One Year

I didn’t know my marriage was over until it was over.

It was falling apart for years, but I just kept trying to pick up all the pieces and glue them back together. In the end I’m not even sure who left whom.  It was long, messy, and painful.  The only thing harder than feeling your heart shatter is to watch the heart of someone you love doing the same thing.

I loved him right up until the bitter end. I still love him, as the father of my children and someone with whom I’ve shared so much of my life.  But it wasn’t a healthy situation for anyone involved.  I did not go down without a fight – I fought so hard for so long.  I was consumed by the fight to keep us together.  Letting go was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

I let go of my marriage; I let go of everything I knew. I let go of my home, of my family, of my identity.  I was drowning and when I finally found shore, I didn’t know where I was.  For so long my identity was tied to others: I was Ryan’s girlfriend, Ryan’s wife, Isabel’s mom, Abby’s mom… I had no idea who I was without any of these things.

My first few months on my own were a struggle. I was living completely on my own for the first time in my life.  When my children were with their dad, I felt so lost.  I felt empty and alone, with no idea of what to do to fill my time.  I had an anxiety attack every night my children spent away from me.  My youngest had a lot of medical issues at birth, and even at a year and a half I was still checking on her multiple times a night just to make sure she was breathing.  But if she wasn’t with me, how would I know if she was alive? I tried to fill my time with distractions, which if you’ve read my blog was maybe not the healthiest way to survive.

But I did survive.

And now, I feel more myself than I ever have.  This year has truly been a year of healing, of self-discovery, and of self-love.  Yes, I am Isabel’s mother.  I am Abigail’s mother.  I am Ryan’s ex-wife.  But I’m also Bri.  I love to write, and read, and play guitar, and sing at the top of my lungs.  I love to go for long walks until I get lost.  I love to spend time with my friends, the same friends I spent years being told didn’t like me.  Guess what? They do like me.  And I’m starting to like me too.

As I grow more comfortable with myself, I am becoming more comfortable being alone. If my kids are gone for the night, I don’t need to seek company.  I’m enjoying my own company.  I’m doing things that are solely for me.  I’m taking improv classes.  It won’t help me become a better mother; it won’t help me become a better assistant.  But it’s fun and I’m enjoying myself and you know what? THAT is helping me become a better mother.

I am so happy right now. Really, truly happy.  A happiness that is not dependent on another.  I’m not happy because someone called me pretty or because Isabel had a good week at school.  I’m happy because I like my life.  I am proud of myself for getting out of a bad situation.  I am proud of myself for setting a positive example for my two young girls.  I am proud of myself for knowing my worth and refusing to settle for less.

This past year has been one of the hardest of my life. I started this year as a timid caterpillar, convinced that I would never become anything more.  But I’ve emerged on the other side of this chrysalis of change, and I’m a fucking butterfly.

 

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A very important list

I love lists.

I do. I write lists constantly.  It helps with my anxiety to see things on paper in front of me.  To-do lists are everywhere in my world.  Organization is beauty for me; it’s one of the reasons I love my job.

I also apparently love choosing the wrong guy. I am really good at it.  I find someone that seems so good for me, and then…they aren’t.  I need to break out of the patterns I have created for myself.  I need to be specific.  I need to be picky.

So, in true Brianne fashion, I have created a list of qualities that a potential partner must have. No settling.  Not anymore.  I’m too old to settle and I have two amazing little girls that don’t deserve to have someone in their life that isn’t going to be there long term, or isn’t going to be a positive role model.

There are some incredibly random items on this list, but trust me: they are all there for a specific reason. I am an open book – if any items need clarification or explanation, I’d love to provide it.

  • Tall (5’10 or above)
  • Well groomed
  • Smells good
  • Has post-secondary education
    • Doesn’t matter what type of PSE
    • Doesn’t matter if they graduated or with what degree/diploma/certificate
  • Has a stable job
  • Owns a car
  • Lives on his own (not with parents, roommate, etc.)
  • Owns at least one suit
  • Good grammar/spelling
  • Smart
  • Good sense of humour
    • Is funny
    • Thinks I’m funny
  • Can participate in witty banter
    • Sarcastic
    • Appreciates my sarcasm
  • Good relationship with parents, but not overbearing
  • First date must be an actual date
  • Friendly with wait staff, store clerks, etc.
  • If he has kids, must see them on a very regular basis
  • Likes at least one sport
  • Can recognize at least one Matthew Good song
  • Punctual
  • Swears, but not every other word
  • Doesn’t vape
  • Drinks but not every night, and not to excess
  • Does not speak negatively of any exes
  • Self-sufficient
  • Smiles in photos
  • No earrings
  • Treats me with respect
  • Trusts and is trustworthy
  • Not sexist/racist/homophobic/anything douchey

I’m wearing the same grin

I’m not buying into this “new year, new me” thing.

It’s a lovely concept, but I’m the same person I was last week.  I’m not going to list a bunch of goals for myself; I’m not going to blather on about how I’m going to change myself for the better this year.  I won’t whine and complain about how poorly 2017 treated me.  The date on the calendar doesn’t mean a thing: you are still you and whatever happens to you happens.  That’s life, my friends.

That being said, I haven’t written in a little bit.  I didn’t write over Christmas because I was busy with my family.  I didn’t write anything around New Year’s because I didn’t want to add to the chaos of “new beginnings” posts.

So instead I will write about what I love in my life right now.

I have two amazing daughters.  They are strong and fierce.  At times they can be too strong and too fierce, but these will be wonderful qualities in the women they will become.  They make me smile and laugh every day, and I am in awe of how smart and confident they are.  They are enormous spirits in tiny bodies and they make me want to be a better person so that I can be the best possible example for them.

I love my house.  I rent: it is small and expensive.  I have a downstairs neighbour that I can hear at all hours of the night.  I can hear him sneeze and cough.  If I wake up in the middle of the night, I can hear him snoring from the floor beneath me.  But I find all of this comforting.  My small house is just the right size for my girls and me; and I am never truly alone listening to the murmur of the television below.

I have a great job.  I’m still new and I’m still learning.  But so far I am really enjoying it.  I like the people with whom I work, and I like the work that we do.  I look forward to going to work in the mornings, which I know is not how many people feel about their jobs.  Sometimes (often) I wonder how I got this job, as I’m not overly qualified for it, but I am so immensely grateful that I was given this opportunity.

I am surrounded by some of the best humans around.  My friends have been lifesavers this past year.  My kitchen is completely stocked with dishes, cookware, utensils, etc., because I have friends who just dropped stuff at my house.  I have friends who went through their kitchens, their basements, and their attics just to find me things they felt I could use in my new life.  I get texts and phone calls from people checking up on me.  I come home to packages on my porch.  I have invitations to dinners and I get knocks on my door just because.  I am loved and I am made to feel that way.

I don’t need to be a new me this year.  I am building the best possible version of myself.  There is a Matthew Good song called “Symbolistic White Walls” and there is a line that I have been repeating to myself lately.  “I’m wearing the same grin/I take it all on the chin.” I feel like this is the best possible motto for my life right now.  It has nothing to do with buying a new calendar or remembering to write a new date (which usually takes me until June to perfect).  It has everything to do with this continuing journey of self discovery on which I find myself.  It is never too late to become who you were meant to be.  And I’m working on it.