Some days I feel powerful and capable. And other days, like today, I feel like a child, cemented in sticky taffy, my feet imprisoned while the world moves on around me. I lay in bed and stare at the walls. I lay in silence, resisting the urge to creep into my sons room, to curl up on his floor. Sometimes I want to sleep near him. To hear the rise and fall of his chest, the steady rhythm of his breathing. There is a comfort in being near him. In being his mother. A quiet reassurance that I did something right.
He may be the only thing I have done right. And that is enough.
I have never been under the illusion that I know what I am doing. I am bumbling through life and hoping that I am making the right decisions with the information I posses at any given moment. With that in mind, I thought I had done everything “right”. I met a boy. I fell in love. I regarded that love with the tenderness of handling a bomb. I knew it was delicate and could explode at any moment. So I protected my heart. I created a series of benchmarks to surpass before thinking this was “it”. Before allowing myself to settle into the security of thinking I had found my person. We had to date for 18 months before discussing a future. We had to be on the same page with kids, religion, family, goals. We had to weather the storms life threw our way. We endured the test of time- dating for four years before proclaiming our love in front of God, family, and friends. Once he decided he wanted a child four years into our marriage- changing the course of many years of discussion- I took two years to determine if I had also changed my desires or not. The common theme that I repeated over those two years was that I didn’t want to be a single mom. If we had the boldness to bring a life into this world, I wanted it to be a team effort. Two parents, fully participating. Though our goals had changed, we seemed to be on the same page. We had evolved together. Or so I thought.
Now I lay in my bed, wrapped around a body pillow- my new companion- it’s embrace cold and lifeless. My life now an outline of everything that didn’t go according to plan. I am thriving as the very thing I was petrified of becoming- a single mother. And honestly, as I played with my son before bedtime a few days ago, it hit me how natural it all felt. Our daily life, our interactions, our bond-our life just the two of us. But I am lingering in a void between worlds. I am alone, but I am not single. I am no longer in love with the man I pledged my life to. Yet, my fealty is still technically his. My promise not yet revoked. His renounced with his words and actions eight months ago. He packed a suitcase- the items he deemed essentials- and left those that did not fall into that category-Me. In my mind and heart, the day he walked out the door, unwilling to fix what was broken, that was the day my marriage ended. The state of Georgia- and my integrity- disagree. The paperwork is not finalized- our signatures have not been scrawled across the bottom line. I had no control over the conclusion of my marriage. The choice was not mine. And now, I have little control over the duration of my purgatory. My portion of the paperwork completed, I wait for signatures to complete the filings.
The last eight months have been a process I never thought I could endure. Throughout the course of my marriage I became less and less myself. Shedding layers to try and contort myself into what would make someone else happy. What would make me enough. What would make me easier to love. In hindsight- the reflection I have been steeped in since the abrupt conclusion of my marriage- I realize that if you feel like you aren’t enough (or worse, you are told you are too much) there is nothing you can do to fit into the mold of someone else’s criteria. Love shouldn’t be intertwined with anxiety. You shouldn’t have to beg for attention from the one that was supposed to love you forever. When planning to grow a family with your partner, a common theme should not be concerns of being a single mother. Deep down, I knew my fate, I just lost sight of how to trust myself.
Though I am finding myself again- my strength, my joy, my peace- trust is still absent. Trust in my intuition unavailable. How do you trust the thing that was eroded away by seeds of doubt someone else planted for over a decade? How do you move beyond the scars of damaged love when you cannot fully evacuate the situation?
The confines of limbo are partially my fault. When Moose’s father left, I cloaked myself in disbelief. When your nightmares become reality, it takes time for your heart to adjust. I didn’t want to tell anyone. If I spoke the words out loud- they would become truth. My failure would become public knowledge. There was a small voice in my head that whispered, if I kept the words to myself, I would wake up. I would open my eyes with a gasp like I had done so often over the years. I would roll over and see him sleeping soundly next to me. But this wasn’t a nightmare-it was my awakening. It just took my mind-and heart- time to recognize it.
Fear has been my companion for most of my life. It reveals itself in different forms and alternating levels-extinguishing my ambition, my laughter. It has ushered in the crushing embrace of depression. It’s grip on my soul has caused me to crave oblivion-an existence devoid of emotion. An abyss I have pulled myself out of several times over the course of my life.
The pinnacle of the fear that refused to relinquish it’s grasp on my spirit was always that of not being enough. That my existence couldn’t fill the requisites to be loved. That I would be left behind. And I was. My greatest fear- the prospect that caused me panic- became a reality. And I survived. But it took time for me to desire the chains of a damaged union to release me. I clung to the identity I had used to support myself, even though it was the very situation that had robbed me of my essence. Now that I have found my wings, I am confined by paperwork- legal processes. Beholden to someone that deemed me unimportant, even in his actions to complete this process-or lack thereof.
Surviving your worst nightmare becoming reality is remarkably freeing. It fosters an inner strength that nothing else can. I wish I hadn’t found my peace this way. I wish I hadn’t found myself this way. But it is my reality. Now, if I could just conclude the task of closing this door in order to explore the world with this restored fortitude and perspective.