At the same time, I've often felt that as long as I wasn't being honest about what this blog, this project, was really about, I was neglecting the most poignant and important stuff of my life as it is in the moment. I took a small step in the right direction by amending the blog's header description the other day to mention my pending divorce. Like I've mentioned before, there is definitely something going on in a person's life when she decides to commit to 365 Days of New, seemingly out of the blue and having nothing to do with a New Year's resolution.
I guess it's more of a New Life resolution.
Here's the gist of it: beginning in 2002 and continuing for the following 5 years (though much more sporadically toward the end) I was writing a blog called Monkalicious. It was one of my cherished hobbies, and thinking about material to write about often added new perspective to all the things that happened to me during any given day.
In 2006 I got married, and though my husband wasn't thrilled about my blogging before we got married, it wasn't until after the deal was sealed (twice, no less, on two different continents) that he let me know exactly the extent of his disdain for my hobby. Though I did note that his anger seemed most acute following a posted comment by anyone of the male gender (I had a semi-decent blog following back then), I was loathe to think of his criticism as simple jealousy or insecurity, chose to believe him when he said the stuff I wrote about was trivial and pointless, and opted, ultimately, to forgo the writing in the interest of keeping peace (and quiet) in my home. By the way, perhaps my writing and subject matter was trivial and pointless, but it was something I enjoyed, so I feel I should have continued it on that grounds alone.
The writing was just the beginning of the things I chose to forgo. I stopped spending time with almost all of my friends for the same reason (to avoid the conflict that would ensue if I saw my girlfriends even once in the span of a month, for coffee). I stopped doing the things I found interesting and fulfilling, stopped venturing into new places and situations, and slowly began to feel the former lust I had for life begin to drain away, to be replaced by an ever-present, low- to high-level stress, the majority of my time newly devoted to the seemingly impossible task of keeping my husband from becoming enraged (I went back and forth there between "upset" and "enraged," just because "upset" sounds so much more civil, but "enraged" truly is the proper word, and since words are my passion, I want to be accurate). Finally it came to the point where I thought I may need to chose between my family and my husband.
And maybe I did. Which is how I came to be living with my son, in my parents' home, in the midst of a divorce.
I need to say something here. I've said this to my friends, but I want to put it out here in the public record before I really get into things. I take full responsibility for the choices I made in my marriage. Though it was my husband's choice to treat me the way he did (which was, I think by any objective assessment of the events, unkindly), it was my choice to put up with it instead of demanding more respect and kindness. And it was my choice to stay in the marriage as long as I did. It was definitely my choice, mine and my husband's alike, to bring a child into a little marriage of horrors, and I may always have very complicated feelings about that choice. It is made, however, and we brought a beautiful soul into the world, and nothing could ever detract from the joy I feel about that.
I decided to file for divorce about 4 months after separating. Things were very difficult in the beginning days. First of all, nobody in my family or among my friends had a clue what was really going on in my marriage. To find out horrified them. It was with a great deal of help from them, and a few books on the subject, that I began to see the dynamic of my marriage for what it really was. And I should never have stayed in it as long as it did--not only because it wasn't right, but because there wasn't a chance of it changing.
The first night of our separation, I slept better than I had in a very, very long time. There was a layer of anxiety whose absence was so strongly felt, I realized I had sorely underestimated how powerful it was in the first place. In the first few weeks and months, nearly all my energy was spent trying to understand how I'd become so confused about what was normal and acceptable in relationships...it had been a slow spiral downward, so slow my dizziness was just mild enough to ensure I never got too alarmed, too fast, or all at once. It took the help of a whole gang of helpful, loving, and supportive people for me to unravel the riddle of it. I sometimes still need help in that way.
But after the initial period of debriefing and confusion, the fog began to lift.
And I began to reconnect with my friends. And I went to see a couple of movies of my own choosing. And I went to a couple of places I'd never been to before.
And I remembered what it was to enjoy again. Not to enjoy anything specifically. Just to enjoy, without any trepidation...without waiting for any shoes to drop. The reclaimed sense of freedom was like breathing in the first scent of blossoms in the spring, the reminder that lying dormant for a season (or five) doesn't mean the death of a living thing. It can make for a powerful reawakening.
It was then that I decided to start writing again. I created this new blog and wrote a few posts. But they were kind of few and far between. By then I was filing for divorce, had a lot on my mind and on my plate, and wasn't taking the time I wanted to devote to writing. A few months later, after a couple of fun new experiences and a particularly well-timed mini-epiphany during my company Christmas dinner, the idea for the GGA Project was borne.
It has been my absolute pleasure to have the chance to expose myself to so many new experiences, especially those that have come with the help or just the company of friends. And now, about 1/6 of the way into the 365-day project, I'm beginning to realize that participating in this project truly is helping heal the sadness of what became of my marriage, and pull me out of the state of confusion that followed. I am fully alive again. I am reminded of all there is to be seen and felt and done out there. I am reminded of the brevity of life. I am reminded of laughter and family and love and joy. I am reminded of music and arts and sports and parties, of outdoors and brilliant flavors and just pure recreation.
And that, to be perfectly and finally honest, is what this project is about.
All of which brings me to today. To the inevitability of today, which is the sad part of divorce.
Today's New Activity: Spending the Night Away from my Baby
Just typing that brought tears to my eyes, as I sit here in a coffee shop just down the street from my soon-to-be-ex-husband's house, where I dropped off my son about an hour and a half ago now.
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So...we went through two rounds of mediation, received the custody recommendations from the mediator, and ultimately settled into semi-permanence that exact arrangement, through our lawyers. Since we separated nearly 8 months ago, my ex has been taking the baby sometimes for a few hours on Sundays, sometimes all day on Sundays, sometimes Sundays and an additional day in the week, and occasionally 3 times per week. But he's never taken him overnight until tonight. Our arrangement for the next three months is that he'll take the baby from 5:30 Wednesdays until 5:30 Thursdays, and for 8 hours on Sundays. The time is very limited because the baby is so young and he's never been away overnight. And for that reason we have to return to court in 3 months to see if there is the possibility for him to get a stepped-up share of custody, depending on how the overnights go.
Though I've known in my heart that there was almost nothing I could do to keep this day from arriving, it doesn't make the arrival of it any less difficult to bear. There are very good reasons why I left my marriage, and very good reasons why I am leery about leaving my son in my ex's care, especially overnight, and especially during those long early-morning hours, when the baby--who's in the throes of toddler teething--is most likely to awaken and cry, in need of comfort.
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I know millions of mothers and fathers the world over have experienced this moment I have found myself in now. Millions of mothers and fathers have feared and tried to sidestep and ultimately survived this moment, as have their children. Just as I sat here writing this I witnessed and overheard what was clearly the exchange of a roughly 8-year-old boy between his divorced parents. It happens all the time. Just never in my life, until now.