The other day, I was driving home from taking my kids to the park. As I turned to drive down my street, I began to cry. Hot, angry tears rolled down my cheeks. I had once drove down my street, eagerly anticipating arriving home. Now, I arrive home with my children, carry them into a quiet house alone, welcomed by the inaudible sense of vacancy.
This wasn’t how it was “supposed” to be. My children were not by accident. I made a mutual decision with someone to become a parent. We were supposed to be raising them together. We were supposed to be supporting each other as we navigated the “hard years”. Having babies and watching them grow is one of the most amazing experiences but these are difficult years. Sleep is inconsistent. Parenting is uncharted territory. And your little ones need so much of your time and care. It tests every bit of patience you have and brings out parts of yourself, you never realized existed. These are the years when you might not always like your partner. But then like lightening, you suddenly and momentarily see each other in your children’s eyes. And in that moment, you are reminded of your love for one another.
I was supposed to be arriving home to someone who had once looked in my eyes and promised to love me every day. Through the hard. Through everything. But instead, I was arriving home to an empty house. No one to greet me. No one to ask me how my day was, to hug me upon arriving in the house disheveled and out of breath from hustling kids. I was arriving home exhausted, disappointed and tight chested, thinking about the impending loneliness of the evening. A year and a half later, I am angry.
I pulled into the garage, put the vehicle in park, leaned over the steering wheel and cried. My kids sat quietly in the back seat. When I went to take Emmett out of his seat, he looked at me with eyes so much older than his years. He stopped me from unclasping his buckles and hugged me. With a furrowed brow he said, “Mommy, you need a napkin?” At times, I want to hide this vulnerability from my children. I want to remain the superhero. The unbreakable rock. But then I understand that if my kids didn’t see me this way, they wouldn’t be the way they are. Their observation of both heartache and deep love has made them the most compassionate, kind, and loving kids.
Most of my posts are uplifting. Raw but uplifting. I love writing about getting back into the game of life after you’ve been burned because I know that it’s possible. I’m an optimist. I see the bright side of things and I practice gratitude every single day. I have a “make lemonade out of sour lemons” mindset. But I am human. I have bad days. I get angry. I cry.
Dark days happen. They are something I have habitually fought rather than acknowledged. I pushed sorrow and indignation away because I was terrified they would take over and consume me. I didn’t want bitterness to take up residence and mark me as a woman with a chip on her shoulder. So, rather than succumbing to the fury, I stifled it. I shushed it. Like scolding a child, I told myself that it was a waste of time, that it didn’t change anything, and with so much to be grateful for, it was debilitating to be angry.
I hid the anger, because expressing it, let people know that this experience “got to me”. I didn’t want to appear weak, ungrateful, unhappy, less resilient or less capable. I pushed it down because I didn’t want to acknowledge the vulnerability of these feelings to myself. These are not easy things to concede. Writing these statements makes me slightly embarrassed and considerably uncomfortable. But, if I don’t tell you about the dark parts, I’m leaving out a whole piece of the picture that led me to where I am now.
I am a person who feels deeply. Sorrow, grief, anger. But I also feel joy just as deep. When I laugh, I laugh with my whole body and when I love, I love with my whole heart. I am fiercely loyal and profoundly generous when it comes to relationships. I love this about myself. However, it means that bad days feel like I’m being thrown into the middle of a hurricane. Heavy, overwhelming, terrifying. My initial instinct is to panic, fight against it and push back. Here’s a helpful hint: THIS DOESN’T WORK OUT WELL. Anger is a dirty fighter. If you manage to shove it down, it will sneak back up at the most inconvenient time to take a cheap shot, it’s assault erupting irrepressibly and usually publicly.
I am angry that at 32 years old, I’m starting over as a single mom. Not just financially, but emotionally. I’m starting over with more than just myself to think about. I’m striving to become myself and endeavoring to guide two tiny humans to become themselves at the same time. It feels like juggling with one arm.
I feel grateful because I am a stronger, more powerful and lovelier woman than I was before my husband walked out. I’m doing things I would have never done had he stayed. For the first time in 14 years, I’m putting myself first. And for the first time I’M AUTHENTICALLY SHOWING UP AS MYSELF. This is freedom.
I’m angry that this past year and a half has been marked with so much pain.
I am thankful because this past year, my life has been marked equally by so much joy. It has been bigger, brighter and more full of love than it’s ever been. I’m uncertain this would’ve been the case had I not experienced such intense sorrow.
I’m angry that my pregnancy, the experience of my newborn daughter, and her first year of milestones possessed a veil of gray grief. I feel resentful that I experienced this last year alone and that I wasn’t given the opportunity to be with someone who WANTED to share life and parenthood with me.
I am grateful that even though I witnessed my kids do so many firsts, funny things, and proud moments alone, that I didn’t miss the moment. Light broke through, so brightly that I not only recognized the moment, I basked in the warmth of it. I am so thankful that grief, anger and sadness didn’t prevent me from noticing these moments. I am so grateful; I didn’t miss them.
I’m angry that I worry about so many things. Worries that might have been shouldered by two people rather than just one.
But, I’m grateful that my shoulders are strong AF. I am stubborn, capable and unwilling to give up. I’m a tougher woman today. Nothing seems unmanageable now.
I’m angry because at times, I.AM.SO.TIRED. And, there is no pause button. There are no time outs, there are no sick days, there’s no “Unfortunately, I can’t make it today to see the kids” memo pad on my desk. I am on 24/7.
I am grateful that I have so acutely gotten to know my kids this past year. We are three peas in a pod. Communication is such that words are superfluous. The three of us will occasionally exchange gazes and then burst into hysterical laughter. This is special. This is magic.
I marvel that I can feel the seemingly opposing emotions of anger and gratitude so intensely at the same time. I am at times livid that I am living a life that I never imagined living. Yet, I would never go back and wish this experience away. Because of it, I returned to myself. I believe everything happens for a reason but we don’t always get to see the reason. Bad days make me doubt my belief in this. Angry days make me question whether the pain will be worth it in the end.
Gradually, I am learning to stop fighting and to patiently allow these days to come and go. They don’t feel nice but it’s far less distressing to surrender and float in the waves of discomfort than to anxiously struggle and fear drowning in them.
I realize anger NEEDS to be felt. The funny thing is that if I was counseling a friend in the same situation, I would tell her that she had every right to feel angry. I would tell her to feel the shit out of that anger and allow it to come and go as it needed. Yet, I have a hard time allowing myself this same grace. I recognize that anger can serve as a means to set boundaries, it can be strength, and it can be a stepping stone to forgiveness. I’m still working at surrendering to the days where I struggle to see the silver lining.
Every now and then I battle rage and sadness for my energy. The good news is that I used to feel and fight these emotions every day. And now, it’s a day here and there and then it’s gone. And the reassuring piece is that getting back on purpose after a low day has become easier and easier by permitting the bad days to just be what they are.
So what I am saying is, allow the bad days. In my experience, they won’t ruin you. They suck. Man, do they ever suck. But know that they won’t last. And they will inevitably lead to so much joy if you let them.
My ability to feel both the bad and the good means that I’m living life with courage. I’m throwing myself into the fire and proving to myself over and over again that sometimes it hurts like hell, but I will survive it. The reward is that to the extent that I have felt unfathomable pain, I am blessed to experience the opposing depth of love, joy, and profound peace.