I know, crazy, huh?
I've been a bad, bad girl. I haven't been working out, I haven't even been on a walk in like, four or five days. I can feel all of my hard work slipping away, like chicken fat sliding through my fingers. I've been eating (and eating terrible food) when I'm not hungry, and although I'm beyond pissed at myself for doing it, I'm trying my hardest to understand why.
I haven't quite nailed it yet, but I think it has a lot to do with the stressors that have come bouncing my way over the past several months. The money stress, the bankruptcy stuff, the increasingly difficult task of raising three teenagers by myself...all of it takes a toll on mama. The working out, the eating whole and healthy food, the no cocktails, the focusing on wellness...it was really helping. Not only was it helping me lose some of this padding I've acquired, it was helping my brain. And my heart. And my soul.
Then, when I found out about Big Daddy and Secretary getting knocked up, something clogged up all of that goodness that was starting to flow so freely. I'll be honest with you, and you too, Big Daddy, if you still read this: the news hit me hard. Really hard. It didn't seem to, at first. But like a single germ blossoming into a horrible bout of the flu, it festered and mutated and grew inside my head. I know, it makes no sense for something like this to knock the wind out of me, but there you have it.
Maybe it was too close to the feeling I got when I first found out he'd been unfaithful. That feeling you get when you realize you've been living in a shiny glass bubble, full of happy music and rainbows and kittens, and then that bubble shatters. That feeling of waking up from anesthesia or a super hard, deep sleep. "Where am I?" you ask yourself. "Was I dreaming? Or is this the dream?".
Who knows exactly why it hurt me, but it did. So...you have that, and the other things that have been ongoing for what feels like for-freaking-ever, and something in me just stopped. I lost my momentum. I let myself become paralyzed, let myself fall back into those old, unhealthy ways. Pizza for dinner three nights a week? No problem! And no one has to know that it's mommy who eats the last two pieces after everyone goes to bed. Tortilla chips and guacamole at midnight? Sure! You go right ahead, sister. If anyone deserves a treat, it's you. A margarita or two? Absolutely. In fact, make it three. Or four! You've had a tough year, woman. You've earned those drinks.
Maybe I've been watching too much "United States of Tara" but I swear there is part of me just waiting for failure. Just sitting there, biding time while the workouts and the healthy diet continue, twiddling thumbs, doing crossword puzzles...waiting. Waiting for the tiniest of holes to form in that new shiny armor I'd been sporting. And then boring in and undoing all that good that had been done.
But tonight, something happened. If you're friends with me in real life, you've probably noticed a difference in me. Not quite as happy, not quite as funny. Not quite as Jenny as I usually am. I've been feeling that old hermity feeling again, going all Greta Garbo on everyone and "vanting to be alone". I'm sorry about that. And I love you all for sticking with me through all of these incessant phases of growth or change or whatever they are. Thank you for not giving up on me.
So, the past few days have found me becoming increasingly annoyed with this turn of events. I miss working out. I miss my 5 mile walks. I miss going to bed at night feeling full of pride for sticking to a healthy plan...instead I've been going to bed at night feeling full of whatever late-night binge was handy. Today was an epiphany day. It was a rare day off, a day to do whatever I wanted or needed to do. I had a list of errands that needed to be done. A short list: books to library, packages to post office, sign William up for Park baseball and then a quick trip to Costco (oh shush..yes I'm still a member, for 4 more days. I needed my organic salad, dammit). Got the errands done and it was only 11:00 a.m.
I was sitting in my truck, in the Costco parking lot. Looking at the clock, realizing that I had just accomplished my day's worth of errands in less than an hour. The rest of the day was my oyster, wide open in front of me. What to do? I thought of the possibilities: Walk the dog. Go to the gym. Clean the bathrooms. Visit with my mom. Go to the old house and dig up a few more hostas. There was no shortage of things for me to do.
So what did I do? I went home, sat down in front of the computer, and played Bejeweled Blitz. Posted something on facebook and then spent an hour LOLing and reminiscing with a couple of my elementary school homies.
By 4:00 p.m. my self-loathing was palpable. I cursed myself, out loud, for being such an immobile loser. I vowed that I was done with this vegetative state, this paralyzing pause. Told myself to get the hell over whatever it was that was freaking me out. Made a mental plan to get with the program first thing tomorrow morning. What I did was, gave myself a good old fashioned ass kicking slash pep talk. Enough with this self-sabotaging bullshit. Then I got William ready for baseball (how long does it take a 5th grader to put on a jock strap and practice pants in your world? In mine, a long time), drove him and another boy to practice.
Practice tonight was at the field which is scarily close to Big Daddy's house. The field which, when I see the name on the practice schedule, makes my stomach hurt. Whenever I drop William off, or pick him up, I feel sort of creepy, like I'm stalking Big Daddy. Like I'm tip-toeing on enemy territory. Tonight, when I dropped him off, I felt that old weirdness again. Noticed how my eyes darted from the field to the street, wondering if one of them would drive by.
But I had errands to run, so I ran. Looked at a store to find a shrug/shawl and/or cute flats for Molly. She has her 9th grade Semi-formal on Friday and we are just about done with the outfit. Ran into a friend at the store, spent time gabbing. Found a few goodies (not the stuff for Molly, but tomorrow is another day..) and then went back to grab William.
Only this time, I didn't feel that stomach ache. I didn't feel like a trespasser. The friend I had run into at the store, another baseball mom, got out of her car and came over to chat. She's a single mom and runs a business selling vintage furniture. She and I talked about real jobs, and ex-husbands, and our boys, and Craigslist, and all sorts of stuff in between those subjects. She encouraged me to continue with the eBay stuff, and to branch out into other areas..."There are a million ways to make a million dollars" she said. She lit a little fire under my lazy, no-workouts ass.
And then I saw them. I happened to look out, through the windshield, and saw a hunched over guy, walking with a super-pregnant, walrus shaped woman. They had two tiny Ewok dogs. It was them. It was Big Daddy and Secretary.
Any other day, any other minute, I would have felt that awful feeling. That punched in the gut feeling. I would have turned away, felt my heart sink and my innards quake as they made their way down the sidewalk. But not tonight.
Tonight, I looked at them for a moment. I saw my ex-husband, the father of my four children, the man who doesn't take care of his kids. The man who left me high and dry, with three mortgages, a Ford Excursion and a broken heart. I saw the woman who helped destroy my marriage, and my life. He looked kind of sad, kind of embarrassed when he noticed that William's team was still at the field. She looked huge, and uncomfortable. And yes, I am acutely aware that I was maybe the fattest pregnant woman ever, but give me this one, ok? This is the woman who called me "fat bitch" when my son was in the emergency room, fighting for his life. Give me this little ha! moment, would you? This chick is enormous. There is none of that skinny arms/legs/swallowed a basketball look with this one. She's wide. Double wide. I think even her flat ass has puffed out. Bitch be big.
I saw them, and instead of feeling hurt for the millionth time, I felt like someone was unlocking an invisible pair of handcuffs from my wrists. I saw them and the only thing I felt like doing was laughing. I laughed. Yes, I know...how juvenile. How mature I am. But whatever. I saw him on that sidewalk, with those two yapping dust mop doggies and that plodding, thick woman, and I laughed loud and I laughed hard.
I thought, for a second, about all the crap he's done. And then I thought about that day in the Bankruptcy Attorney's office, when Bankruptcy Attorney told me how my creditors were going to be going after Big Daddy since there's a judgment against him. I remembered how my BFF and I looked at each other and smiled and how my BFF said, "Well, at least she'll be on maternity leave so someone will be there to field the phone calls."
I thought about the paper my 17 year old son wrote for his Writing Class. The paper where he had to describe someone he admired. He presented it to me on Mother's Day, and the tears are starting to flow just at the thought of it. He wrote about me. He wrote about the things we've gone through, the highs and the lows, and he wrote it beautifully. He helped me see, if only for a few hours that day, that everything I do, all the fighting and struggling and juggling, is worth it. Later that day he went back to being a petulant, smugly intelligent teenager, but just for a tiny bit I realized that what I'm doing matters. And more importantly, my kids can see that.
I saw my ex tonight, and I laughed. I didn't laugh with malice. I didn't laugh as a mean girl. I laughed because for the first time since all of this began, I realized that I am free. For so long I have thought that I was the one stuck at the starting line, the one who has to begin life all over again...but that's not true. He's starting from scratch, and I'm the one who's way ahead. Oh sure...it's awfully sweet to make a new baby, to begin a new chapter. That's all well and good, and I wish them nothing but happiness.
But I'm moving on. I'm not tied down with diaper bags and feeding schedules and runny noses. That part of my life is over, and as much as I loved it, I'm not going back.
So you see, there is no need for this insulation I've padded myself with, no need for closing myself off from life and fun and friends. The world is indeed my oyster now. And for once, I'm not going to smother it in butter, inhale it and then feel guilty.
I'm going to enjoy it, I'm going to savor it. I'm going to share it.
Thank you, Secretary, for taking my husband. Thank you for getting pregnant, and for getting so big. Thank you for choosing tonight to waddle down that sidewalk so I could see you. Thank you for reminding me of me, a million years ago, walking down a different sidewalk with the same man.
I think seeing you tonight was exactly what I needed to see. I am free now, free to carry on with my life and to stop thinking about what was and what could have been and what should have been. I don't need to bury myself in layers, literal and figurative, to hide anymore.
Thank you, Secretary. Thank you for taking the reins. It's your turn to drive.
My turn to relax.