Friday I became engaged.
My boyfriend of two years took me to the house that we are in the process of purchasing after dinner, had electric candles lit and lining the sidewalk up to the door and proposed right there on the front porch. I was completely in shock and cried hysterically.
Of course I said yes.
It's a very strange feeling, looking down at the ring on my finger and realizing, "Wow, I'm going to be someone's wife. I'm going to have a husband!" Never in a million years would I have ever thought I was going to get married.
Before I met my now fiance, I was the notorious "Lone Ranger." The hard, sometimes cold, crass, asshole friend that every group seems to have. She could drink the men under the table, cuss like a sailor, spout off disgusting jokes that could make the most perverted blush, and never seemed to take relationships seriously.
That was me, and I played the role well.
After growing up and hearing over and over that I needed a man to complete me, make me happy, and to take care of me, I started to become a little resentful. I set out to prove that I didn't need a fucking man to do anything for me!
While most girls my age were planning their dream weddings or popping out babies, I was working 50 hours a week, paying my own bills and joking with my friends that if my vibrator could mow the lawn, I'd be all set! It was my life, I made it, and I enjoyed it.
But, as most things do, it all changed in a flash.
I met him. He was hilarious, loved the same music and movies, was just as outrageous and crude as I was and had the most beautiful green eyes I had ever seen.
I was smitten.
He sent me flowers, wrote little poems, stayed up until the wee hours of the morning just to make sure that I got home from work okay. We would spend our weekends drinking, sharing secrets, listening to music, and having the most mind-blowing sex I had ever experienced.
It came as a complete shock, but I was falling in love with him. I had never been in love before, nor I had never allowed myself to, so this was a brand new experience. It was nothing like how it's described in books or the media. It was the most raw, painful thing I had ever felt, but it was so natural I couldn't help but embrace it. My heart literally ached and my breath caught in my chest whenever I spoke about him.
And it scared the hell out of me.
I had never allowed myself to be vulnerable, how the hell did this happen!? I had severe trust issues due to traumatic experiences in grade school (a story for another day, I'm not strong enough to write that one yet), but somehow it was so easy to open up to him, because he was broken just like I was. But we fit together perfectly, our burned, stomped on, self-deprecating pieces fit. He makes me feel beautiful and I make him feel strong.
And 2 years later, I am still as in love with him as the first time he kissed me.
It's still sinking in, but I couldn't be happier to be his wife and I couldn't (literally) imagine living the rest of my life with someone else.
February is all about The Happy.
We here at Band Back Together know that winter and the holidays can feel overwhelming, The Depression starts rearing its ugly head.
We're saying goodbye to depression and hello to Project Happy.
So, The Band, what makes you happy?
What brings a smile to your face? Is it a memory? The thought of the future? The brilliance of a sunset? We want to know!
I just wanted to share a quick story about how amazingly perfect the tiny unexpected things in life can be. Those little events that line up so perfectly to cause something amazing.
For me, it happened in December.
My dad had, with the help of a woman I never want to talk to again, planned a Big Band dance in memory of my mum, and my dad was going to sing. I was so excited. I found the perfect dress, also serving as a bit of a fuck you to those who hate me, since it was tight and silver and looked amazing, and I was counting the minutes until the dance.
My daughter also had a brand new red dress and I was so joyful to bring her to her first dance. About thirty minutes of dancing into it I heard someone say my name as I walked by after I checked on my girl. There, I realised that it was a guy I had been friends with all my childhood but lost touch with in high school.
That night I knew after talking and dancing with him for several hours straight that I was in trouble. I was falling for him. He took both my daughter and me to breakfast and I watched him as I could tell he was falling in love with her. I saw the pride in his eyes when people came over to ask how old she was and tell him she was beautiful. After being left by her biological father, here was a man that I remember as a second grader watching her sleep as if she was his own.
He saved me from a classic New Year's Eve of hiding from people in my room with a bottle of alcohol that I would finish that night. He took me to a really fun family party. We talked constantly. It felt like we never drifted apart.
After that, we ended up at his parents' house, watching movies before falling asleep on the couch. When I went home that morning I hadn't just gained a best friend, I gained a boyfriend. Quickly, I realised just how amazing little, unexpected things could be. I ran into an old friend and found what I always wanted to find.
He is the man who respects me, is truthful, kind, makes me laugh like I haven't in years, adores my daughter as if she was his own, and honours my wishes. I trust him with my whole world. He wasn't supposed to be at that dance. I wasn't going to wear that dress that made me hard to miss. He wasn't looking for a new girl after he was used and broken by his ex. I never wanted to trust and love anyone again.
But somehow, in a crowded dance hall, we found each other.
Just a bizarre set of events leading to me being happier then I have been in so many years. Something so unexpected and beautiful that I stop every day and remember just how lucky I am.
Maybe it does happen like that, going about your day then you suddenly find yourself where you always wanted to be, just when you give up wanting it and swear never again. Happiness and love can really find you. And I don't think I would ever change a thing.
My son just turned twelve and he has a girlfriend.
Okay, that's not entirely true.
See, my son lives with his father during the school year. Each weekend I call and he fills me in on his week at school. This weekend we talked about Valentine's Day coming up and he got this shy, little voice as he told me about Kallie.
She is a girl but not his girlfriend. But he takes her to dances and he likes her. And she knows he likes her. But they're just friends because Dad says he's too young to date.
As my head screamed, "NO!! He's too young for girls!!" My heart swelled with love at this milestone in his young life.
Now excuse me while I go count my gray hairs.
What's your Happy?
Don't think you have one? Look harder. Something will make you smile today.
We want to know!
Share it with the world on your blog and then link up below, tweet it out (hashtag #DOHMonday #WithTheBand) or share it on Facebook. Whatever you want to do, do it. Just find a bit of happy in this Monday!
Sometimes you need to laugh. You just do.
Whether it's because you really want to cry or you just can't figure out what else to do, or because you know what? Sometimes? Things are actually pretty damn funny.
So here are some things that make me giggle. Or snort. Or just plain ole' guffaw. Guffaw? Is that even a word?
And my cats.
Sometimes the whole lot of them are so completely ridiculous, and yet they bring a smile to my face regularly.
Even when the oldest cat poops somewhere he shouldn't because he wants to tell us to clean the damn litter box.
Even when we have to deal with our puppy (she's three) who, after a year of living with us, STILL does not understand what cats are and why they exist. Therefore we have to gate her into the living room and keep the cats out, AND leash her to bring her upstairs to her crate for bed.
It's not the dream situation, after all we've had our old man dog for AGES and he doesn't need all that extra attention, but she's so cute and so goofy and so chubby and so beautiful that she makes me smile.
And when she STORMS at the gate where there is a cat on the other side? Or she goes sliding across the hardwoods and hears a huge HISSSS that stops her in her tracks? I have to laugh. Because she's almost afraid, and she's like 80 pounds. And he's like 20. If that. We have chubby animals, I tell ya.
Our largest cat probably IS about 20 pounds, give or take. We took him in off the streets of Brooklyn, NY many years ago and we can NOT touch him. We feed him, we give him water, we give him shelter. But step toward that boy and he's outta there like a flash.
It's funny, even if it's not.
He's probably the softest cat in existence, but he's afraid of people. Can you imagine how he is when there's a chance the puppy is in sight? Yeah - that doesn't go over well. But when it's quiet and there's a calm in the house? He comes on out, lays down on his chubby belly and spreads his paws out, and goes face-first into the water bowl.
And it's adorable.
It really is, I promise. My husband and I will look at one another and laugh. Because it's cute and makes us happy. We saved this big guy's life, and though he'd rather chew through the walls than have us touch him, we know he loves us for that. Right?
And yes, even when I crawl into bed only to find cat puke on the sheets, blankets, well, pretty much any spot I turn - or when I really can't turn in my bed because I have a cat on my chest and a dog blocking my leg room? I'm still happy.
I still love these babies with all my heart.
Pets are a big responsibility, they'll give you unconditional love like you wouldn't believe. I'd never give up my fur-babies for anything in this world.
Do you know the feeling? Do you want to? Consider a visit to your local shelter to talk to their staff. They'll help you assess whether it's the right time for you to add to your family. If not, no biggie.
I hope you remembered your friends' fur-babies when it was holiday time. Because they're part of the family, too! But it's never too late to bring them a treat when you pop by. And they'll always be there to bring you a smile. And a rub. And maybe need for a lint roller when you leave. But hey, can't win 'em all. Unconditional love in exchange for dealing with a little lint?
It's all good!
2012 - what a year.
For some of us, it was a year of dreams fulfilled, questions answered and our way, at long last, found.
For some of us, it was a year of loss, sadness and longing for what we once had.
For all of us, it was a year in which we learned, loved, and grew.
What did 2012 mean to you?
Two decades ago, it was "funny" that every few years, I had a wild one. I'd have a year where I got married, almost died, and bought a house; or one where I switched careers and moved across the country away from everyone I knew - that kind of thing.
As I get older, though, people are starting to roll their eyes; they don't find it so amusing.
Yeah, well, they can stuff it: I learn hard and I change big, because I can't bear to do the same wrong things once I realize they're wrong. It's hard sometimes; I started from a place of learning that almost everything "wrong," learning to hate myself, to be unhealthy, to sabotage my life.
Today, though, I looked in the mirror and realized that 2012 was not only yet another year of big changes; it was actually a year of big WINS.
This is a strange thing to say, on the face of it, as 2012 may have been the hardest year of my life. My horribly difficult breakup with my best friend of 12 years continued - and may have concluded? - this year. In January, my husband moved out, and months of attempted therapy did nothing to prevent the divorce which is now being finalized (well, soon hopefully).
By September, he had moved in with that ex-best-friend, and they're still together (I'm not sure if it's romantic, but oddly enough, it doesn't matter). I've cut off all contact with them in the last few months because every time I encounter either, it's to face a tidal wave of hate and poison from the two people I used to rely on the most - no, entirely - to be my listeners, lovers, and supporters.
And the job I left my family and moved across the country for a few years back? The politics turned ugly and I got fired, both unfairly and unprofessionally, leaving me wondering how I'd pay the bills and where I'd get the money to support my family like I'd promised. And lonely...lonelier than I've ever been, for longer than I ever thought I could stand it.
But a couple things happened.
I realized, through a long and difficult process, that my former-BFF and my former-husband were, irrespective of the good things about them, not good relationships for me. They were manipulative in the extreme, needy, and graspy and willing to turn on me like wolves when it looked like I might not provide them the support (emotional and financial) they felt entitled to.
Having them out of my life may have left a vacuum, but it also gave me a freedom - an ability to grow, live, and pursue my path, that I've never had. I only have regular-type-friends here - and I'm close with some of them, but not with anywhere near the intimacy as the ones I lost - but they're MUCH healthier relationships, with boundaries and considerations built in for ME.
The process of learning to set up, maintain, and end relationships based on what's good for me has been huge...plus, while I may not have any close partner-types right now, I do have something I never had before: a social network.
A web of people I can rely on for different things, to different degrees, and I no longer feel like my whole emotional and social life rests in the hands of one person and their being happy with me. There are people it would make me really sad to lose...but I know that I would be okay if I did, and I know that I would say goodbye to them if we began to hurt each other, which is something I should have done with my other two YEARS ago, only I was too afraid of living without them.
Well, now I know that I can, and what's more, I'm pretty good at it.
Losing my job may have turned out to be the best possible thing, too. After so many years in offices, burning 50 hours a week on someone else's (often stupid) instructions, working hard on projects only to have big corporations screw them up or sacrifice them (and their engineers, including me) to the bottom line - I decided that, rather than start over in the same damn cycle, I'd go freelance, start my own business, and do what I do for clients, rather than rely on one company with no loyalty to me whatsoever to pay my whole way.
And I love it. LOVE it. It's only been a few months, and I'm not paying the bills with it yet, but I'm bleeding savings a lot slower than I'd feared I would be. Though the future of it is intimidating, it's also amazing. I've wanted to write and travel my whole life, and suddenly it might be possible - in fact, I'm taking a small trip or two this winter, just to teach myself to do it (and cheaply). And I've joined a writer's group and have been making better progress on my art than I did during my whole last marriage.
Best of all, I'm learning to be alone without necessarily being lonely. When I need to reach out and there's no one on hand to hug, rather than folding into a corner and crying, I call my mother or my brother and tell them I love them.
Sometimes one of my just-friends is around, and I've found the courage lately, too, to say to them, "Hey, I need a hug," and to let what they can give me help, even if it isn't the 100%-all-encompassing-love I've been trained to think is the only thing that will do. Sometimes I hug my roommate, and once I asked if I could hug my therapist, and those helped too, much to my surprise.
Sometimes I write a card or a letter to someone - even just a distant aunt or cousin I've barely met; I go online and look for someone who really needs a small donation for medical bills or something and I send them a few bucks and a nice email; or I just meditate on how life is lonely sometimes and that's not a death-sentence - it's just a pain, like having a stomach-ache, and everyone suffers pain sometimes.
And then I get up, and look around and realize that this is MY life and I like it that way. Even if I'd love to have more company someday, I wouldn't want to give up the freedoms I've gained this year, not for anything.
I've got so much to do, share, and be. What looked like a year of hard losses may have been a shedding of exactly the things that were keeping me from doing and sharing and being all those things.
Thank you SO much for sharing 2012 with me, The Band. Your message and your stories have always helped.
I hope mine can, too.
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