Friday, February 17, 2017

New Normal

It's been so long, I may have forgotten how to write. The last seven months or so have been . . . a bit chaotic on all fronts. Some things are not my story to tell, so I won't, but for me it's probably been the most challenging time in my life. And that's saying something. Suffice it to say, what my children feel and experience affects me more deeply than I ever could have imagined and much more so than anything that happens to me directly. This is the shit they don't tell you about before you have kids, because it's hard, you guys. It's ridiculously hard.

Other things are part of my story and, I think, important to share. Like how my recovery has been the greatest gift during this time. I don't know how I could have survived without it. There have been days when I've felt like a zombie, literally walking aimlessly through the day, unable to function as a human being. One morning in particular, I had a fleeting thought that I might as well give up and drink, simply because I didn't know what else to do. I was just so tired of living. That's when all I've learned in recovery kicked in, and I told on myself. A few years ago, saying words would have been the last thing I would have done in that moment, but this time I blurted it right out, which effectively took the wind out of those self-sabotaging sails.

Recovery has given me the foundation to deal with life, and life right now is messy. The voice in my head that used to tell me to drink and get numb and hide because the world is terrible and will destroy me in the end (wow, that shit is crazy), now tells me that everything will be okay. And I believe that to be true. That things will randomly work out. They just will.

I have a friend who covets normalcy. Because normal people seem so . . . blissfully normal. But what even is that? She and I talk about it often. The older I get, the more I believe no one is normal. I mean, I don't know anyone who is. Granted, my circles are suspect - alcoholics, endurance athletes, lawyers, people who are related to me . . . very suspect. But I don't even know what the standard is supposed to be. And do I want it? I think I've always preferred the company of those who are not usual in the least.

I haven't shared with many people about my recent separation and impending divorce. I was thinking about why that is. It's not because I have shame or regret or even sadness about it, although there is naturally a sadness about the ending of a hugely meaningful period in my life. It's because I'm fiercely protective of my family, and I don't particularly care for the perception that the break up of my marriage is the break up of my family. We'll always be a family. We're a team. Each of us loves and wants the best for every other member of the team. When one of us succeeds, we all succeed. That's how teams work, after all. This is no less true now just because, as my son noted, we have a second team headquarters.

When you tell people you're splitting from your spouse, they have expectations. They expect you to be terribly sad or terribly angry, possibly terribly both. That's normal. They expect you to fall apart. They expect you to say bad things about your "ex". They expect drama and conflict and bitterness and tears. I regret that I'm letting everyone down. (Not actually.) In all seriousness, I would love to be an example that it doesn't have to be that way.

Believe me, I wish there was an easy explanation. My kids would very much appreciate that. But relationships are complicated. People are complicated. We're not normal or predictable. If we're lucky we continue to grow and learn and change throughout our lives. And sometimes we have to assess where we are and adapt, even when it's scary or painful.

What I know is that I will never regret building the life and family we built together. "Ex" is hard for me to say because there are so many better things he continues to be - the father of my children, my co-parent, my friend, my support system - a great father and one of the most kind and decent human beings I know (a much better person than I). What I believe is that we both deserve the opportunity to be truly happy and fulfilled in our lives, and maybe this new path is where we'll find it.

Is this normal? I don't know. I guess our normal is in transition right now, but I feel confident that everything will be okay, and I'll take that over normal any day.