How to turn your life on its head in 12 months or fewer
Some of you have noticed that our sweet little blog has been neglected this summer. In retrospect, I should have scheduled and declared a short blog break, but I didn’t have the foresight to know how busy the last few months would become.
Now that I’m back, let’s have a little catch up.
In July 2014, my husband and I moved from Massachusetts to Washington State, relocating to a beautiful island due west of Seattle with our two sons (now 10 and 7). I immediately felt at home here, but it was disorienting to leave loved ones behind. I have three children from my first marriage; my two oldest sons (24 and 21) are in Boston and my daughter (19) is heading back to CU Boulder for her sophomore year. My mother lives in New Hampshire.
Life unfolded, as it does, and with the settling in came the understanding that a relocation and the passage of time would not heal the pain from years of conflict between my husband and my three oldest children. In January, after 14 rocky years together, I reached the end of my marital rope. The accumulation of hurt and resentment forced me to look in the mirror and own the many ways in which I’d failed my children — and myself. Of course, there were ways in which I’d failed my husband, too. I’m not an easy person to live with — I know that — and ultimately, I don’t think I’m capable of the compromises that marriage requires. But if I had to stamp a single label on our situation, I would have to go with “blended family fail.”
While we’d had a few dress rehearsals, it was — is — at times searingly painful to leave someone who you still love and are attracted to. The pain comes in waves, which is something I’d heard before but never quite understood. Over time, one learns to keep breathing when the waves hit. And they start to lose some of their crushing weight.
I no longer believe that love conquers all. But I do know that my priority of existence is this:
- Myself, because if I’m not taking care of my own needs, I’m of no use to anyone else.
- My five children, regardless of how old they are.
And that’s it. Everyone else — family, friends, acquaintances — are part of my life because they have a net positive impact on #1 and/or #2 above. It’s that simple.
Today, I am living in a lovely little rental cottage. I share my two youngest boys 50/50 with their dad. Our relationship is surprisingly friendly and cooperative. (I give my ex a lot of credit for that.) We’re both committed to staying here on the island and raising our boys as co-parents.
I am repairing my relationships with my older children. Every day, I am profoundly grateful that they didn’t give up on me. My daughter came for a visit last month, and it was an enormous gift to be able to spend time with her without the burden of ever-mounting guilt that I used to carry. The guilt from past mistakes doesn’t go away, of course — and there are some things I will never forgive myself for — but at least I’m no longer adding to the inventory.
Moving twice in a year — including a cross-country relocation — and getting divorced adds up to rather a lot of recovery. But amidst this period of intense change I am finding myself. I am more “me” than I’ve ever been before. My life is full of new friends, new experiences, new places, new tattoos, and new men. (Don’t be alarmed — I’m not using new relationships to bury my emotional pain, but rather connecting with other people to rediscover and redefine myself.) There’s also the usual challenge of making enough time for my client work. That’s been a struggle given all of the other things I’m focused on.
As I find my feet, I am awash in creative energy. I fought for some time to maintain my creative practice before allowing myself to just do what I’m doing. As summer comes to a close, and I near turning 46, I’m preparing to reconnect with a structured practice — but until then, I have put down the whip of self-flagellation.
So, that’s where things are at on my end. I look forward to sharing on a more regular basis and supporting you in your creative work.