Day 23: What popular notion do you think the world has most wrong?

That all little girls should grow up and get married and if you get divorced you’re a big fat failure.

I was married once. I had the big white dress, the sparkling diamond and even a fancy limousine departure. It was a fun party. I remember waking up the next day in our hotel suite overlooking the lake, seeing my veil on the chair beside the bed and being overwhelmingly sad that it was over. I wore that thing for two more days in protest.

We were WAY too young but we had a 2 year old already and it was the next step in what felt inevitable. I refused to get married until I could legally drink a glass of champagne at my wedding. I was 21 for 22 days before I said I do.

I had no idea how to be a wife? I was an excellent mother and knew my way around the kitchen well enough that his friends called me Betty Crocker. I sewed, cross-stitched and ripped out the front yard in our trailer park so that I could plant some flowers. I didn’t have the foggiest idea how to communicate my needs to my husband, and at 23 he was just as clueless as me.

We played house for 7 years and welcomed another baby a few years after that big party. Sometimes I think we were simply stubborn enough together that we refused to quit, even when we were both unhappy. We celebrated our 7th anniversary and he toasted me with a drink.

H- Just think. We were so young when we got married that we’ll be able to celebrate our fiftieth anniversary someday.

My blood ran a little cold and I felt nauseous. I looked at him and realized that I’d always imagined having my own life someday and I hadn’t considered the fact that he could outlive me and I might never know what that was like. When you’re a wife and mother, and especially one who is a homemaker and/or works from home, your life has everything to do with service and caring for the people you love, it doesn’t really have much to do with your dreams or goals. It’s all diapers and blow jobs.

I love being a mother and my son was the most incredible baby, toddler and little boy. I was hell bent that people who judged us for being too young would eat their words after five minutes with my bright and polite little creation. I taught him to read when he was 4, bought him a microscope when he turned 5, and tirelessly moulded both of my children into patient, well behaved, polite little angels.

I put on a hundred pounds and gave up thinking about what I wanted out of life or hoped to do with mine. It had ceased to be about me the day I lowered the blusher veil and let my dad lead me down the aisle. I was a wife and a mother, there wasn’t any room for Jenni.

Infidelity had been a problem in our marriage and people warned me that the threat of the 7 year itch was a very real thing. I had an affair and it destroyed me. I could no longer close my eyes to the things I wanted and needed in life. I couldn’t pretend anymore that I was what he wanted, either. Trapped in a bloated balloon animal version of myself, I contemplated suicide instead of ruining my family. I started running, mostly to get away from the problems that kept me awake at night and made the food I’d clung to for comfort all these years, taste bad. When I’d lost 50 pounds the real problems started to escalate. He’d loved me completely no matter what size my jeans were, but he was not comfortable with other men noticing and appreciating me.

One morning stands out in my mind because it was the day I decided that my life was important too. I woke up early, it was still dark out and he was asleep next to me. Bless his beautiful heart, he didn’t snore and I haven’t slept as well beside a man since then. He was silent and my heart was so heavy that tears fell quietly until the magenta sheets looked black beside me. I reached my hand out to put it on his chest and he shrugged and rolled over, turning his back to me.

I told him I wanted a divorce that day and life changed forever.

I’ve had the shitiest boyfriends, the biggest gardens and just enough joyful chaos to make me feel like it wasn’t a mistake. I’ve traveled, had different careers, fallen in love too many times to count and regularly make coffee in my panties- something that drove him nuts. He has an amazing wife that has loved my babies like her own and our lives wouldn’t be complete without her.

There are no accidents, and some of us are really quite content to sleep alone in a king sized bed, indefinitely. We got divorced in 2003 and I think people are finally starting to believe me when I say I’m never getting married again.

Because coffee tastes even better when you’re naked. 🙂

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Day 22: Describe 7 things you’re awful at.

  1. I’m awful at picking a man that won’t lie to me, cheat on me, steal from me or break my heart. I’ve elevated it to an art form and have ruled them out entirely as a result. Heterosexual men are basic creatures. Much like that lump of a human they hand you when you have a baby, you only need to feed, water and love it for things to be agreeable, right? Wrong. I have an innate ability to pick the absolute worst asshole in the room. Eyes closed, heart open… I lose every damn time.
  2. Thinning root vegetables. Seriously.. someone should take my carrot seeds away. There’s honestly no point in me even planting them because I can’t grow them for shit and who needs 4000 pencil sized baby carrots? Nobody.
  3. Kitchener stitch. It’s some sort of modern day needlework witchcraft. I avoid knitting socks for precisely this reason. I loathe not being able to do something though, so I’ll figure it out eventually or die trying.
  4. Seeing the forest for the trees. I see the potential in everyone- and never stop to consider that some people are self motivated and not looking out for me or my best interests. Some folks are just users and I work overtime to see the goodness a little too much. Some of those frogs aren’t princes. Some of those warty little things are just dirty ass reptiles.
  5. Brownies. I can’t bake brownies to save my life. I don’t know why. I’ve given up trying and just buy them. I’m bitter about it though because I’m a damn domestic goddess and hate that I can’t do something.
  6. Sleep. I am the worst insomniac. I am regularly awake between the hours of 1-5 AM and generally give up and get up by 5:30. I’m painfully tired and all things considered could probably use a week of rest, straight. I won’t get it and it won’t stop me from lying awake all night again tonight… so feel free to give me any suggestions you may have.
  7. I’m awful at shaking this Incredicock nightmare. Hearing one thing and seeing another is the worst form of torture and I was crazy to think that touching him again was a good idea. It wasn’t. You can only be casual about someone you don’t care about… just as you can’t make a ho a housewife, it’s absolutely impossible to make a fuckbuddy out of the guy you’re in love with and I should have learned that painful lesson the first time with him.

I wish I had more of my shit together, but fairy godmothers aren’t real and it involves a shit load of work and time to change these things. I’m still determined, still working hard to be better, do more, live positively and strive for happiness.

I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep… -Robert Frost


Day 20: What has been the most difficult thing you have had to forgive?

I have a few “difficult” things I’ve had to forgive, as a result of always wading in just a little too far over my head. My little sister the Unicorn is the same way. We ask for forgiveness, not permission… we roll the dice… we leap before we look. As a result, we’ve both learned a lot of hard lessons in the most challenging ways imaginable. We learn the hard way- it’s inescapable. Consequently, we have both attracted some bad people, made some dumb choices and forever had a fleet of responsible sisters standing there shaking their heads and helping pick up the pieces for the umpteenth time.

The MOST difficult things I’ve had to forgive, have been pretty awful. As a mother I would die a million heartbroken deaths if my babies went through some of the stuff I’ve survived, but it’s also made me annoyingly resilient and pretty damn successful.

I forgive easily. Some people would probably say too easily for my own good. I guess I was raised to know in my heart that forgiveness is a gift you give yourself, because carrying hate around is heavy and you need empty hands to be able to help yourself.

Some people and things have taken me longer though.

  • My rapist. That was a tough one. He ruined things for me that still make me so sad. The Beatles, beards, and leather jackets have always been ruined since then. Incredicock fixed my beard phobia and now I actually like them. I don’t panic when facial hair touches my cheek. I’m not afraid to feel it on my thighs. I love that. The Beatles is a tough one. I have tried to listen to a little here and there, careful to avoid certain songs, but it still turns my stomach and makes me anxious. Same goes for leather.
  • My dad. Oy… this one is still a little ongoing. I hate the daddy issues he gave me, which aside from my face is pretty much the only thing he contributed. He died early as well, so there wasn’t an opportunity to try again. He died at odds with 3 of his 4 children and missed every significant event in all of our lives. He’s tough to forgive. 🙂 He was human though, and I do have really nice cheekbones from him. I treasure the siblings he gave me and wish he’d been able to enjoy the cool people he made.
  • My shitty high school boyfriend who broke up with me the day before Valentine’s day to go out with the girl with the perfect hair who occupied the locker right next to mine. I still don’t like red roses after watching her carry them around that day and I hate that damn holiday. Ok maybe I haven’t entirely forgiven him…..
  • Crazy Virgin Islands. Ugh… another huge challenge. He served me with a cease and desist to get my blog entries regarding him and the trip from hell off my blog. Too many women had found them after searching the internet and I didn’t even care to fight over it. I was the stupid girl that got on the plane and flew 15 hours to date a (SURPRISE!!) married man for a few days, I deserved some bad times after being so stupid and reckless with my safety. I forgive him for being a raging sociopath… not enough to talk to him ever again, but certainly enough to stop cock blocking him. Plus I made 42 new friends who had similar experiences with him AND helped a couple dozen avoid joining our illustrious tribe. All’s well that ends well, right?
  • Myself. The hardest one of all is learning how to let myself off the hook a little for being so reckless sometimes and so damn trusting with too much of my heart. I love loudly and I’ve always hated that about myself. I don’t anymore. Losing Anthony really taught me to say the hard words every day. I tell the people I love every day that I love them. I’m too nice and that’s ok. I’m also a passive aggressive bitch when inspired and I like her too. The last year has changed me in a million ways and I’m much prouder of this new version than I ever was before. That’s a pretty fabulous gift, if I do say so myself.

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Day 18: Describe 5 strengths you have.

  1. I’m nice. Nice to a point it’s debilitating, but still- it counts. In a world so jaded, angry, dishonest and cruel… I’m that smiling stranger. I’m that lady who offers to hold your crying baby so you can help your other child, that person who pays the difference when you run short and the first to volunteer for shitty jobs that nobody wants to do. I’m nice. I’ve hated this about myself for years and finally in the last couple have learned to embrace what makes me happy. I LIKE being nice. It doesn’t sit well with me when I’m unkind and I’d rather suffer the consequences of people taking advantage of my kindness than live life as an asshole.
  2. I’m stubborn. Bullheaded is an understatement. I redefine what it means to be inflexible when I am determined. I hate this about myself a lot of the time, but truth be told, it saves me regularly. I refuse to give up, wouldn’t quit with a gun to my head and pursue what I want, intently. I don’t take no for an answer, I dig my heels in and pull out all the stops until that no changes to yes. There are downsides but for the most part, I’ve achieved some amazing things simply because I flat out refused not to.
  3. I’m really thoughtful. I like to make the people who are special to me, feel those same feelings in return. I like to mentally catalog the favorite things of my loved ones and surprise them when it’s least expected and needed the most. I love you with my whole soul, no parts left out… even the ugly stuff that most people would turn their nose up at- those things are sometimes my favorite details because it makes me accept my own shortcomings a bit easier. I am inspired by love and the feelings resulting from it, and I go overboard at times in expressing it. I like that about myself. The world is full of sadness, I enjoy doing my part to make it better for the people that do the same for me.
  4. I’m crafty AF. I can knit, sew, bake, grow, can, fix or paint anything I’m inspired to want to do. If I don’t know how, Google leads the way. I have collected hobbies for years and am definitely the mom to call when you’re in need of crafty help. I used crafting as therapy for years in a bad relationship, and learned how to knit some of my favorite treasures in the process. I fell in love with heirloom tomatoes and planted 350 plants…. hence the needing to learn to can. I’m a crafty version of that “If you give a mouse a muffin,” book. One craft leads to another and before you know it, I’m rewiring the garage and installing new tile in the bathroom while my cheesecake bakes. It’s a lot sometimes… and I wish I liked to clean up my messes as much as I like making them.
  5. I’m funny. I can laugh at myself with the best of them and have learned to brush off the tears that fall as easily as laughter when the two collide. When the hot water heater dies, I can laugh about it now- where it used to decimate me. I can joke about my poor taste in men and perennially broken heart, because what good is life if you don’t use it all up? I took my female cat to the vet for an emergency last month and found out that she’s a he. How can life be anything but hilarious after that?

Day 17: Describe 5 weaknesses you have.

  1. Incredicock. Oh why beat around the bush (no pun intended), let’s be bold, brave and honest, shall we? I can honestly say I’ve never felt about another human being the way I feel about him. Fiercely protective while simultaneously terrifyingly guarded, brazen, bold and wanton…oh and petty as the day is long. I’ve never really known heartache like the one he inspires and I wonder sometimes if it’s my penchant for pain that makes me love him so? The jury’s out, but masochism is in the lead. I saw things I can’t unsee regarding him this weekend and I’m decimated as a result. I’ve clearcut the common threads that tie us together and am facing some tough days ahead. What he says and what he does are vastly different and it kills me every time I find out he’s lied to me again. I need to get off this bad ride.
  2. Baked Lays Potato Chips. Dear God in heaven…. hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven… Give us these chips, these daily chips… I can’t even buy a bag because I will eat the whole damn thing with reckless abandon.
  3. Take5 Candy bars. Seriously the best candy bar ever made. Thank you Reese’s for making them a part of your delicious family.
  4. Bombay Sapphire Gin. I had 4 martinis last night as I cried about my bad taste in men and bemoaned the stupidity of my loyal heart. 4!!!. I felt like death warmed over all day today and sat inches away from the cause of it. No martini is worth that and I wish I’d stayed in bed. Thank heavens for Maybelline who painted my grey face a flesh tone and convinced the world that I wasn’t seconds from puking, all day.
  5. Tomato plants. God bless America, at least one of my weaknesses is healthy. I cannot walk away from a “rare” or “lost” heirloom tomato seed. I have grown them all. I know them all as well as my children and doubt you could surprise me with a new favorite… but I’d sure love to hear about yours….