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Disjointed at Best

Well, I made it. The long anticipated weekend of sadness has passed without much ado about something really big to me. We were originally going to go out of town and hide, but we decided to be thankful after all and stay in town only planning to see one family per day. The idea was to spread the love out as much as possible so as to enjoy our time here and there rather than everywhere all at once but nowhere that matters. Hair standing on end, screaming from one suburb to the next.

I can’t believe it’s been a year. Last year I was sitting in this same living room with this same damn Christmas tree thinking about things like thank you cards for the checks to help pay for the memorial service, and how I was going to fall asleep without crying. This year I’m thinking about how to get Lily to fall asleep without crying and how much I love where we put the Christmas tree this year. I have changed over the course of the year, though. Somehow I’ve come out in the end – or more like  just barely into the beginning – less predictable emotionally, more emotionally disruptive and wholly unstable than I was before. I’m less willing to be nice for the sake of being nice, much more willing to be angry. I’m often flustered, irrational, at fault. I said bitch on the phone to my mother the other day. I wasn’t calling her a bitch, but I said the word. And I wasn’t just repeating something someone else said – I meant to say bitch and I said what I meant. Because that’s what I do now. That’s how I roll. I say what I mean because…I mean it.

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I raked and bagged up leaves in the front yard today, all by myself. Lily helped me, but I’m taking all the credit. David and our neighbor did it last year and I remember looking out the window at them like it was yesterday. Why does that day stand out? I was at the kitchen table, blogging, occasionally checking the soup I was cooking (or maybe it was bread I was baking), Lily was playing in and out, I was 8 months pregnant and browsing Etsy for new prints to hang on the wall in whichever room we ended up choosing for the baby. I could see them through the front window and remember feeling so safe. It was very sunny and crisp outside and so warm and cozy inside. David would take breaks and come in to drink some tea, give me a kiss, see what Lily was up to. Olivia felt so natural to me in that moment. One of my favorite memories with her. As a family, we were happy that day. I can remember lots of other times during that pregnancy where we were not a happy family. The Holmes’ were having trouble many, many other days. I had a lot of guilt after we lost Olivia that I cried her away with worry about our future. I truly did not think David and I would make it if we had another child. I’m still not sure. Things were not good. We were frayed to what we thought were our edges (we learned they were not). We were tired of trying to make peace and we saw no end to the struggle in our near future. We were this close (fingers pinched together) to giving up.

She saved us, is something I would say if I thought about it that way, which I don’t. I don’t consider myself the type of person who could stay happily married to someone through our child’s death, but not through her life. What kind of backwards love would that be?

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6 Years of Traditional Bliss

Six years ago today my husband rolled over to my side of the bed and, into the morning light streaming through the windows said, Hey.

Wanna drive to Vegas and get married?

Today? I asked.

Why not?

It was a Sunday. He was right. Why not?

Sure. Why not?

We were probably still drunk from the previous nights bottle of Jagermeister but I do not think that factored one bit into my decision. I would say the same thing today.

We would’ve gone through a drive-thru if we could’ve found one. Instead we settled for a little chapel with jam box music from a tape and instructions whispered from the preacher in the back of the room. He met us at the front of the tiny chapel and read us our rights, I mean, our vows. Our very sacred vows. We giggled all the way through the service and didn’t want to let go of each other when it was over.

We made a real day of it. Our honeymoon was the drive through Hoover Dam where we got someone to take our picture and bought a t-shirt David still wears 6 years later. When we got to Vegas, we bought one of those red, see-through visors Hunter S. Thompson wore when he was working on a story and some McDonald’s.

As silly as the ritual was in our eyes, the meaning behind the words were real. We found out that even though we’d been together 5 years already (living in sin since 2 weeks after we started dating), we didn’t know what a life long commitment would feel like. We didn’t realize how much deeper our emotions would be for each other. There was a sense of relief that neither of us expected. A sense of security that’s grown each day since.

I told him this morning that I love him more today than I did that day we got married and I mean that from the bottom of my cheesy heart. I can’t imagine fighting with anyone else over who does more laundry, or who spends more quality time with Lily. I don’t want to know what it feels like to fall asleep with anyone else by my side every night. I don’t want to wonder if anyone else could put up with my lack of motherly tidiness, or my sensitive head. I only want David to put up with those things. And if I’m reading him correctly, I’m pretty sure he feels the same way.

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All About Me

I’m not sure if this requires an explanation but…I’ve said all along that the one thing Olivia has given me that will not be taken away is the desire to make things better. She’s given me the will and the heart to take control of my life and turn it into what I’ve always dreamed of. For myself…for my daughter…for my husband…for my future children…

So, I’ve written a mission statement, posted it on my wall and saved it in my phone so I can read it anytime I need focus.

I will be the type of wife and mother who supports without attempting to control. I will treat my husband as my equal and my daughter as her own person, not an extension of myself. I will serve my family by cooking for them, planning fulfilling activities with them on a regular basis and organizing our home in a way that allows everyone in our family to focus on obtaining happiness with clear minds. I will teach Lily how to think for herself and develop her own set of principles; I will help her develop her own script and to avoid relying on whatever default she is given by us or her environment.

I will work with the following characteristics in every situation: integrity, honesty, reliability, creativity, enthusiasm. I will make sure my work does not interfere with my personal life.

When it comes to our possessions, I will buy quality items we can afford and that are worth taking care of for years to come. I won’t forget that all things can be replaced; lives cannot.

I will strive to find joy in every situation – or at least look for the silver lining. And I won’t forget about the importance of physical closeness with my husband.

I will be open to friendships outside of my relationship with David by returning phone calls as well as kindness. I will look into people’s hearts for their sincerity and reflect that in my own heart. I will seek to understand differing opinions without judgment.

I will look for and be open to opportunities to provide service and contribute to my community; to show Lily that community service is an obligation, not just a nice thing to do.

Above all, I will remember that I deserve no more or no less than anyone else. Working with others is the best way to achieve common goals.

I will live my life according to these principles which are solid, do not fluctuate and cannot be violated. I will strive to live by them in all I do.

It’s actually quite a process coming up with a comprehensive list of everything meaningful in your life and then simmering it down until there’s no more liquid and you’re left with a rich, shimmering pan of thick, yummy goodness. I’m sharing because I believe when you say something out loud, it has more chance of coming true. Sort of like the stories we tell, or the ones we’ve been telling for so long we can’t remember if they’re actual memories or just pictures we’ve turned into stories, or stories we’ve heard that we think we remember. It’s all a blur the older I get.

What would you put in your mission statement?

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Talking to my therapist is like…well, THERAPY.

I’m going to start recapping my discussions with my therapist (also known as NJ) here so I can refer back when I’m having trouble with my focus.

This week started with immediate issues first…by immediate I mean issues that were presented within 20 minutes of our session. One of my sweet, misunderstood (by me) coworkers has this ability to push me over the edge over and over again. She’s a very sweet woman with no boundaries and a sense of urgency that could run over a train. I’m not kidding. She’s been in Sales her entire working career and raised 2 beautiful daughters who no longer live at home and now has a position behind a desk (though you will never find her there) on a computer, something with which she is intensely incompatable. Because I know how to compose a Word document with pictures and everything, she thinks I’m a computer genius and relies on me a LOT. While this is very flattering, it is equally, and moreso, frustrating. Pile that on top of the boundary issues and suffice to say, we butt heads. I can’t jump every time she needs me and she’s not able to look past her need to see what she’s doing to me (I’m not the only one, either, but what everyone else does is their business). After discussing her boundary issues with NJ and the fact that she probably realizes how annoying she can be to others, I do believe she means well so my goal will be to focus on that fact more in the future. In addition to finding my compassion, I’ll also have to do better at setting my own limitations in her eyes and I’ll carefully walk her through whatever she’s trying to do every time she interrupts me in the hopes that some day she will consider if I really need to be interrupted or not.

Second issue: Olivia’s autopsy results. Believe it or not, I surprised myself by losing my composure and choking over my words until the tears took over and I couldn’t speak. I took the news very well, initially, all matter of fact and quite cool about the whole thing. For probably obvious reasons, I find this a bit unsettling. Again, NJ aptly noted that I’m very good at shutting the door to my emotions while I’m at work in order to speak without breaking down. I do this very well.

What I do not do well is open the door back up when I’m safe at home so my sadness has no choice but to come creeping out the side window into another, sometimes completely unrelated scenario so I wind up looking like a crazy person sobbing about a silly misunderstandings my husband is forced to apologize for. Oh my.

3. This is a funny one. My job is supposed to require travel, sometimes lots of it. I had to go out of town for 3 months (home on the weekends) almost immediately after I went back to work from maternity leave with Lily. My husband was forced (yet, again) to stay home with her, eating whatever he could get his hands on while I ate out at fancy restaurants across the country. That’s how he saw it anyway, as would many men in his shoes, I think. It wasn’t that simple for me. Regardless, travel has since been quite the hot button issue in our house. While it’s a requirement of my job, it’s a HUGE strain on our marriage. As a result of that first terrible experience, I’ve been pretty successful at making a case for me staying in the office while the rest of my team goes on the road. Sometimes it’s not so easy.

To my point. There’s a big trip coming up where most of my team is going to be on the road for about 3 months, again only home on the weekends. I heard my boss was concerned about asking me to travel, considering the circumstances, so I had a preemptive conversation with David and we decided together that it was not the same as it was in the beginning and he wouldn’t have a problem if I had to go. I was relieved and looked forward to passing the good news on to my boss. I’m there if you need me, boss. You can count on me. Thanks for your concern but I think I’m okay. Do you know what my boss said in return? Essentially: Thanks but no thanks. Oh, the irony. Turns out my skillset is quite the opposite of what’s needed for this particular education, seeing as I’m a creative writing major and we’re supposed to be teaching advanced financial selling concepts. If my boss knew how many insufficient funds fees I’ve gotten in my life, she would’ve laughed me out of her office. But again, maybe she has her suspicions, hense the gentle decline of my offer to help.

Also, what a relief.

4. Finally, we talked about the homefront. We’re doing very well. My husband deserves a medal for the support he’s given me and the patience. Not to mention that he’s just as interested as I am in improving everything that was wrong with us before so life only gets better as a result of Olivia passing through our lives. It’s really the only way. Because, if there’s one constant in this whole mess, it’s that life will go on whether you like it or not. And the path of least resistence has always made sense to me. I’d rather be happy than miserable and I do believe that’s a choice.

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Discontentery

I feel so, so disappointed right now with no words to describe why. This time won’t be blamed on Olivia, either. Not only is it totally unfair to keep putting everything on her, but it probably isn’t the case. More likely, it would be a justification of my own bad behavior.

I’m being a huge spoiled brat though I simply cannot stop myself. I’ve been feeling increasingly eschewed by David this weekend and after 3 days of resentment and discontent simmering between us, I’ve clearly had it up to here (you know where). Is there any truth to these feelings of blame and derision? I honestly can’t say. Would I feel it so concretely if there wasn’t?

I just want to bury my head under the pillows and cry myself to sleep, which would probably only up the frustration level for the both of us.

By now he doesn’t even know what I’m upset about. How can things get so muddy?

He’s the person I’ve been relying on completely for level emotions the past few months so when he’s not here, where else can I turn? I find that I’m too weak to stand on my own anymore. Maybe that’s what pisses me off. I’ve been attributing my strength to my own will, but what if it’s all him and I’m just as weak as ever?

I’m still working on a post about my session with NJ last week where she told me how well she thinks I’ve been dealing with everything. I’ll post the full recap when I’m finished. In part, she said I’m a very intuitive person and the fact that I’m allowing myself to feel the hurt without dwelling is what’s getting me through. She did not say it’s because of David’s strength. So, why when he’s not strong do I feel so weak?

While I type this the whole house is just miserable. It’s true what they say about everybody being unhappy when mamma’s unhappy. Lily’s crying, David’s yelling and I’m completely checked out, writing about my feelings in the kitchen when I should be putting my family to bed and getting some work done. We had a snow day today. Totally unexpected and wonderful to start. Perhaps I’m just tired but I got barely 2 hours of working from home done so there’s definitely some guilt built into this maelstrom of emotions, not wanting to take advantage of the workplace empathy of my still fragile state (there’s more of the dead baby card emerging).

Shit. I try to come to some conclusion for most of my posts but I’m starting to feel like I could just go on complaining forever without ever settling on an idea to bring me out of the muck. I’ll just put us all at ease and back away slowly.

Maybe tomorrow will be better. Or next week. Or next year. This up and down shit is starting to get old. I know.

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