Sustainably Single Parenting

Making the most of life's journey alongside my three!!!

Still I Wonder…About Him March 29, 2013

I tried to convince myself not to worry about him months ago. I tried reminding myself of the bad times. I tried focusing on the felony charges, the reason for my restraining order, the pain and embarrassment of the entire situation. I tried telling myself that I was only feeding into his narcissistic desires if I spent my time and energy on him. I tried to reason with myself that with my heavy load I didn’t have strength left to carry the burden of continuing to worry about him. To wonder about him. To wish it were different.

But still I do. I was conditioned to put his needs ahead of my own, and even though I have not seen or spoken to him in ten months it’s terribly difficult for me to let my worries go. I still wonder what he’s thinking about me, about everything, and lately especially about our newborn baby. Does he blame me? Of course he blames me. What is he telling everybody? How has he framed things? I’m sure they all think I’m a monstrous psychotic manipulative bitch. It pains me. I miss his family, but they will never love me again.

I wonder if he still loves me. He never loved me. I know that he never really loved me and I still wonder if he still does simultaneously. QuestionMarksMaybe I am crazy. I wonder if he’s with somebody. What is he telling her? Are they the same things he told me about the mother of his first baby who he never sees? Is he convincing her that really I’m the abuser? That I caused all the hardship? That’s I’m insane? Of course he’s telling her that; he’ll never take responsibility for anything.

So why do I worry about whether or not he’s eating alright? Why do I care if he’s losing weight? Why do I brood over his ability to sleep at night? I spent the majority of my pregnancy an insomniac. I have no money to pay our bills in New England, but still I’ve made EVERY mortgage payment on our Illinois home since he left though he’s probably living in it. I have our three children, our three daughters ages five weeks to five years and I’m getting nothing from him.

So why the hell am I worried about him? Quite obviously he’s being well taken care of. He has more than likely convinced his family members of his innocence. He has probably started training a new woman. He is making calculated decisions regarding his legal proceedings. He doesn’t give a shit about me. Maybe that’s what bothers me? That I’ll always care for him even though he wronged me and it’s so easy for him to let go of me, of all of us.

It’s our second daughter’s fourth birthday tomorrow. Is he thinking of her? He never cared much for our second daughter. Maybe he’s happy to not be here. I have no idea. The not knowing anything is so hard. I think he knows that the not knowing is hard for me. He is probably loving every minute of my misery. I want to stop myself from wondering, from worrying, but some part of me might always be focusing on him. In spite of everything a huge part of me wants him to be alright, wants him to love me, wants him to care about our family. That part of me may be unwilling to allow myself to let go of the fantasy. The fantasy is better than constantly thinking he’s plotting to kill me…though him wishing me dead is probably closer to reality.

Still…I wonder.

 

Back to Basically Alright March 25, 2013

Nohra is over 11lbs at four weeks old! That's a gain of 4lbs+ since birth :)

Nohra is over 11lbs at four weeks old! That’s a gain of 4lbs+ since birth 🙂

Today is my first day of feeling good again.

I was able to use various natural remedies (warm, moist heat and massaging, increasing my Vitamin C and taking Echinacea, increasing my fluid intake and resting) to beat mastitis without antibiotics. Yay! It also helped that Nohra is going through a growth spurt and was begging to nurse almost constantly these past few days.

I was in so much pain at times, but several things helped me to push through. One was knowing that I couldn’t afford to get any worse as there wasn’t anyone to care for my daughters. Another was that if I had to take antibiotics and transfer them to Nohra by nursing her I’d feel incredibly guilty. Another was that no one was here to comfort me regardless of how much I complained so it was better to stay tough (very similar to birthing). I’m happy to have won this battle. Thank you all so much for your kindness and advice!

Terra and Amara modeling their new sunglasses and outfits courtesy of my sister :)

Terra and Amara modeling their new sunglasses and outfits courtesy of my sister 🙂

Today was spent cleaning, trying to get back on track from several days of letting the girls go off their schedule and wreck the condo. It was bad. It still isn’t perfect, but today alone I got everyone bathed, the gerbil cage cleaned, the cloth diapers and the dishes washed, the bathroom cleaned, a load of laundry folded and put away, and a draft of my Master’s Project Prospectus completed.

The plan was to stop and celebrate every small victory along the way. Every cleaned body, room, dish, diaper and whatnot. But I was too busy scurrying to clean as quickly as I could each time I was able to put Nohra down to stop and enjoy each accomplishment. I can certainly say that being a single mother of three young children has made me much more efficient. I have no time to do anything slowly anymore.

There’s still a lot of cleaning to be done. My summer semester proposals need to be finished this week, there are bills to pay and appointments to make it to and Terra’s fourth birthday on Saturday. I cannot wrap my head around it all. When I dreamed of my adult life I never saw it being like this. I thought that I’d have babies, yes, but everything else was inconceivable. I do enjoy having children, I’m just eager to reach the period of our lives when I can share so much more with them.

There’s still so much I want out of life, but days like today I am certain that we’re going to be alright.

 

Nobody Said This Was Going To Be Easy March 15, 2013

I am incredibly overwhelmed.

I put off my coursework to care for my kids.

I do my housework since I’m not doing coursework.

I put off my housework to do my coursework.

While doing my coursework my kids wreck the house.

The baby will not let me put her down.

I am constantly nursing, changing diapers, leaking milk, burping, soothing, being spit up on, peed on, pooped on.

I am constantly serving meals, washing dishes, pre-washing cloth diapers, grooming my children, educating my children, feeling guilty that I cannot find the time for educating myself, running errands, running myself into the ground.

I want to cry like my baby. Her cry is so committed, wholeheartedly unabashed.

I want someone to hold me, to rock me, to love me, to shhhhhhhh in my ear while I cry.

I want so badly for things to be alright.

 

 

Resolutions December 31, 2012

2013 is going to be a very eventful year. My third daughter is due in February, my oldest will turn six, my second will turn four.

I will graduate from Emerson College with my master’s in Publishing and Writing, and possibly begin my career in the publishing industry.

I will continue coming to terms with myself; my failed marriage and the abuse I suffered throughout my eight year relationship transformed me. I do not consider every aspect of my marriage to have been negative. I do, however, realize that a lot of my identity was determined by my husband. If not directly, then by my attempts to conform to what I felt he requested of me.

Oftentimes I do not know if the thoughts I have are my own. Am I doing things because I like to do them or because I have been conditioned? Am I making decisions based on my attempts to keep him happy, or am I doing what’s best for my daughters and me? It would seem that with him out of the house, charged with a felony, over 1000 miles away, and unable to contact me due to the restraining order, I would have a better hold over my identity, but I don’t. Not yet.

I don’t know what type of music I like listening to anymore. I don’t if my political views are the same. I question my opinion of almost everything. I am not free if he still lives within me. I need to know what I believe. I need to relearn me. I used to be a pretty cool human being.

 

So even though the New Year’s Resolution thing is a little lame, the timing is perfect and there are several things I’d like to focus on in 2013:

Learning more about me – (outside of my relationship, even outside of being a mother)

Wearing my hair naturally – I haven’t used a relaxer (chemical straightener) for over eight years, and that transition was difficult, but I still feel discontent with the way I’ve styled my hair. I am still conforming. I am still blow drying and straightening, still damaging my curls. I would like to learn how to wear my hair in its most natural state. I know that it will take some time and I may feel intimidated by the newness of my appearance, but I believe it will pay off in the end.

Being confident -For so long I have internalized all of the negative things my husband said about me. It’s not worth listing those things, they are not true. I need to relearn my good qualities, redetermine my value, and let the beauty I have within me shine through. I was once the most fearless person in the room; I was bold without being brazen, confident but not cocky. I want to feel that certainty again. I want to exude self-confidence.

Meditating daily – Lately I try to meditate before getting out of bed in the morning and before going to sleep at night. Meditation is helping me to be at peace with things, to be positive about my future, to not be hindered by my past. I am enjoying the uplift that I get from each session and look forward to making meditation a habit.

Attaining physical fitness – I used to be incredibly fit. I could do 100 standard and 20 one-handed push-ups. I could run for hours. I had the body fat percentage of a body builder. It made me feel good to be strong and able-bodied. It gave me confidence to know that I was an animal who could protect herself from harm. I never showed off my six-pack, I didn’t even like to wear shorts. It wasn’t about the suitors I could attract with my body, it was about feeling powerful. I want to rebuild my strength. I know that I am due with my third child soon, and that I won’t be able to do everything I want to do right away, but I am setting my goals high for physical fitness and I will be working toward them in 2013.

Living more sustainably – We already make our own laundry detergent, bathroom cleaner, and dishwasher solution. We eat organic and local foods and shop our farmer’s market. I cloth diaper, breastfeed, and do lots of other crunchy things, but I’d like to start living even closer to nature. My main focus will be on the foods that we eat. I want to maximize our veggies, get better at gluten-free cooking and dive deeper into the paleo diet. I also want to be more frugal. I want to start making my own soap. I want to sew my own diapers or master EC. So many things really, but I am excited to be starting them all.

 

I don’t expect to fulfill every resolution as though they were items on my bucket list. I don’t see these objectives as things I can do and then be done with. These are aspects of my life that I want to focus on, get better at, and continue on with throughout the rest of my days.

I look forward to the new year and the things that I will accomplish in it. I know that every day will involve becoming a more complete me. Welcome 2013.

 

It’s Our Anniversary December 21, 2012

MayanCalendarToday marks my sixth year of marriage. A day I’ve looked forward to since we decided to wed on Winter Solstice in 2006.

At least we would be celebrating when the world came to an end, we’d joked. I’d wanted this day to mean something. I’d wanted to live through the threatened Mayan apocalypse a more unified team. But this anniversary will be quite different. This year I am alone. I don’t know where he is, but the restraining order keeps him from being able to make contact with me legally.

And tomorrow marks seven months since The Big Incident. This won’t be easy.

I’m trying to take my mind off of him today. This means more leg work for me, but it will keep the tears at bay. Every time I close my eyes I see his face. Not only in my nightmares does he haunt me, but every day. Every time I do something that he would have frowned upon, every time I feel unsure of my decisions, every time I need another adult to talk things through with, every time I wish someone could hold me in their arms, every time I am feeling weak and wishing that someone in this world needed me for their strength, his image surfaces.

Not all of my thoughts of him stem from my fears of him wanting to kill me.BrokenHearts

A lot of the time I try to figure out what I’ll do when I see him again. At some point we will have to be around one another. If not some ways down the road for the sake of our children then possibly sooner, in a courthouse, in front of a judge, and possibly jurors. Will I cave? Those beautiful blond waves of hair cascading down his statuesque face, perfectly placed over the mole that I’ve grown to know and anticipate as I’d rub the surface of his skin from his cheek to his angular chin. Those eyes that could compel me to do anything. His energy, drawing me to him effortlessly; he fills a craving, a void that I didn’t know needed filling.

Without him I feel incomplete. But with him I feel insignificant.

I never fooled myself into believing that leaving him would be painless. I did not expect, however, that after being hurt by him so many times I would still find it so hard to put my feelings for him aside. I still love him. I always will. I will always miss the fantasy of being with the perfect alpha male. I will miss the deep conversations and the times we got to play. I will miss the comfort of knowing that he would protect me from outsiders. I will miss the dream of us growing old together, of reaching double-digit anniversaries and being among the few of our peer group to stay married.

CatLionThis isn’t going to be easy.

I will always wish it didn’t have to be like this. But it is like this, and it doesn’t do much good for me to wallow in it. So I’m going to do something to put my mind at ease today. I’m not going to think about him constantly. I’m not going to wonder if he’s thinking about me. I’m not going to brood over what could have been had things occurred differently. I’m not going to cry myself to sleep. Well, maybe I’ll cry myself to sleep, but only if I think it will be beneficial to my recovery.

I need to start seeing myself differently. I am not weak, as I was made to believe. I am not worthless without him. I am not incapable of thinking for myself and making good choices for my life and my children. I am not going to be possessed by him forever, and I will regrow my self-esteem. It’s going to take patience, honesty, and a commitment to seeing myself as valuable. I’m going to work on that today. It’ll be the only gift I get this anniversary.

 

28 down, 12 to go December 14, 2012

I cannot really believe it, at this point I am still in shock.

degreeMy last final for the semester was due at 8pm and I got it in at 7:59. Complete! 28 credits of my graduate school coursework down, and only 12 more credits to go before I have my Master’s!

Despite all of the negativity in my life at the moment and all that it took just to get here, to stay here…I am so close. I know I’m going to make it.

Yes, next semester I’ll have a newborn and two other children. I’ll have even less money, no job, and no one helping me, but I will still take a class. Such is life when you’re living off of loan money. During the summer I’ll take two more courses, and then I will finally have the degree of my dreams!

I am so excited that my three daughters will get to see me walk the stage at my graduation. I know they won’t quite understand the significance of graduating, nor will they be able to contemplate the complexity of my journey, but one day they will be extremely proud of me, and on my graduation day I’m certain that they’ll cheer, “Go Mama!” like always. I love their encouragement. I couldn’t push through this without them.

Amara Sleeping - Less than one week old

Amara sleeping – Less than one week old

I made it through the semester, and not by the skin of my teeth. I’m quite sure that I will receive an A in both classes, I successfully handed over my student organization presidency without letting the organization fall apart, and I bonded with several classmates.

I functioned on three hours of sleep for more than 75% of it all, somehow. That was very unhealthy of me, but I survived it, and now I will take the next few days to do absolutely nothing (except light household chores, and things that really interest me). I will try to take a short break from the overwhelming state of my life and just recuperate.

In eight short weeks I will be having my third baby, and plenty needs to take place before she arrives, but for these next few nights I want to revel in my glory. I did something amazing. I didn’t let myself quit. I deserve a bit of sleep for it.

 

The Good Things November 21, 2012

I’ve only been a single mother since late May 2012, but nearly every mother who has gone through a similar situation shares my sentiments:

We were single parenting long before we were actually single.

There are some things that have actually changed though. I may have had little time to myself before leaving him, but at least the children didn’t have to come with me to pap smear appointments. I no longer hold out the hope (though it usually wound up in disappointment and added resentment) that someone will help carry the load. I no longer have anyone to vent to about the children’s behavior on a rough day or the hardships of pregnancy. There is no soft skin to bury my face into, no strong arms to wrap around my waist and hold me tightly until I’m feeling okay.

There isn’t any abuse, but there aren’t any of the good things he brought to our household either. I miss the good things tremendously.

I miss the way he made me laugh. I miss our talks about the country, society, history. I miss him teaching me things. I miss his cooking. I miss his hair. I miss the smell of his skin, and the feel of his large hands. I miss the feeling of being protected from everybody; he was the only one who could truly hurt me. I miss the dream of loving each other eternally. I miss knowing that I had somebody.

I miss saying, “my husband,” in conversations. Now I don’t know what to call him. We are still married, but…

I miss his ears. He always thought they were too big, but his head was big and his ears fit it perfectly. I miss the way that he said my name. I miss watching him play video games that were too complicating for me to see how they could possibly be entertaining.

There were so many good things.

Tomorrow marks six months since The Big Incident, but somehow I’m supposed to smile and host a celebration.

Before The Big Incident, there was energy surrounding his presence. Whether he was raising hell or being peaceful, he was there. Whether he was gainfully employed or gleefully indulging in one of his vices, he was there. Whether he was contributing to my attachment parenting efforts or being a dictator, he was there. Now he is gone, and though there are countless ways things have gotten better, the reality of being alone, truly alone, makes getting things done just a bit harder than ever.

 

M.A. Candidate – Publishing and Writing November 16, 2012

I’ve always been fascinated by the Book Publishing industry.

Book

When I was a child I was enamored by books; their creation was such a mystery and I was interested in everything. Who was the author? How did the author get the idea to tell this story? Who was in charge of making it a book? How was the book manufactured? How is it that the book is available for us to purchase? How did they get that shiny gold edge on the pages of our bibles? How do people get into this business?

Upon acquiring a new book I would look first to the copyright page. I wanted to know as much as possible about its origins, I wanted to somehow unravel the mystery, but for some reason it never occurred to me that book publishing was a tangible career possibility.

Not until my senior year of undergraduate college, while interning for a journal published through my university, was I introduced to the behind-the-scenes of publishing. I found it fascinating. From acquiring works, to selecting which pieces to include in the journal, to editing the pieces, to electronically formatting the works for print publication, everything was enthralling.  I enjoyed it so much that the journal’s Editor suggested I intern for the university’s press. My university had a press? I hadn’t known a thing about it, and I was ecstatic.

During my time at the university press I began to see the mysteries of book publishing revealed right before my eyes. I wanted to know more; I wanted to learn everything. There are only a handful of universities in the country which offer Master’s degrees in Publishing; I knew that Emerson College would be perfect for me. Five years passed before I was able to attend; one mortgage, two children, the roller coaster of my abusive marriage, and the continual lack of finances all attributed. Nevertheless, I was determined to make it to Boston, to learn even more about the ins and outs of the industry, to meet and network with people who actually work in publishing, to further unravel the mystery, the magic, of bookmaking.

Being here has been wonderful. I love the city, I love the school and the people that I am surrounded by, who are as enamored by good writing and beautiful manufacturing as I am. I have met people on all sides of the industry, from authors, to editors, to marketing folk, from agents, to booksellers, to those who are brave enough to do rights and permissions, from traditional booksellers to eBook professionals, from printing facility personnel to distribution managers. All sides of the spectrum are being shown to me through this program, and I feel so fortunate to have made it here. I love that I am getting my Master’s degree in a field that intrigues me, fulfills me in a way that no other profession has the ability. I belong in this industry, I breathe publishing.

After this semester I will be three courses away from obtaining my M.A. in Publishing and Writing. Just three courses away; I am going to make it. I will have no choice but to stay in school through the birth of Baby #3. I will not be able to take a break as we are currently living off of my loan money. It scares me a little, but I have the support of my program’s faculty, and I hope to be allotted flexibility. I will not give up, I will not drop out. If I quit now I will probably never finish; I am too close to quit. And I want this.

career-opportunities

I don’t know what the future holds for me as far as it goes with me actually working in the publishing industry. I have learned so much throughout my schooling that I have a wide range of interests in various aspects of the trade. I absolutely love marketing, but I unexpectedly fell in love with production as well. I think that trade books would be exciting to sell, but I am compelled to work for a scholarly press. Then there’s always novelty books, textbooks, electronic publishing, or something else.

Only time will tell which direction I may go. Right now my focus is on graduating, taking care of my three babies, and stabilizing our lives. One thing I can count on is the industry still being around when I am back on my feet. Only three more classes and I will have a Master’s degree in the field of my dreams. I must find the strength to keep going. I’ve come so far. I am so close now.

I will succeed.

 

Carry On November 5, 2012

I’ve been trying to keep my mind off of…my mind.

Yes, it is as difficult as it sounds.

Not only is my mind riddled with worries, but my body is burgeoning with my growing baby, and every time she moves I feel a mixture of awe and grief.

I’m trying my hardest to eat more vegetables, get more sleep, and balance myself emotionally. I recently started a book on meditation. It has only been a few days, but already I am able to breathe more deeply, think more clearly, and feel more energy coursing through me as I bring myself into a state of awareness.

I’m in the process of selecting a therapist. I want to talk with someone, to disallow myself from falling into the depths of sorrow. I want to work on it now, because I do not wish to succumb to postpartum depression.

Somehow I must keep going.

Lately I feel so alone. It’s a complexity, feeling lonely while someone is growing inside of me; while most of my time is spent parenting two beautiful darlings who hardly ever give me a moment to myself; while commuting to campus and taking classes in the heart of Boston.

But I am heartsick, for I am without him. He was not good for me, but I was used to the small comforts, the familiarity, even the cycle of never knowing which side of him I’d be encountering.

How difficult I’m finding it to recondition my thinking, to force myself to stop thinking about him. I considered him in every decision I made for the past eight years and it is nearly impossible to stop myself from wondering how he will feel about or respond to the choices I make. I am still making decisions based upon my fears, trying hard not to do things that would make him retaliate.

But aren’t I free from those shackles? Have I not broken those chains? Cannot I think for myself nowadays?

I ridicule myself for my weakness. I want so badly to let go, to not allow him to continue to control me. How is it even possible? Nearly six months since The Big Incident and over 1000 miles between us have not yet proved enough to liberate me. I am still factoring him into my daily routine.

Am I cursed to forever be his worshipper? Will I bow eternally at his feet? Mentally, I’m still clinging to his approval. Parts of me will forever feel incomplete.

It’s difficult to balance sorting things out with trying to keep from thinking about them, but I am trying.

I will sustain.

 

Depression Looms October 26, 2012

I feel like I’m just days away from falling into a deep depression.

I’ve refused to succumb to it, but it’s closing in on me. I know the warnings well; the hopelessness, the loneliness, the emptiness, the terror.

I find myself preoccupied with thoughts of how it came to this and I reexamine the part I played in it all. Is this all my fault? In so many ways I have to take the blame for what has become of my adult life.

It has been five months since The Big Incident and I have yet to shed a tear. Recently though, I feel my eyes brimming with them every time I am reminded of him, and everything imaginable reminds me of him. Only my strong will, my unwillingness to allow my daughters to see me crying, my stubbornness to not submit to the helplessness of having been victimized, my fear of losing what little control I maintain over my life, keeps the tears from spilling over.

There’s the obsession. I may hide it better nowadays as I am great at suppressing my deepest and most painful issues. But my resolve to stay away from him does not ward off the daily surfacing of debilitating worries over him.

There’s the uncertainty. The not knowing how things will go with the legal proceedings surrounding The Big Incident. Not knowing what to tell my children when they ask how long it will be before they see Daddy. Not being able to plan my future beyond surviving the next few days, next few weeks, next few months without breaking down.

There’s the paranoia. Everybody is out to get me. Every tall, thin, blonde-haired, pale-skinned man is a threat to me. Every glance from a stranger toward my growing belly makes me instantly subconscious that they’ll see my empty ring finger. I am no man’s woman. I must be someone’s whore. Surely they’re thinking I am nothing more than another unwed mother-to-be, ignorant of the world’s inner workings, incapable of succeeding. Poor poor pitiful me.

There are the unhealthy behaviors. I am not eating properly. I am consuming fewer vegetables than I should be. I am, however, favoring milk chocolate. I am not sleeping. Even when I don’t have class the next day I find myself awake for hours past useful brain activity. I have so much work to complete, homework to catch up on, applications to finish, approvals to attain, but so little energy for being much more than a really decent deadline artist. I am low on patience. I am nearly devoid of joy.

There’s so much sadness behind this smile. So much doubt clouding my determination. There’s an overwhelming fear of failure. There’s impossibility that I am constantly trying to defeat. On the outside, I keep smiling, but to be honest, this is all but killing me.