Friday, 3 January 2014

Starting a New Year Looking Back Instead of Forward

For the last several years as a new year starts I’ve gotten into a pattern of thinking that this will be the year where everything will settle and that everything will start to feel more natural for me. I struggle with some of the aspects of getting divorced and raising the boys on my own. I will never get used to the idea of “sharing” my children; I don’t enjoy time without them. I cringe at the thought of spending birthdays and holidays away from them. Having a life that is separate from my life with my children doesn’t feel natural to me. Living in a house on my own with the boys and having all that responsibility resting solely on my shoulders is still daunting. So although it has been three years, there are still so many ways that my life still doesn’t feel like it has settled into what I would want for it to become.

However to start this year, I don’t want to look forward, I don’t want to think about what could be and I don’t want to think about what I wish will be. I want to start this year by looking back and recognizing all that I managed to accomplish over the past three years on my own.

I learned to drive and I fearlessly went out and bought my very first car on my own. I took to the streetcar the dealership and was fully prepared; I had done all my research and I knew exactly how much I wanted to pay for a car and exactly what car I wanted…and that’s exactly what I negotiated (along with free rust-proofing, free matts and scotch guarding for the interior). I think I did okay. Old Ana would not have stepped foot into a dealership without a husband or a father to help negotiate the deal. I also learned to top up windshield fluid and operate the lights (do you realize they don’t teach you that when you get your license?). I’m sure that sooner or later I’ll have to learn to change a tire, but my friends at CAA may make it so I never have to go that far.

The first Christmas that the boys and I were on our own I cried as I tried (unsuccessfully) to attach the Christmas tree to the roof of my car in the rain with the straps that I had no idea how to operate. I cried because I didn’t want to celebrate Christmas without my family intact and out of frustration that I didn’t know how to do something that seemed so simple. Some kind man took pity on me and my car full of kids and helped me get it sorted out. This year, the boys and I drove to Lowe’s, picked out our tree (the biggest one we could find) and some lovely young man loaded the tree on top of my car and I tied it myself to the roof. That was the scariest drive in the world for me; I wasn’t sure if my knotting skills were going to keep that tree on top or we were going to cause a major accident; but we got home. And all on my own I took that 7foot tree off the roof and got it in the house and into the tree holder. All on my own!

I installed an air conditioning unit. In the middle of the worst heat wave that I think I’ve ever lived through, I finally caved and bought a standalone air conditioner to cool down our bedrooms. I think that I sweat the equivalent of 10 pounds of sweat that day, and I used more profanity than I think I have ever used in my life. But I put together the air conditioner…only to discover that you can’t just use a regular extension cord for it. So I loaded everyone into the car, drove to Canadian Tire to buy the appropriate extension cord. We drove home and plugged in the unit…and I kid you not….at that very second the heat wave broke and the whole city cooled down. But I now own a $400 air conditioner and I know how to install it. These are little steps, but they are steps that show how far I’ve come in the three years that the boys and I have been on our own (and those of you who know me well likely cannot even fathom the idea of me installing an air conditioning unit).

I don’t want to look forward this year and try to make decisions about the things that I want to have happen. I just want to live in the present moment, to continue to learn and to continue to grow. I have such a long way to go, but I’ve already come so far. I’m looking forward to this year, looking forward to just being in the moment and letting things unfold as they need to; but I’m hopeful that there are good things ahead. Happy New Year everyone.

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