Sunday, June 25, 2017

See, What Had Happened Was...

You know what's hard? Parenting. You know what's really hard? Single parenting.

You know what's been the hardest for me so far?

Co-parenting.
I had an awful month. A horrible, terrible, no-good, rotten month. I let my emotions completely take the wheel and made some decisions that could have, potentially, destroyed the environment I've worked pretty hard to create for my son.

My son's dad drives me crazy. Not because he's a bad parent. Not because he's a bad person. And not because I hate him. He drives me crazy because he's not me. He doesn't see things the way I see them. He doesn't understand why certain things make me so angry or frustrated. He doesn't make life decisions the way I do and he doesn't live his life the way I live mine. As two separate human beings, these things would not normally be an issue. But as two separate human beings trying to raise a well-adjusted, polite, intelligent and kind smaller human being? It drives. Me. CRAZY.

I know details are the best to read. The gritty, grimy pieces of the story that make everything interesting and intense. But, I can't give them to you. I'm sorry... I've already done lots of damage and now am just trying to clean up my mess while I still can. I can, however, give you a pretty decent summary.

I was mad. I was very, very mad. It wasn't the first time he had slept past the time in which he was supposed to pick up our son. I had to drive him to his house and drop him off, crying, while his dad sleepily stumbled down the stairs. I was furious. I had been getting progressively more frustrated over the weeks with the fact that he was behind on child care money. He had changed jobs and I was working hard to be sympathetic but the voice in my head kept trying to convince me that he just didn't give a shit. I started to believe, deep down, that he wanted out of his parental responsibility. It really did seem to me, in my state of depression and anger, that it's what he wanted. So, I tried to give it to him.

I filed for full custody and child support. I knew that he would have to make some pretty grown up decisions in order to fight me on it. And I wanted him to. I wanted to know that he cared and that he was committed to our son and his well-being. I needed to know that he did not, in fact, favor sleep over being a dad. I needed him to prove it to me with his money and his actions, and not just his words.

I waited the full twenty days with no response. No counter-offer. I felt sad. I proved myself right. He doesn't even want him anymore. I heard from him one time in those twenty days and it was to ask if he could have him for the day. Because I had filed paperwork, I was - in my mind, justifiably - nervous for him to take our son away from me so I said he could come see him at my house whenever he wanted. He never replied.

So, on day twenty-one, I went for the third time to the wonderful government building that is Family Services, and prepared to submit the paperwork to finalize everything. This was it. From now on, we were going to be on our own. I walked up to the window, handed over my stack of papers and as the clerk started typing away, she looked up and said, "Oh no... I can't file your default. He filed a response yesterday and has also secured legal counsel. You should be receiving his counter-offer in the mail and then you'll get issued a court date."

I felt sick. A lawyer? Really? Geez, I couldn't even afford a lawyer. And how do you pay for legal counsel when you didn't pay for child care? Then I got angry. I went to my car and started thinking about the months ahead. The mediation. The judge. The courtroom. I felt nauseous. As I was driving home, however, I started to think, well, now wait a minute. This is what I wanted all along. I wanted him to care. I wanted him to fight for our son. I mean, I was hoping for more like a simple counteroffer asking for joint custody and less money each month. But then, maybe that's what he was doing through his lawyer? Maybe he just wanted to be sure he was doing everything right. After all, I'm sure getting served with the paperwork felt pretty awful.

Okay, this is good. We got this. We will get everything finalized legally and to both our likings and life will go on. I wasn't thrilled that it was going to drag on longer, but it was going to be good.

A few days went by before I got the letter in the mail from his lawyer. I took it to a friend's house and opened it there. I was, of course, thinking the worst. He was going to go for full custody. He was going to turn everything around on me. He was going to take my son away. All those thoughts creeped through my head as I looked at the unopened letter.

Then... I opened it. And it wasn't what I thought.

It was so, so much worse.

I write this now from the other side of this mess. I've since talked to my son's dad and we've worked things out. That's important to note. He told me that he didn't know what to do when he got served. He said he didn't even open the envelope for a week. When he finally did, all he saw was that I was trying to take his son away from him. He knew that he needed legal help to ensure that I didn't do that. So, he took his money, met with a few lawyers and finally settled on one that wasn't the most expensive. He explained to her that all he wanted was joint custody. He really didn't care about any details other than that. He just wanted to make sure he had our son half of the time. I imagine what happened was a conversation between he and his lawyer about when the last time he saw him was. I'm sure he answered honestly and simply. About a month is probably what he told her.

So, this bitch...

Against his wishes (he says the signed paperwork was not what he agreed to. Not much I can really say about that), this bitch comes after me for FELONY kidnapping and withholding a child from their parent. And abduction of a minor. She asks me to pay for all his legal fees up to this point and any future fees due to litigation. There was more... but this was the worst. I thought I was going to throw up.

Now, the intelligent side of my brain knew that she was wrong. I could've fought it. I probably would've won. However, I'm not positive that I could've done it on my own. And the amount of money it would've taken me to secure my own legal counsel was too much. It's why I filed on my own to begin with. And what if... what if I lost? I would be destroyed. And broke. And maybe I wouldn't have my son anymore.

It was all too much. I almost had a complete breakdown right there in my friend's living room.

However, as I've already indicated, my son's dad was not on board with any of this. We agreed to meet up the next morning and I told him about the charges she had included in the counter offer and he was surprised and angry and told me he was going to fire her that day. We then agreed to go down to Family Services together, dismiss our case and go back to handling things on our own. Which, even when that's not working out so great, it's still better than what we were both about to put ourselves, our families and our son through.

So in the end, it looks like both of us paid with our sanity, our money and our time to realize that we really weren't doing that bad of a job before trying to get the law involved. We realized that all we really have to do is talk to each other more often, try harder to understand where the other person is coming from and, ultimately, take turns loving our son more than anything else in our lives. He is never going to be exactly what I wish he was in a co-parent. But then again, I'm pretty sure I'm never going to be that person for him either. But I'm a good mom. He's a good dad. Everything else will just have to take a back seat to that.

Because boy oh boy could things be worse. And if nothing else, the awareness I have now about how poorly I was handling things has snapped me out of my blind fury. All I was doing was trying to control everything and now, I've been put back into a place of contentment and appreciation for what I do have.

I imagine not everyone is going to see things the way I do. I know there will be people who still think getting custody and support arranged legally is the way to go. But, I definitely need to listen to what I know to be true in my heart and quit letting my brain adjust to outside influences. Life is not black and white. And neither is parenting. And I'm reminded for SURE that neither is the law. I trust myself and my son's father a lot more than some money-hungry soul-sucker sitting behind a desk, not caring about the lives she's about to tear apart. That poor woman should be ashamed of herself for her role in destroying families.

Anyway, that's my story. Maybe not a happily-ever-after but at least I'm sleeping again.

Thank you to all who reached out, were concerned, or even just vaguely interested in what I was going through. It helped.

Hug your kids. They need you.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

"There's Always Gonna Be An Uphill Battle..."


My therapist doesn’t like that I spend so much time alone. She actually gave me homework to only spend a certain amount of time per week going out by myself. 

I’ve already failed. 

She asked me if I think the reason I choose to spend so much time by myself is because I don’t feel like I fit in anywhere. I said.. "well, now I think that." 

It makes perfect sense though. Especially lately. I’m having a hard time relating to people that I once considered to be very close friends. I get mad at them for their behavior. I say things out of anger to further distance myself from them. I deleted myself from a group text that I’ve been a part of for years. I don’t make much effort with the friends I do have. I feel like it’s not really worth it. Nothing makes me feel better. So I keep going out alone. And then that makes me feel worse. 

You know what I hate the most about bad habits? They are my go-to things when I’m feeling sad, lonely and lost. And then I do them. And they leave me feeling sad, lonely and lost. It’s really not very fair. How come I can’t be addicted to going to the gym? Or reading? Or going to school? Why do my obsessions have to be so incredibly unhealthy? Not just for my physical self, but my mental state also. 

I keep telling myself I’m going to get a grip on things before they get too out of hand. I’m going to get my weight under control before I hit the 140s. I’m going to quit smoking before I actually start buying full packs of cigarettes instead of just bumming them off my friends. I’m going to quit gambling before I get to a certain dollar amount in my savings account. I’m going to be home by 2am this time. Okay, maybe 3... but just this one time. 

And just like my homework from my therapist, I’ve failed all of these. I feel like I’m officially out of control. 

I tell people all the time that if they want to overhaul their life, take it one step at a time. Individual battles are fought before the war is won. Trying to change everything at once can set you up to fail because you need something to hold on to while you are letting go of something else. 

I think that’s a lot of enabling bull shit if you ask me. 

My therapist recommended I keep standing dates with the people I get along with the most. Hang out, set new date, hang out again. Rinse and repeat. That way, I always have something to look forward to. So, I’ve started to do that with two of my friends. One I’ve known for close to ten years and is probably the person in my life that I get along with the best and relate to the most. And the other I haven’t known as long but, in many ways, feels a little like my soul sister. She’s a whole decade younger than me, but conversations with her flow way easier than with other women my age who have similar situations to mine. Plus, she understands lonely. And I think it’s important for us to make time for each other for that exact reason. 

As far as handling my personal shit, I’ve decided to just go ahead and tackle it all at once. It doesn’t make much sense to feel better about one thing if I still feel completely miserable and ashamed of another. 

My parents and I booked a trip together to take my son to San Diego to see both the beach as well as the zoo. We are going next month. Just like my friend-dates, it gives me something to look forward to. Something to save for. Something to be excited about. I really hope that by continuing to do things like this, I can pull myself out of the muddiness of my mind. It’s just so damn easy to feel sorry for myself. And to feel lonely. And to get depressed. I’m the person that complete strangers are always saying “Smile!” to because smiling just does not come naturally to me. Being sad is my comfort emotion. And while that’s generally been okay with me, it’s not good enough for my kid. I don’t want him growing up thinking misery is normal. And I definitely don’t want him to grow up to be lonely. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. 

So, like all the other many times I’ve said and done this before... 

Here we go again.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Road Frequently Traveled... is Still Made of Dirt


I think I'm a little late to the party on this Chef's Table show on Netflix. It was suggested to me by Netflix itself once I finished my most recent binge-worthy show. I thought, "Well, I like food. Sure I'll watch." 

Damn. This shit is no joke. 


Basically, if you haven't seen the show, each episode is a beautifully filmed and exquisitely produced documentary of a chef, currently operating in one of the top restaurants in the world. Every episode is literally better than the previous one. And the first one is amazing. 

I think what draws me to the show so much is not what most people would think. It's not because I love to play around in the kitchen. See, because that's exactly what I enjoy doing. Playing. That is not at all what is going on with these chefs in their kitchens. Food is their life. It's everything that defines them. They wake up thinking about it. They breathe it every moment of the day. Their relationships suffer. Their health suffers. They struggle with how to live up to the standards their family has set for them. But at the end of the day, they follow their heart and not one of them lives with any regrets for choosing the path they have. 

In one particular episode, the chef being displayed was out on a dinner date with his wife. After the movie, she asked him what he thought about it. He distractedly asked, "What?" "What did you think of the film?" she repeated. He sat quiet for a moment and said, "I don't know... I didn't really watch it. I was trying to figure out how you could drink mozzarella." 

Nothing in the world makes me more jealous than seeing people who are so passionate about something. 

Anything. 


I'm drinking too much again. And I'm smoking cigarettes. I'm overeating and gaining weight. I'm not sleeping enough. And I'm gambling way, way too much. I'm withdrawing into my head. I'm cracking jokes about how miserable I am with my friends. But I'm not laughing. 

My son's dad's schedule has changed fairly drastically, leaving me with a lot of time on my hands where I'm not required to be directly available or responsible for my son. Boredom has always, always been my biggest enemy. I could, of course, use it to my advantage. I could work on projects at home. I could go to the gym. I could socialize with friends that make me feel good. I could go watch a movie. I could watch more episodes of Chef's Table. But I don't do any of those things. I escape. Into dark corners of dark bars, doing anything I can to quiet the racing thoughts that consume my mind. 

I know it's not healthy. I know because I've been down this road before. Many, many times. And like every other time before, I know there is a fork up ahead and I will take the road that leads into better decisions, healthier choices, genuine smiles and smaller jean sizes. I always do. Because at the end of the day, I do know what the right thing to do is. I think that's what sets me apart from others who go down this same dark road but never turn back. I can't afford to leave everything else behind. I've come too far and created too much to give up forever. 

But I do give up. For a while, that is. Like now. I've given up right now. 


If I had one wish that was guaranteed to be granted, it would be to be given a passion for something in life. Like, I feel like even if that passion caused struggles in my world, if I knew in my heart at the end of the day that what I was doing was the right thing for me... the right thing for my soul... I feel like all the dark times would seem... a lot more tolerable. 

I'm well aware that I'm not going to find this passion at a Keno machine. But it's not at the gym either. Or in the kitchen. And as much as I want it to be in motherhood... it's not there either. 

The closest I've ever come to doing what feels right for my soul is this silly little blog. Pouring my heart out for anyone that wants to read. Opening myself up to support, to criticism and to heartache. Every time I press that little button that says "Publish" at the end of writing a blog, I feel like I've at least accomplished one thing: being myself. 

I'll work on bigger victories. In the meantime, I'll relish in the jealousy of others' passions. 


Friday, February 24, 2017

Just a Small Town Girl... Living in a "Guy's Girl" World

I feel like I’ve written a very similar blog to this one. But with almost seven years of blogging under my belt, and certain things never changing, it was bound to come up again. 

About a month or so ago, I was talking to a friend at work about how I felt like going out on a date. I hadn’t gone out on a real date in a long time. Nothing serious, just a good time with someone. Hopefully. 

I still have an online dating profile because I can’t figure out how to delete it. I've only figured out how to hide it. So I went in, updated it with all my new information from the past three years and clicked "go". Within minutes, I had some interest. Within a few hours, I had to click it off again. Fucking scavengers, I’m telling you! Like they’ve never seen a girl before! Sheesh!!

Anyway, in all the messaging madness, one came through that caught my attention. I was doing all of this on a Sunday and there was playoff football on so he asked me how I was enjoying the games since I had expressed football as a main interest in my profile page. We started communicating back and forth throughout the day and boom! I had a date. 

To make kind of a lengthy and somewhat boring story short, we went out on a handful of dates over the next three weeks. We met out. We had dinner. I went to his place. He came to mine. It was fun, it was comfortable, he was nice. But I saw it happening. I tried to ignore it but it was there. And so early on too! And finally, after one way-too-casual comment too many, I dipped out. Because I had been down that road before and already knew how it was going to end. 

Only a few weeks in and I had already gotten “buddied”.

Being “buddied” is different than getting put in the Friend Zone. Guys famously know the Friend Zone as a place you end up when a girl really likes hanging out with you, but has absolutely no intention of sleeping with you.

Guys want to sleep with me. But they also want to belch, fart, talk about how good their recent bowel movement felt and pat me on the head as I depart for the evening. I’m a buddy. It’s been my curse my entire dating life.


I love sports. Like.. LOVE them. Besides my kid, sports are the only thing I can say I’ve ever been truly passionate about. I also like beer. A lot. Like, not just drinking it... although of course I like drinking it... but I love learning about it. I love where a particular beer comes from. I like learning about what happened the year it was brewed. I like knowing about the bottling process. I dig brewery tours. I think all of that stuff is really neat. 

I like playing games. Not video games, but adult bar games. Darts. Shuffleboard. Bowling. Air Hockey. Pool. Golden Tee. I love these kinds of games. I’m good at them. I have lots and lots of fun playing them. 

I also swear. I swear a lot. I probably shouldn’t. My sweet boy’s first full sentence will probably have “fuck” in there somewhere and I feel kinda bad about it. But that’s how I speak. I try hard to be careful. Honestly I do. Truly. Ahem... 

So I guess it’s a combination of all these things along with the fact that I can talk fairly educatedly on many subjects that result in not getting treated seriously as a respectable, datable female. I never have. Guys get comfortable around me very quickly. They feel like they’ve "known me forever". They tell me everything. They kiss me like I’m their fucking sister. It’s really, really NOT awesome. I hate it but I can’t shake it because I can’t change myself. Not in that way, at least. 

Occasionally, I do come across a different kind of guy. The guy that sees my sexual side. He sees past the “bro” part of me. He doesn’t care about what I’m into. All he cares about is getting me naked and in bed as quickly as possible. And then telling NO ONE. Oh.. that’s a fun one too. Being someone’s secret. Yeah.. that makes me feel wanted and valuable. Nothing sexier than being in someone’s closet. 

Ugh.

Dating is so frustrating. It always has been. It’s why I sometimes stay longer than I should in some relationships. Because the only other option (besides just enjoying being single of course) is to go out dating and I think that might actually be the worst thing in the world. 


Well, at least I got it out of my system. I mean, unfortunately, dating is a necessary evil if you want to meet someone to potentially spend your life with. But, I think maybe I’ll just enjoy my family, my friends and my baby and hope that The One will fall magically out of the sky like that camera in The Truman Show. And maybe he’ll see and want to be a part of all of my pieces. Not just the easy ones. 



Or maybe I’ll just spend the rest of my life doing bottle shares, getting tagged online in funny memes and sharing the random amusing text with all my ex “buddies”. If nothing else, I have been lucky to make some pretty good friends along the way. 

If only that were enough... 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

That's It! We're Going BAAAAACK On The Grid!


I took a full month off of social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. 

The first week, I was like “This is amazing! I’m never going back online!”

The second week, I was like “Man, I sure do miss posting all these awesome pictures of my food though.”

The third week, I was like “I’m so liberated! I’m deleting all of my profiles!!”

The fourth week, I was like “Hmm... I wonder how (insert multiple names)’s baby is doing. I sure do miss that cutie face.”

It's February 1st. My self imposed social media ban is officially over. 

I’ve seen my therapist twice this past month. The first time, I basically just cried the entire 45 minutes. But I did feel better. The second time I saw her, we talked a bit about me being off of social media. She thought, based on how upset things were making me, my choice was a good one. 

However, while I was quite convinced for a while there that I was never coming back to Facebook and never going to blog again, I realized that there would be things I would miss out on. So over the last few days, I’ve been thinking about making important changes online that I know will make my online experience more enjoyable. 

Most importantly, I have to substantially narrow down my friends list. The political climate has made people literally hate each other. And unfortunately, I am not exempt from feeling this way. Not that I think I really hate anyone on my friends list. But I do realize that I am friends with some pretty close minded people. So, those ones are the first to go. 

I’m also friends with some very passionate people. I can totally appreciate this. I’m quite passionate about a lot of things as well. But if I’ve learned one thing about social media, it’s that no one in the history of the Internet has ever changed someone else’s opinion about something with a rant, a meme, a link, etc. No, I will not say “Amen”. No, I will not take a moment to share this to my wall. No I will not tag a bunch of people that I believe may benefit from my particular opinion on a subject. Please stop wasting my time. 

I cannot be saved. I will never buy your product. I do not support your home business. I think you are wrong. Plain and simple. 

Those are the second ones to go. 

Then there are my friends that share my opinions. They also believe Trump is a clown. They also believe God doesn’t exist. They also believe women are strong and equal, or perhaps even better, than men. They stand for LGTBQ rights. They are appalled by all sorts of shaming. They want to raise their children in a better world than the one we are in. They are very, very outspoken about it. Even more than me. I read their posts and links and get worked up, angry, aggressively frustrated. I feel helpless, or worse, that I could be doing more and I’m not. I cry when I see the pictures they post of Syrian refugees or angry Trump protesters. I get mad when I read the latest article they’ve posted about the access pipeline or whatever other outrageous Executive Order was signed today. I am heartbroken when I read about sick babies that won’t get help because prayer is the chosen method of care. 

I am so, so tired of being mad. And depressed about the state we are in. I don't need constant, vivid reminders of this misery. 

So sadly, these are the third and final ones to go. 

Fake news. Slated opinions. Ignorance. Hate. Trolls. Bloody babies. Dead bodies. Trump's stupid fucking face. These are not the reasons I wanted to be a part of social media. 

Family. Food. Social events. Cat videos. Babies. Game of Thrones memes. Selfies. Books. Smiles. Relationship statuses. Football. Accomplishments. Success stories. And friends I don’t get to see regularly. These are the reasons I signed up for social media. And these are the things I want to see when I scroll down. 

One of my favorite podcasts is The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz on ESPN radio. Earlier this week, he was discussing his frustration with how ESPN wants their "employees" to touch on how the current political issues are affecting sports. It's clear without him really saying it that he leans left, loves equality among HUMANS and believes what's happening right now is seriously UN-AMERICAN. And what he said was... when people write to the show and ask him why he "wants to drive away listeners" with his opinions, his beautiful and perfect response is "I don't want to drive away listeners, I just want to drive away you! It's not everybody. Like, there are two kinds of people in the world: people who like our show and people who don't! That's it! We do what we do!"

We do what we do. But we don't all have to like it. Don’t take it personally. I probably still like you. I just don’t want to see or listen to your shit anymore. I’m sure there are many of you out there that feel the same about me. It’s okay. I won’t take it personally either. I mean, I have to change a lot of stuff about what I’m posting too as I have fallen into the above categories many, MANY times. No one has pissed me off more than myself. Believe me. 

But this. This is the stuff I want to post. This is what really matters in my life. Everything else will just have to sort itself out without me. 

video

However, quit blogging? Ha.. what was I thinking?