Wednesday, January 22, 2014

i need only ask

I am not depressed.  I've been there, done that.
This is not that.
This is not the soul-numbing pit of grey despair with no end in sight.

This is simply life being hard.

I find the small joys in every day.  There are many. I pay attention.

I’m not talking about the “big picture” things – a roof over my head, food in the pantry. I am thankful for those things every day. I don’t take them for granted, but thankful and happy are different things.

I’m talking about the small things.  The things worth smiling about.
  • Making a dinner that actually looked like dinner (meat, veggie, salad) that everyone liked.
  • Listening to the eldest happily jabber on while she did the dishes.
  • Getting in my van after vacuuming it and enjoying the lack of grossness.
  • Scheduling coffee with a friend, and confirming that I get to work with some of my favorite people for three days next week.
  • Realizing that I had just told the dogs to “HOLD” when I wanted them to freeze.  And having them actually stop. I laughed out loud at that one.

It is now a habit for me to take a moment and acknowledge the small joys as they happen.  A good habit for anyone to cultivate.

There are days that aren't so good.
Days when it is harder to see those small joys.
Days when I’m overwhelmed by my life and the things are missing from it.

Last year, I dealt with it on my own, internalized it. Not a very healthy way to deal with things; it led to stress piling on top of stress, which wasn't healthy.

Friday was one of those days.

As I pushed through the stress and despair, pulling the comforter off my bed for the third time that week because the damn cat peed on it again, I stopped. 

I stopped.  Physically. I let go of the comforter and it slid to the floor .

I sat on the edge of my bed and stared in the mirror.  

I’m creating a peaceful place in my room.  If you distill down what makes me happy, you’ll find it in my room.  A bookcase full of old friends, books I've read so many times that just looking at them makes me smile. Trinkets, treasures and memories that make me happy.  It's not done, but the bones are there.

Looking in the mirror I could see all these things.

I could see my Camelot quilt with the friendship and support written all over it, piled next to the bed where I’d been working on it the night before. 

I could see the button snake my smallest had made for me, the pet rock my boy made “You rock mom.  Get it?” and the mason jar full of pretty feathers my eldest had collected.

I could see pictures spread across the dresser where left them as I tried to figure out which ones to put up in the frames I had, and which ones could wait until I found new frames.

I could see the love and support. 
I closed my eyes. I could feel it.  I just needed to ask for it.

When I opened my eyes, I was looking at my hands in my lap.  Looking at the small rose tattooed on my wrist.  Remembering a conversation I’d had with a friend after getting it done.

I've learned that I have support from many people.  It’s there, I just need ask.

I wanted some support from this friend. A friend who has been an increasing support throughout this mess, but that I hadn't talked to in a while.  I hadn't ever asked them for support, it had always just happened organically.

But I wanted needed this friend’s support. 

Realizing that there was no way for anyone to know I was struggling unless I told them, I put myself out there.

I reached out.  I took a chance that I wouldn't get a response.
I sent a text.
I felt better just asking. I honestly didn't expect a response.
(If you don’t expect anything from anyone, then you can’t be hurt or disappointed.)

But I had asked.

I also knew there were others I could talk to, if this friend wasn't there.

But I had asked. 

A huge step for me. 
Actually asking for help.

I felt like I could keep breathing, I could keep moving.

About an hour later I got a response.

I could hear the words they had written. I could feel the shoulder to lean on.

And that’s all I needed.

I took a deep breath.  I could do this. I am a remarkable woman.  A strong person. 

All day I kept rereading the text, remembering our conversations, taking strength from those words.
I found the small joys Friday.

Saturday was easier, and Sunday better yet.

My heart is not bursting with joy, but one day it will.  Until then, I will continue to see the small joys.  I will continue to remember that I am not as alone as I feel, and that I have support. 

And I will remember to ask for it.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


I hate labels.
Always have.

There is so much more to me than any single label can encompass. 
Yet for years I tried to live within labels. 
Labels no one gave me but myself. No one defined but me. Mother. Wife. Responsible Adult.

In doing so, I was hiding away the parts that didn’t fit into those labels.  I was hiding away the me.

No more labels. 

I don’t fit into any one label.  I cannot be described using only a word or two.   Nor will I allow myself to be constrained by these labels. 

I am divorced.
I am a mom.
I am single.
I am a stage manager.
I am tattooed.  More than once.  In visible locations. And they are beautiful.
I have bipolar disorder.
I like comic book movies and star trek.  And American history.
I love roses.  And quilting. And chickens.
I listen to Frank Sinatra. And Green Day. And Sarah McLachlan.
I read fantasy novels.
My favorite places in the world include an empty theatre, my porch and inside a comforting hug of a man who cares.
I like glitter. And fairies. And Alice in Wonderland.
I drink Irish whiskey. Neat. And I like it.
I like sarcasm. And dry humor.
I adore simple food. And complicated people.
I don’t like being touched.  Unless I do.
I like the beach.  And the stars.  And green things that grow.
I can be sweet as honey or colder than ice.
I am mother, sister, daughter, friend.

I have accepted that I am all of these things and more.
These labels help to define me, but I will not be constrained by their definitions.
I cannot take one aspect of who I am and try to live within that box.  I will not go meekly into whatever perceived life that aspect should lead.

 I will not make apologies for who I am.
 I love myself.
I love all of me.
 I will live each day not fitting into a particular label. I will be true to myself. I will remember what is important, and let go of what is not.

I know it seems bizarre that I didn’t know this - but people like me.
The past three months continually surprised me.  Friends cared enough to learn more.  To see my quirks.  And they still liked me.  They were surprised at my dirty jokes.  They were impressed with my thoughts. They like me.

I don’t need to hide.
I don’t need to fit in any label.
I don’t need to allow a portion of my life to define my entire existence.

I am…

I am Kristin Michelle.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Explaining Relationships

We want our kids grow up with a firm sense of how healthy relationships develop.

After much talking, much thinking; we came up with the following steps – Remember, the kids are 8, 10 and 11 – so our conversations with all of them need to be at a level they all can understand.

Step one – be friends. Maybe you work with them; maybe they’re a friend of a friend.  But you meet and say “hey, this is a neat person! We have fun together”

Step two – realize that you really like this friend, a whole lot. Hanging out with them makes you happy.  You have lots in common, and you’re filled with happiness whenever you think about them.  You want to spend as much time as possible with them.

Step three – talk with your friend.  Be brave enough to find out if they feel the same way.

Step four – Together – “Boyfriend and girlfriend.” You both really like each other.  You love them.  A lot. Now, you spend more time talking, spend more time together, talking about the future, about what’s important. Meet each other’s families.  You hold hands, kiss and like being near each other.

Step five – Partners.  Decide that you want to spend the foreseeable future together.  You can’t imagine your world without them.

From this point there are choices - Different choices are best for different people.
Some couples decide to be partners, but don't think now is the right time to get married.
Some decide that marriage is the best way to start a partnership.

Either way is okay and right.

Some Partners decide to have kids before getting married.  Some decide to get married and then have kids, and some partners choose not to have kids at all.

All are okay, everyone's situation is different.  There's not a blanket rule for everybody.

Sharing a bedroom

Now, grownups sharing a bedroom is a big thing.  Grownups don’t generally share bedrooms until they've reached “Partners.”

Mommy and Daddy don’t share a bedroom anymore because we’re not partners – we’re best friends and co-parents, but not partners. Sharing a bedroom is a big commitment and not something that grownups do lightly.

Prior to this conversation, I had a preliminary conversation with the oldest.  She’s aware that there’s more to sharing a bedroom than sleeping.  She knows the mechanics. 

“Yeah Mom, you’d have to really love someone to want to have sex with them”

I’m hanging on to that, because I know it’s only a matter of time before the hormones kick in and sex starts sounding appealing.


Timelines are different for everybody.  There’s no hard and fast rule about how long you spend at each stage. 

For example, Mommy.

More than likely, Mommy will spend a long time in the first step - Friends. And then a long time in the Together stage, before moving on to Partners.


Because currently, Mommy doesn't have any good guy friends that she’s known for a long time.  Good guy friends, yes. Guys she’s known  a long time, yes. But good guys that she’d known for a long time, not so much.

Healthy relationships don’t happen overnight. 

But - Sometimes. Just Sometimes - 

you have a friend you've known for years.

you realize that this friend, this great person, makes you happier than anything else.

And one day, the stars align, timing is perfect and you find 20 seconds of bravery and ask them if they might be interested in trying to being more than friends.

They are.
You do.

Since you’ve spent so much time as friends, you know them pretty darn well.

Really well.

You cut right to talking about the important stuff – the long term hopes and dreams, the daily challenges in your life.  You get to skip a lot.  You don’t have to spend a long time being “Together.”

You get to move straight on to Partners.
How awesome is that?

Totally lucky.

That’s why it doesn't happen that way very often, it’s pretty rare.

Josh and I are in the unique position of showing the kids how healthy relationships progress.

We don’t plan on introducing them to anyone, until we’re pretty well into the “Together” stage.
We don’t plan on sharing our bedrooms when they’re home, until we reach “Partners.”

We are both moving forward.

We want our children to be prepared.  We don’t want to surprise them.  Or force them to react.  We want them to know what to expect.

We want their honest answers and reactions.

When the kids and I talked about relationships, they had a few questions.  The oldest wanted to know if she’d have to give up her bedroom if I found a boyfriend.  Her logic was that we’d want to share a house so we could be together more, but not share a bedroom.  I assured her that no one would be moving in with us until we were ready to be “Partners” which means we’d share Mommy’s bedroom.  She was relieved.

The oldest is pretty perceptive.

I want her to know it’s okay to talk to me, ask me questions.  After our conversation, she asked if I had made any good friends at work.  I smiled, knowing what she was asking.

My answer?  Yes, I had become friends with a couple of guys at work, but we are only friends.  There’s isn’t a special friend right now.  She accepted that answer, and we moved on to some other subject.

That’s what I want.

I don’t want these conversations to feel like they’re “big deals” I want casual, normal conversations that don’t feel monumental.

Obviously there is much more to talk about, many more conversations to be had, but the foundation is there.  The basic moral structure - the values that we want to pass on to them - those are pretty clear.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Roads, Bricks, and the End of the World

I see myself alone for a while. A long while.

This road I've chosen may eventually lead me to a point where I find he who steals into my heart.
Perhaps I met him years ago and we're already friends.
Perhaps I’ll meet him next year. Or the year after.

One day, if timing is right, we’ll be in the same place at the same time. 
Both looking for something and finding it in each other.

If we find each other at the wrong time, 
when one or both of us aren’t ready,
we’ll follow our own roads,

If timing isn't ever right, so be it.

I don’t like being alone.  I don’t like sleeping alone.  I don’t like waking up alone.
Alone is better than settling.
I’m not settling.

I've been thinking about the about the man I fell in love with so long ago.
I've been pondering the men I know, their strengths and flaws.
Sorting through what I like about these friends of mine.  

I know what I want.

  • I want smiles and laughter.
  • I want someone who doesn't mind messes.
  • I want him to smile and pull me close when I put my cold feet on his.
  • I want him take one look at me and know how I’m doing. Instantly. And try to make it better, even just a little bit.
  • I want to admire him.  I want to tell him, “I hope my son grows up to be like you”
  • I want him to make my heart sing.
  • I want him to sing to me and tell me stories. I miss stories.
  • I want him to know he adds to the happiness in my heart, but is not my only happiness.
  • I want him to understand my hurts, accept them and help heal them.
  • I want him to be my friend first. 
  • I want him to understand how important family is to me and to feel the same way.
  •  I want one day to realize that this guy, this great friend, means more to me than I thought.
  •  And I want him to feel the same way.  I want it to hit him like a ton of bricks.  And have the courage to tell me.

Some days are harder than others. Most days right now, honestly.
But under it all there is a basic happiness that makes the hard days bearable.
I'm okay.  It will be okay. It all works out in the end.
I hope that I won’t be alone forever, but I'll still be happy if I am.