To say it's been a bit of an emotional few weeks is kind of like saying we have had a tiny bit of rain. And, in case you are wondering, we have had a very, very wet and chilly few weeks.
The upshot of it all is that I made my last trip to the house I called home for ten plus years. The house I magically transformed into a loving, nurturing home for my two babies. The home where my babies rolled over, sat up, learned to crawl, learned to walk and run. The home to where I brought Kaylen, fresh from the hospital, to forever be Kelton's baby sister. The home that was the entire world, entire universe for my children and me for their entire lives.
One my last stop, I stood in the silence of the emptiness and I promise you, I could hear the echos of laughter, I could see them dancing their silly dances to their silly songs together in the kitchen while I cleaned up dinners night after night after night. I heard them in their bedrooms. Saw them laying under the branches of the Christmas tree, looking up at the lights. Saw them splashing in the pool in the backyard. Kicking through the leaves in the front yard, making giant piles and then jumping in them....squealing in delight. I could see Kaylen having her tea parties than she had every. single. day. for a good year when she was two.
I could see the swing set being built, heard the happy voices of 5 year old Kelton and 2 year old Kaylen as they eagerly waited to be able to slide on the slide and swing "up to the trees". I can see them running out the door into the dark of night, dressed in boots and coats, to play when the project was finally completely. It was past their bedtimes but they had waited all day and I couldn't deny them. I could hear Kaylen's amazing laugh as I pushed her in her orange airplane swing.
Every direction I turned I was hit with memories. The tears flowed fast and furiously. The emotions ran the full spectrum. Anger welled up at all that was lost for my children....for me. Heart ache over things that were, that never will be again and dreams that both lived and died within those walls.
A new family has rented it and will be moving in this weekend. Small children to fill the house with sounds and magic. New children to sleep and play in my children's rooms. A dog who will romp and play in the yard. It absolutely breaks my heart. I thought I would live in that house well past the children being grown.
But...it isn't to be. Wasn't meant to be, some would say. I don't know. All I know is it isn't and, in the end, there wasn't anything I could do about it.
Yesterday, three years to the month of being told I no longer had a relationship, my "divorce" became final. I signed off on the house and will be removed from the title. Everything is cleaned up. Lose ends tied up. The irony of Washington approving Marriage Equality in the same 24 hours period of finalizing of my divorce is not lost on me.
My partner-based relationship with Dakota has been long over. It is the home I built with, and for, my children, that I grieve for intensely.
And at the same time, I have a wonderful woman who loves me, and whom I love, deeply. I share her home, we share our children, we are building a future - and one day I'm sure this house will feel more like my home than it does right now. I still struggle with feeling like a visitor. It's my doing, nothing Stephanie does or doesn't do. She is understanding as I go through whatever wild ride my emotions takes me on. Thank God for that. She gave me pretty much free range on putting the house together, merging all of our things, decorating. She is building me a closet so I can have more space, she lovingly put in the new floors, she encouraged, and helped me, paint. She tries so hard and yet at times I still feel like a visitor. That's my stuff though. Me, being disoriented. Me, afraid of failing again, of disappointing again, of being told my dreams, goals and desires aren't good enough.
I have realized that I come with *a lot* of baggage. Fear. Trust issues. Insecurities about being enough, doing enough. None of it is founded in my reality with Stephanie. It's me. It's my past. It's what I am currently bringing to the table. Stuff I need to figure out how to make peace with. How to quiet the voices in my head. How to still the panic and anxiety I seem to have now and again.
The children are happy and adjusting well. For that I am grateful. As for me? I have some things to work out for myself. I need to get to a place where I feel like I am enough. What I do is enough. I need to find areas where I feel like I have some control so I can stop feeling wildly out of control. After years of being on my own with the children, I struggle to include others in our circle even though it is what I so very much want. I'm used to it being me and them. It's been the three us as a primary unit for the better part of seven years (since Dakota started law school back in July of 2005 and, consequently, spent very little time with the kids and me. Little compared to the amount of time the three of us were on our own together.).
I don't know. I'm doing the best I can. I go back and forth between being great and feeling like I'm coming undone. I guess that's mostly normal though given the monumental changes over the past while. Yeah - normal. I'm going to hold on to that.
Normal, considering everything.