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

It all ends up hurting anyway

Think of the goal.  The endgame.  Typically when you’re dating, you’re looking for the one person.  Your forever person.  Your home.  The one person with whom you want to grow old.  The one that you want to wake up next to every morning for the rest of your life.  That is what we’re looking for.  That’s the objective.  That’s why we put ourselves through the torture of dating.  We want the happily ever after: that’s our definition of a successful relationship.

But…if you are with someone until you die…you’re with ONE person until you die.  That means that you can only have ONE successful relationship IN YOUR LIFE.  Think of how many relationships you’ve had? Maybe you haven’t had many.  Maybe you were really lucky and you met your soulmate in preschool and you will die in each other’s arms at 102.  But probably not. 

I’m not even asking how many RELATIONSHIP relationships you’ve had.  They don’t have to have been defined, or exclusive, or long term.  It could be an ongoing flirtation at work.  It could be someone with whom you went on three dates and called it quits.  It could just be someone you admired from afar for years before realizing that they can’t put together a coherent sentence to save their life.

My point is, you’ve probably had a few.  And let’s say that you DO end up with one person for the rest of your life.  Your success rate is still incredibly shitty.  I don’t mean to be pessimistic here, but I’m going to say that 99% of relationships are going to fail.  I think that’s a generous percentage.  It’s really probably more like 99.9999999999999999999…%, but I don’t want to seem cynical.

So what’s the point of getting emotions involved? I’d much rather keep one foot out the door and protect myself.  That way the second something goes wrong I can run.  I mean, yeah, maybe it’s an overreaction to someone switching the radio station when it’s a song I really like.  They don’t know I secretly love Duran Duran.  But ultimately the relationship is more than likely doomed from the start.  So if they tilt their head to their right to kiss and I tilt my head to my left, it’s just not going to work.  Why try.  It all ends up hurting anyway.

What if God was one of us?

I had a thought.  I often write as if I’m talking to someone.  I publish here the words I can’t say in person.  So what if I was to write a letter to God? What would it say? What would I be thankful for? In what areas of my life would I ask for help?

So this is what I’m going to be doing for the next few days.  I am going to think really hard about what I would say to God, or whatever is out there.  Maybe it’s just to the universe, or mother nature, or maybe (most likely) just nothingness.

But assuming there is some great powerful being out there…what would I say if given the chance?

What would YOU say?

While I spend the next few days thinking about it, I want you to think about it too.