You know when you are about to have guests over and you try to clean your whole house up for them, or at least make it presentable? Whether you spend fifteen minutes or two days cleaning up, once your guest(s) gets there you always manage to notice something that is out of place or that looks cluttered and you are wondering if they noticed this flaw in your home as well. The moment they walk into a different room, you go to fix the small mess only for them to ask if you have any tissues. You have tissues but they are in your closet. Everything is in your closet. You shoved everything in there that you did not want to take up space. Now you have to open your closet and as you do you send up a silent prayer to whatever gods may be wishing for nothing to fall out on you while you lunge to grab the Kleenexes.
At first one thing falls out and then, like a dam breaking, everything that you had carefully piled behind your closet doors tumbles down and out. You are left holding that box of tissues staring back and forth between your guest and the pile. Your guest is kind and brushes it off, but now you know that they know that you are a mess.
This is how I feel about life currently.
If this were HGTV and I was one of those really annoying people on house hunters, my perfect house would be an old brick row house in a big city somewhere, with a small patch of grass in the backyard for my tiny dogs. Everything I would own in the house would be thrifted or vintage except for the kitchen which would be completely modern to the point of looking sterile. There would be an office with bookshelves built in, tall windows for every room allowing natural light, and the bedroom would have a massive bed filled with pillows and blankets and a ramp at the end for my tiny dogs to get in and out of the bed with me.
Me as a house? Well, I look entirely different.
My house is a little bit smaller than the last time I blogged. Actually a lot smaller. I have been working on my siding and windows and a lot of the external structural parts of this house. I even added a garden, but I am not always the greatest at maintaining it (sometimes I still look like a hot mess). Physically this house is so much stronger than it was a year ago, and you can see that from the outside and I can feel it on the inside as well.
One thing I had to do was remove a lot of the support beams that I used to have and replace them with new ones. The old beams had terrible rot and were making me so sick that I took the time to invest in the best beams I could find. I am still getting used to all the exposed beams, and sometimes I just go up to them and poke them to ensure they are still sturdy.
While I worked on these structural issues, I pushed other things in to corners, under the bed, into drawers, and into my bedroom closet. Clutter began to form everywhere. I started trying to find which of these items “sparked joy” and started getting rid of a lot of items in my house (this also happened in real life and is an ongoing struggle as I constantly find stuff I no longer need). It is a lot easier to get rid of physical things than it is emotional and mental things is what I have learned over the past few years.
Somedays it feels like I scrubbed every inch of the bathroom. It is sparkling and shining from top to bottom, with no stray hairs to be found. A friend will come over, and through no fault of their own, the toilet, shower, and sink clog all at the same time. I make them leave as I snake and plunge them all, and then I sit there crying in a ball on the bathroom floor completely embarrassed that my house is falling apart. What kind of person am I to not have a functioning house?
This is where I am at right now. Over the holidays I told myself over and over again that I am ready to date, that I am ready to put myself back out there, that is has been over a year since losing my daughter and getting dumped. However, when I tried going out on a date/not date with someone, I became suddenly overwhelmed and panicked. All I could think about was:
How do I tell them about my daughter?
How do I tell them about my ex?
How do I tell them about my non-existent relationship with my family?
What will they do when I begin crying out of nowhere?
What will they do when they catch my staring at my phone screen at a picture of my daughter taken by her ‘parents’?
Who will they tell about my inability to keep it together during pregnancy test advertisements as I scream at the television that not everyone is that excited?
When will they tell me they love me, but they are not in love with me?
When will they leave?
Why would anyone want to be with someone this broken?
All the toilets in my house were clogged, and the shit was backing up.
I am a birthmother, and a messy one at that. I have a hard time keeping it together, and I have not gone more than two days without crying feeling like the biggest piece of me is missing. Each day that ticks by where I do not hear from her parents, I begin to panic and worry if everyone is okay. The only right I have is to be told if my child is terminally ill or if she or both her parents die. That’s it. I only have the right to find out if the person I care about is dead or will soon be dead, and even if she is soon to be dead I do not have the right to see her.
I am also really scared of starting a relationship again because I learned through my last relationship that I am not as great at reading people as I thought I was… I took effective listening in college as well as a slew of other communications related classes, but I was still taken off guard when I was dumped. No matter who I date, this man – my ex – was there for me and with me through the worst part of my life and kept me alive when I just wanted everything to end, and when that support beam left my house split down the middle (like the cheap garbage house in the Game of Life).
Still, there may come a time when my daughter seeks me and her father out, and I know that if that moment comes I will want to be selfish. I will have a hard time letting her spend time alone with her father and not with at least the both of us. I want every minute I can get with her. I will never be able to make up for these days that I have missed in her life, but that will never stop me from trying. By some miracle (known as Dungeons and Dragons and dog memes mainly) her father and I have maintained a good friendship over the past year, and we will always be connected through the shared excruciating experience of being childless parents.
How do you explain that kind of relationship to someone you are interested in? How do I explain that there are two people who mean the world to me and take up such a large part of me, and no matter what my future partner may desire they will always have this piece of real estate in my heart and in my life?
Imagine you are with the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, and you are moving into their house. They have a pretty nice house, strong and bright, but there is this north facing wing of the house that you can only enter when they walk you through it. It is a complete mess, with wine-stained floors and tattered curtains. There is a not a lot of light in this wing and when you try to touch something or clean something you are shoved out of the wing like Belle when the Beast found her in the West Wing of the castle. And there are two people, two people that you do not know, living in this house – her house, now your house too – but you cannot evict them. You catch glimpses of them from time to time, say hello when you pass the doors, but you are never sure if you can go in to this space without risking getting kicked out of this house yourself.
That’s what it is like.
There is a part of me that will never be whole. There is a part of me that can never be fixed. Not for a lack of trying, because believe me I have tried desperately numerous times. There are just somethings that cannot be fixed, some people who cannot be made whole again. Some houses are haunted.
That being said, it does not mean I cannot be happy. It does not mean that I will never laugh again. I am happy often, I am content often, I have other areas of my house that are warm and inviting.
I typically feel happiest right after completing a WOD (workout of the day) at my local Crossfit gym. Endorphins are in full swing and the pride you get after completing something that you thought would end the world as you knew it… for one hour a day I know that I can only focus on this one thing, this one person – for one hour a day there is only me, and I am strong. It took a lot of work to be able to almost do burpees (still working on not just belly-flopping, but maintaining control throughout the movement). It is paying off. When I mentioned that the outside of my house is looking better earlier, I meant it. I have biceps now – actual biceps! I used to march around with a tuba and I was never this strong. And my QUADS! After a workout on the assault bike I will sit and stare at them in all their glory. I made these. I made this body. I still have a lot of fat to lose, more muscle to gain, and a rope to climb, but Crossfit has been real, tangible, and helped me find friends and a family when I had lost so many of them post-baby and post-breakup.
I also feel happy just sitting still with friends. I love having small dinner parties or spending entire days on the couch with my closest friends. If it wasn’t for a few of them I don’t know if I would have ever gotten the support I needed to get through the past year and a half. This small group of people has loved me through the ugliest of cries, my most neurotic days, and the whiplash of my ups and downs. I may be able to count them on one hand, but they know who they are and the amount of gratitude I have for them can lift me out of the darkest of basements.
Then there is Dungeons and Dragons. For most people it is just seen as this weird nerd role-playing game on Stranger Things, but for me it has been an outlet. When my world crashed and burned, I built a new one out of a couple ideas from friends and a show called Critical Role. I became a frequent player and also dungeon master to a campaign that has lasted over a year (and smaller campaigns on the side). It is honestly probably why I do not blog as much anymore. I have immersed myself in this creative world where I can not only climb ropes, but I can be the dragonborn barbarian that lands a killing blow in an arena living out my days as a champion. In this world, I am not a failed mother, I am not the ex-girlfriend – I am nothing and I am everything. My only regret with DnD, is that I did not start sooner. I have made wonderful knew friends through this game and kept ones that I probably would have otherwise lost after everything that happened at the end of 2016. These people and these stories have made me so much stronger mentally than any other part of my life currently, so I truly mean it when I say I love dungeons and dragons.
I cut a lot of people out of my life recently after I realized that they were setting this figurative house I keeping talking about on fire. Some people i have blocked entirely and other’s I will approach the fence like a good neighbor to say hello and check in, but no way are they coming inside for tea. Simply cutting out negative people in my life has allowed me more opportunities to breathe and grow. I do not need people telling me how terrible of a person I am or constantly trying to “manage my behavior” to better suit them. My toilets clog enough here, you’re bullshit is not welcome.
Occasionally some jerk will throwing a flaming bag of shit on to my doorstep, and to that dill-hole I say: Karma is a bitch, and I left a pothole in my sidewalk.
My house is an okay house. I am slowly doing repairs as I can afford it, but for many a haunted house is far too much to deal with (especially on a regular basis). There is a lot of good in this house. I have a pretty clean kitchen (if only pizza rolls weren’t so tasty!), I have a comfy bed big enough for me and my stuffies, I have a couch long enough for me to sprawl out on, and an Apple TV. I have a warm hearth, good and witty friends over frequently, a sun room for reading in, a gym a few blocks away, and I am surrounded by good neighbors. Some days I am singing in the gardens, some days I am fixing the toilets, some days I never leave the North Wing, and still there are days where I am throwing house parties showing my work off to all my friends and people I care about.
I don’t have it together.
I won’t have it together.
I don’t want someone to help me get it together. I want people in my life who are okay with a little mess, who accept and love the imperfections that make me who I am. I need people who will grab a plunger while I cry on the bathroom floor because I never took the time to learn a valuable skill like plumbing.
I want to be happy, and I hope someday I will feel worthy of being loved, of being in a relationship again, of having someone as more than just a friend. Right now I am just trying to keep my house up, grateful for all the people who helped me get it this sturdy, but I will mind the hearth myself for as long as I need to.
Thank you Crossfit, thank you friends, thank you Shonda-land, thank you wine, and thank you to my tribe.
This last bit is a little of brand, but there are people out there who have had words to say about me recently so I am responding as succinctly as possible.
I am different. I am not a lot, or a little much. I am a complex human being capable of having emotions and just because I am cantankerous and gregarious does not make me too much. If people feel that way, I am not sorry. This is me. A messed up ball of some of this and some of that trying to roll forward, and I do not need weak people labeling me as too much simply because they cannot handle the kind of woman I am. Work on yourself, work on your own strengths and weaknesses. Do not worry about me. Me and my millennial pink house will still be here when you are finally bold and strong enough to come to tea. I am worthy of strong friends and loved ones. Too long have I told myself that I am not worthy, that I am not enough, that I far less than I need to be. I am worth more than that.
I am deserving and I am worthy.