My daughter was giddy this morning. She kept talking about how fast eight months went by and how she went from not knowing anyone here in Snohomish to going to a bonfire tonight with all of her friends.
I asked her if she was happy here and her reply was instant: “Yes!”
And then she followed up “Am I going to be here next year?”
I answered “Of course. Why would you ask that?”
“Because last year I didn’t know I was going to have to change schools so it seems like a fair question.” It was.
“Yes, you and your brother are staying here. I don’t know if we’re going to be in the same home. I hope we are. But if not, that’s okay too. But we are not leaving and you are not going to have to start over again.”
One year ago my kids were sat down in the Wheelie Bar at my old house with their dad and I and we broke the news that they were not going to be living with him anymore. They were devastated. They had spent their last day of school in Sammamish thinking nothing of having to say goodbye to anyone. It’s a betrayal my son still feels today. My daughter, on the other hand, is so much happier here that she’s gotten over all of it now.
In one month, however, I would be dealt an equally devastating blow – my boyfriend - no, he was much more than that – he was my partner of the forever kind, in business, love and life – would say that he didn’t want them either, leaving me to also have to find a new home for the three of us.
I moved us into an unfinished rental house our Dairyland business owned, with the help of my boyfriend’s mom, and we set about starting over.
The separation gave my ex opportunity to move on quickly. I however, had no time. I was single, having to find a way to earn a living for a house of three. I had been working for years at two full-time jobs – one on my own and the other the wedding & farm businesses. Now, I no longer had the “luxury” of working at the wedding/farm business for free. But only 6 months prior, I had left the confines of working for someone else to start Activity Girl, because it gave me the flexibility to do the weddings & farm but with the extra income to pay bills.
What started as supplemental now had to be my 100% support. And it’s hard starting and growing a business. That’s why I help others do it.
But my problem is that I’ve being doing it while dealing with so many other hurdles and changes and I’m bruised and battered.
See, I’m finally truly at rock bottom. I’ve been here for sometime actually. And that’s a good thing. I’m no longer tunneling myself deeper and deeper. I have had the life-changing awakening that not only gave me clarity but also revealed my true purpose. I’m not going to ever accept a one-sided relationship that keeps my begging for love and attention and vulnerable to emotional abuse and manipulation, in business and in love. I also know this came from having a small, child trapped inside of me that needed to be healed and loved so that I could become a true adult woman.
But being at rock bottom doesn’t mean it’s all good. Knowing you’ve hit your lowest low is not the same as getting out.
I’ve been living here in this dark, cold pit for months. Tracing the jagged surface of the narrow walls around me, trying to find a foothold or a place to grab onto so that I can pull myself up and start to climb out. But, as my therapist as told me many times, I’ve lived a life of endurance. I’ve had to fight on and on and on.
This means I’ve lived my life, tumbling down into this pit, clawing at the sides to keep from dying. Every once in awhile, about every seven years or so, I’m able to move back up a little, only to lose my grip and plunge again. And people who have lived a so-called life of endurance can fall farther and deeper than most. Our blessing is we know how to deal with pain and suffering. But it is also our curse.
And so here I am, finally on the floor, with no way to go any deeper. But right now, I’m tired.
I know all of the things I need to do for myself and yet can’t do them. Because, I’m not just fighting to grow my business or my brand or to turn my life in a new direction. I’m fighting against sorrow and grief – grief for a love lost. For a business I was passionate about that is slipping away from me that I never intended to lose. Again. And sorrow for a life I've lived that I didn't feel I deserved.
And I’m trapped between needing to care for myself with no time to grieve. My kids have needed me to step up many times for them this past year as they have dealt with changes – hard changes for kids their age to go through. And in the world of mothering, I’ve grown this part of me in astronomical ways. But that has taken real time - time spent away from working and earning money.
So, I’ve learned over the last couple of weeks, it’s hard to build a business for yourself when you’re struggling with loss. Not to mention the stress of lawyers and the negativity that comes with standing up for yourself against a person - the person who was supposed to be your greatest ally - who is more determined to convince you into believing you never really mattered than to simply negotiate a buy-out.
I said one day that I’ve been motionless. And I have. I want to lift my arms and climb but I don’t know where to start. Wait, not true. I know where to start. I just have to overcome the fatigue and soreness I feel throughout my body. Which is why the cold damp floor against my cheek as I lay here at the bottom is so compelling some days.
I’m scared at what will happen if I don't do anything but that’s not all.
I am also angry and envious and resentful. I was listening to an audio book yesterday while driving to Mt. St. Helens and back. I kept hearing tale after tale of business owners overcoming and creating exciting new careers. And it pissed me off. Because every one of them had a spouse who supported them. Or parents who helped them, or a benefactor that stepped in. Sure, these entrepreneurs put in work. There is little doubt of that. But ultimately, they didn’t do it alone. And that is what pisses me off. The ones all on their own are rarer than diamonds. The odds are simply stacked against them.
So, here we are, at a milestone of happiness – the last day of school. The capstone in achievement for my kids that shows that they were able to overcome and thrive in a new place. I’d like to think I had something to do with that. I think I did. But I’m proud of them more than myself.
But this is also the first summer in a very long time that won’t be defined by weddings for me. And that hurts. So hearing the love doves in the morning and the music drifting across the road in the evenings is painful, especially while I’m caught in the web of a legal limbo by my ex, unable to move on. Motionless again.
Today, I rejoice in my kids’s happiness – especially since at one point in the last 12 months, it could have been lost forever. And that fact is not lost on me.
And today, I will curl my legs up underneath me in the cold, dark corner of my pit and plot my escape.