Friday, April 28, 2017

Day 1

Moving to a new home can be stressful. I suppose I feel similar writing this first entry here in my new blog. It doesn’t seem like it was 13 years ago that I started a silly little blog on MySpace, but it was.  I was somewhere in the neighborhood of 23 or 24 and I thought I was pretty amazing at the time.  Funny how that declines over time, isn’t it?  I that blog stopped abruptly when I had my miscarriage in January of 2009.  I had dramatically stated that my baby had died and nothing would ever be ok ever again.  I was both right and wrong.  I started a new blog in early 2011 about a month before I was to be single again, but not before I had welcomed my beautiful daughter Aurora in the world.  I was suffering from postpartum depression, although I didn’t realize it.  I was living this picture perfect life in my big house with my new car, looking like everything was fine when really the foundations I stood on turned out to be made of paper instead of concrete.  Six very long years followed.  I like to call them dark years.  I wrote anonymously.  I don’t think I was ashamed of what my life had become so much as I was lost.  I couldn’t find stable ground no matter how hard I tried.  I welcomed the love of my life, my son James into the world during these years.  I traveled.  I worked on myself.  I learned how to listen and be a better friend.  Most of all, I was trying to heal my heart and figure out who I really was and what I stood for.  In a lot of ways, I think that’s a life-long process and that’s ok.  But I finally feel like I’m standing on stable ground again and I can’t tell you how thankful I am for that. 
I don’t honestly know if this blog will garner the world-wide following that my last blog had.  Perhaps there was a greater intrigue because it was full of scandal and heartbreak and drama with no known author.  People from across the country and other countries would write to me and tell me they didn’t think anyone understood what they were going through and then I would cry for them because I didn’t want anyone to feel what I had walked through.  But I think this is just part of life, isn’t it? Pain is part of what you go through to grow and figure out who you are and what you stand for and that’s a good thing.  Had I not gotten the shit kicked out of me repeatedly, I wouldn’t be the person I am today and I love who I am, flaws and all.  I live my life by two main principals: doing the right thing and accepting the truth. In my experience, they are two perspectives that you can’t screw with.  Excuses don’t work on them, they are impervious to distortion, selfishness, manipulation, or any other type of general fuckery that adults tend to use when they want to justify who they are or why they act the way they do.  That doesn’t make me perfect and it certainly doesn’t make me better than anyone else.  Let’s call it a goal.  For anyone who knows me, I freely confess to not always being right and fucking up regularly. Did I mention I’ve been divorced three times?  No pedestals or high horses here.
I love the truth. I was raised by a woman who lied constantly to make things appear how she wanted people to see them.  I’m a firm believer in loving what is.  This means a lot of things—it can be not bemoaning that I didn’t have the mother I “deserved” or acting like I was shortchanged in life, accepting the misfortunes that have happened to me without seeking pity, or perhaps looking at the unorthodox situation I’m in with my children and their parents and being incredibly grateful for it.  You see, I have these four gorgeous children, two of them I gave birth to and two of them step, who I live and would die for.  All of their parents, biological and step, do our best to get along and work together to take care of them.  If you want proof of miracles, look no further than my family.  My daughter’s father, who was my best friend when we were in our early 20s, and I have managed to heal our friendship and become friends once again. After knowing his wife for 6 years, I love her like a sister and I can’t imagine my life without her.  This woman is so amazing, she not only loves my daughter like her own, but she has found room in her heart to love not only my son as well, but my two step daughters, and helps regularly take care of any combination of the 4 of them when I need her.  Who knew that something that started with a tragedy of my divorce would lead to a situation that I’m so incredibly grateful for? Then I have the mother of my two step daughters that lives in my neighborhood who I talk to every day and consider one of my very best friends.  She was able to accept me as a person in her daughters’ lives and treat my other two children with love and kindness in a way that I would never expect anyone to do.  Just looking at these two women keeps my heart full daily.  Not to mention the fact that I have some badass daddies helping me raise all of these kids, including my current partner of course.  With any conflicts any of us parents may have had with our former partners, I think we would all agree that our daddies throw down for their kids. And what’s more important than that?  When I pray for all of the parents in our family, as I try to do daily, it’s to open our eyes to put our children first and open our hearts to each other to be the best parents we can be. 
Not that I would call myself a religious person or that all of us believe in God. I’m certainly not and we all don’t. It doesn’t stop me from praying, though. I like to think of God in a very omnipresent sense. That He is with all of us always, permeating all aspects of our life.  I joke that instead of talking to myself, I’m talking to God instead.  Really, Bro? What is the point of this? I better be learning something REALLY GOOD from all of this anxiety…and I always do.  I think the most noteworthy aspect of my life is that I always get what I want eventually, just not in my timetable and in the way I think I’m going to get it.  Honestly, I’m interested by religion.  I enjoy seeing how it all intersects from different viewpoints in different sacred texts and how people use it.  I like to think the word of God is truth and it’s for the common good and consistent with doing the right thing.  That means it’ll pop up over and over again in any religion you look into.  And from what I’ve seen, it does. It also makes it pretty easy to separate all the man-made malarkey that gets thrown into religious texts for political or monetary gain.  Sometimes it’s easy to get so frustrated with corruption that you lose the message, but I try not to.  Throw out the garbage and keep the good stuff. It’s worth it.  I’m hoping to pursue a PhD in world religions when my son gets a little older.
I wanted to start a new blog because I want to write something that everyone in my life can read, including my children one day.  There’s been a lot of talk about me turning the archives into a book and here’s what I think about that: my first blog is a testament to my innocence. It stopped when my innocence died with my baby. The time to grow up was upon me.  My life wasn’t all about trips to Europe and designer purses any longer and it took me a long time to come to grips with the reality of the world I lived in, which turned out to be a shell.  When my second blog started I was in such a state of chaos that I threw everything that I knew to be true out the window. I see it as a widespread panic. I almost wrote the blog, no matter how ugly things got, as a way to corroborate the truth. It was something I could put my finger on so that I could believe it all happened.  I don’t ever want to read those entries ever again.  Today, I look at my life and how settled I feel and I don’t want to add this to those years. I feel like that chapter is done.  I learned a lot about myself and the world and I’m content with that.  My only hope is that the pain and hardship I went through will help others when the opportunities present themselves. 
I think the biggest thing that surprised me about growing up so far is the amount of things that I don’t care about anymore.  I feel like the number of things that matter have decreased as I’ve gotten older.  I’ll be 37 in a couple of months and if I compare Tess now to Tess 10-15 years ago, the images are night and day.  Things that 26 year old me cared about that 36 year old doesn’t give a fuck about: year/make/model of my car, amount of money in my bank account, where I take vacations every year, my zip code/city, designer anything, where I shop, what people think of me, getting my way, being right, buying what I want.  Things 36 year old me cares about today: being a good person, something calling me a good listener/friend, being able to look at myself in the mirror, remember I’m not better than anyone else, not judging, setting a good example for my kids, pushing myself to do my best, having enough food to feed my kids, paying my bills, making time for people who need me, not taking out life’s frustrations on the people I love the most, and mostly, being happy.  People always told me that the older you get the less you know. I agree. I have nothing figured out, but if you want to talk to me, I’m happy to listen and maybe we can figure something out together.  But I promise not to judge you and I will love you for who you are with everything I have.  That’s me.  That’s the very best I can do and I promise you, your best is good enough too. In all aspects of your life.  Sound good?
So where am I now? I’m not sure.  I think I’m relearning lessons.  And let me tell you, that’s the hardest thing for me to admit to myself. I let the fact that I felt hurt and betrayed slow my progress to being a loving, supportive, trusting partner to someone in life.  That sucks and I have nobody to blame but myself.  Nobody is ever 100% guilty for things that happen in relationships.  We all play our parts and we all have a responsibility to learn from the things we did wrong and improve ourselves.  I don’t believe in demonizing people because all it does is prevent you from growing and learning.  I’m not innocent. It doesn’t matter what someone does to you, you are responsible for how you respond in any given situation.  When it came to relationships over the past 6 years, I had decided that my hurt was reason enough to not continue to learn. I told myself that what I had been doing didn’t work and so I should try something else.  What terrible logic and a load of bullshit.  So I continued to damage my personal life until I was pretty sure it was dead and couldn’t be resurrected.  And wasn’t I so satisfied that I was going to live out the rest of my life alone and in peace and quiet finally?
But we don’t get to plan our futures, do we? You meet people, interactions happen, and sometimes even if you run away and hide, you are found once more.  But I do believe in forgiveness, second/third/tenth changes, and the grace of God. I really do. I think we all have a path to walk and you are goddam going to accomplish what you are on this planet to do.  It doesn’t matter how big of a tantrum you throw.  And wasn’t I stuck in a tantrum for years? I really was.  Some things I’ve had to remember that I shoved down deep long ago:
1.  If you’re not crazy in love, it’s not worth it.  To be honest, I thought I only got one shot at it. I never dreamed I would find it again and get to be madly in love with someone I considered my best friend with my favorite face.  I just didn’t.  The funny thing is that it was my daughter’s dad himself who told me to wait for it again, probably because it had happened to him and he was so happy and was optimistic for me. You get to be right, buddy. Thank you for the encouragement. This is exactly why we are still friends. This is not to say that I did not love my son’s father. I did very much so. There were a lot of things I loved and appreciated about him, like how he acted as a father and took pride in his job.  But we were not crazy in love and I can admit that now.  Perhaps his purpose in my life was to bring me my son and I’m ok with that.
2.  You don’t talk badly about your partner.  I know better. I always have.  When you are married to someone, you don’t trash talk your partner out of anger or resentment or anything else.  I don’t care what they are doing to you. I give myself zero excuses or leeway on this. I did it in the past and I am sincerely sorry. It never should’ve happened and it will never happen again. What happens in a marriage should stay there, even once it’s over.  Some things are sacred and deserve respect. I cannot take back things that I’ve done to others or the way I hurt them. I can see that lack of trust and respect stems from these bad choices. I can resolve to relearn that lesson and move forward.
      3.  There is never an excuse to act superior. Oh yes, people. This is an ugly one. I may be better at something or I may be right. This does not make me a better person.  If you are with someone, you should respect them.  This means value their opinion or point of view, even if it is very different from yours.  Guess what? They existed just fine without you there and you are not superior just because you load the dish washer better, know a better way to drive somewhere, or have an easier time getting the kids to bed. So get over yourself.  I always say that your best effort is good enough and I need to remember that. It’s not ok to make some feel bad about themselves in comparison to you.  There are plenty of things that I suck at and I don’t want to be made to feel like shit over it.  I don’t always make the right choice, I’m embarrassed and ashamed of things in my past, and I am so, so far from perfect.  Love and acceptance is a two way street.
      4.  It’s all in or nothing.  You do not get to have one foot out the door or an escape strategy.  I know this all comes from fear. I have major abandonment issues from my mother to my exes. I tell myself that I’m better off alone and that I can do it by myself.  All that does is rob me of a real chance of stability and happiness in a relationship.  I know this.  It’s hard to trust and dismantle those walls we build around ourselves, but it has to be done.  I’m not talking about lowering the drawbridge to let someone in. I’m talking about bringing in the wrecking ball and bulldozer.  When we are young, it’s easy to love with all of your heart.  You still believe the fairy tale because you haven’t seen the devastation of heartbreak yourself. Your heart hasn’t felt it.  After having been around the block a few times, it’s a hard thing to swallow that fairy tale whole.  I think for me, first, I had to want to believe it, then I had to adjust the fairy tale so that it wasn’t all make believe.  Then I had to believe that my partner was capable of doing the things that made that modified fairy tale true.  No, you don't ride in on a white horse and take me to our castle after a white wedding and we live happily ever after.  But can save me with pizza when I burnt the lasagna and the kids are stuck on a torture setting, then help me fold four loads of laundry once they are in bed and still find the energy to have sex with me and fall asleep with me in your arms?  Cause that's my modern day love story.  Which means it would be my turn to be capable of doing those things too. Because relationships are a two way street and one person trying is not enough. Sometimes shit happens and things fall apart even with all the good intentions and effort you can muster. I see that now.  You can’t hold it against every man on the planet. That doesn’t make sense.  All relationships are hard, but if you find one that’s worth fighting for, you have to actually fight or that shit will fall apart too.

And so here I am. I’m not sure if this is the beginning or the ending or somewhere else in the middle. Maybe this is Chapter 3.  As typically happens in my life, I’ve become aware all of a sudden that I started walking in another direction than the one I was going in a moment ago, so I like to say it out loud, take a look around, and see if anyone else would like to come along with me.  I hope you will and I look forward to hearing from you along the way.