Been a little quiet around here while I recovered from the holidays and plunged back into work. It's my busy season - filing the 10-K - and my days go by in a blur. Christmas was...not great, and I wrote about it for the Worthy blog. It's really painful to me, actually, that my ex and I don't get along. I hate it when he picks fights in front of our son and, in fact, that was why I had to institute a no-talking, email or text only rule for a while. The first year after I left him I said, "Merry Christmas," during our hand-off that day. He snorted and said, "Whatever, Dena." I've had to point out to him that we're modeling manners for our son when he refused to say 'hi' or 'good-bye' and school. His response has ranged from - I don't give a damn about your day - to - I don't like you - and I've had to point out (again) that liking me is irrelevant and, in fact, it's even more important to model respect and manners to people we *don't* like in front of our child.
It's exhausting. Any other divorced moms out there as tired as I am? It's not just juggling the responsibilities of a divorced parent, it's managing someone else's deep anger while trying to maintain your calm and set a good example for your child.
After the Christmas hand-off this year I was so tired, worn out and stressed that I forgot to call my grandparents and wish them Merry Christmas. It didn't feel much like a holiday to me. New Year's Day I hit the 'reset' button and took a deep breath, forming intentions rather than resolutions for the New Year. 2017 was rough. 2016 was hard. 2015 was unbearable. It hasn't been easy post-divorce. Growth and change isn't necessarily comfortable. Sometimes it involves confronting things within ourselves that have been negatively impacting our lives for years.
I'm not chill. Not in the slightest. I'm intense as f*ck. And I feel everything deeply. No one has EVER described me as laid back - though I've never understood why that's held up as an ideal. With the stress over the custody situation and my new job I've lashed out at some of the people closest to me. Which has meant that I've needed to apologize. But not just apologize. To look at why I'm handling my stress the way I am, and some of the underlying hurts. The fear of abandonment, or of loss. How I really need to remind myself that it's not about me. You can't always tell what another person is going through, which is something that I know too well but sometimes forget to apply to other people.
Life is hard - but it's easier and sweeter when we assume the best of others. And, time after time, I have seen the kindness of strangers and friends. I've had friends lovingly, and appropriately, check me and my attachment issues. I've learned that when I come from my own fear and pain I can hurt others. Not by saying mean words, necessarily, but by missing what they might be going through. By asking too much emotional labor of them. There's a line between venting to a friend and dumping too much on them and I'll admit that I've crossed that line sometimes. Women, in general, are not good at setting those boundaries (I'm flat out terrible) so in a way I'm weirdly proud of those friends who've said - hey, I can't do this right now.
As we've seen the #metoo movement and others explode onto public consciousness I feel like our society is shifting towards a better understanding of boundaries, not just sexual boundaries, but in general. Because I'm striving for self-awareness I also have to acknowledge when I have failed at recognizing and respecting someone else's boundaries (not sexually, too shy for that, but I've definitely transgressed other limits). Looking at oneself isn't always comfortable but it is necessary for growth.
For 2018 I'm not resolving anything. I'm releasing. I'll never be laid back but I can learn to manage my stress better and to release the outcomes of what I put out in the Universe. The more I learn that, the more what I'm meant to have just comes to me. Without the striving and working for it and pushing, pushing, pushing that I'm known for. There is a lot of uncertainty in my life right now and that's not an easy place for me to be. But I'm learning to rest in it and find some peace.
Which is my wish for all of you in 2018. Peace. In whatever form that takes for you, and however it comes to you, may you find a little peace.