Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Re-examining an old label

Annie (and I hope I got the right hyperlink - if not please leave your URL in the comments!) visited a very old post of mine, written in October 2007 entitled The Bitter Divorcee Explains it All for You, and asked me if the passage of time has changed the way I feel. I hadn't read this particular post in a long time, so it was quite the experience to go back and see who I was and how I felt back then.

It's been nearly two years since I've had my last therapy appointment, so I'm no longer ending up in therapy at least once a year. That's not to say that I won't end up back in therapy next month or next year. I have no shame in recognizing that every so often, I need help. Still, the anger and resentment does not boil up quite so often as it used to, and usually, a good ranting post or talk with a friend will help me get past it.

I still believe that the anger and resentment I felt back then was perfectly valid and reasonable, given the circumstances. There are truths in my life and in my daughters' lives that are simply not fair.

They deserve a better father that doesn't end up in jail on an (almost) annual basis. They deserve the financial support that the court ordered.

Since then, however, I've learned that these emotions have a beginning, a middle, and an end. When I am angry, I don't try to just "get over it." I know I will get over it, once I've had a chance to express it somehow. I don't deny myself the moments of despair, helplessness, or anger I feel. I don't allow myself to feel guilty for needing a moment to myself every now and then.

Of course, there are appropriate times and places for those feelings.

As far as my feelings on men go, I maintain that I just don't have the will to pursue anything. While it's not even worth venturing to guess how many "good" men are out there versus men like my X, I do believe that the odds are against me finding the right one anyway, and really, why bother? My life is very full as it is. I'm sure some will still think that I hate men or that I'm too scared to put myself out there, but whatever, really. I can't control what other people think of me. I can just say I've considered both of these things, and have decided that those are labels that just don't fit. Making the decision to not pursue a relationship and to live my life as happily single has been one of the most freeing decisions I've ever made for me.

My promotion also really helped me feel fulfilled at work. I love my job. It still surprises me to say that, but I do. I love the people I work with, I love the challenges, I love my routine, I love my office!! Given that I spend 40+ hours a week here, I think that enjoying it so much has lightened my spirit a lot.

I can also say, quite happily, that life is less exhausting than it used to be. I don't wake up anymore, thinking I just have to get through today. I wake up thinking, what am I going to do today? I still have many areas of my life that require my focus, but I'm learning to just take small steps and give myself a break. My priorities are clear to me, and while every day is still a challenge, nothing feels insurmountable anymore.

I used to worry a lot that writing something like the above sentence would somehow jinx me. It's not like bad things still can't happen at any time, and while I remain acutely aware of that, I've chosen to enjoy every good moment that comes along because I never know how long it will be until the next one. I can enjoy the now by being completely pessimistic about the future!

And that right there says it all. There are a lot of cliches that I don't buy for one minute. I don't believe in The Secret, I don't believe that everything happens for a reason, I don't believe that just because tomorrow is another day, it will be a better one. And back then, it did bother me that those platitudes left me empty. Now, I have accepted that for me, they could use some adjusting.

What I believe, what I know from my experience, is that I keep surviving. I was telling an old friend a few weeks ago, no matter how bad it is, I know whatever it is will be a past memory soon enough. Most of my friends are like me: we're survivors. We're scrappy because we have to be. We've been in some tough situations and then we go, hey, we got through it! We're never going to have anything handed to us on a silver platter, but we can have an amazing time just being together - be it at Denny's or over a nice bottle of wine. We'll spend money we don't have, but it'll be totally worth it to have that experience of that Broadway musical, that weekend getaway. We've had dreams crushed, and somehow still find new things to get excited about, and we still charge full speed ahead.

Don't get me wrong. I'll still bitch and rant when I feel the need. But I do believe that it's the bitching and ranting that make it possible for me to love my job, and enjoy every hug and kiss and cuddle with my kids, and cherish everything in my life that's worth cherishing.

So, to try and close this really long babble, I'm still a bitter divorcee, but my life is still full of love and happiness and passion.


Natalie said...

"I'm sure some will still think that I hate men or that I'm too scared to put myself out there, but whatever, really."

Anybody who knows you will know that you are not a man hater. Not only are a few of your friends men, but you have supported me (and I'm sure others) with my own endeavors, and that kind of support does not come from someone who hates men.

I admire that you know what you want and don't want right now. Not wanting a relationship does not a man hater make.

I can definitely see the progress you've made and the peace you've made with yourself and your feelings since I've known you.

Tara R. said...

You have gone thru so much and come out a strong and independent woman. I applaud your resolve.

MindyMom said...

I always appreciate your perspective, April. And I agree with a lot of it. I also think it's a very realisitc and healthy approach to have. All of it.

And I have now gotten to the point where I am not "pursuing" a relationship either. I think when your life is full and you are doing things you enjoy - if someone happens to come along, great! I'm open to that but I dont need it to feel fulfilled and I'm certainly not going to desperately hunt it down like some *other* women I know of.

Unknown said...

I just loved reading this, April ... your attitude is so refreshing and you really do seem to live and breathe the title of your blog. The whole balance thing - in whatever capacity and situation we're in as women - is very inspiring. Thank you for being you and sharing yourself here.

Danielle said...

A post that I reecently wrote had some of the same jist to it. I too love your perspective. I think it is a very "real" one!

Anonymous said...

"no matter how bad it is, I know whatever it is will be a past memory soon enough"

I don't know that your outlook is really all that different from my own approach. Is it really pessimistic though? Believing that hard times are transient is optimistic in it's own realistically practical way, imo.

And the link is correct, thanks.

Cat said...

I love this post. I think that given all you've been through, you're in such a great place. I'm still working on getting there, but reading the sentences "they deserve a better father" and "there are truths... that are simply not fair" in the same post that you're able to say "nothing feels insurmountable anymore," it gives me something to strive toward and it tells me that it's OK to feel crappy sometimes, it's OK to seek fulfillment through children and work and not need a man to define you... this comment probably reads half incoherent because I'm trying to get across how deeply this post hit me and how much hope it gives me. Just... wow. Thank you, and thank you Annie for helping make this post happen.