body says no more, even if my heart still says yes.

What's with 42?  Well, that seems to be the number that keeps popping up in my mind of when I think the window may close for me.  It used to be 38, but I've expanded it.  It could be longer and could change, I don't know.  I would hope that my kid would graduate high school before I reached retirement age.  That could push it to 46.  But, 46 seems so old to be pregnant for the first time.  Forty-two seems to hedge on the possibility that there could still be some good eggs in there and that I could physically handle it, maybe.  Forty-two seems more friendly to defy the odds in some weird way.  I don't know.  Totally know it is not a rational thought process, but there it is--the current barometer on my inner timeline.

And please do not throw out the instant band-aid, "You can always adopt!"  I started down that road once before and I know it is not that simple.  I've already had a touch of that feeling like a pound puppy and feeling judged by others to decide if I'm good enough to be a mother.  I don't even want to get into the manipulation of some that make you feel guilty that you question your level of comfort in how much you are willing to take on in caring for a child that may be atypical in health or development, among other factors.  It is not just a decision about you, there is also a great deal of thought of how it may impact the child.  It is not an easy process and it becomes more complicated the older that you get because young parents are so desired.  It is not to say that it doesn't happen; it thankfully and rightfully does.  I may be open to adoption in the future, but there are so many factors that go into that decision process.  Again, it needs to be inclusive of what is best for me and my hoped partner.

So yes, I do feel there is plenty of time to meet and connect with the man who I dream of sharing a life.  There is a larger and more generous timeline for that to happen.  What is not so forgiving is the time that my body has left to have a baby of my own--my own flesh and blood--my eyes, my hair or my freckles--my love of books, my playful spirit or my feeling at home with nature, art and football.  And all of those kinds of things found in my partner, but mushed in combination with me into one little being.

Part of me feels that if I become too comfortable and caught up in this single life that I may accidentally push away the chance of being a mother.  It's like if I "forget" about it, it may not happen.  Will the universe forget that dream deep within me?  If by living in the moment and not constantly hoping for a child, will the higher power think that having a child is no longer important to me?

Part of me worries that if I keep worrying about it not happening, that it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy and will not happen.  I am afraid of the disappointment that may not come.  I want to be hopeful and believe.  But, what if I am setting myself up for more heartache if it doesn't happen?

I feel caught between quietly hoping, but not hoping too much or not enough, and keeping the fears at bay of it not happening, or worse hoping and believing and it not happening and then being crushed.  I know this is the worst constructed sentence ever.  But, I don't know how else to write all of what I am feeling at the same time.  My thoughts and feelings on motherhood for myself all are a jumbled blob, just like that sentence.  My chest feels tight and the tears silently roll down my cheeks wrapping my brain around all of my thoughts and feelings.

And somehow I have to release the fears, find the courage to believe and get back to living my life as it is in the present--not just getting by, but living a full, happy and content life now.  I know that responsibility resides in me; it is just remembering to do it.  Perhaps focusing on being thankful for what I do have will help me to seize the most that life has to offer me.

As a good friend said to me a few years ago...when one door closes, another one opens.  Maybe all of what I have been through is to make room for something more than I could ever imagine.  After A~, I felt I found that with RJ, but it did not last.  So, I hold onto hope that there is something even better and that my time will not run out.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Today WAS Better

I know my last post was down right depressing.  It was raw and felt so good once I hit publish.  Sometimes I think the anticipation of something can be almost worse than the actual thing.  I had been trying so hard not to let myself get so upset, to not go near what I was really thinking and to try to be brave.  Sometimes I am just so tired of feeling all of those feelings or knowing that they are just waiting to spill over.

But, today was a better day.  I had a presentation to give this afternoon at work (my very first!), so I think that helped to focus my mind elsewhere and keep me distracted.  And when I was done, it felt really good.  I was proud of myself.  After I thanked the group for participating and sharing their stories, they sang happy birthday to me.

It was a good day because I got to enjoy the extra pumpkin chip cookies that I made for my presentation.  Yesterday, a new friend made me birthday dinner.  I was surrounded with love from family and friends with birthday wishes with cards, texts, facebook messages and phone calls.  My mom sent me a birthday present in the mail with my usual and favorite birthday gift--a new fall sweater (a light one since I am in Florida now).  I am blessed to have so many people who care about me and want good things for me in my life.  And my heart is with them, too, wanting nothing but the very best for them.

I know this post is cheesy.  But sometimes it is important to recognize the good--especially when you are more ready to embrace it again.  Hopefully, each day gets better.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Unhappy Birthday

Turning 34 was really difficult for me.  Turning 35 this year is even harder.  This is not where I thought my life would be.  Yes, I know it is better to be thankful for what you do have in your life and to focus on the blessings and the positives.  But I am tired of being strong and I just want to sulk in my misery for a bit.  Kind of need to hit that bottom (again) and try to get it out of my system before coming up again.  Sometimes I just need to cry.  If I had my way, I'd just stay in bed all day tomorrow and just wait it out to end.  I just don't feel like being around anyone.

It was hard enough being married and turning 30 and not having had a child.  Now I am 35, divorced, single and in no place to be entering a new relationship--and nowhere near considering having a child because if I'm going to have a child, I want that to be a shared experience with someone I love.  I'm just such a mess.  While I do feel like I am making more headway towards finding closure with the end of my relationship with RJ and forgiveness with A~, I just feel so lost in the loss of my dreams.  My heart aches and hurts so much, to have a desire to give so much love and to have no direction to give it.

Turning 35 feels like the window is not far off from closing.  I know there is still time and I am trying really hard not to hang all of my happiness on a relationship or a child.  But today, it is really hard.  So, I am just going to give myself permission to feel sad and cry every tear that I need today.  Hopefully, tomorrow will be better.

I am trying really hard to hang onto hope that I will find a man to share love and a life together.  My next step is to build up the courage, faith and trust to believe that it will happen.  As much as it almost hurts to breathe right now and that I'm drowning in my own sorrow, I will come to the surface--hopefully sooner rather than later.  What gives me hope is knowing several women in my life who have found love later in life and have received many bountiful blessings.  Please, God, let my turn come.

Monday, August 27, 2012

I Have to Let Go

Ugh, I have been ruminating since my last encounter with RJ and the note in the card he gave to me. He told me to wait to read it, probably so that he wouldn't have to deal with whatever fallout of emotions that may have come with it. I still don't know what to make of the time we spent in the coffee shop just before I drove out of town. I am sad and angry and relieved and disappointed.

A friend came to visit me the evening before I left Pittsburgh to give me a gift and note. It was very sweet, but what meant more to me was that she was checking in on how I was feeling. Her visit was so well timed. I just came home from dinner with another dear friend and my emotions were running high and brimming at the surface. I didn't know what to do with them. She asked me how I was feeling, and she was just so supportive and sweet. I told her how I was both excited and scared, thankful for the opportunity that was ahead and knowing that I will miss my friends in Pittsburgh.

My friend asked me if I had seen RJ. I told her no. She asked if I was planning on seeing him or if I wanted to see him.   This was a conversation that I had with two other friends and I felt lost in trying to figure out what to do.  I told her that I felt like he was hurt by my news of moving to Florida. It was a lot for me to take in and I still hadn't processed it all. Perhaps if we had more time, if we had another month, then it would have been easier. She asked me what I wanted. I told her that I did want to see RJ again before I left, but that I didn't know what I would say to him. I wouldn't want to meet with him and have it be yucky with mixed emotions and end poorly, especially since our last encounters had gone relatively well. Again, I just felt like I would just be sitting there and not knowing what to say.  My friend said there was my answer. If I didn't have anything to say to him, that was okay. We hugged and I so appreciated her asking. RJ meant so much to me. I knew it would be difficult to leave Pittsburgh having lost someone in my life who I loved and thought was a great match. I felt better about not trying to force a moment and just letting things be.

Then RJ called me the next day just as the last of my stuff was being loaded onto the truck. He asked me when I was leaving and I told him as soon as everything was packed up. He seemed surprised. I guess I figured he was calling to see if it all fit and that he could officially let someone move into the apartment. Instead, RJ asked if we could meet. He was smart in realizing that coming to the apartment with my family there would not be a good idea. I suggested that we meet somewhere like a coffee shop and he liked that idea. I think his surprise was in that he called just in time and he almost missed the window of opportunity by ten minutes.

I was glad that RJ called me for one last visit before I left Pittsburgh. I did not want to be the one to ask. We met at Starbucks. RJ was sitting at a small round table by the window by the street. The sun washed over him with a blend of natural light and shadows within the shop that lent a familiar feel. It felt like home. It was reminiscent of his home without actually being in the space. The last time I was there was to clear out my belongings. His hair was just the right amount of messy. I paused and stood from a slight distance as he was writing in the card. He looked up and I asked him if he needed me to walk around the block to give him a minute to finish. He said no and scribbled the last of his words and sealed the envelope. RJ gave me the card as I sat down, but told me to open it later. He asked me if I wanted some tea and then got it for me.

When RJ returned, he seemed to have trouble looking at me and faced his body slightly away from me. I had to laugh a bit to myself because he was looking at me puzzled as I saw the wheels turning when he commented that there was something different about me. Wait for it...wait for it... RJ finally said that he thought my hair looked a little different. It is funny how guys can get so thrown by that kind of change. It's like they know something is different, but scramble to figure it out.  Part of me was pleased because it seemed to mark distance and time apart from when we were together. It was almost a statement from me that I was moving on with my life. But that is somewhat of a front that I keep telling myself so that maybe I'll believe it, too. Then, I looked at RJ and noticed what was different about him.  He looked like he had gained weight.  It made me feel sad. There was no satisfaction in it.  Sometimes people seem to make unflattering comments if their ex gains weight like it kind of makes them feel better, but it just made me feel sad. I felt sad because it probably meant that he wasn't really taking care of himself. It was unattractive to see the decline.

RJ carried most of the conversation, and he seemed to boast of his success. I wasn't sure if he was sharing because he felt like it was a safe time to do so because I now finally had a job and he wouldn't be rubbing it in or if he was over compensating in that we both have good things in our lives to be happy about. It was almost like he was trying to say it is all okay because if we each had good things in our careers, then somehow it would be easier to walk away. RJ was more attractive when he had less. And I felt he was missing the point. In trying to make it seem like it all worked out for each of us separately, it felt like he was trying to indirectly justify himself for breaking up with me. I felt like he was trying to make himself feel better, and sort of trying to make me feel better.  When he mentioned his parents and how much they wondered about me and how I was doing, I wanted to gouge out my eyeballs.  These were the people who told their son that they thought he should break up with me, and he did.  I wanted to tell him off. I was frustrated that he could not have the faith to stay strong in our separate times of struggle so that we could share together in the good times ahead. I didn't feel like celebrating our separate good fortunes.

But I tried to keep an open mind and take in what was most likely my last time with him. As he continued, I kind of started tuning him out in what he was saying.  We both seemed to relax a bit and faced each other and made more eye contact.  I noticed RJ's bare neck--the shape and contours of the muscles and smoothness of his skin compared to his stubble on his face. Again, his unshaven face was just the right amount. Looking at his neck I thought of the times when I snuggled up to him and could smell his cologne or when I was close to him and would kiss his neck as we made love. The sunlight in the coffee shop was just as it was in his bedroom. I missed that cozy space that felt like was a world of our own. Fleeting thoughts of memories missed passed in my mind. But this was not the neck of the RJ that I met and fell in love.

At one point, our time seemed to edge on emotional. RJ had been doing most of the talking. So, I thanked him for asking me to get together because I wanted to see him, but I just didn't know what to say. I still didn't know what to say. RJ got a little glossy eyed and changed the subject, noting that he didn't want to cry in public. I later realized that I had been feeling rather numb, but trying to grasp at my emotions just below the surface. I wanted to be more in touch with my emotions at that moment, but it was too soon.

When we finished our drinks, RJ offered to walk me to the corner. It was odd to walk with him down the sidewalk to the corner that we parted on so many other occasions, once with a memorable kiss. We hugged, but it felt partly rushed and empty--not allowing room for the emotions to come to the surface. I turned to go my way and tried not to look back, pretty certain that he would not be looking back at me. As I began to jaywalk and cross the street, I looked over my shoulder for traffic and noticed RJ had done the same on his side of the street. Without realizing it, we were mirroring each other's footsteps and it broke my heart. So very close, so very close to finding real love. It makes me feel so sad that he could not see it, that he could not be strong enough and that I could not be brave enough.

I waited to open RJ's card until I had a quiet moment to myself. I was worried about what he wrote inside wondering if there would be some awful twist. But RJ's card and note were of sentiments of wishing me well. His handwriting was more controlled and consistent, seeming reflective of him getting more of his life together. He seemed to want to do the right thing, but by doing so, only made it hurt more.  He said how special I am and that he wishes for all the happiness for me. His words are almost unfair.  It made me feel like I was not good enough for him in someway.  If I was so very special, why did he let me go? Why could he not pull it together when we were couple? How was it that he just didn't feel that it fit with me when I felt it with him?

Why?

That is the question that looms and haunts me.  I have to find a way to let him go. I have to find a way to let go of all of the disappointment of what could have been. It troubles me because it shakes my confidence within myself to trust what is real or what is made up. I thought what we had was worth holding onto. How could I have been so wrong? How will I be able to tell the truth in the future?

But maybe this is what I needed.  Maybe I needed this moment to realize that RJ did not fully appreciate me or the unconditional love that I had for him.  He did not see the building strength in me that opened me up to love him even more.  RJ needs to grow up, make his own decisions in life and let go of his past hurts because it sets limits.  I saw some of my obstacles and did my emotional homework of confronting them to be able to move through them.  Freedom and strength are on the other side of forgiveness.  That is mine to keep.  I deserve someone who appreciates me, all of me without trying to change me, and is not so willing to let me go while keeping appropriate emotional boundaries as two separate people who come together to share a life together.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Orlando Came Calling

As it turns out, the universe was listening.  I have a job!  It is so great to be able to say that.  I have a job at a new hospital in Orlando as a Child Life Specialist.  It is an amazing opportunity and I am so grateful.  It is exactly the type of position that was the focus of my master's degree. 

At first I was told that they found someone with hospital work experience, but that they wanted to hold onto my resume since they anticipated growth.  Hence the previous posts of disappointment.  I had such a good feeling and had been so hopeful.  So, when I got the call for the offer a few weeks later, it was quite a surprise.  As a matter of fact, when I returned after my second interview, I went shoe shopping to find something to go with my dress for a friend's wedding and found a cute pair of wedge heels.  They were a maybe for a match with the dress, and I ended up deciding on another pair.  But, the shoes were such a good price, and the braided jute accents just said Florida all over them.  I remember thinking to myself, "I don't need two new pairs of shoes, but maybe I should keep them.  They are just so right for Florida."  I took it as a sign that Orlando was calling me.  When I got the initial news, I thought, "No, not the Florida shoes!  I don't want to return the Florida shoes!"  My disappointment in kind of having to return the shoes seemed to reflect just how much I really wanted the job and felt it was right on so many levels.

So, even if all did not unfold as neatly as I may have liked, it is still crazy good that I got the offer and I will be going.  As I said, it is a brand new hospital and everyone is new.  There is a lot of good, positive energy and I cannot wait to begin.  With everything being so new, there is an element of not fully knowing what to expect. 

My friend, Pete, asked me a couple of days ago, "Are you scared? I mean, to move some place totally new and all by yourself?" He said that he thought that I was brave because he has only lived in the same city his whole life and cannot imagine being anywhere else. My friend, Melissa, kind of shared the same sentiment, but in a totally different context in that she is jealous that I have lived in so many different places and highlighted it being a great opportunity.  My knee jerk reaction is, "Yeah, I've done this before."  I will not be totally alone either.  I have cousins and aunts who live in Orlando.  However, if I stop and think about it, I start to wonder what I have really gotten myself into with this new position and move?

The closest that I can come to describing it is that it is like going away for college.  You think you have an idea, but there is so much yet to be discovered and so much that is unanswered.  It is kind of like going in blind, and it is all of what you make of it.  The same could be said for when I went to study in Spain for a semester in college.  I took those risks for me and they worked out well.  I just have to have faith in myself and remind myself that God has a plan for me.  He is leading me somewhere and while it may be challenging at times, I have to trust and believe I am exactly where I need to be right now.  The whole experience of moving to a new city and restarting my career in some place new in of itself is a grand opportunity to really start fresh.  It is exhilarating and scary and hopeful.

I'd almost say it's like restarting my life, but I've been living a new life for quite some time since the infertility and divorce. And I am proud that I have been making a life for myself while rebuilding, going to grad school and searching for a steady full-time job. I have found a pretty good balance of living life in the moment while going with a plan with some fluidity. In the good kind of way, I think this chapter in my life has well illustrated the old adage, "Life is what happens while you are busy planning it."

It's been a whirlwind--or as my hairdresser told me--a cyclone!  During the past three weeks, the offer was made, I accepted the position (with a bit of thinking time to be sure I wasn't being totally rash), began calling/emailing/facebooking to share the news, flew down to Florida to find an apartment, signed a lease, have been packing, made moving arrangements, packed some more, went to a wedding, and have been squeezing in as many good-byes to my Pittsburgh friends and Cleveland friends and family.  I have had hardly a moment to think about it.  Sometimes there are fleeting thoughts and then it is back to work.

I have experienced excitement about moving to Orlando.  And I know that I will miss Pittsburgh, too.  I have made some wonderful, supportive friends here.  I have made memories and will always have a connection to this city.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, I am happy that I was able to make living in this city my own experience--to really take it back and own it.  There may be some sad things here, but I think the good things far out number them and have greater power.  I have felt a lot of love here.  And I did it when when my whole other life was falling apart.  I invested in myself and those around me who cared.  So, if I can make it in a strange place in the midst of heartbreak and crisis, I can certainly make friends and a home in a new place, as well.  Pray for me and wish me well!  I have felt the love here with my circle of friends on-line and I thank you for allowing me to share my journey with you!

Another funny note--When I went to Orlando for my second interview, I stayed in a hotel next to the one that I stayed in with some of the BBC ladies on that first gathering three and a half years ago!  When I met the ladies there, I never imagined really returning there.  I took that as another sign that I was supposed to be in Florida.  Funny how life works sometimes.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Falling From Cloud Nine

My life is changing at warp speed and I barely have time to process it all.  I feel like I am treading water in a river of rapids--trying to stay afloat while paying attention to all of what is happening around me.  The damn has broken.  All of my efforts to transform my life are quickly falling into place.  But before I share those details that are in the progress of taking shape, I need to take a step back and reflect.



A few weeks ago, I was approaching that old familiar, uncomfortable territory of change.  My post-graduate summer internship with a non-profit organization was coming to an end, and I was preparing to return to my part-time behavioral health position.  My hope was to keep my old job with minimal commitment until the end of the summer in the hopes that one of my recent interviews would result in a more permanent full-time position.  I felt like my life was up in the air, and I was very frustrated that eight months of job searching had not yielded my desired result.  I kept reminding myself not to give up hope and trust that things would just work themselves out, just as they have in the my recent past.  For the past six years, I feel I have continued to cycle back to a place of total uncertainty and nearing the breaking point when suddenly something popped into the picture at just the right time.  So, I was at this place yet again while being accompanied by additional raised emotional turmoil.  I recognized these feelings of distress and I was waiting for myself to become aware of the root cause.  Sometimes it is awoken by a sensation, a song or an epiphany.  This time it was a moment strolling down a sidewalk.

My parents, sister and her boyfriend were in town visiting me.  We enjoyed some of the art scene, downtown and paths along the river.  My family wanted to enjoy some good Italian food, after all I have been living in Pittsburgh's Little Italy.  The restaurant I figured that would be most reasonably priced while also having great food also happens to have a bar that my ex-boyfriend frequents.  I was hesitant and I had not stepped inside the establishment since the break-up.  But my family really wanted to go.  There are two doors, one in the front and one on the side.  So, I figured we could use the side entrance and if he was there, he would be in the front and probably would hardly notice each other.  What were the chances?  Strangely, we had not run into each other living a few blocks apart for nearly seven months.

So, who did I see walking up the sidewalk at the exact same time as me?  RJ.  He was about to turn to enter the front entrance and I was about to step in the side door.  Had either one left seconds earlier or later, we would not have met at that moment.  All of the other scenarios that could have prevented this moment ran through my head.  If only...if only we went there first instead of the beer emporium, if only I kept my shoes on when running back into the house, if only I had not paused to run back to recheck that I had locked my back door...if only.  Really?  Really?  Did I really have to run into him at that exact moment?  This is precisely what I had been avoiding because I didn't know how I would react or feel.

I felt like time and movement slowed as the air in my lungs seemed nonexistent.  Then quickly, I became aware and took a deep breath.  He seemed to experience similar surprise, shot a hand up and waved from a distance.  I  waved back.  And as time seemed to resume to life speed, we continued along our separate paths into the restaurant.  It all happened within seconds, but seamless.

Later, I saw a text from RJ.  He said he was sorry because he wasn't sure how to handle the situation.  He wanted to say hello, but also did not want to make an awkward scene.  I texted saying I wasn't sure what to do either.  I felt his wave was appropriate and if he had come to say hello, that would have been fine.

The day after an encounter with RJ usually results in unsettling feelings, like aftershocks from an earthquake.  It is because it hurts to see him knowing that he doesn't want me in his life in the way I had once hoped.  While on some distant levels I miss him, I've done a lot to move forward.  I have accepted that we are not to be together and it is best to move on.  I realized that all of the recent inner turmoil was the emotional work of letting go of the dreams I had with him.  The loss is the hope of moving into a house together like we started to talk about before I left for my summer internship in Columbus last year.  The loss is the hope of marrying RJ.  He was a man that I loved so deeply after all that I had been through with my ex-husband.  It was an experience that was almost unimmaginable, but it felt so right.  Where did it all go?  And had life continued along that other dreamed road, at this point this summer we would have been in that house, free from my grad school commitments to have more freedom in our life choices and planning our next adventure.

It is a double-edge sword.  The losses are sad.  I do not want a relationship with RJ anymore.  But from previous experience, this experience of the loss of the dream just means that I am almost at the end.  It is the last major hurdle in processing the end of our relationship.  And soon I will be more free, more complete and capable of deciding if I am ready to give of my heart again.  The strength is rebuilding and I am on my way.

A few more songs.  However, I've never really been one to say that I'll close myself off to love.  But I will be stronger and hopefully smarter.



Of course, that is not the end of the story as life is not stagnet and continues to roll along.  About a week later, RJ and I were talking on the phone about an unrelated matter.  He brought up the chance meeting and shared that he was bothered about if he handled things well for several days after.  What does it mean?  So, I'm not the only one who feels those residual ripples.  I guess what I take from it is that what RJ and I shared was special and meaningful.  It is a very different experience from my prior long-term relationship in that at least RJ values the time we spent together to some degree and that he respects me as a person in some way.  It has softened my heart in understanding how some people may actually be able to have reasonable conversations or friendships after the romantic relationship has ended.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Okay, Universe...Let's Try This Again

Well, its back to plugging away for my next career opportunity.  It is disappointing to get sooooo close, but not close enough.  I have a few more job interviews yet, so please keep me in your thoughts and prayers.  These are still great opportunities and bring their own strengths.  And there may be some opportunities to come on the horizon.  It is not easy to find full-time employment in this economy.  With my last attempt I was 1 of 10 interviewed out of 1,500 applicants.  They said that they anticipate growth in their department and would like to hold onto my resume.  Slowly getting closer and holding onto hope.  In my heart I feel like I am on a path of where I am supposed to be, and I know I will be fantastic.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sending It Out to the Universe

I've got big things cooking with some great potential for awesome career opportunities.  The closer I get, the more I get excited.  I've got to keep my focus, shine and keep the positive energy going.  Tomorrow is a big day.  Keep me in your thoughts for the very best possible outcome!  I welcome all the good vibes y'all care to send my way.  :)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I Saw You Looking Back...

as you were pulling away from the driveway in your car.  I pretended not to notice as I took out the Tupperware containers from my lunch bag to be placed in the dishwasher.  I casually spun around and returned my lunch bag to its place on top of the refrigerator.  In that moment of glancing up and out of the kitchen window in the midst of my usual after work routine, I saw you do something that you never did before when we were together...something that when we were together I looked for so hopefully.

I cannot tell you how many times I stood by my kitchen window watching as you left.  Part of it is my familial habit of walking visitors, friends and family to the door when saying good-bye and then watching and waving in their send off.  Sometimes it seems silly, but I cannot help these rituals.  It provides some sense of comfort, hope and well wishes exchanged between myself and those that I care about until I see them again.  When it is reciprocated, there is a sort of feeling of closure in that moment, almost like an acknowledgement...until the next time...or...my spirit is with your spirit.

But when we were together, you never looked back.  You would jump into your car and off you went...zoom...onto the next adventure in life.  So many times you were full of energy and bounding to do the next thing.  I wondered if I was hardly a thought in your mind as you carried about your day after you left.  You seemed so comfortable in your leaving.  But was it that you took for granted that you would return to me?

Today you paused.  You were looking up at me, and what seemed like the first time that you had been watching me.  It's strange to suddenly realize that you are being observed.  My breath slipped away and when I neared your eyes, I looked away.  I didn't want you to see me noticing you noticing me.  The thing that I longed for when we were together and you didn't do, suddenly now you took the time to do.

My heart hurts and it's not fair.  There are days that I still miss you, still think about you and wonder why it could not have worked.  I loved you so.  But then I think back to the things that secretly brought me relief when it was over.  And that saddens my heart, too.  It comes in cycles of mourning, sadness and anger that get smaller and smaller with time.  They are followed by the building of strength that comes from productively feeling the pain...to honor what was lost in order to move onward.

Why did you have to look at me in that way today from your car?  It was awkward enough to have to ask you to come and unlock my door after I locked my keys in my apartment.  You were kind about it, but you could hardly look at me.  And I could hardly look at you.  We were polite and asked the obligatory, "How are you?"  I sensed that you did not want to be there in that space with me as it felt quietly rushed.  Both were seemingly insouciant, but with more under the surface than what either of us was willing to admit.  I cannot imagine what the real thoughts were in your head.  I have no idea.

As you were unlocking the door, I just kind of glanced around you.  I could not look at you, as much as I wanted to catch a glimpse of your face.  A song came to my mind, one that is so cliche, but snippets kept jumping out at me...

"Dreams, that's where I have to go to see your beautiful face anymore." 

I almost felt like I would rather just remember you the way that I imagine than to painfully see you in this current reality knowing you are no longer with me. 

"I would lie and say that you're not on my mind."

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Healthy Amount of Resiliency

In child development there is a concept called ghosts in the nursery.  It refers to a parent's fears about effectively bonding or child rearing with their child.  Sometimes people may feel that their own parents may not have done the best job at parenting or sometimes people come from complex histories with deep emotional hurts.  They may worry how their past has shaped who they are today and how it will impact their perceived ability to be a good parent.  Just because a person may have less than desirable things in their past does not mean that they will be a poor parent.  Actually, those who can identify the ways in which they would do things differently and make the effort to do them, use the power within themselves to make a difference.  Sure, we are shaped by our experiences, but we are not powerless because of them.  Those who seek to be different have the courage to change.  I think the same could be said across multiple domains of our lives and not just parenting.

For me, there has been a small part wondering if I am broken because of my personal history-- experiences with my ex-husband,  close family members who died when I was a child or other things.  I know I am sensitive and it can create triggers for me.  But, I try to stop and take a step back when I feel that rush of emotion so to avoid projecting my past, like relationship hurts onto another person unfairly.  There are also those childhood fears lurking that can be difficult to let go.  And I've wondered if my past is too much for another man to handle.  Sometimes it makes it difficult for me to trust, to be transparent and to allow myself to initially take the risk to connect with another man in a romantic relationship.  I want a man who can know me, understand from where I am coming, so he can have compassion without feeling sorry for me.  Likewise, I want to be able to do the same for him.  I am not asking for someone to solve any problems, but for me to be able to feel safe being me--all of me--without chasing them away.

And frankly, I have been working very hard to move forward in my life.  It can be a bit tough to see fully at the moment as I continue to seek out full-time job opportunities.  But, I don't want my past to totally define me.  Sure, I want some amount of acknowledgement of the past, but do not ignore the present me and what I dream to be.  I am more.  And I will continue to evolve and change--hopefully growing in the strength, confidence and freedom to let my true self shine.

During one of the professional development sessions at a conference a few weeks ago, one speaker talked about the commonalities found in people who have resilience.  First, resilient people understand that they may not be able to control certain life circumstances, but they do not let those life circumstances control them.  They realize the power within themselves to be able to do something about it--they have choice.  The second quality is in being able to embrace the good and the bad in their lives, while being able to focus more on the good.  It is not ignoring, dismissing or skipping over the bad stuff.  It is taking it all in, but with the redirection on refocusing on the good in their lives with gratitude.  The final part is being able to healthfully seek and appropriately accept the help of others.  We are not in this alone and social connectivity is important, especially in the company of those you love and respect.

Can I do this?  Yes.  The answer is yes because I believe I have the qualities found in resiliency.  Sometimes it may take a bit more effort than other times, but I think it is there.  In my Finish heritage there is a word for it, too.  Sisu.  It is difficult to translate into English because it is such a multidimensional concept.  The simplest way to describe sisu is having inner determination.  It is not just survival, but that step beyond in holding onto hope and living every moment with zest for fulfillment of realizing one's dreams.

It's time to refocus and recapture that sisu!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day Tribute, Part I

It is funny how life works sometimes.  It is true that certain people come into our lives for a reason.  I have experienced this blessing countless times over, and I so enjoy taking in the vast amazement of it.  Diane is one of these people, who has become a close friend and confidant.

When I moved to Pittsburgh the second time, there were some strange coincidences of shared commonalities between me and A~ and another couple that was moving into the neighborhood a few houses down the street.  We built similar style homes and moved within a month of each other.  The guys were both starting work at the same hospital, in the same department and with the same position.  Diane and I shared backgrounds in teaching elementary school.

We started to hang out and got along pretty well.  I really enjoyed Diane and G~'s sense of humor, genuine spirit and warmth that adds to the sense of community in a neighborhood.  Diane and I would trade tips on yard work and house projects and quickly became the go-to people if others had questions about new house things.  When you build a new home, there are "fun" things like inspections to get the builders to come fix the stuff they forgot to do the first time.  Diane and I were both meticulously organized and masterful in accumulating resources and lists of numbers of helpful people to call to get our requests done correctly and promptly. 

Then as the neighborhood became more established, it was time to elect a board for the home owner's association.  It seemed like the general consensus around the neighborhood was to be chill and let everyone just enjoy having their new home and yard and do what they liked with them.  So to help keep it that way, Diane ran to be elected to the board and I was asked to be on the architectual control committee.  Our platform was to be as anti-HOA as possible...in that if you have to go through the process of getting something approved, our answer was yes.  Sometimes it was difficult to stay within the rules, but we helped home owners find the holes and exeptions to get their requests approved while following the set by-laws and guidelines.  Diane and I even distributed a survey about the rules around fences, which was a hot debate.  It turned out most people wanted there to be fewer restrictions.  So, we wrote up an addendum and sent out ballots for a vote.  When there were not enough votes to represent a majority (one way or the other on the issue), we went door to door to get the rest of the ballots.  In the end, the fence by-law was changed to reach a compromise.  Woohoo!  Local politics and do-gooders at its finest!

The point is that Diane and I bonded.  We talked shop about teacher stuff, shared stories and watched Pens games.  We consulted each other about the latest and greatest at Lowes, Home Depot and Target.  We went for walks and chatted with neighbors.  As we are both people who tend to stay up late, we could see the lights on in each other's houses and would send emails back and forth.  And there was my garage door...there were times that I would get a call from Diane telling me that my garage door was open around ten or eleven at night.  Or I would be at the store and forget if I closed the garage door on my way out, and I would call Diane to check.  From her home office with a laugh, "Yep, Jamie.  You're good."  I never had a garage door opener and for some reason it would just slip my mind!

Then in the spring, A~ and G~ had a conference in Las Vegas.  Diane and I joined them and turned it into a bit of a vacation.  It was a great time to get away to get a dose of warm weather, sunshine and pool time.  Good food, fun and time to relax...time to get away...to escape the dark side of what I had been silently carrying with me for over a year.

One day in the middle of lunch with just the two of us, Diane stopped.  I don't remember exactly how the conversation went, but Diane brought up the topic of children.  I forget if she asked me or if she disclosed first.  But as it turned out, G~ and Diane had been trying to conceive for years with no success.  She asked me if A~ and I had been trying and if we were having similar difficulty.  Tears filled my eyes, both in great sadness and relief.  I was sad for myself in facing the harsh, stark truth of not being able to conceive a child so out in the open.  I felt so vulnerable and ashamed.  But I felt even more sad for Diane because what I had experienced was no where near the emotional pain that she and G~ had already been through.  I felt relief on a certain level in that the truth was finally out, and that I was not alone.  Suddenly, I felt like I could breathe again.

Before this very moment, it was a silent pain that only A~ and I knew. We told no one.  We didn't tell our parents, our family or our closest friends.  To the exponentially, increasingly asked question, "When are you going to have kids?," our response was an avoidant, steeped in an awkwardly masked sadness, "Someday."

Diane's disclosure of her history of infertility was honorable, sensitive and kind.  She said that it seemed that when you have experienced it, it is like you develop a kind of radar for it.  It is not something that is openly talked about, but somehow you know.  Diane and I talked at length that day, both in her sharing her story and me sharing mine.  Diane told me about Babycenter.com, or the BBC, with its on-line community of women who are mothers, who will be mothers or who are trying to be mothers.  She told me how you can go on the board and find different groups to find the support you need.  There were other women who told their stories, asked questions and offered support.  Diane said she became friends with many of these women, exchanged emails and stayed in contact with them through the years. 

It was because of Diane that I learned about the BBC.  Once I was brave enough to go on-line with the website, I was lucky enough to find a network of caring, loving, supportive women.  I met a remarkable group of ladies who have helped me immensely through my journey with infertility, divorce and rebuilding of my life.  And Diane has been that same support IRL, which takes on a powerful connection of its own.  However, I have since met many of the ladies from the BBC in real life, too.  There will always be something special about the relationships that I have with the BBC ladies, but there is also this shift that makes it that much more real when I've met them in person.  And so I hope that one day all of the BBC ladies can meet each other.  :)

But my story does not end here.

Diane continues to be a source of inspiration, strength and true friendship.

I'll tell more in the second part...

Friday, May 11, 2012

Moments of Mourning

Yesterday was an unexpectedly bad day.  But then, maybe not.  Maybe I've been trying to hold the emotions at bay, or maybe I've been distancing them until I could make sense of them.

Mother's Day is coming and my mind has been on the twins.  They would be three by now.

As I was driving to work, I just could not stop crying.  The tears rolled down my cheeks and I just let them come and wash over me...while on this rare occasion being thankful for the traffic along my way to work that extended my drive to a long 45 minutes.

I hate feeling so sick about Mother's Day.  On top of that, add a layer of guilt.  I will not be spending the day with my mom because she is working all day and lives in a different state.  But my  mom said not to worry because it is like she is getting two Mother's Days this year.  I was with my family last weekend celebrating my sister's college graduation.  (Yea, Kara!)  Then, I will be returning to Cleveland to run in the half-marathon and going to my god daughter's birthday party next weekend.  So, all good family time.  :)

Today was better.  Maybe some of it is out of my system.  I felt frustrated because March came and went without the emotional roller coaster this year.  I took this as a sign of progress.  It is not to say that I don't think about them, but it didn't hurt so much...until yesterday.  I miss and grieve the opportunity to be their mother.  My heart aches and I so want to be a mother.  I know I would be a good mother.  But I just don't only want children.  I want a child to share with a man with whom I love, in a life that we build together...and that would be a blessing because the relationship is the priority.

And I need to be patient with myself.  Grief is a process.  It will always be there, but less each time it surfaces while showing new meaning or taking a different shape.  Feel it, embrace it, honor it and then let it go again and again.

So, I take down those hopes for having a child and put them on another shelf while I continue to reorganize my life.  I need to be able to take care of myself first...have a full-time job.  Then I need to have the space to meet someone special with time to nurture the relationship.  And I go back to the grind of searching and finding that next place in my career.  I've been working really hard and meeting a lot of great people doing great things for children in the hospital and educational fields.  Something has to open up soon.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

My Space, My Release

Lately, I've been running a lot.

Running to clear my head.
Running to process the layers of transition in my life.
Running to say good-bye.
Running to be brave in chasing my dreams.
Running to embrace the faith that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
Running to feel alive and connected to the natural, beautiful world.
Running to feel the air in my lungs.
Running to savor the last chill in the air before the change in seasons.
Running to lift my spirits.
Running to start anew.

Running.


So, with all of the running comes the increased desire to find new music that makes running that much more motivating and pleasurable time for me.  Music is a great way to move through emotions, experience a release and find comfort.  I like a mix of sad, angry and happy.  These are the songs that have been on repeat on some of my runs, both in letting go and in turning towards a better future.





Then a friend posted a song in her blog that I think I may need to add to my running mix.  Somehow it seems to capture everything by starting sad, but then the music seeming to slowly progress into building towards hope.  The words are of loss and good-bye, but the melody seems to carry a tone of moving forward.



Sunday, April 22, 2012

Virtual Sanity

Over the last few weeks, I have been grieving the end of my relationship with RJ. I have come to accept that it is over, and with it comes a sadness in realizing the separation and that we are no longer apart of each other's life. So much has happened in my life that RJ would not know the slightest, and the same for me with his life.

It really hit home when I noticed that RJ changed his Facebook profile picture. He always had the same one, a picture of him with a friend. Now it is of him in one of his favorite places in the woods. Then there were a few postings on his page that had not been there before when we were together. And I looked back onto my page and saw the things posted on it since we broke up. It was a visual representation of the distance and space over time that comes between two people when a relationship ends. My friend, Emily, said it is almost like a drawing with the perspective of something tiny fading into the horizon. It makes me feel sad. But, it is a good thing, and it is part of the process of moving forward and healing. Time. Distance. Space. (Sounds like a math or physics problem.)

Then I had a conversation with another friend, Julie, about pictures on Facebook. Slowly, I have been deleting the photos with RJ (Sidenote: He also has not untagged himself either.). It has been difficult for me--not in the sense of wanting him back, but more along the lines of not wanting to erase me. The time we spent together meant something, and I am not trying to wipe it all away like it did not happen. My friend said she understood. Then she commented that I have probably taken down the photos of him in my apartment, which is true. She likened the photo albums on Facebook to the photos you keep on your bed stand, mantel or refrigerator. Facebook is kind of like a virtual version of those same spaces in your home. I liked that. It makes it a little easier to continue taking down those pictures. It is kind of like rearranging the furniture.

Maybe next weekend I'll do a little spring cleaning on my Facebook page. Right now I have to do some work at home. And it is supposed to snow tomorrow?! So, who wants to do spring cleaning when there is snow around? :P I'll get to it, soon enough.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

On the Road to Resolve

Well, first I want to give myself credit for not waiting to call RJ to ask him if we could talk. I am glad that he was willing to come over and clarify the mixed messages. Because I just don't really feel like hashing out every detail of our conversation, I am going to be brief. I told him how I have been emotionally sitting on the fence of hanging onto hope and taking that step towards acceptance that the relationship has come to an end.

But, it is over. RJ does not see wanting to resume a romantic relationship with me, and he shared that he does not want me holding out for him. His friendly demeanor comes from that we have known each other for two years and the relationship did not end poorly for him. In someways it can be easier when things do go badly because it can be easier to walk away. So, he is still in a comfortable and familiar place with his interactions with me, but he does not want an intimate relationship with me. RJ said that he doesn't necessarily want me out of his life, but is understanding that it may not work for me. He acknowledged that my position is probably harder, as he has been there in the past and it is up to me in how much or how little communication that is shared going forward.

I don't want RJ out of my life, but it hurts too much right now. I told him that even though it is comfortable and easy to share about our lives on some levels, it also hurts because he doesn't want me in his life anymore--not on the level that I want where you really share a life together with someone special. It is hard to go backwards, especially since it seems that my feelings for him were stronger than what he felt for me. Even down the road, I am not sure if having some kind of friendship would be a good thing. Less is probably best. It is just really hard to let go. I feel so very sad. At least I have an answer to my question and I really can move towards acceptance of my new reality--my life without RJ. I will miss him terribly.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Is It Every Really Good-bye?

It is strange because RJ and I live in the same neighborhood and I live in one of the apartments he owns, so our ties are not completely severed. Not to worry, I've always sent my rent to his business partner, which has kept things healthfully distant in that aspect. However, I have not randomly or casually run into RJ, and even he shared that he was surprised by this, considering we live three blocks away from each other. I'll admit that I did kind of avoid the main street at first for a bit. Then slowly, I have been venturing into places that I think would be less likely for him to be there sometimes. The neighborhood is my home, too. So, I am not hiding away, but just deciding how to reclaim my part of it.

It is just odd to say good-bye to a relationship without really being able to say good-bye. As a matter of fact, when RJ left after fixing the washer a few weeks ago, he said, "See you around." It felt out of place.

Then I began to notice the clues of RJ's lingering, whether they are somewhat intentional or lacking in his awareness. For example, he has not returned a few things of mine that I didn't realize I left behind, he randomly sent me a text, and he trickles in collecting his things that were left at my place. In our phone calls related to the apartment, he has turned to having an up beat tone in that way that is acting in a friend kind of way, initiates further conversation and still ends things by saying, "I'll talk to you later." I have pondered if these actions have more meaning or if it is just my ruminating in searching for hope or my difficulty with letting go. But in adding them up, I do feel I am getting some mixed messages. His intentions are unclear to me and I don't think he is doing it on purpose. Still, it hurts me.

I tried to tell RJ last week that the friend kind of talk is just too soon for me. I asked him if the change was because had already moved on or if it was masking what he was really feeling. He said it was still hard for him, too, but that he figures it is better to have a positive attitude instead of letting himself be so down. Without seeming like a brat, it was hard for me to really convey that his super positive attitude was hurting me. From my perspective it felt like, "Hey, my life is great! Let me share how wonderful it is, especially when you are not in it!" While I do hope for good things for RJ, I don't want to hear hints about the progress of his life. It's too soon. It hurts me to hear those things because he does not want me in his life anymore. I tried to gently request that he respectfully pull it back some, so as to be sensitive to my feelings. I let him know that I am appreciative that we are trying to be adult in our interactions by taking the higher road. I was trying to establish some kind of healthy boundary in how to interact in moving forward if we are not supposed to be together.

Then in the past few days, I have realized that I am still holding onto hope that RJ will come back to me. It seems terribly silly and unrealistic, but I miss him. I miss RJ. I feel like I am stuck between that place of not wanting to entirely close the door and moving to that place of acceptance in that the relationship is really over. I am teetering.

So, I need to talk to him again. I cannot wait to see if he going to take direct initiative. The lingering and mixed messages keep me in limbo. I have told myself that he needs to be the one to say he wants to come back. But, what if he does and he is too proud? What if these little hints have been his way of reaching out? Have I been pushing him away by reminding him to take his stuff or in my attempts to define boundaries if this is really the end? Am I having second thoughts before saying this is the end of us for myself? I am on the edge and I am afraid of making a mistake with action or inaction.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mind Is Full

So, I am noticing that I need to fill my time doing stuff with other people because I feel like in some ways I am too much in my head lately. As much as my counselor says that I need to lean into my pain and allow myself to feel sad and cry all of the tears that need to come, sometimes I wonder if I am doing that too much and sinking myself down into a hole. I do get the cleansing process of grief, as that is what I needed to do this summer with the news of A~ getting married. It also requires patience on my part and it is difficult to be able to tell when I have really hit the emotional bottom to then be able to come back to the top. It is easy for me to feel overwhelmed right now. And I don't want that to get in the way of what I need to be focusing on doing, which is finding full-time employment.

I almost think the difference is when something catches my attention for a moment and reminds me of RJ or that loss of relationship, that I need to allow myself to be open to my feelings in those times. My sadness is sometimes related to RJ, but it is also coming from feelings that are dredged to the surface from the divorce, as well. It is the thoughts of "What is so wrong with me?" I think I have a lot to offer and to give. I just really want someone to love and I want them to love me back. Or it is feeling lonely or missing the company of a loved one or having someone to share your life with on a more intimate level and regular frequency.

It is the dwelling or freezing up that is not good, and I feel like I have been grinding into inaction at times lately. That is when I need to figure out how to break that cycle and to do something to change gears. I know I have to focus on getting a job and not on wanting a husband, but it is still frustrating. I am tired of feeling like I have to continually wait. And then I realize I have so much to get done! I am juggling so many things and I am having a hard time prioritizing where to focus my efforts. I need to find a good job, but I need socialization, too.

Then, I feel frustrated when some people have difficulty with having the compassion to let me be okay with being sad, on my terms and on my timeline. I don't understand why people are so uncomfortable with tears or sadness. It can be draining to try to put on a strong front all of the time and it can feel fake. And when I feel like I am being fake or masked, I feel like I am bumbling around and not doing things as well as I would normally. I know it is not good to be sulky because it can push people away, too. But I can't help but wear my heart on my sleeve, and I would hope that others would see my genuine nature and authenticity as a strength. I struggle with feeling like I need to project a certain image and then trying to be true to myself. It often results in me feeling an undercurrent of panic and I am afraid it does not translate well in my interactions with others.

What do you sacrifice when you are not being authentic? What do you risk or lose when you try to confide that you are having some troubles? Where is the line?

Man, this post is all over the place! And since blogger is not letting me copy and paste, I guess it will just have to be! Bottom line, I'm still processing the loss of my relationship with RJ and I am really frustrated and worried about getting a good job. I am also worried that the processing I need to do is affecting my efforts in job hunting. I think I will be pretty fantastic in what I will do in my career--it is just remembering that confidence, showing what I have to offer and finding someone who is willing to give me a chance! I can do it, really!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

100th Post

I cannot believe I have written 100 posts. That is a lot of writing! Thinking back to when I first began my blog and finished writing my first post, I wasn't even sure if I was going to return to write a second entry. I just felt so exposed and I was not sure how honest I would allow myself to be in this space. But I have surprised myself in what I have poured out onto its electronic pages.
I am thankful to have this place to allow myself to flow in my thoughts in the form of writing. It gives me a mirror to be able to see myself from another vantage point, to be able to reflect on my life. Over time, it allows me to notice the things that I always saw, but could not see at the present time. Perhaps I will learn to better see the truth more quickly and have the confidence to act on it more knowingly. But there is also a beauty in the unfolding of life and that in time more is revealed. There are also times when I can look back through my entries and see the progress that I have made in my life. I need to do more of that...give myself credit for my accomplishments across multiple domains...especially at this current junction of transition.
Time, you are a tricky thing. Sometimes it is agonizing waiting for it to pass, to be patient in allowing enough distance to do its work of growing or healing. Other times, you want to hold onto every second and try to steal away every bit of vibrancy experienced in those wonderfully big moments. It is a balance of patience, awareness and living to feel infinite.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dealing With My Anger

I don't do angry well. I don't like to feel angry. Part of me feels guilty when I feel angry because it feels like it upsets the balance of the good that I feel about someone, or felt about them. Anger also feels dangerous, much like fire. It is like I am weary of getting too close to that emotion because I am afraid of it settling in too easily and turning into bitterness. It can be hard for me to be able to let go of things. And because I know this about myself, I would rather just avoid that path of accidently getting consumed by the hurt, pain and resentment.

Instead, I often times internalize that anger and blame myself. It is easier to be hard on myself, which I know is not a healthy choice.

But I also try to focus that negative energy into something more productive, like running or playing sports. Thank you, Pittsburgh, for the PSL! The PSL is the Pittsburgh Sports League and is part of the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project (http://www.pump.org/). The whole idea of the organization is great and I think every city should have one, if they don't already. And through it, I have taken out my aggressions through things like flag football, cornhole and dodgeball. It is not like I really want to think about who or what I am mad at or about, but just want to expel the energy.

Then when I can focus and get on a roll, I will pour myself into my work. Before it was grad school, and now it is in looking for a job. I know I am hard on myself because I would like to have had more progress in my job search, but I have to be patient and just keep going. It is like there are not enough hours in the day. I will also sometimes feel badly if I take a break or let myself sleep in a little bit. But I need that rest, too. I need the quiet or the time to reflect and process all that has happend and is happening in my life. But I don't want to get bogged down by it either.

So my developing realization is that I am angry with RJ. I'm not angry, angry...and do not plan on staying angry with him. It is more of that natural hurt that comes with rejection. I just need to let myself feel it and let it pass. Forgiveness will come in time. I do not hold anger in my heart towards him. My grouchiness is almost like a distancing when thinking or talking about RJ. I certainly do not want to badmouth him, but it is more like releasing some of the irksome stuff. I spent a lot of time thinking about the things that attracted me to him, the ways we complimented each other and the qualities that I loved about him. It just makes me too sad now and I am dissapointed and frustrated with his decision. I am just searching for a way to slowly separate myself from him, while having that balance of honoring the good and the moments that we shared and experienced together.