Then I Came Home to Austin

12841331_10153539649669053_1897104843100891352_oI believe that the worst part of my break-up with Chef was the unfamiliarity of my life without him. I hadn’t realized up until that point how important my routines — the very patterns of my life — had really been to me. Then, suddenly, everything was so different. It happened quickly, the crashing of my life, pretty much falling to pieces all at once, and without mercy. Over the last few years, it was hard to really enjoy the routines I had set up to replace the smashed ones left behind by the break-up. Yes,some tiny parts stayed the same. I continued to drink coffee in the morning, or listen to the news while I got ready for work. Others were different, like caring for stray dogs and writing on a blog. But those were just tiny parts of a whole that seemed to still not be functioning correctly. They seemed to be connected, somehow, to my old life. It was as if their very differences served only to remind me of what I once had, and what was now gone. Overall, I was struggling for every shred of happiness.

Then I came home to Austin.

As an adult, I have never lived in Austin before, but this is the city I was born in. I took my first breath here. I learned to walk and talk here, and it has forever been synonymous in my head to my father. Austin is where my dad and his family were, and in the back of my mind, I guess I always kind of wanted to just come home. I really couldn’t have timed it better. I’m fairly sure the Lord has something to do with that.

I have new routines now. The pattern of my life is not only different now, but it is unconnected to a painful past. I find myself appreciating the 12801417_521154491392629_6713478659555648885_nbeauty of this city daily, and I still get butterflies in my stomach when I realize again, I’m living in Austin, Texas. I’m still not so used to seeing my father’s face that I have begun to take it for granted. Instead, I feel a surge of gratitude each and every time I see him standing at my door. I love to see how Texas seems to suit my daughter Rebekkah; how she has flourished into a beautiful, confident woman, happy again, and no longer suffering under the burden of caring for a very wounded mother. I feel a certain pride every time I pay my rent from a paycheck I earned, and praise God at my ability to still buy groceries and other things I need with what is left over. Maybe that doesn’t sound like much to you, but I have learned only too well how it feels to have to choose between food and a home.

I’m filling up my life again, with family, with new friends, and with things. I have enough stuff in my apartment now, I can honestly say, I would need a truck next time I decide to move. I have things I picked for myself, this time. It is always appreciated when something is given to you, but when all you own in the world is stuff people donated to you, it makes you feel worse than just poor. Over time, I’ve been getting to know myself as just me. Not a part of a marriage, or a team, or a club. I’ve found that I love the colors turquoise and yellow together, as well as gray and yellow. I like rap music…who knew?! I have become both more social as well as less. I’ll save that thought for another time. I wear different styles of clothes now, and even my hair is different. I’m kind of enjoying figuring out who I am these days.

Today, I bought a new laptop; and believe it or not, it was that purchase that made me feel so reflective about my new life today. It was expensive, and I was able to buy it without despairing over ….well, anything. I needed a new one, so I bought one. The minute I paid for it, I realized, the hard years trying to recover from such a terrible break-up are officially over. Yes, there are going to be lean times in the future. There always are. But those lean times won’t be connected to Chef, or drugs, or biker clubs, or Oklahoma. They’ll just be the way life goes sometimes, and I’m good with that. I”m finally home.

~ Bird


Comfortably Numb or Just Plain Selfish? I Guess I Don’t Really Care Either Way

broken heart birdsA week or so ago, I was commenting to my daughter about how short-lived true, unadulterated peace lasts, in my life at least. It isn’t that I don’t actually feel pretty peaceful about life in general normally. I do. But on those rare occasions, I literally have no big problems weighing on me, and that’s the time I’m talking about with Rebekkah. For a time there, I was making enough money to pay ALL of my bills, had a home I love, dogs were happy and healthy, a great friend, a legal driver’s license, love my job, etc. All of this is still true, but Friday, the newest fly came to land in my peace-soaked ointment. Actually, it is a fly that visits my ointments pretty regularly.

Chef called.funny-girl-crying-breakup

I don’t know if it holds true for other ex-wives, but for me, Chef often presents a problem. He is always right on the cusp of something really bad, and my nature is to be a fixer. Even when he was living with the other women, using drugs, and being a complete a$$hole, I would still bail him out of things, give him money, and generally put aside what he was doing to me, to do something good for him.

funny-card-quote-adele-breakupDon’t bother deciding I’m a good person, either. There are a lot of selfish reasons a person can have when they are busy traveling the High Road. For several reasons, I liked that he wasn’t doing all that well without me, or that his girlfriends were turning out to be more of a problem for him than a solution. I felt vindicated every time they would fight about me, which knowing my ex, was a lot of the time. He did the same unfavorable comparisons between me at his exes before me. He only stopped when I stopped being bothered by it.

In 2012, I lived for every phone call, text, or knock on the door from Chef. break-up-quotes_103948386_5In 2013, I both longed for as well as dreaded his efforts to reach out. In 2014, he was more of a frustration dotted with just a hint of feelings of responsibility towards him. I would have to say, though, that 2015 has been all about putting an end to that chapter. Over the course of this year, I’ve teared up a few times over what he once was and what we’ve lost, but I haven’t wept at all this year over Chef. The reason? I’ve moved on.

This time, the impending disasters in his life are pretty much the same ones they always are. Chef’s life, it would seem, has taken a harsh turn for the worse…again. Illness. Homelessness. Loneliness. Regret.

1392460441746815As is our sick custom, he did what he always does. He called me with frightening news about his health, and worked in the other sad circumstances he’s now facing. But, instead of the normal reactions I have tended to have these last few years, I felt…well, almost nothing. To quote Pink Floyd, I felt comfortably numb.

357728-28321-8I seriously am not sure how I feel about this new, almost callous approach to that part of my life. On the one hand, I feel just as peaceful today as I did before he called me Friday. On the other, I am wondering if I’ve officially become a cold b***h. I hope not. I really want Chef to be happy. I don’t want him homeless, or sick, or lonely. The difference is, I just don’t want to be the one to have to make that happen for him. I don’t want to be his home, or take care of him if he is sick, or talk to him so he won’t be lonely. And that makes me feel selfish. Who knows? Maybe I am now.

I only know that when that chapter was closed, it was firmly so. I’m not going backwards. Not anymore. I believe the fly might have actually drowned in the ointment this time. The long road to letting go has been traveled, and no amount of history or memories can bring that path back again.

~ Bird