January 6, 2017

Cultivate

A few weeks ago, returning from one of our hiking trips, I was extra grateful for Noah's tendency to fall asleep on rides home. It was an hour or so between the park and our apartment, and I cried most of the way back.

There are now (and I suspect there may always be) the ghosts of people I've known - friends, and otherwise. Songs I can't break from associating with a person, or places I've forever connected with someone. People who came and went in my life for one reason or another, but who have forged permanent residences in my memories.

On road trips, without question, I think the most about Matt. That was kind of our thing - which is silly to reminisce about, kind of, because I didn't usually love them until they were done. Driving to Montreal with a six week old baby was honestly the last thing I wanted to be doing at that time, but once we got home and could rest, the sentiments softened.

We put thousands and thousands of miles on the road together, and between that and his loves of history and maps, it's hard not to think softly of him and admit that this journey to visit all the state parks and historic sites is something he would have absolutely loved.

On that drive home, I cried. Even with how angry I am with him so much of the time, there's still a lot of grief and sadness. And I resolved to take him along with us on our Christmas cabin camping excursion - to share something I knew he'd love, but also ... just to share something again.

I was certain it was a dead relationship but still, I felt this need to hold a mirror up to its mouth and make sure - really, truly sure - it had ceased breathing. After Thanksgiving, I had a lot of doubt in my mind - I wanted to know what he meant, what he wanted ... and I wanted to make sure I knew what I wanted, too.

I know, it's as strange as it sounds. This man hurt me. This man betrayed me and lost my trust. This man was an even worse father than he was a husband. We'd had a simple divorce on paper but it came at the end of an incredibly different year and a half of separation. But I just ... needed to be sure.

Today, a long - too long - visit later, and I'm sure - really, truly. Ending things with him was the best possible decision for me, and for my son.

Don't get me wrong - Christmas was really nice. It was nice being all together, it was nice camping in the cabin and kayaking and hiking. But a week and a half later - a road trip later - too many nights in a hotel and too many meals at restaurants later - and I remembered why I was so anxious to end things between us.

It just wasn't fun. It doesn't always need to be fun in a relationship, but the parts that are supposed to be ought to be enjoyable. And with him, even the "good" times didn't feel all that good. It reminded me of when we first moved to South Carolina and we decided to visit (and blog about) all the mini golf places in Myrtle Beach. And it was fun at first, but after a while, it was frustrating. He just wanted to rush through and get them all done as soon as possible. The last one we visited, I putted first, and I was walking over to wait by the hole when he putted. I wasn't even off the green and he hit his ball. I was carrying Noah and could've slipped on the ball - but of course, he hadn't considered that.

We went to a couple of state parks, and it felt just as rushed. It wasn't enjoyable the way it was when it's just me and my little guy. His father's impatience and quickness to become frustrated was noticeably upsetting Noah, who likes to poke around and stop every few steps to pick up an interesting looking stick or notice a little detail that you might only see if you were under four feet tall (and under four years old).

The next few days, we just drove around - "sightseeing," but it was foggy weather and we were just putting miles on the car for no reason. Noah and I just kind of sat in the car frustrated while Matt drove and drove. When we *did* stop, I just wanted to eat myself numb. I didn't drink enough water. I slept like garbage. And I was just a depressed mess.

There are a lot of other details, little things that were frustrating and upsetting, but it's not worth getting into. It's just like our marriage - it wasn't really anything big that ended the relationship, but it was the sum of a million little issues that snowballed into a giant mess of frustration and despondency. I just feel like a naïve fool for thinking he could have possibly said something and meant anything other than his usual something selfish.

The best news in all of this is that after a few tough days with him ... he retreats back to Chicago and we get our lives back to normal here. With him here, I remembered how every day felt like that - road trips and family vacations, but also grocery shopping and dinner and weekend afternoons ... every day with him, I felt like garbage. I remembered how lousy it felt to be with him, and I was immediately so grateful for all the tears and frustration of 2015 and 2016 that ended up with a signed divorce and that incredible feeling of liberation.

Last year, I posted a New Year's post over on my old blog - it was the first post after an extended divorce/fear-based silence, and I was standing up for myself and my space. I'd regained my way up to 332 pounds and was just angry - depressed, sad, frustrated, disbelieving, and angry.

I decided my word for 2016 was reclaim - to take back my space, and to take back my joy.

It wasn't a perfect year in a lot of ways, but I couldn't be happier with the progress I made. I got divorced, which was an incredible relief after a long and challenging separation, and finally my finances are on the mend. My last weigh-in had me at 279, and even though I'm back up a few after our long weekend of traveling, that's a 53 pound loss for the year. I visited 16 parks with my son, and besides the great exercise, we've made terrific memories and really enjoyed our adventures.

I've got big goals for 2017, believe me. My word for the year is cultivate, because as much as 2016 was about recovery and regaining myself, 2017 will be about growth and progress.

My goals for 2017:
  1. Keep a one-line-a-day journal to remember the good in every day.
  2. Continue on our Ultimate Outsider journey.
  3. Keep working on being a more patient mom.
  4. Find a new place to live.
  5. Get to onederland.
It's a simple list, but also not - onederland is a big goal, since I'll need to lose about 85 pounds this year to get there. BUT, I did 53 last year, and most of the year I wasn't even actively losing. This year, I want to cultivate my healthiest self, and that means committing to making choices consistent with my goals.

Moving is also a big one. I don't know if it'll be out of town, out of state, out of the country ... I've applied for a few jobs all over. But there just aren't a ton of positions in my field right now, so most likely, we'll be staying put in South Carolina. But I just want to downsize our space - we're still living in the apartment we lived in as a family of three, and I want to get rid of the ghosts in the apartment, too. I want less space so I can declutter my house and my brain a little bit.

Patience is an ongoing challenge. I feel guilty so often because I get frustrated or snap at Noah - when it's early morning and we're trying to get out the door and he's dragging his feet, when it's bedtime and he asks me his millionth question to postpone sleep ... and I want to work on snapping less and vocalizing more. Being firm but calm, even when I'm tired, even when I'm sick, even when I am angry at his father for never being here to help. It really, really sucks that I never get a break or a helping hand. But that's not Noah's fault, so I need to respond to my frustration in a way that isn't taking it out on him.

Keeping up with the hiking and the line-a-day journal - those will be easy, for sure. Good ones, fun ones. Enjoyable ones! I'm very excited about 2017 and all its potential for growth.

What about you? What have you resolved for 2017? What's your word for the year?