Saturday, December 21, 2013

Look for the stars as the sun goes down.

I truly had the best intentions of following up my last blog post with the rest of my MPFL surgery story, but... I just can't.  I planned to write it out, week by week, struggle by struggle by victory by victory, but I just can't convince myself to relive it right now.  I've come such a long way, and I am so proud of myself, but to be truly honest, that doesn't make the last three months of struggles and pain suck any less. :)

I had my brief moments of "why me?" when it comes to my injury and subsequent surgery, but they were short lived, as I just kept thinking about how absolutely minor this whole ordeal has been in comparison to what some people go through on a daily basis.  I just can't bring myself to play the self-pity game.  At least I have my health.  At least I have my legs.  At least I will be able to run again one day.  My situation could absolutely be so much worse.  But it's not, and I'm ever so grateful.

Speaking of self-pity... I've stepped away from doing that in the last several months, and I feel so much better for it.  I went through all the phases of "why did I have to face divorce?", "why did I have to get cheated on?", "why did I have to get broken up with?", "why did my kids have to move away?", yadda, yadda, yadda.  Finally, it was like something clicked, and I thought to myself, "Got it, Hilary, life sucked for awhile.  But look where you are because of it."  And you know, life is pretty damn good.  Granted, I'm a struggling single mother, full-time college student... but I won't always be.  I have an awesome best friend/boyfriend - all in one sweet, handsome package, two of the silliest, smartest, most clever children I could imagine, and the opportunity to do great things with my life via the college education I'm getting that so many people never have a fighting chance at getting.  I just can't look at those three things, and feel bad about my life. 

It's not always easy to skip the self loathing, woe-is-me route, but it's getting easier.  I started down that path this week when I realized that my kids are only getting one gift from me (well, Santa...).  But so what?  They don't care.  They'll still be getting gifts from their daddy, and their grandparents.  And even if that one gift was the only one they got, it's one gift more than a lot of children will be waking up to this year on Christmas morning.  And sometimes I start down that path when I think about how badly I want to throw off my brace and go for a run.  And then I remember the people who will never run again, for whatever reason they might have, and waiting three more months just doesn't seem like such a big deal.  Being a single mom sucks?  Yeah, until I think about the support system I have to make life so much easier.  A sister who watches my kids when I need to go to work or school without batting an eye.  A boyfriend who is so unbelievably good at understanding my daughter, and plays with my kids when I'm just trying so hard to finish dinner.

I look around at my life, and realize that I am such a lucky person.  This post is not in any way meant to be boastful, but just as a downright realization that it's high time to truly look at what I've got going on, and be so thankful for the all of the negatives I've faced to bring me to the positives I have right now.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Life moves forward.

I remember when I was a kid, and I envisioned what adulthood would look like.  Probably much like every little middle class kid does.  Or at least every little girl.  You know, white picket fence, flowery garden, pumpkins on the porch in the fall, Christmas lights during the holidays, the whole shebang.  When I was living in South Korea, in a 11th floor flat, I loved it as a newlywed, but I hated it as a soon to be mom.  It never felt homey enough to bring my baby girl home to, so I looked forward to moving back to America, hoping we could move into the perfect little house for our family.  As it turns out, we did move into the perfect little house in Louisiana.  It genuinely looked like it came out of a storybook, trees filling the shady backyard, and the most adorable little front stoop you can imagine.  As life would have it, we didn't get to stay in that house more than a couple weeks, and we moved, once again, this time back into an apartment on a military post.  We had noisy, rude neighbors above us, but some really great friends in the surrounding apartments around us that we eventually became good friends with.  We and our neighbors gathered every single night, our puppies chasing each other and one year old Cori, as we all talked and laughed until darkness covered the sky.  When our little monkey, Avery, came along, we realized we'd outgrown the tiny two bedroom apartment, and much to our luck, our housing company offered us a beautiful three bedroom townhouse to move into.  We moved in only two weeks after construction was completed, and it was modern, beautiful, and roomy.  I loved looking down from our upstairs bedroom into the backyard and seeing Cori and Avery's playset, and the way the evening light shined through the dining room windows when I was cooking dinner every night.  It felt more like home than my little family had ever felt. 

But life fell apart in that home.  My marriage crumbled, and my perfect family vanished.  I don't know if I'll ever forget the night that I left through that front door for the last time, with my belongings shoved into the trunk of my sister-in-law's car.  I buckled into the backseat, beside my sleeping 15 month old Avery, and I cried my way back to South Carolina.  I had lost the family I'd been envisioning my whole life, and I feared, for the next year of my life, that I'd never get it back.  It was a pretty dark spot for me, and I bounced around with what felt like no direction towards a solid future.  Even when I felt ready to date, I got into a relationship that I knew, deep down, would never progress to what I truly desired, the family I truly desired.  After all, nobody envisions the perfect family as a single mom and her two kids. And I feared marrying a man who wouldn't show love for my own kids as if they were his very own. I loved being married, and I love being a mom.  I was terrified that I'd never have the perfect little family that I'd once had and will always desire to have again.  I felt like I wore a badge of shame for a long time, both for the actions I'd chosen for myself, and the fact that I'd been the wife that was cheated on by her husband.  I felt sadness at the broken homes my children would forever bear as their upbringing.  Shameful. 

But I'm okay now.  Somehow, I made it through the last year.  Somehow, I made it into the arms of a man that I think could one day actually fit into that imperfectly perfect little family unit that I want to have so badly.  I see the way he loves his son, and it awakens my heart and warms me throughout.  My children are moving home this week.  There won't be any more kisses via video chat, and heartbreaking goodbye hugs.  My babies are moving home.  Several times a week, every week, my kids will be all mine.  I can, for the first time in a very long time, picture happiness and completion in my not so far off future.  I see myself cooking dinner for my family, and waking up to a full house on the weekend.  I don't feel so shameful anymore because even the worst things have a funny way of making sense.  Life does move forward, you see. Somehow, life moves forward.

Friday, November 1, 2013

MPFL Reconstruction, Part 1

August 19, 2013 was the first day of class for the Fall semester, which also happened to be the day my injury happened.  It was a rainy morning, and when I went in to my first class, I stepped onto a weather mat, which happened to be soaking wet.  Since it was so saturated, my left leg slipped to the left, which resulted in my left patella dislocating to nearly the backside of my leg.  It was excruciating pain, the absolute worst I’ve ever been in, to include the natural child birth I went through.  Somehow, I suppose from the adrenaline rush of such pain, I manually pushed my knee cap back into place through screams.  At that point, a couple of teachers from the Charter High School next door were able to get me to call my mom, and get me into a wheelchair.  My mom and I were off to the doctor.

Here, you can see how swollen my left leg was:

 After four hours of no pain meds and the worst experience with a terrible tech trying to get X-rays, I finally was able to get a shot of pain killers in my hip.  They hardly touched the pain, but I was told no more could be ordered until after I met with the orthopedic surgeon.  So, off I went, back into my mom’s vehicle, which was brutal, by the way, and to the doctor’s office.  I sat in the waiting room, crying my eyes out, begging the receptionist to just let me go back and see the doctor.  Apparently, it worked because back we went.  My surgeon, Dr. L (top notch guy, by the way) checked out my knee and noted the pain that I was in.  He then was able to pull over 100cc of blood off of the injury.  Disgusting.  However, my pain level dropped dramatically once that fluid was pulled off.  An MRI was ordered for a week later when the swelling would further go down, as well as pain meds, a knee brace, ace bandage wrapping, and crutches until then.

Here’s the fluid that was drained from the injury… gross:

This was about the happiest face I could squeak out by the end of that first day:

But within a few days, I was back to my normal self:

So fast forward a little, I had the MRI about a week later, my divorce was finalized the next day, effectively ending my insurance coverage, and about a week after that, my MRI was scheduled to be read.  It was determined that I had broken my patella, bits of which were “floating around” in my knee, and destroyed my medial patellar femoral ligament (MPFL), which would need to be replaced with donor tissue in a surgery.  The surgery was scheduled for two weeks outs, on September 19th.  
When the 19th rolled around, I checked into Greer Memorial Hospital and was scheduled to have surgery around 12pm.  I was put under temporarily when my femoral nerve blocker was put in, and then later put under completely for the surgery.  I believe the surgery took an hour or so, but really, I have no recollection between being wheeled into the OR and waking up in recovery.  When I spoke to my surgeon after surgery, he told me that the damage was much more extensive than he had been able to see on the MRI.  He had removed the pieces of the patella that had chipped off, replaced my MPFL completely, and shaved down the cartilage on the underside of kneecap.  My pain level was astronomical, even with IV and oral pain medication.  I also had an ice pump wrapped around my injured leg, and an air pump attached to my other leg, to help circulation. I was doped up, sleepy, and couldn’t even use the bathroom without the help of at least two people.

Pre-surgery, I was flying high:

Here’s the get up I had to wear after surgery:

I stayed in the hospital overnight, and it was a rough one.  My pain levels bounced around, but never dropped below a 6 or 7 on a 10 scale.  I am one lucky girl though.  My mom stayed in the hospital with me overnight, and my amazing boyfriend, Spencer, brought me flowers that night to cheer me up.  When I was discharged from the hospital the next day, I headed straight to my first session of physical therapy.  Here was where I got to see my knee for the first time since the surgery.  I also realized just how long of a road my recovery was going to be, as I tried to not only strengthen my deadened quadriceps muscles, but stretch out my knee muscles and ligaments to get mobility back into my knee joint.  It was bound to be a brutal recovery, and my initial fears pretty much spelled out reality.

Taken from the hospital bed, this smile was meant for his:

At my first therapy session, I met this guy for the first time, a machine called Game Time, which ices and compresses my leg, after intense therapy:

Here’s what the initial incision points looked like:

That brings me to when I finally made it home after the surgery.  I’ll end it here for now, and pick up with the rest of my recovery just as soon as I can.  I don’t think I realized how long it’d take to get it all out into words until I started writing it, but I’ll account for the last 6 weeks soon!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Divorce: Part Neverending

This past week, I had an incredible surprise in the middle of the night, when, at 3am, I heard a very loud banging on my front door.  I stumbled out of bed, quickly trying to unhook the ice machine on my leg that I have to sleep in, and hobbled to the door.  I think about twenty different terrible case scenarios shot through my head, but as soon as I got to the door, I heard the sound of little giggles on the other side.  I threw open the door, and my beautiful babies were grinning and laughing back at me, saying "Mommy!!!!"  My ex husband had taken it upon himself to drive the 12 hours straight through from when he got off of work to bring them home to me as a surprise the weekend before my birthday.  Pretty awesome, huh?  I thanked him profusely, and even posted my admiration for his kindheartedness on Facebook. If not for him bringing them, I don't know when I would have been able to see my kids next, since, thanks to my knee injury, I'm unable to drive long distances.

We spent about an hour talking to the kids, and then Jesse went to sleep on the couch, while I had Avery and Cori hop into bed with me.  As I mentioned before, I'm hooked up to a machine that keeps cold ice flowing across my knee injury all night long.  When paired with the general pain of much movement, I have to keep pretty immobile while I'm sleeping.  So, as much as I loved waking up next to my sweet sleepy headed beauties a couple of hours later, I was absolutely feeling the pain in my leg from being kicked, rolled over, and climbed across, while my little movers slept.  I let my ex husband know that it probably wasn't going to be possible for them to stay with me overnight alone, and he was very understanding.  Things went on swimmingly throughout the day, and I was impressed by how friendly my ex husband was being when he picked them up that evening.

Fast forward to the next day, and he was completely opposite from the day before.  He barely spoke to me, was short in responses to questions I asked, and just generally pretty rude.  That behavior carried on throughout the weekend, and when I asked him today why he acted that way, he told me he was upset that I wouldn't let them stay with me at night. I explained, once again, that I have a one bedroom apartment, and two children who are still very much co-sleepers a lot of the time.  I reiterated how I was unable to sleep with them in bed with me and how much my leg hurt throughout the weekend from the beating it took for the 4 hours they did sleep in my bed on Friday morning.

Anyway, it's very frustrating to me, this whole ex husband, ex wife dynamic.  I like to pretend that we get on great, that we have a wonderful post-divorce relationship, but I think that's clearly false.  We text each other throughout the week, me asking about the kids, and him sharing stories about work, or his running, or a funny story.  That part is nice.  I mean, I did love this guy for eight years, so maintaining a friendship should be easy, right?  Not so.  Our friendly conversations are sprinkled with anger, bitterness, and constant drudging up of past mistakes.  I don't pin all of the blame on him, by any means.  Loving each other for eight years and being married for five means that we both know exactly how to get under each others' skin.  We know exactly what to say to piss each other off, and it's easy to hurt one another.

It's frustrating, to say the least  I wonder how long this will go on.  I think it's obvious that my ex husband still has feelings for me, and I hate that, not for me, but for him.  I want so much for him to move on, to find love again, and maybe even one day get married and have kids again.  He claims again and again that he doesn't want to find love again, for reasons I won't get into on a public forum, but it makes me sad for him.  Of course our marriage didn't work out; we weren't meant to be.  But that doesn't mean I want unhappiness for him.

I've said before, and still absolutely believe that there is nothing wrong with each of us moving on, finding love, remarrying, and maybe having more children one day.  The way I see it, when we allow new love into our lives, we are allowing new love into our children's lives.  I can't think of a way that that could be a bad thing, albeit hard at first.  I would never, ever want to replace my children's father.  He is wonderful to them, and I hope their relationship will always flourish, but I think that it is possible to have stepparents without ever feeling like the parents are being replaced.  It's what I wish for one day for my kids: to have two loving stepparents, and maybe new siblings that they can grew up with, be it step-siblings or half.

I just hope that a day will come when I won't have to bite my tongue at triggering comments and I can feel a genuine friendship with my ex husband.  I'm tired of wondering when the nice will fade and the anger set in, or when the bitterness will subside, and friendly is back again. I don't know how we'll ever successfully co-parent and raise two happy, healthy, stable children without a solid friendship between us.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Military Issued Girlfriends.

Back in late 2007, when Jesse came home on leave from basic training and we got re-engaged, I was thrust head first, arms flailing, in to the military life.  My first stop in finding support was the internet, where I found a website that, at the time, saved my life.  The website was called Military Issued Girlfriends, and was an internet forum that facilitated me meeting some of the best friends of my life.  They welcomed me with open hearts and minds, and guided me, acronym by acronym, into the sisterhood of military wives. 

We were all spread around the world, from Germany to South Korea to Hawaii, to Florida, and everywhere in between.  With these women, I went through marriage, moving to the other side of the world and back, two pregnancies, and the breakdown that led to separation and eventually divorce.  A lot of these women know me better than friends I've known in real life. We've helped each other through PCSing (that's moving in military-ese), and pregnancy scares and raising babies and the tougher things like making it through divorces.  The best part about MIG (more acronyms, yay!) is that it's where I met my very best friend.  It's where I met Lyssa, my sweet and awesome bestie that I've never actually met face to face.  Funny, huh?  But that's how us military wives work.  We get used to moving new places and saying goodbye to friends, old and new.  We remind each other not to get too attached to that coffee shop just outside of post because in just a couple of years, the movers will be back and home will be someplace new.  But we always have that network behind the scenes, the friends who move with us and get to know us from behind the screen of a monitor and the finger taps of a keyboard.

At one point, a close group of us all disbanded from the original MIG, creating our own smaller, more intimate forum.  They are my women of liberty.  It is these women whom I consider to be my closest friends.  With them, I have the kind of relationships where I can make a post in the middle of the night, and they're all there for me, cheering me on and encouraging me like I haven't just disappeared without stopping in to say hello for months.  We've all exchanged letters and birthday cards and Christmas presents with each other.  They are relationships that have been 6 years in the making for me.  They've watched my babies grow from the first pregnancy tests into two adorable little children.

MIG shut down last week, after something like 9 years running.  It was a result of the high cost of running an online network and the dispersion that we've all made over the years, checking in less and less as we grew busier and busier in our individual lives.  I, myself, hadn't checked into MIG in probably a month or so, and hadn't actually posted there in probably a year.  So when Lyssa texted me last week to tell me that MIG was shutting down, I got more emotional over it than I would have expected.  I started thinking back to the women I've met and the moments I've shared.  It's not all that significant that the website has shut down, I guess.  We've still got our own smaller forum of the refugees of MIG, for now at least.  Even yet, we all keep in contact, whether it's through Facebook, or in some cases, daily text messages.  But it's still sad to think that MIG has shut down.  It's silly to say, but it's almost like hearing that they've decided to close the doors of your high school. You've moved on, you've graduated, and it doesn't really affect your life that its gone, but it still pulls a little tightly on your heart strings when you hear the news.

One of the funny things about only knowing these friends from online is that when several of us all get pregnant at the same time, we watch our babies grow up together without ever actually knowing each others' babies.  I guess it's something like having virtual playdates.  Four years after my daughter's birth, I celebrate the birthdays of Jackson and Max and Fiona and Matthew and Cecilia, and all of the other four year olds that I had the pleasure of watching grow up alongside my Cori.  And after more than two years since my son's birth, I check up on Garrett and Liam and Ellyana and all of the other two year olds that have grown up as Avery has.  They are my military family.  The ones you pick and the ones you hold in your heart forever.  Divorced or not, I will always be a part of the sisterhood that is military wifehood.

Let love in.

Since my children live about 14 hours away, nearly halfway across the country, I don't always know how to picture my future.  I never know when they'll move back here, or if they'll move back here, or when they do, if they'll live with me or their dad, or if it'll be a split custody arrangement.  There's no way to know.  So most of the time, it's easier just to pretend like they'll live far away forever.  It's just slightly less heartbreaking than getting my hopes up that they'll be back to live in my house one day, and then realizing that maybe they won't.  So when I think about the future, I envision weekend visits and holidays together.  I try not to think about waking up on school mornings to fix breakfast and get their coats and backpacks on before they head off for the day because it's too heartbreaking to think that maybe I won't have that one day.  It's too painful to let the happy thoughts in, so I close up and I close off to letting anyone and anything. I don't want to be a weekend mom.  I don't want to be an across the country mom.  My kids have a wonderful father, but they need their mama too, and it's hard to envision living with them once again when they're just so far away.  I was a stay at home mom for three years.  It was exhausting and wonderful and playful and yeah, sometimes a little bit too much to handle mentally.  But I provided everything my littles needed day in and day out.  When Daddy was gone training up as a soldier, or working long shifts as a policeman, I was there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for my littles.  It's been a hard adjustment to go from stay at home mom to across the country mom.

Anyway, all of that brings me to the thought that spurred all of that.  When I've tried to picture my future relationships, I've questioned to myself whether I'd ever live with a man again, or whether I'd ever marry again.  For that matter, I've wondered whether I'd ever want to live with someone before marriage, or if this time, I'd wait until the rings were on before moving in together.  I've wondered whether more kids will come along one day, be it by birth or marriage.  It's weird, I guess, to think about what my kids' lives will be like as they grow up.  I remember what it was like when my parents remarried, and I first gained two new siblings, and later, three siblings more. So I wonder now how many brothers and sisters my own kids will have, whether step or half..  I wonder if they'll have a stepmom and a stepdad. I'm not especially close to my own stepparents, but as an adult, I can appreciate the roles they played in my life as I grew up.  I always lived with my mom and my stepdad, but I never appreciated the hand my stepfather had in helping me become an adult until I was already an adult.  I never lived in a house with my stepmom, and I've truly never had much connection with her either, but I can appreciate the support she gave to my father after my parents' divorce.  My mom has been remarried for 14 years, and my dad for, I believe, 12 years.  I'm not yet 24 years old, so those marriages have lasted for a significant period of my life.  So I wonder now, who the people are that will one day be a part of my child's lives everyday.  I wonder when or if my ex husband will remarry, and if my kids will like her.  I hope that one day I'll remarry, and I wonder if I'll have stepchildren, how those kids will like my kids, and how they'll interact.  I wonder if, when I'm looking to buy my first house, I'll be looking for a three bedroom house for myself and my two kids, or if I'll be looking at bigger houses.  Will there be rooms for stepchildren?  Rooms for more children that, maybe one day, I'll have?  It's a lot to ponder, but it's fun and it's scary, and I love it.

 I don't think that anybody could ever love my children the way that Jesse and I do, or that I'll ever be able to love another man's child the way they he loves his own.  But the way I see it, everybody in the world could use more love.  You can never get enough, right? So if my ex husband can find a woman who will even try to love my children the way that he does, or if I can find a man who can try to love my babies like he loves his own, I'm happy with that.  I'm inviting, with open arms, the opportunity to let those in who can love my children as they grow through childhood into adolescence and beyond.  I'm letting love in.  For me. For my kids.  For my life and for my future.

Living by.

I'm in the middle of this weird internal frame of mind where I have the blogging bug, but at the same time, am facing some impenetrable mental block. So instead of writing things straight from the brain, I thought maybe I'd just start a little collection of all of the quotes and lyrics and mantras that have gotten me through the last year plus.  When I got a new phone last week, I ended up looking through some of the notes I'd saved with the quotes, and it made me realize I wanted to save them all for posterity, so here goes...
"The clock never stops, never stops, never waits.  She's growing old; it's getting late." - Ben Folds

"Everybody knows it hurts to grow up, and everybody knows it's so weird to be back here." - Ben Folds

"We're all okay, until the day we're not.  The surface shines, while the inside rots. We raced the sunset, and we almost won. We slammed the brakes, but the wheels went on." - Rise Against

"It happens to everyone as they grow up.  You find out who you are and what you want, and then you realize that people you've known forever don't see things the way you do. So you keep the wonderful memories, but find yourself moving on." - Nicholas Sparks

"Just know, when you truly want success, you'll never give up on it.  No matter how bad the situation may get." - Unknown

"Remember that happiness is a way of travel, not a destination." -Roy Goodman

"The powers of this world are very strong. Men and women are moved by tides much fiercer than you can imagine, and they sweep us all into the current." - Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass

"Remember, then, that you are not managing an inconvenience; you are raising a human being." - Kittie Frantz

“Growing apart doesn't change the fact that for a long time we grew side by side; our roots will always be tangled. I'm glad for that." - Ally Condie

“'Dear God,' she prayed, 'let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry...have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere - be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.' - Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

And my two very favorites for last...

"You know what? Just move on. Move on with life, and leave those who don't care about you behind. Don't stress over anyone anymore. Don't continue to hold on to those words and promises they once told you. They proved themselves wrong; all it did was hurt you. Just keep fighting. Move on because they were just a chapter in the past - but don't close the book. Keep your head up high, and just turn the page." - Unknown

“Your 20’s are your ‘selfish’ years. It’s a decade to immerse yourself in every single thing possible. Be selfish with your time, and all the aspects of you. Tinker with shit, travel, explore, love a lot, love a little, and never touch the ground.” - Kyoko Escamilla

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Two days post-op.

My surgery was yesterday, and it ended up being pretty brutal.  Once my surgeon made the incision and looked around with the scopes a bit, I guess he discovered the damage to the patella and the underlying cartilage was far worse than what the MRI had presented.  So he cleaned me up, stitched me up, and here I am, on my way to being almost as good as new.  I stayed overnight in the hospital, and my mom stayed with me throughout, which was not only helpful, but comforting.  My sweet Spencer also visited me when I was in post-op recovery, and brought me a beautiful orchid to make my sterile feeling hospital room just the slightest bit homier.  Recovery hasn't been too awful so far, but the variety of pain meds I'm on are keeping me as comfortable as I can be, following such a big surgery.  I had IV meds in the hospital, paired with a pain pump into my femoral artery, and oral meds.  I was worried once the IV came out, the pain would become intolerable, but I've actually managed it okay thus far.  

Spencer stayed with me last night, which sort of blows my mind a little bit.  After all, we haven't known each other all that long, but he stepped right into the role of caregiver, and has been absolutely wonderful.  I can't move around much without help, since I'm hooked up to a nerve blocking pain pump and an ice pump that wraps my knee, not to mention the pain, exhaustion, and dizziness that keeps me pretty bed bound.  But he got up with me each and every time, unhooking everything and guiding me right onto my crutches without hesitation.  It's unbelievable to me how helpful and comforting he has been to me since my injury, but particularly during this post-operative period.  Hopefully I'll come up with someway to show my absolute appreciation for his reassuring and comforting support.

As I write this, my apartment is filled with the amazing smells of fajitas and all the fixin's, as Spencer cooks up his own chef's specialty, which just happens to be of my favorite Mexican variety.  I am, of course, laid up in bed, but comforting sounds surround me, giving me an undeniable feeling of peace and happiness.  From the pots and pans clinking as he sautés his way through the kitchen, to the occasional cracking *shwick* of a Bud Light being opened, to the dreary plipping of the raindrops outside of the window, and especially of his fingers on his guitar, I am far more cheerful and serene than ever would be expected at only 48 hours post-op.  

This life, I am so happy for.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

All that I am.

I've been swirling my last several relationships in my head all day, wondering how to make them stop affecting my life. I realized though, after much thought, that the only way my last relationships won't affect my present and future relationships is if I consciously, day after day, don't allow them to. At least that's what I have to do for now. I'm sure, once my past isn't so closely past, that it won't be conscious at all. But right now, when my past isn't really all that past for me, it's something I'm going to have to work at. My past relationships destroyed themselves, so why should I, even for a moment, give them the chance to destroy anything else? I've touched on why my marriage ended, but not really my relationships since.

In each scenario, things ended because, at the end of the day, who I am wasn't enough for the person I was with. Whether it was one rash decision to choose another woman, or the baggage, if you will, that my marriage handed me, or just some physical aspect of myself that someone didn't like, I wasn't enough. But I'm trying to teach myself that that's okay. If I wasn't enough for that person, the relationship would never have been a happy one anyway. But to someone, maybe I will be enough. Maybe, just maybe, the man I'm with now, will always find that I am enough, now and henceforth. It's tough because the inner, self conscious, low esteemed Hilary likes to repeat in my brain the many reasons why I'll never be enough. But the strong, confident Hilary tries to shush her down and tell me that I am enough. Who I am and the baggage I hold is exactly what someone in this world will love one day. It's a battle fought day by day, even hour by hour, but I won't allow my past to dictate my future anymore. I am enough.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

All I Desire.

What a weekend it was!  I got to spend the last three days with sweet Spencer.  Since I woke up with conjunctivitis on Friday, our plans to go to our favorite little dive bar that night were nixed, and instead we spent an evening at home.  First though, we went on a hunt to search for an inexpensive dart board to put up on my patio.  Hey, what better idea could we have for two people who like to have fun on the cheap?  We really did have a great weekend with the little investment that was the dart board and cheap beer, as well as some great tunes on the iPod.  He makes me laugh so much that I don't know if I ever stop smiling when I'm in his company.  I'm sure that sounds just as pukey and lame as it does sweet, but I mean it - it's true.

We may have enjoyed the alcohol slightly too much last night, so I woke up with a killer headache that luckily didn't last too very long.  Later on this afternoon, I got to meet little Fox Rocket, Spencer's little dude.  He was adorable, and I could see his daddy in both his features and his actions. It was a bit of a strange situation for me, and I wasn't quite sure how it would act when it happened.  I've never dated a single dad, so I've of course never had to meet the child of someone I'm interested in.  It was so nice though - to not be the one doing the introducing, but instead get to be the one being introduced, and getting to watch my boyfriend interact with his son.  There's something about parenthood though that changes a person.  It changes you on a grand scale, of course.  You're never the same once you become a parent, but it changes you on a smaller, day-to-day scale too.  I got to see the daddy part of Spencer for the first time, and it was adorable and endearing, and made me a little weak in the knees.  What's not to adore about a man who is so clearly head over heels for his child? 

Boyfriend.  That's what I called him a few sentences back. I like the sound of that.  Love it, actually.  It wasn't intentional.  In fact, I didn't realize I'd typed it until it had already flowed from my fingertips.  Boyfriend.  I'm still wrapping my head around it a little, I think, but it's new, so I'm sure that's normal and I'm rolling with it.  Sometimes (read: all the time), I wish I could peer into his skull, and see if his lines of thought run parallel to mine. It's a clever kind of love, I think.  This clever love won't tire.

Friday, September 13, 2013


I heard this notion once that the men a woman loves, from her first love to the man she loves at her dying breath, all have this kinship amongst each other, something like a fraternity of sorts.  Each of those men know that woman a little differently, maybe a lot differently, but they've all loved her, needed her, and wanted her at some point.  Whether they hate each other or know nothing about the others in that fraternity, they all have an unspoken commonality.  It's the same way with the women a man has loved, like it or not.  The complex network of those you've loved, and those your loves have loved, is unbelievably interwoven. 

Who are your fraternity brothers?  Your sorority sisters?  Have you ever stopped to think about the likenesses among the other people your significant other has loved?  Maybe it seems pointless and counterproductive to some people, but when I stop to consider who the other women are, it gives me some sort of satisfied, respectful feeling.  Whether those women hurt the men I've loved or whether the men I've loved hurt them, at one point, they were all that person wanted for some moment in their lives.  They were each others' worlds, and when I think about how life has brought me here, to this moment, I have this unexplainable respect for how fast life moves.  How did I get right here where I am now?  How have those other people shaped the men I've loved, and how have I shaped the men who will one day find their own soul mates, the person I wasn't for them?  It's interesting for me to think about, I guess.  I've pictured so many possibilities for my future; envisioned distant, cloudy images of how things might unfold with one person or another, but at the end of the day, my own personal hopes and expectations have little impact on what actually unfolds.  Moreover, I think all of those women I've got kinship with have a bigger influence on how my future turns out because they've all played a part in shaping the men I've loved, or do love, or will love.  And that, to me, is a respectable, fascinating position to be in.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

It's not over.

I freaked out a little bit last week, the night before my divorce was finalized.   Obviously, I’d seen it coming for over a year, but when you’re actually looking down the barrel of that gun, it stops you in your tracks.  It’s the finality of knowing your greatest fear is here, and the trigger is about to be pulled.  I expected I’d feel a sigh of relief, but that’s just the opposite of what I was feeling the night before.  Luckily, my close friend was there for me, talking me down from the edge and reminding me that everything was going to be okay.  His confidence in me led me not only into the next scary morning, but through it.  My breaths of freedom hit me the night of the divorce, when I realized I could finally take the dog-ear out of that chapter, and turn the page to something new.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve gone on lots of dates in the last year.  Lots of first dates, plenty of second dates, and very few third and beyond dates.  I’ve only dated one guy exclusively, and only for a couple of months.  It was a rough breakup on me, probably derived from the fact that I sometimes get too close too fast.  But I bounced back and delved back into the dating pool.  After only a couple of terribly written introductory messages from possible suitors, I received a casual, cool (properly spelled and grammatically correct) message from a guy named Spencer.  He seemed nice, smart, laid back.  His pictures didn’t scream “douchebag” and I wasn't fanning myself over love at first sight. He was just a friendly, handsome guy, and that was enough to spark my interest.  We exchanged quite a few messages back and forth, and then progressed to texting each other.  Soon enough, we agreed to meet up at one of my favorite spots in downtown Greenville.  I wasn’t expecting anything phenomenal, and really didn’t even consider it a ‘first date’.  To me, it was more like just potentially making a new friend.  I wasn’t, after all, quite over my last break up at that point.  Little did I know, we’d end up sitting, laughing, and very likely over-sharing for more than three hours that night.   I don’t know that I’d ever opened up so quickly as much as I had to him, but he made me comfortable and he made me laugh, and apparently, that’s how you snake your way right into my heart.   Although it started out in my mind as just a friendly meeting, I found myself having to stop myself from leaning in for a kiss before he headed to his Jeep to go home. 

We hung out a couple more times before I took a trip to Fort Polk to see my kids, (and I pretty quickly got that first kiss… and second… and third…), and I found myself texting him for hours upon hours on end during my whole trip.  When I saw him again after I got home to South Carolina, I felt unbelievably close to him, and I realized I’d gotten much closer to him than I had initially intended to at all.  It was more than a little scary, but I’d also realized among our long conversations that Spencer wasn’t quite ready to be in a new relationship.  He not-so-long-ago separated from his wife of six years, and he was going through all of the stages I’d so very clearly remembered going through just a few months ago.  In a way, I saw it as a blessing in disguise because I had another guy waiting in the shadows.  The other guy, K, was a friend I’d known for nearly a year through letters and emails and text messages and phone calls.  I’d helped him through Air Force basic training and his subsequent schooling, and we’d found ourselves dreaming about meeting and dating and having a future together.  But K was living many states away, and it was more of a pipe dream than anything I was actually pursuing.  Except that right about the time that I realized Spencer wasn’t quite over his last relationship, K presented the idea of coming home on leave to meet and stay with me for a weekend.  I told Spencer about the other guy, terrified of hurting his feelings, but aware that he’d hurt more if he felt I was leading him on in any way.  Much to my surprise, he supported me with no catch and calmed me down in my nervous chattering before K came for his visit.  He was, no doubt, the best friend he could have possibly been for me.  He was my shoulder to lean on, my ears to babble into, and a warm pat on my back to calm my nerves.  He was exactly what he needed to be, and he stood by my side, even in the face of his feelings for me, as I pursued another guy. 

To make a long and not very exciting story short, K came to town, and we had a lovely time.  I think we both felt a spark, but it fizzled quickly when I realized that we had a few personality quirks that probably never would have meshed.  But that’s okay.  It was what it was, and that was all it was.  The whole time K was in town, I found my mind wandering to Spencer, wondering what he was doing with his son, and whether he was thinking about me.  I missed texting him every few minutes like we very nearly had been for weeks by this point.  It had only been a few days since I’d seen him, but I missed him.  When K left and I realized that our fun weekend was nothing more than that, I started evaluating why I’d missed Spence so much.   We’d talked through separation and kids and divorce and life, and I could actually see him moving, before my eyes, from the depressing, terrible side of separation to the happier, positive, maybe-good-things-can-happen-to-me side of separation.  I began to slowly leak the feelings for Spence that I’d bottled up before K came to town, and the more I thought about the kind of guy it would take to stand by my side like Spencer did, the stronger I felt them rush out.  The thing is though, I think they’re still rushing out because every day I find myself feeling something new for him.  Something different.  It’s nice, and I love it.

We laugh so much together.  We make silly faces and take silly pictures.  We tell each other funny jokes and listen to each other’s stories.  We don’t divide our attention between a million different things when we’re together.  When I’m with him, he’s all I even care to think about.  I feel little butterflies when I think about seeing him, and I find myself leaning further and further into his kisses every time he touches his lips to mine.  His hands give me chills and his voice makes me smile.  He’s a single dad, and soon to be divorcee.  He’s Spencer, and he’s exactly what I didn't realize I’ve been looking for. 

Get ready, 'cause here I come.

I think I start the majority of my posts off with some rendition of “It’s been so long since I updated, and so much has happened… blah blah blah”, that it feels redundant to start another one off like that, but well…. It’s been so long since I updated, and so much has happened. :P  I’m having one of those “where to even start?” moments.  

In the last month, I’ve managed to start my fall semester, break my knee, start a new job, throw my daughter’s 4th birthday party, get my divorce finalized, and meet a wonderful guy.  I’ll skip the boring stuff, and just say that I somehow managed to break my patella on my first day of class, which resulted in a lot of pain, a huge injury, a stack of medical bills, and massive surgery in less than a week.  Like I said, boring stuff.  Perhaps I’ll go into more detail after the surgery is behind me and I’m holed up in my bed for two weeks.  

My new job is awesome.  I’m working in the box office for a concert venue, and it’s turning out to be a lot of fun.  I worked the Mumford & Sons concert last night, and I loved the atmosphere and the fast paced movement of what I was doing.  Classes are going well so far, despite having missed nearly two weeks after my injury.  I’m maintaining A’s across the board, and I’m very pleased with myself.  It’s wonderful to have a feeling of accomplishment when you get a good test grade back that you know you studied hard for.  

My girl hasn’t yet turned 4 years old, but we did throw her 4th birthday party last week, and it was a little bit of an emotional day for me.  I can’t even believe that my girl is already well past toddlerhood and bounding into straight up childhood.  I went back and checked out the blog I wrote from when Cori was born, and it’s just mind blowing that it’s been nearly 4 years.  Have I said that enough?  Time flies, man, especially when you’re a parent.  I think life turns to super speed when you became a mama or a daddy.  Anyway, her party was Disney princess themed, full of Rapunzel and Sofia the First, and pretty much anything purple and girly.  She had a couple of tantrums, but overall, she did well, based on her personality and overall disposition.  I invited several friends and lots of family, and I was so glad to see the people I love come together to celebrate my girl.  She’s worth it all.
Anyway, I’ll save the divorce and new guy part of my story for my next post.  It’ll be tonight, promise, but I have to run for now.