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.

Feeling Raw

I feel pretty raw lately. I’ve been trying so hard to climb out of the funk I’ve been in, but I seem to only be sliding further down into it. I feel lonely. I feel misunderstood. I feel like I’m the source of others’ frustrations. I feel like I’m not supported. I feel stretched thin. And did I mention I feel lonely?

This funk has been tough on those around me. I would say it’s also probably accurate that it’s pushed others away. I feel so lost and unsure of how to find myself again. I have been living a hard life for a long time and while it’s hard, I think that people tend to continue with what is hard because it is familiar and change is hard too. It’s hard and scary.

Sometimes all I want is for those closest to me to hug me tight and just remind me of their love and support. Lately, that seems to be in short supply, and the more I want it, the more I notice the absence of it. I just want to feel connected to others. I want to feel that I truly matter. I want to know that someone looks at my face and thinks, “Gosh, I sure am lucky to have her in my life.” I want these things because at the moment, I just feel like life is slapping me across the face every time I turn around.

I need to figure out what to do to help me. I have to figure out what changes need to be made and figure out a plan for them. I have to figure out how to let go of the negative forces—whatever they may be. And mostly, I have to figure out how not to forget that no matter who has let me down or hurt me, that’s not my fault and doesn’t affect my worth. I ~am~ worthy.

Him <3

I’m feeling pretty good today. I’ve had a lot of up and down lately which has been pretty chaotic inside for me. Raising teenagers, man, let me tell ya…it is not the easiest thing I’ve ever done. And of course, money stress is always…well…stressful. But all of that aside, I’ve had some really big blessings lately and I feel pretty damn lucky to be where I’m at.

When I was a scared 17 year old kid walking down the aisle to say “I do,” I knew it was a mistake. When I was immediately upset afterwards and didn’t want to leave with my new husband, I knew I’d made a bad choice. With all that I endured in the years after, I totally understood the joke about why divorce is so expensive (because it’s worth it, duh!).

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I had many ups and downs in the years following and endured a few bad relationships that left me with little hope about finding “the one.” I thought that I would never get the amazing relationship I’d always hoped for.

When thinking of relationships, I always dreamed of feeling like a princess. I had dreamed of being with a man that said sweet things to me, a man that didn’t raise his voice to me (or worse), a man that connected with my children in ways that made them feel the broken inside of them was being healed, a man that would hold me tight and scare away my demons, a man that made me feel that no matter how I look, I’m the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen, a man that would show me I was worthy of being loved, a man that would make me feel safe in every way. This seemed like the impossible, but I still kept trying… And then something truly amazing happened—I met Him.

*Please know that everything I say after this point may sound like a bunch of clichés strewn together, but I truly mean every word.*

Never before had I clicked so instantly and so well and on so many levels as I did with Him. He made me feel amazing from the start. His sense of humor stood out immediately upon meeting him. He clearly marches to the beat of his own drum and I’ve always loved that. He’s not afraid to be goofy and silly and for me, being the kind of person that is mostly serious and takes everything at face value, it was the total opposite of who I am. You know how they say opposites attract? That is us. There are so many things about us where we are extremely alike and there are others where we are total opposites. We complement each other well.

He also was the first to be so tender with me physically and with my heart. Of course being a man, he brought up typical flirty “man-like” topics, but he did so in a way that never made me feel belittled or like he was just hoping to hop straight into bed. On our first date, he very sweetly took my hand as we talked. He didn’t rush me, he listened to me, and at just the right moment, he leaned over and sweetly kissed me. I felt like a school girl with a crush; I was all full of butterflies inside. It was a great date, and from that night on, we were inseparable.

Let’s face it though, all relationships are good in the beginning or they wouldn’t start at all. Even for the beginning though, things with him were better than any other beginning I’d ever had. But you know what is even more awesome? Now that the honeymoon phase is fading and real life is setting in, things are still amazing.

In a relationship, you have to learn about the other person, and I don’t mean their favorite food or movie. I mean the things that you learn a little later on, like what makes him or her tick. When he or she is angry or upset, what does he or she need most? Close comfort? Space? Time? These are the things one starts to really learn once the honeymoon phase is over. This is where he and I are at right now. He is busy learning that if we have had a disagreement, I don’t care how upset either of us are, I still want kissed and hugged and told “I love you” and “goodnight” before we go to sleep. I’m busy learning what upsets him about the way I talk during a disagreement and that he needs space when frustrated and that it’s nothing personal against me. These things are important. And while no one likes to argue or have uncomfortable moments, I find much comfort in knowing that we have been together long enough that there are no facades. We are well aware that we each are not perfect. He knows that I get overwhelmed by noise and can’t even fake being okay when I’m overstimulated. I know that he gets overwhelmed sometimes by my constant desire to be “mushy” and intimate and needs a break from my emotional intensity. He knows that I need quiet time in my room to destress often and I know that he needs time to visit his family frequently. We are learning each other in ways that only time together can teach.

While living busy lives, both working, both having children, and both being exhausted regularly, we truly enjoy and appreciate each other. This is also a new concept for me. Never before have I felt in the middle of real life, after the honeymoon has ended, that I have been so connected to another. His smile, his eyes, his humor, his tender touch, his goofy dancing, and so much more—I can’t get enough. For the first time in my entire dating life, there are no red flags, no little nagging feelings of “is this really right?” going on in my heart and head that I’m choosing to ignore. For the first time ever, I don’t want anyone else in any way, shape, or fashion. He is everything. Everything I need, everything I want, everything I intend to keep. Forever. It’s all about Him.

Thrivin’ Survivor, That Is Me

*Repost from old blog site*

You’d think that knowing that I am strong, plus surviving some of the hardest things one could experience in life would automatically make me fearless, right? Wrong.

I’m facing a breakup. Lord knows that isn’t easy. After almost 3 years of dedication, 2 sets of children, and 1 combined household, I’m pretty much dreading “the talk” happening. How is that though? How is that so scary when I have been through so much—and survived?!

I’ve been sexually abused multiple times since I was a kid. I have had children as a teenager, gotten married a week after I turned 17 to a man that turned into a raging, abusive drug addict, and endured several years of mental, emotional, sexual, and physical abuse during that marriage. I have watched my then husband overdose, almost die, and recuperate—only to watch it happen all over again. I have battled chronic pain more than half my life that is at times crippling. I have held my infant daughter as her life support was turned off and she took her last breath, battled CPS, and pieced my life back together after meth. I have gotten through being homeless, jobless, and broke. I have battled court systems. I have battled people that wish me harm. And I have battled my own inner demons.

Nothing quite feels as terrifying as one’s husband hitting her in a rage, making her fear and know her life is in danger. Nothing feels as heartbreaking as laying one’s child on a hospital bed and turning away knowing one will never get to pick her baby up again and smell her scent, feel her warmth, nurture her at her breast, or hear her sweet cry again. Nothing is as hard as having to fight for one’s children against a government agency with a vendetta. And yet, I’ve been through all of that and survived and come out on top. I’ve not just survived, but I have thrived!

Even with that being the short list, I’m reading back over it and now sitting here wondering, how the hell am I afraid of a little breakup??? I need to just face it head on. Ready, set, go. 3, 2, 1, takeoff. Get it done, woman. There’s no way in hell that this is what suddenly breaks me! I am STRONG! I am powerful! I am woman—HEAR ME ROAR!!

Growing Pains

What do you do when life gets a little messy and you start to fall apart and that starts to have an impact on the people around you…? Well, if you’re like me, you start to write. So here I am, ready to ramble because I feel if I don’t let it all out, I might explode. Or implode. Either way, the consequences of that can be devastating.

 

I have a lot on my plate in life. Those that know me personally know that. Those that know me intimately know that sometimes I don’t handle it very well. But what can I say, I’m human. I work full time (out of town, so add travel time to my full plate), I have 3 teenage children that can be a handful as they struggle with some normal issues and some extreme issues depending on the kid we talk about, I have a shit ton of bills and financial stress, I have an ex-husband that doesn’t pay a penny in child support and I honestly don’t think he ever will, I lack a support system from my family (though, side note, the support from those I do have close to me is pretty freaking amazing, especially since they choose their relationship with me), I struggle with anxiety and depression frequently, and a hundred other things I could list here. My point is, sometimes I feel like I’m drowning and I’m overwhelmed. Sometimes I’m needy. Sometimes I’m emotional. Sometimes I require more love and attention from those close to me.

 

I seem to be in a growth spurt lately, and let me tell ya, I feel the growing pains. Like a child, it hurts, I cry, I accomplish, I laugh, I fall down, I get up, and it all repeats. Growing is hard. I’ve learned many important life lessons in the last year and a half and I’ve lost many “friends” and have had my heart stung through these lessons and losses. I’ve been used. I’ve been ignored. I’ve been treated badly. I’ve felt the crushing weight of stress. I’ve been scared. And through all of this, I’ve had to learn how to care for myself. I cannot put others’ needs before my own needs. I definitely cannot allow the poor choices of others to impact me to the point of me breaking. I’ve had to learn to depend on myself, even for emotional support. It’s been intense. It’s been painful. And in some ways, it’s been fulfilling. I’ve been learning and I’m still breathing and I keep moving forward. I’m succeeding, even through the changes. That’s what life is all about anyway, right?