All kinds of messy

Maybe my world has been a little too messy in the past year and a half.

Too outlandish.

Fast.

Complicated.

Out of the ordinary.

Full of compartmentalizing, fear, prayer, stardust.

Nonsensical.

Raw.

Magical.

Hard to explain.

Gritty.

Alarming.

Secretly hilarious.

All has been just as it was supposed to be. Still, I haven’t felt ok telling the stories. It hasn’t felt safe.

Didn’t want to hurt anyone.

Didn’t want to bore anyone.

Didn’t want to expose anyone.

Didn’t want to expose myself.

Didn’t want to live my life online.

Didn’t feel like defending my thoughts, actions and explorations to a critical world.

Why would I drag anyone through the details of hedonistically dating around, striving to stand on my own financially for the first time, coddling my children through the unfairness and pain of so much huge transition, figuring out how to work full-time after years of stay-at-home-mom-ness, falling in love, blending families, starting a completely new life?

Messy.

It all felt like a little too much to share. A little too shamey. And yet falling in love is traditionally something you really, really want to shout from the mountaintops. It was my shame at love finding me so soon after the end of my marriage—more than a year later, but still—that kept me quiet. “She’s obviously rebounding,” I heard the voices in my head say. “What is she, crazy?” “Apparently she can’t handle being alone…”

I knew in my heart none of those statements was true. But, out of fear, I kept all the deliciousness of my unfolding relationship with Clive to myself, my sister and my closest friends.

feet

I wanted to share, though.

I wanted to write about things like how, behind closed doors with him, I could never decide whether I wanted to keep talking, exploring the mental/spiritual/emotional, or to shut up and explore the physical because both aspects were so tantalizing and so electrifying I couldn’t possibly choose. (Sidenote: After acquainting myself with Emily After Dark, I had discovered how rare a find this truly was…)

I wanted to marvel about how we conversed about God in similar ways. That we actually shared parenting ideals. That his executive mind magically contrasted with his dreamy inner life. That he challenged me and pushed me to grow in all manner of pleasant and less-fun ways across all manner of themes.

I wanted to tell about that time we played tag in New York and I couldn’t catch him, even when I was sprinting my fastest—both of us breathless with laughter—until I almost got him and instead tripped over his heel, did an endo, smashed my face into a patch of grass, threw my neck out, grass-stained my white jeans and he was sick to his stomach for hours fretting that he’d hurt me bad. (I was fine. We all know I’m not dainty.) But the way he cared for me in those moments after my embarrassing fall…so tender and wonderful. Now we laugh about it. I do so love his laugh.

I wanted to rave about how much fun we had sharing a giant plate of cheese fries and dancing to 80s music with my friend, Amin, at a summer street fest. That, as a former tennis pro, he’s teaching me how to play the game I’ve always wanted to learn—and loves doing it. How he declares I’m “majestic” even first thing in the morning and pauses everything to look in my eyes to make sure I really am fine when I say I am. I want to tell the world we talk and laugh into the wee hours because we don’t want to waste time sleeping.

And then there was that day he told me he wanted to learn how to meditate, so he’d signed up for the Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) lessons. (Sidenote: In my 10 years of being a devotee of Paramahansa Yogananda, not one person has ever signed up for the SRF lessons as a result of knowing me—until Clive.) I wanted to write about how it felt when I walked in on him reading the first meditation lesson to find his giant smile thanking me for the introduction and knowing we truly shared our path to God.

And, of course, the vision of him sitting criss-cross-applesauce on the wood floor outside his bathroom in Lincoln Park when I emerged and informed him I wasn’t pregnant and, smiling his sweet half-smile, he said, “You know, it would’ve been OK if you were.” And then, four days later, how elated he was when I took another test, and then two more, that told us I was, in fact, very unexpectedly pregnant.

parents

I may or may not be disproportionately this much larger than my family of origin and my children in real life, but they all love me regardless. Also, it turned out they, and my sis and her family, were all as elated as Clive when they heard the unexpected news.

Very unexpectedly pregnant

As good as it was, I couldn’t shake the fear. How would it look once everyone knew I got pregnant within a month of dating a new guy, my first committed relationship since marriage? How irresponsible of me!

Almost as bad, how would the outside world respond if I actually admitted that I wrestled—so painstakingly—with whether to stay pregnant?

On discovering the news, I cried with fear and dwelled in permanent nausea every day for two months. Despite being wildly and yet groundedly in love with an all-around wonderful man who wanted our baby and a life with me and my boys more than anything in the world, I was so scared. Scared to find I was not in control of my life. Scared I’d worked so hard for freedom and now I was committing both to a baby and to a new partner all at once. Scared my sons would feel abandoned if I had another baby. Scared of the pain of childbirth. Scared of the postpartum reality. Scared the allure of our relationship would fade with my growing belly. Scared of the sleep deprivation that comes with an infant. Scared of derailing the professional life I’d fought so hard to start. Scared of reversing the liberation for which I’d given up almost everything I knew.

None of this felt like a story worth sharing. I could hurt people, hurt myself.

Eventually I did something to this point I hadn’t done much in my life.

I called my mom.

Something compelled me. I knew I needed her. I expected her to tell me to march myself to Planned Parenthood. Instead, she burst into tears.

Decisively and lovingly, she said something huge, not in these exact words, but the gist was: Don’t just think of this as a baby. Soon that baby will be a child. Then that baby will be a big kid. And then he or she will be a teenager. And eventually you’ll be talking with him or her on the phone like I’m talking to you right now. You need to have this baby. I know it seems crazy, and I don’t know why I’m feeling this way right now, but I just have the strongest feeling God wants you to have this baby.

I had that feeling, too. And, yet, through tears and nose blows, I debated her.

“But what will this do to the boys? What will people say about me? I’m going to hurt so many people. I’ve struggled so hard to be OK on my own. This is going to derail everything. Everyone is going to think I’m crazy.”

She told me that when a baby is born, everyone is flooded with love, and so it would be with my boys and everyone else who counted. She told me it didn’t matter what other people thought, that she and my dad loved me. She told me families could look a lot of different ways, and I could do whatever I wanted. She told me I’d worked hard enough for long enough in enough different ways and it was ok to enjoy and embrace Clive’s love and all that came with it. She told me I was not crazy.

“Sweetie, all my life I made decisions because I was terrified of what my mother would think. My mother made decisions because she was terrified of what everyone else would think. We are not going to do that anymore. That ends here.”

poolside

Clive snapped this of me, baby bump and all, poolside on a late-summer getaway in the lakey, piney hills of New Hampshire. Do I look like I care what people think of me? Thanks, Mom. (Sidenote: Warm welcome to the forehead vein who now likes to make an appearance when I laugh, cry and rage.)

Worrying about what people think of me? That ends here.

It turns out people have asked my friends why I’m driving a new car—a whole other crazy part of this new abundance—and pry “who’s the guy?” when they could just ask me directly. Moms at school have pumped my nanny, who has no idea who they even are, for details and she has alternately appeased them with a response, changed the subject or told them that I’m her employer and that we have a professional relationship. (BS. She knows everything.) “You know people are talking about you, Emily,” she said. “But don’t even care what they say. What they think does not matter. Those people have no idea how good it really is.”

It’s more than a little creepy to think people in my community might be talking about me, about my sons. I’m still working on letting this stuff roll off and living my life without fear of external perceptions. Without fear of being a curiosity, or an outcast.

And it’s true. My world is too messy to write about. Messy, messy, messy. But if I don’t tell the stories, how will others experiencing similar situations know they’re not alone?

We’ve all got messes. And if I’ve learned anything at all so far, like finger painting, brownie sundaes, moves into bigger spaces to accommodate bigger love and dances in the rain, if done sincerely and with love, a messy life is a rich life.

new-family

My sweet, growing family, and one of the Blue Men, who show us how artful a mess can be.

 

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Emerging, ready to share again

I haven’t written publicly in some time because—once again, and much differently than I might’ve drawn it up if I could’ve—I’ve been going through some stuff. So has almost everyone else I know (mad props to ’em), so I know I’m not special, even though my mom and dad laughingly proclaim I have had the year of all years, but here’s some of my latest meanderings nonetheless…

Embarking on a hardcore regimen of weekly therapy for several months. I wanted to revisit the landmarks I blew past in my sprint to survival following the separation. I retraced my steps. I looked at everything I missed. My therapist encouraged me to “sit with my feelings” rather than immediately look for the silver lining that would make sense of stuff that made no sense. I saw and felt things I can’t believe I dismissed as I was dashing to make all the pieces of my new life fit together. It was painful as eff. But I finally came to the finish line, a freer, more grounded, wiser person.

Navigating an evolving social circle. Assimilating to the glaring void of raucous social gatherings with couples and families was a thing for me. With the change in marital status, one or two of my social circles changed drastically. It was a little lonely sometimes. Not just for me, but for my boys. Thankfully, my dearest friends never left my side and I discovered new ways to be social.

Searching hungrily for single moms who’d “get it.” Couples and families comfortable enough to hang out with just me and my boys while my life looked heaps different than theirs…that was hard to come by.

Working very un-summery hours. Not ideal, but my Kindle peops show me deeper layers of their awesomeness daily. Someday I’ll write an entire blog post on that.

Reconnecting with my first love, for whom I’d longed over the course of my lifetime, only to discover that once we candidly revisited all our long-lost feelings as well as those that lingered, our connection was much bigger, much purer, much more powerful and much more about lifelong divine friendship than about meeting at a California beach house for a steamy weekend rendezvous.

Deciding to end my frivolous yearlong dating bender. I intended to create space for something bigger. (The dating life couldn’t have been more indulgent and fun, but it was time, almost exactly one year to the day.)

Meeting Clive. Sure enough, I met someone bigger—so much bigger—approximately one very intense, self-reflexive, heated-conversations-with-the-Universe month after I asked for it.

Falling in love. And clearing myself for reals of some major blocks to true intimacy.

Finalizing my divorce. Even though we hugged before, during and after the proceedings, that shit sucked. Super ouchie.

Embracing the unicorn. Opening my heart, mind, life and family to a wonderful man and his wonderful son was a big, big deal. (Note: He’s even better than I hoped he’d be—and thank goodness he doesn’t own a yacht or a hedge fund. Soon after I wished for that in the Bahamas, I discovered first hand on a few persistent dinners with ostentatious bottles of wine and bombast to beat the band that those dudes are insufferable.)

Leaving the house. Moving out of the home in which I became a mother, fought hard for a marriage, surrendered the marriage, and struck out on my own as a single, working mom… Tough.

Apartment living. Moving into a two-bedroom apartment with window a/c units and coin laundry in the basement.

Never fucking having enough quarters.

Also, becoming pregnant.

Yep.

Boy, does life surprise me sometimes.

I’ll spare you the details, but the baby all up in my uterus courtesy of my beloved is one determined human. I’ll be honest, it felt downright biblical at first. I could almost hear God’s (really deep, booming) voice saying “Emily, you thought you would never do this again, but you are going to have a child. My will be done.”

The weekend before I found out, I said a special, very intentional prayer:

“Please give me the courage and the wildness to embrace the magnitude of unknown blessings on their way to me now.”

I knew something big was coming and, sight unseen, I knew I wanted the strength to receive it. That’s what I get, I suppose. Nonetheless, I spent a couple months agonizing very ungraciously in what I call Freak Out Town. I had some furious, incredulous, bargaining words with God; I pushed Clive away; I retreated into my own self-reliant world; my tummy was always upset; I was exhausted and withdrawn; I cried a LOT.

Then something clicked and…

  • I allowed my enthusiastic, supportive, delighted, in-countless-ways-magnificent, prayerful, tuned-in, awesome father, top-of-the-line-luxury-model babydaddy  more completely into my heart, into my life, into my sons’ lives and onto the path we are now unconventionally forging together with our conglomeration of children.
  • Second, I stopped trying to understand God’s plan and simply concede to it.

With both of these moves came joy and contentment like I can’t describe.

Like any recently divorced, pregnant, yet unwed, flying-by-the-seat-of-her-pants woman and mother, I have my moments—for example I would really like to give fewer fucks about what people think about me over here, but the creepy hard stares at my belly and the mouth-agape responses to my unexpected news sometimes do bother me.

Nonetheless, the prevailing sensation in all of this—and in my family, coworkers and close friends—is marvel.

Also love. So much love.