feeling good

It’s nice to wake up and feel like crying for joy. The sun is out and the birds are singing. We planted bulbs with Scott last fall and I can see the green spikes of daffodils, hyacinth and tulips already poking through, some several inches tall. I am afraid the crocuses are still in a bag in my glove compartment, alas: it would have been nice to have some early color. I bought narcissus bulbs in December but never found the shallow bowl with stones we use to steady them as they grow. They languished on the dining room table until Violet found several plastic containers and robbed soil from all our house plants. It was a lovely effort but nothing bloomed – the slightly moldy remains are littering our kitchen table right now. My kids, however, are a different story. They’re blooming and blossoming and planted solidly in their lives. They have friends and regular play dates. We aren’t fighting at all, or barely at all. I am less stressed and, as a result, so are they.

Scott and I have broken up. It was a long and difficult process and I didn’t quite realize how angry I’ve been feeling until it ended. Knowing where we stand is better than the grey haze we were living in. He has his own three kids and a lot of overlap with his ex. They share a house, a garden, a dog, chickens, and their children, and they do a lot together as a family. It’s great for them but I never got used to it and it never shifted even though I needed it to. If I had an ex it might have been different but I don’t. I don’t have anybody for anyone to feel jealous of. I don’t know what it’s like to have a family with someone and have it end. I don’t even remember what it’s like to have a partner. My family consists of my kids and me. I have decided to distinguish it all by calling myself an only parent rather a single parent – it’s much more to the point.

When I met Scott three and a half years ago I hadn’t said I love you to a man in 15 years. That’s a damn long time. He was generous and kind. He can cook and he brought me bread he had baked and fresh vegetables from his garden. We had met a few months before his marriage ended and I thought he was friendly and nice. When he and his wife broke up somewhat unexpectedly he invited us over for a picnic. He had cooked at least eleven different beautiful and delicious vegetarian dishes (he knew we don’t eat meat) and they were displayed on his kitchen counter when we arrived. We dreamed of getting married. I imagined us living in a big house somewhere with his kids with his ex half the time and half with us. It was nice to be taken care of and loved. It was wonderful except when it wasn’t. The separation never came. The animosity turned to friendship and he continued to care for his wife. It worked for them but it didn’t work at all for me.

When things start to break down the walls go up and I’m an expert builder. I’d feel hurt and stop giving something or other (affection, food, whatever) and he’d stop bringing bread. Brick by brick we built our fortresses until there was no common ground. Resentment brewed in me and with it came the anger. I need clear and distinct boundaries with a person’s ex, I know that now. I knew it early on but held out hope that somehow things would change.

My kids miss his kids so this past Sunday we had a plan to go to his house for the day. Sunday morning I found myself in a fury and snapping at my children left and right. I hadn’t done it in a long time. It took about half an hour for me to recognize that it was because of our plans – unresolved feelings have an ugly way of turning an otherwise nice person into a rabid beast. I remember years ago when I lived with my stepfather Quin he was as lovely a man as I could hope to be around. He listened and he cared. He cooked square meals. He made art. He was solid and whole. Once in a while a switch would flip and he’d turn on me as if out of nowhere. With time I realized it only happened when my mom visited. She lived a few blocks away and they were trying to be friends. Anyway, I apologized to my kids and gave them a watered down explanation of my mood. They understood. They’re smart and very aware of nuance.

We drove to Scott’s house and walked in. The first thing I saw was the piano with all the family photographs on top. We never made it into the mix. The one of him and his wife and their kids was never taken down. I realized I didn’t want to be there so I dropped my kids off and left. Enough already.

14 thoughts on “feeling good

  1. Sounds like you are making big strides yourself; not just Violet and Ralphie! You’re doing good work! It’s hard but satisfying when you can deal and see how smart you are! Kudos to you!

  2. Though breakups are painful, I see this as a positive step. His inability to invest fully in a relationship with you was obviously not going to change. Now you are free to be open to whatever comes your way. With spring in the air who knows what could happen!

    • It’s complicated when you’re both older and have your own children. I think we both felt spread too thin at times. I know there were times I had absolutely nothing to give and that affected the relationship too. It is a positive step though, you’re right. With spring in the air what I would like is a nice big lazy happy friendly DOG!

    • Thanks, Brenna. He walked away too. It is hard to so. I am hardly a super hero but I am making progress and that’s all anyone can really hope for, right?

  3. Besides the other things I have said and others have said about your writing – the honesty, looking squarely at things that are hard, the artfulness – I will add one more thing I value. You’re a great storyteller. I felt myself hanging on every word reading a post about a beautiful but complex relationship.

  4. Oh, Jen–good for you for doing what you needed to do. I think you’ve been really brave and strong, and you should feel proud of yourself. Certainly sad, and maybe lonely for a while as well, but definitely proud.

    • Sad and lonely beat pissed off any day. And spring is coming so R and V and I will get out more and that helps with the sad. Thank you!

    • Thank you, Jessica! Breaking up does suck but by the time you get around to doing it it’s often a tiny bit of a relief. Clarity is good, even if a little lonely.

  5. No one else I know has the capacity to write so clearly and sincerely as you do.
    It is all real; you allow the reader to not only enter your world, but also to feel, and to have an authentic sense of intimacy. Few can actually express themselves this way, and fewer still actually do. I’m a fan.

    • Thank you, Manuel. I loved reading what you wrote and I really appreciate it. I am glad you enjoy what I am writing.

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