The Common Gentlewoman

A raw look into the lives of completely ordinary women.

The Hardest Goodbye

I sit here with my oldest companion, Jesse James.  He’s my 15 year old Boston Terrier.  He came to my family when I was 15 years old and finishing my sophomore year in High School.  When I moved off campus my third year of college, he moved in with me.  He was 5 years old when I met my (now) husband.

As I (attempt) to work, I am waiting on a call from our vet to schedule a time to put Jesse to sleep.  The last 6-8 months have been hard for us both.  His slow aging has picked up speed, and he’s declining at a faster rate.  He’s not going to get better, so the best we can hope for is that he doesn’t get worse – but he will.  That’s just reality.  Some days are better than others, but the good days are fewer in number and farther apart.

What makes this decision so hard is that he’s not physically suffering – at least not in a substantial way.  He has another bladder infection – one we’ve treated a number of times due to some bladder issues – and the antibiotics make him a little queasy.  Nothing major – just have to make sure he doesn’t eat too fast while he’s on them or else he won’t keep his food down.  In a couple weeks, he’ll be done and back to “normal” – which in our case means he has lost all control over his bladder and bowels, sleeps for ~20 hours a day, and spends his few waking hours mostly pacing around out of confusion before he wears himself out and goes back to sleep.

Truth is, I could put it off – he does have a few good days left.  But how many days of confusion, exhaustion, and any other anguish he may be under will he have to live through to see those few good days?  Too many, I think.  He’s had 15 years and 4 months of (mostly) good days.  He’s had more adventures than the average dog – he’s gone to college, and logged many a mile riding shotgun in my car on various trips and moves.  He’s saved me from myself during my darkest moments in life, and shared with me in the brightest.

To say he’s like my child is too trite to describe the reality.  Truth is, he is a part of me.  He didn’t just witness the monumental changes that one goes through between the ages of 15 and 30 – he help shape me in the midst of those changes.  When he goes, so will a part of myself.  I can’t say goodbye to him any more than I could to a limb that is about to be amputated.

I write this now because I am still in a state of numbness and denial.  I’ve shed some tears, no doubt, but not enough.  However, I know that once it is all over, and once he is truly gone, I won’t be able to write this for a long time.  So I’m doing it now, while I can.

I looked for quotes on death and loss that could describe what I want to say to him, but the only thing that even comes close is the the farewell speech given by the First Doctor to his granddaughter as she left the TARDIS and everything she’d known behind.

This is for you, Jess:

During all the years I’ve been taking care of you, you in return have been taking care of me. You are still my grandchild and always will be. But now, you’re a woman too. I want you to belong somewhere, to have roots of your own. With David you will be able to find those roots and live normally like any woman should do. Believe me, my dear, your future lies with David and not with a silly old buffer like me. One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine.  ~The First Doctor, Doctor Who

Looking for more Gentlewomen

We are looking to expand our writing staff!

The purpose of this blog is to create a space where we can give insight into a group of diverse, but otherwise ordinary, women.  To be a place where women from all walks of life can come find stories that provide comfort, inspiration, entertainment or camaraderie.   This is not a place where we want to define what it means to “be a woman” so much as to show the varying experiences of women who are living each day the best they can.

 

And for us to be successful in this mission, it means we need to expand our pool of women as much as possible.  That means YOU, yes YOU!

 

Do I need to have previous writing experience?  

Absolutely not – we just want to hear about your life experiences!!

 

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There are no set deadlines or rules about how often you need to post!  You can post as little or as much as you’d like.  In fact, you can even share older posts from your personal blog if you’d like!

 

How do I become a Common Gentlewoman?

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If you have other questions, concerns, or suggestions, please just email us at thecommongentlewoman AT gmail DOT com

Social Anxiety and The Move

Mr. and Mrs. StellsBells are now (at least temporary) residents of Nashville.  We’ve been here a few months now, and I think I might have a few minutes to get my thoughts together and write about it.

The move was HARD, but not in the ways either of us expected – but that’s a whole other post.  This one is about me and my social anxiety disorder.

While I was officially diagnosed with SAD in college, it’s something that I’ve always known I had.  I can remember as a child being afraid of even extended family members I didn’t know well.   Not afraid in that way that people say kids have a “sixth sense” about people – it was a sheer terror of anyone I didn’t have a lot of interaction with.  Even if I saw them every day, if I didn’t have that constant interaction so that I felt I “knew” them, I was terrified.  I also knew, even as a very young kid, this was not normal.  I didn’t want to be so afraid – and I knew I had no reason to be afraid.  I just was.

When I was older, I can remember trying to sell various knickknacks to pay for school or church group trips – and by try I mean I would get a friend to sell mine with theirs or get my mom to do it.  Once I joined a group of friends to sell discount cards for a school trip outside the local Wal-Mart, and I spent the entire afternoon trying to avoid all contact with strangers.  I did food runs or organized the money-box – whatever it took to avoid asking a benign question of people getting groceries on a Saturday in our small town.

Since I had a keen sense of self-awareness that this wasn’t “normal”, I decided that I needed to learn to “get over it”.  Easier said than done, but I figured I had to at least try.  I went to college where I didn’t know a single person. Scary?  Absolutely.  I had a panic attack toward the end of orientation that resulted in me throwing a temper tantrum that would put most toddlers to shame.  Luckily, my mom is pretty awesome and although she was pretty ticked and embarrassed, she realized what was going on shortly after that and handled it like a champ.  My mom is pretty awesome, by the way.

The point is, I’ve always pushed outside of my comfort zone as much as possible – sometimes too far – to help overcome this issue.  I worked retail throughout college.  After I graduated, I worked as a agency recruiter for a pretty large staffing firm.  Stuff you would never expect someone with SAD would be able to do, but I did.  Not without stress and hardship, but I did it nonetheless.

I spent a good 7 years building my life in Dallas.  I made really close friends, joined volunteer groups, and even was in a book club.  Most people think that those of us with SAD are all introverted hermits who avoid all human contact as much as possible.  That isn’t necessarily the case – I mean I’m sure some of us are that way, but some of us are social creatures who crave human interaction just like any other person.  We just have a hard time letting that guard down around people we don’t know.  I loved my social life back home – it was busy and full of fun things with people who I knew I could be myself around.  That took 7 years to achieve, although some of that was me growing up.

Now I live here, where I know a total of three people in the entire city, and they were only “friends” in a social media sort of way before we moved.  A best friend’s best friend (and husband) and an old friend from high school I hadn’t seen, if I had to guess, in 7-10 years.   And I don’t want to complain too much – at least we know someone here.  There are cities where that wouldn’t have been the case.  But, these are people with lives of their own here, and therefore can’t be our only source of social interaction, no matter how much I’d like it.

I’m also lucky that I have Mr. StellsBells to hang out with.  And my dogs.  And I am working from home (thanks to an awesome employer) so I have human interaction through that.  I know a few (great and caring) people are “worried” about how I’ll adjust with the new situation.  I am too, but there is some freedom in this.  It’s the same freedom I found when I left my small town for college.

When no one (statistically) knows you, and there’s no chance I’ll run into someone from work, you can be whomever and whatever you want.  I can go to the grocery store without a shower because, who cares?  Who are these people to judge me?  I’m anonymous, at least for now.  In Dallas, there was a 50-75% chance we’d run into someone we knew at the grocery store on any given trip…not here.

But it’s hard when all your really good friends are so far away.  Texts, phone dates and Facebook chats are great.  I mean I probably talk to some of my friends much more now that we don’t see each other very often, but it’s not the same.  I miss going to the bar to people watch and listen to terrible karaoke with MJ.  I miss walking around the pond with AP.  I miss happy hours and goofy dinners with ML and her husband.  I miss my book club, with its silly drama, and concerts with JH.  I miss the parties hosted/thrown by one really awesome wedding planner and her friends.  I miss my volunteer work.  I miss my Monday night yoga class.

That being said, I know I’ll be fine.  If I make friends here, great!  But if not, I know I have some good ones scattered across the country.  Let’s be honest, the few people mentioned above are only the ones who have lived (or do live) in Dallas.

I’ve decided that this is a time where I can take a break from being “StellsBells” and focus on myself.  I need to get in shape (I have lost a few pounds, but I’ve recently fallen off the workout wagon….so I need to get back on that).  I have a list of 30-40 books I want to read at the local library.  I have video games to catch up on and blogging to do.  Nashville will never be home, but it’s where I’ll be for at least the next year, so I might as well enjoy what I can.

Handing Off The “Crazy Person” Baton

~ allposters.com

I remember the first time it occurred to me that something might not be “right” with my husband. It came a few months after I myself had started some deep soul searching, sorting out of my own plethora of issues, cutting damaging people out of my life, and forgiving those who’d harmed me. In hindsight, I know I didn’t see all the signs because back in those first few years of marriage and during our dating life, I was the one with the most noticeable problems. I was the girl from the broken home, with anger issues, a penchant for dating bad guys who hurt me, and a general feeling of worthlessness. My problems were never easily hidden. I was a classic case of “Daddy Issues” and you could spot my “crazy” a mile away.

So maybe that’s why I never noticed his “crazy”. We’d both been so busy surviving mine that his always seemed kind of normal. His seemed only a response to my own drama. They slipped by unnoticed in the manic swirl that was my emotional state for too many years before I broke free of the bondage and found healing and a way of coping.

And it was then that I first thought…

“Is he…bipolar?”

~ health101.net

The subject was a tender one, fraught with my understanding that this wasn’t going to be easy to broach. In the midst of each fight, now centered around his “crazy person” behavior, rather than my own (for the first time since we’d met), I fought the urge to scream, “Don’t you realize you’re angry for nothing?? Nothing happened!!! Why are you yelling??? Why are you so angry??? We were just sitting here having dinner and you snapped!! What are you doing???”

Some days I screamed these things at him, and some days I didn’t. Progressively I distanced myself from him emotionally: a way of protecting myself from his severe fluctuations in mood and demeanor. And when I did speak up, I spoke up for our daughter, a slender reed being tossed in the wind of both our “crazy” since her birth, but she’ll never remember mine because she was only an baby. Now 5, I knew she would remember his.

So, we fought. And we cried. And we wanted to give up. And it wasn’t until both myself and our daughter were gone and a separation was officially announced to close family and friends that he agreed to do something I’d been begging him to do for nearly 3 years: find a psychiatrist, get a diagnosis.

~ beliefnet.com

The news wasn’t shocking to either of us. At this point, he too had come to realize that maybe something wasn’t quite “right”. He’d say to me, choking back tears and eyes reddening, “I don’t know why this is happening. Everything was fine. I was okay. It’s just…now there’s all this sadness in my head. I can’t stop remembering…remembering things…things I don’t think I’m ready to talk about. Things I’m afraid to talk about.”

When the diagnosis finally came down, I breathed a sigh of relief. But he exhaled and broke down sobbing. “This is it.” he cried. “All my life I thought this was normal. I did EVERYTHING I could to keep everything in check and under control. And now? Now I can’t control this. My whole life is a lie! My whole life I thought I knew who I was, but all along this was controlling me. My life is a lie.”

With the diagnosis, came the recommendation of medication to manage the chemical imbalances he was wrestling with. He reasoned, “Maybe if the meds don’t work it just means I’m not bipolar, but I do have some issues to work out.” He was hopeful for that. He could accept that a childhood of physical, emotional, mental, and verbal abuse was causing him to lash out at the world around him, but he still couldn’t accept that there was something else there hindering his healing from those childhood traumas.

~ ojogbon

I held him as he sobbed in our bed, as he’d done for me for so long. I looked past his sudden snaps of rage, bore the brunt of his anger, and found new ways to shield our daughter from it. This time he was more open to my chiding, my guidance, my advice, and most importantly, my love. This time it was I being the strong one; a new role I’m still not quite used to, but I’m trying.

Together we’re a few months into his diagnosis, his medication (which is working), and his bi-weekly meetings with his psychiatrist. When the meds started balancing his moods and helping him express his feelings without “going off the deep end”, he knew it before I did. He came to me one night after dinner, sat down beside me, lowered his eyes, and whispered, “The medicine is working. I feel...different. It’s like before I couldn’t change the channel when the rage or the depression came on. And now…I can change the channel. I’ve never felt this way before. For the first time…I feel…hope.”

And I held him. And I kissed him. And I cried with him.

~ flickr

I’m handing off the “crazy person” baton as he runs the next leg of this race to mental and spiritual health. But this time, he’s not alone. I’m running beside him, I’m cheering him on, and I believe in him. And together we’ll cross that finish line. And together we’ll be alright.

A Box of Diapers and a Fork in the Road

I’m a mom. I love being a mom. And even though some days my life is barely controlled chaos (as life with three children under five tends to be), I love having my tribe of littles. My youngest (“Niblet”) is in that wonderful stage of babydom when everything is happiness and her personality is really starting to show itself. She is a cheerful and, for the most part, easy going baby girl. She’s pretty much the ideal type of baby, even if I do say so myself.

Recently Niblet finally outgrew her size 1 diapers, which left us with a box of size 1’s, completely unopened and ready to use, and a question. What do we do with this box? Every time before, if we had leftover diapers after one of the girls had outgrown a size, we just kept them because we knew we were planning on more kids. Diapers don’t expire, so we just stored them until we needed them again (though admittedly I don’t think we’ve ever had this many left over before). This time though, it’s not a sure thing. We have three great kids and the prospect of number four is not the certainty that numbers two and three were. I would be happy to add one more munchkin to the mix, but my husband isn’t so sure. At best, he’s still sort of ambivalent about the idea.

So what do we do with this box of diapers? For the moment, it’s sitting in our garage. I don’t want to get rid of it before we’ve come to a decision, since if we do have one more, we’ll most certainly use those diapers and diapers are expensive. Also, to me at least (and this very well may be some level of hormones talking), if I pass the diapers along to someone else it’s like saying, “Yeah, you know what, we are done,” and I don’t know that I’m there yet. Yes, I know that if we did end up with one more new baby it is easy to go out and buy a new box (and frankly, several new boxes) of diapers, but it’s the symbolism of the whole thing for me. The giving away of the box of diapers would be like an unspoken “The way is shut!” in my mind. Granted, we will probably need to make up our minds here relatively soon, since we want to be done with the whole business of making new babies by the time we’re 30, but for now it’s still up in the air. Do we have baby #4 or not?

So that’s where we’re at. There is a box of diapers sitting in our garage just waiting. Whether it’s waiting for one more of our babies or for some other baby entirely, has yet to be seen.

On Being 30

I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching in the last few months because I’ve been a) sick and b) without a job. The without a job part isn’t entirely true because I’ve been waiting tables while figuring out my next career move after being laid off from a position where I was under appreciated and underpaid. While I was happy to leave, I wasn’t exactly jumping for joy at the fact I’d been laid off. I always wanted to leave on my own terms.

Maggie Seaver of Growing Pains, a master of balancing home and work life.

A common theme that arises amidst my soul-searching is the fact that life past 25 really hasn’t turned out how I’d expected, for better or for worse. I never imagined one day I’d grow up to live in Manhattan at 30 as a singleton and at crossroads in my career. No, when I was small and imagined what life would be like as an adult, I imagined I’d get married right out of college, have some kids while still being a very successful career woman (thanks 80s sitcoms), and retire around 45.

Of course, I recognize the latter idea of adulthood is very naive and unrealistic, but that’s what happens when you’re five and you imagine what life will be like as a grownup. My only frame of reference for adulthood was my older babysitter from the local college whom I thought was a full-blown adult. She had her own car, her own apartment, and made the best mixed tapes, things I’d only dreamed of. As far as I was concerned, being in college was the same as being married and having children. I had no idea college would turn out to be a weird purgatory between my youth and whatever I decided to do next. I also didn’t realize it would be the source of so many great lifelong friendships.

Me, graduating college.

Me, graduating college.

When I graduated from college at the age of 21, I thought I had arrived. I had my bachelors degree, I was in a “serious relationship”–this was it! Hello, adulthood! We’d stay together forever, I’d land a teaching job as I’d always dreamed, and we’d all live happily ever after. As I soon found out, that wasn’t going to happen. Instead, I moved out onto my own to the east coast and embraced my 20s as a time to try on many different hats.

Now that I’m 30, I still don’t have the answers. I’ll admit, it was hard for me to turn 30. (I may or may not have even shed a few tears.) Not because I felt old, but because 30 sounded much older than I felt inside. 30 year-olds are supposed to have retirement plans and masters degrees and should be well into their careers and maybe even married, or something. These are all things I don’t have and am not. Yet, anyway. 

30 and learning to ride!

30 and learning to ride!

As I approach my 31st birthday, I realize that none of these notions are true. 30 year-olds aren’t supposed to be anything. Neither are 25 year-olds or 65 year-olds. This generation has redefined adulthood and there are no benchmarks for what any of us is supposed to do at any time. I think of my mom who got a PhD in her 50s and my grandma who started writing a newspaper column in her 80s. Really, you can do anything at any time. What works for one person at one time might not work for another.

I’m also realizing that it’s my attitude towards being a thirty-something that needs to change. I’m not old and I haven’t missed the boat on any life-altering opportunities. But I might if I keep up this defeatist attitude.

People still almost fall out of their seats when I tell them I’m 30. “You can’t be older than 24,” most people say. I’m flattered, but I think I look young because I’ve been blessed with good skin and I smile more than your average New Yorker. It’s flattering to be carded when out drinking with friends, but all-in-all I’m happy to be 30 and not 21. I’m embracing this new notion of what it means to be an adult and I’m sure it will be a lifelong journey.

How I Earned the Nickname “MacGyver”

Well, the StellsBells family is officially living in Nashville – and now I have a whole host of material to blog about as time goes on.

In the interim, I thought I would tell you an amusing story from my past.  It’s my favorite icebreaker story, and one that always reminds me that NOTHING is as hopeless as it seems.

______________________________________________________________

How I Earned the Nickname “MacGuyver”

 

My sophomore year in college, I decided that I needed some adventure.  At the behest of a good friend, I applied to an internship program at our university that would allow a small group of students to live in Washington DC for an entire semester while working full-time internships in our nation’s capitol.  I honestly did not think I would get accepted – and I cried with joy the day I received the letter saying I did.

A week after I celebrated my 20th birthday, I flew out of Houston with my best friend – both of us filled with equal parts excitement and complete fear of the unknown.  We settled into a fully furnished two bedroom / two bath apartment with two other female students, and thus began one  of the best 4 months of my life.

I worked 40 hours a week at a private woman’s political club in DC in Dupont Circle.  I rode the metro to and from work, and we spent our weekends exploring the city.  Luckily for us, most of the attractions were free, since most of us were not getting paid for our work (but we were getting class credit, which seemed fair at the time).

Thanksgiving fell less than 4 weeks before the end of our program, and I was the only one in my apartment who did not travel to see family over the break.  Two of my roommates flew back to Texas for several much needed days at home (we were all homesick for good Tex-Mex and our family & friends by then) and the other roommate had extended family in Virginia, where she was spending a couple of days before returning for the weekend.

I, on the other hand, had barely been able to afford my plane ticket home, and as a result I was spending my Thanksgiving alone in our apartment.  I decided to make the most of my alone time by cooking my favorite Thanksgiving dish (Cornbread dressing) and spending the day pigging out while watching Reality TV marathons on Bravo and VH1.  It was glorious.  Late that afternoon, a gust of wind blew the balcony door open, and as I walked to the door to close it, I realized how beautiful the view was.  We were on the 17th story of a high-rise in Bethesda, and our balcony faced north, so there was that East Coast fall foliage as far as the eye could see.   I decided that it was the perfect place to sit and call my friends and family to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving.

So, I sat in one of the camping chairs that our smoker roommate had purchased for our balcony, shut the door, and made a few calls.

After an hour or so of gabbing, laughing, and “I love you”s, I got up  to go back inside and finish my dressing and TV shows.

And that is when I realized that the door that blew open was locked.  Apparently, the smoker had locked the door behind her before she left that morning, but the door didn’t latch. (PS – who locks the balcony door on the 17th story, anyway?).  When the wind blew the door open, I just assumed it was unlocked, and when I shut the door, it latched.  I was locked out, on Thanksgiving Day, on my 17th story balcony.  All I had on me was my cell phone and the clothes I was wearing (t-shirt, jeans, and underwear…I was completely barefoot, and the temperature was in the low 50s and dropping).

The sun was going down, and because I had watched too many “Hunting Safety” videos in middle school, I knew that sleeping on the balcony in my current state would probably end up with my getting hypothermia (or at least I was convinced that was the case).  I tried calling my roommates to get the pager number of the local grad student who was on emergency “RA” duty for the program, but no one had saved it in their phones (instead it was “conveniently” placed on our fridge inside the apartment).

I tried opening the windows that lead to our roommate’s bedroom, but they were locked too.  After another hour or so of frenzied attempts of getting back into the apartment, the sun was officially setting, and I was starting to get really cold.  I sat down, pulled my arms and legs inside the thin T-shirt I was wearing, and weighed my options.

I had two choices – I could use one of the chairs to break the glass on the balcony door.  This option also meant I would have to pay for said damage, and I knew I couldn’t afford that.  Option two involved calling 911.  While this seemed a somewhat sensible solution – my anxiety riddled brain had decided that this was not an option.  I figured that since Thanksgiving is usually a slow news day, that the 20-year-old who had to have the fire department come rescue her off her own balcony would be just the kind of story some bored local newsroom would want to report on – and I was NOT going to be that helpless girl on the news who had to be rescued like some kitten stuck in a tree.

So, I shivered, and pondered.  I looked at the door, again.  Weighing the cost of breaking the glass versus the cost of sleeping on the balcony.  My roommate in Virginia was returning the next day after lunch, so if I could last less than 24 hours, she would be able to free me.  That’s when I noticed the keyhole.

See, I was just assuming that because the door was an exterior door, the keyhole would look like this:

And my keys to the apartment were inside, of course.

I finally realized, though, that the door knob was that of an interior door – so the key hole looked like this:

All the sudden my childhood ability to unlock my sibling’s bedroom doors with a wire hanger might come in handy!

Now this was a lock I could pick!  I was so excited that it took me a few minutes to realize that I didn’t have anything with which I could pick the lock.  There was no wire hanger or paper clip lying around outside, and despite a through search, I did not have a bobby pin hiding in my pockets or hair.

I sat back down and began my best Winnie the Pooh impression (“Think, think, think…”).

Now, one of those little moments in life that I love the most are the lightbulb moments.  Those times when a great idea hits you like a ton of bricks, and you’re immediately able to solve whatever problem is in front of you.  I love those moments.  And the lightbulb moment that followed is one of my all time favorites.

As I riddled my brain with everything around me to find something that was thin enough, strong enough, and long enough to fit in that key hole (THAT’s WHAT SHE SAID!), I started to inventory everything around me.  EVERYTHING.  And then it hit me, I had the perfect lock picking device.  I was wearing an underwire bra.

So, I proceeded to remove my bra, chew through the fabric, and remove the underwire – which I used to easily pick the lock and let myself back inside before the sun officially fell behind the horizon.

I was chilled to the bone, and I had destroyed my favorite bra – but I made it back inside.

I proceeded to call all of my roommates to let them know that I was safe and sound…which meant I had to tell them the story of how I picked the lock and made it back  inside.

Once everyone returned on Monday, my story had spread among the other students in our group, and that’s when I was given the nickname MacGuyver.

From this point on I’ve always checked to see if the door is locked before I close it, and I’ve always made sure I was wearing a bra that had an underwire.  Just in case.

 

The Everyday Madness Of Giving Up

~ SodaHead.com

It was cold and rainy in East Memphis, just three short months ago. For the first time that day, ice was melting and dripping from the trees, soaking the pavement below it. If you stepped outside, you’d swear it was a downpour. But where the rain had let off, the melting ice had picked up. We’d been going on 4 days of this kind of weather. Those in the Northeast are probably used to this sort of thing. But here in the Mid-South, we aren’t, and we sit at our windows, and duck between our cars and our back doors with grumbles and mumbles and sighing, anticipating a return to a more dry Winter and eventual Spring.

That day was  ordinary in nearly every way. Fix breakfast, shower, feed and walk the dog, homeschool my daughter, do a bit of housework; everything has a place and a place for everything in my life. But one thing was out of place, much like the rainy, dreary weather we in the Mid-South have been plagued with as of late: this was not my home, this was not my schedule, and although it would appear so, this was not supposed to be my life.

The day after Thanksgiving of last year I separated from my husband, my daughter’s father. I’d temporarily moved back home (the first time being back there for this long in 10 years) and while I was so glad to be surrounded by the love and support of family and friends, I felt displaced. And I was consumed with one thought: I’m a failure, because I’m on the cusp of giving up on my marriage.

As a product of a “broken home”, I swore this would never be me. I chose my spouse carefully and happily. He and I were less in love than we were compatible, and where the “love” waned, our commitment to our family and our daughter always remained. The last 7 years have been difficult, as they are in all long term relationships, but despite those difficulties, I stood firm in my resolve: I’m no quitter.

~ DivorcingMrWrong.com

But when you suspect an affair, when the solutions to your problems never come to fruition, when you’re tired of the fighting, when you wake up late at night wondering who you are, how you got to this point, and if this is as good as it gets, those resolutions not to walk away seem a lot less appealing. And it’s at that point you have to make a decision: stay and hope for the best, or leave and hope for better.

There’s an everyday sort of madness to giving up on your marriage. It’s sad. It’s disappointing. And it’s scary. But, sometimes giving up is necessary; maybe not forever, but for a little while. And despite what we want and what we’re comfortable with, sometimes the world has to ice over around you and force you to make the kind of changes you’ve been too afraid to make in the past. Much like the weather in East Memphis that day, my heart was frozen over and my life was at a standstill.

Ultimatums had to be made. In the past I’d stayed away from those sorts of things, on account of never wanting to be “that” wife, but at least “that” wife knew where she stood, and so did her spouse. So I made an ultimatum: “Go to therapy, get diagnosed, get treatment, or get ready for a divorce, because we’re not coming home until you do.”

Uttering those words terrified me, mostly because we’d been down this road before: my threatening to leave, his promising to get help. Promises and threats never led to anything. This time was different, however. I *had* left. Myself and our daughter were hundreds of miles away from him and all he had then was his empty promises to get help. I was afraid he wouldn’t do it. I was afraid I was going to be forced to leave our marriage because I knew in the depths of my soul that he was sick and he wasn’t going to “just get better” without medical intervention, and I could no longer live like “that” and raise our daughter in “that”.

~ deviantart

We’re taught never to give up. We don’t give up on finishing a race. We don’t give up on ourselves. We don’t give up on other people. We. Don’t. Give. Up. But this giving up was so necessary, so essential, there was an every day sort of feeling to it: like this wasn’t so much special circumstance, but just another part of my life that simply HAD to be. This didn’t make it any less maddening, and the decision to leave, and knowing the decision to stay gone was just around the corner, tore at my soul with its seeming normality. It simply had to be done. And that made it normal.

In the end of our separation, he did start therapy. He did go on medication. And there have been improvements. But I know we can never go back. What our marriage was the past 6 years can never be again. Never again will we settle on empty promises and threats. When I chose to stay and he chose to fight for his family, we chose to throw away all we’d been before and truly start anew. It’s strange knowing someone so intimately and having thought you knew how your relationship worked, only to rewrite the instructions in the middle of this marriage’s construction.

But, there’s an everyday madness in giving up on marriage. And there’s a sort of madness that goes into staying in one. This is just another version of ours. And while I don’t yet have any grand lessons to impart or words of wisdom, for the first time in a long time another sort of madness grows within me.

And that is one of hope. Maddening, and maybe unrealistic, hope.

~ desktopnexus.com

Meet the Gentlewoman – That Powers Lady

Greetings from my little corner of the interwebs!

This scarf was a gift from one of my sisters. As a scarfeteer, I had a duty to put it on my head.

 

I suppose before we start this little adventure I should tell you a little about myself.  I am a lot of things.  I am 31 years old.  The mother and caretaker of 3 human children, 3 feline children and married to one big chunk of manbeef.  I have a super power I recently and inadvertently discovered.  When I get home from work, my shadow bursts into children and cats.  Not sure if I’m going to use that power for good or evil yet, as it is only newly revealed to me.  But I assure you, I will consider the pros and cons of each with super extreme objectivity.

My skinbabies at holiday happy time.

 

I am also a nurse, a licensed vocational nurse to be exact.  I have been an LVN for over 6 years now.  Sometimes I can’t believe it’s been that long.  It seems ages ago when I sat in class, expanding my brainmeats, wondering if I made the right decision.  I have worked in many healthcare settings such as dialysis (my favorite, by the way) and hospitals, but I currently work for a pediatric home health agency of sorts, as a private duty nurse.  It’s different from regular home healthcare in that we deal specifically with medically dependent special needs children and we stay at the home usually 8 to 12 hrs depending on what the family needs.

My children, human and non-human alike, are very important to me.  And you might ask, “well, of course they are, why wouldn’t they be?” It’s sad to say, but there are a great many moms and/or dads who really don’t give a flying flip what happens to their kids.  So you will be seeing quite a few references to my skinbabies and furbabies.  I prefer to keep things light, but I can’t promise I won’t go on a rant from time to time about various things.

I’m a bit odd and/or quirky and redundant at times. :-D So if I get off on a tangent, just stay with me.  I promise, it will make sense in the end.  Though I do get confused quite a bit from time to time.  And I’m as absent-minded as the Nutty Professor sometimes.  But when it comes to work, I am all there and focused for days.

I have played the guitar for 19 years give or take. A few years ago, I started teaching myself classical guitar with a method book.  I know you’re counting in your head still, so I’ll just tell you I was 12 when my dad introduced me to the guitar.  🙂  In my practicing, I’ve come to find out that I love fingerstyle guitar.  Search it on YouTube and if you like good music, you won’t be disappointed. Start with Frederic Mesnier and Ana Vidovic.

Well, I suppose that’s enough for now.  We have plenty of time along the way to learn more.  If you stick with me, you might learn much more than you ever wanted.   I’m glad to be on this crazy, rollercoaster ride called Life.

Getting Out of My Comfort Zone

The StellsBells household is going through a MAJOR change, hence the absence in posting!

About 4 weeks ago, my husband accepted a job in Nashville, TN.  We’re both very excited at this opportunity.  He’ll finally transition into investment banking, and it’s for a firm that has some fantastic people working there.  He’s thrilled to both be getting the experience necessary to start his dream career, but also to be doing it for a company that has a great culture and work/life balance.

That being said, we are both Texans to our core.  I know people outside of our state don’t get the pride and attachment we have to Texas, and honestly I don’t know if I could fully explain it.  It’s like the old Texas tourism commercials used to say back in the 90s – “we’re a whole other country”.

The husband (let’s call him G), was born and raised here in Dallas.  He moved to the other side of the DFW Metroplex for college, but that’s as far as he has ever lived.

I am a fifth generation Texan.  Four generations before me were born and bred here.  I’ve lived all over the state throughout my life, and even lived outside of it once, but Texas is always home.  In fact, moving to DC is what solidified that for me.  I loved living in Washington, but home is and will always be Texas.

Now, we have traveled, quite a bit, so it’s not like we don’t know about life outside of our great state, and there are a list of cities that we’d be happy to move to if the opportunity arose.   Nashville wasn’t on that list, but only because we hadn’t been there.  Well, not before G interviewed there anyway.

Nashville seems pretty great, even if it is much smaller than what we are accustomed to.  Dallas is a major city, and despite its shallow reputation, has a fantastic cultural and urban scene (if you know where to look).  And while our new home has no shortage of mysteries to discover, we will lose some of our creature comforts in the move.  The biggest being our gym and our bank (apparently, 24 Fitness and Chase do not operate in Tennessee).

Also, we both have our immediate families here in TX.  I’ve lived away from my family before (and hated it), but G never has (although it will actually be a good thing in his case).  Luckily, my parents are just a 3-4 hour plane ride away (and Dallas is just a couple of hours!).

Overall, we’re excited about the adventure ahead, even if the short time frame means it’s been stressful and a little crazy.  While this post focused on the transition in geography, there are many other transitions that will coincide with the move, and I promise to blog about all of it!

 

PS – One of those transitions is not, NOT, a pregnancy – I know that, for many of you, it was the first thing you thought about when you read that sentence, so let’s just get the record straight now.