Friday, March 19, 2010

A new front door

Last week, I moved out of my little single mama world. I have so many memories of that place, even though I was there only a year. I remember moving her bunk bed up the stairs, all by myself. My body ached and I could barely breathe, but I didn’t care because I did it myself, just to prove that I could. I remember going to pick out a new couch, and I felt absolutely bewildered because I knew I could get whatever one I wanted, and I didn’t know what to do. I had never picked out furniture all by myself before. I remember feeling so proud of myself and feeling so strong an independent, yet feeling so glad when my best friend arrived to hold my hand, hug me, and help me talk trash about my ex-husband. Lastly, I remember how it felt to lock the front door for the first time on the first place that was ever just MINE.

During my time there, I also learned a lot of lessons. I learned that I am a kick-ass mom, but I still have the right to enjoy a good margarita from time to time if I want to. I learned that it is possible to work, go to school, and raise a child alone because a woman can do amazing things when she puts her mind to it. I learned that I am still sexy and desirable, no matter how insignificant someone else tries to make me feel. I learned that not depending on someone else can be terrifying, yet incredibly liberating.

Although I learned a lot in the past year, I am not sad to leave that life behind. My path has made another turn, and I am so excited about the next part of my journey. Right now, I’m looking at a photograph of a man that I love so deeply. He drives me crazy sometimes, but he has changed my life in so many incredible ways. He’s introduced me to new people and new experiences, and he’s taught me to appreciate things that I never thought I would. On one of our first dates, he talked a lot about hunting and fishing. Apparently, I announced that I would “never have dead animals hanging in my house.” Yet, in the new home that I share with him, there are two in my living room. They are hanging near his camouflage recliner. Those things are part of who he is, and they are part of the things he has taught me to appreciate. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t know what it felt like to wear hunter orange in the middle of a quiet forest on a cold autumn morning.

There are still moments that snap me back to reality… When we have an argument, there has been a time or two when I felt like that startled animal in the woods that I wrote about a few months ago. I get quiet, and I proceed with extreme caution because I am afraid…I’m not so afraid of being left alone. I know I can handle that. I am afraid of being broken again, because I know that if it happens again, I don’t think I will ever be able to trust another man with my heart. (After all, it took me 6 months to give it to him!) Even more than that, though, I know I couldn’t handle seeing my daughter be heartbroken again.

I sat with her in the therapist’s office yesterday, and she was showing off the journal she was writing about. The therapist noted that she wrote a lot about her daddy, but she wrote a lot about her “dad” too, and she took note that Jayna calls this man in my life “dad.” I said yes, and I smiled…then Jayna said “I wrote about him because this way, if he leaves, I have something to remember him by.” It made me acutely aware that although I knew that she was hurt and confused and sad, I don’t think I realized that she has a degree of fear, just like I do, that she’ll be left by the man in her life again. I wish I knew a way to make her feel safe and to reassure her that she doesn’t have to worry every day about that, but how can I teach her something that I am still learning to accept myself? The point is that I am learning it…I have learned to trust, and I have learned to feel secure. All I can do is stay close to her and hope that a little of that rubs off on her precious little heart.

My life is a work in progress, and I love it (and the people in it) so very, very much. Yesterday, I hung a purple heart made of lavender on the front door of my new home. It’s a place of love, it’s a place of hope, and it’s a place where my dreams come true every single day when I walk through that door and come home to a man that loves me because he chooses to, not because he feels obligated to. I can’t wait to marry him…

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