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My spiritual epiphany, I’m not a problem to be solved

My spiritual epiphany, I’m not a problem to be solved

A week before Paxton died,  I had a sort-of spiritual epiphany. See, for some time I’ve struggled with my place in the world.  Now whether that’s self-induced or real, I don’t know, but I’ve found it’s hard for people to completely understand you or appreciate you when you don’t necessarily follow the prescribed path of life or fit neatly in a box.

I’ve always wanted to fit-in, to be like my family and friends and have the American Dream: Education, house, marriage, kids, family. I craved the ordinary. And while I’ve been successful in some areas, namely education and well, kind of-housing, all my efforts to add-on, to upgrade to the full package have failed miserably–and not without a hell of a lot of effort, time and money.

By nature, I’m a fixer. If there’s a problem, I want to solve it. And for years, I’ve thought, I was a problem to solve. I thought if I knew the reason why every guy who had left me for another girl, I could understand and fix whatever it was about me that made them choose her over me. I thought if I went to the best fertility specialists on the East Coast, I could have a baby. I thought if I dated every man on Match.com, OKCupid or whatever dating site was hot at the time, I’d find someone who wanted more than just one date with me. I thought if I read enough books, followed enough marketing strategies I’d find the elusive “one.” I thought, I needed to be fixed, and in doing so I could be what everyone else was–ordinary and accepted.

But then it occurred to me that I had spent an obscene amount of time trying to be ordinary with futile results, when at my core I was adventurous, a risk-taker, a non-conformist. And then the big spiritual awakening: Maybe I’m not meant to be ordinary, maybe I’m destined to be extraordinary–Relief washed over me and for the first time in this millennia I was free from the box.

My cracks are showing

My cracks are showing

The old adage says that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. If I look at the past year and half, I’m not so sure. In 2014 alone, I suffered a miscarriage, I was hit by a car which led to a broken leg and a year of physical therapy, and I moved to a new city. This year, the dating gods have miserably failed me, and finally last week my 18 year old cat Paxton died. So while, I am out of bed and I’m going through the motions, my cracks are starting to show.

I fear the superwoman strength inside me is struggling to find air–the levies of strength that have held me up through years of heartbreaks, crappy jobs,  bad bosses, intrastate moves and late nights wondering WTF is wrong with me are crumbling piece by piece, layer by layer–I can touch the bottom with my toes  and I fear it won’t be long before the break pulls the rest of me under.

A week ago today, my beloved, best-friend, soulmate, Paxton the cat, died. He was 18. For some time, I’ve known I had less years than more years with him, so I had been trying to prepare myself for what I knew was coming. Yet, what I quickly learned is that you’re never ready to say good-bye. You’re never ready to walk into the house and see your family dying on the floor where just hours before you had played, and said, “I won’t be gone long.”

Over the years, I had prayed Paxton would go quickly and on his own. Thankfully, he did, but having to not make that final choice that so many pet owners have to make doesn’t make it easier either. Death is death and it sucks!

Grief starts with shock. The morning Paxton died, I came home from the vet, not sure what to do, so I ripped the sheets off my bed as if I was hiding from my boyfriend that I had cheated on him in our bed. I tried to soothe myself remembering our last night together–He curled up beside me on the big sofa as we watched Parenthood on Netflix together. I haven’t been able to watch TV from the sofa since. The last time I even walked into the living room, I found a fur ball on the hardwood floor and burst into tears.

I tell myself that grief is short-lived and the 18 years of love, devotion and companionship far out weighs today’s pain. I tell myself I was lucky to have had so many years with him. Yet, as I say these things, I double over on the kitchen counter and sob. I am lonely and the tidal wave of hurt swallows me whole. I begin to hate every man who’s left me for another, every woman with a healthy child, every 20-something with a dream, everyone who has someone to call their person. DAMN IT!  I hate God for teasing me with hope each time I dared to like someone. And now the one thing I did have is gone and there’s no one to fill the void, no one for me to collapse into, no one to hold me up when I can’t hold myself, no one to wipe away my tears. Loneliness consumes me and I’m forced to feel the pain of every man who never fought for me, never chose me.

When I adopted Paxton, I was 25.  The future looked like light years away with so many hopes and dreams ahead of me–dreams of family, three kids, more cats, maybe a dog and a house full of love, laughter and a little bit of wackiness. Paxton was the start of my family. I had no doubt I would would add-on.

Twenty-five became 29, then 31, then 34, 37, and 42–Paxton was still there, but the dreams for the add-on of family began to fade. A select few boys, and men would come into my life, providing hope for what had eluded me, but just as quickly as they entered they’d leave, each time chiseling away at my dreams, taking a piece of my heart along the way. 

I finally accepted an alternative family, my only constant: me and Paxton. We developed a routine just like any married couple–every night he’d jump on the bed, curl up on the pillow beside my head and we’d fall asleep together, and then at some point in the night we’d both go our separate ways until morning when he’d jump back into bed and with a soft cry and sandpaper licks to my cheek wake me up. Today, I wake up in a sad silence, in an empty bed with dried tears on my cheeks. 

A  voice came to me a few days before Paxton died and said, “you’ve spent your entire adult life striving to be ordinary, maybe you’re destined to be extraordinary.” I think it’s that voice that was preparing me to let go, to say good-bye to what I thought I was supposed to be and look to the future to what I was destined to be. I still believe I have something extraordinary to give, to offer someone, and damn, they’re going to be lucky! But right now in this moment, I don’t know what that is and the energy to find answers to make sense of why I am where I am has been zapped out of me. I think I have to sit in my grief for a bit, feel the pain, curse the demons, and let the water seep through the cracks and crush the guarded exterior of my soul.

 

Goodbye Little Mommy

Goodbye Little Mommy

little mommyTonight I ask, hug your kids, hold them close, and say thanks for the miracle bestowed upon you.  No matter how many teenage moms MTV promotes or  kids pop out of that Duggar woman in Arkansas, having a child is a miracle.

For me, reality has sunk in–it’s highly likely I will never be a parent, a mother. Yes, I believe in miracles, but I’m also grounded in reality, and my reality is that at my age I only have a 10% chance of having a child, and that’s if my Patrick Dempsey look-alike-boyfriend entered the scene today. With medical intervention it’s only 25%.

Enter, my silent grief.  Silent because I wonder if it’s even a valid grief, if I’m entitled to the pain of losing something I never had while others have lost children and suffered miscarriages.  Silent because in the hierarchy of society there’s little value placed on a 40-something, single, childless woman; we’re the bottom feeders of a social caste system that celebrates marriage, motherhood, and baby bumps. We’re the wallflowers at the high school prom who have nothing to offer society except taxes that fund schools of which we’ll never use. Heck, even teenage mothers get more societal love than the 40-year old childless single.

So I sit quietly by and watch those around me post pictures of their kids’ achievements and celebrations, announce pregnancies, wipe dirty faces, chase after that one missing shoe,  or even raise their voice to say, “if you do that one more time, I’ll…” and each time, I’m reminded that I will never know any of those things. And each time, I know this won’t be the last, that on some random day in the future, just when I think I’ve moved on and believe that my life is fine without kids of my own, a photo will show up on my Facebook feed,  a birth announcement made on a conference call, and I’ll be reminded all over again.  It’s a cycle that will continue for the rest of my life.

And while people will tell me that without kids I’ll  have the flexibility, the time, and the money to do what I want, I nod my head and say, “yes, I know.” And I really do know. I have the benefits of a no child life posted to a bulletin board and read them daily as some sort of positive affirmation. I replace visions of  birthday parties, graduations, recitals and little league games with visions of exotic travels, plastic surgery at 50 and a solid retirement fund so I can pay for someone to take care of me when I’m old. Yet, no matter how many trips to Fiji I take or units of Botox I inject, at my core, I know it’s all a consolation prize.

As a five-year old my favorite book was the Golden Book, “Little Mommy” –that’s what I wanted to be.  Goodbye Little Mommy.

 

 

 

 

 

Reality Kicks In the Closer We Get

Reality Kicks In the Closer We Get

Andy-MurrayToday, I wove my Union Jack along with the millions of Brits who watched Andy Murray lift the hearts of a nation in their 77 year quest for a homegrown Wimbledon champion.

The media story line during my lifetime and that of my parents has always been that of Fred Perry as the last man to win at Wimbledon.It was a story built on suspense as each Brit who entered the draw was scrutinized for their ability to pull it off. “Could this be the year?” was a constant question probed and analyzed by tennis elites commentators.

Today, Andy Murray pulled it off.  He silenced the media and brought British tennis its long awaited cup of water.

As I watched the aftermath of Murray’s match, his moment as King of the Court, I took pause in an after match interview with ESPN as he expressed doubts he’d ever win it after his disappointing loss to Federer in last year’s Finals. He explained, “I had to face that  I might never win it.”

After getting so close last year, Murray explained that he accepted that he had done his best and would continue to do his best, but he did so with the acceptance he might not win it, Wimbledon or for that matter a Grand Slam.  He wasn’t giving up, but he was being realistic.

Andy Murray always dreamed of being a Wimbledon Champion, however, it was only as he got closer to the dream that he realized it may not happen.  Reality kicked in.

Over the past year,  I’ve followed a similar path. I’ve had to accept the reality of a childless future. As a woman of advanced maternal age, my chances of natural conception are under 5%, despite strong genes and normal tests. At my age, it takes a little luck and a lot of money to up those odds to just 30%. Forget that I haven’t had a boyfriend in years, that’s just a side note these days.

Like, Andy Murray, I’m faced with accepting my reality. I may never be a mother.

And while I appreciate the power of positive thinking, miracles and Godly interventions, I am also a realist. Medically, the odds of children with my own DNA may not happen.

Yes, there are still options for having children in my future, but at the moment, I’m not there, so please don’t patronize me with platitudes or stories of so many unwanted children in the world. I know this, but envisioning something different than what you dreamed of as a child is a process one must work through.  Like Murray, I have to get comfortable with the idea, the idea that the dream, the natural rite of passage for women may elude me.

And while I do accept, I’m not out of the game, I am the fertility equivalent of Andre Agassi in his last few years on the tour.  He stayed in the top 50 in the world and managed to grunt out wins in five setters, making it to quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals of Grand Slams despite a tight back and a body that was breaking down. And while he won his last Grand Slam at 33, at that time, ancient in the world of tennis, it was no where short of a miracle his body withstood the brutality of long rallies and short recovery times.

Here’s hoping for miracles, but working toward acceptance of reality.

Oh, and congratulations, Andy Murray!

 

 

 

 

 

Dressing Today’s Part, Not Yesterday’s

Dressing Today’s Part, Not Yesterday’s

001I let go. I released my business/office attire to charity. Six blazers, four pairs of paints, two dresses, two blouses, three shells, one suit and one skirt no longer occupy my closet. They no longer hold me captive of a previous life.

I haven’t worked in an office on a regular basis for almost three years, yet, I held on to these clothes out of the  fear of “what if.” What if I have an interview, a business meeting or get a job in an office. Living in the “what if” instead of the immediate was suffocating.

I needed to free up that part of my closet and close off the past.  I no longer wanted to stare into my closet and see clothes that reminded me of a lifestyle, a job, a commute I no longer had to adhere to. And as I looked at my immediate future, a cubicle farm, a traditional office setting were no longer part of the picture, at least not on a regular basis.

Of course, I still know this could change on a dime,  the burden of the “what if” was too heavy. I needed a release.  I wanted to dress for the life I have today, a casual, sometimes work in your PJ’s type of work from home gig. The fear of  “what if” was overdue for release, both from my closet and for my emotional well-being.

And because I’m still a be prepared-type of person, I didn’t go cold turkey, I still held onto  two dresses (one summer, one fall), both purchased within the last year,  that I can use to fill the gap when business dictates.