Saturday, July 7, 2012

Ain't No Sunshine When He's Gone?

Tonight's cocktail is a nectarine old-fashioned. Start with a sugar cube at the bottom of the shaker, soak with a few dashes of Angostura bitters. Muddle 1/4 - 1/2 ripe nectarine and stir a lot to let the sugar dissolve. Add 3 oz bourbon (I used Maker's Mark), stir, strain into an ice-filled glass, maybe top up with a little more bourbon and ice, sip slowly. Yum.

Thursday morning, McDreamy started driving west to his new Navy billet on the other coast, 3,000 miles away, where he can finally live in the same city with his children. I can't go with him because my children's father is here, and they need him. McDreamy and I tried to be as normal as possible on Wednesday so we didn't spend the whole day in a weepy puddle on the floor. Overall that went well. The next morning, I tried like hell to keep it together and mostly succeeded, though I'm glad I didn't put on eye makeup. There was some ugly crying in the driveway, but I managed to get to work, drink coffee, and have a reasonably normal day. After all, we're used to temporary separations as dictated by work travel, child obligations, and the like. I tried to tell myself this was no different so that I didn't fall apart. Mostly it worked.

It wasn't too much like this.
Last night, one of my girlfriends brought food, wine, and ice cream, and we had a wonderful evening of eating, drinking, talking, drinking, talking, and drinking. It was a godsend. I needed that.

Sadly, it doesn't come in Chocolate Xanax Swirl.
It wasn't until Friday evening that it all started to hit home. McDreamy doesn't have a place 5 minutes down the road anymore. It will be three weeks before I see him again. After that, it'll be another month, and so forth, until Tink starts college. That's a long time. This being a grownup thing totally sucks.

We've known for quite awhile that this was the shape of things to come. At first, I struggled. I was angry and frustrated that I'd finally found the relationship I'd always wanted, only to be separated by geography. Eventually, I came to peace with the fact that these are the cards we've been dealt. We're both parents, and for now, the needs of our children trump everything else. We've had extensive discussions about how to make this work. We are committed. And, overall, I feel optimistic.

The reason I feel optimistic is that I've been through so much worse. Divorce is a soul-crushing vortex of suck, but I learned a lot from it. I decided not to let my life pass me by while I raged against things I couldn't control, but instead to build for myself a good life with the materials to hand. 

To that end, here are the things I decided to do then, and re-commit to doing now.
  • I will be the best mother I can be. Of course, I have always tried to do that, but in my quest to re-structure my daily life yet again, this is an anchoring principle. My children deserve no less.
  • I will invest in my friendships. Throughout my life, my closest friends have been there when no one else has. I want to give my friends the unconditional love and support they have given me.
  • I will take care of myself physically. I'm giving myself some slack through the weekend to eat and drink whatever I want, but, much as I love them, I'm not going to use food or alcohol as a long-term crutch. Instead, I'm going to nourish my body with good things and give it exercise and balance.
  • I will take care of myself emotionally. One of the key mistakes I made in my marriage was expecting someone else to take care of me emotionally, while simultaneously trying to take care of everyone else. Martyrdom is not a loving act. I will set appropriate boundaries with others, and I will keep short accounts with people. Internalizing anger and resentment will only give me ass cancer someday, so it's better to clear the air and let things go.
  • I will take care of myself financially. I will make smart decisions and develop a long-term plan for financial security.
  • I will forgive myself for my imperfections and failings. When I make mistakes, I will learn from them, make amends, and move on.
  • I will cultivate my own interests. Starting this blog and rediscovering my love of writing is a big part of that. I'm interested in lots of things and would love to explore new hobbies and adventures as well as deepening my existing knowledge and skills.

 Looking at this list, I'm realizing that they are really tenets to live by no matter who you are or what you're doing (substitute any relevant life role for "mother" in the first point and it's pretty universal). Smarter people may not have had to have their lives implode to come to these conclusions, but at least it wasn't a completely wasted experience. And, at least it's coming in handy for me now.

At the moment, it's eleventy-billion degrees outside and Satan just burst into flame at the end of my culdesac, so there's a lot of sunshine when McDreamy is gone. The kids are letting me write and, best I can tell from their conversation, they're not rigging up a thermonuclear device or trying to kill each other. Later, we might go to the pool if it hasn't evaporated, then come home and cool off with a movie. This is a good life. I wouldn't want to miss out on it.

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