If Walls Could Talk…

…what would they say? Or better yet, if *my* walls could talk…what would *they* say?

This was a concept that was brought up between my longest known best friend and myself when we had a rare visit today. While the conversation about it was very short and actually not a reference for what I’m about to write about here, my immediate reaction to thinking about the question made me a little queasy as my mind went to negative thoughts first.

You see, while I’ve been incredibly quiet over the last several months, it’s not been because life has been unbelievably busy with happiness. I’ve been going through several big life changes going on at once. One of those changes is that my oldest child not only turned 18, but he decided he wanted to be independent and move out. Talk about a momentous occasion…

I have a very clear memory of when my boy was a brand new, tiny infant, and I was upset because someone had hurt my feelings. As I clutched my happily sleeping, milk-drunk newborn to my chest and tears fell into his feathery blond hair, I remember wanting so fiercely to protect him from all hurts in life. I had felt maternal and protective over him since early in my pregnancy, but this was the first moment I clearly remember so desperately wanting to guard and protect his heart more than I’d ever wanted something before in my life. The love of a parent is strong.

In the blink of an eye, my doe-eyed, sweet baby boy turned into a tall, handsome grown man–a strong-willed, stubborn one at that. While he knew that I wanted him to wait for a while to move out (and for all good reasons), he was itching to be out on his own and made the choice to pack up anyway.

He’s my oldest, so this is the first time I’m experiencing this momentous mommy occasion. Not only that, but it’s a big realization that my other kids that stair-step down immediately in age are right behind him. With my youngest being almost 16, I’m not all that far from having an empty nest. This is a big deal for any parent, but it’s even more so for me. You see, I’ve been a mama with kids in the home since I was still just a kid myself. I went from being a kid in my mom’s home to being a mom and wife before I was even 18. All I’ve known of adult life is parenting. It’s a whole new me and life in the process of transition right now and so many emotions that go with it.

Going through this, I’ve struggled lately with feeling weight of guilt and grief over ways that I have made mistakes over the years. I carry hurts collected over the years in ways that I’ve failed. As parents, we all know that we aren’t perfect and that we are bound to make mistakes. But being faced with the reality of how my time is up with my boy being a kid in my home and there are no more chances of parenting him in that aspect has been a hard pill for me to swallow.

All of this thinking lately has had my heart so very tender. So today, thinking about if my walls could talk, I immediately thought of my mistakes and dark and hard moments. I started turning it all around in my head though as soon as my friend left. Have there been mistakes? Have there been regrets? Have there been moments I wish I could take back? Absolutely. Is all that stuff what my walls would talk about though…?

We are often our own worst critics. I’m no exception there. Thinking about my children’s lives up to this point though, I’ve had some amazing moments too. I have overcome battles that many succumb to. I have lived life as a single mom for many years, often with very little financial support from anyone else, without my children’s father’s presence, without family checking on me and lending a hand, and often even while working two jobs. I have cared deeply about my babies and what they’ve had in life. I’ve struggled and fought hard, but…I’ve been fighting a winning fight. My children have been provided for and have turned into these teenagers that regularly blow me away with their kindness, helpful attitudes, and gentle spirits. They have been the kind of kids that regularly get compliments for being good kids. I can be hard on myself, but I then have to remember that it’s not just chance. My babies are good people because of the work I’ve put in and done right.

I love my kids more than I love having air to breathe, and I’ve never been shy about expressing that. Their whole lives, I’ve made sure to assure them of my love, both with my words and my actions. I have freely handed out “I love you’s,” hugs, and kisses. My kids have never had to question whether or not they are important to me. I fail daily because I’m human, but I also do right every single day.

If these walls could talk, they *could* talk about “unspeakable mommy moments” as another girlfriend of mine calls them. They could talk about mistakes, tempers lost, dirty dishes that have stayed stacked in the sink for too long, carpets that went too long without seeing a shampooer, and laundry that did three go-’rounds in the washer due to failure to get them into the dryer before they smelled sour. They could talk about endless times where pizza was bought for dinner because I’d rather pay for food to be delivered than to cook after working 12 hours in steel toed boots and coveralls in 20 degree weather, the times I’d skipped a shower in favor of just falling into bed in exhaustion, or times I’d rather toss leftover food-filled Tupperware dishes than to wash moldy spaghetti sauce out. I could easily write a thousand words here on my mistakes or poor moments. Is that truly what my walls would talk about though…?

I don’t think so.

My walls would speak of love and determination. They would speak of a strong family bond. They would speak of kids that grew up knowing their mother loves them unconditionally and would lay her life down to protect them if need be. My walls would speak of dance parties in the kitchen while cooking, silly sing-song voices being goofy when we’re alone together, loving life lessons being taught about growing up, and laughter–SO. MUCH. LAUGHTER.

I have never claimed to be perfect, and this post isn’t about boasting. I’ve decided though, while I fall short, my walls would glow talking about a family that is fierce, strong, and united. My walls would talk about what life and parenting all boils down to… Love. My walls would *proudly* speak of love.

The Best Damn Dad – Me

          You don’t have to have followed me for long to realize that I’m passionate about empowering people–especially women. If you’ve followed a little bit longer, you might have even picked up on the fact that I’m a single mom. While I often direct my support and attention towards women, there’s something I want to say that involves men. There’s been a lot on social media these days about men and masculinity, and it seems even that there’s been a blanket attack on them/it. It’s a hard day and age to be raising boys in. As a single mom of two teenage boys (and one teenage daughter), I have had to play the role of both mother and father. My football playing daughter will proudly tell anyone that it was not her absent father that taught her how to throw a football or has driven her home from countless practices and games and cheered her on at every game I could attend between my two jobs. That’s been one of the cool things about being “dad.” The less glamorous side is needing to be dad to boys in all the ways that young men need too.
          Men. Your precious little boys are going to be men, and we need to train them to be good men. It is important that they get good life lessons and examples, even if their fathers are absent. My oldest child is almost an adult. I have had to be the one to talk to my boys about sex (safe sex, not pressuring women, consent), shaving, hygiene, etc. Today, as I stood in the kitchen complaining of cramps while my almost 18 year old son cooked breakfast, I realized it was a good teaching moment.
          I talked to him about when he has a wife, he needs to be understanding about her period and period pain. I told him to offer to go buy her preferred products. Take a picture of the packaging to ensure getting the right ones. Pick her up some chocolate, or ice cream, or something else she likes. I told him not to make a big deal about blood. It happens. Sometimes it gets on surfaces in the bathroom. Sometimes leaks happen on the sheets. I told him to be loving about it. Let her know that it’s no big deal. I took the opportunity to add in some other life lessons as well. Buy her flowers once in a while, for no reason. Women are emotional creatures and we need loving reminders that we are cared about outside of the bedroom.
          As I talked, my son continued to cook, but I knew he was hearing me. Not just hearing, but listening with his heart. I told him that life isn’t guaranteed and I can’t promise I’ll be here forever to teach him about life, so I need to have those moments with him when the opportunity arises.
          “Yes, Mama,” he said. He understood.
          Life has not been easy on us, and it has not been easy for me to parent by myself. I know that I am giving my boys the best start that I’m capable of giving though. They know that it’s okay to cry, but they also know that it’s okay to be strong and all the things that make them set apart and special as men. My ex-husband has provided the example of what NOT to be as a husband and father, but I have tried my damnedest to be the mama that puts on my boots and teaches them what a man IS. I’ve worked hard, I’ve given them life lessons, I’ve taught them how to throw a football and how to shoot a gun, I’ve taught them about shaving their faces, taking care of themselves, driving–both an automatic AND a stick shift, and have been the one to teach them how to put on cologne. I want them to be well-adjusted, loving, strong, sensitive, God fearing, caring, independent, compassionate men. I may be their mama, but I’m the best damn dad they’ve ever had.
th*I don’t completely agree with this photo, because my boys are going to be more than husbands, but you can see my point here.*

Hard Times, Harder Fight

This last week has been one of the hardest I have endured in a long time. As I have been fighting hard to make my life better, it seems that for every step forward I take, I am knocked back two. While I’m working hard to keep making forward progress, this last week made me feel like what little light I had going on at the end of the tunnel had been snuffed out.

I have written over and over again about hope, positivity, and choosing to focus on the good in life. I struggled this week though for a variety of reasons. It was like life needed to knock me on my butt, and once I was there, the blows just kept coming.

I got a new full time job. Yay, right?! Wrong. For one, I’m not thrilled to be back to living the two job life. Working 6 to 7 days a week is exhausting. It pretty much takes away any kind of personal life I can have and makes it seem like I just live to work. Two jobs is temporary though, so I can get over that. For the first time in my life though, I’m now in a factory job. The work is hard, the days are long, the rules are extremely strict, and my position is outside in the elements all day. Coming into winter now makes me cringe at the thought of having to spend 40+ hours outside in it each week. I was devastated when I realized my position assignment for this. It was definitely not what I had wanted.

On top of the work stuff, it seems that my entire personal life decided to fall apart at the same time too. While I don’t want to go into much detail because it’s not just my privacy at stake, but many others too, I can say that this week was nothing short of a shitshow. Every single day, life was throwing punches that were pummeling my heart. I cried, I screamed, I yelled, and then I cried some more. I even had a full on meltdown. Let’s just say that life was not kind to me over the last several days. I had several moments where I felt like this is all just too hard, and I wanted to throw in the towel. Exhaustion, adjusting to major new life changes, getting my feelings hurt deeply, dealing with parenting rebellious teenagers, and more all at once was enough to leave me crying like a little baby every single day. It was just an incredibly hard week.

As I’ve been thinking about all of this the last couple of days though, I am reminded of one thing. I can’t change a lot about my life circumstances right now. The one thing I can control though is my attitude. I have a choice in whether or not I crumple to the ground and let my entire world fall apart. I have a choice in whether or not I want to start this new job with a positive outlook. I have a choice in whether or not I want to wallow in miserable self-pity or if I pull myself up by the bootstraps and push forward with a smile on my face.

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It is okay to have those occasional meltdowns, especially when life is throwing the amount of crazy curveballs it has been throwing me lately. It is okay to cry and scream and lose it. Go ahead and meltdown. But then, when you’ve cried it all out, dry your eyes, wash your face, and then get back up! If life is going to throw punches, then throw some punches of your own back! You own your life, you own your reactions and choices, and you own your behavior. Focus on what you can change, and let go of what you cannot. These were the big lessons I was reminded of this week.

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And lastly, if you are struggling to the point that you are considering suicide, please reach out. There are many resources available and you are not alone. Your life is worth living.

Hang in there, my friends. Life is all about seasons and if you are going through an incredibly hard season right now, take comfort in knowing that a good one is coming soon.

Much love,
Moonshine Niki

I’m Making Change My B****

*Repost from an old blog site*

Changes.

Man, I’ve never done well or liked change in my life. I remember a story from when I was little that my mom used to tell. I remember her telling me that when I was a very small child (preschool age), my grandma had changed her hair. As soon as I saw her with a different style, I freaked out and was incredibly upset that she no longer looked like the grandma I was used to seeing. And that story pretty much describes how I’ve been with change my entire life.

Lately, there’s been so much change, and I’d be lying if I said I was adapting quickly and easily. It’s been very difficult. It has not been easy adjusting to dealing with every aspect of life completely by myself—cleaning, parenting, car issues, pet issues, cooking, and a million other things. I don’t love having no one by my side, no one texting or calling me because they miss me, no one checking in on me. I don’t love knowing that every single issue there is, I’m the only one responsible. I don’t love that no matter how lonely or sad I feel, there’s no one out there to fix it. I can only fix myself.

It may not be coming easily, but it’s coming though. I’m adapting slowly but surely. I’ve learned a lot about how the only person I can really rely and depend on is me. Only I can save myself. I’m going to be just fine. I will figure out how to not only survive by myself, but I’m going to thrive, baby! I’m strong. I’m independent. I’m smart. I’m passionate. I’m driven. I am woman—hear me roar!!!

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Angry Ranting

I can’t quite tell which end is up and which is down lately. I’m kind of lost. I’m overwhelmed and I’m obviously in a period of personal growth and like I’ve written before in Growing Pains, growth hurts. I’m feeling a little chaotic inside these days. I’m feeling overstimulated by a lot in life. I’ve pretty much run away from social media, I’ve shut many people out, and I’m not quite sure how to straighten out all this yuck that I’ve got going on inside. The only thing I do know is that I need some time and space. I need time for me to just figure out what I’ve got going on inside my own heart and mind.

I’m feeling let down and disappointed by many events and people in life. I have so many friends and even family that profess love and support and yet are oddly absent. Don’t get me wrong, I have a couple people that are present and supportive and I’m beyond blessed by them, but those that are lacking leaves a pain in my heart. I feel unworthy because of it. It’s been a lifelong struggle for me, I continue to feel that I am not enough. I’m not enough to be loved. I’m not enough to be anything but disposable. I’m not enough to for a lifetime commitment from anyone, let alone a lover.

How do I overcome this? How do I get out of this funk that I’m in? I’m not quite sure of the answer to that. One thing I’ve realize recently is that I’m still not over my ex, or rather, I’m not over my heart being broken into so many pieces. I want to be. I’m angry at him. I don’t sit at home and think fond thoughts of him and pining away for him to come back. I don’t want him to want me. I don’t care what he’s got going on in life or what him and his barbie are up to (speaking of which, I’d love if my friends and loved ones could stop telling me when they see him; that’d be great). But I’m still not over the situation nonetheless. It’s only been two and a half months since he rocked my world in the worst way. I truly loved him with every fiber of my being, so I guess it’s understandable that I’m not over it yet. I’m also guessing that the only way to get over it all is time. I don’t know how to not be angry though. I don’t know how to not have negative feelings about how long he strung me along, telling me he loved me, letting me play step mommy to his children, washing and putting away his laundry, cooking for him, encouraging him in life, building him up, planning a future for us as a family all while he used me. Used me for security, used me to fill the void he had while trying to get over his ex, used me to help with his children, used me for all that I was only to turn around and discard me and my love like trash. To break my heart, rock mine and my children’s world, to tell me he never loved me. The more time that passes, the more I can recognize all the warning signs I was previously blind to. And with that, the more angry and stupid that I feel. I was foolish, and he broke my heart in a big way.

The more that I type here, the more that I realize that many of my issues are anger in general. This is why I love writing. I feel scorned by several people. Aside from my ex, I’m frustrated with the lack of support and help from my family. As I work two jobs, 6 to 7 days a week, as I am constantly running, constantly in a rush, constantly feeling like I don’t even have time to breathe, I’m upset at where I feel like I should have family there for me but don’t. I’m upset that while my sister gets help freely from my mother, including being able to move back home during a hard financial time, I do not. Never would it ever even be on the table. I work constantly, something which my mother talks negatively about as if I have a choice, and yet, there’s judgement and nothing else. So, of course, I’m angry.

I can’t figure out whether I’m going to implode or explode, but one of ‘em is coming if something doesn’t change. I just find myself flailing lately and with a short fuse. I want to lose it. Publicly even. I want to type in my best shouting voice and tell everyone on social media what I think. I want to spill every thought and feeling. But for now…just this angry ranting. That’s all I’ve got.

So, to every single person that has been absent when I so desperately have needed you; fuck you. I’m angry.

Here’s to a New Chapter

Social media is great in many ways, but man, sometimes it sucks! Going through a breakup is one of those times I hate social media, and this time was the worst.

“We can still be friends,” he says as he’s breaking my heart weeks ago and saying he wants to move out.

I cried, “I don’t want to be your friend. I want to be your girlfriend.”

I wanted a piece of him still, even if it meant without a romantic relationship, so I agreed to be friends. I noticed how he’d pulled away suddenly and how his actions were contradicting his words, but I was so lost and confused in the center of the storm that I didn’t consciously think much about it. During the several day period where we were in the middle, in purgatory, with him still living with me after he’d said he wanted to end it, but then changing his mind and saying he wanted to keep trying, everything he was saying was telling me between the lines that he was leaving. Deep down I knew he was gone for good and that someone else had his attention already.

“If it doesn’t work out, I know you’ll be okay. You’re a strong woman.”

“You’ll find someone new who will be your forever, I’m sure of it.”

“I’m just going to focus on me and my kids,” he says, but then one breath later, “You should get out and have fun and meet new people,” and, “Be young and wild and free.”

Why? Why do I need to get out? Why do I need to meet new people? Why are you pushing me out there and then encouraging me to go party of all things? How fast are you moving with someone else to be coming at me with this stuff when you still have belongings that haven’t even been moved out of my house yet?

I’m not stupid. I may have had some serious denial going on and even been foolish for all of my hoping, but I’m definitely not stupid, and I knew exactly what these statements meant. These statements meant there was already another girl. These statements meant he didn’t want to feel guilty and if I quickly found someone else, he wouldn’t have to. I knew this was true because it was only a matter of days before there were flirty statuses going up on Facebook from him that were clearly intended for one person, and it wasn’t me. Wanting to continue with the goal of being friends and knowing it would just take some time to not be so sensitive to that stuff, I simply unfollowed him.

I pushed forward with my life without him. I started working out, I quickly found a support system of just a few friends that I could talk to and rely on, and I started focusing on the important things in my life that had nothing to do with him.

One of my most important tasks was to find a second job. I was terrified of what that could mean for me and scared that I would have to work 7 days a week. I’m a mother and my children, even though they are teenagers, still need me. I have to take care of me to take care of them and it’s hard to take care of me if I never get a day off of work.

Well, there have been some rapid changes over the last few days. One is that I got hired and start working a second job next week. The manager was very kind when I talked with him about the hours I’m looking for and what my schedule is like for my main job. He said he intends to work me 3 evenings a week and understands that I’m still hoping to get one day off a weekend so that I have one day off from both jobs and will work with me on that too.

Another change is that I actually went on a date. It was wonderful. It was with a friend I’ve known for years and he was incredibly sweet and gentlemanly. It was a lovely reminder that I’m still a woman and more than just a mom and employee, that I am desirable, and that I am wanted. I won’t go into details here, but I can say that I’m very much hoping we’ll get together again.

The last change is that yesterday when I was getting ready to start work, I thought to myself that I’m in a great mood and I’m getting over the old relationship and maybe I can look at his Facebook page without getting upset. I was immediately greeted with the confirmation of what I already knew to be true. There’s a new woman. I was taken aback. It’s not that there’s just someone new in general, because I already knew that was the case within days of him moving out, but to already be posting together and putting pictures up. . . I’ll spare you all my thoughts on this, but I will say that I realized in that moment, being friends is unnecessary. Clearly, it doesn’t matter what I think and feel to him and that’s not what friends are. I didn’t cry when I saw it. In fact, I wasn’t filled with any intense emotion (can I get an amen for healing?!), and I was proud in that moment that I wasn’t tempted to lash out at anyone. It was time to take my next big girl step and hit the unfriend button. We weren’t friends before we dated; there’s no need to be friends now. I clicked that button and smiled. Chapter closed.

Waking up today and getting everyone ready and out the door for the first day of school, I have been in an amazing mood. I’m handling my business. I’ve got my own back. I feel happy again! Finding a job took away a ginormous amount of stress. I now know that I have a plan. I know what has to happen to get our necessities covered. I also know that the activity of working another job will help my weight loss along. All of these things will make me feel better emotionally and mentally and once again, confidence will shine through. Just as I mentioned in my post The Weak Hunt the Wounded about how broken people attract more broken people, the opposite is also true. With me feeling great and confident and happy, those are also the people I will attract in my life.

So, my friends, things are good! I’m onto a new chapter and new adventures and I couldn’t be more excited for it. Here’s to a new page turned!

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I Lost Him, But I Found Me

When he first told me he was leaving, I was understandably devastated. I couldn’t believe it and was in total shock. It hurt deeply, and every day since then has hurt. I didn’t think I could live without him. But (and it’s a really big but), I’m doing it! I’m healing a little one day at a time. Where my heart has been pained, I see it sting a little less every day. Where I once couldn’t imagine life without him, I’m getting used to the idea of it. Where I thought I couldn’t be happy without him, I woke up happy today. I wanna cheer! I want to get up and do a happy dance because I didn’t feel strong initially and it took me only a short time to be able to see that I am indeed strong.

You see, I felt like when I was losing him, I was losing me too. Who am I without him? Who am I as just Niki, and not B’s girlfriend? How and what is my life by myself? You know what though? I’m still losing him, but I’m actually finding me! I can’t emphasize this point enough, but keep reading because I’m going to tell y’all how.

So since this all started, I’ve been talking to a few friends about my heartache. One day, one said, “You know what helps? Running.”

I laughed it off and said, “Have you ever seen a picture of me? I’m not going running.”

He assured me, anyone can do it. He gave me the name of an app that even beginners can do. I downloaded the app but then left it for days without doing anything about it. I was being swallowed up by my hurts and just didn’t care about starting. That was on top of my normal issues that get in the way of exercise (especially something hard on my joints). I struggle with chronic pain, I have a busy life, and let’s face it, I’m just really good at making excuses. The idea stayed in the back of my mind though. I even mentioned it to one of my dearest girlfriends (who happens to LOVE fitness and exercise). So on Saturday morning, when I texted her about the anxiety that seems to come in waves right now, she immediately followed up with telling me to get my tennis shoes on and get my booty outside. She told me to use it as fuel, to go until I can’t breathe, and put all of that negative energy to use. So you know what I did? I put on my tennis shoes! She offered to put her kids in a jogging stroller and go with me, so that’s what we did. It may not seem like much, and I definitely didn’t start with jogging, but we power walked 2 miles with much of it being uphill. When we got back, I literally had sweat running. Wanna know something else? It felt so good!!

I kept myself fairly busy the rest of the day and tried to focus on anything other than letting my brain go into overdrive about what I can’t change. I had a planned date on Saturday night with another girlfriend and was happy to get out and do that. Unfortunately, that meant not getting much sleep, and the sleep I did get was poor. But you know what I did when I woke up Sunday morning and could feel sadness and loneliness seeping in? Yep, you guessed it! I put on my tennis shoes! Without my friend this time, I took the dogs around the block, dropped them back off at home, and then did that same 2 mile loop. I pushed myself hard. I got home again covered in sweat and feeling on top of the world.

I went inside and went to get in the shower and paused to look in the mirror. I looked at how red my face was and how my hair was wet from sweat. I looked at my deflating belly that is already noticeably smaller with my breakup weight loss. I stood there and appreciated myself for the first time in I can’t even tell y’all how long. I saw beauty in my face where I’d forgotten it was once there. I saw attractiveness in my body where for several months I’d just been able to see fat. Where my self-esteem had once plummeted dangerously low, I saw and felt my worth for the first time looking in the mirror that day.

In this recent heartache, I’ve had more time on my hands. I’m not rushing anything to spend time with a partner, so I have time to focus. I’ve started lovingly taken care of myself. I take great care in the little things that I’ve previously not done as often or done hastily. I’m taking the time to shave my legs with care, to take good care of my feet, brushing my teeth, washing my body, moisturizing my face, lotioning my skin. Most of these things are obviously things I was doing, but doing them now is different. It’s with love and affection for myself. It’s done slowly and well. All of this is with new exercise and good water intake. I’m not consuming soda (okay, well except for that night out drinking hehe). I’m not consuming junk food. My initial weight loss was from stress, but hey, since it’s started, now I’m going to take it and run with it (literally as I haven’t yet started to actually jog, but I promise, I’m getting there). I deserve to be well cared for and there’s no one better to do it than me.

I lost him, but it’s giving me the chance to find me and make the changes that should have been made a long time ago. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but I’m dedicated to this new self-care thing. It’s about time that I seek no love but my own. So hello, me, I’ve missed you.

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I Am Strong

Every day is hard right now. There’s nothing to fix it except to just keep feeling it all until it stings less and to develop a new routine and norm. I’m so used to my days starting with his kiss, to coming home to his goofy grin and humor, to sleeping cuddled close. Now I wake alone, I sleep alone, I live life alone. I love my children to pieces, but they can’t fulfill the “need” of having an adult in my life. I know with all that I am that I will get through this without crumbling, but I also know it’s not easy. I have no idea when I’ll stop feeling extreme anxiety in the afternoons. I have no idea when I’ll stop aching for his touch at night. I have no idea when it will stop being uncomfortable to be at home. I just know that eventually all those things will happen. There’s peace in that knowledge too. This is not the first time in my life I’ve experienced heartache. It’s not even the worst heartache I’ve ever endured (though it’s the worst in a really long time). I know I’m going to be okay though because I’m already experiencing moments where I feel at peace and have less moments filled with sorrow. At this point, the scariest part is the finances and not being sure if my employer is going to be able to help (which miraculously is a possibility) or if I’ll have to get a second job. Whatever that solution is, there will still be so much more peace once I have it figured out. Knowing that the financial aspect is the most worrisome part is also a giver of peace. I’ve grown to start disliking the phrase about being a strong woman, but it’s totally true. I am strong.  And at some point, my strong, cute ass will look back on all this and smile at the lessons learned and where this will take me. This doesn’t break me. I am not broken. No one has that power. I. Am. Strong.

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Shattered. Simply Shattered.

Shattered. That is my heart at the moment. That’s the best word I can come up with to describe myself. Simply shattered.

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Anyone who’s ever paid attention to my blogs knows that I’m not real private. I’ll tell pretty much anyone pretty much anything going on in my life. One thing I’m normally intensely private about though is breakups, if for no other reason, than just because I like having time to digest it all by myself without anyone getting in my business.

This time is a little different. I would really like to be private about everything, but y’all know me and I must write to process. So I might as well just lay it all out there. The love of my life told me he’s never been in love with me and left. Can you imagine the sting?

B isn’t a bad guy. If he was, I never would have been involved in the first place. The problem was largely timing. I knew better than to get involved with someone so fresh out of a bad marriage. Part of me even knew he wasn’t yet over his cheating wife when we began. What I did not know though was that I would still have all the faith in the world…and that it would break me.

This all started a week and a half ago. An argument no worse than any other (neither of us is much for fighting) on a Tuesday night would be the beginning of a very rough 2 weeks. It would be the beginning of the end. For the first time in our entire relationship, when he got up for work in the early morning that Wednesday, he left without kissing me goodbye. I somehow instinctively knew he wouldn’t too. While I normally sleep soundly while he gets ready until he comes to kiss me, I wasn’t sleeping that morning. I could just feel that something had changed. I had to pee but I didn’t want to move. I was trying to will him into coming in and kissing me. I laid in that bed and watched his shadow cross the wall from the outside and then listened to his truck back out of the driveway. I was crushed.

By the time I was pulling into work later that morning, he had told me he might be ending it. I was in shock and thought there was no way a little fight could mean that. I was panicked but trying so hard to hold myself together. I didn’t do well. I threw up uncontrollably. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t think. Two days later, he told me he was done, but that he still wanted his children to come for the weekend at my house because of family plans that had been in place for a while and then move out the following Monday. What the f***. . .?!

I couldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t believe it. I continued with my throwing up, constantly crying, no eating, sleeping horribly cycle. I started dropping weight immediately and drastically. I felt like my world was ending. I begged and pleaded for him to change his mind. I tried to remind him of everything great about us. I told him how I’d never loved anyone in my life like I love him, how I never had fully given myself to someone before him, how much I thought he was my “forever” in life—all truths. What I couldn’t yet swallow though was that it all didn’t matter. He couldn’t change the way he felt (or rather, didn’t feel).

The weekend was even harder than I could’ve imagined it would be. I love his children. Every moment was difficult because I couldn’t stop wondering if it would be our last. Is this the last picture together, is this the last time I would cook for them, is this the last time I would get a “monkey hug” before strapping them into their car seats for their trip back to their mama’s house? It was hard to go to his dad and step mom’s house for a BBQ because I love them so much. On that afternoon, after much talking and crying, he said he changed his mind. I didn’t feel relieved though, I felt terrified. Why the sudden change? Would he change his mind right back?

On Sunday, we took pictures together and I wondered if I would ever see them. I was so scared but so filled with hope. We talked Sunday night about all of the issues and I finally felt so relieved. Despite his constant venting to his mom and sister about any complaint about me or us, he never talked to me about any of it before now, and I thought it was going to work. Every fear or complaint he had about our relationship, I had a valid answer, response, and plan for. I went to bed on Sunday night feeling like it was all going to be okay, but once again, I woke up on Monday morning just instinctively knowing that something was wrong.

I noticed every time B did something that wasn’t normal and was out of place. I noticed he still was not calling me “baby” and was largely avoiding me. I knew what was coming. Monday night, he told me he’d felt I’d manipulated him with everything I’d said, including that I had gone along with the weekend hoping that he would see me with his children and family and realize what he was doing. (Side note, reflecting back on this event today, I can see it was his mom and sister that told him they felt I was being manipulative.)

That night, I listened to him but I didn’t freak out. I didn’t cry. He had said that he’d previously said he’d stay “for a while” and work on it and that he was still going to do that. I knew what it meant though. It meant that he was just trying to relieve the guilt he felt for changing his mind once again. I woke up on Tuesday morning angry. I then realized I was the one being manipulated. He wanted me to relieve him of his guilt and tell him to just go.

I spent most of my day fairly calm until it got to the afternoon. Then I was getting upset. Everything about his behavior said he was done. And finally, for me, I was finally done on the crazy intense roller coaster I’d been on for two weeks too. If he wanted to leave, then so be it. I was tired of throwing up, being unable to eat, and sleeping so poorly. I was tired of crying and fearing. I was tired of pretending like things could get better. I was tired of walking on eggshells worrying that I would upset him.

The final end started in text message. That was when that tired cliché of “I love you but I’m not in love with you” started. I asked him if he loved me. He told me he was never in love with me to begin with. That was it. I was done.

This time, there was no talk of ending things. It was just known without being spoken. I told him he never should have gotten my hopes back up. I told him I was going to hurt like hell, but ultimately, I know that heartache won’t kill me and that’s a lesson I’d learned already in life when I had to lay my child to rest. Then I told him we’d discuss him moving out when we were both home from work.

Things fell apart from there though. I was angry and crushed. I chose to cope that first night by drinking. I got angry at everything and everyone. It became apparent that I should not be there while he moved his stuff out. I went home before he got there and cleared off all of my stuff from the top of his dresser. I dropped his picture frame and saw the glass crack. While it wasn’t intentional, the angry part of me felt satisfied. I was on the porch when he pulled up. He knew I would only be there for a moment to get his house key and help him change his relationship status on Facebook and to hide it so that others wouldn’t see the change and comment on it. It took less than 2 minutes, and I was back in my rig, bawling my eyes out. I left knowing that I would not want to return to see all the holes where his stuff used to be.

I was so angry at him and yet I couldn’t blame him either. If he couldn’t feel more for me, it’s not fair to him, me, my children, or his children to keep trying. I hadn’t realized quite yet how badly he’d used me. I just knew it was done for real and that I hurt.

I stayed away from home, drinking, in the arms of another man desperately trying to distract myself and be numb. It wasn’t until almost midnight that I’d arrived back home. I didn’t want to go back, but I knew I still had to go to work the next day and I had to go to bed. I walked into the bedroom and dissolved into tears again. I was rapidly bouncing back and forth between intense anger and sorrow. I wrote him an angry message on Facebook and sent it, took my clothes off, and crawled into my bed to cry until sweet sleep brought relief.

Yesterday was a blur. I woke up still drunk, numb, and knowing I only made my heartache worse by my choices the previous night. There was no one to really be angry at except myself. I ignored every red flag he’d ever given me – and there were many.

There is no cure for any of the pain except to keep feeling it until it lessens. I talked with my children in depth for the first time last night. I told them what I need and expect from them. I told them that at 13-16 years old, they are not little babies anymore and they’re old enough to understand. There were many tears from all of us, but I reassured them that we can make it just fine as a family of 4. We are partners. It was a hard conversation, but I think we all felt better.

I didn’t get drunk last night though, nor will I cope with alcohol to get through the hurts right now. Nighttime is the worst because it’s idle brain time to just think and feel. I’m going to keep allowing myself to feel without numbing it. It’s hard, but I have to heal the way intended so that I don’t do more damage. I refuse to do anything to make it any harder on myself or my kids.

I woke up this morning feeling better. There was no moment of confusion and having to remember what’s going on as there has been every morning for a week and a half. I’m down 17 pounds in 9 days (unintentionally) but I am starting to be able to eat more. I am heartsick, but I won’t be forever. I know that I’m going to be okay. I know that I’m going to heal. I know that I will continue to persevere for myself and my kiddos. I know that eventually, I won’t feel so shattered.

You Can Just Call Me Badass

Life has been busy lately between work, kids and home life, and freelance writing. It’s been so busy, in fact, that I haven’t sat down to write out of pleasure in a while. I’ve had some things on my mind lately, and I figured it was time to sit down and bang this post out.

Most people know how difficult it is dating as a single parent. In fact, if you don’t know this, I’m going to assume you live under a rock—a very large, dense rock at that. It’s HARD. To find someone, fall in love, blend families, and then live life in blissful peace is the equivalent of our modern-day fairytale because it’s pretty rare that that’s how it works out.

One reason dating is so difficult is because we live in a society that encourages fast paced living, self-indulgence, and frequent changes. You don’t like your car? Trade it in and get a new one! Tired of your job? Quit and find a different one! Aren’t happy in your relationship/marriage? Leave and find a new one! It’s no wonder that there are so many single parents and broken families out there. Dating is hard enough without adding in children’s laundry, daily football practice, piano lessons, dirty faces, and whines of “Moooommmmyy” or “Daaaaddddyy” in the middle of first and second dates and those first few sweet and yet awkward phone calls.

I personally have had a couple serious relationships after my marriage with my children’s father ended, and I’ve also had some time casually dating. Let me tell you what, that shit sucks! In fact, I was seeing someone last year and we were a few dates in. . .and then he witnessed my son have a rather large meltdown. Apparently that was enough for him because the next day, he texted me and said he needed to “take a step back.” So, back into the dating pool I went.

At this point, I was just over the whole thing. I wasn’t looking for casual sex, but that seemed to be all that was desired on all of the popular dating apps. I was a single mom of 3 teenagers, working 2 jobs to make ends meet, and was tired in every way possible. I wanted to find a partner, but it was not going to be through a dating website, and I’d lost pretty much all faith that it would happen at all. Then, a miracle happened. I met B.

We had a lot in common and much that was different too. While I had been in the dating game for a while (around 7 years since I had split with my ex-husband), he was brand new to dating. There were speed bumps and signs that pointed to maybe we shouldn’t get involved, but we were both enamored from the beginning, and so we pushed forward anyway and decided to become an official couple. In that decision, we have obviously become involved with each other’s children. Have I mentioned yet that dating as a single parent is hard…?

When you are in a brand new relationship, it’s easy to get lost in the stars in your eyes and the mush in your heart, but let’s face it, real life doesn’t stop just because you’re falling in love, and one giant reality is children.

When B and I met, my children were 15, 14, and almost 13. Teenagers are hard enough, but as I mentioned before, I have one kiddo that tends to make men turn tail and run. My son is an amazing person and full of charm and charisma normally, but in his hard moments, he is a handful to say the least. I love him and all of my children with all that I am, but I’m more than a mom. I am a woman and I have needs that go beyond my children. I need to be loved, to be desired, to be held, to be listened to, to be emotionally supported, and to be paid attention to from another adult. I never would want to put my children on the back burner, but I wanted a partner in my life too. But if I said that I wasn’t scared as hell about finding someone who fit everything I needed AND was able to handle my son (and children in general), I’d be lying my cute little skirt off. To make it even harder, I was downright terrified that I would fall in love, become vulnerable, let my children fall in love and become vulnerable, and then go through yet another heartache together again.

For B, he was pretty much brand new out of his failed marriage. He was still understandably hurting, tender, and guarded. His 2 children are much younger than mine and he feared not only being hurt in the same ways his ex had hurt him, but he naturally feared his children would get hurt too. They are so young that dating and then enduring another breakup would be so difficult for them to understand. He didn’t want to go through pain again, and he didn’t want his children to experience anymore pain. All of this is totally normal.

So there we were, 2 messes, 2 families, 2 grown up hearts, and 5 young hearts being meshed together. We were scared and yet we moved fairly fast in many ways because…well, LOVE! Before we knew it, we were neck-deep in this appointment, that school event, diapers and potty training, sibling rivalry, dishes, laundry, and grocery shopping together.

B has handled my son’s meltdowns with amazing patience. I have changed his son’s diapers and helped potty train. He has regularly picked up my children from their bus stop and listened with love and support to me complain about my children’s father not paying child support. I have cleaned up his children’s vomit from the stomach flu and listened to him with love and support complain about everything unfair at his job. He relates to my children in a way no one ever has and provides support to them. We plan birthdays and holidays together, we discuss parenting, discipline, and consequences together, and we work out our finances to maintain our home and provide for our children—all together. He lifts me up with his silliness and humor, and I keep him grounded with my seriousness, and we navigate life this way TOGETHER.

So, while I’ve rambled a long time about my own personal experience at dating as a single parent, I’m now getting to my real point. To my children, B is just B. He is Mama’s boyfriend. To B’s children, I am just Niki. I am Daddy’s girlfriend. Language evolves over time, and it wasn’t that long ago that people didn’t raise families and cohabit in one household without being married. Because of this, there is no in between word for what B and I are to each other’s children. We are not step parents; we haven’t quite earned that title yet, but we are so much more than just our children’s parent’s significant other. I know there are so many people all over that also fall into this category. So I think there needs to be a word invented that covers those of us in the middle area. When you wipe butts, drive to appointments, cook, get in the middle of kids fighting, deal with bed wetting, buy clothing, and handle pretty much every aspect of parenting for your partner’s children, you are more than just a girl/boyfriend.

We were recently at B’s child’s birthday party and as I was telling people about all of the last minute errand running, putting together presents, and all of the other chaos that happens to all parents right before big events like this, I mentioned my desire for that word and to write this blog post about it.

B suddenly looked over and said, “There is a word already.” I was shocked and thought he knew something I didn’t.

“What is it then?” I questioned.

He then looked me in the eye and said, “Badass. You’re a badass, and so am I.”

And you know what? He’s totally right. It’s not quite the word I was looking for, but it couldn’t be more accurate. We. Are. Badasses.

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*Update*
Looking back, I can see where I was naive in this relationship, and it inevitably ended. While things didn’t work out for us, I am still so proud of and in love with this blog. Those partners of parents that are parenting in every way from disciplining, to cooking, to enduring 317 episodes in a row Spongebob, to kissing boo-boos, and running endless errands–those parents deserve a better title. Many people choose to forego marriage these days, and to say those partners are no more than “Mom’s boyfriend” or “Dad’s girlfriend” is something I think needs updated to catch up with society. While we still haven’t created one yet since the original posting of this blog two years ago, I stand by my original statement… You can just call each of us Badass.