A blog! It’s been ages since I’ve written a blog…or anything, for that matter. Life has been full, sporadic, busy, chaotic and devoid of calm spaces in which a mind can settle and think. Since my wedding in May of 2015 we have moved twice, finalized legal residency for my wife and, after many months and hundreds of applications, she has started her career in United States academia. The huge task of emptying a storage unit not seen since I sold my home and went to wander the UK, along with unpacking the worldly (literally) possessions of my wife, who has lived in five countries in ten years, has been completed. The merging of lives has been physically manifested in our first home, together and alone.
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Monday, August 24, 2015
The last three months have been, let us say, busy. I had a small wedding, welcomed a new great niece, traveled back and forth between Arizona and California in separate trips and coordinated a fundraising event for 150 people on Whidbey…which is 160 miles from where I currently reside...all while rebuilding my professional practice. So, please, forgive my absence.
I’ve spent a lot of time here on this blog and on social media sharing my world as a woman who was thrust into single life on the cusp of middle age. Without a doubt, the last three years have been far and away the most eventful since my wild teenage life, that’s for sure. And fortunately for me, life doesn’t look to be settling down any time soon. I am happily embracing the unknown that each day brings me.
“How is married life?” is the number one question I get from people and I answer, “It’s great.” I mean, what’s not to love? I wake up every day with a woman who looks at me me and smiles at my mere presence in the world. I don’t have carry all the groceries up the stairs by myself. Dinner sometimes gets made for me, instead of by me and I haven’t done laundry in months. (I’m spoiled, what can I say?) After dating on two different continents, the mundane, day to day moments with my wife are special and I try not to ever take them for granted. Taking things for granted won’t sustain a relationship, it will kill it. I’m no fool. I learned a few things the first time around.
I knew going into this that my biggest challenge would be to maintain my new found sense of self inside of a relationship. I’m a giver, a pleaser, a “make it better” kind of girl. It took a year of single life just to figure out what I really preferred, all for me. So when my wife and I began sharing space, it was a dance of sorts, and the steps were primarily mine to learn. I discovered it’s perfectly alright to disagree. It’s perfectly alright to ask for help or time or space. It's okay for my wife to do that same and here’s the big one…it’s okay to do things alone or separately. I go out with friends without my wife. We aren’t always “a unit”. She’s still my favorite person to spend time with, but I am experiencing autonomy within my marriage and that’s liberating and ultimately, I think healthier for us as a couple.
The best thing about falling in love with a strong, independent person is that she came to the table not needing me, but wanting me. My wife said once, “I don’t want to be someone’s other half because that means they weren’t whole to begin with.” We are two self sufficient people who, when together, are that much better together. It took more than half my life to grasp that concept, but wow, am I glad I did. So, yeah, married life is great, and if I can keep my head in the game, getting better every day.
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
I’m married. While some have said “again”, I have to say this feels different. Yes, I had a twenty-two year relationship and somewhere along the way we began saying wife instead of partner. Because it felt like the logical thing to do, eventually we filled out a form, mailed it in to the state and got back cards that announced our civil partnership. When we ended our relationship we had to file paperwork, pay a fee and stand in front of judge to dissolve it. So technically, “again” is probably appropriate. But I have felt nothing but newness and experienced all kinds of firsts that make “again” feel like a technicality.
I was never engaged before now, with a proposal and a ring. I never picked out flowers, a dress or got my hair done for ceremony…or even had a ceremony. Loved ones never toasted my union or wished us many years of happiness. I never stood in front of my most cherished friends, looked someone in the eye and vowed to love, honor and cherish them. Not once before this week did a county clerk certify a license, hand me the “pretty, frame-able” copy and say, “Congratulations, you’re a Mrs. And Mrs.!” When I say wife now, it really means wife. It’s no longer a political statement to remind people I’m gay and have a significant other. It’s a legally and socially recognized term.
One of my dear friends said to me at the wedding, “you’ll feel different, watch and see”. I saw her today and I said, “You’re right, it feels different.” I honestly didn’t think it would, but it does. Without sounding like someone with regrets, because I do not regret what came before, my marriage feels like a first, not an “again”. It feels like something of and with intention. That is definitely a first I am honored to be able to offer my wife.
Sunday, March 29, 2015
I won’t sugar coat it. Rebuilding oneself after the breakdown of a long term relationship is no small feat. Getting through the initial breakup, divvy-up, and start up of a new life is just the first part. Then comes the reinvention of a new identity without someone else there to help define it. For years you’re a “we” and then overnight you become a “me”. You stand emotionally naked in front of a world you’ve only seen and been seen through the lens of couple hood. You have learn to navigate your way through all manner of things: dinners and movies alone, social gatherings, even grocery shopping and cooking for one.
I ate cereal many nights and did it standing up at my sink for months because sitting down at the table, let alone cooking, seemed silly and a waste of energy. However, thanks to another girlfriend who got divorced the year before me, I learned to sit at the bar in restaurants. Inevitably, there was always some other lone diner there—often another woman or a friendly barkeep—and then it was easy to discuss whatever that day’s current event happen to be. That tip saved me from the “Are you waiting for someone?” or even worse “Since you don’t need this table/chair…” moment. The first year or so after my divorce I was forced to relearn and re-engage in ways I had never considered. I spent a lot of time apologizing to my already-divorced friends for not being there for them. They smiled knowingly.
When I was newly single, a friend told me to make a list of all the traits I wanted in my next long term relationship. I did my homework (because this friend is not only bossy and insistent, she’s usually right.) When more than a year went by and my now-girlfriend entered my life, I was hemming and hawing. My bossy, wise friend presented me with my list. My new love checked off nearly every box. And so, with my own empirical evidence in hand, I forged ahead into the world of dating after divorce.
That was more than a year ago. The box-checking girlfriend is asleep next to me as I watch the sun rise and my fingers hover over the keyboard. She reminded me what a first date felt like. Along with a first kiss. With a a sense of romance I couldn’t dream up for a character if I tried, she wooed and courted me. She patiently waited for me to be ready to open myself physically and emotionally again. When I did so, she knew there would be scars and bruises around my heart and my psyche. She more than kissed them and made them better. (I told you, she checks ALL the boxes!)
I’m past being defined by my divorce. I am now simply a woman rebuilding a life in a new town with new friends and a new love. People define me by my personality, my kindness, my humor. Not by the demise of something or the linked persona of someone else. In this new landscape of my own making, there is one last (she says hopefully) challenge I didn’t see coming: feeling worthy of all the good I have in my life. There are so many small moments that well up from deep within—like small gremlins hiding in the dark waiting for a moment of light to emerge—where I feel unworthy of the good that surrounds me. I find myself actually whispering, “How did I deserve this?” in the best and happiest moments. They’re fleeting thoughts, that leave quickly, but their shadow lingers. The whisper resonates in the quiet moments. That negativity can be a dangerous cancer if I allow it to grow. Now when I feel that negativity rise up, I fight it. But I hope for a day, soon, where I wake up just knowing innately, rather than by rote, that I am worthy.
Thursday, February 26, 2015
For some it’s as easy as...well...letting go. It’s a concise decision followed by concise action. Not to say there are not ramifications or consequences—but what’s done is done for some. For others, like me, letting go is a process. I’m a “last woman standing” kind of girl. I am forever, trying to fix or salvage or amend a situation. The phrase “pried from my cold dead hands” is probably pretty appropriate for me.
Recently, a relationship I’d had for more than half my life was dealt a final blow from which there will never be recovery. The usual agony at the end of something was followed by an enlightenment I felt compelled to share. My MO is to over analyze and over think something until every syllable uttered, every word written has been deconstructed, and I am sufficiently satisfied that whatever transpired was my fault and that I must do better to ensure it never happens again. However, this ending was decidedly different and, although bitterly sad, one I hope to learn from. When the last nail was pounded on that coffin lid, I felt horrible, confused, and heartbroken that it had come to this. As the familiar threads of self-doubt and blame began to well up inside of me, two things happened.
First, I realized that this relationship needed to end. It hadn’t been healthy for a really really long time and that despite my best efforts, it wasn’t going to ever be healthy again. Sometimes things break and aren’t fixable. Sometimes people lie and aren’t sorry. Sometimes we do the best we can and it’s just not enough. Once I was able to see that, it didn’t take a huge leap to get to the second thing: I had written a mythology around her that I became invested in over time—once I became a believer in the myth, I had to protect it. So no matter how egregious the wrong committed, the myth always provided a reason to forgive. This was no light bulb moment. It was a harsh, cockroaches-will-scurry-from-the-blinding-light-of-reality, wake up call. This person hadn’t been a friend to me in a very long time. This person hadn’t honored her word or promises. She had failed me more often than I care to recall. None of that makes her a bad person. She did the best with what she had, but I failed to see it. Once I realized that, I didn’t need to invest in the mythology any longer. People weren’t going to judge me. I hadn’t failed at being a friend. I had only failed myself by putting someone else—and the myth—ahead of my own well-being.
Letting go for me was an arduous and painful process. Perhaps because I invest so much of myself into those I love, the letting go felt like losing pieces of me. I have learned through this most recent agonizing excisement that sometimes letting go isn’t always a loss. Sometimes letting go allows us to shed the myths and stand tall and unfettered in our own true selves.