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.

Barrie 2.0

You can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved.

This is something with which I need to come to terms. I can’t stick around and watch someone’s life unravel.  I can’t watch them self-destruct yet still somehow keep myself intact.  I have to learn that sometimes love is not enough.

Whoa, did I just use the “l” word?

Yeah. I did.  I can’t help it.  I am in love with him.  I am.  I wish I wasn’t.  I’ve tried to stop.  But the second he gets in my car and his scent hits my nostrils…love.

We started talking again in November and the second I saw his name pop up on my phone I couldn’t contain myself. I know he hurt me before but still…he’s Barrie.

He is a wonderful human. When we’re together it just feels right.  We fit so well.  His arms feel like they were made to be around me.  He makes me laugh and he’s smart and he is such a nice person.  He is someone I could see myself marrying and having another child with – and that is a big deal.  He is interested in my life and my experiences…every single time I tell him.

Because, yeah. We repeat conversations a lot.  Because he is always drunk.

I love being around him but it always ends with this sinking feeling in my stomach. Lately that sinking feeling is there the entire time we are together.  I did voice my concerns about his drinking.  I told him that I wanted to be with him but I didn’t think I could accept it into my life.  It’s not just me: I have two daughters to take into consideration.

His response when I told him this? I can change. The next time we were together he had five drinks.  Wow, so much change happening there.

I don’t want to get too detailed because if he does read this, he absolutely knows who he is. I am not shy about the subjects of these blogs stumbling across them; this guy knows about this blog because I sent it to him the first time I wrote about him.  But details don’t need to be shared here – they are irrelevant.  All that matters is that I love him and I can’t watch him do this to himself.  I can’t bring this into my girls’ lives.

He doesn’t want to be saved. I can’t save him.  I need to walk away.

So this is me…walking away…it fucking sucks.

It’s my fault for being happy for 30 seconds

When you’ve been a victim of abuse, you build a pretty strong wall to protect yourself.  You learn quickly that expressing emotion can get you punished, so you hold it in.  If you’re lucky enough to get out of the abusive situation, that wall stays there.

When you meet new people, the wall strengthens.  Or at least it does for me.  I could meet the nicest person in the world and it will go one of two ways:

Scenario 1: There is no way this person can be this nice.  It must be an act.  They’re going to charm me and disarm me.  I better run before I see their true colours.

Scenario 2: There is no way I deserve someone this nice.  I’m not worth it.  It’s only a matter of time before they realize that I’m not good enough for them and they leave.  I better run before they see my true colours.

 

Unfortunately, I succumbed to a new scenario.  One that I didn’t know existed, and instead of ending with me running it ended with some serious heartache.

Yep: I’m talking about you, Coffee.

The self-proclaimed “nice guy with asshole tendencies.”  I tried to keep my wall up and I did a good job at first.  You didn’t pry, which was so wonderful.  I felt safe with you, and special.  You kissed my forehead and you tucked my hair behind my ears.  You told me that you hoped that eventually I would let my guard down with you.

The first time I relaxed a little around you, you said how nice it was.  You would text me all day, telling me that you really liked me and if we hadn’t seen each other in awhile you would say you missed me.  I actually felt this going somewhere.  I’m an idiot, I guess.

Last weekend you invited me to stay with you.  This was a huge deal for me.  Since leaving my husband, I’ve been with people but I’ve rarely slept with them.  There are very few people with whom I have actually spent a night.  Of course my first reaction was to run.  Alert, alert, too nice.  Scenario 1.  Get the fuck out.

But you know what? I really fucking liked you.  With an exclamation point.  And I thought you liked me too.  So I agreed.  You sounded excited to have me stay over.  You bought mugs, and a kettle, and coffee.  You made me breakfast.  I was with you…maybe 20 hours? 22? I had such an amazing time with you.  I loved the way you made me feel.  I fucking opened up to you.

I guess that was my mistake.  I talked about my ex.  I talked about my dad.  I’m not going to lie: I verbal diarrhea-ed all over you.  It’s a lot to take and I get that.  My life is not perfect or wonderful; it’s been shattered and poorly glued back together.  But it’s my life and it’s part of me and I thought that you liked me.

When I left your house, I was happy.  I was fucking happy.  This should have set off warning bells, but it didn’t.  I went home and I talked to my friends about you and I smiled like an idiot and gushed like a teenager.

It wasn’t until the next evening that it came crashing down.  An innocent text to you asking if I would get to see you this week.  An innocent enough non-committal answer from you.  A jokey response from me, poorly disguising my disappointment.  A sinking feeling that the end had come.

It’s been a few days.  Communication has slowed right down to nothing.  I wish you would at least tell me that you don’t want to see me anymore.  I know it’s hard to hurt someone but saying nothing hurts a lot more.  It would take you twenty seconds to pick up your phone and say something like, “I’m sorry but I don’t see this going anywhere.”  Or, “I had fun but I think we should stop seeing other.”  Anything, really.  Just something to provide some sort of closure and to make yourself a little less of an asshole.

I was talking to my friend about ghosting yesterday.  When someone ghosts us we should know that they are the ones with the problem.  They are the ones who are too cowardly to send a simple text.  It really takes no time out of their day to be a decent human being.  But instead we blame ourselves.  We wonder what we did wrong.  We wonder if we aren’t pretty enough, or funny enough, or smart enough.  We wonder what part of us isn’t enough for them.

I hate this feeling.  I hate sitting on my couch crying.  I hate feeling bruised and broken and alone.  I hate that you made me feel like you were worth it.  I feel like I was a game to you.  I was closed off and it was a challenge.  You got in and therefore you won.  Game over.  I’m left in pieces behind you but you won.  Congratulations, I guess.  I’m not sure how many times I can glue myself back together, but I’ll try.

Late night revelation

I take Zoloft.  I’ve been on medication for ten years, but have just started Zoloft recently.  I’m still on an increasing dose, although where I am now seems pretty good most days.  I’m trying to determine if I like where I am right now or if I should continue the increase.

Some days I feel like the medication is not working very well.  It’s so difficult to describe, but I feel un-medicated.  I am used to having a medication that masks all of my emotions, rendering me robotic.   I switched medications because I wanted to try having a wider range of emotions: I was getting tired of having only numb and number.  Although I am coping better since starting this medication, I don’t have that overly medicated zombie-esque façade to which I become accustomed.  Quite often it would go through my mind that perhaps this medication was not working.

Today, I forgot to take my pill.  I have an alarm set on my phone that goes off at 8:00am during the week and 9:00am on weekends to remind me to take my pill.  Every morning I try to remember to take the pill before my alarm goes off; it’s some kind of game I play against myself.  Last night I was up late and today I had to start working an event at noon, so instead of setting myself an extra alarm to wake me, I decided to just use the pill reminder alarm.  I forgot to take my pill and there was no second alarm to remind me.

Halfway through my event today I realized that I had forgotten to take my medication.  I was working so I knew I wouldn’t be able to take it until tonight.  I made a mental note in my head and reminded myself that these pills didn’t seem to be doing much so it likely didn’t matter that I’d forgotten today’s dosage.  My day went on and I took the pill when I got home.

On an unrelated note, I’ve spent the day stressing over a personal situation.  I like someone, I think they like me back, I don’t know how much…I’m pretty much a teenager.  I’ve gone full “girl crazy” as I obsess over it.

And then I feel stupid for overthinking the situation.  I always do this: I overanalyze everything.  I tell myself over and over again that I need to stop stressing myself out.  At the same time, however, I tell myself that I’m probably right: he probably doesn’t like me.

I think, you are so stupid.  Why do I keep doing this? Why do I let myself get hurt? Why do I overthink and overanalyze and why do I care? Why can’t I just shut off and let no one in? Why did I think it was okay to let someone in?

I should just kill myself.

That’s when I stopped.  I completely froze.  I was walking from my bedroom to the living room and I stopped dead in my tracks.  A whoosh of breath took the word “whoa” out of my lungs and into the silent room.

I started talking to my brain as if it were two separate people: an intimidated nerd against the unapologetic bully.  I couldn’t let this bully speak to me like that.  I gave myself a pep talk.  It’s not okay to say those things.  I need to have respect for myself.  I am worthy of respect.  Why on Earth was I saying these things?

Ah.  Right.  The medication.

The medication IS working.  See what happens when I don’t take the medication? I become even more self-deprecating; suicidal, even.  Although maybe with the medication I am still somewhat crazy as evidenced by the fact that there seem to be two people in my brain.  Three, really, if you take into account this third party referee.

But it is really nice to see that the medication is working.  It is not masking my symptoms by creating a new mask.  It is allowing me to feel…I have a new range of emotions.  Some of them suck, but they’re there.  The medication allows me those emotions, but keeps away the really dark thoughts and feelings.  It’s like a dreamcatcher: it catches the bad thoughts and washes them away with the light.

So, I’m going to take some deep breaths.  I’m going to try to not freak out.  I am worth it.  Maybe you see that I’m worth it.  I hope that you see, but maybe you don’t.  And that would hurt, because I do feel.  I am human.  But I will heal and I will be okay.  You can bend me and you can bruise me but you can’t break me.

I can’t tell you the future.  You can’t tell me.  But I have today.  I know how I felt with you.  And if by some chance you don’t feel the same way, that’s okay.  I’m okay…or at least, I will be.