42

Today is my birthday. I don’t much mind the birthday itself. I think 42 is going to be a fantastic age, and a grand year in almost all respects. 

A dear friend once told me his philosophy on life. He said life is like a pie. It’s cut into 6 or 8 pieces and all of those pieces represent different parts of your life. One piece is for joy & satisfaction from your children. Another is job satisfaction. Another is spiritual peace. Another is sex. And so on. One is romantic love: the satisfaction, joy, & contentment from knowing you love someone with your whole being & they unequivocally love you back. That you are their person. 

He contended that as long as most of the pieces of the pie were full or mostly full then that made up for the pieces that were only half full, or a quarter full. I think, though, there are some pieces that are WORTH more. That instead of being evenly divided the pie was lop-sided. That having only a quarter of a big piece was more impactful than a quarter of a smaller piece because then you still had more of the whole. 

How much can we affect the value of each piece? Can I tell myself that I don’t need romantic love and convince myself to make that piece smaller? What about sex? Sure, I can get sex if I really want it but do I want to waste my joy & vulnerability on someone that I don’t have a heart connection with? No, I don’t. I think those two pieces are woven together tightly. They should be, at least. 

So as I sit here on my 42nd birthday, the year that will provide me the answer to life, the universe, and everything, I wonder what I can do to fill up my pie more in the other areas while lacking in the love & sex pieces. Because I don’t want to dither anymore. I don’t want to waste my time. I don’t want to keep hoping for what isn’t there. I’m 42. I’m strong. Dammit, I’m a badass. (At least I was told that once or twice). 

I’m not going to settle for less than I deserve. I’m not going to settle. Period. 

My darling dearest, you come at me with love, respect, and an open heart and I’ll be here. Until then, I’m going to rebuild, strengthen, and increase every other piece of my life until I am surrounded by peace & love & hard-earned prosperity. And then, my friend, you will wish you had me to hold. You will wish you saw this power radiating in me through your narrow vision before it was too late. I will not let you oppress me. 

I have it all within me. I just need to believe it, own it, and focus. I will not be swayed. 

This is 42. This is me. 

Xoxo,

Stef 

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I have cobwebs on my ceiling

Warning: expressive, explicit language. 

Sometimes I sit in my living room and look up at the cobwebs on my 20 foot ceilings and I think, man, I should clean that. I must be a terrible housekeeper. That must mean I sort of universally suck, right? Then I remember I don’t have a telescoping ladder and I feel even further defeated. How the fuck am I supposed to clean the ceiling now?

I recently fell in love with “Say Yes to the Dress (Atlanta).” Mostly it makes me laugh & smile, but sometimes … when the love is so real, so heartfelt … it makes me cry.

Sometimes the loneliness is palpable. And when the kids are gone, and some lady on tv is glowing with love, I think, man, is this it for me? Is this my life now? Alone, with dirty ceilings and no mechanism to make them better.

The boys have been with their dad all weekend. I miss their voices when they’re gone. I did have a lovely weekend, though, and I even had a date(ish thing) recently, but … then I get to Sunday night.

My house is quiet. My phone isn’t making the sounds I desire to hear. The walls are closing in. The cobwebs mock me. The full to bursting gutters, the hole in the wall, the loose faucet .… they haunt me. And I think, what am I doing? I can’t do this. I can’t manage this on my own. Then I remember that I AM actually alone, and likely will be for the rest of my life.

So this is what’s going through my head, and then it gets worse.

Because I’m short & chubby, with terrible legs and I snore, and my big boobs point down rather than out, and I’m stubborn and a control-freak and I always feel like I have to be right, and I have to do right, and live right, because if I screw up then I’m a fuck up and a failure.

So that’s what I am, right?

Because look at those damned cobwebs and my short, fat legs and how the fuck can I be good at anything if I can’t keep my ceiling clean? Nobody is going to love me. In fact, the man I thought could love me decided, nah, not going to do it. And why would he? I can’t even figure out how to clean the ceiling in my own house.

So it’s Sunday night and I’m folding laundry. I’m watching a miserably sappy movie about love, faith, and doing the right thing. I’m sad. And my phone is stubbornly fucking quiet and I think, you pathetic moron, what does it even fucking matter because your time has come and gone. Get used to this, fat ass. Fold your damn laundry and just focus on being a mom because you don’t deserve shit.

Then I turn on a recorded episode of “Say Yes to the Dress (Atlanta).” Lori & Monte are packing up to go to a bride’s home. That’s unusual. Then we get the story. The bride recently lost her 8 year old son to cancer. Her mother & family conspired to put together a wedding & surprise the bride with a dress. The family is still so deep in their grief. For their son, and grandson. The bride doesn’t feel like she has the right to be happy with her son gone.

Well don’t I feel like a jackass?  Sitting over here being a crybaby because of a hole in the wall (that can be fixed) or some full gutters (that can be emptied) or the fact that I feel universally unloveable (which ebbs & flows). But what is that in comparison? That’s nothing to her pain.

I have two amazing sons. I have a good, challenging job. I have a home, cobwebs & all, that keeps us warm & dry. I have my family & a few friends I love dearly. I wouldn’t trade what I have for all the clean ceilings in the world.

Sometimes life hands us these little reminders so that we will shut the hell up and stop brooding over what we can’t control. Just a little kick in the ass.

Know better; do better. (And buy a telescoping ladder).

Xoxo,

Stef

Literary comparison: a sad story

Once upon a time there were two people who fell in love. They met, they kissed, and they knew the other was “the one.” Bride & groom walked down the aisle, had babies, and their life rolled on with good times, and a few bad times … but then more bad times. And more after that. Pain, hurt, and resentment grew. Then came separation and, 2 years later, divorce. 16 years, beginning to end; 15 years married and two wonderful children to show for it. 

The bride … she often misses the good. She misses her best friend. She misses the man who made her laugh. The man who held her perfectly when she needed to be held, and often held her when she didn’t know she needed it. She misses his silliness, his kisses, and their shared history. She misses the man she still sees in pictures holding their babies. She misses that man with an ache that rattles her soul and makes her shake with pain, sadness & regret. 

But then there’s the bad. The yin to the yang. The flip side.

You know the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde story? Dr. Jekyll was good, kind, benevolent. Mr. Hyde … well, he wasn’t. Mr. Hyde prioritized his hobbies & friends over his family. He willfully chose to live separately, and to live with minimal responsibility. Mr. Hyde shrugged off financial concerns, to be handled solely by his wife; he saw the burden this caused, the pain & stress, and increased it rather than trying to ease her burden. He ignored repeated pleas for engagement, involvement, for partnering. Mr. Hyde stayed up until all hours, raged with drunken belligerence, and terrified his kids & wife. Mr. Hyde was not a family man. 

Nobody would ever guess that the public Dr. Jekyll was so often controlled by the narcissistic Mr. Hyde. Preening & posturing for his audience, selfishly focused on his appeal to others rather than any recognition of his loving needs at home. 

Poor Dr. Jekyll, he missed out on so much; Mr. Hyde guaranteed that. 

A sad story, isn’t it? The bride is sad, disappointed, angry & resentful … but she still often misses her Dr. Jekyll. The man he was before he allowed Mr. Hyde to guide his life. 

Lesson learned, time to move on. A new chapter is dawning for Mrs. Jekyll, a blushing bride no more. 

Xoxo,

A former Mrs. 

It’s Independence Day, indeed

Warning: I wrote the poem below a few months ago when I was feeling particularly saucy and there is excessive use of foul language. I just don’t think the point would have been quite as punctuated without it! If you don’t think you’ll like it then, please, don’t read it!

So, in honor if Independence Day, I’m sharing the sassiest, most assertive poem that I’ve ever written:

Stronger

Stronger, wiser, tougher.
You bet your ass, sir;
I’m like fucking alabaster.

Stronger, like titanium.
I can withstand any blast;
Don’t think I can’t fucking last.

Stronger, I’ll survive longer.
Don’t you even doubt;
I’m too fucking smart to pout.

Stronger, just watch me rise.
I’ll double-time up that ladder;
See how much you don’t fucking matter?

Stronger, I’m not going to cry.
You go find your own corner;
I’m so fucking done being a mourner.

Stronger, wiser, tougher.
You can kiss my ass, sir.
You’re no longer my master.

Happy Independence Day!

XOXO,

Stef

This ain’t your mama’s broken heart

Oh my lord, I wish I had been familiar with this song earlier in my own grieving process. But, still, some of the sentiments hit pretty close to home! Luckily my crazy is pretty well contained in my head, other than the odd messaging impulse now and then, and thankfully my crazy has absolutely nothing to do with matches.

“Mama’s Broken Heart”

I cut my bangs with some rusty kitchen scissors
I screamed his name ‘til the neighbors called the cops
I numbed the pain at the expense of my liver
Don’t know what I did next, all I know I couldn’t stop

Word got around to the barflies and the baptists
My mama’s phone started ringin’ off the hook
I can hear her now sayin’ she ain’t gonna have it
Don’t matter how you feel, it only matters how you look

Go and fix your make up, girl, it’s just a break up
Run and hide your crazy and start actin’ like a lady
‘Cause I raised you better, gotta keep it together
Even when you fall apart
But this ain’t my mama’s broken heart

Wish I could be just a little less dramatic
Like a Kennedy when Camelot went down in flames
Leave it to me to be holdin’ the matches
When the fire trucks show up and there’s nobody else to blame

Can’t get revenge and keep a spotless reputation
Sometimes revenge is a choice you gotta make
My mama came from a softer generation
Where you get a grip and bite your lip just to save a little face

Go and fix your make up, girl, it’s just a break up
Run and hide your crazy and start actin’ like a lady
‘Cause I raised you better, gotta keep it together
Even when you fall apart
But this ain’t my mama’s broken heart

Powder your nose, paint your toes
Line your lips and keep ’em closed
Cross your legs, dot your eyes
And never let ’em see you cry

Go and fix your make up, well it’s just a break up
Run and hide your crazy and start actin’ like a lady
‘Cause I raised you better, gotta keep it together
Even when you fall apart
But this ain’t my mama’s broken heart

In craziness,

Stef

Pain? Try prison

Her coffee is getting cold,
as she waits for him to miss her.
While his cigarettes are running one after another, trying to forget her.

It’s after midnight here, my lovelies, my sweets.

It’s after midnight and my eyelids are heavy and my body is drooping, but my tummy is rumbling with unease – just enough to keep me awake past the witching hour. An hour that hurts, because it takes me through another painful day.

Oh, you wouldn’t see it anymore; it’s all cleverly hidden. And, of course, I’m busy. So busy. I may not think about it for a hours altogether … and then I look at the clock and I think oh man, it’s too late. Or too early. And the pain is there.

A prison of my own making. Locked inside and I can’t find my way out. It consumes me, day and night; an obsession I can’t walk away from. Whenever I try it comes trickling back, enveloping me like great grey foggy arms, pulling me in until I give up. Submission.

Myself the warden, guard & gate. Pain.

And I’m so angry with myself.

-Stef

 

P.S. Challenge: The title of this blog post is a quote from an 80’s movie. Name that movie & the actor who said it – without using the internet.

The evolution of break-up grieving

Some days I look like this:

Working, kicking butt, taking names. The usual.
Working, kicking butt, taking names. The usual.

I would say most days I’m content, working, doing my job and being a mom. I have friends, I have family, I have support. I can take the hard stuff in stride, I think, most of the time. But sometimes I wonder if I’m just faking it. I wonder if I’m putting on the “I’m getting by” face and it’s really masking the grief stages.

I think a break-up is very much like mourning the death of something. The death of a dream? Losing that love, that support, that unconditional “someone is there, even if it’s not perfect” quality that we all get in a long relationship. That “hi honey, how was your day?” greeting. That “it will be okay” hug. That “I’m there for you even though I’m really mad at your stinky ass” support.

Today I look like this:

This is sadness.
This is sadness.
This is mourning.
This is mourning.
This is grief.
This is grief.

Some days, like today, I look like this:

This is heartbreak.
This is heartbreak.

Some days, like today, it feels like it will never stop, never get better, never be okay.

Will I ever look like that girl at the top again?

Logically, yes, I know I will. I will pull it together. I will get over this heartache. That’s what my head is telling me.

My heart . . . my heart is stupid. My heart can’t be trusted. My heart is grounded until further notice.

The 7 stages of a break-up are very similar to the 5 stages of grief. I’m reproducing some good points from an article here (without permission, I should add):

1. Shock: “What the hell just happened?”

Shock is the body’s natural protection against pain. And when your relationship first ends, you just might not want to deal with what’s coming next. It may be too scary, too lonely, too confusing.

  • Do prescribe yourself calming cures like meditation or long walks.
  • Do not freak out. You will make sense of all of this!

2. Denial: “This is so not happening.”

Denial is rejection of reality and a storage of feelings. The thinking is that, if you don’t accept the heartbreak, then it didn’t really happen, thus leaving hope for reunion.

  • Do open up to a journal or trusted friend to begin unleashing fears, identifying unreasonable thoughts and more.
  • Do not minimize the situation. Pretending your breakup doesn’t have to be dealt with will lead to emotional numbness and leave you stuck.

3. Isolation: “I just want to sit in this all by myself.”

Dealing with the dissolution of the relationship. You may replay the relationship over and over in your mind. Your thoughts may feel very scattered and disorganized. You may draw your blinds and not even want to leave the house. Sitting in darkness feels better than going outside and admitting to the world that, yes, it’s over.

  • Do take regular showers and create reasons to face the day (work, social activities).
  • Do not indulge in self-pity by letting irrational thoughts like “No one will ever love me again” take over.

4. Anger: “I hate you for breaking my heart!”

In this stage, your heart goes from sad to raging mad. It becomes fueled with anger towards your ex for whatever his part in the breakup was, and/or toward yourself for your part. The deeper desire here is often to place blame.

  • Do feel, write or talk about your anger.
  • Do not act on it.

5. Bargaining: “What will it take to get him back?”

Sometimes involving prayers, this stage is often about getting your ex back. Desperate to negotiate with yourself or your ex, you may go to extreme measures to make deals or become something else (thinner, less jealous, etc.) to make amends — when in truth, it is just about making the current pain go away.

  • Do create a self-love list complete with what makes you happy and things you want for your future.
  • Do not include wanting your ex back in the above list!

6. Depression: “I will never get over him.”

You realize the magnitude of your loss in this stage of grief, and it can feel all too overwhelming. You may wind up in a state of deep sadness that can even resemble mild depression. At this point, recalling what your life was like prior to your relationship or what it could be like now can be hard

  • Do surround yourself with positive people and lots of sunshine.
  • Do not fall victim to unhealthy behaviors such as binge eating or drinking.

7. Acceptance: “I understand why I was with him, why I’m not now, and that I will be better than just OK.”

The acceptance stage of a breakup makes all the other really tough ones worth it. The sun begins to shine, and you begin to feel like yourself again, ready to move onward and upward.

  • Do celebrate getting through your breakup.
  • Do not be surprised if you still feel moments of sadness from time to time; it’s normal. Just keep on your positive path!

With love, sadness & pain,

Stef

P.S. I’m trying to remember these things today; maybe you should too:

tumblr_lphh0gm2zj1qm6m56o1_500 responsible for my own happiness beingstrongquotes