When you have children, every year has its milestones. Each birthday celebrated brings with it new experiences and challenges and responsibilities. But this year was big for me. It was the first year in my adulthood that I’ve stood on my own two feet, alone, and kept everything going. I left a very broken 26 year relationship and with it I slowly let go of a lot of fear, stress, sadness, frustration, confusion, low self-esteem and found courage and happiness and the ability to recognize what was good for me and what wasn’t.
And while I worried tremendously about my children throughout all of this, they seem the better for it. Their parents are able to talk and agree on things, for the most part, and there’s no bickering or the tug-of-war I felt when I was a lonely child with warring parents. This divorce has been overwhelmingly healthy for the three of us. I’m learning – still learning! – to let go of the habits I learned during a childhood with a narcissistic mother and a long marriage with a self-absorbed husband. I did this without family subsidy (and while I’m getting nominal child support, I did not ask for alimony). I refinanced the house in my name only. I took on all the debt. Just me. I continued to keep the household humming, the children fed and clothed and entertained and happy (as much as one can; you can’t force happiness on anyone else but you can certain mitigate damage and not be an asshole).
We had adventures and no one went without the things they needed. I’m proud of that.
Things that happened in 2014:
* Painted Dusty’s bedroom, got her a new bed, and created a hang-out room for the kids.
* Painted my own bedroom – feel like an adult now. New mattress. Next year, I hope to buy a bed frame.
* Re-did my kitchen with paint and press-on tiles.
* Took writing classes – in town and in the mountains. Though I did not start a new story until this week, I kept my “hand in”.
* Began The Artist’s Way again and am proud to have kept up on morning pages (written in the morning, no less!) each day.
* Expanded my garden and sold some stuff at a farmer’s market.
* Dropped out of girl scouts. Some things had to go and this was one of them. Dusty lost interest so my involvement became pointless. I worked really hard to make a go of the new troop but Dusty’s heart wasn’t in it and it seemed more of a social ladies’ night than anything else and so…I had to cut the cord.
* Reconnected with numerous friends. Lots of friends. Saw some people I hadn’t seen in years and met one or two “imaginary friends” for the first time.
* Had many adventures: took the kids to Belle Isle in the city over spring break, gave a presentation in Philadelphia, went to the beach (the girls each brought a friend), went to a One Direction concert in DC (and we’re planning to see them in Baltimore in August), went to Sacramento & Berkeley, went to Chicago on a Bowie pilgrimage. These last two trips were thanks to an amazing, generous friend. Memories I’ll carry forever.
* Saw a lot of movies. A lot of movies. One of the positive changes in my life this year was free time without the kids to do….whatever the hell I wanted. I haven’t had that opportunity since I was in my early 20’s and too poor to do anything anyway. I watched every episode of Breaking Bad, ate guacamole and chips for dinner many nights, organized the hell out of the house, did a lot and nothing in turns, became reacquainted with myself.
* Won some things, lost some things, came out ahead, psychically.
* Finally fixed my painful feet with a few pairs of expensive but cool orthopedic shoes.
* Took a lot of walks in the woods including an entire silent day. It restored me in incalculable ways. There’s nothing better, most days, than a long walk alone amongst trees and birds and moss and sky and quiet.
* Made it through the ups and downs (and there were some very down downs) with the help of a core group of friends who made sure those downs didn’t get too dark and helped applaud the ups. I sloughed off things I didn’t need to be doing, gave up relationships that weren’t doing me any good and were mirroring the old narcissistic /co-dependent patterns I’m still learning to break, and came out the other end much more relaxed and happy and content.
This year’s success has been the culmination of eight long years of sorrow and confusion and growing and discoveries. I could be frustrated that it took this long but a journey is what it is and you can’t know, from the outset, when you’ll reach the end of it. But you never will until you take the first step. And then the one after that, etc. I have confidence that 2015 will be filled with more up than down. By June, I’ll have a high school freshman and a new middle schooler in the house and that should be….interesting. But I couldn’t ask for any more wonderful, amazing girls than I have. We’ll pack next year with more adventures and keep taking those steps into the unknown future. Together.