Thursday, December 11, 2014


My little girl tells me that she hopes the baby in my tummy is a girl.  "Well, what if it's a boy?", I ask her.  "Boooooring!", she responds.  My son just hopes it's a puppy.  As for me, it doesn't matter because I'm carrying Spencer's baby.  He is going to be the father of my third child, and I can't get over the giddy, happy, tingly feeling that gives me.  If I'm being honest, I have the inclination that this little one inside is a girl.  My pregnancy so far reminds me much of my first pregnancy, the one that resulted in my sweet, argumentative little Cori.  Spencer seems to think it's a boy this round, and if it is, that'll be exciting too.  Cori may pick up her dollies and hit the road if we add another boy to the mix, but I'm sure she'll grow to love him (and boss him around....) just like her other brothers.  We've still got several months before we find out the gender, and I'm trying to appreciate the time between now and then.  After all, this will be the last time I get the excitement that comes when you are just about to find out what gender the little one you're carrying is. It will be a very exciting 2015... that, I can say.

We are in the process of purchasing our first home, and have less than a month until closing.  It is our dream home, and we are fortunate that we are in this position.  I am fortunate that I am in this position with Spencer, that we are in this together.  It is the perfect home for our growing family, and I will be so relieved and excited once we are holding the key in our hands.  This is the home that I imagine we will be in for the rest of our lives, the one that our children will bring our grandchildren home to for the holidays, and that Spencer and I will grow old together in as a married couple.  I'm excited for this home-owning adventure to begin for us, as new and scary as it is.

And if a new baby and home buying weren't big enough challenges for Spencer and me to face together, he asked me to marry him last month.  We shopped together for engagement rings two days before I had any idea that I was pregnant.  This was also the day we truly sat down and began to discuss purchasing our first home.  We looked and tried on and sized so many different rings, and we talked about the size of homes that we were interested in, areas in which we'd want to live.  This all happened on a Sunday, when I truly had no idea that inside of me grew a five week old baby.  When we discovered that I was pregnant, we immediately revisited our discussion of engagement.  It became clear that perhaps our sights shouldn't be on engagement right away, but rather on preparing for the unexpected blessing that was coming our way sooner rather than later.  I felt sure after our discussion that we would plan for an engagement and a wedding after the baby made its arrival, and I was okay with that.  I was a little sad at first, of course, because I wanted to be engaged to the man of my dreams, but I also didn't want the judgment that undoubtedly would come from those who felt we were only getting engaged because of our unexpected 'situation', had he proposed at that point.

Little did I know, Spencer already had his proposal in the works, and when he proposed to me on November 23rd, a Sunday only three weeks after our initial ring shopping, I was speechless.  I had no idea how he could have possibly done all that he had to prepare for the proposal when we had both been so busy over the last several weeks with doctor visits,  home inspections, and so many mortgage papers to sign, we could hardly find time to eat dinner at night.  But somehow, he had planned and he had purchased the perfect ring, and when he proposed to me, I could not have been happier or more surprised.  He made me realize that our love is what is most important in our own lives, and that anybody in our lives that truly knows and loves us, would know that this was a natural progression of our relationship for us, baby or not.  I am the luckiest girl in the whole world.  He sees me inside and out, and he fends off the inevitable fears that I have when it comes to judgment and the baby and home buying and life in general.

Fortunately for us, through all of this, life has gotten easier on the ex-husband front.  Raising children with Jesse has gotten exponentially easier, better, more fun than it was for so long after our separation.  Arguments are a rarity, and we openly communicate about the kids and their schedules on a regular basis.  We have a "set schedule", but we vary from it from time to time based on work schedules or family gatherings on either side.  We switch or share holidays, and the kids seem much happier.  We've shared ultrasound pictures of mine and Spencer's baby, and the baby that he and his fiancee are expecting about a month ahead of us.  He and his fiancee come into our home regularly, and we are all able to laugh and talk and discuss all that is going on in our lives.  On the other side of the fence, life seems to stay difficult on the ex wife front.  There is near daily drama involving Spencer's ex, and she is a very hateful person towards Spencer and our family.  I know that it makes raising his son difficult with her because rather than openly communicating about their son, Spencer is often made to play a game in where he must always choose his words so carefully, he is not even able to share his true feelings on certain matters.  Sometimes I wonder if he realizes what a good man he is, for the role he plays in his son's life, for the energy he puts into conflict avoidance.  Even when I've lost my last nerve in regards to her latest antics, he still maintains the face of calm and somehow gets through it.  Surely, it must be a skill he gained over the many years that he grew to know her, but it is undoubtedly admirable. 

Believe it or not, I pray daily, sometimes twice or more daily, that one day, she will shed her hatred of his happiness and that they will grow as a parental unit together.  Even six or eight months ago, I never would have envisioned that raising children with Jesse would be as effortless as it now is, but somehow that happened, and I hope that one day, Spencer will experience the same. 

I worry about how our family life will change when our new addition makes his or her arrival.  It can be very difficult to raise three children that have different parents together in the same house, but we manage to do it pretty well so far.  Surely, and hopefully, adding a child of our own to the mix won't be much more difficult than the challenges we already face, but I'm certain it will have its own set of challenges to navigate between ourselves and the siblings.

On that note... here's to a brand new baby, a brand new home, an impending marriage to the love of my life, and to healed and renewed relationships between all of the parties involved in our family's lives.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


      I know that when I first saw his picture on his dating profile, something stuck out about him, but at the time, I had no idea what.  We exchanged plenty of messages, and we certainly had good conversation, but beyond that, there was just something about him I couldn't put my finger on.  It's been well over a year since I first laid eyes on his picture, and still, I haven't figured out what it is about Spencer that keeps me guessing, keeps me on my toes, what it is that stops me dead in my tracks.  I've imagined time and again what it would be like to take his last name and become his wife, and I know that it would be the thrill of a lifetime.  I would never want to think about this life with anyone but him.  I don't know how I was so lucky to have our paths cross, but it is clearly the meeting that would determine how the rest of my life would turn out.
      I've thought beyond marriage too.  We both have -- to home buying together or one day having a baby together.  Those things excite me, but the most exciting part?  That we are actually facing both of those things right now.
      After waking up feeling hungover for the 4th day in a row, with no alcohol consumption to blame, Spencer joked that I must be pregnant.  I laughed it off, feeling extra confident in the birth control pills that I had been consistent with for over a year.  But something about his joke stuck in my head, and I started analyzing all of the weird ways I'd been feeling lately, the sickness, the being overly tired, the weird sensitivities.  It burrowed into my brain, until I finally decided I just needed to take a test to eliminate the thought from my head.  I dug through my bathroom drawers until I found one lonely pregnancy test, obviously a leftover from when I'd been trying to conceive my youngest son, three and a half year old Avery.  I flipped the package over to see the expiration date, three months past due, glaring at me.  I figured expiration dates meant nothing, and proceeded to use it right away anyway.  Within seconds, a huge, dark + sign appeared on the test.  Maybe it was shock or maybe something else, but I cast off the result as an expired mistake, and planned to immediately hit the drug store for a test that was not past its date.  After two clearly-not-expired tests and a total of three glaringly positive pregnancy tests later, I realized something.  I'm pregnant.
      This was on November 4, a Tuesday.  I had no desire to share the news with Spencer via text message or phone call, so I sat on the news all day long at work, through picking up the kids, and fixing dinner.  I sat on it quietly still longer through story time and tucking the kids into bed, until finally we had our only moment of alone time for the day.  His lack of being shocked, shocked me further, and his ability to stay calm, then helped to ease my own feelings.  We are having a baby.  This was not the timeline we had envisioned for ourselves.  We had talked engagement, marriage, and buying a home together in the near future.  We had talked about having a baby in three or four years.
      Our timeline is irrelevant now, but we have swallowed the news and started to process.  We are excited now, talking baby names and thinking of the gear we'll need to purchase over the next eight or nine months.  We don't know exactly when the baby will be here, a result of my being on birth control and having no idea when I would have ovulated.  My pregnancy has been doctor confirmed, and we have our first prenatal appointment on Monday, the 17th, followed by a dating ultrasound on Wednesday, the 19th.  Our best guess puts me between five and eight weeks, which would give us an expected due date somewhere from late June to mid July.  My morning (all day....) sickness is rampant.  I feel queasy all the time, and the only thing that helps is laying down, which makes working, driving, housework, and parenting difficult.  I can only hope that it will pass within a few weeks, though who really knows.  The pregnancy so far reminds me much of my pregnancy with Cori.
      We have a lot to figure out, like getting into a bigger home.  We hope to purchase a home before the baby comes, but it will depend on if we happen to find a home that works for us by then or if we have to rent a little longer before making that leap.  I'm not sure how my job will work after the baby comes, or how I will spread myself amongst three, sometimes four, little ones.  I don't worry too much though because with a partner like Spencer, I know that we will figure out every little thing that life throws our way.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Together, we make five.

      This is a step I have taken only once before. Circumstances were much different, and the two situations are really not comparable. The first time - I was married for five months before we ever shared a roof. This time, we've been dating not even a year.  I had no responsibilities the first time around, no kids or even pets to speak of, no financial cares in the world. This time, I bring with me two children, two jobs, and a laundry list of financial responsibilities. He brings one child himself, and together, we make five.
      It is chaos, no doubt. Our home houses a dad and a mom, though with no shared children between, alongside a 4-year-old girl, and two 2-year-old boys. There is arguing and toy stealing, door slamming, sleepy whines, and jealousy. But there are also little hugs and kisses, snuggles, games of hide-and-seek, shared bubble baths, and "I love you"s.
      It is unconventional, and at times, it is terrifying and overwhelming. We have opened not only our hearts as the adults to something that is bigger than us both, but now our childrens' hearts too. I can imagine it is just as scary for my boyfriend, this man who loves my children, as it is for me. He tucks them in at night, and lets them bounce and jump on him way past the point when I, as their mother, would have grown tired of the game. He picks his cereal to match my daughter's when she asks, and he laughs when my son calls him the "fluffy daddy" or sometimes just "Fluffy", a nickname they coined for him due to his fluffy beard tickling their little lips when they kiss him on the cheek.
      It makes my heart swell with hope and happy feelings that, despite how scary it is, or what a leap of faith it has required, it is a leap we have chosen to leap together.  Here's to the little moments that we, as five, will make together.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Let it go.

April 2012

      When it happened, it sunk me to my lowest low, and I had nowhere else to go. The deceitful messages had been offered up to me with a guise of helping him thumb through previous texts to locate an address. My breath was knocked from my chest when I read them, and I cried and screamed, begged him explain to me what was going on.  I pleaded with him to just tell me that he hadn't been cheating. But he wouldn't. He drove calmly and refused to respond to me. I screamed at him to pull the car over, but he continued on, and I threatened to open the car door as we sped down the highway. "Let's just go to this lunch with [M & B]," he had said to me, "and then, we'll talk about this when we get home."  Was he serious? He was truly expecting me to sit through a lunch date with my kids and my seemingly cheating husband, with some friends of his - a happy couple - one of which was a prime suspect in this cheating debacle - and pretend that my life wasn't suddenly crumbling under my feet.
      After a stiff refusal, he eventually turned the car around, and I sat, sobbing, wondering what in the hell was about to happen in my world.
      When we got home that day, I pleaded for an explanation, but he was cold and hardly responsive. I called his father, and his sister, and my mother, trying desperately to find someone he would speak to, someone who could help make sense of this mess, but he still refused. Instead, he told me he was going to go to a non-mandatory work function, to hang out with some of his buddies. I pleaded still for him to stay, telling him that if he left, he would be coming home to an empty house.
      And then I found myself locked in the bathroom, crying on the floor, screaming through tears that I was going to take a handful of pills if he left our family for his friends. I sat there, fist full of Percocet, thinking to myself that surely he wouldn't leave his wife in this state, his one and two year old children unsupervised in another room. But after several minutes, I heard nothing, and for my children, I dropped the pills, and emerged from the bathroom to find my two babies alone in the living room, front door wide open. He was gone, and I was with my children, devastated and hardly able to form a sensible thought.
      I tried blinking back tears as I tore through my closet, trying with all that I had, to throw a bag together for myself and my kids, so we could drive back to South Carolina a broken family. I called him, over and over again, no answer. And when he finally decided to pick up my call, I told him he needed to come home and say goodbye to his children.
      We didn't end up leaving that day. He somehow charmed me again, and I dealt with lies and mistrust and heartache for another five months before he eventually demanded a separation, and kicked our children and me out of our home.
      Two years later, I struggle to look past the hell and torment I was put through mentally and emotionally, and I struggle harder not to hate him. Because of him, I have these children, I remind myself, but it is still a battle I fight internally everyday, to not despise every fiber that makes him, him. It is for my children that I give my best efforts to tolerate him, but oftentimes, I feel it is all for naught.
      I hope my disclosures of an unhappy past will prove to be therapeutic. I do not want to carry this hatred always, and I certainly don't want my kids to pick up on it one day. It is sad and embarrassing for me, but it is a reality, something that I am trying to grow from and hopefully learn to forgive. I'm a long way away, but maybe one day.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Let all that you do be done in love.

      I remember taking the test on a whim, just to rule out another reason my body was acting weird.  Despite the fact that we'd been trying to get pregnant, I had confidence that it would surely be negative.  But then two, thin lines appeared on the test strip, and I slammed open the bathroom door to my husband, and screamed in excitement for him to look too.  Two lines indeed, and in an instant, I was lifted into his arms, and we were in newlywed,  parents-to-be bliss, as we spun 'round and 'round in the kitchen of our first home.  Just like it should be.
      "Where did that man go?", I wonder, only five years later.  That man, who breathed through contractions with me, and proudly helped me through years of breastfeeding and advocated to his work buddies how awesome cloth diapering was. Did I have him wrong all along, or can a person change so much, so fast?  This man loves his children, no doubt,  but he is not the man I envisioned as a father to my children.   That man would never childishly mock me in front of, or even to, my children.  That man would have always given his last penny to make sure all of their needs - not just wants - were met.  This man I know now refuses to pay child support, instead dropping cash on yet another toy, or Happy Meal,  or trip out of town.  He is the good guy, the fun daddy, and I get to be the mom who constantly must say no to another doll or dress,  or to eating fast food, or to buying expensive snacks at the grocery store.  I get to regularly hear,  "But Daddy ::insert whatever wonderful, expensive thing Daddy does here::". 
      My ex husband tells me I should be paying him child support, in spite of the fact that my kids spend at least 4 (and usually more like 5 or 6) nights at my house per week...  Or the fact that my income is a considerable amount less than his... Yes, in spite of these things, he feels I should be paying him child support.
      Generally speaking, I don't take time with my kids off for any reason, except work. On the rare occasion, like when I took a night off because I was in a wedding, I am always sure to pick up any extra time I can to make up for lost time. I do not give up nights with my kids weekly for date nights, or trips out of town, as has happened on the other side.  No, my date nights consist of a couple of drinks shared on the patio with my boyfriend, after wrangling the kids into bed, and soon after, crashing into bed to start all over again the next morning.  That is my life as a mommy, and I accepted that when I chose to bring little lives into this world.  When things come up, and my ex cannot, or will not, watch the kids during times when he is supposed to, it is my family to which this burden falls.  Time and again, my family takes on the extra time, despite what they may have going on in their own lives. I am so grateful for this, and yet, bear so much guilt for all of the help they provide.
      It is hard to co-parent because of the times when I must completely let go and trust that he will provide the attention and love that I know that I provide. When my daughter tells my boyfriend, "did you know my daddy doesn't love you or [your son]?", I cringe and wonder what else her innocent, little ears are hearing.  I find comfort in her following up with, "but that's okay, because I love you and [your son]", and I silently pray that she will always have the confidence and fortitude to have her own opinions.
      I know that, from experience, kids are very much aware of the negative things that one parent says about the other, and I know that all I can do is continue to express my frustrations into an outlet that my kids do not have to witness.  My hope is that one day, this will all become easier, for my kids, for me, for everyone involved.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

This night so still / For dawn does come swiftly

      When I used to be a stay at home mom, I didn't appreciate the gift I had. I heard all the time how fortunate I was to "have the luxury" to be a SAHM, and I knew from a financial standpoint, that I really was.  But I don't know that I ever really realized the incredible gift of time with my kids that I had. I spent a lot of my days tired and maybe a little grumpy. I felt like I was meant for so much more than "just" changing diapers and washing dishes. I was jealous of my then husband, who got to escape from the household and parenting duties to go play Army on the daily.  He got to engage in conversations with real, in the flesh, adults, and my social life ceased to exist outside of my laptop's keys.  The monotony of staying home with two small children in a place where I knew next to no one weighed heavy on me for sure, and I thought often of when I'd find myself back in a classroom or on somebody's payroll. I had no idea the incredible blessing that I was wishing away every single day.
      When my ex and I separated, I saw it as a blessing in disguise that I would have to find work immediately. I snagged a job very quickly that had me working 40+ hours a week, and I was grateful for the distraction from my crumbling marriage, and the cross country move I'd just made.  I made friends for the first time in my adult life where our only common ground wasn't just that we were married to the military.  Although in retrospect, these friendships were short lived, they were exactly what I needed at the time, and I keep them in a happy spot in the back of my head, grateful for the personal growth these friends unknowingly sparked in me.
      When I first because a single mom, I had the first opportunity to go out with friends, child free. It was new, different, and fun, and I was appreciative of the break it gave me from just being a mom 24/7.
      Time passed though, and the more "freedom" I got from "just being a mom", the more I yearned for the time when my only duty was showing my children my unending love.  Sure, I'd had household chores, and had handled the finances as a SAHM.  But what I'd never had to do was work multiple jobs, hardly see my children, and despite my best efforts, still have to figure out which bill was just not going to get paid this month.
      It is now, when the luxury of being a stay at home mom is so completely unattainable, that I yearn for it. I don't want to share my kids, and I don't like having to stuff their backpacks with the dolls and pajamas that they just don't want to go without while they're with Daddy or Grandma, or Aunt Heather.  I know it is silly to feel this way when I see my kids way more now than I did for ten very long months last year, but I still feel like I don't get nearly the time that I desire with them.  They are little for such a short time, and I feel it is slipping by in the hours while I work,  and it scares me. I know that one day, I will wake up, and it will be the morning of my daughter's graduation, and I will cry and wonder how in the world this day has already come. My son will announce an engagement to a future spouse, and I will think back to when his biggest worry was what spoon he was going to pick to eat his oatmeal.
      I wish I could quit my two jobs, or even just one, but I can't and will probably never be able to realistically do that.  I think back to when I longed to work outside the home, and I wish I could tell my former self how absolutely blessed I was. When I felt like I couldn't take one more temper tantrum or wet diaper, or one more episode of Elmo's World, I would tell 21-year-old me to cuddle closer, to sing those Laurie Berkner songs another time, and to push the double stroller around the block for just a few more loops.
      It is now when I would give up anything I could to just have my littles stay home with me all day long.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The bright moon is like our heart, undivided and true

With the six year anniversary of the first time I went to South Korea coming up in just 4 days, I've been thinking about my time there a lot in the last couple of weeks, and wishing my memories of it weren't fading as the years pass.

In the two years that I spent living in Korea, I complained a lot, and never, in a million years, would have convinced my 19-20 year old self that I would one day miss nearly everything about it.  My complaints weren't out of left field - there truly was a lot to complain about.

If you've never been to South Korea, then I could probably ramble for twenty minutes about the smell of the country, and still - you would be unable to truly grasp the pungent odor that radiates throughout the country.  Rice paddies are prevalent throughout the countryside in Korea, and farmers use manure - horse, cow, and yes, even human - to fertilize their crops.  Combine that with kimchi season, and you have a potent mixture that is truly unforgettable (and most certainly not in a good way).

I lived in the Nam-Gu district of Daegu, which is in the Gyeongsangbuk-do province.  It's pretty centrally located on the eastern side of the peninsula, not too far of a drive from the coast.  Of course, in South Korea, there's pretty much nothing that's too far of a drive.  Even North Korea's border was only about a six hour drive from our front door, which was as terrifying as it was fascinating.  Do you remember in 2009 when North Korea conducted a nuclear test?   I bet you don't, but I do.  It defined my life for several months, keeping me on my toes, and wondering constantly if I was going to be uprooted from my home and sent back to the states.  I was almost 6 months pregnant at the time, and I was ordered to pack my bags immediately, and to ensure that I packed enough food and water to last me for at least 72 hours.  A map from the military post nearby to the front door of my villa was turned into my ex husband's chain of command in case shit went down, so to speak, and they had to come find me to send me back overseas, out of danger.  It was unnerving to think about the very real possibilities that came with living in South Korea as a non-combatant and an American citizen.   And then there was the time in 2010 when a South Korean navy ship was sunk near the border between the North and the South.  There were the constant protests just outside of my house.  We were warned of them by the garrison commander almost daily, and told where they would be taking place.  Our orders were always to avoid the areas at all costs.  They protested tons of things from South Korean law to the president to things that hit very close to home, like the Anti-US protesters, who spewed their bitter anger at the Americans for bringing their bases to South Korea and invading their cities.  I'll probably never forget the time when my friend, Terri, and I were out shopping downtown one day either.  That day, we were followed and watched by two men in turbans and robes.  They were the men we all had been warned about when we first got to Korea.  These men were associated with Al-Qaeda, and their purpose was not to harm us or even speak to us, only to intimidate us, to silently let us know that they were around, and that their presence was alive and well.  Living overseas kept me on my toes, absolutely.

But it wasn't all scary either.  It was about a twelve minute walk from my front door to the metal gates that separated the little America that was Camp Walker from the rest of Daegu.  Almost daily, when I made those walks, I always happened to pass the boys and girls in their school uniforms, knapsacks cinched up high on their backs.  And always, always, they would run to my daughter in her stroller, gooing and gaaing at her, completely enamored with the "small white baby".  Then, they'd look at me and say "Hello, hello, how are you?" and whenever I'd answer back "fine" or "doing good, how are you?", they would dissolve in a fit of giggles and run away, totally amused that they were able to practice their broken English on an American woman.

I remember waking up just about every morning at dawn to the sound of loudspeaker fruit trucks.  Imagine it - a farmer's market on wheels with a megaphone for the driver to declare, very loudly, the day's specials.  I hardly knew the exact things they were saying since I was far from fluent in Korean, but being woken at the crack of dawn from the sounds of a loudspeaker is annoying, regardless of if you have any idea what is going on.  I remember my first experience with the loudspeaker trucks scared the hell out of me - as I was sure that they were announcing the fall of the president or the invasion of North Koreans.  I soon realized their apples and watermelons and potatoes and smelly, freshly caught fish were hardly something to be unnerved by.

The cicadas.  Oh good god, the cicadas.  The chirping, and the clicking.  This is something else that I will never forget about South Korea.  They are large bugs that live in the trees, and are actually pretty hard to see.  Their chirps, though, are about 75 decibels of loudness, and when you compare that to a cell phone ringer being somewhere around 70 decibels, you can probably imagine why hundreds of them are hard to forget.  Maybe you've heard them here in America, but believe me, I just don't think its possible to understand their true range of annoyance until you've stepped foot in Korea.

Sunsets in this country are another thing that I hope I can always remember.  They will knock your breath away with their beauty.  My favorite part of my home was the unbelievable view that it gave me to watch the sun go down every night.  The pastels of purples and oranges and reds blended together like they were painted perfectly above the mountain ranges.  Their allure was something I loved most, and miss truly, about Korea.

I find it truly awesome that my daughter will forever bear South Korea as her birth country, and where she spent the first eleven and a half months of her life.   It is here where I became a mother, and where she and I learned to face the world, mostly on our own.  You see, it seemed like my ex husband was hardly home.  His job kept him away until all hours of the night, and then there were the times when he was gone for weeks, playing army (or as they called it, "training" :-P) further up north.  I felt secluded from real life sometimes, as I sort of lived like a hermit when he was away.  We were always warned not to go out alone, so I was afraid to, afraid that I would somehow find myself in danger.  Aside from the warnings though, I was crippled by how young I was, and how little confidence I had in myself. I grew up in Korea, and I learned a lot.  One day, I hope that I can take my children back there, to show my daughter the hospital where she was born, and the 11th floor apartment where she took her first steps.  I want to show her the park she first rode on the swings at and the river that runs through the center of the city, the one that we used to walk past in her stroller.  I want her to experience the sights and the smells and the people, and to appreciate that at one time, this was home. 

"Welcome to Colorful Daegu"

남산 위에 저 소나무 철갑을 두른 듯
바람서리 불변함은 우리 기상일세
가을 하늘 공활한데 높고 구름 없이
밝은 달은 우리 가슴 일편단심일세

"As the pine atop Namsan Peak stands firm, unchanged through wind and frost,
as if wrapped in armour, so shall our resilient spirit.
The Autumn skies are void and vast, high and cloudless;
the bright moon is like our heart, undivided and true."

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Everyone falls and spins.

I've been thinking a lot about where I've been the last couple of years lately, and it felt like something I needed to get out.  A lot of my regular blog readers know most of my story, but as I know several of you reading this don't know me from Adam, I'll recount in a little more depth.

Around the time I got married in April of 2008, I weighed about 175 pounds, give or take a few.  My daughter, Cori was born in September of 2009, and I weighed 211 pounds the day she made her arrival.  Over the next 12 months, I managed to get down to 154 pounds, which is when my second child was conceived.  The day that my son, Avery, was born in June 2011, I weighed in at 224 lbs, which was certainly the most I'd ever weighed.  By September of 2012, I had lost 85 pounds through TurboFire and running (okay, and breastfeeding), and was 4 pounds shy of my ultimate goal of 135 pounds. During this month, my brother came home from Afghanistan, and oddly enough, my husband and I separated the same weekend. I was forced to move across the country with my 1 and 2 year old children, and start a new life sans husband/daddy. I had to go back to work since being a stay at home mom didn't pay the bills, and sadly, my son weaned as a result. 

Shortly after, I began a cycle of bad eating, binge drinking, failure to exercise, and a string of other bad habits. I found safety at the bottom of fruity, high calorie drinks that took the edge off of my marital worries, and when I found out about my husband's infidelity that he had covered up time and again, it was clear that our separation would soon become a divorce.  My picture perfect family was over.  My self esteem was at an all time low.  It was then that I tried to find beauty in myself, by finding myself in the beds of men I knew would never respect me.  I convinced myself that what I was doing was normal, not unhealthy at all, and that I was finding myself.  As it turned out, I did find myself, but not before plummeting to a complete depression at the person I had become and the dangerous lifestyle I had fallen into.  Over the previous 5 months, I had gained a total of 54 pounds, and had lost all self respect, with good reason.  Suffice it to say I was absolutely disgusted with myself.

In June 2013, I began training with two ROTC instructors from Furman University, working once again towards my goal of joining the US Army.  I worked with them for several months, and though I lost weight very slowly, and sometimes not at all, I found an unbelievable strength (and not just physical) through the weights I lifted.  I ended up losing about 12 or 13 pounds, and lingered just above 180 pounds.  I struggled hard to hit 165 pounds, the weight required for me to join the military, but I kept at it, and my recruiters and I made plans for me to hopefully leave for basic training over the next several months, so that I would be enrolled in the ROTC program at Furman by the next academic year.  When I blew my knee out in August of 2013, I knew my dreams of being a soldier were undoubtedly gone, but I focused on the injury and another distraction in my life, and didn't put too much thought into the sadness behind it all. 

Just a few short weeks before sustaining my injury, I met Spencer, and had no idea he was going to change my life in huge, huge ways.  We clicked immediately, and our undeniable chemistry had me constantly wanting more.  We took our friendship to the next level, and began dating by the end of August.  My surgery for my knee was in September of 2013, and thus began many grueling months of recovery, and tears, and pain.  In mid-January 2014, I ran for the first time, much to my physical therapist's dismay and something my surgeon had said I may not do again.  It felt incredible, and I knew I wasn't stopping.  I was careful not to re-injure myself, but was absolutely ready to continue my fitness journey, since I'd been sitting at 181 pounds pretty constantly for the last 7 or 8 months.  I was fortunate not to gain a single pound while I was laid up after my surgery. 

I picked up TurboFire off and on, always careful to keep everything low impact, but that didn't keep the workouts quite as fun, and it was harder for me to find motivation to do them.  Still, I kept at them, and also mixed in some of Jillian's 30 Day Shred.  Spencer and I started running together too, something I have loved from the first time we did it.  He motivates me to push harder, and take that extra stride when I'm out of breath and dying to quit.  We don't get to do it much, since we have three little kids between us, but when we do, I really cherish it.

Now that it is April 2014, I am at 165 pounds, and happier than I have ever actually been.  I still have a lot of very real struggles that come with single parenthood, but I am happy with where my life is at, and where I see that it is going.  I have slowly rebuilt my self esteem and when my boyfriend tells me that I'm beautiful (something I haven't heard nor believed in many, many years) or what an incredible mother I am (something I'd never heard), I actually believe him.  I have much respect for the journey my life has taken me on over the years, including the struggles and the triumphs.  I get to wake up to a house full of love, my beautiful children, and my incredible man.  Through the struggle, I never saw myself here, but here I am.  I don't necessarily strive to be 135 pounds again because I've learned through my fitness adventure how little the number on the scale really means, but I do look forward to getting in better and better shape every day, to defining my muscles, and getting stronger, physically and mentally. 

The struggle makes the success even sweeter, my friends.  The struggle makes the success so sweet.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Little Razorblade

I knew this girl once, like a sister.  She knew exactly how to get under my skin, to make me feel inferior, disguised with a friendly, helpful mask.  She was the person I had when I had no one else.  At the pit of my divorce, when friends were scarce and family was far, I turned to she-who-had-ultimately-betrayed-me because no one else was around.  I looked past the whining and the irritation and, time after time, I looked past her multiple betrayals because I just needed someone.  When I gained the confidence to stand up for myself, I set myself apart from the friendship, if that's what you could call it.  I told her it was time for us to part ways, and despite her begging, I told her the relationship was hurting me too much for it to continue.  Once I separated myself from her, I felt like I was finally able to breathe.  My esteem soared and I realized that all that time, she had dragged me through the mud to make herself feel only better.  Months have passed since we last spoke, and all in all, I am a much happier, more positive person.  So why do I still miss her?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Scars are not injuries. A scar is what makes you whole.

If you go back through my blogs to not-so-long-ago, there's a post that was written by a sad, lost, and utterly heartbroken me.  It detailed the feelings surrounding what I went through when I found out that my husband cheated on me, that things were really over between us, and I couldn't, for even a moment, bring myself to believe there was life on the other side.  I can't believe how much I've grown since that post was written just last April, but I am so, so proud of myself.

I was still reeling from the terrible feelings of my ex husband's infidelity until pretty recently, until I really stopped to think about why it still bothered me so much.  As I've said many times in my blog, and as I can only imagine I will say many, many more times, everything happens for a reason, and I stand by it.  Divorce is a nasty animal, and I wouldn't ever try to pretend that I didn't take part in the bitter, ugly slur fest that went on in my own divorce.  When you're in the depths of love, you don't picture yourself calling your husband horrible, nasty names or wishing things upon him that no one should have to hear.  And I don't think it's ever one sided - it happened to me, just like I did it back to him.  Everyone tells themselves and those around them that they'll be the ones who never face divorce, that they'll beat all odds.  And then when they are staring it in the face, their tune changes in that they'll never be the people that have a angry, difficult divorce.  It happens, and I've come to believe that it's all a part of the process of getting through it.

I forgive him for everything that happened.  I didn't think I'd ever live to see the day when I really meant that, but I do.  It doesn't matter what happened or why, just that it did, and we both survived.  Sure, we didn't survive together, but we weren't meant to, and that's okay.

When I fell in love at 15, and got married at 18, and even when I had my first child at 19, I thought I was the luckiest person in the whole world.  I was in love and our love had no boundaries.  We were perfect.  Perfect for that stage of my life.  I shrugged off the opinions of people who told me that I'd change a whole lot in my 20s and that things I desired when I was 17 (and newly engaged) wouldn't at all be things I'd want for myself when I was in my mid-20s.  If I could go back in time, I know I still wouldn't believe those people, and I'm okay with that.  I could never regret falling in love at 15, or getting married, or having two kids at such a young age, and I especially couldn't regret going through a separation at 22 and subsequent divorce at 23.  Nobody wants those things for their life, and certainly no one plans on those things happening.  But, me?  I can't imagine my life without that love, or those kids, or the traveling I did in southeast Asia because of my marriage, or the heartache I went through for so long after my marriage crumbled.  It all shaped me, made me who I am.  I'm far from perfect, and still changing as I grow, but that's who I am, and I'm pretty happy with who I see looking back at me in the mirror. 

If I had to tell my ex husband just one thing, it would be, without a doubt, 'thank you'.  Thank you for growing up with me, for taking my hand and being by my side as we guided each other through life during those eight years.  We grew apart and fell out of love, but what we did have was exactly what it was meant to be.I only hope that one day, you find love again.  I hope that you find the kind of love that shakes you from your very core, wraps you in its arms, and makes it so that everything else in your life that isn't that love, looks just a little bit blurrier.  Everyone should get to feel that kind of love in their life time.

I was nearly a child when I experienced falling in love for the first time.  I had no realistic idea of what adulthood would bring, but my first love changed me undeniably, and I learned a lot about life from it.  Now that I've fallen in love for only the second time in my life, it's unreal that it is so very different.  It makes me feel completely unlike my first love, very different, neither good nor bad, almost incomparable in fact.
At 24 years old, I look into a pair of eyes and see absolute warmth that I can't believe I ever lived without.  I can't, nor do I want to imagine my life any different from exactly how it is at this very moment.  I have two unbelievably smart, kind, beautiful children. They have not just one incredible male role model, their father, but two, to include the man I love, who has nearly submerged himself in the 'stepparent' role.  My children get to look up to two successful, respectable, kind, and loving men, and I think they're pretty lucky for that.  I hope that one day, they'll see their daddy fall in love like they've seen their mommy, and life for them will just be normal having two sets of parents. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

All you need is a little conviction.

If you've never gone through a divorce, there really isn't any way you could ever understand the emotional toll it takes, the way you feel battered and beaten to the core.  If you've never been cheated on, someone's explanation of such a thing doesn't carry the nausea, the confusion, the broken heart the moment you find out, and the lingering questions of how and why.  It takes time to move on, but it's possible.  Feelings are long gone, but the pain stings for awhile more, the fear and the 'what ifs' of future fuck ups.  I told myself the past can't control the present, but I'll be damned if that's not the hardest thing I face.  I've been through enough, the product of a cheating marriage and subsequent divorce, but my consternation holds me back from living forward.  I said I'd prove them all wrong, have the happy marriage from the example that was never set.  All wrong though, I was just like the others, incapable of sustaining a family.  I tried, and failed, and still, it stings.  If I'd been told years ago it'd all fall apart, I wouldn't have believed them, would have laughed in their faces.  Fear controls me now, and it's all but fair.  My past shouldn't have the power, but I'm having to learn, trial and error, how to allow a new love to blossom. 

In spite of it all, in spite of all the hurt I've faced, I am lucky.  I am loved, and I am lucky.  He is my hope, my breath of fresh air after such a long suffocation.  Through him, with him, I see love, and smiles, and laughs.  Just let it be, Hilary, just let it be.  Don't stifle happiness and that which is meant to be, with your unnerving fear of failure.  You know that feeling you get around him?  When you look in his eyes, and your heart starts pounding; all of the sudden, you feel like you're free falling, and your insides are stirring, wanting more.  Allow yourself to feel that, fears aside.  Believe in love.  Picture your life as you want it, and make your dreams come true.  Trust undeniably that good things can happen.  Love exists, but, Hilary, you've got to have a little faith.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Never enough.

Broken words
   and vows
   that scream.

Not enough,
   not ever enough.

Time ticks on,
   but the memory fades.

No more sorrow,
   no more pain.

Dusk draws closer,
   while dawn awaits.

My heart breathes hope,
    fueled by passion.

His touch brings warmth,
   to love, to life.

Enough, I said,
   I am enough.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The guy grabs the girl and gives her his hand...

And he took me away from that torturous land.

When I met Spencer, I was in such a strange spot.  I had not only been recently broken up with, but to really make things fun, I was just a month out from my divorce being finalized.  I remember seeing his pictures when he first messaged me on a dating website.  His profile didn't especially stick out to me, but I thought he was cute and seemed down to earth.  I wish, so much, that I could read those first messages back and forth between us now, to see what kind of sparks we had, what kind of things we talked about during those initial introductory messages.  I know the conversation must have gone well because we exchanged numbers fairly quickly, and began to text pretty much constantly.  We started talking on a Saturday morning because I remember him telling me "I better go, time to play Daddy for awhile, but I'll text you later on".  For some reason, it melted me a little bit.  He was a proud daddy, not afraid to let me know that his son came first.

We met in person within our first week of meeting online, and I can still remember the day very well.  We met at Carolina Ale House in downtown Greenville.  When I came up the stairs that day, he sat at the bar to my right, chatting with an acquaintance he'd run into.  I was nervous that day, afraid I wouldn't recognize him when I saw him in person, but I saw his smile immediately, and knew it was Spencer.  At the time, I never imagined he'd one day be my Spencer.  Our conversation was warm that night, with so much laughter, and so much chemistry.  We moved from upstairs to downstairs, and stayed for several hours.  When we left to walk to our cars, I remember wanting to kiss him so much.  The spark between us had been obvious, but my nerves kept me from leaning in for anything more than a hug.

Our texting conversations exploded from there.  I left for Louisiana within the next couple of days, and we talked our fingers off.  I swear we could have sent a thousand text messages for every day that I was away.  We grew close, despite the distance, and my heart made room for sweet Spencer.  For many weeks, we tested boundaries, and tried not to hurt each other.  We each had our own baggage, but we were two people who needed each other, whether it was for love or for friendship.

I don't know what made me recollect those memories, but they make me happy to think upon.  It's a bit unbelievable that I have fallen so hard in love with a man in so little time.  It's scary and wonderful and perfect.  He took my hand, and guided me away from a place where I didn't know what was up and what was down.  He wrapped me in his love, and he wiped away my fears.

Yesterday, he wrote a poem that turned my heart into a thousand little butterflies that floated up high into the stars.  It was perfect.  I feel like the luckiest lady on the planet with Spencer by my side.