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Girl Meets Buoyancy

Updated: Dec 29, 2020



5 years later and I suppose it's time to get this story out.


..5 years plus a lifetime.


Let me back up a moment. I have a 6-year-old daughter. She is the joy of my life, truly. If you haven't met her, just know that she is preposterous -- more of a force of nature bound temporarily in some freckled skin & mischievous smile...than a person. It is surreal to look at her and see aspects of myself. We have the same chin, similar thick, unruly hair..and when she looks at me and exclaims "Seriously?!" in exasperation, I have to hide a laugh. My mother used to admonish me playfully: "Someday you'll have one just like you!" -- And she was right -- In this little one's eyes burns the fire of generations of short, loud, feisty, quick-witted women!

But there's a part of her that's not from me at all. I have to acknowledge that those blue eyes, that wild streak, and her propensity to NOT LISTEN TO ME... is partially from someone else.

My daughter's story (in this lifetime, anyway) began just as my own was turning a page...


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Picture this -- As the scene opens on our haphazard heroine (yours truly!) it's late 2013. I'm waking up in the body of a mid-to late-20-something. Post-grad. Tolerating a corporate banking job that gives me no real joy or personal fulfillment. Living on my own and grocery shopping for one. Measuring my level of Adulting Success by how quickly I pay my bills and how often I'm able to go out drinking with friends on the weekend. No true passion or direction. ('Rudderless', as it's been aptly described.) Really, at my core, a little girl wandering around waiting for someone to point me to the portal through which my life could really begin.


I think back on this version of myself and really wish I could just give that girl a hug. I had no idea that "finding yourself" was this journey of discovery that never truly ends. I thought there was something wrong with me because I didn't wake up one morning and just KNOW who I was or where I wanted my life to go. Even worse, rather than explore my preferences, take every opportunity to try new things, and research topics that piqued my interest...I spent my energy trying to find a guy.

Yeah, THAT'S what I was missing! *huge eye roll* Because happiness is just a formula, right?? Something like...

Degree + Job + Marriage + Kids = PureBlissZomgggHappyEnding

Lifetime


I promise you, I'm laughing right now even though that's really what I thought! I mean, honestly, as a female middle-class 90's kid (respect!).. I was raised with this bullshit Disney-saturated narrative that I could be good..I could even be great...but Prince Charming was Endgame and only then could I feel "Complete".


So. Imagine the way I started plucking petals off flowers, seeing with all the colors of the wind, & sweeping my kitchen whistling to f*cking woodland creatures when I met HIM. The blue eyed, smooth talking, no-rules bad boy that Taylor Swift tried her damnedest to warn me about.


In the beginning of my relationship to this guy, I thought I was having so much fun....which I suppose is how it can seem at first when you're blowing off responsibilities to go on adventures, making spontaneous weekend plans, and partying All. The. Time. Life turned into a hazy dream for me in those next several months - Constant all-nighters, pounding DJ sets, running around wearing nothing but neon nail polish and flowy hippie skirts. Living a life lit by glow sticks -- intense, ridiculous, and not meant to last. I had never really gone through a rebellious phase so I thought "This must be what I've been missing!" I was still (barely) holding on to my day job and showing up for most major family functions so...what was the harm?


As I said, this went on for several months, but it really started to take a toll on me. Physically, mentally, emotionally. I was tired and irritable -- I'd look around at parties and festivals and think "Don't these people have jobs?? Ugh, I hate them with their glitter and animal ears and crappy house music." Heavy drinking and lack of sleep was trashing my body and it showed. I lost a ton of weight pretty quickly -- eating was a low priority. Thinking I was coming down with some sort of bug, I went to visit my family doctor. Instead of some antibiotic, she quietly slipped me the name and number of a therapist. Honestly, I was pissed. I thought I was so FUN and FREE. She didn't know me at all!


I did decide to slow down on going out. The novelty had worn off and it just wasn't interesting to me anymore. For my boyfriend, that wasn't the case. He got in the habit of leaving me home. This placated us both for awhile. He had someone to come home to and I got to go to bed when I wanted!


Clearly, I was closed off to reasonable thought, because otherwise I would have seen the red flags at every turn. We did this sick dance full of shifting control, subtle manipulation, deceit, and suspicion. I cut off the people that really cared about me so they didn't weigh in or "judge me".

It's so hard to articulate the mechanics of a toxic relationship. From the outside, it's so clearly destructive, but when you're a part of one, it's like you're too close to the situation to see all reason. I really truly thought that he was a deeply misunderstood soul with a soft spot for me... That all I needed to do was love him more than people had in the past, and through our love he would come to some sort of redemption. If you're reading this and find yourself in a similar situation...just know that nothing you do will ever be enough to change another person. Turn all that beautiful indomitable strength inward and Save. Your. Self.


Even as I revisit this memory with you, I cross my fingers for a different turn of events. A moment of "Girl, Don't go in there!" as we watch the hapless movie character about to walk through a seriously shady looking door... But much to our mutual disappointment, I charged full speed into my next terrible decision and MARRIED THAT GUY. Yes, folks, if I was going to crash and burn it was going to be spectacularly. [As I was about to walk down the aisle on my wedding day, my mom took me aside and said "In case you need to hear this: You do not have to do this. I love you."]



I did do it. I went through with it. I dove in head first the way I had with every aspect of our relationship. With us, things would go through phases of being good... and they were good when they were novel. Starting to date....moving in together... getting engaged...getting married...

All in the span of a YEAR. These relationship advancements gave us both the temporary dopamine hits that we were craving. I didn't know at the time, but he NEEDED them. Needed things to be constantly changing for him to feel alive. We moved so quickly that I didn't even give myself the chance to truly get to know him. The sad and terrifying truth was that he was a drug addict, and my blind, naive, heart-shaped eyes hadn't even stopped to notice. Remember those red flags? They got so frequent even I couldn't ignore them. A prescription he had to treat chronic pain for an old car accident injury started disappearing in a week instead of months. There were nights when he just wouldn't come home at all. I'd get calls from women I didn't even know looking for him. He'd lose his phone, lose a job, get into a fight, invite friends to stay with us so if I found pills around, they would belong to "someone else". There were times he would be so angry or so high that it was like I was in the room with a stranger.


I have a theory now that 90% (+/-?) of what you look for in a partner is a reflection of how you feel about yourself. What you think you deserve is what you manifest for yourself. I was deeply scarred. Yes, this person was awful, but I welcomed him in. I'm not blaming myself. I just mean that this was the relationship I CHOSE to hold onto.


He was such a train wreck - crashing motorcycles, getting fired from jobs. Quietly pawning things around our house or his dad's store, taking out cash with my cards and not mentioning anything until I saw the statements. His flaws were SO loud and destructive, that we never had to focus on mine. I looked so damn "good" in comparison. I never once took the time to do any difficult shadow work or look in the mirror -- I was so busy cleaning up his messes or trying to convince him that yes, he was still lovable, and yes, we would try harder tomorrow - "We're a team!" After any sort of transgression or disappointment he'd come back and apologize.. and then be on his best behavior temporarily.


It was in one of these eye-of-the-storm moments of synthetic calm when I got pregnant. My husband was in a lull where he hadn't been abusing any substances and was trying to live a normal, straight-laced life. We had done what I sickly call the "rehab shuffle" where he'd go to a detox, progress on to a rehabilitation center, and then feel clear-headed and in control and desperately want to be back at home to prove to me that he was okay. His dad had given him a job, and I would get up every morning at 5:00 to make his lunch and see him off. He was working right at his family's store right around the corner from our house, so I let my guard down and desperately held on to trusting that I knew what he was up to each day.


I could tell pretty quickly that I was pregnant, and a test confirmed. We weren't specifically trying, but we weren't doing anything to prevent it either. To this day I still muse on our reactions -- He was absolutely over the moon at the idea of bringing a little one into this world...while I promptly sat on the floor of the bathroom and sobbed. It wasn't just hormones. I love children and always wanted a family..but..like this?? My Disney rose-hued bubble had burst pretty promptly after our wedding. "Landing the guy" hadn't magically fixed anything, and here I was going to bring a beautiful soul into the world when I couldn't even provide her with a positive example of what a healthy relationship should look like.


Either my husband really tried to get his act together during my pregnancy...or more likely I just worried about him less. My shock response was definitely going down after our couple years together. I spent a lot more time finally focusing on me, my body, my emotional well-being, and limiting stress, all for the sake of the coming baby. There were definitely some issues...more dark doubts about him slipping back into destructive habits (One of my Top 10 Most Embarrassing Moments? 7 months pregnant and having to buy my own laptop back from a pawn shop owner because my husband had hawked it) But besides that clown - it was a relatively easy pregnancy! When she arrived I was so filled with wonder and happiness that it was easy to believe that things would be better now, that he finally had something to live for outside of himself...I know I did!


She completely changed my world and my perspective. Everything I did was for her benefit, and it was so beautiful to see things from her curious, innocent eyes. My husband seemed fascinated by her in the beginning, if not a little intimidated. He was still working pretty early hours, so I gladly took on her daily care. We went on this way for a year - Me, getting to know this beautiful, sweet angel, and my husband...obviously not doing as well as he wanted to portray.


On the night of Halloween 2014, I was just finishing up getting the baby dressed for the evening. Her first birthday had been the week prior and I'm pretty sure she was sitting there hoping I wouldn't attempt to recreate our costume theme from the party (me, Khaleesi, Mother of Dragon(s) and her: a plump little green dragon. She was THE CUTEST winged thing :) I still have my blonde Daenerys wig in a box somewhere.) Anyway! Back to this epic retelling...


My husband had decided he'd like to have a really low-key evening, so we were heading to a small game night at a family member's house. The plan was that he would go run a few errands while I fed the baby and got us both dressed. As I was just wrapping up, it crossed my mind that he had been gone longer than usual.

Just then, there was a knock on the door from one of my husband's coworkers. Apparently, he had just gone to their store (his dad's store), forcibly emptied the cash register, and left.

Um....what?

I could hear the pulse in my ears. This guy's words just...weren't making sense.

We had plans tonight...so...this couldn't be true? I thought we were past this..

[Honestly, his ability to still be able to disappoint me, even after we'd been through so much...was truly astounding. I thought I had 'seen it all'.]

And in that moment, even as I lied to myself that there must be some mistake, the fragile house of cards that I had built around us came crashing back down..like I knew they were always eventually destined to do.


Events moved pretty quickly after that. We found out later that my husband had taken the money and a friend and gone on a major bender. His addiction, which, as scary as it had been as a pill problem, had advanced in the last weeks into a heroin problem. He was eventually picked up for a DUI. (Not, ironically, for the robbery. His dad did not want to press charges. Turns out this is not the first time this has happened and *shrug* you know, Enablers.) I, on the other hand, FINALLY saw reason.

You can mess with me and my emotions - I am an adult, and can make decisions for myself - But to involve your own child in these twisted games... No way. I was done. Any remaining emotional ties -- these delusions of I had of "saving him" -- were severed.


[Plus, if having a child.. a singularly powerful experience...had not inspired him to get the help he desperately needed...then certainly nothing I could do was going to inspire change in him...ever.]


Some family friends graciously allowed my daughter and I to stay with them that night. No one was sure if or when my husband would return to the house and I didn't want to be there when he showed up. I gathered a few things for the baby + our dog, and left. This exodus put my priorities in sharp focus. If you've ever had to leave somewhere quickly, you make peace with leaving frivolous materials behind. To this day, I'm not very attached to clothes or possessions because in that moment I didn't care if I had anything to my name, just that my daughter (and yes, the dog) were safe.


We stayed with those friends for a couple nights. I don't remember the minutiae of those few transition days. For some reason on the third or fourth day, I just wanted to go back to my house. I knew I wasn't going to stay there (it belonged to my....soon-to-be-Ex-In-Laws), but having a baby away from home without her multitude of little baby accessories (diapers, socks, little baby tub, you know, they travel heavy) was proving to be difficult. And I was just emotionally drained. The shock and adrenaline of the events of that week were wearing off. It was dawning on me that my vision of the future was not at all what I'd foreseen, even just a week before.


We arrived back home in the later evening, and I promptly got us ready to go to sleep. There's just something about being able to crawl back into your own bed. Despite all that was on my mind, I was all out of tears and fell asleep rather quickly.


Then... A pounding on the front door woke me out of my sound sleep.

My eyes shot open at the loud knocking. I don't remember the time, but it was late enough to seem...chilling. A sick feeling poured over me. I got up as quietly as I could, tension absolutely straining every muscle in my body.


I knew it was him. I knew it.

And all I could think was ..Idiot! Why hadn't I just stayed away from the house? Why did I have to come back tonight?

I went to my daughter's room and clutched her. It occurred to me in that moment: At 5'2, what could I REALLY do to physically protect myself and my baby from a 6-foot man with anger issues...who was potentially blitzed out of his mind and staring down the reality that his wife and daughter would be leaving him? I was terrified. Have you ever experienced terror? I never have before that moment. It was shocking in its immediate effect on my body. I wanted to throw up. To curl up into a ball.

I thought I might ACTUALLY have a heart attack.


He knew I was there from my car parked in the driveway. Plus, he had no reason to suspect that I'd be anywhere else. Frankly, I'd put up with his crap for so long, that he probably didn't think anything he did would really cause me to cut the etheric cord. I thought about pretending I didn't hear him and just ignoring the knocks. I knew he didn't have his house key - I had seen it sitting on the kitchen counter from before everything imploded. But our front door had a huge glass panel window on the top half. I'd watched him bust out a window when we'd got locked out once before, and knew how easy it was to get inside. I decided to talk to him through the door. He seemed surprisingly calm. And probably pretty drained as well. To summarize our awkward through-the-door-raised-volume conversation, he had been dropped off by the cops and just wanted to sleep on the couch for the night. A DUI carries fines and court, but doesn't necessarily equate to any jail time. He didn't argue or seem completely belligerent like I'd feared. He attempted to apologize in some half-assed too-late way that didn't really phase me. He said he'd sleep on the couch and be gone first thing in the morning. His parents were helping to get him situated. He planned to show up to his court appearances and then head out of town to some in-patient rehab program in Michigan. I went back upstairs, no longer feeling as much like we were in any immediate danger, but I didn't leave the baby's side all night, and obviously didn't sleep a wink. All I could think was What. The. Hell.


Fast-forward back to the present. I really appreciate you taking that journey with me. Verbalizing my experience has truly been a mental and emotional exercise. Besides journaling and therapy sessions, this is really the first place I've ever typed this out. I realize that a 15-minute long Wix Blog post isn't enough to fully embody the nuances of such a complicated thing as substance abuse or co-dependent relationships, but it's a vital part of my story, as raw and not-fully-healed as it may be, and reflection represents growth.


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4 years on from my marriage and I was feeling pretty good! I remember the day I realized that he and I had been apart for longer than we'd been together. (From start to finish, our relationship wasn't even as long-lasting as some people's dating history...I've had jackets in my life for longer.)

We had tried to maintain a civil relationship after he moved to Michigan, but he ended up leaving rehab early and we lost touch over the next year. I know you must be wondering how someone could move away from a child -- and I'll answer you honestly that I don't know. I still have a relationship with his parents -- I would never want my daughter to miss out on a set of grandparents that love her - and it's likely that they fill him in with updates about her. I want to believe that he really felt like removing himself from her life (if he didn't have the capacity to get clean) was the kindest thing he could do for her at the time. That's all speculation on my part, but if that's the case, then I consider it to be a decent thing that he's done. She was a year old when he left, so she doesn't 'miss' him in the conventional sense.


So life moved on (as it tends to do) and we forged new paths. I started a career I enjoyed, getting heaps of love and emotional support from the people around us. I even started dating again after a while -- For all intents and purposes I had MOVED ON. But every few weeks, when I let my guard down, I would have dreams about him showing back up and either hurting us or telling me he was there to take the baby. It felt like I was at war with my subconscious -- that it was turning on me when I let my guard down in my sleep. It wasn't every night, but that soul-heaviness never fully went away...


....Until I found floating. Someone introduced me to flotation therapy because it had been so impactful in their life. I went in with no pretense. It seemed interesting and relaxing and I thought, "Sure, why not!" I've taken yoga classes, and the concept of sensory deprivation seemed meditative. There was really nothing to lose by taking a an hour or two out to be still. (Finding moments of peace has been particularly poignant in my life in the last couple years.)


Floating didn't "save" me. It wasn't this instant cure-all. But believe me; when I was introduced to this practice, the effects were unmistakable. If you wonder why I've started this blog, this new mission, it is because I feel like I've gotten a piece big of myself back. One of my favorite things to do now is get into conversations with people that are legitimately curious about what this healing modality can do. And I tell them -


Through floating, I allowed myself the space and the permission to look inward and pour focus into the areas of myself that needed the most work. The pain in my soul had been so subversive.. so buried in my subconscious that I almost didn't realize the effect residual trauma had on me...Until it was gone. There was this caustic drain that was leaching emotional poison into my psyche...like I had an invisible leak that would cause me to feel drained every morning. Only once I started waking up without that void, did I realize how bad it had been. Maybe for some people it's like a weight being lifted, to be able to finally stand up tall again. For me it has been absolutely restorative and life changing. I feel lighter, and I think it shows.


The path to self-discovery -- to personal evolution, growth, and yes, even healing -- is a road we'll be travelling all our lives. There are many methods to this process, and I invite you to explore and find ways that are most meaningful and therapeutic to you. Floating has emerged so powerfully in my life, that I now recognize the practice as one of the pillars of wellness in my life. (More on my 5 Pillars of Wellness in my next post). I invite you to try, and dearly want to hear about your experience.


Thank you so much for reading.


A



If you or someone you know might need help or could use someone to talk to, see the info below:


The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence's website & hotline:

1-800-799-SAFE (7233)



Al-Anon & Alateen national resources:











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5 Comments


Jake Voorhees
Jake Voorhees
Dec 30, 2020

2nd blog comment test

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I always knew you were amazing! After reading your story, I realize you are even more amazing! YOU are willing to do the work! It's difficult to to look at our shadows and acknowledge them. Once they're named, the Light changes them. Then the real Soul Work begins. May Love and Light surround you and your beautiful daughter, Always! 💗✨

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Jake Voorhees
Jake Voorhees
Dec 19, 2020

This is so good :) thank you for sharing. I find that whenever you storytell from the heart and share vulnerably, people respond super well. You give them the permission to share back, and it's a beautiful thing. This "Float Girl" journey snowball has started now, so let's see what you can do !!!! :)

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waheedhamza71
waheedhamza71
Dec 19, 2020

This is pretty eye opening to me. I am not surprised you fell for this guy. Women want to be a part of an adventure. Your ex was exciting and most importantly showed a lot of honest signals of his mating value, in particular social proof and pre-selection. I could talk for hours on this, but that would be irrelevant. Women want men other men ADMIRE, and other women DESIRE. What ends up happening in our society, is because of social conditioning, 90% of men become nice guys and display all these other unattractive behaviors. What ends up happening is women go after narcissistic, sociopathic men, leaving women wondering why they are attracted to men they know are n…

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Wow. Just wow. I would never had been able to articulate hard times my life written this way. Good job, and an even better one was taking steps in a good direction. Sounds like you are headed the right way for you.

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