Last night, after Olive came home from her dad’s and brought down my house back to its toddler-trashed glory I sat down and began wrapping up a few editing projects. As I neared the end of my email inbox and checked things off my to-do list, I began to remember that once upon a time I had a blog – a BLOG!
Yes. A blog where I used to write things, things that had nothing to do with being green or eco-friendly or vegetarian (well, not entirely about that stuff anyway). I got such an ache for it and I pulled up this neglected old page and guys, I realized that it has been a fucking month since I last posted.
So, that was interesting and also slightly horrifying. I’ve noticed over the years that I always tend to write less when I’m stressed – if you look at my post history, when the blog goes dark it tends to be because I’m holed up somewhere with my head down trying to get through, and that is a pretty good description of mid-November to mid-December this year.
Quick summary: Kidney shit got real in November, there were a few ER visits and then a long-awaited Nephrologist appointment where I was started on some new medication (another pill so that I can hopefully start taking fewer pills) and although I am beginning to feel the benefits now, initially it just completely walloped me. I’d be stuck in bed in a weird fugue state somewhere between sleeping and waking, feeling like someone had used a syringe to suck all the marrow from my bones.
If November was physical, December was mental. I finally had a court date for divorce stuff and I’d fixed that date in my head as a sort of finish line. For months, I felt like if I could hold everything together until I got to that day, it would all be over and I could let go and move on. Unfortunately, that day has now been postponed until late January. Although a month and a half probably won’t make much difference in the grand scheme of things, it was like running a marathon, seeing the finish line, using your last burst of energy to reach it, and then having it yanked up and placed another fifteen miles down the road. It kind of destroyed me.
BUT! To hell with that bullshit. Kidneys have stopped being ridiculous, I’ve done all I can do with the divorce stuff, and now I’m just looking forward to Christmas when my entire family descends en masse like a horde of locusts.
As I was up last night, I posted on my facebook page to convince you guys to do my job for me and provide ideas for this blog post. There were quite a few fantastic ones, and I think I can combine a few (or disappoint several people at once!) by talking about the general idea of hindsight. We’re already at 500 words, so get a coffee and hunker down, this is gonna be loooong one.
Do you remember in school when you’d have to create a timeline of events for a country or a war or a topic? It’d look something like this:
This is how I see my life. I think of it stretching out in a line like this. From birth to present date, the significant events jotted in different colours of pen, different handwriting as I age.
Childhood milestones, the births of my siblings, academic achievements, first kisses. And some nights after it’s all quiet here I sit and go over this timeline, reviewing events I never thought I’d see written, and wondering what ones I’ll be writing in a year or, five years time.
Looking at my life laid out like this, I don’t see any entries I’d erase. No matter how events seemed in the moment – no matter how challenging or infuriating, they’ve always ended up getting me to a place which was better somehow.
Growing up with five siblings, I remember being almost constantly irritated by their presence, especially as they got older. We weren’t poor by any means but money was budgeted and there were no trips to Disneyland.
As the oldest girl it sometimes felt like I was constantly being roped into caring for someone, being responsible, or being asked to set a good example. My older brother went to boarding school and I was stuck at home with four younger sisters who read my diary (obviously I kept a diary), stole my clothes and returned them ruined, and wouldn’t leave me alone. They seemed relentless and irritating and constantly, unceasingly present. I think I spent a great deal of time wishing I had just one or two siblings like most of my friends.
When I left for university at 17, that all changed. I missed my siblings so much that it hurt. I remember sitting in my starkly quiet apartment and it feeling so foreign and uncomfortable. I was a two-hour drive away from home and I went back often. I’d pretend to be irritated by the crush of sisters as I walked in the door, but I was always overcome with a rush of appreciation for the incredible people they were becoming now that I had some distance to be able to really see them.
These days I wouldn’t trade these crazy siblings of mine for anything. They are my closest friends, my squad. They call me on my shit and pick me up when I fall and all of it, every fight and trashed shirt and late night sobbing phone call has shaped me into the person I am today. From them, I learned how to love someone even when you might not like them very much, how to need and respond lovingly to being needed. I’m not me without them.
I think I’d like more kids, someday. Not in the next few months or even years, but eventually. Even if I get stabs of anxiety when I think of it. Wondering what that will look like, how to blend a family, how to deal with a newborn when my health seems so poor some days. I want it for me – I never pictured just one child – but more than anything I want it for Olive. I want her to have people to fight with and irritate her. I want her to feel that sense of pride and annoyance at having to be in charge, responsible, setting a good example. I want her to have at least one partner to commiserate with about her weirdo mom, her crazy aunts and uncles. I want more than anything for her to know this kind of love.
This latest milestone of being divorced (or almost divorced, I suppose), I wouldn’t even erase that one. I wouldn’t change a thing about how it happened, either. It was the only way my marriage would have ended, and it was necessary even if I didn’t see it at the time. Just like how I needed to move away from my family to be able to clearly see how incredible they were, it’s so hard to truly see a relationship when you’re in it. Harder still when you’ve been in it for over a decade.
Since leaving that relationship and having new ones, I’ve learned an astonishing amount about myself and who a partner has the potential to be. I was living without so much (and needlessly putting up with so much) in the twelve years leading up to that little notch, and I never even knew it until I left.
Hindsight is a powerful, powerful thing.Poring over these scribbles has helped me to see how I got here. For most of the month, I parent alone and then for a handful of days I’m by myself again and I feel that same uncomfortable silence. That same craving for the chaos that drives me nuts when I’m in the midst of it. I write and I write and I often miss deadlines and I love my editors when they don’t fire me for it. Setbacks don’t last long and disappointments never settle in for good. It’s easy to shake things off.
This timeline of mine, I feel like I’ve made the best choice I could to arrive at each juncture. I take my past experiences and use them to inform new ones, to learn and grow. How on earth could I regret that? If I went back, I’d make the same choices, I’d choose the same path. It led me here.
I turn 32 in a few weeks and I look at this setup – Olive, and these words, and this home and the crush of loving people I fill my life with, a relationship that feeds me and helps me grow… and I don’t know what more I could ask for.
P.S. Nicole, my hair colour has all washed out and it’s back to normal. Turns out I bought a semi-permanent dye 😉