Processing… Please hold.

I got into a conversation with someone this morning, they were telling me of a conversation they had with my daughter.  Apparently there were things she didn’t want to talk to me about, simply because she worries that when I am stressed, I may not be able to handle it.  It surprised me to hear.  There is something strange and unsettling to hear that your child thinks you’re weak.  Or at the very least, sees a weakness that perhaps you don’t.  I don’t quite know how to fully process that.  But I know that I will.

It led to me thinking through all that I’ve been through.  My brain immediately went back to Ben.  The night we knew something was wrong and raced him, in the dead of the night, to the hospital. That drive will forever be etched into my brain.  The songs that played quietly on the radio, The ex’s steady calm.  Funny, the man would occasionally drive me crazy with his immaturities and lack of self control, but when everything fell apart… when the hour was dire… and we stood on the edge of a very scary storm… he was someone else.  Someone I respected.  I don’t think I ever told him that.  I don’t think I ever told him how, even now, after all this time… I trust him more than I trust myself.  That deep in my heart, he was my very best friend.  I wish I could help him understand how much I loved him.  I don’t think he ever really knew.  And telling him now would be taken weirdly.  I guess I can’t take back the words I never said.  We both had to take on and face the scariest thing we could have possibly imagined.  A situation where we had no control, we were completely helpless – our heart’s were in the doctor’s hands.  Doctors we trusted, because of an ideal in our heads – that somehow – doctor’s were infallible.  Oh how I regret feeling that way. I’ve never felt so ill-prepared when we learned of their mistakes.  And we were both hurt in the most unimaginable ways by it all. Scarred from the pain in many ways.

I thought back to the many days and nights where I would work and work and work… not because I’m a strange person who doesn’t want to have a life or free time… but because I knew it would put food on the table or give me the ability to get the kids gifts for christmas.  Those were the years when the ex and I would eat ramen or spaghetti o’s so the kids could have balanced meals. These were times when we had so much debt over our heads that we would have to ignore a ringing phone. There was always a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that the world would crash down around us because we couldn’t pay a bill.

I thought back to days when depression and stress rang so loudly inside my head that I couldn’t even see myself within the cloud I was in.  When I would lay in bed and hide from the world, because it seemed smarter than going out and being hurt by it. When a person loses sight of who they are, and it takes them as long as I have to re-find yourself… there tends to be some disconnects.   I’ve changed in big ways since I last saw myself.  So it’s sometimes hard to trust my own intuition. Thankfully, In many ways, those changes were good.  I love myself now, and I know I didn’t before. I’m more laid back about so many things.  Life is going to happen… you can stress about it, or you can try and find a way to enjoy it.  And now, more than ever before, I’m aware of how strong I really am.  I’m sure most people have no idea the amount of fortitude and strength they actually possess.

It’s interesting, the stages you go through in life.  For every stage of stress or hell, there seems to be an opposing, equally joyous time to remember.  I suppose my knowing that is what keeps me going, keeps me strong.  Because, you see… I can’t give up.  I won’t give up.  It won’t happen on my watch!  I want to see what happens at the end of the story – and we’re not there yet.  Not even half way.

I suppose it’s also why I’m upset to hear that my child thinks I cannot handle hearing whatever detail she’s working through.  Please child… I’ve walked through hell – I think I can handle a little teenage highschool drama.

Have a great day Neverland!

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December is finally here!

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Holy crap man!  This year, both, flew by and crawled at the same time.  But it’s now officially December.  On friday, we’ll put up our Christmas tree.  It’s a bit late for me this year, but oh well.  We do what we can.  I’m lacking in motivation to actually work today, I’d much rather be at home working on my side business.  Things are going well on that front – after this weekend, I’ll be ready to do a soft launch.  Going to have my products in one store front before the christmas season ends just to see how it goes.  Will give me the chance to change and tweak things a bit before officially launching next year.  Until then, I’m continuing to build up my stock and test my product to ensure everything is working beautifully.

I’m looking forward to Christmas this year.  I can’t wait to decorate the house.  I can’t believe that as of March 17th, I’ll have been in the house for a full year.  And hoo boy – what a year it’s been.  I hugged my daughter extra last night, reminding her that I love her and am proud of her for the efforts she’s put in to change some things.  She’s on a better path these days – and it’s a relief.  But it’s also a lesson learned – I now know how quickly things can change, how easy it is to get off course.  I will continue to keep a wary watch over her – to ensure she stays on track.  Her depression really snuck up on us all – and I won’t let it blindside us again.

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Yesterday I discovered that I’d been submitted for a job opening for a company I’ve been trying to get into for quite some time – the real bonus on the opening – it’s about 10 minutes from my house.  I have my fingers crossed, as I’m quickly discovering that I’m not enjoying the commute to my existing job, among other things.  I’d be a director again too – which would be nice.  The job I’m at right now, this is the first time in 7 years that I’m not a manager – and I don’t mind at all – but my new manager keeps having me do work FOR him and it’s starting to get a bit awkward.  It’s not my place to set the course for the team – it’s his, and I’m a bit leery to keep putting myself in a position to step on his toes.

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Ben’s anniversary came and went, and I’m doing ok.  Thanks to some friends, I wasn’t completely alone on Monday and it helped.  I’ve definitely been a bit quiet this week tho.

I had no choice but to stick up for myself yesterday with my mom.  I didn’t want to start a fight so close to christmas, but I’m finding that my tolerance of her negative energy is getting to be less and less.  I made a request of her.  All I asked was that I be treated with common courtesies and decency – just as you would with any person you interact with on a regular basis.  My request was not met well at first, but once my step dad finally stopped trying to talk over me and listened to my request – I think he understood.  Hopefully, he can help me navigate around my mom.  I love her, hell – I love our family – but I’ve always felt like I don’t matter to them.  Unless I’m not doing what they want me to – then it’s world war 3.  LOL.  Thankfully, I managed to simmer them down just enough to avoid utter catastrophe.  I’m not entirely pleased with the outcome – I always feel like compromising is one sided for me – but at least the war was avoided.

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Well – I better get to work.  Thinking of you Neverland.  Wish we could somehow hang out and play hookie today! 😀  Talk soon!

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Fall is here

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I know – not a very imaginative title.  I may or may not change it.  Tonight, I need you Neverland.  I love it here.  It’s a place that I feel safe to let anything out.  Vulnerabilities and all.  I like to posture and say that by sharing my vulnerabilities, it gives me strength.  It’s a bunch of BS tho.  I’m still not very strong.  Today especially.

Today, I feel lost.  Lost in a sea of my own making to some extent, as my life is my own, and the choices I’ve made over my life were mine.  Part of me thinks, well.. Jen, it IS fall.  You always get this way leading up to Ben’s birthday.  But I don’t think this is just a bit of grief.  Not having a job right now is frustrating.  I’m antsy and starting to worry over my financial responsibilities.  It’s a strange feeling – first time in 12 years I’ve been unemployed.  I won’t lie – I’m a little scared.

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Fall is really here.  It’s getting colder, more brisk in the mornings.  The leaves are changing.  It’s one of my favorite times of the year.  And yet – it’s also a time of year that typically has me feeling anxious, and even a little down.  This is the time of year, that I want to hibernate.  Who knows, maybe I was a bear in another life? 🙂  This is the time of year that I’m often hit with a lot of memories from my past.  I dreamed of Ben the other night.  Grayson asked about him the other day – as we have his picture up on one of the bookshelves in the living room.  I don’t cry very much anymore, but there is still a deep ache.  The kind of ache in the chest that if you dwelled for too long, the tears would well up behind the eyes, the flood threatening to flow down the cheek.  Some wounds are too deep to really heal.

I’ve had some pretty major shakeups with friends and family in the last couple of weeks.  That combined with the kids starting school, healing from my injuries and the lack of work… I can’t lie to myself anymore, I’m on the edge of depression.  And I know I’ll pull out of it – I always do – but the past couple of weeks have been hard.  I’m really proud of me tho.  I’m doing it all.  I’m managing to figure all of this out, slowly but surely.  I have to remind myself that courage doesn’t mean you’re not afraid… it means you’re afraid but still take a step forward.

I have to remind myself that it’s ok to take some time for myself right now.  To be quiet and hibernate a little in my home.  It’s ok to feel a little lost and scared and lonely.  I’m lucky really.  I know how good I have it and I know that I’m one tough cookie who’ll find a way to  continue to have it good for a long time yet to come.  I’ve never been a fan of limbo – and that’s all this is.  A strange state where the path that lies ahead of me is a bit hazy and unclear.  It’s ok.  Although – I won’t lie – it would be nice if someone would join me with a flashlight and a map.  🙂

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Dear Ben…

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Dear Ben…

I miss you.  I think about you… Every. Single. Day.  I don’t think that will ever change.  Some days, it’s just a quiet note in the back of my mind, and other days, it’s heavy and thick, a cloud (not necessarily a bad one) that hovers at the forefront of my thoughts.

6 years ago, you died in my arms, and it would be honest of me to admit that a part of me died that day too.  I’m ok now.  I don’t often come to tears about all that happened anymore.  And that’s not what this post is about… it’s about something else.

You see, I made a promise to you.  I promised that I would get happy and healthy and on track.  And in many, many ways, I have done just that.  But sometimes, I feel like it’s not enough.  That I just don’t measure up to my own expectations… or anyone else’s.  I know, logically, that that is not the truth.  That any outsider looking into my life would call “Bollocks!” on me.  I have a good life, a nice house, a car, great kids, great friends.  I’m losing weight steadily.  Doing all the things I promised to do.

Where I’m lacking … is really just in one place.  My love life.  And for the most part, I do a pretty good job of not focusing on it and instead staying involved in a bazillion other things.  Hobbies are good!  Heck, there are definitely times when I enjoy being single, with no strings attached to anyone. But every so often… I can’t help but think…

“What’s wrong with me?”  “Why do I struggle to find the right person for me?”

I get feedback all the time from a variety of people that I’m a cool chick.  Good with conversation, kind, sweet, smart, funny, pretty… so what’s the deal?  I’m trying to tell myself that perhaps it’s just not the right time.  That things happen when they are supposed to.  Who knows… maybe I’ve had my happiness?  I guess I could be ok with that, but it certainly feels off to me.

I know that you’re with me.  As odd as it may sound, sometimes, I swear I feel your presence with me.  It’s these moments that I wish I could talk to you.  You show up in my dreams sometimes… not as a little boy – but a grown man.   In my dreams, I know you’re dead, but we still have these amazing conversations.  Somehow, I know you would have been an amazing man to be around.  I see it in Grayson sometimes too.  I know he’s going to be a good man.  Someone who is both ambitious and patient and loving.  I’m lucky in the kids department.  My daughter is growing up to be a woman that I’d want to be friends with, someone I’d admire.  Yea, she has areas she’s going to struggle with, and lessons she needs to learn that will also help change and guide her down her path, but I see it.  A glimmer of who she will become.

I regret that I won’t get to see that in you.  Some people say that it’s the brightest lights that get called to return home.  Maybe that’s why you weren’t long for this world… but I certainly long for you.

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I don’t pray to god anymore.  I haven’t in 6 years.  Oddly – I pray to you.  My Ben.  And right now – I’m putting this little prayer into writing.  I’d like some help finding peace with the idea that perhaps I’m not meant to find another relationship.  Perhaps my path leads me somewhere entirely different.  And more than anything, I’d like to come to place where I’m content with that.

I miss you.  I will always miss you.  And if I haven’t said it yet today – I love you.  Mommy always will.

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Sunday night thoughts

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Tonight I spent some time quietly just sitting and reflecting.  Truthfully, I don’t do this enough.  It has been a busy weekend.  We had friends and their children stay the weekend with us.  I don’t think the house has ever had that many people in it, let alone sleeping in it.  It was a lovely weekend, high in energy.  Today, some friends came over for a visit, we watched movies and played Uno.  It was a lovely way to finish out the busy weekend, but I think what really helped to calm and center me was simply to light a few candles and sit cross-legged on my couch and just be in the moment.

It’s interesting, society spends so much time trying to distract themselves from living in the moment.  Movies, video games, social media, food, alcohol, drugs…. all of these things we use to disappear into.  Trying desperately to fill a hole in their lives that they may not even fully realize is there, let alone have the know-how on filling it.  It would be a lie to say that I’m not one of those people.  But every now and then, typically after I’ve had a loud, overstimulating few days, I have to just stop everything and just breathe.

I think I know how to fill it.  I think it comes with time and age, and just learning to understand who you are at the core of your being.  And accepting it for what is. But I’m also good at trying to fill a void.  🙂  And there are a few for me… more than a few.  I have a rich and full life.  A wonderfully large family, whom I see often, a variety of friends who are as near and dear to me as family should be, I have my children who I have very close relationships with… even loving pets whom I adore.   And yet, sometimes, I’m lonely.  It’s silly really – as I rarely have alone time, so how on earth can one feel lonely… but it’s the honest truth.

I spent some time thinking about that too tonight.  Why do we desire to share our lives with someone else… especially when we think about the fact that the journey we each walk down is ours and ours alone.  So logically, if that’s the case, then you will never truly be able to share your life with someone.  OR… I suppose you could look at it the other way – you share your life with anyone and everyone who touches it… to what degree and the depth that you share will vary and depend on a variety of variables.  My god I sound like an engineer.  I know, I overthink everything! 🙂

I’ve been in the new house almost 3 months now.  It’s amazing how time flies.  Sometimes it feels like I’ve been here so much longer than that, and other times, it feels like it was just yesterday that we moved in.  I think a part of that is just because of the swirl of other tests life has thrown at me since we got here.  I’m so proud to be here.  To own my own place.  I have a solid plan in motion on getting it paid off, and in a few years, I intend to invest in something additional – either property or business-wise.  It’s fun, knowing that those goals are not only in front of me, but very much attainable.  🙂

I’m looking forward to the summer.  Between my little garden (next year’s will be bigger if I have anything to say about it), my art, my children, my work and my new kayaks… I think the summer days will be quite filled with a lot of fun.

I’m building a full on art studio in my house.  It’s been quite a thrill so far to start putting together.  When I’m finished, I think I will finally have my dream studio space.  It’ll take me a couple of years to really get it where I want to, but I will get there.  🙂  I’m even making one of the rooms a photography studio – something I’ve been dreaming of having for about 5 years now.

Little pieces of my life, long-loved interests and hobbies are all finally starting to come together and find a place in my life.  It’s interesting to me.  I’d never have guessed that it would take me risking everything and breaking out on my own in order to find confidence in being myself.  At my core, I always saw myself as being fairly confident… but it’s only the last 5 months or so that I really feel like I’ve come into my own.  I see myself now.  All of me.  Not just the good parts and not just the bad.  I care about my own well-being.  Funny, I think I’d stopped.  Maybe I had given up?  Maybe losing Ben and my husband and my family and my friends did more to me than I gave it credit for.

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In the last few weeks, I feel a bit like Andy, from the movie “The Shawshank Redemption”; when he climbs out of the sewer pipe and strips himself from the final rags from the prison and just stands in the pouring rain, drinking it all in.  Living life, even with all the scary parts, with all the pain, or insecurities, the grief, … is a spectacular thing.  I wouldn’t give up a single moment of it.  And I refuse to be one of those people who sit by and just accept the monotonous daily grind… especially when adventures can begin anywhere with anything.

My daughter is learning about gardening this year.  She has a few plants that she is growing all on her own, and even something as simple as a strawberry plant… watching it grow from seed to plant, growing and tending it, and now… the joy of the first few berries… has been an adventure for us all.  Researching a new subject for a painting or cartoon is an adventure.  Going on a weekend to explore a new city is an adventure.  Exploring the nearby lakes with my new kayak, all the wildlife and amazing scenery – these are all the adventures I’ve got going on in my world these days.  And it’s these types of adventures… that continue to fuel me and bring me so much happiness.

So to you, Neverland, go have an adventure this week.  I know I will.  🙂

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