Category Archives: Life

Fresh air.

I was born in the beginning of October, which means that I’m a Libra. Libras fall under the heading of “air sign.”

I don’t know much. But I know that.

*****

It’s 4:30 in the afternoon, and I’m lying in bed, fighting my carpal tunnel and/or arthritis in order to type. It hurts to grip a pencil and to open a bottle of medicine and to reach for my kids. But that’s what I’ve been dealing with the past few weeks.

The nannies have been on vacation because I expected to be in NYC by now and I didn’t want to rearrange their plans just because we’re not abroad. My brother’s been a big help just by looking after the boys for 30 minutes each day so that I can shower—but that’s all the help I’m getting. It’s just me, a 34-month old, and a 10-month old. I clean the five-bedroom house we live in, cook three square meals a day, and take care of the kids. It’s not easy, but it’s gratifying. I’m beyond proud to be able to say that I’ve gotten control of this domestic life within a couple of weeks.

School-wise, I’m at a stand-still. I decided months back that I would take a year off. I was supposed to take the kids back to NYC asap because Rob’s mom has stage four cancer and would like to see her grandsons before she dies. Only thing is, we’ve hit a lot of snags. Problems with paperwork and red tape. Drama that would make your head spin if I got into it.

I don’t know what the future has in store, if we’ll end up going or not. Right now though, my plans don’t include going home any time soon. I want to get my dual citizenship taken care of asap so that I can work at a call center and save money. Due to my grandma’s death, Rob’s car accident, Riley’s hospitalization, and other factors, finances are beyond tight right now; I’ve decided that I’m going to pay for my tuition from here on out.

Not Rob. Not my parents. Not Rob’s parents. Me. No loans or borrowing or credit cards. I’m going to pay for the rest of my nursing school education out of pocket. I’m going to pay for my own tuition, and all of the expenses that go with it.

Also: I’m going to pay for Riley to go to daycare, and for clothes for the kids, and for a life that’s closer to the one that I want. I’m frustrated at my circumstances and need to feel in control of something.

I need to feel like I’m getting a kick-ass nursing education, and that I’m good at what I do. I need to feel like I’m an amazing mother, and honestly, only now, after being a stay-at-home-mom do I feel that I can claim that title. I need to feel that I’m in a relationship that works. I need to regain faith in myself and the future; I keep on fumbling the former and I’m afraid I’ve permanently lost the latter.

I’m angry at Rob for being so goddamn hard to communicate with.

I’m anxious about my health because I haven’t fixed any of my problems, haven’t gotten my skin biopsy or cervical biopsy, and haven’t taken thyroid meds or consulted specialists or gotten answers.

I’m sad because of all the death that’s been surrounding me, and because of my parents’ shortcomings and how they affect me and my own family.

I’m tired of making lemons into lemonade. I think I’m just going to suck on some lemons and see where it takes me. I can’t deal with pretending to be happy all the time just for the sake of other peoples’ comfort.

I am learning to be brief and concise. I am learning to be ambiguous, and to not share as much of my life as I would have done before. I am learning to keep to myself, to let the internal workings do their thing, and to trust whatever is in me.

Point blank: I’m not in an easy place. It’s not a bad place, per se. It’s just terribly difficult. My plate is full of worry and anxiety and frustration. I want to get to the next stage, to a place where I already have my BSN and at least one finished manuscript that I’m damn proud of. I want to kill my board exam and pass the NCLEX with flying colors. I want to add on to my family and move back to NYC and feel… different. I want life to be easier and fun and happy.

Because this? This lack of money, lack of power, lack of control? This overthinking that I do? These expectations for myself and for others that I have? They’re too much. It’s all just too much for me right now. And the more I try to fix things and realize that I just muck up the gears, the more frustrated and angry I get.

I need a break from everything that is unnecessary. I need to strip away the stuff I don’t need and get to the bare essentials.

I’m working Maslow’s hierarchy, one level at a time.

I’m climbing it, trying to get to self-actualization.

And taking as many deep breaths as I can on the way up.

Another one bites the dust.

Another semester, that is.

I’ve been so ridiculously busy that I’ve let this blog become a dead zone, and now that I’ve gotten my bearings back, I’m reclaiming this space. I plan on recapping the past 3 months with backdated posts, but for now, let me just tell you what I’m up to.

The biggest news, by far, is that my dad’s coming to visit in two days. I have a lot of very extreme emotions concerning this fact, and it’s mostly centered on my dad’s womanizing ways. I know that when he’s here, he’s going to be chasing skirts. I know that he’s married to my mom, and even though she says she’s used to his ways/doesn’t care anymore, it depresses her that her husband steps out on their marriage. I also know that my mom handles all of their finances, so my dad most likely has a hidden cache of cash, and that he’ll be blowing most of it while in the P.I.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far: I know that I can’t change my dad, try as I might to do so. I know that I have to accept him and love him for who he is, and not who I want him to be. I know that it’s pointless to get involved in whatever he does with other women. I also know that if he’s going to be spending all of his money on someone while he’s in the Philippines, I’d rather it be on me, my brother and my kids than some hoe. That said, I’ve decided to let him do whatever the hell he wants to do outside of our house so long as he’s discreet about it and he spoils the aforementioned family members while he’s here. 

A part of me feels really guilty that this is the only solution I’ve come up with. I feel like I’m selling out my mom, like I should be defending her honor or something. But that ship has sailed, and I’m tired of fighting battles/wars I know I can’t win. I’ve reached the conclusion that if she wants someone to fight for her honor, she should pick up an ax and start grinding; I’m tired of carrying all that weight on my own.

It’s been a really hard few months, and getting to the end of that leg of my journey has forced me to find strength and resolve. I’m feeling a lot more confident and relaxed these days than I’ve ever felt before. Yet, in a lot of ways, I’m reverting to old habits. For one thing, I’m smoking again. For another, I’m exercising hard-core again. Also: I’ve been dropping pounds like cah-razy, so that just two months after giving birth to Micah, I’m already hovering around my pre-pregnancy weight. Did I mention that I gained 50 lbs. during my pregnancy? That’s double the amount you’re supposed to put on in an average singleton pregnancy.

Fashion has also dropped onto my radar in  a big way. My body’s been doing a lot of fluctuating these past two years. So much so that 95% of my current closet consists of pieces that are either too big or too small for me. It’s weird to me, that fact. My cup size has gone from being DD to DDD to C to D to C again. My ass disappears then reappears and seems to have no plans of quitting this game of hide-and-seek. My stomach is pretty much flabby and full of stretch marks. I think of the latter just as I think of the ginormous bags under my eyes: they’re badges of honor that I wear proudly. Still. I need some toning up, and some bulking up (in the right places), and I definitely definitely definitely have to step up my style game.

The editing business is slowing picking up steam again. ‘m thinking about switching to a .com and calling it a day. This past year or so has been a lot of hit-and-miss, trial-and-error, up-and-down, and I’m hoping that by this time next year, I’ll be settled and making a good name for myself.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been studying, writing, and editing up a storm, but I now need to wear my glasses all the time. This is very very new to me, this dependency on eyewear. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to go strictly glasses on this one, or get contacts, or splurge on eye surgery when I get home. For now, I have three sets of empty frames and a date with an opthalmologist.

This little light of mine.

Rob has a job, and I’m making some money.

Rob’s about to sign up for an online degree program. My graduation day (although 2 1/2 years away) gets closer and closer every day.

Riley is growing and learning and being the most wonderful little person EVER. Micah is due any day now, and (almost) everything is ready for his arrival.

I’m currently taking my time to finish a project for my Nursing Care Management: Maternal & Child Care Class. The weather is just the right mix of sunny/sun showers/cool breezes that make me wanna cuddle in bed with a book and a loved one. And in between studying for exams and finishing my project, I find myself reading a lot of magazines, which has got me wanting to buy a lot of things, which has got me excited about the idea of living the way I want to live.

Here’s the thing about living the way that you want to live: It doesn’t just have to do with you. I totally believe that the biggest part of the puzzle (and the hardest part of the puzzle to achieve) is learning what makes you tick, figuring out what you want out of life, and being confident and happy in your own skin. After that, though, there’s a myriad of other issues to contend with. The truth is, as much as we’d like to believe we’re in charge of our own fates, we’re all affected by our environments.

The government in which you live, the culture by which you are surrounded, the attitudes that form your social sphere – all of it affects your life. That’s why it’s a big deal when the place where you’re living doesn’t recognize you as a “real person”, or doesn’t allow you to get married, or doesn’t understand you. It’s a big deal when your family has a lot of dysfunctional ideas. It’s a big deal when all of your peers seem different from you.

The thing is, very often, we don’t have control over our circumstances. We can only decide our own needs, desires, attitudes and actions. We can only have power over our own ideas and behavior. By living in a culture that is the antithesis of my own upbringing, I’ve realized the importance of being the very best version of myself. Because in doing so, I’m not only following Ghandi’s instruction to be the change I want to see in the world, I’m also following my own ideas, giving life to my own thoughts, and generally allowing myself to be free. It’s a lesson I needed badly, and one that I hope to carry with me forevermore.

This is the truth, and it’s something that I live by, too: No matter where you are or what you’re surrounded by, you’re always going to need your inner light to shine. You must trust yourself as your own spirit guide. You must not be afraid or doubtful of your own power and value. And you must never never never take yourself or your unique perspectives for granted.

You deserve to shine.

Right now, my light is shining brighter than ever. It’s a beacon of hope that leads me into the future I want.

My glass is 1/3 empty.

It all started a few days ago, when I texted my ob-gyn to tell her that I was mulling over the idea of having Micah delivered at Makati Med instead of Asian Hospital. Those are the two hospitals with which she’s affiliated, and though Asian Hospital is the one I’m more familiar with (I’ve been seeing her there + Riley’s pediatrician is there), I’m open to changing up the game plan if Makati Med is just as nice and cheaper. [NOTE: The thing is? It’s not as nice, and though it is cheaper, it’s only slightly cheaper. (I think. I still have to speak with Asian Hospital’s cost counselor to make sure.)] 

So, yeah, like I was saying: A few days ago. I texted The Doc. I let her know my thoughts, and she was all, “Yeah, yeah, sure, sure, I’ll see you on Thursday.”

I figured, since I’m 9 months along and seeing her every week, I’d get my appointment over and done with, get a tour of the facilities, and maybe even take a gander at the paperwork I’ll have to sign when I give birth.

But, no.

None of that happened.

Instead, I spent a lot of money on gas. Then, Bro got lost on the way to the hospital. This prompted him to catch a major attitude with me even though I was in my usual bright and chipper mood and couldn’t give two flying ducks that I was probably not going to get half of my to-do list done. I looked at his road map, told him where to turn, and he deliberately went the opposite direction, which got us going in circles for almost an hour. Again, I didn’t really care and resorted to texting Rob because I figured Bro knew where he was going. It would’ve been A-Okay, only, the whole time, he was snipping at me and giving me lip and generally being an asshole.

So I snapped. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I mean, for real? I drop a lot of cash on gas and food and whatnot, and YOU’RE THE ONE who gets us lost and decides not to take my directions, and you have the balls to be mean to me? At this time? When we’re supposed to be building bonds because you’re slated to be the only one I trust while I’m giving birth? FOR REAL?

I cried and ruined my makeup. All the while, I gave an empassioned speech about how he’s supposed to be my advocate, and instead he’s been being craptastic to me, which is making me feel like it’s Me Against The World.

By the time I got to The Doc’s office, I was upset and itching for a reason to knock somebody out. The office was located in a circular rotunda, and I ended up walking around it several times before realizing, “Oh, wait! I’ve seen this same snotty little girl four times already!” The actual office was built like a railroad car, so that you had to go through a tiny hallway in order to get to the actual office, which made me go, “HUH?” I mean, really, you expect pregnant women to waddle through a hall that’s barely big enough to accomodate my not-even-two-year old?! It didn’t help, either, that one of the ladies behind the front desk was giving me the side eye. I filled out a form, then slipped out to look for the ladies’ room, which was the size of a shoebox. By the time I got back to the office, overwhelmed with a sea of emotion and catching my breath, a nicer lady from behind the desk asked to take my BP. I obliged her, but mentioned also that I hadn’t had time to relax, so she might want to wait. She didn’t understand English, so she took my BP. Then she proceded to ask me questions that I’d just answered on the chart.

I saw The Doc, and all we did was TALK. And I had to pay her to talk to me. Not about my health, even, but about money. Because that’s what happens here in the Philippines, where there are no clear divisions on duties and hospitals only have ONE cost counselor.

I got home, expecting Riley to greet me with his usual “MommyMommyMommyMommmy!!!”, but instead, he barely batted a lash. Turned out, he hadn’t had a nap. So I spent some time with him. Joy and I gave him a bath. Then I lay down next to him and let him sleep.

Now it’s barely 9 p.m., I’m sweaty and tired as all hell, and even though this is THE PERFECT time for me to relax and unwind and watch my kiddo sleep peacefully, instead I’m going to work on a school project. Because, let’s face it. This right here? It’s also the perfect time to get lost in schoolwork without feeling guilty that I’m not spending quality time with Riley.

I’m feeling worn out, on edge, and agitated. I’m worrying that Micah won’t love me because I’ll be too busy with a million other things to take care of him. I’m remembering how my own mom didn’t spend time with me as a baby/toddler because she was always too busy working, and how she and I didn’t develop a close relationship until my late teens/early twenties. I worry. A lot.

But those are the chances I’ve taken, and this is the lot I’ve drawn, and, really, what can I do now but make the most of my situation?

Tomorrow is a new day and another chance to get things right.

Some lessons learned.

Today I tried to finish everything on my plate and ended up breaking ground on every morsel – but without finishing anything. Now, it’s a quarter to midnight on a Sunday night, and that means I’m going to get four hours of sleep (or less).

Strangely, I feel good about this.

I’ve already done the hard parts: buying all of the necessary components, setting them up, and even starting off each project. It’s the completion that’s easy. I’m a hop, skip, and jump away from several finish lines and feeling like I’m making good headway. I’ve only got three days of classes to contend with, then a killer dry-run to do to the hospital on Thursday. (I’ve decided to change the venue of my labor and delivery.) I can rest on Friday.

Some bulletpoints, if you will:

  1. I had an argument with my ob-gyn yesterday that’s left me resigned to having my next biological child born in the States (even though I’d had my heart set on getting pregnant again in time for a May 2013 due date). Lesson learned: Always read ahead. You’re less likely to bindly follow suit if you’ve got some edu-ma-cation up in yo’ head.
  2. My nesting instinct has kicked in like crazy, and all I want to do is organize and clean everything in sight. I ended up emptying all of the drawers in the master bedroom and organizing the hell out of them. Even though there’s still a lot of residual clutter from the material upheaval of knick-knacks and whats-its galore, there is a calm in my soul from having fixed something tangible. Lesson learned: Tidiness is next to sanity.
  3. The two maids need some real breaking-in and teaching – especially since they’ve had a role reversal. (Tess will be Micah’s nanny and Jana will be the housemaid, instead of vice verse.) I’m a little worried about this arrangement for several reasons, but living here has taught me to work with what I’ve got. Lesson learned: Do the best  you can with the hand you’ve been dealt.
  4. Probably the main reason why I’m okay with not completing anything? Because I spent that time taking care of me and my family. I allowed myself an afternoon nap. I played with Riley on and off the whole freakin’ day. I touched base with Rob really often. All this, in spite of the fact that I could’ve been a speed demon, ripping through my to-do list without nary a twitch. Lesson learned: Do whatchu gotta do, but never forget why you’re doing them, playa. Family comes first.
  5. Speaking of Rob, he landed a job! It’s not exactly an ideal job, and we’re hoping he can land another one asap, but it’s something, and that’s all I need to know. He’s also looking into online degree programs and seeing a shrink to enhance himself. I’m sooooo unbelievably proud of him, and I can’t wait for him to unfold his wings and be the gorgeous, soaring butterfly I’ve always seen him as. Lesson learned: Commitment is a bitch, but it’s worth it if you’ve put your chips in the right corner. Stick to yo’ guns.
  6. Also: Thanks to my homie, Jess, I ended up writing a pitch to a New York magazine. I’m not exactly holding my breath that I’ll land the article, but the idea behind my pitch has given me a much-needed breath of fresh air; I’m working on it even if it doesn’t get picked up. After the article is finished, I’m gonna shop it around and hope that it gains some readership. Lesson learned: Be true to yourself, and you’ll get the help you need to shine. You’ve just gotta have faith.
  7. School isn’t gonna be done with any time soon. I have SIX quizzes tomorrow, which means that if I was’t pregnant, I’d be studying like a madwoman right now, cramming as much in my head as possible and hoping that it all stays put. Instead, I’ve read the notes and done some highlighting; when I wake up, I’ll make study sheets and the prerequisite acronyms and mnemonic devices. Then I’ll relax, show up on time, and do my best. Lesson learned: Stressing out doesn’t make you more likely to succeed. Trust yourself.

I’m sure I’ve got more to say, but I’m exhausted. The doc says Micah could be making his appearance any day now, and she’s given me some herbal supplements to ensure that’s the case. I’m hoping for the best, stretching and walking as much as I can, and being as anxious and excited as possible to be a mom of two!

What he thinks of me.

He calls, and I tell him about my brother’s dog, and how Rob and I took care of him, and how the responsibility kept on shifting from one maid to another after Rob left, until now, when the poor dog is chained to the side of the dining room, begging for attention.

He tells me to stop complaining.

He calls and asks what I’m up to, and if I have even the tiniest drop of concern in my voice – for my brother’s schooling or my son’s welfare, for example – he tells me to stop overreacting. Then he lectures me on how to choose a mate, and tells me that he doesn’t know what I see in Rob.

He calls and dives into a tirade, yelling at me, screaming at me, asking me why I fired the last maid. What’s wrong with me? Don’t I know how hard it is to find good help? And so what if she didn’t wash clothes very well, or clean up after my brother’s dogs very well, or refused to do any heavy lifting because of a decades’ old surgery and her belief that lifting heavy objects would cause her bowels to spill out of her belly button. At least she tried.

And then my mom comes for a visit and makes the same complaints that I’ve been making about the dog. And about my brother. And about the maid. And my dad doesn’t call her a complainer or tell her she’s overreacting; he respects her opinion and does something about what’s bothering her.

My brother gives voice to his personal issues, and lays out all his problems, and says what I’ve been saying about the maid – that I didn’t fire her even though I should have done so – and instead of being blamed for having issues and problems, my dad congratulates him on learning how to talk through them.

Our extended family fights all of these uphill battles against cultural downfalls and personal vices and streaks of full-on ignorance and stupidity, and my dad yells at them, then laughs at them for having these problems.

And I think to myself: Why do I bother?

Why do I bother speaking to my father? Why do I bother speaking to this man who obviously thinks lowly of me, to this person who will off-handedly sacrifice my pride and well-being for his own benefit?

And I realize: I do it because he’s my dad.

I do it because he’s my dad and that fact is supposed to mean something. I do it because he’s my dad and I’m a parent, and one day my kids may not understand me, and maybe, if that happens, I’ll understand him. I do it because I’ve been taught that that’s what people do when they love someone. They accept all of them, they work with all the parts of the person, they do their best to make it work, to understand, to help the other person.

I do it because I’m strong, and because I can walk away from a conversation with my dad without feeling bitter or used. I do it because I know I’ve been influenced by him. I do it because dealing with him has trained me on the tactics of dealing with assholes in general, and with my brother in particular. I do it because I don’t know how not to do it; I’m a mom, and I refuse to deprive my kids of their relatives just because I don’t get along with them.

At the end of the day, I do it. I deal with it. I engage in a relationship with a person who degrades and disrespects me. And I wonder: what’s it all worth?

Boss.

It’s a little past midnight, Rob just called to ask what size of sneaker Riley wears, and I’m debating going to the kitchen for a snack. I feel like, the second I leave the room, Riley will wake up and go crazy searching for me, which has been going on a lot at this hour. I’m not sure if he’s suddenly more clingy because he senses that another baby is coming, or because I’ve been less available lately, or because he’s rebelling against toddlerhood and would rather stay my little baby for as long as possible, but I’m simultaneously tickled pink and getting salty at the thought of carrying him around forever.

These are my thoughts right now: I want to turn on the light to study, but we learned in class that sleeping with a light on increases your risk for a specific kind of cancer, and seeing as Riley is half Rob, and Rob’s mom’s side is riddled with cancer, I don’t want to risk it. I wish I remembered which kind of cancer lists “sleeping with a light source turned on” as a risk factor.

In truth, I feel myself slipping in my schoolwork. I’m not caring as much about getting high grades, and it definitely shows. I feel as though I’m not on top of my studying – not as much as I usually am, anyway – but when I step back and compare my studying habits of today to those of three months ago, I honestly feel like I’ve improved. Maybe the stuff I used to do just doesn’t cut it anymore, what with all the other priorities that clog my mind at any given moment. Or maybe the exams just got harder. (I’m leaning toward the latter.)  All I know is, my grades have fallen a bit and I’m positively aching to leave school the minute I step foot there. Point blank: I’ve been really salty when I’m anywhere but home. I just want to stay home, turn on the air conditioning, read, hang out with Riley, and focus on myself and my pregnancy for a bit.

Micah has been kicking like crazy, and I noticed that he kicks even more when I’m at school. My brother says that it’s because I’m the most stressed when I’m at school, which means my body temperature goes up, my blood pressure rises, my respiration rate also rises – pretty much all of my vital signs soar. This, in turn, causes Micah to go, “What the fuck, Mom? Get your shit together.”

Honestly, guys, I’m really wondering if I’ll make it to October. It’s not that I don’t think I can accomplish all of my goals – give birth to a healthy baby, bond with him for a week and a half, peel myself away from him to return to the grind, balance motherhood with work and school, launch a big promotional campaign for my editing business, learn about the dynamics of having two young kids, keep up communication with Rob, stay in touch with loved ones, manage a household, do lots of editing, take a full class load without failing any classes, have my first semester of hospital duty, and manage to SLEEP – cuz, strangely, that stuff? I know I can handle all of it – except for that last part. Sleep? Forget about it. Sleep and I are going to be distant acquaintances until October.

I tell myself that the next semester starts on June 14th, and then there’s approximately four months from that point until I’m on vacation again, and that four months is no big thing. But, really? Really, what I foresee in my near future in my hair a mess, my eye bags down to the floor, my appearance all kinds of unkempt and dissheveled, and my self-esteem plummeting because of that fact. Basically, I don’t see myself having any time for Me. For the myriad of responsibilities that I have to everything and everyone else? Yeah, no sweat, I’ll make the time. But for myself? Nah. I just wouldn’t be able to keep up the juggling act if I had to take care of Me, too.

I’m aware of how awful that sounds, and I really don’t intend on playing the martyr. I figure, in October, I’ll turn 27, and I’ll get a haircut and color, and buy myself some new clothes, and start doing aerobics on the regular, and I’ll feel better about myself. In the meantime, I’m fine with letting my grades slide from “uber-spectacular” to “better than average” if it means keeping my sanity intact.

That small bit of reprioritizing – giving my ego a rest from feeding on my “I got the highest grade on the exam!” high – is making all the difference. These days, I’m enjoying the hell out of every second that’s not spent in the classroom and making the most of my time in the classroom (usually by writing lists and making studying outlines). I’m learning to finagle the system to my liking, and that makes me feel like everything’s going to be okay.

From the outside.

So, last night happened. And in the wake of the fight I had with Rob, I blogged. I blogged to vent and to gain perspective and to answer questions I didn’t realize needed to be asked. I blogged to be courageous and communicative and to express ideas that needed to be expressed. And then I sent that post to a bunch of my closest friends and waited until replies came in. And when I read those replies, I realized why I wrote that post in the first place.

I’m as far-removed from my old reality as I ever could be, and in the year and a half that I’ve been living in the Philippines, all of my closest friends are busy changing. We touch minds every so often, but until I read replies from my message, I hadn’t realized just how much I’d changed. I’ve changed more than I’d like to admit, and with that realization came a lot of hard truths, like: Writing that post was one thing, but sending it out to everyone was another. I shouldn’t have done it – not to all those people, at least.

All relationships have their ups and downs – on a pragmatic level, we all know that. Once someone starts giving voice to the downs, though, people tend to focus on them and forget all about the ups. It makes sense, since in giving voice to my relationship fears and doubts, I’m in essence shining a spotlight on an area that many of us find fascinating and downright gossip-worthy; we’re all opinionated when it comes to love, and finding out about other peoples’ love lives gives us license to pass judgment and let our own experiences color their lives.

There’s nothing wrong with sharing the details of our days; sometimes, it’s the only thing that tethers us to sanity. A talk with a good friend, an email, a text – communication keeps things in context and helps us grow. But when you’re in a relationship and making a life with someone, all of a sudden the rules are different. Because sharing the details of your life ends up being sharing the life that the two of you have created, and you realize that some things are too sacred to share.

There were several things I noticed after letting my previous post sink in:

  1. Some of my closest friends just don’t get me anymore.
  2. The shit that used to fly in NY no longer applies.
  3. I will probably never feel really safe with Rob, and that might be okay.

*****

When someone tells you something you don’t want to hear, it’s easy to put on blinders and stick your fingers in your ears. When I read the comments that people made to the effect of “It doesn’t sound like it’s working out between the two of you. Just call it quits already”, I had to stop myself from reacting; I didn’t want to put up the blinders.

I took a step back, took a deep breath, and looked at things objectively. Then I realized that they didn’t have the whole picture; they didn’t even have all of the important parts of the picture. All they knew of my new reality was the little that I’d written in the post, and it dawned on me just how little we know about each others’ lives. That’s when the most painful truth hit me: In the past 19 months, I’ve unintentionally pared down my circle of besties.

It was inevitable, I guess, but still painful to admit. There was a time when these people knew my life backwards and forwards. There was a time when they really got me. Now, everything needs a three-hour back-up story. And even though I’m more than willing to sit down and write them a long-ass email, it still sucks that we’re not already on the same page. I miss what we used to have, and I hate to think that we’re losing track of each other.

But stewing in that post made me realize something else that’s very important: All of the question marks that used to float around me have been replaced with other question marks. I guess this means that I’ve unknowingly figured out who I am and what I want in life. I’ve spent the last 26 years learning all of that, and now that my quest for answers is over, all that’s left is the actual doing.

These days are not at all like the ones I had back in NY, and I have to start living that truth. I have to stop living in the past. I have to recognize what I have now and be grateful for all of it.

All this time, I’ve been foraging and gathering and hunting for parts of my life. I’ve been wracking my brain, experiencing a slew of different lives, going through all of that so that I can decide which belong to me. Now that I’ve made my decision, I feel like a kid opening the birthday presents I’ve been begging for. I know what I’ve got, but I don’t know what I can really do with all of it.

That analogy definitely applies to Rob. I feel like, I’ve been fighting for him, for us, and for our family for a really long time. Now that I really feel like it’s all mine, I’m just now getting used to what that means.

Maybe I don’t feel protected when I’m with Rob, but maybe I don’t need to feel protected by him. Maybe the whole point of being so careful about defining my life and picking out its parts was so that I had the confidence to pick a partner who gets me more than I get myself, and maybe my partner is right. Maybe I don’t let anyone take care of me – not in the conventional ways, at least. Maybe I let my partner take care of me in the ways that I need to be taken care of, and that’s okay even if those aren’t the ways I want to be taken care of.

All I know is, this exchange of feelings – the blogging, the messaging to friends, the talking to Rob – is what I needed to feel secure in what I’ve got. Strangely, it took focusing on the downs to get back on an upswing.

Safety.

When I was pregnant with Riley, we had a baby shower. At that baby shower, one of my best friends said to Rob, “Okay, so you and Maria are having a baby. You really have to take care of her now.”

Rob’s response?

“No, I won’t take care of her. She won’t let me.”

My back had been turned and I’d unintentionally eavesdropped on the conversation, but the moment I heard his answer, my blood ran cold. I didn’t know what it was that made me so upset; I just knew that that little exchange had unearthed something very profound.

Fast-forward a year later. Rob was living in the Philippines with me and Riley. I brought up that conversation, and I told Rob how upset it had made me. Still, I had no idea why it made me upset. I had a vague notion that Rob’s answer wasn’t the right one, but I wasn’t certain why it wasn’t the right answer. Would I have wanted him to nod solemnly and pledge his life to taking care of me? No, not in the slightest. So what was it?

“Love,” Rob said to me. “The only reason I said that is because you’re independent. You take care of yourself. I know you don’t really need me, and that’s what I love about you.”

It sounded aiight. I mean, the words coming out of his mouth weren’t necessarily offensive.  But still, there was something amiss.

Rob and I did the cohabitation/co-parenting thing for almost a year, and things were going well. Then, right before he left to go back to New York, his mom came to visit. I get along great with his mom, so I loved having her around. She even gave Rob a credit card to use so that we could really enjoy our last days together.

Turns out, though, that his brother maxed out the credit card in order to pay for his estranged wife’s bills, so we couldn’t use it.

Then, Rob’s mom offered to give us a car. The idea was, we’d have something to drive around if we went back to New York (at that time, we didn’t know if we’d move back). The idea was also, Just in case Rob can’t find a job, we have something to use as collateral for a loan, et al.

But guess what? His brother gave his own car away to his estranged wife and took for himself the car that was supposed to be for us.

Then, when it was clear that me and the kids were going to stay in the Philippines and Rob was going to work in the States, Rob’s uncle secured for him a job.

And guess who took it?

Now, here’s the thing: At the time, it didn’t really bother me. I mean, it did, but Rob’s mom’s side is very c’est la vie about this kind of thing. They’re a tight-knit clan and won’t let material things get in the way of loving each other. For the most part, I respect that and think it’s pretty cool. But today? Today I was typing with Rob (my laptop’s ancient and doesn’t have a mic or camera), and maybe it’s because I was already in a pretty shitty mood, or because Rob’s not good with English and doesn’t know how to emote via text/writing, or because the deadline for Rob’s landing a job is only two weeks away and he hasn’t gotten any calls back. All I know is, when Rob mentioned how his brother keeps on dicking us over, I got really, really upset.

Make no mistake: We don’t have much. I make a teensy bit of money every month, and now that the regular school semester’s at an end in the States and I’m too stressed with pregnancy, et al., to launch a huge business plan for the editing business, we’re depending mostly on Rob’s parents to squeak on by. I’m feeling threatened and really wishing we had a credit card, or a car to use as collateral, or a good and steady job for Rob. But we don’t have any of those things because his brother took them all. I know that if push really came to shove, I’d do the damn thing myself: Work my ass off, make that money, pay the bills, et al. – ALL. BY. MY. DAMN. SELF.

I know I could do it, but if I did do it, why the fuck am I with Rob? What the fuck would I need him for, besides sperm donation? (Assuming of course that I want all of my biological kids to have the same dad.) Why am I with someone who doesn’t have the ability to meet my needs?

In my upset state, I told Rob that I felt unsafe. I explained that I feel like we don’t have a lot, and that the least he could do was make me feel like the little we do have will remain ours. I told him I need to feel protected and taken care of. I explained that when it came to this whole thing about his brother, I expected some kind of reaction from him besides a shrug of the shoulders and complacency.

“What do you want me to do?” he asked.

“PUNISH HIM!” I yelled.

And it’s true. I want Rob to punish his brother. I want him to be mean and awful to his brother. I want him to inflict pain on his brother because I feel like his brother’s been doing that to us. It’s a primal urge, and it’s probably useless, but I don’t care. I’ve long ago packed away the need to be with the alpha male. Now, all I need is to feel like my man’s got some kind of power, authority, and control over what’s going on with us and our family. I need to feel like he’s not some doormat who will let his asshole brother take what little we have – not without a fight, at least. I need to see that he’s willing to fight for me, for us, for our family. I want to see that fight. I feel like I’ve been fighting for the longest time, and that every second of every day is a fight and he’s standing at the sidelines while I’m bleeding on the canvass.

I don’t feel safe. I don’t feel like Rob can take care of me. And I wonder if it’s always been that way. I wonder if he’s ever really taken care of me, if that’s the ugly truth that had peeked out two years ago at my baby shower. Maybe I had caught a glimpse of it and subconsciously put my hands over my eyes.

I also wonder if there’s someone else out there who could make me feel more guarded, protected, secure, and sheltered than I feel right now…

Amazing.

The weather’s got me feeling like I’m in New York again, and all of a sudden, I’m screaming/crying/elated/depressed. Is this the pregnancy hormones, or have I simply slipped back into my neurotic New Yorker tendenies?