Thursday, June 16, 2016

Okay has to be good enough.

Things are... Okay. Not great, not good, but okay.

Some days, Okay has to be enough.

I'm struggling with quite a few things currently. Parenting, body issues, depression and anxiety, and motivation to change my current situation. It seems like I just can't reach that escape velocity that I need to really slingshot me out of a shitty headspace and into making progress.

The girls continue to grow and grow and grow. They are whipsmart and silly and all of the things I love most. They also are 4 and 2, and with those ages comes what my friend Katie calls "Developmentally Appropriate Asshole." They are totally in  DAA phases right now, and to be brutally honest, it's KICKING MY ASS to parent them effectively. I am trying and trying to be more soft, more kind, and even more soft and even more kind than that. I find an edge creeping into my voice and I feel my eyes tighten and my mouth make a line when  I can't get Bea to stop being unkind to Edie or climbing on my body or can't get Edie to stop hitting her sister or the dog or carrying the cat around. This week, I had what I think might be my worst day ever. I lost it at the kids. I broke down crying on their floor after a yelling match and just held them while we all cried. I am worried that I'm ruining my relationship with them forever, that this is the mom they're going to remember.

See, it's not just that I'm overcoming parenting patterns. I'm fighting my bipolar, I have several friends who grew up with bipolar mothers, Their memories are terrible and their stories are the kind of nightmares that kept me awake when I was expecting Bea. I would lay there, one hand cradling my swollen belly and the other on my heart, praying to be worthy of the love of this little tiny life I hadn't met yet, this person that had yet to be a person. When they were babies, it was easy to see that they loved me too. They were tiny, they needed me, they reached for me whenever they saw me and I didn't need words to understand that longing and trust. Now, they're bigger. They have words for the opinions they have always had. I worry about one day being the day to finally push them into losing that love for me, into turning towards their dad instead and leaving me totally out of the picture. I don't want that! These are my babies! I want them to still love and need me like I love and need them and always will. I don't want it to be broken. I don't want them to be 8, be 14, be 19, be 27, be 38, and feel out of touch with me or heartbroken at our connection. I don't want them to tell their friends the horror of having a bipolar mother, of living in a house of mental illness their whole childhood.

So beyond the normal parenting blogs and seeking help, I look to therapy, I look to friends I respect in regards to their parenting. And I find myself so lacking. I keep thinking "what if this is as good as I get at this and I'm actually just harsh?" And my heart breaks over again.

This parenting shit isn't for the weak for the best of people. So what happens when the not best of people get into it?

And that's why Okay has to be good enough to be good. Because I don't know how to be a great parent. But I know how to be an okay parent. Today, my same friend who coined DAA told me that in the parenting classes she has taught through various organizations, they've found no discernable difference in kids with great parents and kids with okay parents. Okay just has to be good enough sometimes,

I don't have the energy to get into my body issue stuff today. I will, but that's another post for another day and all my heart currency is going into the problem of how not to be a shitty mom tonight.

This shit is hard.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Back to blogging in a different life

The last time I tried to do this with regularity was 2014. That didn't happen. I was writing a post about how it feels to have a baby and a 2 year old. But then? Life happened. Edie growing up happened. Beatrice getting bigger and bigger happened. Their needs changed. Mine changed. John's changed. We dug in and held on and ended up with so much to show for it and no time to talk about it, much less process it in writing. Every minute is filled, even the quiet ones, with needs unmet, goals unaccomplished, lists upon lists undone and waiting for the next line through an item.

So here we are now. It's April of 2016. I'm 37. I'll be 38 this year. Should I start anew? Should I abandon what I wrote before and write with fresh eyes and fresh fingers and the pink, tender skin of new beginnings? Nothing was burned to ashes. There is no catastrophe to rise from.

So, quick recap? Maybe a paragraph? Maybe 2? I dunno. Here goes.

Bea is now 4. (FOUR!!!) She turned one and then she was 2 and then we were (a family of) 4. A family of 4! Our second sweet breath of fresh spring air showed up in 2014, our tiny Edith Adelaide.

Tiny 3 month old Edie!

Edie is spunky and loud and crazy and sly. She was the saddest baby to start, and then she got happier and happier as more and more communication came. I don't have baby books for either of the girls, but I documented so much more here with Bea. I feel bad that I don't have that same documentation except for Facebook with Edie. I'm sure I'll figure out something.

So here's where we are now: 



Two beautiful, healthy, perfect girls. Determined, wacky, whipsmart little firecrackers. Bea has her Daddy's beautiful green and hazel eyes and my flair for the dramatic. Edie has deep brown eyes and a perfectly white birthmark on her partline that grows a shock of white hair, hiding among her blond wisps. She is stubborn and particular and cunning and sneaky. Bea lives a life without the ability to apply guile. 

John and I are more solid than ever. Our hard work and hard knocks have paid off in big ways. Our communication flows easy like water over cobblestones, giggling and running through the path of least resistance. We committed wholly to making our marriage run smoothly as a partnership and dedicated ourselves pretty much entirely to the raising of these tiny little hearts. I fall in love more and more deeply every time he gently guides a situation with the girls into resolution, or kisses a small cheek, or carefully lifts a tiny squirming body from the floor into his arms to comfort and console. The girls love him to distraction and I can't stop staring at his eyes when he walks into a room. 


It's hard to believe that 4 years ago, before Bea, I didn't know if we'd make it through another season or if the love we started out with would come back with hard work and dedication. 

The business is doing so well, and expanding. In 2014, my wonderful former co-worker, Ryan, came back and bought in. I have a partner, a real partner, an every day in and out here for the long haul partner. He works so hard and all his dedication is paying off in such big ways for the business we both dedicate heart and soul to. We are thriving. And? I started a bakery back in the spring of 2015 and it's successful! We're selling out and straining at the seams of our small kitchen. In November of 2015, Ryan and I took over the lease for the small space next to the Black Drop and are slowly turning it into the bakery space to allow me to increase the menu and volume, and possibly pickup whole sale clients as well. I couldn't be more excited and anxious for this project to be completed. Meanwhile, I've learned how to put FRP up on walls, lay tiled floors, and all sorts of other things that might come in handy, should John and I buy a fixer upper at all. 


There's Ryan on the day we laid the floor, doing some of the hard work of cutting out the corners. Looks like fun, right? This project reduced me to tears faster than any project has in my whole life. That includes giving birth to two babies. 

I stopped school when Bea was born, and this Fall, I'm finally going back. I got my letter from Western for readmittance and I'm planning out my classes and trajectory right now. It's time to get back to trying to do things for me instead of doing things for just my family.

And with that, I'll be ending the update for now. As part of going back to doing things for me, I'll be flexing my writing muscle and updating more frequently. I miss words, I miss the way they used to just flow and travel through me with ease. I stopped reading after Bea was born and mostly stopped writing. This absence has left me feeling flabby of intellect with clogged emotions. It's time to take the minutes for myself that writing provides. So, further updates will be coming albeit probably sporadically. If you care to follow along, I'd love to talk to you in the comments. I miss my LiveJournal of old and would love to engage, if you want to. If not, lurk. I'm sure I'll overshare at some point. 


And then there were two. And then one was two.

Dear diary,

(This was written and saved in September of 2014)

I know you think I abandoned you. I know it feels like forever since I dusted off this corner of where I live on the internet, a space I pour myself into and then close up for a time. This space, this page, these words. This tiny little piece that is mine, a land I claim like a jumper in the old west... running to my little stake in the ground and then fighting to get the resources to build on it.

The nature of having little humans that depend on you and a business that needs you and a marriage that takes the kind of roll up your sleeves and put your fingers in the dirt hard work that mine does leaves very little time for the quiet self indulgence of writing: The space for reflection is small indeed, the light hard to shine in the corners to see the cobwebs.

(Case in point. It took two paragraphs of typing before Beatrice decided she didn't want to nap and watch the Muppets, and came crying right back out into my  arms, and then 10 minutes of crying before telling me she wants yogurt and play-doh.)

Diary, directly after (the day after) I sobbed and slumped and drank that beer and ate that dinner, I realized I was *late.* Not "running late for an appointment" but the kind of *late* that women know the world over and look on with yearning or fear or a mixture of all kinds of other feels. I took a test, which of course was positive, and then slept on it before telling John. We had been discussing having a second baby, but his responses were pretty much always "I don't think we can, let's keep talking." I was a little afraid of what his reaction would be. I took another test, and then another. The next day, I told him I had something to talk to him about. I handed him all three positive tests. "Well, that decides that. Looks like we're having another baby" he responded.

(Second case in point. Another paragraph down. Bea ran in with a handful of snap peas and demanded I eat some, which woke the baby up, who now needs to be fed and moved to do some floor time. And now it's time to pack up both babies and head back down to work.)

(Third case in point. It is now a quarter past midnight. We started putting the girls to bed at 8:30. They've both woken up twice and we've had less than an hour to be grown-ups who get to talk to each other about anything, at all.)

Diary, I know it will come as no surprise to you to know that my pregnancy was hard. I was sick all of the time. I had hyperemesis, which is a techy way to say I did nothing but puke and cry and puke some more and prayed for death for a solid 7 months of my pregnancy, and then for the last two and a half I was overjoyed to be only throwing up a couple times a day instead of the over a dozen of the previous months. During that time, I started writing to you three times, but each time the needs of my rapidly growing into a toddler tiny human or the needs of my business or the needs of my body drained all energy. As excited as we were about the pregnancy, we were also scared. How was I going to handle two kids when our existing one was such an all consuming, delightful and full force of personality human? How was I going to be able to balance the business with the loss of my business partner. (Again)? How was I going to still make time for my brain and hold space for myself and the "me" that I have painfully and with herculean effort carved out of my experiences?

My labor progressed much more easily than the first time.. From the time they induced me (at 42 weeks and 6 days) to the time she was in my arms was 14 hours. I once again got an epidural, because the contractions from the pitocin were causing me the worst pain I have ever experienced. Just like her big sister, her heart never faltered, her vitals never showed stress. Her tiny body just went along, expecting and trusting me to bring her into the world without complication, without difficulties.

at 10:03 pm on February 1st of this 2014, Edith Adelaide joined our family. And then there were two. Two tiny little girls that held my heart outside of my chest in their sweet little fingers. Two humans entrusted to our care, born out of love and our commitment to our family. We felt complete. The minute she arrived, I knew our family had the missing piece of our puzzle and we were well and truly finished.




Edie was huge! So huge! 9 lbs, 8 oz, 22 inches long! Already a glamazon, like her mother.

We stayed overnight in the hospital and asked Trish and Richard to bring Bea by first thing in the morning, as soon as she woke up. Predictably, that was full of adorable.



We left midmorning after getting the all clear. We wanted to be home as soon as we possibly could be. Then we were home, and dazed and sleep deprived and overwhelmed, we looked at each other and asked "Ok, now what?" 

Then started what might possibly be the most difficult period of our lives, thus far. Edie didn't like sleeping at night, only during the day. John basically went back to work three days after she was born. Bea adjusted as well as we could have hoped, which meant she loved her sister immediately but reacted much like you would expect a two year old who has had their entire world turned upside down to behave. The biggest and most important relationships in her life were changing and that is SO HARD for even GROWNUPS that I can't imagine what it would be like for a tiny human who can't regulate her emotions and who doesn't have the physiological capability for empathy. I had been home with Edie for less than a week when I got mastitis. Her latch was terrible and required several home visits from lactation consultants to help us correct the problem. My supply was all over the place. I developed a 103 degree (+) fever when Edie was 6 days old, concurrent with mastitis and food poisoning. Twice. Edie started developing colic and cried for hours and hours every day, purple and screaming, no matter what we did.....

Aforementioned tiny humans need us. Will write again when there is time.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Stupid, broken day

Some days, I just fail. Today was one such day.

There wasn't anything striking or earth shattering or garment rending. I worked, and it was one of those quiet shifts where my employees say very little to me and I feel pretty unliked as a result. Most of the time, that is actually just a stupid blip in my brainpan, and my perception is way off. So today I tried to remind myself that my stupid brain often tells me I'm useless or unliked when whatever is going on has nothing to do with me. I drove home and got John and the baby. We went to run errands and John went to work.

Bea and I tried to go to the park. We got to Boulevard and it was just too windy. My poor little beanpole got knocked down by a gust. She got up and looked around and I asked her what she wanted to do. She started walking towards the car with a very determined look on her face. We got there, she put her hands on the door and started repeating "Bye bye, bye bye..." so i determined it was  probably time to get going home.

At home, she didn't want to interact with me. If she was reading a book and I came to sit by her with a book, she yelled at me and threw the book and headed off to do something else. If I walked out of the room and went to go do dishes, she'd come to the door and cry and cry until I stopped what I was doing, and then when I came to her she'd throw things at me until I left her alone. She wandered around calling for John in a sad and searching voice. It was really a bummer.

Today was just one of those days where I don't enjoy being a parent. I basically kept telling her I loved her and marked time until John came home. I was fighting off a panic attack all day, and I kept thinking that maybe she picked up on my broken brain vibes.

I hate my broken, stupid, brain chemistry. Hate it.

All day long, my brain kept telling me that I'm ugly and disgusting. That I'm never going to be fit again. That I'm never going to reach any of my goals. That I'm useless. That no one likes me. That I shouldn't bother getting close to people because when I do they desert me by finding someone they like better. That I'm not important. That I'm a terrible mother. That I'm a terrible wife. That I deserve to be lonely and shouldn't try going outside of my comfort zone. That no one understands me. That maybe the world would be better if I would just leave it.

I know that most, if not all, of those things are untrue. I know that the way my brain was working today doesn't reflect reality. I know that, logically. I drove to pick John up from work with Bea crying in the back seat "Da daaaaaaa! Da daaaaa!" and kept telling myself, "this isn't real.This perception isn't real. Bellingham is still beautiful and it's still full of all the things I love and the world hasn't changed since yesterday."

It takes so little to make me feel unimportant. I take everything so personally. I don't know why I do that. I see someone's post about where they went or what they did on a week when I couldn't get them to return my phone calls or find time for me, and I start feeling sick. I add it to my mental list of proof that they don't care about me and that I should give up. I start recounting how little time I've actually been able to get John to help me with my craft room, with the garden, with the whateverthehellproject I'm asking for help with, and it's proof that he doesn't care about me. I have to constantly tell my stupid brain that those feelings aren't real. I have to constantly tell my stupid brain that I need to breathe, to step back, to trust, and to let go of what doesn't work rather than forcing it.

So today was harder than a normal day. I can feel this slipping over me, the anxiety and the darkness that edge into whatever I'm doing, the cold that leeches out the joy of a lilac tree in the sun, steals the warmth of my daughter's laughter, kills the little spark in my spine from the feel of John's lips on the back of my neck while I'm cooking or reading or washing a dish.

I am fighting it, and fighting it harder than normal, because I want Bea to get me at full mom strength. I want Bea to get my attention and my love and my effort. My broken, stupid, useless disease doesn't get to steal the good stuff from my kid.

So I put up a brave front and waited until John got Bea to bed to kind of slump and fall. I drank a beer and ate the vegan comfort food meal that I made and then sat, staring at my computer, trying to barf all of the self hate out onto this page so that I don't take it to bed with me tonight. I want to send shitty emails to friends I feel have replaced me, people I feel are taking me for granted, and people I interact with that I'd rather not at this point. I will not be doing any of those things, because it's my broken brain retaliating for me trying to deal with all of its stupid banality like an adult.

Speaking of, I should leave well enough alone and remove temptation to do something dumb. I have said quite enough for today.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Lesson not learned

When talking about it repeatedly like a grownup and offering your heart in honest terms stops working, it feels like all that's left is closing off your expectations and letting it go. I am trying to remember today that I am a valuable person who doesn't need to allow myself to be defined by relationships that leave me. As a people pleaser who works best when everyone likes me, and a person who values my close relationships, it hurts to find myself mistaken in someone's regard for me. Again.


I've tried talking it out with this person. We've discussed this several times. We are both busy people, but time and again, I see that while I make time for them, even just a text or Facebook message or 5 minute visit, they don't make time for me. They do have time for friends that live farther away and are more time consuming to get to. They have time for Co workers and other local friends. Although I keep a huge space open in my heart for this person and still think of them daily, I feel like a passing fad for them. This has happened to me often enough in this relationship that I am finally getting the message to give up. Overall, this happens to me often enough, I obviously need more practice learning this lesson well, or it wouldn't continue to reappear. I am trying to take this big hurt in my heart that has been there for a few weeks now and push it back down into my chest. I am trying to focus on people who do make time for a text or message or call for me, even when we are both insanely busy.

Being a grownup is a good deal like being in High School, still. That's just dumb.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

You turned one.....

Dearest Beatrice,

This last weekend, you turned one. The sun came out, just like it did the day you were born. It was warm and bright and you ran around on the deck in a dress that was just slightly too big for you, while the house filled up with people who love you. We all ate and drank some beer and celebrated that you came to join our family a year ago, and that we all managed to survive this first year with each other. You totally demolished your little smash cake and were super happy and we were all super happy and you got totally spoiled and so so much love.
CAKE MONSTER WANTS ALL THE SUGAR!!

I'm not going to lie to you. This year has been pretty hard. You still don't sleep much, which means that your Dada and I don't sleep much, either. You share our bed, which is something that we decided we didn't want to do before you got here, but after you decided you didn't want to sleep alone, we did so that we could all get a bit more rest. Some nights, you conk out and sleep and snuggle and it's great. I don't have to worry about you not breathing or wonder how you're doing, because you're right next to me. To be honest, Dad is ready to have our bed back, but I'm trying to get go of the idea of having you there for sleepy cuddles. When you first wake up every morning, you sit up and grab both your dad and me by the sides of the face, and laugh while you give us kisses. I totally don't want to give that up. It's the best thing, ever.
Just look at that sweet, pensive face!
In fact, a good deal of the stuff that you do is the best thing, ever. You are so mobile now, running from room to room on your sturdy little legs and barely ever falling down. You love to put things away and take them back out. I bought a repurposed cabinet from my friend Heather, and your current favorite thing to do is to take all your toys and shove them into it and then take them back out. It's pretty great to watch you make connections and watch your brain figure out how you would like things arranged.
Putting the blocks back into the bag is your fave!
This year has been so amazing, and I'm a little sad it's over. Someone told me once that being a mom is a constant lesson in letting go, and a really slow heartbreak. It's cliche and so true. I am learning to step back from you and let you range out in front of me. I am learning to not walk behind you with my arms outstretched so that you learn freedom and autonomy. I am learning to follow your lead, and play with you in the way you want to play, and to try to see the world as you are seeing it. 

We went to the park and I let you run around there for the first time this week. Up until this point, you haven't been sturdy enough or big enough or strong enough to deal with the changing levels of the grass or the gravel. But this week the sun came out after what feels like a really long winter, so I put you in the Boba and we walked a mile and a half over to the Tot Lot from the Black Drop while your Dad was at work. I put you down into the grass and your face instantly broke into my favorite of your grins, your happy, goofy laughing one. You said "BYE" and ran away from me at top speed. I sat in the sun, drinking my coffee and watching you run around and fall down and get back up and laugh and laugh. It was amazing. You're so daring for one so little. Other moms there commented on how tiny you are and how adventurous you are for your age. I kept telling them that you're obviously really independent and that your Dad and I basically just let you go and we follow after you to make sure you don't get dead. You ran up and hugged other kids, their moms, even a strange dog before I could stop you. (To be fair, the dog was on a leash and was super friendly to the other kid over by it, so I wasn't that worried.) You were like sunshine incarnate, my laughing and joyful little gift.

First time in a swing!!!

Today, something else big is happening in the world and I wanted you to know about it. Today and tomorrow, the Supreme Court of the United States is hearing arguments to help them decide whether or not to give equal weight to the marriages of gay people in our country. Besides believing that every single person is created equal, this is a big deal to your Dad and I. We both have friends and family that we love who are gay, and it makes us really angry when people try to say that their love isn't as important because it doesn't fit a narrow religious view of what love should mean. More than that, though, your Dad and I really believe in people being exactly who they are and that no one should be able to tell them that they are less important than anyone else. It got us talking about who we hoped you will grow up to be and what we want for you.

I would be lying if I said that I don't have an idea of what I would like you to be when you grow up. I would like for you to be smart, courageous and strong, but most of all I hope that you will be kind. Being strong or courageous or smart doesn't matter as much if you cannot be kind to others and kind to yourself. We think that all parents try very hard to give their children the best of themselves, and that each child will take from that what they will and will become their own person. I know that my parents tried very hard to instill Christian values in me and they made no secret of their desire for me to believe in God. However, one of the best things they did for me was to teach me to think critically and to admit that they didn't think they had all the answers. My parents taught me tolerance and acceptance of other ideas and that debate is healthy. In that vein, I have something you need to know.

Dearest, sweetest little Bea, your Dad and I will always love you, no matter who you are. The best thing you can do is be your authentic self. Of course, we will do what all parents do, and we will try to teach you the values that are important to us: Service to your community, speaking out for people who are afraid or cannot speak for themselves, treating all other people with respect even when you disagree with them, standing up for what you think to be correct even when it is difficult to do so, and kindness in the face of ugliness. However, we don't ever want you to think that we have the only moral high ground and we certainly want you to question, question, question. Even if you decide that you are a gun toting, socially conservative, Christian, Republican little lady, your Dad and I will love you. We place no conditions on that love. All you have to do to make us proud is to be exactly who you think you are inside. You can expect debate and questioning from us, even when we agree. We want you to be able to explain what you think and why you think it, but we won't tell you that you are wrong. 

You are perfect. Perfectly perfect. No matter who you grow into. No matter how you get there. No matter what fights we have about choices or behavior between now and then. I want you to remember this. We will write this out when you are practicing letters. You are my joy. You are my light. You are perfect and whole as you are. You are enough. You will always be enough. There will never be conversations about your potential to be something else and you should never feel that you have failed us. Just be exactly who you are, sweetbea, whoever that is. 

Your mama loves you SO, SO much. So does your sweet Daddy. You are the best thing that has ever happened to us and we won't ever let you forget it.

Family photo. This is a typical morning for us. 6 am, before coffee.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Gratitude

Some days are just perfect. Some days , everything goes well, and all your connections are on and singing, and everything around you fills up to a beautiful kind of overflowing. Some days, things fall into place so perfectly, you hear the click.

Today was one such day. I hosted a mini home spa morning for my favorite mama friends. My sweet mother in law rubbed our feet down and took care of our toes and watched Bea and hung out with us. John got home after a breakfast date with a friend and played with baby. I got to take a snuggle nap curled up with my girl for a couple of hours after everyone left.

Bea woke up happy and constantly chattering , begging us to read her books and laughing hysterically when we obliged. We took a drive in the evening, which is what we do when we have a heart to heart, and we delivered some leftover desserts to our best friends.

Bea went down easily, while John and I snuggle and have chill time.

Thank you, universe. My cup runneth over,  and over, and over ....

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Shedding skin

So, what do you do when you don't count on the people you used to count on?

It's not a dire emergency. It's not a massive split. There is no tectonic movement, no plates slipping, no shock wave.

It's more like glacial melting. Constant. Almost undetectable. Inexorable.

John and I are going through a period of redefining. We have spent much of our marriage in an imbalance of power. We shift, we slide, we trade places, but generally one of us has carried the other for the majority of our 6 year marriage and 7 years together. Since having Bea, we're much more balanced. We share parenting, cleaning, and shop responsibilities. We are more in tune than at any other point in our relationship. The way we relate to each other is often full of poking, snarking, and good natured bickering. We do it in private, in public, and online.

Recently, John has been experiencing some social upheaval. The group of guys he has been gaming with for years is splintering. Well, that's not accurate. One of the guys decided he didn't like John or me, and so did his girlfriend. Some of it has to do with the way John and I interact online. This recently was brought to our attention again. The original disturbance started a passive aggressive tug of war for months, that we came out on the losing end of, despite refusing to ask our friends to choose between us. Our response was at first to try to keep lines of communication open, to let our friends know how we felt about the situation, and to keep invitations open to the people who were snubbing us even though we knew they wouldn't accept. That strategy didn't work. Distance continued to grow, as did discomfort and resentment. When it finally came to a head and John was shoved out of his gaming group, our final response was to let go of that rope, to step back, to focus on family instead of our most important friendships. We continued to interact in the way that works best for us. We snark. We are snarky people. We make fun of each other and of ourselves. We laugh a good deal, especially about the jokes we make at our own (and each others') expense online. We have Facebook wars while in the same room. That's just who we are. We are blunt with each other, often pretty forthrightly so. Our relationship functions much better with a base level of personal and shared humility. John feels (and I agree) that for people who know us to judge us through our online interaction and then use that as a basis for their thoughts on our marriage, while still saying they're not judging us, is pretty much crap. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and in my opinion, you can't refuse to interact with me and then tell me you're not judging me. John feels the same.

This recent bout of shakeups has meant we've spent a good deal of time talking about the fallout and about what our friendships mean to us while we're driving, while we're drinking beer on the couch, or while we're sitting around with Bea. The end result is both of us feeling heart sore and wary of interaction, and when we do have interaction, the initiation of such feels a little forced and awkward until we're in the swing of it.

Maybe we're just in a different place than we were. Although we realize that with our daughter's arrival our priorities would change, we still enjoy almost all of the activities we enjoyed prior to being parents. Our focus is different, but from our perspective, we still engage in much the same conversation with our non-kid having friends. I know that things are often not what they appear from just one side, but honestly we haven't been offered a perspective from the other position.

Personally, I know that I need more lessons from life about the ebb and flow of friendships. I have had to learn this lesson with other friends, and I don't know why my broken brain won't just apply the concept across the board. I now have friends that I consider to be part of my intimate circle that I just don't talk to as often as I used to, but there isn't a loss of love or growing distance perceived to be at the heart of that space. I have ladies I love who have their own lives that are just as demanding as mine (and sometimes, much more demanding.) When we don't talk for weeks, I know it's because they have husbands, boyfriends, school, home ownership, teenagers, babies, demanding jobs, and busy volunteer schedules to coordinate. I know they're thinking of me and that I'm thinking of them, and that when we talk it will be like no time or distance has separated our last conversation. When I think back on the comfort of that security, however, I do realize that I had some painful growing to do in each separate friendship to get to that point of feeling the security inherent in their love for me. I don't know what chemical or emotional peculiarity of my own biological makeup means that I have to learn this lesson over and over over again.

I don't know if John never learned this lesson or if he doesn't think it applies in this instance. It's hard to watch. It's even harder to know that I'm doing all I can and it's not enough. It's hardest to know that I'm doing all I can and it's not enough for John and that I'm feeling the same things.

We're both trying to branch out and explore new friendships, trying to cultivate relationships with people who have similar communication styles, similar interests, and are in similar places in their lives. Being people who are by nature kind of overshar-y (I just made that word up) and awkward, it's not easy to do. As much as we are social people, we both dread new social situations. We're trying really hard, but that fear combined with the sting of what it feels like we've lost is almost stonewalling level difficult. Even if we haven't really lost those other connections, that whole group goes on without us, seemingly uncaring about our absence. John pointed out that it's really discouraging to feel like a group of people he's been gaming with for a decade just doesn't care that he's not there anymore, that they don't at all miss him. I know what that feels like, and I don't have a response. I wish I had some words of wisdom for him besides that he really should be seeking some kind of professional to talk to, as this is bringing up a thread for him of personal worthlessness that has existed for a long time and that he needs to address.

We have been spending a good deal of time alone at home playing board games, reading books, and playing with our daughter. It's nice, but we're not often home at the same time with our schedules at the shop, so on any given night we're together for about 3 hours before one of us has to go to sleep to open in the morning.

My goal for this next month is to really spend time doing some self evaluation, and to honestly and truly let go of my grip on things that just aren't working right now. I need to realize (again) that I can't force someone to love me back, and I can't talk people who don't see my worth into suddenly liking me. It's sad that I have to learn this lesson over and over again while all the other 30 somethings I know seemed to learn it in high school, but I'll just chalk that up to my broken brain. Part of that self evaluation is forcing myself to write it out, even when the inspiration isn't there, nor the desire to write. Trying to write it down outside of my mania is part of my work this year, to really be honest with myself about who I am becoming.

This is the year of the snake, as someone recently reminded me. Snakes don't move backward. The past is just that. Past relationships, pains, and people who fall away are old skin that needs to be shed. New skin is tender and uncomfortable until it toughens up. Feeling naked is in the cards. But I can do this. I have the ability to free myself.