I wore that look for a solid three days straight. I hadn't felt that way since the time that "I flipped the fuck out" and screamed at my ceiling like an absolute crazy person.
For three days straight I went to bed feeling annoyed, I woke up feeling annoyed, and no matter what I did I just couldn't seem to shake the feeling. I was irritable, prickly, and just plain vile to be around.
I really can't say that I enjoyed it!
What set me off? Well first off I'm just feeling plain old overworked. We have our first big fundraiser coming up for the nonprofit and I will admit it, I am in WAY over my head on this one. I simply cannot figure out how I am going to get everything done that I need to get done and it's really starting to wear on me.
Thursday morning the Nutcase Neighbors FINALLY (yay!!!) moved out of their house, but not before calling me a "freak show" as they left. People can call me names all day and night and it normally doesn't bother me, but because of the trauma that they are tied to, their words cut me much deeper.
Better yet, on Thursday afternoon I found out that I did in fact have to go to court the next day and face my ex. I never do well when I know that something like that is right around the corner for me. It makes me feel sick, terrified, and trapped by an impending deadline. So basically I spent all day Thursday freaking out about the next morning and then Thursday night my friend died.
She left behind two boys and my heart is just absolutely crushed for everything that she will miss out on and the fact that her boys are now motherless. I truly can't think of many things more devastating than not being able to parent my children and having them grow up without me. It really shook me to my core to watch every mothers worst nightmare unfolding before me.
So there I was, overworked, grieving a loss, and knowing that I had to face my ex the next morning.
I got to court early that Friday morning because to be honest, I wasn't sure how long it was going to take me to convince myself to walk in there. I had asked Mr. Attorney Man if I could meet him in the parking garage and walk in with him. The courthouse is a few blocks from the parking garage and not only am I terrified of running into my ex along the way, but the men that loiter around outside the courthouse never pass up the opportunity to give me some unwanted attention.
So there I am, sitting there in the parking garage and I literally cannot get myself to do....anything, to be honest.
Mr. Attorney Man texted me with his approximate arrival time and I couldn't even bring myself to text him back, which is very much unlike me. I have a lot of respect for him and would never blatantly ignore someone, but I just....couldn't.
I must have sat there for over an hour having an internal argument with myself.
"Eden, you need to do this. This is what you WANTED. You wanted to gain some control back in your life and you are going to throw it all away if you don't show up. You are going to be in an even worse position if you do this!"
"Yea, but if you completely fall apart in front of him then he will know how much he has destroyed you. He will see how broken and bruised you are and he will feel like he has accomplished his mission. He will see you exactly as the woman that he created you to be....nothing. You can't go in there. Make up an excuse about an emergency and just let Mr. Attorney Man figure it out."
"But if you don't go in there he really will have the last word, again, and this time you will have paid real money to let him have it. On top of that, you will be giving up on what your kids need. You can't let your kids down."
An hour you guys; for over an hour I sat there trying to figure out what to do while I argued with myself.
Eventually I came to the conclusion that there really was no good conclusion. I wasn't going to come to an answer that made me feel comfortable. I wasn't going to suddenly feel better with the choice that I had made.
I thought about everything that had gone on in the last year and I thought about all the work that I had done on myself. I thought about all the advice that I give you guys on this blog and then I made my decision.
"If I go in and I fall apart completely, he will see that I have been broken; he will see the visible wounds that he has caused. He will see my scars. He will see my scars, but he will see me. He will see that I am still standing, that I am still alive. He will see that I am still very much in the fight. He will see that as bruised and broken as I am, that I am still not yet waving the white flag."
He will see that I am still alive.
Pain hurts but wounds heal. Scars are the evidence of healing; you only heal when you are alive. You are only alive because you have survived.
I didn't need to show him that I have my life together, that I am fully recovered from the damage that he had done. I don't need to pretend to be anything other than what I am; broken, hurting, and still not giving up.
I got out of my car and I cried the whole way into the courthouse. I stopped in the bathroom on the first floor, pulled myself together, and then I went upstairs.
I saw him the second I walked out of the elevator. He was in the hallway talking to Mr. Attorney Man. I took two steps backwards, turned to walk away, remembered why I was doing this, and then I walked nearly right up to them.
I leaned on the wall opposite them, not wanting to interrupt whatever Mr. Attorney Man was doing, but no longer willing to hide in the corner along with my shame.
I heard my ex say a few things that made me want to storm over and punch him in the nose, but I just waited, and waited, and waited, and good grief those guys can talk, and I waited some more. Eventually Mr. Attorney Man came over and presented me with a deal that he had worked out with my ex. The deal? Honest to gosh I have literally no idea. I remember agreeing to it, signing a bunch of stuff, and yet I have absolutely no idea what I agreed to. I'm trusting that Mr. Attorney Man didn't steer me wrong because I seriously could have signed my kids over to him and I wouldn't remember it. I remember him asking me several times if I was ok with it and I remember thinking "I really don't even know what we are talking about," but at the same time none of it felt real.
I know that we even talked about everything that happened on the way out of the courthouse...but what we talked about I haven't the slightest clue.
It was like my had brain shut off when I had walked in and I was just physically there. The only thing I really even remember talking about was something with our joint safety deposit box and some crazy conspiracy theory my ex had involving Mr. Attorney Man and I. Other than that, I have not the slightest freaking clue what happened legally that morning. I'm going to need to figure that out....
What I do remember happening though, was that I talked to my ex. You guys I swear I really have no idea what was going on with me that day. I feel like I just shut down emotionally when I walked in there and I let robot mode take over. Like all the parts of me that make me "me" just vanished and yet my basic interaction skills stayed intact.
When I walked in there that morning I had told myself that if I had come this far, that I was going to go all the way; that I wasn't going to half-ass this opportunity. There were things that I needed answers on and come hell or high water I intended to get them.
I honestly think that's why I felt like a robot. All those years of being raped by my ex; learning to just disconnect completely from the reality of the situation in order to get through it, it felt like a mild "version" of that knowing that I was going to be facing him again.
I think I went in there knowing what I needed to do and then I just checked out completely in order to be able to power through it.
When Mr. Attorney Man went into the courtroom to handle some paperwork I seized the opportunity to ask my ex some questions.
Now here's the thing about my ex; he will never tell you the truth. Ever. What he will do though, is tell you when he is lying. 10 years of living with that man and his "tells" never changed. I learned very quickly how to phrase my questions in order to get the "truth" out of him by asking him things in ways that would allow me to know when he was lying. Ask him a question, see if he is telling the truth. If he is lying, narrow the focus of the question down and ask it again. Still lying? Narrow it down again. Eventually you are left with the entire truth in a single lie.
Real life example:
Me: "Are you cheating on me?"
He is cheating on me.
Me: "Do I know her?"
Him: "What? No you don't know her, because I'm not cheating."
Me: Ok, first part was the truth, last part was a lie. I don't know her.
"I know you are cheating on me, did you meet her at work?"
Him: "I'm not cheating on you, who would I meet at work anyways?"
Both lies. He is cheating and he met her at work.
Eventually you can get almost the entire truth out of him with his very easy to read tells.
This day though, the morning of court, I had a few questions that I needed to ask him in regards to his future with the kids, the past rape, and my future safety. Sure, I had a million things that I wanted to ask him, namely "where on earth did you disappear to when you left? How long were you planning that? How could you do that to your children?" and a hundred other questions that claw at my soul on a daily basis, but I knew that any answers he gave me were probably just going to hurt even more and so I didn't even ask.
I did though get all the answers out of him that I needed and to be honest I'm scared to death at this point.
To make it worse, he had no idea how old the kids were, when their birthdays were, my son's middle name, or any other basic information that any parent should know. That crushed me, it really did. I don't expect anything of him and yet at the same time, because he is the biological father of my children, there will most likely always be that tiny part of me that yearns for any sign that he even acknowledges that fact.
He had quite a bit he wanted to say to me though. Everything from "you know that I hate you, right? I mean really, I do not like you at all."
Yea dude, I kinda figured as much when you disappeared. I also kind figured that when you raped me and pretty much every other interaction that we have had over the past 13 years.
"I do not want those kids. Stop dragging me in here to pay for kids that aren't even mine anymore. Maybe if you weren't such a bitch you could get married again and they could get adopted by their new dad. Or better yet your lazy ass could get another job so that you could actually support the kids that you brought into the world. Honestly Eden, I don't know why, but I expected better from you. If I had known you couldn't hack being a mom maybe I would have just taken them. You know what? I'm going to tell that Mr. Attorney Man that I want the kids. Yea, as usual, you can't do anything right and that's why we are here, so maybe I'll just take both of them."
I'm telling you guys, a part of me was stifling down laughter but the majority of me was trying not to punch him in the face. I pondered for a moment if I was about to become one of those screaming, jaded ex's that I have watched get into explosive arguments in the courthouse hallways.
At least even in robot mode I was conscious enough of the fact that I was in fact, standing in a courthouse. I just let him talk, and talk, and talk, and freaking talk, and I didn't say a whole lot back. He alternated between firmly talking to me, to doing that "whisper yelling" thing that parents do when they are trying to get their children to behave in public, to poking me with his finger as he shot insults at me. I learned a long time ago that my ex believes what he wants to believe and there isn't a damn thing anyone can say that will make him change his mind, so I didn't even waste my breath responding for the most part.
Eventually the complaints turned to threats and after what seemed like an eternity Mr. Attorney Man was done with the paperwork and rejoined us. I vaguely remember saying something snotty to my ex like "have a nice life" as we parted ways. I believe I may have even waved him good-bye...I can't really remember but it seems slightly familiar...
So after that whole fiasco, as much as it's over, I'm really not sure it's over. To be honest part of me is terrified that it's really just beginning.
I left the courthouse, drove to the chiropractic office that I clean, walked in the doors, my friends asked me how it went, and I immediately burst into tears.
No, not even tears, more like sobs. I went back to my car where it was a little more appropriate to cry and as I was getting into my car I noticed that someone had left a nice sized dent in it that morning at the courthouse.
I sat in my car feeling a bit shell shocked and I let the reality of the the past few days sink in. Oh let me tell you, it sunk in. My friend had died, my ex had scared the shit out of me, I was overworked, annoyed with the dent in my car, I was feeling like a complete bitch, and I was sobbing uncontrollably.
As I sat in the car trying to pull myself together I started looking at some emails that I had gotten. Imagine my shock when I saw that I was being alerted to the fact that a media source covering my nonprofit was essentially reporting that I had left my marriage for financial reasons. Not that I had been abused, my husband had disappeared, and that I gotten divorced, nope, the source stated that I was in debt and choose to get divorced.
You have absolutely got to be kidding me. I called the person in charge and she basically told me that because my ex lives in town they were afraid of "slandering" him and so they just changed my story to one of a debt filled marriage (which isn't even true). Because of the blatant misrepresentation several of the foundations that support my organization might be forced to reconsider funding us because of legal, religious, and political reasons.
My face and my name are now tied to a story that is not mine; a story that is going to hurt my organization.
I'm doing everything I can to try and get this fixed, but until then I'm sort of being hung out to dry.
This had all been just too much and my bitch status just kept raging.
This isn't me. This attitude, it is not what I expect from myself.
I woke up today and took a close look at the situation. I feel prickly, I feel like I just want everyone to stay away from me, but really, what good is that going to do me?
I've never really had anyone to be accountable to before and so I've always just made sure to stay tuned in to the accountability levels that I have set for myself.
This attitude, these negative vibes that I am putting out, I expect better of myself.
Don't get me wrong, I don't think anyone would look at this situation and deem me wrong for feeling the way that I have been, but I'm not everyone. I've been through a lot and I am the person that I am today because I haven't let the ugly steal my soul.
These situations, these bumps in the road, this is not what I want. I don't want to be here, I don't want to deal with it, I just want it all to go away, but obviously, that's not possible. I cannot control the situations that are going on in my life. The only thing that I can control is how I deal with them.
I can deal with them by keeping a positive outlook, moving forward, being flexible in the uncertain, and allowing for the possibility that a larger plan is still unfolding. My only other option is to continue being a bitch, stomp around in my own life like an angry toddler, and hulk smash anyone that gets too close.
Something tells me that the second option isn't going to get me very far.
Do you know how much energy it takes to be annoyed and angry? Let me tell you, it actually takes a lot. I don't feel better because I'm in a bad mood. I don't wake up feeling more rested because I'm grouchy, it's quite the opposite actually.
Here I am investing my energy into emotions that are not only dragging me down, but preventing me from moving forward from the situation that is causing those feelings.
Why am I choosing to invest myself in my own destruction?
When the road gets tough and life gets hard, you really only have two choices. You can throw your hands up in the air, admit defeat, sit down, stay in that place forever, or you can keep moving.
The only real difference between the first plan and the second plan is that the first plan dooms you to failure while the second one gives you the possibility of triumph.
I don't know about you, but I find it wiser to bet on the only plan with the possibility of a win.
I'm not happy about what has been going on, I'm not happy about any of it, but I'm choosing to be open to the possibility that this will work out in my favor if I allow myself the opportunity to draw the good from these unwanted circumstances.
I'm going to stop walking around my house like an angry toddler and start tackling these issues one by one, sort them out, and invest myself in the plan of action that will best allow for an outcome that I desire.
Investing yourself in the life choices that give you the best opportunity for a healthy return is really the only viable option for success.
You only have so much time and energy, make sure you spend it on the things you want the most.