In these moments, lol is the best we can do.
My parents have a way of pushing my buttons in a way that no one else in the world can. It is first and foremost due to the fact that they created those buttons, but also because they’ve gotten to know them the best over the course of a lifetime. They assisted in the harvesting and maturing of said buttons, and now know how to push them without even trying. In their sleep. And, since my parents’ sole purpose in life is to love me, and convince me that they have learned absolutely every life lesson in their combined 146 years while simultaneously passing these lessons on at inopportune and unwarranted moments, this leaves me an anxiety-ridden, yoga deep-breathing, mess of an individual LOLing throughout their visit, all the while insisting they stay longer.
It all involves a LOT of screaming.
And huffing. And sighing.
And that’s just the genetic portion. We’re Cuban. I have no inside voice.
Regardless, my parents were here over the holiday weekend, and each visit with them leaves me reeling with exhaustion and yearning to have them close-by.
I, however, am going through what I would call a high-conflict divorce, which makes that nearly impossible. None of the details really matter, except that it will NEVER end. Never. The conflict being thrown at me – outright, silently, passive-aggressively, in front of our child – all of it will be ongoing over the course of my life as a parent. It is tragic, really, to be faced with such a dismal outlook, but it is quite the contrary for me. It is the exact outlook I need to convince my hopeful, optimistic, self of, in order to fully free myself. The moment I truly lose hope, give up my desire, my wish, my hope that things will change, that somehow, somewhere out there (cue Linda Rondstadt), there exists a shred of reason or decency that will find its way to my estranged spouse and permeate his being, even if only for a nanosecond, is the moment that I give my conscious the right to let go of any guilt I may be holding on to for defending myself, for having an opinion different from his, for not giving in.
It is the moment I will truly Live.
So I am going into this upcoming mediation, this chance at closure, compromise, cooperation, with outwardly no hope at all. Inside, though, that Little-Engine-That-Could is huffing and puffing and I-Think-I-Can-ing away…all the while holding out the secret hope that something even remotely good could possibly, maybe, happen. It is times like these when I need my friends, my parents.
I know when I come out of that conference room, that office, that building, into that vast city, that concrete parking garage, that SUV with the toddler-seat in the back.
I will break.
I will break for all of the expecting-the-worsts, for all of the no-hope scenarios I have run through, for all of the preparation I have done to convince all of me that I will leave there knowing nothing more about the future than when I went in. I will break for the part of me that wishes I had fallen in love with someone different. The part of me that still wishes she could change him, make him somehow human, empathetic. But that part of me is the part that still wants to “be married”. Doesn’t matter to who (well, let’s be honest, that’s a lie), but in order to validate myself somehow, in order to “be” a success.
And although that part of me grows smaller with the passage of time, all of these milestones, benchmarks, steps in the divorce process, whatever label you want to put on each of them, rub this healing wound the wrong way. Draw just enough fresh blood out to make it real, to remind me that the underlying hope is still there.
You know, I’m not in any way saying I want to be numb during or to this process. It is really an awakening period of self-discovery, another adolescence of sorts (equipped with much more freedom, happy hour, and the potential for much funner mistakes, really (YES, I just used the word funner)), but it has been close to one year since this process began, and over a year since I have been working through this on my own, and I am exhausted.
I am a planner. I like to know. Even if the knowing ruins things for me, which it oftentimes does. As a child, I was notorious for removing the tape from Christmas presents with such care that my parents did not suspect a thing, solely to confirm that I got that Barbie car I wanted. Or, when given the opportunity by my best friend to be told of my gift before even receiving it, I take it. I have no shame. The surprise is equally as satisfying to me. Or at least that is what I tell myself.
So. As this process, this rebirth, is happening, I am trying – don’t laugh, I wrote it in Italics for a reason, this is HARD – to change how I do things, react to things, in order to learn these valuable life lessons, these gems that God is placing in my lap with a handwritten note that says “PAY ATTENTION”.
But only to the point where it doesn’t affect my LOL.
Because that God, if I know him the way I think I do, He loves my LOL. Loves Me just as I Am. He would Never want to know that I am muting myself, subduing my reactions, emotions, and the hard-wiring that was given and designed by His very self.
And He, that omnipotent spiritual powerhouse, He made me an optimist.
So I will continue to try and prepare myself as best as I can for what is most likely sure to be disappointment, I will warn my family, my friends, that I may need some uplifting when I inevitably feel so small that evening, so blind as to what my future holds, so tired.
One thing, though. One thing is for certain.
I will continue to Live Out Loud. Without shame, with only occasional reservation (you know, in libraries and such), and with the gift of His Grace.
And my future, regardless of where I am, what I do, and who I’m with, it holds Happiness.
Now there’s something worth capitalizing.