Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Heart Healing as it Breaks

Well. It happened. I fell in love.

And now he's gone.

We knew the relationship had an expiration date from the very beginning. He's in the Air Force and was going to be getting orders within months to move to Texas for a couple years. We both decided to just go with the flow, and enjoy each other's company as long as we could. There were other factors that made the match, for me, one that was never likely to be a long-term compatibility. Namely, stages of life.
Something about the fact that I wasn't *trying* and as a result, was much more open and vulnerable with him much quicker than I typically am with men, helped us to fall in love over the past few months. And it was great. It was exciting, it was warm and fuzzy, it was enchanting. It was completely satisfying to be fully "myself" in a relationship, logical and practical at the start, then morphing into more and more gooey, sappy cheese and romanticism. I cooked him a goodbye meal for our last date before he left, leaving no stone unturned, with every single choice from menu to plates to gifts and letters, being highly personalized and specific to him. It's what I do. And he so deeply appreciated it. As he appreciated everything about me from our first meeting. I felt so cared for, adored, and cherished for all of those little things, seen and unseen, that I tend to do when I really like a man - but which are usually not acknowledged and not appreciated. But he understood that all I did was in gratitude and appreciation of what he did for me, and how he treated me. Driving all the way from another State to pick me up, walk me to the car and to my door, on every single date... I have been on a lot of dates with a lot of men, and he is the ONLY one who did this consistently. Following through on any and every suggestion I made about what I'd like to do or try - we went axe throwing, shot pool, went to see a baby sloth, went to my favorite restaurant that I only allow myself to go to every few years it's that special, went wine tasting, etc and so forth... he was always a good sport, even when I made him try an appetizer I KNEW he would hate, and he wouldn't have done it under any other circumstance but he did it for me...

He was a blessing in my life, I believe at a time I really needed him. I told him this, as well. It was above all else so refreshing to be with somebody who felt the same way and allowed himself to show it. It was refreshing to look into his eyes (which, in the beginning, I was scared to do for too long... and he called me out on it), and to see him looking back at me, and know that I was the only one there reflecting back. I was the #1 woman in his eyes, on his mind, and in his heart. I truly cannot describe what that was, for me, nor how I so desperately needed it. It was the greatest gift this woman's heart could have asked for.

I have long said, to my friends, that once a man occupies my heart, a piece of my heart will always belong to him. Of course, through the years, my heart grows in its capacity for love. And with every heart break, it heals stronger, and bigger. This time, I told "J" at the beginning that I was not going to let fear of heartbreak stop me from this relationship. I knew my heart could handle it. She has handled much worse. And I am so very thankful that I did. Because while I am hurting, now, and a part of my heart is breaking, the whole of my heart was revived by "J" - and I learned that my gifts, my talents, my love for another person that I can truly see and understand - they are deeply appreciated and honored by the right person. And aside from his love, he has left me with hope. Hope that I can and will find this, again.

And in gratitude, he will forever hold a place in my heart.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

More on Love

Things are about to get real up in here.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Things are always 'real' over at TCIE. Before there was Facebook (for me, since I refused to sign up during the first couple years of infertility and then finally caved, only to realize I used to be much smarter in my youth, ha), there was This Cross I Embrace - a place where I could post incredibly personal emotions and situations behind the relative cloak of internet anonymity. Things morphed through the years, as more and more of that anonymity was stripped from my blog and merged with my career, and then things completely changed when I lost the "identity" of this blog, altogether.

But, it's still me, y'all. And I've had things to write. Ohhhhhh, have I ever had things to write. I just wasn't sure I wanted any of it "out there".

I figured, what the hey. This is my new cross. Seeking love. The real, sacrificial kind of love. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I can give it, and I have. The cross is, finding the one who will sacrifice for me, too.

There was someone. On paper, it appeared to be a beautiful, scripted-by-God, opportunity of healing for two broken families. Being the first person I dated after the declaration of nullity, I thought my prayers had actually been answered in expedient fashion (that should have been my first clue something was bound to go wrong). On, and off, and on, and off again for 18 months... a painful, heart-breaking road to acceptance that the sacrificial love I so longed to give was never going to be given to me. Not by this man.

Then, there was... well, now. I am having all of the familiar feelings - and yet? On paper? This is so not at all anything that would look like it could, or should work. It's almost laughable! (And has been, for those who are in the know.) But the undeniable reality is the growing connection, the honesty, the openness, the communication, and the sharing and ability to allow things to unfold, slowly. It is still oh-so-early, so really, don't take this to the bank or anything... but I could see myself falling completely in love, and loving this man, and him me.

I think a big difference with this one, and this is in comparison to many, many dates I've been on (I try to cast a WIIIIIIIIIIDE net, which should surprise nobody who has read my infertility archives), is that because I had all but "written him off" right at the get-go, I was incredibly real, and vulnerable, without any fear of scaring him off. And he has been with me, too. But there was one problem. The more we talked, the more I was learning about his character... and realizing how loving, and thoughtful, and responsive, and driven he is. And suddenly the "this is fun, and feels nice right now" was turning into more. And I can sense it, and feel it happening for him, too.

This is new territory for me. Not like I fall in love every day, but when I have started the process, I do know I can trust myself and my instincts about a man. (As a reminder, while I gave an immense about of sacrificial love in my civil marriage, I was never "in love" as I believe my mind and body and spirit all knew instinctively that man was not a good egg.) So, I trust myself, again, but am scared of all the potential pitfalls ahead. The things that "on paper" would make this seem like an unlikely pairing. With a long-distance aspect on the near horizon. But my goal, now, is to just take a day at a time, not to project too far into the future, and allow myself to feel what I feel - something I have previously stopped myself from doing, from voicing, for fear of "punishment" or scaring a man away - this time, I'm going in. Slowly, pacing myself, but not guarding my heart. My heart can take it. No matter what happens. I know she's got this :)


Pray for me.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Mourning the Loss of Nothing

Tonight, I was drained - completely emotionally drained- in a story of great loss.

And at the very bottom of that pit of sorrow, in my utter exhaustion and compassion, I got to reflecting on my own loss - of nothingness.

When I look back on my adult life, the past 15+ years, I see that much of it is marked by ... loss of what I never had to begin with. A fruitless marriage, later revealed to never have been valid, and the makings of this entire infertility blog and persona I created for myself, quite literally defined my life - nothingness. There was nothing there. And yet still, I mourned. And still do today.

I wrote a post in my very first few months on this blog, which was misinterpreted by many - in which I compared the actual losses involved in recurrent miscarriages vs. infertility with no pregnancies. In it, I spoke about how, even then, I recognized and felt guilt over the fact that I was mourning the loss of nothing. There was no baby who died. No soul created. No loss of life too soon. No reason for grieving, in my mortal mind, that justified why I was, still, grieving.

And so it is with so much of my life. Just as for 8 years before my son I mourned the loss of nothing, I now look back and continue to mourn the loss of a marriage, a family I *never had*. I grieve, though I have no right to, over a love that went unrequited, even though it was an impossibility for it to ever have been reciprocated. Disease, disorder, disability - too many 'dis'-es to count, and never a chance for something real to mourn.

Yet, I still do. And I feel that I have no right. That there is so much real loss in this world, so much pain and suffering, like the story I weep about tonight - real people. Real lives. Real love. Real loss.

And yet the tears keep coming, the tears that connect to my own life of loss. Loss of dreams. Loss of hope. Loss of a facade covering the very empty reality that dragged on and on for over a decade. Loss of a voice of truth, that until my dying day I won't be able to bring to light and justice for the sake of my son. Loss of nothing tangible, but everything intangible.

And I weep once again for my sisters in infertility, though I am one no longer - because tonight, like I haven't felt in years, I feel EXACTLY how I felt then. Exactly. The comparisons. The guilt. The shame and sorrow for those with 'real' loss on their hands, and the knowledge that I... had nothing. I lost nothing.

It is amazing how much nothing feels like everything, in these moments. Isn't it?

Monday, March 18, 2019

But I Couldn't Open the Jar of Minced Garlic

Today, I was kicking Monday's a$$.

Mondays aren't typically fun for any working-class citizen. And ask any single, working mom, and it becomes an even less joyful event.

But, in case you forgot where you are, and whose life you're reading, this is TCIE, folks. My brand has always been a bit... different.

Case in point: while devastating in other ways, the legal separation of finances from Robbie's father was quite the blessing for me. With financial safety and only 1 adult to pay for, a huge burden had been lifted, and I could once again focus on securing a future, saving, and planning when it came to the money I earn.

But when my cherub awoke today coughing and sniffling, I knew school was a no-go and 'working' from home was going to once again be... interesting, but doable.

I quickly decided today would be "get on the phone with all 3 of my prior 401K plans and get things moving for the rollover IRA I just opened for my business" day. And in between calls, I'd cook meals, clean up meals, play robots and Legos, sing silly song lyrics, tickle, and laugh with my son. (Like I said, I was gonna kick some Monday a$$, even if I was stuck at home with a somewhat-sick kid.)

While jumping through 3 different companies' different sized hoops just to get my own money out of their hands, I pulled some frozen ground turkey out of the freezer, no plan yet in mind for dinner.  Still balancing the phone between my ear and my shoulder and talking with a school representative from a public school where I taught for a hot minute centuries ago (and somehow had a 401K there...?? Got me.), I got on my computer and Googled "ground turkey recipes" to begin the search for something new, something different, something a 4 year old with an aversion to cayenne would like.  All the while, the soundtrack blaring in the background is "On Top of Spaghetti" with some very questionable new preschooler potty humor lyrics inserted just before the squeals of delightful laughter.

"Ahhh, perfect," I mumble to myself as I find a turkey Sloppy Joe recipe, still acquiescing to all of the demands of this energetic school rep who won't stop talking about all of the hoops she was about to make me jump through in order for her to communicate with my account holder.

I hang up the phone, laugh along with the hiney and toot musical jokes, then start compiling ingredients, chopping vegetables, and sauteing the onion. "Go use the potty," I happily remind Robbie, not the least bit confused as to why his mind is constantly there, but his body not so much.

Knowing the onions have another 5 minutes to cook before I add the diced carrot which was ready to go, and minced garlic I always purchase already-minced, I am feeling on top of the world by close-to-5:00pm on this Monday whose a$$ I am kicking clear to next Tuesday, as I reach for the jar to open it and stick the Tablespoon in to prepare for its debut into the skillet of what will surely prove to be the World's Best Turkey Sloppy Joes.

But I couldn't open the jar of minced garlic.

Damn. This lid is on TIGHT. And, now, trying to open it, I can see it's so tight, the plastic container is even sunk in a bit, as if the garlic is being suffocated in there by somebody who really wanted to see this garlic suffer. I lower the heat on the onions, because, dude. Everything was going so nicely on this Monday in the life of a single mom...

My kid was still in his pajamas and had been all day, but he was happy, played with me a lot, and was still laughing his head off.

My money was still being held hostage by 3 different entities, but I now knew exactly what each one needed me to do, and have plans in place for the next day to finish my hoop-jumping.

My bank account currently running on fumes hadn't deterred me from setting up multiple bill pay transactions for Friday when my next automatic deposit is received.

I hadn't showered. And I think I forgot to put on deodorant. But I also hadn't left the house all day, so who cares?! And I think I smelled lovely, actually!

And while all of these things could have made me feel like a failure had I looked at them in a different way, I chose instead to see the good I had been able to bring from them. And I was *happy*.

But, I couldn't open the jar of minced garlic.

And now the onions were translucent, and starting to brown on the edges. It was almost time. I was losing valuable seconds. But I started trying to open the jar EARLY. I specifically prepared ahead for this moment! The carrots had been chopped and ready to go for 10 minutes, already, and this is the whole freaking reason WHY I buy minced garlic to begin with, just to save myself a couple minutes of time, because you know what? On a Monday like today, sometimes those couple minutes make ALL THE DIFFERENCE in viewing life through the happy lens or... the alternative. So yes, I buy minced garlic, dammit, and now the gods of convenience were hell-bent on punishing me for it.

The heat was now all the way down on the skillet. The carrots had gone in.

But I couldn't open the jar of minced garlic.

My hands were both red and raw, at this point. I tried every trick in the book. The butter knife had broken a small piece of the lid, and it looked as though I may have a glimmer of hope, there, but no. I still couldn't open the jar of minced garlic.

And it was in those long, harrowing, minutes of pure defeat (and lest you offer the option of a recipe with no garlic, may I remind you, I'm Italian, and homey don't play that) that I wished for, no yearned for, no...
NEEDED a man.

Yes. A man. A man with bigger, stronger hands than mine. A man who could easily open the jar with one twist, and feel like a hero doing so (and trust me, he would have been mine). A man who could be there to assist, support, and yes, DO the things that I just cannot do.

And while I still struggled with that stupid, mocking jar of garlic, not willing to admit defeat, I thought, after all of this... the meal I planned to serve my small, broken family - made with love and talent and joy - would be ruined, and the day would feel like a failure, all because I was not designed to "do it all" and the missing ingredient isn't the garlic, at all.

While I don't consider myself a feminist, I do have a certain level of competence, adaptability, and know-how to feel, most of the time, that I don't *need* a man to feel whole and happy.

But - I couldn't open the jar of minced garlic.

So, this was really knocking me for a loop, as I still wouldn't give up, couldn't give up... when AT LAST!! Off came the lid, out came the garlic, just a minute after the carrots!!

And I quickly resumed cooking as per usual, as my mind began to analyze the emotions my body had just been through. I realized then, I didn't need a man after all - in the end, just as with everything else in my life, I was able to do it on my own. Some things may take longer, of course. Some things may be more difficult, indeed. Some things may appear daunting, or plain scare the crap out of me, sure. But, I do not *need* a man.

... I want one.

You see, in those moments of panic, of "this is all going to be ruined," of making mountains out of molehills, I wanted the calm strength of a man to bring me out of my own head and back to reality. I wanted a man to *want* to be there for me, to talk sense into me, to ease my momentary anxiety with his mere presence, and yes, to open that godforsaken jar of garlic in a split second. I wanted a man to see my strength throughout the day, and recognize where I was falling into weakness, and pull me out of it. And I wanted to thank him, appreciate him, and reward him for all of that, by feeding him what turned out to be the best friggin' sloppy Joes I have ever had in my life.

In the end, I opened that stupid jar of minced garlic. And I felt accomplished and proud of my day. And I was happy.

But I also discovered what I want. Not what I need. What I want.

And perhaps that realization is an even bigger summit of achievement than was opening the jar of minced garlic.