The social worker said, “She wants to break you.” She, being my daughter.
The reasons why there is a social worker in my house are beyond what I feel like writing about now. But know that it was my reaching out for help, not a protective services situation. My daughter is struggling with anger and depression and literally ran — I mean ran from traditional counseling. You haven’t lived until you’ve chased a child around a therapist’s office, but I digress. Consequently, I sought another route which brings professionals to the house.
Over the years I had done what I was supposed to do. I told the children what they needed to know about the separation and divorce and move based on their age and capacity to understand. I did not talk about the legal aspects of it. The children never knew that I suffered through dealing with various court filings (actually for me I was usually responding to my husband’s filings) and court appearances. They don’t know about the financial and professional ruin and my poor health. They were too little, it was appropriate to shield them. The younger ones don’t seem to remember my good old-fashioned nervous breakdown and years, literally — years of tears. I suppose that’s good. I know it’s good. When my children are grown and thinking back on their childhood and mother I don’t want them to recall an image of me lying on the kitchen floor sobbing. That’s not cool.
She has stated that her misery is because we moved from the big marital home in the nice neighborhood, but I think it’s more. I agree, she wants to break me. I believe she thinks any appearance of strength or acceptance on my part somehow negates her feelings of loss. The more comfortable I get with leaving the old life — the old house, the more miserable she seems.
What she doesn’t know is that I’m already broken, I broke down long ago, my loss was substantial. For the last few years I’ve just been in survival and repair mode, with medications and counseling as needed, along with a fair amount of carpentry. As the children have gotten older I’ve enhanced explanations and have told them they can ask me anything and I will respond (age appropriately). I’ve explained why we had to move, and why we moved to where we are now . . . but she’s too young and too miserable right now to hear it.
Still, she is old enough to know that our move to a much smaller house in a poor neighborhood is not merely a new adventure; she can see that we have taken a step down, socio-economically. She also knows that her Dad also has a new life — with new people in it — and that’s just the way it is.
But, without acceptance of it all, it stinks.
Plus, my daughter is savvy, suspicious, practical and depressed enough to outright reject the “positive spin” talk. I’ve tried. She’ll need a different angle. She’s a lot like me that way.
And let’s face it, misery loves company, and she wants me to be miserable and angry, too. (I am, but I try not to show it.)
Though I’m thankful she feels comfortable enough with me to express her feelings, especially since she is uncomfortable with her Dad, I still want to (but won’t) say,
“Don’t break me, girl. You need me, more than you know. I’m all you got. I am not invincible. I am human, even though I am your mother. Don’t break me. Please. I’ve been broken before, you don’t remember — but it ain’t pretty.“
So when I recently tweeted, “I will not cry, I will not cry, I will not cry” after the heart wrenching session with my daughter and the social worker, it was because it hurt me to my soul and I feared that if I cried I would never stop. I know, sounds overly dramatic, but sometimes . . . it is.
Just Me With . . . some struggles.
I had been on this particular anti-depressant for a year, had been on others before that (since my husband moved out). The medicine, coupled with therapy, helped me during a very, very bad time. With the medicine I was better than I had been during those darkest days. But was I still depressed? Absolutely. Because of my general poor health, diet and limited success on the meds, “they” (meaning my psychiatrist, but “they” sounds as impersonal as it felt then) switched me from one anti-depressant to another, then another. I had made strides, was functional to a certain extent, but still had what they called “major episodic depression” . . . and when I was bad, I was really bad. And with that last medicine I was on, I felt numb, less creative and I suffered from fatigue — falling asleep behind the wheel — kind of fatigue. Emotionally, it seemed as though I had reached a plateau but from time to time, I would just fall off.
I simply wasn’t snapping out of it.
Then, after a particularly rough descent into a depressive episode, they suggested that my condition be treated more aggressively. In addition to stepped up therapy, there were more meds prescribed — “add-ons” they called them — additional medicines to take on top of the daily anti-depressant I was already taking.
The first “add-on” affected my eyesight. I could barely read anything. Also, it made me manic, it wasn’t unusual for me to be doing landscaping at 2:00 am and I– could– not–stop. (My yard looked great, though, but I digress.)
When I complained of not being able to see, and of being so agitated and let’s face it, weird, they switched me to a different add-on. Additionally, as part of a larger plan, since my general health and diet had improved, I requested a change in my daily main anti-depressant and asked if I could go back to the one that didn’t make me fall asleep in odd places. They didn’t allow me to change at first, but since my fatigue had gotten worse– almost falling asleep at the kitchen sink — and I was eating better than before, they said I could change. (Reportedly, without adequate nutrition the other anti-depressant could cause seizures. Wonderful. But I had been eating better, and promised to continue doing so.)
So they instructed me, in writing, to:
- Cut the dosage of my current main anti-depressant in half,
- Discontinue taking the first add-on
- Begin new add-on medication, one I’d never taken before.
- Discontinue current main anti-depressant completely,
- Begin another anti-depressant, one I’d used before but had fewer side effects (meaning, I was awake)
In other words, my doc had told me to switch both my main anti-depressant and the add-on during a two-week period.
“Okay, whatever,” I thought. I just wanted to be able to see, be conscious, sit still and maybe get some creativity– some of the “me” back.
I followed the instructions.
But I had problems with the new “add-on.” That particular medication warned that if you get a rash from it, especially in your eyes, you could die. My eyes started itching, I had that kind of rash. Since they didn’t know which meds were causing it, and it was potentially fatal, I was told to stop taking everything, cold turkey. So, I did.
No one told me there could be side effects, no one told me there was withdrawal.
First I became so, so dizzy. I would walk into door jams, stumble around in my little house. I had been in the midst of home improvement projects that required me to be up on a ladder. I couldn’t even think of it. My equilibrium was off. Way off.
Then came the nausea and diarrhea.
Because of my history, Confessions of a Skinny Mom, I am no stranger to stomach ailments. But this was different. Sudden flu or food poisoning-like symptoms hit me, hard.
“Damn, am I sick? ”
I kept having to go to the bathroom. “Whoa,” I thought. “This isn’t normal. Had I eaten something bad ? ” I wondered.
Without going into the gory details, suffice it to say that I stopped keeping track of my bathroom visits after eight trips to the toilet in an hour. I was too sensitive to sights and smells to camp out in there. Ewwww! So back and forth I went. (No pun intended.)
Next came the brain zaps. It’s so hard to describe. It’s like getting hit in the head with a heavy blunt object, but without the external pain. Sudden flashes of light out of nowhere, caused by nothing, but strong enough to make me stop talking, lose my train of thought, blink, cringe, shudder, look around
. . . at nothing.
Then light became my curse. It hurt to open my eyes, it didn’t matter whether it was artificial or sun light — any light hurt. I started to wear sunglasses inside, at night. Sound bothered me as well, but not as much as light. Unless — it was the phone. I couldn’t hold a phone to my ear; I thought my ears would bleed. I had to talk on speaker or I couldn’t talk at all.
I lived like a vampire, a vampire with the runs. (TMI? I know, it was too much for me, too.)
I shouldn’t have been driving.
Still, the kids had to get places and I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I tried to work through it. It’s a mom thing. I was trying to play it off. Wrong. So wrong. Clearly I hadn’t learned my lesson from my previous illnesses I ignored. “Almost F*cked to Death.” And did I mention it was Halloween and I have five kids? I did the best I could, and I did more than I should have, but it wasn’t much fun that year. Not at all. I told the kids I was sick and they’d have to be patient with me. I usually enjoy Halloween, but that year? — well, it was just too damn scary.
On the road it felt as though cars were coming right at me, like some sort of horror movie and awful amusement park ride combined . . . on drugs. I missed turns in my own neighborhood. I yelled at the kids to be quiet because I had to concentrate on what I was doing. It took so much focused energy to go forward. I white knuckled the steering wheel, for dear life. It was counter-intuitive, really. I mean, I know not to drive while under the influence. But my impaired driving was because I wasn’t taking anything. It didn’t make sense. Bottom line, though, my judgment, reflexes, everything was impaired. I should not have been on the road.
And I was so weak. So weak. I recall going to the store and needing a cart — to hold myself up. I couldn’t walk without swooning, and I had to close my eyes from time to time, even with sunglasses on. Like having a bad flu, I hurt all over.
Mentally, it took its toll as well, mainly because I didn’t know what was happening to me. The brain zaps and the light sensitivity, the nausea and the lack of depth perception and compromised equilibrium — it all started to affect my judgment. I wouldn’t say I was suicidal, exactly, but I wasn’t thinking right. I was agitated, confused. I thought I was going crazy. It wasn’t pretty. When I thought of what I went through alone, and what could have happened, I still shudder. I wasn’t thinking clearly at all. I didn’t have another adult to talk to about it. Paranoia had set in.
I was alone on that worst first night, fending off invisible blows to my head in a darkened room that seemed to keep spinning around. But a friend happened to call me, an acquaintance, really. I answered (on speaker) out of desperation, I was close to quiet hysteria. She casually asked how I was doing. Now I had diarrhea again — of the mouth. I quickly told her I wasn’t doing too well, confessed I had been on meds, developed side effects and stopped taking them pursuant to doctor’s orders but was freaking out! And I described to her how I felt. Poor thing, I know she wasn’t expecting so much information from me, but she listened, and was concerned. (I probably sounded like a maniac.) She talked me down from some of my agitation and convinced me to call the doctor. To this day I don’t remember who called me that night.
But the next day was Sunday, and Halloween, and did I mention I have five kids? Poor kids. I wasn’t my normal Halloween loving self. We got through it. By the time I got a message returned from my psychiatrist and told her how I was feeling, she said that I sounded sick and should see a doctor. Ya think? Wait. What? Isn’t SHE a doctor? Yes, yes, she is, but she suggested I see my regular primary care physician or go to the emergency room. I didn’t feel up to taking myself to the ER so I waited to see my regular doctor. He told me he thought my symptoms were from the withdrawal from the first anti-depressant, not the rash-making add-on. He said I could keep working through it and see what life is like off the meds.
Huh, I thought. So far, life off the meds hurt like hell and . . . IT WAS STARTING TO PISS ME OFF. Everything was starting to piss me off. Ahh yes, another lovely discontinuation effect of which I had not been warned.
Rages, they call them. Sudden fits of anger. Lovely. I should have been chained to a pipe in a dark basement with nothing but a pissy mattress.
When I felt well enough to do research, I found that I was not alone, that this medication is almost never stopped cold turkey because of the horrific “discontinuation effects.” Patients usually plan to ween over a period of months, not days, and still suffer. Some liken the symptoms to heroin withdrawal and even suggest that cold turkey discontinuation only be attempted while hospitalized. But it’s not about a craving for the medication, anti-depressants don’t really work like that, it’s about the physical withdrawal the body goes through when the medicine is taken away. Because the withdrawal symptoms can be so debilitating, patients often plan the withdrawal during a time when they can take off work and all other responsibilities. Silly me, attempting cold turkey withdrawal while caring for five kids — at Halloween. But I didn’t know.
Armed with this information, I talked to my psychiatrist again, this time in person, and explained all of my symptoms and what my other doctor had said. She advised that my only choice was to start taking a low dosage of the same anti-depressant again and ween slowly from that.
What? Start taking it again? What?
Hoping that I’d already suffered through the worst of it, I decided not to start taking the drug again. My shrink apologized for not telling me that there could be “discontinuation effects.” How could she not tell me? Yeah, I was pissed, sitting there in her office, with my sunglasses on, blinking after the brain zaps. I was pissed. And I looked like hell.
The zaps went on for months, as well as the light sensitivity, lethargy and dizziness. It was not unusual for me to wear sunglasses in the grocery store, at night, leaning on a cart. Pitiful. But don’t talk to me. I might not be nice. Shhhh.
Imagine having a hangover while on a spinning carnival ride while seated next to someone who annoyed the hell out of you and who kept clocking you in the head. Yeah . . . like that.
It’s been almost a year now. I’m still suffering from some long-term discontinuation effects. I have trouble putting a phone to my ear, I never go anywhere without sunglasses, and I’m often suddenly irritable — but less so now. I have other physical symptoms — but these may or may not be a result of dealing with depression without medication. I don’t know.
Regardless, I wish I would have known that there was a possibility that I would suffer so from simply stopping the medication. If I had, I would have thought twice about starting this particular drug in the first place. Had I known — what I learned too late, I absolutely would have planned my discontinuation of the medicine so very differently, or at the very least timed it differently.
And this I know: I will never take anything again without researching not only the possible side effects while taking the medication, but the possible effects of discontinuing it.
In the end, I am just very grateful that I didn’t accidentally or intentionally cause any harm to myself or others while going through the withdrawal.
It was a horrible experience.
Just Me With OUT . . . Cymbalta.
Depression hurts . . . Cymbalta can help. But if you stop taking it . . . beware. Bwa ha ha ha! www.CymbaltaWithdrawal.com
P.S. I am not against the use of anti-depressants, or add-ons, or whatever it takes. And I know that some people do not suffer any discontinuation effects. My medicines got me off the floor during a unspeakably painful time. So no judgment on people taking medicine for depression. I do believe, however, that discussion of the type, timing, dosage, length of treatment and effects of discontinuation of treatment should be initiated by the prescribing physician and thoroughly discussed. There was much I didn’t know, and wasn’t thinking clearly enough to ask or research on my own. I was uninformed, and that’s never good.
I am angry. That is how my depression manifests itself these days. I’m off the floor. I don’t cry. But I have no patience for anyone and I’m pushing people away. That’s my M.O. I’m blinded by rage and can’t see anything but thankless obligation. Suppressing myself for the common good. That is what I do, that is what mothers must do. Therein lies my rage. It’s not pretty. It’s not good. Since I can’t let it out, it gets turned inward. And it waits. Customer service people and drivers beware.
No, I don’t bash my Ex in front of my kids, yes, I show support for his choices. Because I have no choice. blah blah blah And, I count my blessings for having healthy kids, living parents, a roof over my head, and an Ex who pays court-ordered child support. Yes, I know the drill. Those will tell me to put on my big girl panties, pray, etc. Yes, I know the drill. I’m not an idiot. I’m not a Stepford Ex-Wife either — though I play one in real life during every waking hour. I don’t drink. I never utter a profanity in front of my kids. I’m a good girl.
But just under the surface, is my rage, this is where my poor choices, failed career, and misspent youth doing the right things fester, while I watch, drive, stand in the rain, in support of everyone else or dry the tears and say the “right” things when someone comes to me crying because of something someone else did, or accept being ignored when it is not “my day.” I listen to crap to keep the peace and I bite my tongue while people pity me for not meeting my or their expectations. I say thank you when my mothering gets praised when I’ve never felt so alone. Yet I know that children are fickle creatures and will gravitate toward those who fulfill their needs and cling to those who fail them. I’m honored to have certain people in my life, yet curse myself for having needed them so badly. And I know that there are people suffering horribly from unspeakable disease, trauma and disaster, so how dare I be angry about anything? Yes, yes, I know, I know the drill. So again, thou shall not have feelings . . .
So I’m angry. And the perfect empowered, pump wearing, summer house, happily c0-parenting with one child, dinner party, career-minded, alumni event and conference attending, people can shake their heads and waggle their tongues, all because I have feelings and dare to get pissed. And, that’s why I’m pissed. I have feelings. I do the “right” things for my family — my broken home, but it is not and never has been enough for me and . . . I’m . . . pissed. I’m doing for my children, and I hope they do well and I hope to assist them to gain the tools necessary to do whatever they want to do — live their life, achieve what they want . . . happiness. But this —- this, is my life now and it . . . makes . . . me . . . mad. And I do not like it.
I realize I may get negative nastiness from this. Get in line, and take a number — Bash Me in Aisle Two, Use Me in Aisle One. These are, apparently, what I am here for, my true calling.
And this, my friend, is the voice of depression.
Just Me With . . . rage
I hadn’t been well. I hadn’t been taking care of me. I admit. I was depressed. I was underweight. I hadn’t been sleeping, I hadn’t been eating. This was mid-separation but before divorce proceedings had begun. It was also before we had a visitation order and my then husband did not take the kids out much, instead he would visit our marital home. I don’t remember why the kids weren’t there. It may well have been the first time he did take them. I honestly have no recollection of why the kids were not home — that never happened — so I had a visitor. Our relationship is not relevant to this story, but he is a good guy and he spent the night. It may have been the first time I’d had a visitor since my separation. It had been a while.
We didn’t get much sleep.
I was in actual pain the next day. Afraid I had contracted a horrible disease I called my best friend, who happens to be a gynecologist. She said it was probably just irritation. Did I mention it had been a while?
It got worse. I started spotting. Damn, this can’t be good, I thought. When I described the latest symptoms to my doctor friend, she said, I needed to be seen immediately. (She’s never been my personal gynecologist, that would just be too weird).
By this time, I had frequent and painful urination, along with the bleeding. I was so uncomfortable. When I finally got to my gynecologist, I was given a diagnosis of urinary tract infection and a prescription for antibiotics. I’m a little prone to urinary tract and bladder infections. I had them while pregnant and had them as a child. I knew the drill. Since I now had my antibiotics, I’d assumed I’d get better.
I started to have flu symptoms . . . fever, chills. After a couple of days, I’d become a little disoriented, had trouble driving , and was sensitive to light. I felt like crap.
But mothers can’t get sick so I tried to play it off. Plus I was taking antibiotics, I just needed, I thought, for them to kick in.
I got progressively worse. I got more feverish and my head felt like it was splitting. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t drink. I hurt all over. I’ve taken care of the kids before with the flu, but this was debilitating.
Finally I called my mother to help me with the children because I had trouble getting out of bed. She took care of them during the day and I stayed in my room — feverish. She checked on me a bit but her attentions were with the kids. Confined to my room, I got progressively worse.
During this time in the separation process, on some days the ex would drop by to see the kids in the late afternoon. He did so, relieving my mom for a couple of hours, but I don’t think I got out of bed. He left by nighttime.
But it was Just Me With . . . my five kids. I was the only adult in the house. And I was very, very sick.
Taking Tylenol and forcing fluids did not bring down my fever and the antibiotics seemed to do nothing. I still had painful frequent urination and was barely making it to the bathroom. Laying down caused excruciating pain in my head. Sitting up was still painful but not quite as bad. So I sat, without television, reading material, or music. I just sat on my bed in a darkened room, shivering.
My first set of twins told me they had checked on me that night. They said when they peeked in my room I was sitting up with my eyes open and my arms flat and motionless at my sides, palms up. My eyes must have rolled back into my head because my children told me that though my eyes were open, they only saw the whites of my eyes, and I was not responsive. They said I had no color in my face, that I looked completely white.
“We thought you were dead, mommy.” They said.
Ugh. My poor babies. They thought they were in the house with their dead mother.
“So what did you do?‘ I asked later.
“We ran back into our room and got under our beds.”
My poor babies. I think they were maybe eight years old at the time.
Later, “Baby B” twin convinced “Baby A” twin to go back and check on me again. (“Baby B” twin is always convincing the other kids to do things . . . there was an incident with an open window . . . but I digress . . .) When “Baby A” twin looked in on me, I was on my bed, but I had slumped over, with my arms still at my sides, and eyes still open.
So I hadn’t laid down —- I had tipped over. Yeah, I must have looked dead. My poor babies.
Frightened even more, the girls reportedly stayed up all night until they saw me get up to go to the bathroom early in the morning. I do remember going to the bathroom. I remember seeing them down the hall and not being able to speak.
When my mother came again later that day I told her I had to go to the doctor. But my mother doesn’t drive. My dad had dropped her off and left. He didn’t answer his phone. So . . . I drove myself. Obviously, I wasn’t thinking clearly. I could have, should have, called a neighbor or friend, but I wasn’t thinking straight. My mother didn’t know how sick I was, since she had spent most of her time with the kids. I think she was just relieved that I agreed to go back to the doctor. Luckily, he doctor’s office was less than two miles away, though I distinctly remember considering pulling over to rest.
When I finally arrived, my doctor took one look at me and said,
“I think you need to be in the hospital. How did you get here?”
He was horrified that I had driven myself . They sat me in a wheelchair while the nurse got a hold of my dad who drove me to the hospital. I stayed for four days. I had a kidney infection. I had never been that ill in my life.
If I hadn’t gotten to the doctor, I very well could have died right there in my house, alone with my kids down the hall.
My poor kids, traumatized by spending a whole night thinking their mom had died in her bed. To this day, years later, they check on me at night. If I am sick they check on me often.
“Mommy, are you okay?”
I eventually recovered, though I was weak for quite some time. My body was run down by my depression, the physical problems that resulted from it and my complete lack of self-care. I was a mess.
In a way, it was a learning experience. I had to have the discussion with my children about where to go and what to do and who to call should they be worried that something has happened to me. They should never have to suffer through the night thinking their mom is dead. It still makes me shudder, my poor babies. The whole experience forced me to realize that I would indeed be the only adult in the house for an indefinite period of time and that the kids need to know what to do should something happen to me.
I’m all they have. It’s a little scary.
Plus, I felt guilty. My serious illness and the traumatic experience to my children were triggered by my having a “visitor” whose liveliness caused a urinary tract infection, which progressed to my kidneys, and landed me in the hospital.
I couldn’t catch a break.
So ends the tale of me almost getting f**ked to death. And you wonder why I’m a little hesitant to get out there.
Just Me With . . . . a lover, a kidney infection, and reports of my death slightly exaggerated.
I later told my visitor that he could claim bragging rights to almost f*cking a woman to death. He was not amused. He’s a good guy.
My best friend, my saviour, in many ways. She’s my girl. I really only see her a few times a year though we live close by. But she has my back. We’ve known each other since we were kids. We went to proms together, we were in each other’s weddings. She’s still married, happily. Her husband is a good guy, a physician, so is she. As an OB/GYN, she assists women bringing babies into the world every day. Sadly, she could never get pregnant. Over the years she’s regretted putting her career first and wondered whether if she’d started trying sooner maybe something could have been done. She has felt intense guilt about causing her husband to miss out of being a dad (tests showed it was her, and not him, who caused the infertility). She’s watched her brother marry and have four kids (two by birth, two by adoption), she’s watched her husband’s sisters marry and have children with the assistance of infertility treatments. She’s watched me pop out kids two at a time. But despite medical intervention and years of trying, she never got pregnant, not even once. They decided not to adopt. After years of suffering horribly from fibroids, she finally had a hysterectomy. But damn if this woman isn’t a mother. I’m not talking about how she’s the cool aunt to her nieces and nephews. That’s true, but I’m talking about her being a mother — to me.
When my marriage fell apart,
this woman came to my house at 4am to pick me up off the floor,
this woman had me and my five kids over her house so we would not have to watch my husband move out and served us cookies and pizza while we cried,
this woman recruited her brother so they could both drive to pick me up and bring me and my car back home when I found myself on a hotel room floor, dangerously alone,
this woman never forgets to give me a gift — like a gift card to Victoria’s Secret or Home Depot — so that I can pamper myself when no one else will,
And, to this day, this woman has picked up the tab for the co-pays for my many therapy sessions, which have kept me out of the morgue.
And this woman, knew exactly what to say when my divorce became final.
This woman, who delivers babies all day long, but has no children of her own — is mothering me, someone who is few months older than her (yeah — I’ll give her that, it’s the least I can do — ha ha!).
So Happy Mother’s Day to my Best Friend, who, by the way, is gorgeous!
Just Me With . . . The Best Friend Ever!
I’ve gone to group therapy before to deal with my depression. You know, in a room of complete strangers baring my soul and my business. I’m not sure why it works, but it can be effective. I’ve never had any problem with drugs or alcohol but after having been to group I now understand why recovering addicts continue to go to meetings well after they are off the bottle, pipe or pill. Non-addiction related group therapy works kind of the same, Hello I’m [fill in the blank] and I’m here for [ depression, OCD, anxiety, etc].
In group, sometimes strangers can be so supportive in a way that friends and family cannot. These similarly flawed people served as a mirror to my own self and offered help to find a solution to my blues. The last time I went to group, there was a theme for how to deal with my major episodic clinical depression, a chronic condition triggered by the end of my marriage.
The guys said:
“Just say yes.”
It was a common theme. The guys said I need to go out — with men. In other words, I need to date. Quite antithetical to my historically feminist sensibilities.
“I don’t need a man to help me get over my problems,” replied the feminist voice inside me.
The process of separating myself from my ex-husband had been difficult enough and I certainly wasn’t looking for a replacement.
“I’m fine alone, thank you,” said my strong, invincible, feminist self.
But the group therapy guys, insisted: “You need to go out.”
Dude, is it that obvious?
It’s not like I haven’t had male companionship since my marriage fell apart, but aside from the Transitional Man, the other men were guys I’d already known from throughout the years. You know, kind of comfortable guys. What I hadn’t done is open myself up for new men, random men, being approached by men and actually being approachable — just dating.
During the time I was going to group, I was perfectly content with not seeing anyone. Not because I was afraid of being hurt again. I believed, and still do, that no one could hurt me as much as my Ex had, just given the sheer number of years I’d put in with him. (Kind of like having cramps after having experienced labor, what once would have crippled me in pain turns into a mere annoyance). And, no, I don’t hate men, either. I just didn’t really see the need, other than enjoying the occasional physical release they can provide. My fear, if I cop to one, is really that I might actually find a man. I was and am sure that another marriage is not the goal, nor do I have room in my little house — let alone my life — for another person. Plus, with so many kids, well, there are the practical considerations of finding the time, etc . . . I could go on and on BUT . . .
Apparently none of that mattered — to the guys.
The guys suggested, strongly suggested, that I go out on dates and “Let somebody treat you right,” they said. They weren’t saying I should go on the hunt for husband number two or even a boyfriend, or that I needed to get laid, just that I casually date. “You need to let somebody spoil you,” they said. “Guys would eat you up.” (double entendre accidental — I think) . Really?
They were so sweet that way. Some of these guys were in for anger issues, had been victims of and/or committed abuse — these were tough dudes. The fact that these guys were suggesting flowers and dinner was a real eye opener. In fact, they were telling me to open up.
It was food for thought. “No, I don’t need to find a man,” I told my feminist self, but could I benefit from seeing my value reflected in a man’s eyes over a meal or coffee? Perhaps. And, wouldn’t it be nice knowing I have the option of walking away if I’m not having fun? Absolutely. No lawyers, no visitations, not even any mutual friends — just “Buh Bye”?
Yes. Can I get an Amen?
So should I say yes? Should I let a man “woo” me even though I have no desire to be “won.”
Seems so simple. But it’s the one thing I haven’t truly embraced in my not-so-new state of singlehood.
Notably, the women in group were supportive, too. They talked about being thankful for the kids, and that what I’m doing for them now will pay off later.
But the guys? They weren’t talking about mothering.
Out of the mouths of babes . . . oops, I mean . . . the mouths of guys . . .
Just Me With . . . thoughts of just saying yes.
The day I became a mother — otherwise known as my son’s birthday — is today. He’s 15. I haven’t had a good week with my Ex-husband, and my episodic depression is rearing its ugly head, so I’m a little more pensive than usual. I think back to my fears when I was pregnant that first time. I’d read too many magazines and seen too many articles, not unlike what we all see today online, about how having children takes the spontaneity out of life, that romance dwindles. I was an employment attorney at the time so I dealt daily with glass ceiling issues and the “Mommy Track” — so while I was ridiculously happy about having this planned child, I was also afraid that it would ruin my career, finances, body, sex life, and marriage. Maybe I was just being a nervous mother-to-be after having been child-free for so long, maybe it was just the pregnancy mania. Maybe somewhere deep inside I had reason to be insecure. Never in my wildest nightmares, however, would I have imagined not having a birthday dinner with my son on his birthday because it is Daddy’s day for that. That was never part of the plan.
So now, I wait. I had to tell the Ex that I got a cake so that he wouldn’t beat me to the punch. (It wasn’t supposed to be like this). And the boy will be so tired from having had school, sports and straight with his Dad; he probably won’t have much time for me anyway. Still, I’ll go through the tradition of a cake and small gifts. I’ll have his friends over another time. I made a Happy Birthday poster last night. One of the sisters helped decorate it. I don’t always do things like that, but I’m feeling so vulnerable these days, and I’m noticing that we don’t celebrate things enough, especially since the separation and especially since the move to smaller digs. So I made a poster. I wanted to find a newborn picture of him to attach. It was a little bittersweet to see those pics of me, the Ex and the newborn baby boy. We were so happy. We had no idea what we were doing. We had no idea what was down the road.
But now I sit. I grew him in my belly, I birthed him, I nursed him. Yet my rights are determined by a mutually agreed upon (ha!) court order. Damn. Told you I was feeling a little blue. But I’m alone now. I’m allowed. I’ll pull it together for the little celebration. In case you’re wondering, the Ex and I have, in the past, shared some holidays/celebrations, but it stopped working, it really never did. Why that is the case is beyond the scope of this post. So now it is what it is. I am, of course, thankful for a healthy, happy first-born. He changed my life. He’s a good kid.
So Happy Birthday, Boy. But this is more than his birthday, it is the anniversary of the day I became a mother, and all that that implies.
Just Me With . . . a birthday cake.