I was looking at my sweet Willow this morning (pictured below).
I’ve noticed this before, but it really stuck with me today: she’s got quite a bit of white fur coming in. It’s probably not noticeable in the picture except what’s on her nose. I really don’t care to be honest…I think the white fur is adorable. It’s one of the things I find most endearing about my older dog, Claudia. It just reminds me that my “puppy” is aging (for the record, I call both of them puppies, though Claudia gets the proper title of “old puppy”).
Willow was roughly a year old when we adopted her, and we adopted her nearly five summers ago. It occurred to me this morning that in another 2-3 years she’ll be considered a senior. That’s hard to wrap my head around. She’s still very much a puppy in terms of behavior, but it’s also jolting just how quickly time moves forward and things change.
As I thought about my aging dog(s), I thought of a lot of things. I think about how I wish I had more time to spend just living. She cuddled with me a lot this morning, like she missed me. I’m probably just losing my shit…she sees me every day. But I work a lot at night, and I sleep a lot during the day. Life has changed so much for them since my marriage fell apart, and especially since I started third shift. Everything is different now. I also tend to work a good 50 hours a week, mainly at my full-time job, though I pick up the occasional second shift at the part-time one. There’s just hardly any room to breathe anymore. So, in looking at Willow and thinking about everything that’s changed…I remember begging my ex to be cool with adopting her. He wasn’t really on board at first, and I bribed him by saying I’d be cool with getting another cat. It’s funny that it took another few years until that actually happened, and even then it was because I suggested it (I’m not really a cat person, in case that’s not obvious). But we finally got another cat. His name is Astraeus, or “Mr. A” as I call him.
Anyway, stuff. I thought about time passing and things changing. How different things were five years ago. I can’t really recall the context, but I remember often saying this to my ex husband: “there’s never enough time”. I feel like I said this a lot in the last year or so of our relationship. I’m not sure why. Maybe I was panicking, maybe I realized what was happening. But I feel that sentiment a lot these days. I feel it as I watch my dogs age and I spend so much fucking time working and sleeping. I feel it after losing one of the biggest relationships of my life. Though I hesitate to call it a complete loss. Much to my surprise, my ex and I are still pretty close friends. That said, I think back about a lot of things and how I wish I could do some things different. Yeah, his repeated dishonesty and betrayal is what ultimately led to this, but I don’t think he’s a bad person. I still love him as a friend and treasure the time we shared together and how we were there for each other through a lot. As much patience and forgiveness as I showed through to the end (and even now), he had a ton of it for me throughout our relationship. I could be very difficult sometimes, and I was lucky that he stood by me through a lot of shit. I’ll never forget that.
So in my “busy-ness” lately, I find I haven’t been properly grieving this loss. The loss of what was, even if I’m still lucky enough to have a close friendship. We’d been together nearly half of my life up until now. Even if I didn’t completely lose him, I still experienced a profound loss I never thought I would. I want to make sure I allow myself the space to properly grieve this while not putting a stop to the rest of my life, to the point that I don’t focus on what is right now.
In terms of time, I think about my new partner. I’ve known him for nearly four years, he used to be a coworker at my job in crisis. I started developing feelings for him over recent months, though it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it started. I used to think we were quite different, him being a religious libertarian and me being a liberal atheist. I was quite wrong about how different we are, and I’ve begun to realize that as he’d become a closer friend over the last year. He was wise enough to keep his distance given his feelings (which were there for quite a while) and the situation I was going through. I respect him so much for that, among other things. I’ve always wanted to be with someone who was emotionally wise, strong, and focused on personal growth. He wanted much the same, and it really blows my mind that what I was looking for was right in front of me all along. I’m grateful things unfolded as they did…we’ve been together just over a month. I wouldn’t have had it any other way, I genuinely believe it wouldn’t have worked had things unfolded differently. I’m beyond grateful, and honestly shocked, to have found someone who’s such an amazing fit for me, especially this soon, and it was someone I already knew. Life can be sad sometimes, but also so beautiful, in how everything happens.
I think a lot about my parents, too. This is a hard one to write about to be honest, and I’m not going to go into great depths here. Some who read this may choose to take offense, and I’m not trying to offend or dirty anyone’s name. It’s something I think about every damn day, and it’s time I get it down somewhere. I think about how my relationship with my mom has changed…especially since my marriage imploded. I know that, much of the time, she tried to be supportive and just didn’t know how. She wasn’t always receptive to my feedback (which was honestly just feedback, not the attack she chose to see it as). The distance between us grew, and now she hasn’t spoken to me in nearly two months. The last time I tried to initiate a conversation and just asked how she was, she completely blew up at me. The last time we’d talked before I attempted to initiate this conversation was a week prior, when I was honestly a bit freaked out that she’d made a mistake with Claudia’s meds that resulted in her getting an extra dose of two heart meds and two diuretics. The most “obnoxious” thing I said in this exchange (in my opinion, anyway) is that “Tuesday morning meds are quite different from Monday noon” (she’d given Claudia meds in her pill container for Tuesday morning instead of Monday noon). I’d explained it pretty clearly and my mom had done noon meds for Claudia numerous times before, so I didn’t foresee what happened. Either way, I called the vet, Claudia was fine, I just needed to watch for weakness due to a potential drop in blood pressure, and also potential dehydration. I think my mom felt pretty bad about this mistake, but instead of completely owning it she tried to say we both messed up (not technically true, at all) and continued to lash out at me a week later when I tried to just talk with her like normal.
I love my mom, and it really, really eats at me that I don’t have the kind of relationship with her that I want to have. I’m honestly just at a loss. It’s so hard to constantly be walking on eggshells, and then be accused of being the one that makes somebody feel like they’re walking on eggshells (because I tell her how her words and approach make me feel). It’s hard to feel like no matter what you do, you’ll catch hell for it. Even attempting to move forward from the bullshit and start a simple conversation. Nothing I do is good enough. It never has been. Okay, maybe that’s not true. It’s been completely dependent on what mood she’s in. My mom has been my biggest supporter and best friend in so many ways. She’s also hurt me a lot. Shit happens, and I feel like we can all move forward should we choose to be accountable and address our hurtful behavior instead of repeating it. That’s where the trouble lies. Things don’t change. I feel like I’m growing, I’m becoming more assertive, and I’m establishing better boundaries. So, because she’s not responding well to that our relationship suffers. I make no claim to be perfect…sometimes her critiques of me are dead on. But so often I feel like I’m just a punching bag. I’m realizing more and more just how much that shit broke me down. I didn’t realize until me and my ex got together just how poorly I was treated at times. So my ex got to deal with that baggage that he had nothing to do with. And now my boyfriend is dealing with all that old baggage, plus newer baggage. The good news? I’m more experienced now, more insightful, wiser. I don’t expect perfection from anyone, I just expect someone to put in at least as much effort as I do. That’s a big part of where things broke down with my ex (and my mom I believe…though I’m not sure she realizes what she’s doing) but I feel like my boyfriend and I are “equals” in this way. I’m going to steal his terminology there because it simply works.
So, I think about that a lot. The relationship I used to have with my mom, and how nonexistent that relationship has become. I figure, what’s the point in reaching out now…get my head bitten off again just for trying? I’m too fragile, I can’t handle being criticized anymore. I got cut down for trying to talk with her, cut down because of how I was grieving the loss of my marriage (mainly because it wasn’t on her time table, and also it was the holidays…a hard time for anyone I’d imagine), and cut down for any other little thing. I don’t need to be broken down any more and told all the ways I don’t measure up to some impossible standard of perfection that no one could possibly live up to. I’m weary of it, and I’m done. It’s been quite painful to come to the conclusion that the best thing for me to do for myself at this point, at least emotionally, is not reach out to her while I’m fragile. If we’re to have a relationship at this point, I need to let her reach out to me. That’s obviously not happening, and who knows if it will. It truly breaks my heart that it’s like this. I just need supportive people right now, not people who’s meanness makes me wish I could permanently disappear. I have so many supportive people in my life right now…so many. No one can take mom’s place, they never will. But I need to guard my heart. Advice straight from mom in other circumstances. It’s sad I have to apply it here, too. I know a lot of her behavior is based on her own pain and her lack of insight to what’s going on. I truly want to be understanding. Admittedly, it’s hard sometimes. I’ve pointed this out to her time and again, it’s adversely impacted most of her close relationships. If this isn’t a wake up call to her, I don’t know what will be. I wish I knew how to handle this, and if there’s a way I could be handling it better. It feels like a shitty situation all the way around.
I also think about my relationship with my dad. We weren’t close when I was younger. He wasn’t perfect, of course, because nobody is. I wish he’d handled certain situations differently. That said, he’s become wiser. I know he made mistakes, but I also realize some drama was created between he and I that simply didn’t need to be. It’s impossible to make up for lost time, though I wish we could. We’re a lot closer now than we’ve ever been, and it freaks me out it took so long. He’s 61 now, will be 62 later this year. Time goes so damn fast. He’s still a mystery to me in so many ways, and I often wish we were closer than we are now. As we’ve gotten closer, I’ve realized I’m much more like him than I could have ever imagined. And I’m proud of that…I respect my dad, a lot. Sure, I don’t agree with everything he says or does, but he’s pretty damn wise and pretty awesome all the way around.
I think a lot about time these days. When everything changes so quickly, it’s really easy to think about. Hell, I turned 30 last summer, and I realize I’m now closer to turning 31 than I’m closer to the day I turned 30. And where is my life, exactly? It’s not bad, not at all. It’s just not what I expected, either. And I have no idea where it’s going, and there’s a part of me that’s terrified to plan anything given where that’s gotten me. I know I shouldn’t be afraid. I shouldn’t expect life to surprise me in bad ways, especially since I’ve been surprised in some pretty amazing ways at the same time my marriage was imploding. I suppose it’s all about what I choose to see.
I suppose I should probably stop writing for now. This has the potential to head in a toxic direction pretty quickly if I don’t stop it. I don’t want to be toxic, to always focus on the negative, to dwell on what was so much that I lose sight of what’s right in front of me. No, I want to live, and live well. To do that I have to continue learning every day. It has been painful, and it will continue to be painful. But it can also help me avoid a lot of pain, it can lead to something more beautiful than what I’d ever imagine.
Thank you to anyone who’s taken the time to read this mess of words. This is a lot more than I’d planned to put out there today…serious verbal diarrhea. It was great for me to (finally) get it out, and I hope maybe it inspired some of you as well in one way or another.