“Katie hates being excluded.” These words were spoken to me while in a session with my therapist this past year while I was struggling trying to figure out why a situation was so upsetting to me. Such a blinding truth! From then on I could recognize that my hurt when I looked at pictures of friends where I was not invited – whether I could have attended or not – was because I felt excluded. That realization made life a little easier. Or at least it made a little more sense.
This past week I was dropping off my youngest son at my mother’s house for their usual weekly visit when she casually mentioned she had retired and that day was her last day. I was stunned that was a big thing and my internal script was screaming, “How long have you known and why didn’t you tell me?!” Instead, I said, “Wow! That’s big.” At that point she said she had known for a while and then tried to justify not telling me by saying so much has happened. And yet, typically all her siblings know, my sister knows, her friends know.
In high school my mother, her husband, and my siblings would go on trips together and I was not invited and I rarely knew about it until after. I was allowed on one “family vacation” to San Diego. But was not invited the following year. On the refrigerator was a picture hanging of all of them with “Family Vacation” imprinted on it. “But I wasn’t there?! How is that a family vacation?!” I thought. Oh well, it was already in the past, nothing I could do now, right? That’s my mother’s favorite dismissal, “Stop bringing up the past. It’s over.”
After the news from my mother, I woke up at 3:30 the next morning consumed with self-hatred. I hated everything about my life and my self. I went downstairs and threw away the rest of the vodka in the freezer. I was looking for anything to hate myself in those moments. Both my parents were alcoholics as was a grandfather, I felt I was playing with fire by drinking at all. I didn’t get back to sleep that night. In the morning, I dropped my laptop – but it’s fine other than a small dented corner. And I discovered a massive splinter in my youngest son’s hand, I couldn’t get it out and it was a traumatic affair.
Now that my school schedule has calmed down and I am not operating at an insane level of chaos in every moment, my body has felt run down for a couple weeks, like I”m always fighting off a cold. After the kids got off to school I decide to juice a bunch of fruits and vegetables since this is what usually helps me. I started juicing when I heard from the Superhero Martial Arts Man (aka, my boyfriend.) He asked how I was doing and I replied not well, please stay away. My doorbell rang two minutes later. “That wasn’t a request!” I snarled at him. He said he was quite clear what it was and he held me close, and I fell apart. I sobbed and wept and shuddered while safely in his arms.
He then sat me down and asked if there was anything I wanted to talk about. And here it all came:
I feel like a horrible mother and am always feeling as though I am failing my children. I graduate this December with my first degree and I feel absolutely ridiculous for being this age and only now just graduating. But not graduating with a degree that would get me a job, only to keep going on to more education. I’m not sending out announcements and regret telling my family at all about the ceremony – just more opportunity to be disappointed. I have some huge decisions to make regarding graduate school. I really do not want to drag my children around the country with me. My boyfriend – a real partner in life – supports me in everything I do and would support me wherever I went for my graduate work. He can’t, however, come with me. His business is long established in Phoenix and leaving is not a viable option.
I’m tired of feeling as though I’m floundering in life: I want income, stability, a job! In those moments I hated my life and I usually don’t feel that way.
We sat and talked for a while. I sat on his lap – my favorite place! – and calmed down. I then had to get ready for school, so he left. I felt inspired and so incredibly loved by not only him but the amazing friends I have in my life. After I was ready and was heading to my car to take off I tried calling him but he didn’t answer. What I wanted to say to him was, “You’re my It!” The phone rang a couple minutes later, he sounded tired, I was just around the corner but lost all my nerve and kept driving. Even when he asked me to turn around and come back, I refused. Still on the phone with him I pulled into the coffee shop and he said he would come up and meet me. I quickly changed my mind and reversed back out of the parking spot saying I was going to campus instead. We were still talking on the phone and I was almost on the freeway when I heard a familiar sound. “Is that your garage door?!”
“Yep. And here’s the sound of my truck door closing. And now my engine is starting. You let me know where you want me to meet you.”
“Gahhh!!!! God dammit! Fine!” I did a u-turn and drove back to the coffee shop. He was already there when I arrived. He went around to the passenger side and got in my car and grabbed my hand, “What did you need to say?”
I started, my voice a little shaky, my heart pounding… “We both acknowledge we’re scared, right?”
“Do you want to jump ship?” I asked.
“And we agree that we are both All In?”
There you have it. Those were all the words to feel more faith in another human being than I have ever felt before. I know what he says is true, I know he believes in us as much as I do, and I know he can admit to the fear and still be OK with that. There is no pressure in any of this. And if it comes to a point where we decide we need to lay the relationship down we will wish each other the best and walk away. (With tons of pain, but still wanting only happiness for the other.) I don’t have to convince myself of anything, particularly that I’m just wrong in my thinking and I need to “figure out” a way to be in this relationship. It’s wonderful, safe, and complete. And there is NO RUSH! We are not rushing down the aisle, we are not discussing which house to sell. It just Is and it’s lovely!