Things my kids say

Me: Im pretty sure Im gaining weight. Ugh… I feel like a fatty.

Diva: You know today I put this shirt on and it was more form fitting and I looked at myself and thought “Oh. You look good, girl. You’re not overweight. ” Then I got to school and sat in a desk was like:

“Nope. Well, that was nice while it lasted.”

Me, laughing: You are so MY daughter.

Note to Self

“They are trying to pressure you into letting up and giving in to make it easier on them. Stand your ground… you have ALREADY been the good person and done the right thing. You have already done what would help them. They just don’t want it to cost them anything, but that’s not right and that’s not life.”

~ My Mother

On Love and Life

Another sleepless night as I sit here poking through the ashes of thoughts in my skull, wanting it to go out, but finding these ambers that kindle the thoughts burning again and again.This whole weekend was like that. I would just put one burning thought aside when another when burn.

It started with a comment. One that could conveniently be written off as a joke and drunkeness had it not been so painfully  true. A comment from a “friend”. The friend who always has drunken things to say to me that they can write off as drunken. The problem was that this comment wasn’t of the usual drunken context.  It left a horrible taste in my mouth. 

It was about Jer and it was a betrayal. It hurt me for him. It made me angry to know that I would bear this laden truth forever, that it would haunt me and that it was delivered so carelessly that no accountability would ever be taken for it. Deniability. Cowardice. Whatever you want to call it, it made me sick. 

This is the person Jer often emulates and here was the proof that it was never necessary, that Jer is better than every other man in his life has ever been and he never gives himself credit for it. He weighs himself down with the burden of not being good enough, not worthy, never realizing he always was … at least to me. 

But now, armed with this truth, it suddenly became clear that it was never about him being enough for me, it was about me, the kids and I, us … not being enough for him. He always needed more and he always sought it from the likes of these people who would never love him the way we could, but this was his choice.  That was the truth and there’s nothing to do with the truth but accept it. It hurts. There’s going to be a grieving process. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to fall out of love with that guy, wherever he is. 

Then as I sat amongst our mutual friends Friday evening at a birthday party with the kids, I looked over at one point and saw Gino’s Dad staring at Jedi. I was instantly horrified by my carelessness. Here, I am sitting with my son, alive and well, the same age his own son should be now had cancer not cast its long shadow into their lives and as he gripped his wife’s hand, I felt like a giant asshole because I taken this precious commodity, life, for granted. Yes, we have an obscene amount of issues presently, but we also have our children alive and available to us daily and if that in and of itself doesn’t make us feel profoundly blessed, well, we’re assholes.
(Note to Self: Stop being an asshole.)

I wanted to text Jer and tell him to stop being an sshole too, to wake up and take a look around at all the blessings he’s been given in his life that he’s taking a giant shit on, but having arrived at the aforementioned realization that Jer’s perspective is not something I can change and still being perplexed by his passing up this time, I just allowed myself to be present in the moment. I left my phone in my pocket, put my arm around my son, pulled his head towards my lips and kissed the top of his head. He’s a teenager and he let me … I count this another blessing.   

We arrived home to the news out of Paris. I was instantly horrified by what I heard and saw and with my daughter within ear shot, I instantly thought about how scary this could be for her and how to handle it. I thought about Mr. Rogers advice to “look for the helpers” in these situations, the people that run in despite their fear, the humanity. It wasn’t long before I found the #PorteOuverte (translation: #OpenDoor) that Parisians were using to offer shelter those seeking such after the attacks. That’s what moved me to tears. That’s the story I told my daughter to take away from the situation.

She asked me “Why?” and I didn’t know. We heard some theoritical chatter regarding radical Islam when she turned and asked me why any religion would believe that their God would have them kill other human beings, mothers, fathers, children, siblings. I talked to her about rhetoric and how it can be taken out of context when it suddently occured to me, that even our military falls into Christian rhetoric during acts of war. Praying in the fighting bunkers? Have they never shouted to God during a battle? Could Muslims exposure to this be their entire view of Westerners? These are the kinds of things that keep me up at night.

Saturday and Sunday were filled with goodbyes. Not “see ya later” types, but last words you ever get to say to someone type goodbyes. Saturday, I received word that my Uncle was in the final stages of dying. As I grappled with the idea of getting in my car and making a pilgrimage to his side, I stopped and closed my eyes and thought of our last conversation. It was Labor Day weekend. The night before my world blew up. But, we had laughed together and smiled, talked and hugged. His last words with me were: “I love you very much”. I decided I was ok with that. That’s how I want to remember him. 

Sunday, I found out that a woman who shares a scleroderma diagnosis with me and whom I have come to greatly admire, was also in her final stages of life. She asked for my mailing address and told me that she wanted to send something, that it would be a goodbye but it wouldn’t arrive until after she’s “flown away”. I got to tell her that I loved her and that she had reminded me of my worth as a human, whether I was sick or not and that I would always be grateful for that. I promised to stay involved in her precious granddaughter’s life. It was bittersweet in that Im glad I got to say those things to her, but it was goodbye.

With all of this sentiment about the preciousness of life and gratefulness abundant in my heart, I told Jer that this weekend’s events had brought about a realization of the ridiculousness of our situation. I told him how blessed we had been to be given this life, together, with the kids and just how much it grieved me that we had taken it all for granted, but worse still, that there was absolutely nothing more I could do to change his perspective, to make him love me, us, the way only he can and it was time that I stop beating my head against the wall and tearing my heart out of my chest offering it up to him with vulnerability, trying to bring about an absolution that may never come. It was time for acceptance of all the things he had said and done proving who he is now and to grieve the loss of the love of my life.

My love asked me if this meant I was done, but there’s nothing for me to be done with. It was never my choice. I gave  everything, was his best lover, his greatest friend and biggest fan. I helped all his dreams come true, stood by his side through it all and the first time I faltered, he could not bear the weight on his own. It was not enough.

The truth is, I wish that he could materialize from my dreams and live them out with me for the rest of our days.  I don’t know if I’ll ever stop dreaming of him  making it right or taking up the fight for our marriage and family. It is my heart’s greatest desire, but I regress and accept, as I must.

Note to Self

“You’re not crazy, Stephanie. You’re dealing with a near impossible situation that’s devastating. Frankly, I don’t know how you get out of bed everyday, much less remain functional while someone continues to actively break your heart.  That’s not even close to crazy, that’s brave.  Anybody who doesn’t see that, respect it or makes you question it for a second, just doesn’t get it.

One piece of advice: watch what people do, not what they say. It always tells you everything you need to know.”

~ My psychiatrist

A note from my best friend 

I was going to celebrate my birthday all week. You know…7 days of me! But it wasn’t sitting well with me. I’ve been so focused on myself for these past years…I want to celebrate my loved ones! So here are 7 truths I wanted you to know:
1. I know I haven’t always been a very good friend to you. But I’ve been a better friend to you than to anyone else. Hope that counts for something!  You’ve put up with me for so long!
2. I have no words to express how thankful I am for what you did for me and mine when we lost Jesse. And what you do for me every year…just by being there.   
3. It breaks my heart that you are going through so much. I don’t know what to do for you.  
4. You are an amazing mother. You are head and shoulders above most. You are involved and an advocate for you children. I wish I had a smidge of your  nurturing spirit.
5. You have been such a wonderful confidante for me. I can tell you anything…and I know you’ll still love me. I can act a fool (up in here) and you won’t even bat an eye!   
6. I still feel guilty sometimes for my disappearance act when I was remarried. I shouldn’t have let him do that to me…I should have been stronger.  Thank you for forgiving me that. 
7. I have been envious of you sometimes. You are so driven, once you set your mind on something. And you are so sensitive to others and you know yourself. And if you ever question yourself… you dig until you resolve it. So admirable.