The Outside Looking In

On the weekend our town had the annual Santa Claus parade and pretty much every single family in our small town lined the downtown street to see the floats and lights. I brought my son along to it and we bundled up in warm clothes, brought comfy chairs to sit on, had some snacks and treats and we got ourselves set up in a prime location. My son was buzzing with excitement because he knew that Santa would be at the end of the parade. And what was even more exciting was that he knew that his dad was driving the truck that was pulling santa and his sleigh. How cool is that for a four year old?! The parade itself was a pretty standard small town parade. Lots of business vehicles that tossed some lights on and called it a float, some floats that were well thought out, and some that just stood out more than others. My son was having a great time and there were only a few hiccups where he kept getting missed by the people handing out candy canes and he got upset by it. But a little girl near us heard him saying he wanted a candy cane too and she so kindly gave us not only a candy cane but the biggest one she had received. That is small town kindness for you. It made my son’s night even though after a few licks he decided he didn’t like candy canes. That’s four year olds for you.

But as the parade carried on and we started to see Santa’s sleigh getting near, I worked to get my son pumped up to see not only Santa but see his dad having the big job of pulling the sleigh. My son was practically vibrating off the ground he was so buzzed about it all. It was adorable. But as my ex-husband’s truck started approaching where we were standing, and I was eagerly getting our son to wave to his dad, my heart sank. Actually, scratch that, my heart crumbled into more pieces than it already has since our separation. My ex-husband failed to give me a heads up that his new girlfriend, the one he started seeing within 2-3 weeks of him officially leaving me (which I still feel confident isn’t the whole truth), was going to be in the passenger seat of the truck. While I stood on the road, trying to pretend that I wasn’t as hurt as I was and trying to get my son excited about seeing his dad, she sat in the passenger seat smiling away like a happy pig in shit.

All I could think of was that she was looking out at me, thinking in her head “that’s right bitch. I have it all now and look at you standing out there in the cold.” Maybe it’s irrational of me to think that, but I, among many other people, strongly believe that she is using my ex-husband for status and money. She is known around town for doing whatever she can to get ahead in life. My ex-husband, if all goes to plan with his business, could one day be making millions upon millions of dollars and have his name splashed all over the industry he works in. To anyone who wants a life of financial comfort, he is basically a diamond of a find. And what hurts about that is that it has been me that has supported his growth in his career, while making sacrifices for our family and even our marriage so he could work his ass off to get himself into a position of financial wealth. So I did the hard yards, got kicked to the curb, and she is now reaping the rewards. Little does she know how fucked up mentally he is.

But the hardest part about the whole parade situation was, as she smiled out of the seat in the truck that used to be mine….the one I sat in for road trips, smiling at my husband as we chatted on the drives or as we went out and did things as a family, was that I felt like I was an outsider looking in to the life that I once knew. To better describe it, I compare the feeling to that claw game that you see in some stores, where the giant claw comes down and you have to try to grab a stuffed animal or toy with it and then drop it down a chute so you can claim your prize. While I stood there I felt like a giant claw had come down, plucked me out of the seat of the truck, removed me, placed me on to the street then picked her up and placed her right in my former spot and everything just carried on as normal in his and her life.

I know that when marriages end and new relationships start that ultimately the former spouse is “replaced” by the new person. My ex-husband has literally done exactly that. He is still doing everything that we did together. Eating out at the same places, going on the same adventures, staying at the nice hotels, cooking nice big dinners for groups of friends, etc, etc. The only difference is the face standing beside him with all of this is no longer me, it is her. He has literally plucked me out and plunked her in. He took no time at all to end our marriage and fit someone new into his life. I have been left feeling as though I wasn’t even worth mourning over after he decided to walk away. That the 8 years we had together was that easy to just move on from.

I know that karma is going to come back and bite him in the ass for not taking the time to properly work through his many issues and instead trying to sort of glaze over them by putting a new woman in his life. I think he is going to realize that jumping from one failed relationship into another one which he has admittedly told me he hasn’t allowed himself to open up in, is going to leave him in a really shitty place. And I want to shake him and tell him that he is fucking up his life by pretending everything is ok to the outside world but to a select few, including me, admitting the truth to. He is a ticking time bomb that is either going to explode or will just end up with him spending more years with “her” and hiding the real truth of his mental struggles and issues and eventually leading to another break down in relationship. And it isn’t my place to say any of this. Because while I care about his well-being, I don’t give two shits about her and what he does to her. She is not a good human being and she deserves whatever it is that is coming eventually. Watch…now that I’ve said this they are probably going to move on and be happily ever after while I sit here and bitterly eat my own words.

So, needless to say, this brief 30 seconds of the parade completely destroyed the rest of my evening as well as my Sunday with my son. I cried…a lot. I compared myself to her by saying she’s prettier, skinnier, etc, etc. I turned my mental space into feeling like I was a piece of rejected garbage. I hit such a low point because of those 30 seconds, that my ability to handle my son’s typical 4 year old stubborn moments was non-existent and I snapped at him constantly. I let those 30 seconds ruin the few moments I had with my son before he went to his dad’s place for a few days. I was consumed by those 30 seconds.

I still am pretty hurt and triggered by that parade moment. I have told my ex-husband to only message me if it is something important I need to know regarding our son. I have told him I don’t want to hear from him otherwise. I need a breather from him as these last few weeks our messaging has increased again and he has started to use me as his shoulder for tough moments or even for his happy moments (like hitting goals with his company). I can’t continue to be that person and know that he is having me in his life for that while later in the evening or on the days he doesn’t have our son, going and spending time with “her” and giving her the happy and affectionate version of himself. He doesn’t get that part of me right now. Maybe one day when I find myself in a stronger emotional position he can have that part back as a “friend”, but I can’t keep giving that when the return for it is me getting crushed by pictures he posts with her or our son talking about things they all have done together, or seeing the two of them together. One day, if they stay together long term, I am going to have no choice but to accept that she is a solid part of his life and my son’s life and I will have to find it somewhere from deep within me to forget the moments of right now and attempt to be amicable with her for the sake of my son. I don’t know when that will be, and I honestly hope it won’t be any time soon as right now it is easiest for me to block the idea of her out of my world while I work hard on my own happiness.

Life Update

It is hard to believe that I’ve now been a single parent for six months. Half a year. It is actually crazy to think about how much time has passed. In a lot of ways it has been a big adjustment, but in some other ways it has been surprisingly smooth sailing.

The parts that have been smooth sailing have mainly been the care for my little boy. Because for the last year prior to my husband leaving, he was absent in a lot of ways, physically and mentally, as a parent. So I took care of a lot of the day to day work for our son. Bath times, lunch packing, food cooking, cleaning up, entertaining, clothes purchasing, bedtimes, you name it, I did it and had minimal options of having someone back me up. So when my son is with me on my days, it’s basically business as usual. I still conquer all of those things. The only time where I feel the absence of a partner is when I’m not feeling well or when my son has pushed me to the edge in a way that only a 4 year old can, and I sit and wish to have someone to “tap in/out” with before I say or do something I will regret. Thankfully those times are few and far between. Most days I feel like I’m rocking being a single mom. I am scheduling like a boss, planning ahead, entertaining, getting my son starting to help with chores, teaching him independence, breaking the rules when necessary and also keeping firm on the rules when needed.

What has made it easiest is having a little boy who is incredibly adaptable. He has shown how adaptable he is from day 1 of taking him on his first trip at only 2 months old. My son has taken to this change in life with relative ease. We were warned that when he started the new routine of going back and forth between our two homes that he may start to act out or get angry or upset when it came time for the swap. We were told that the first few days of being with the new parent that he could be difficult and stubborn. But that hasn’t been the case. He now will ask me how many sleeps he has with me or if it’s a mommy weekend or a daddy weekend coming up. And when he gets his answer he simply just nods and carries on talking about something else. I won’t lie though, on Sundays when it is time for him to finish up a weekend with me and go with his dad at 6:00 on Sunday, those hand overs are not easy. He always very happily leaves his dad to come to me, but the other way around isn’t as simple. He will cling to me and say he doesn’t want to go. He will cry and try to hide somewhere in the house. He will insist on having endless tight hugs. It isn’t easy on any of us. We have tried different ways of doing the hand over. We have done it at my house, we have tried me dropping him off at the apartment, we have attempted meeting at a playground (neutral ground) and we have tried to meet outside his favourite restaurant so he can go for his weekly ritual sunday dinner with his dad. Every.single.one results in me down on my knees on the ground and him clinging to me with his arms wrapped around my neck and him sobbing about not wanting to go. It has nothing to do with him not having fun with his dad or his dad being a horrible person to him. It just has to do with the fact that he is a mama’s boy through and through and has been since day 1. And even if we have a rougher than usual weekend, he still wants to be with his mom. And while I feel bad for my ex-husband having to hear his son saying that he doesn’t want to leave, it secretly makes my heart happy that I’m still clearly the preferred parent. Of course, once he goes with his dad, he’s always fine within a couple minutes and is back to his normal happy self. So that is why we try not to stress too much about this once every two weeks difficult hand-over.

As for me and how I’m doing. Well every day is different. I can feel confident and happy being alone and mostly in control of my own life one day and then the next day I’m down at rock bottom where I am fighting tears all day long, mourning the loss of my marriage, family and future. Sometimes the harder days will stretch into 2 or 3 days of misery. I have been doing a fair amount of reading relating to grief. Specifically grief relating to a marriage ending. A lot of specialists say that far too many of us try to spend our time distracting ourselves from the pain and not actually allowing ourselves to truly feel the emotions that come with it. And that it is actually truly healthier to let the emotions of the hard days consume me. To not push them aside but to instead learn to feel them, understand them and then work through them. By distracting myself from them I’m not actually focusing on working through the hurt or the loneliness. I’m just shoving it aside for another day for it to come crashing down on me. That isn’t progress. So for the last few weeks I have been letting myself feel whatever emotion is happening for the day. Some days it really sucks because I want to feel anything but miserable. But those days make me appreciate the days where I am in a better head space.

Because of my realization that I need to work on my own mental health, I chose to end things with the guy that I had been dating for about two months. As wonderful as a human being as he was, I realized that my heart was not truly, truly into it. There were many things about him that made him an ideal partner. But he became too intense, much too quick for me. I thought it was what I wanted and I thought it was making me happy. But over time I realized that I was just keeping him close in order to distract myself or fill a void that was missing. That I actually felt anxiety every time he would mention he loved me (which came on much too soon for my liking) and I knew, deep in my heart, that I didn’t and likely wouldn’t feel the same way. Little things he did started to annoy me and I found myself pushing him away more and more. It was when I lied to him about having a migraine in order to not have to hang out one evening was when I realized that it wasn’t the right relationship for me and I needed to end it before his heart got even more invested. There were also other things about him that I realized I was compromising on just simply in order to have a man around. He wasn’t as manly as I prefer a partner to be. He was gentle, kind, sweet, which was wonderful, but he wasn’t someone I could go camping with in the back country or do repairs around the house and didn’t carry a masculine confidence about him. Physically I stopped being attracted to him as he was quite thin, but with a bit of a potbelly, and zero muscle to him. I find it a little unattractive when I am stronger than the man I am dating. I typically prefer men to be burlier than he was. I’m not against tall and thin, but I don’t want to feel like I’m going to break the guy I’m seeing. So, in the end, I realized I was compromising too much of myself in order to have a relationship with him. I stopped caring for my own mental health in the time he was around and that was the biggest thing. He was another distraction. While he allowed me to feel my low days, I also felt (not by him) pressured to push them aside so I could be more fun when he was around. That shit isn’t healthy at all. I do not regret those two months spent with him one bit. He was the perfect person to bring into my life to make me feel comfort, kindness, affection and happiness again. He allowed me to be able to trust and know that there ARE decent men out there and that I’m not completely ruined because I am now a single mother.

So…I’m back to being single again. And it’s pretty lonely. I don’t have any friends in the town I live in and everyone I know live just too far away for a drive to go out for dinner or hang out. The weekends I don’t have my son with me can get a little depressing because of that. I spend a lot of time sitting on my couch drinking a glass of wine alone and watching back to back episodes of Friends while telling myself that I should be being productive and also fighting the desire to eat everything bad. I already promised myself that this Saturday I am going to get OUT of the house and take my book somewhere and have a glass of wine and read. Even if it’s still essentially the same thing that I would be doing at home, at least I will be out and around other people. I need to meet some other women in town but I’m not even entirely sure how to. So not only am I keeping an eye out for a future man, I’m also having to try to keep an eye out for future new friends.

The one thing I have been failing at the most though is my own physical health. I have gained back the 12 pounds that I had lost because I have been eating like garbage and not exercising enough. I keep telling myself that this week will be the week that I get back on track, but then the weekends hit and it’s a downward spiral. So instead of trying to go all in all at once, each week I’m implementing small little changes in hopes that they will eventually amount to a bigger change. And I truthfully looked into hypnosis to try to help with my emotional eating I do but crossed that option off my list as it’s super expensive and truthfully ridiculous seeming! I have to deal with this shit on my own.

As for the house that I’m still living in. We were all full speed ahead with preparing the house to sell it. I was working my tail off decluttering and organizing inside the house and unloading a lot of stuff to the thrift store in town. My ex husband came and emptied a ton of stuff out of the garage which allowed me to get it set up really nicely with my ATV and snowmobile nicely tucked away inside and then plenty of space for me to create a workout area with my weights and spin bike. There is still some organization that needs to happen inside the house but the biggest jobs are the three my ex has to take care of and they are yard work in the back yard, completing the unfinished driveway and ripping up the incomplete back deck. He has seemed to stall out on his part of things and he has stopped asking me or pushing me for timelines on what I think I can get done. The original plan was to get the place on the market for the Fall, but we are now heading into the end of November and the place is nowhere near ready. So I don’t know what the plan is. And…honestly…I’m not pushing it because a big part of me dreads having to spend every day cleaning the house to ensure it is continuously ready for potential showings. Not only that, but it means that I will have to start the full-time job of house hunting for myself which, in my little town, is an almost impossible task given that every house in my price range is being sold even before it has a For Sale sign up in the yard. It is all pretty stressful and I know it is my inevitable future but for the moment I’m just going to stick my head under a rock and pretend it doesn’t have to happen quite yet.

So that’s that. Life has carried on. Sometimes good and sometimes bad. But I’m trucking along as best as I can.

“Man Up”

Back in March, before my marriage ended, my (ex) husband, son and I loaded our ATVs up on the trailer and we met up with friends of my (ex) husband so we could head up the mountain for a ride. It was a gorgeous day and perfect for our first ATV trip of the season. We pulled up at the spot, unloaded our quads, geared up and headed off into the trails. It was a great ride with a little snow to work through. We stopped for a little breather and lunch at a place right by the river. My son took a shining to the male friend of my (ex) husband and was hauling him around to throw rocks into the river. At one point he decided he wanted to go really far from where we had parked, so he asked the friend to come along with him. I wasn’t worried. I could still see where they were going and took it as an opportunity to relax and get a break. Eventually we all got back on our quads and continued up to the spot that was our final destination. Once we got there we got off our quads and sat down for awhile to enjoy the beautiful view. My son naturally started to get tired as it was a long day of riding at that point and he had eaten all of his food but was still hungry. He got whiny then the whining turned into crying and a couple tantrums…as every 3 year old would in that situation. I was trying to get his helmet back on him and get him to get back on the ATV so we could head back home but he wasn’t having any of it.

It was then, at this exact moment where I decided that I did not like the man who I had allowed my son to go off with at the river. This man, who I barely know and who does not have kids of his own, came over to my son, crouched down to his level and calmly started talking to him. I thought this was fine as it was a distraction for him. But then he said this line which will forever be ingrained in my memory because it made my blood boil in seconds….

“Remember what we talked about by the river? How you need to man up and stop crying.”

Blood.fucking.boiling.

I immediately turned to my (ex) husband to see if he heard it, and he clearly hadn’t as he was busy packing up our stuff into the box on his ATV. I looked back over to my little boy who was now standing there with tears streaming down his face, wiping away at them and nodding “yes” to this man. I stomped over to them and shoved myself between him and the man, picked him up and took him over to where my ATV was parked. I then very quietly had a talk with him about how it’s ok to show his emotions and work through them. All the while my hands were shaking with rage over the choice of words this man chose to use in an attempt to “parent” my son.

We got home and eventually got our son to bed and then when we climbed into bed I took a few minutes to figure out how to approach the subject with my (ex) husband. Eventually I took a deep breath and told him about what had happened and how it made me feel. He listened to my side of it and my reasoning behind why I hate the “man up” line and then responded. I was a little shocked when his response basically was neutral to the situation. Where he said that his friend had no right to try to parent our son, but at the same time he felt as though I was overreacting to something that is just a saying. He asked me if I wanted him to talk to his friend about it, but I was too surprised by the lack of him siding with me that I shook my head no and then went to sleep. In the months following that moment I brought it up again with him and after some further discussion he became more on my “side” regarding the situation and the use of that phrase. I don’t know why he couldn’t do it from the start, but that’s besides the point.

I was not raised in a family where men were encouraged to show their emotions. But they also weren’t discouraged from it. We just never really talked about it. The boys of my family just all happen to be more in tune with their emotional side which I guess comes natural from genetics. So the whole “boys will be boys” or “man up” culture that a lot of guys my age were raised in wasn’t really part of my vocabulary back then…or now. Now that I am raising a little boy in a very different world than what I was raised in, I try to keep up to speed on what can negatively affect my son and what I need to do in order to talk to him about certain things that could hurt, upset or close him off. We see a lot of information everywhere on the internet about how to raise strong, opinionated, successful girls. Articles about how to teach our daughters how to be respected are everywhere. But finding stuff about raising an emotionally connected son isn’t out there or in our faces as much. It feels to me as though the two types of learnings for raising well respected girls and also raising emotionally connected boys go hand in hand. I will devour any information I can find on raising strong, emotional boys because I believe that in every person there is a perfect balance of standing up for what we believe in or holding our ground when we know we have been taken advantage of and also being able to show true empathy, kindness and sad emotion. Despite our marriage not working out, this is an area of parenting that my ex husband and I both agree strongly on.

My goals for raising my son are for the future teenager and adult he will become. In high school I don’t want him to be the bully…but I also don’t want him to be the bullied. I want him to be the strong boy who stands up for and supports the bullied. I don’t want him to be the teenager making crass remarks about girls who have bigger chests or may be heavier in size. I want him to be the one who finds beauty in all types and can speak respectfully about that beauty. As an adult I want him to be a go-getter for his career. I want him to drive his own path to his success (whatever that may be). But I also want him to be the family man who knows that in order to run a happy household and be a good husband and father that he needs to respect his wife/husband and come home and help out and listen to anything she/he has to say even if he feels it’s mundane. I want him to be able to open up to future partners even when he feels vulnerable. But then I want him to stand strong and opinionated when the time is right. And all of these things that I want for him do not involve the use of the phrase “man up” or any other phrase that encourages boys and men to shove their feelings and emotions deep, deep down and be what society expects them to be.

It is clearly evident that the use of two words from a relative stranger 6 months ago have really, really struck a nerve with me. I do not want my son around anyone who projects that kind of attitude on him. I am lucky that this man that said it is not someone my son sees often so he is not someone who will create any influence whatsoever on his little growing brain. So because of this, I have tried to let it go. But sometimes something triggers my memory of the moment and I end up on a tangent about it and need to release it all one more time.

It is my job to mold the little human that is my son and I know that I am going to have a battle on my hands to create the well rounded boy/teenager/adult that I want to see in him. But I am going to damn well try my hardest.

Time Moves On

I haven’t been in here to write in over a month. It was a much needed break. I was starting to find that me writing about my separation was no longer becoming about finding an outlet for my anger, but more so about me holding on to the anger and situation. So I took a break and focused on the real world for awhile.

And that break did me damn good. Sometimes it led me into a puddle of tears as I sat on the floor in my quiet home after my son was picked up by his father so he could have his time with him. Other times it led me into happiness of recognizing that I am finally getting the well deserved time to myself because the former husband no longer had a choice in whether he wanted to hang out with his child on the weekend or not.

So to say that it has been a very therapeutic month would be an understatement. I found myself moving forward in a positive direction. I stopped focusing on the fact that my marriage did not last and that I am now a single mother and allowing that to dictate my happiness in every day. Instead I started to see some of the good that has come from this. I won’t bother going on to list the good that I have found as it could get lengthy or repetitive. But there is definitely some good. Of course every moment hasn’t been great either. My ex husband finally started to process the shit storm he created leading up to the departure from the marriage and the reality of the life he now has to live in because of it. So I have spent a fair amount of time receiving lengthy text messages from him that are full of his realizations. While I have found my way into a pretty good place, he has found his way into a darker struggle now. I won’t lie….in a way it feels good to know that he’s finally having to face the demons of his decisions and how he treated our marriage. But, at the same time, it is hard on me to hear it and know that despite it all he still is choosing to walk away.

In saying that though, I think that while I still care immensely for him, I don’t think I could even take him back if he ever asked. Just because he has so much history that he created for us and I don’t know if he would truly be able to be capable of changing that. And at the same time, I have my history and contribution to the demise of our marriage too that I don’t even think I would want to work on to improve with someone who didn’t support me through it the first time. My mind has stopped hoping that with every realization he comes to that it might mean he is going to ask to come back. I let that idea go awhile ago. And letting that idea go has made me feel lighter. Happier.

I have clearly done a lot of thinking over the past month. A lot of reflection on the marriage, specifically the marriage in the past year. And all of that thinking has made me realize that I have actually been dealing with more alone feelings than I was actually aware of. Because my ex husband was so checked out in so many ways and we were failing miserably with communication and ensuring any kind of connection between each other, I have actually gone through the alone stage for longer than just these last 5 months. Which is maybe why I have been able to move through the grief and trauma of the unsuccessful marriage. I don’t know what it is. Maybe I will never be able to explain why a few weeks ago I suddenly felt a drastic shift in my emotions towards it all.

And with that shift came the decision to just try to see what the dating pool was like in my small town. So I tossed the Bumble dating app on my phone. I ignored it for a few days but then some girlfriends came and stayed with me one night and after many glasses of wine, we set up my profile and started swiping on people. It was an ego boost to swipe and then find out that someone else swiped on me as well and we “matched” (if you can call liking someone else’s appearance a match). But with Bumble the woman is supposed to send the first message and besides the few that I sent in the wine-infused evening, I didn’t send any other ones. A few days prior to this I had someone ask me to dinner, someone from the Facebook dating button you can select if you’re single. I went for dinner with him and was hugely disappointed as the cute guy from the profile was now about 40 pounds heavier, horrible teeth and awkward as fuck. I walked away from it thinking that if this is what dating is like in town, I don’t want to do it. So it made me gun shy about sending any messages at all. It made me question if I was actually ready to enter the world of disappointment and rejection that comes with dating. I also didn’t like the feeling of wanting to barf because I was so nervous. So I sort of declared myself as not ready and didn’t do anything with the Bumble app until a few days later when I was early to work one morning and opened it up and started swiping on it. Just for shits and giggles. I ended up matching with one guy in that time and I thought to myself that I might as well try a message and see what comes of it. So I did just that. A few hours later he actually responded. And I was easily convinced to continue messaging him because he actually corrected his own grammatical error in his message. Anyone who does that is worthy of consideration in my books! We ended up messaging all day and once evening hit he suggested that maybe we text instead of doing everything through the app. And then we texted until about 11:00 that night when I finally had to shut it down to go to bed. But then the next day the texts kept flying. And the next day and the next day and the next day, etc. There was something there that definitely couldn’t be ignored. Because of his unique summer work schedule and me having my son more days than usual right at that moment, it was difficult to figure out a time to actually meet. I was really enjoying messaging him and hadn’t smiled so much in a long time so I needed to know if he was the same in person. We nailed down a date time on a Monday that we both had off and I was kid-free. But about 30 minutes after confirming that time, the ex-husband sent me a panicked message about a meeting he had on Monday and how he wasn’t going to be able to pick up our son from daycare and asked if there was any way I could do it and have our son an extra night. I wasn’t impressed, but I agreed to do it for a few reasons. So the date got cancelled and there was no opportunity to meet up for another week and a half after that. Soooo we ended up deciding to move the date to Sunday night when he got off work and got back from the city….at 11:00 at night. I so badly needed to know if this person was worth continuing to message or not so I agreed to the late time.

I won’t go into great detail over the date here, but it went incredibly well. And it is now 2.5 weeks later and he’s still kicking around in my life. On the weekend he asked if I would be his girlfriend. But he followed it up by saying he would give me time to mull it over a bit as he knows that it’s a bit more of a complicated question for me. And honestly, I really wanted to say yes right away, but then my brain started to kick in and realized that there are many other factors I needed to think of before giving him an answer. A day or two later I let him know that I wasn’t fully prepared to put a label on anything quite yet, but I was happy to exclusively date him and carry on as we have been. He accepted this answer and said I can take all the time I need.

I have spent a fair amount of time trying to determine if my feelings towards him are legitimately because he’s a really incredible guy or if they are just because I’m lonely and want someone to fill the relationship void I’ve been missing for so long. After a lot of contemplation and discussion with friends, I think I truly, truly like him. In fact, I actually know that I like him. To the point where I informed my ex husband that I am dating now and have gone out a few times with one guy in particular. That was not an easy thing to let him know, but with the way things are going with this new guy, I felt it was time to tell him.

But this guy is something else. He’s different from anyone I have dated before. He is confident in not a cocky way. He is fun. He doesn’t seem to care at all what other people think and will just do what makes him happy in the moment. He is affectionate. Like supremely affectionate. He is insanely kind. He is smart and goofy. He loves his job in which he is self employed but his job does not run his life. He isn’t obsessed with the finer things in life like my ex. He makes me feel like the prettiest person in the room (which sounds so insanely cheesy). I immediately felt a level of comfort with him that I haven’t known before. Not even with my ex husband. He has only been around for 2.5 weeks but it feels like it has been much longer. He isn’t afraid of picking up the phone and calling me just to say hi and goodnight when he’s leaving work later in the evening and I’m at home with a sleeping child. He has sat back and listened to my reasonings behind why I don’t intend to date when my son is in my care and dates will only happen when my son is with his father. He found a loophole way to get to see me still even on those days when my son is in my care. He brought me lunch to work and we had a picnic on the tailgate of my truck on my break. He offers to help out with things so I’m not feeling like it’s me doing it all. Hell, the other day he showed up to my house for our day date and I was still getting ready and mentioned a few things I needed to do before being able to leave. Before I knew it he was calling out asking me where the dog food is kept and how much to feed the pups. In the 3 years we have had our one dog and 2 years of having the other, not once would my ex-husband feed them if I was in the house. And suddenly this new guy just thought to himself that he was going to do it to help me out. I almost fell over right there. Something so little said so much. There are all sorts of pretty awesome things about him. But my rational brain keeps trying to remind me that these are early stages and that every new relationship begins with this kind of attention and excitement. That eventually it fizzles out when things get more comfortable. So I keep doubting that this amazing person he is appearing to be is actually who he truly is. And I have straight up told him that too because I’m trying this whole new thing of communicating as much as I can since I failed at it in my marriage. He just shrugs his shoulders and says that he’s always believed that not everything should fall on the woman to take care of and that it’s important to offer help and support. To treat others as he would like to be treated. So time will tell on if this will actually carry on. But…y’all…he opens the car passenger door for me in the few times we have gone somewhere in his car. Which he also confirmed is what he always does. It was awkward as all hell for me at first because no one has ever done that for me, but now I see it as a sweet, gentlemanly gesture. And I’m definitely not someone who feels she needs to have a man open a door for her…but it is pretty nice. It’s about the little acts of kindness that add up. So if those acts of kindness stick around, then he’s a keeper.

Because of the failed moments of my marriage, I of course carry a little baggage with me. I carry some insecurities. I carry a lot of fears. But instead of letting those fester underneath my skin, if the conversation opportunity comes up, I take a deep breath and have opened up about some of the things. It hasn’t been easy at all. There have been some points where I have sat in complete silence while trying to figure out the right way to tell him something. Something that should be just a normal human thing to do actually is hard for me because of spending so many years shoving down my feelings on something for fear of upsetting or offending my husband and it turning into a fight. But he has sat there patiently and hasn’t pushed me to get the words out. He just waits for me to eventually get them. And when I say something about how I was treated in a certain situation, he assures me that he would never do something like that to me.

But my stupid brain is all “well multiple other guys before this guy have so he’s probably lying just to try to sleep with me and then leave.” Self doubt sucks. So I have really been working on removing that self doubt and allowing myself to believe that he is truly a good guy. I see it with my own two eyes when we have gone places in town and people smile the moment they see him and come say hi. So I’m trying to take it for what it is right now and not think into the future and not allow my self destructive brain ruin the good feeling of the moment. Because I really want to enjoy right now. And the fact that it didn’t take going on 30 dates with losers to find someone decent to attempt my first possible post marriage relationship with.

This all could blow up in my face and a few months from now I might be back here writing something completely opposite from what I’ve said above, but keeping my fingers crossed that it isn’t what will happen.

In the meantime I am just enjoying being happy!

Power Over Me

I have spent most of my life with a low self esteem in regards to my appearance. It wasn’t always about the way I looked. As a teenager my low self esteem was because I was incredibly shy. Then as the years went on and I started to gain some more social skills, my body also started to change and acquired more curves and weight as it tried to morph into the obese gene that I carried from my mother’s side of the family. So my self esteem issues transitioned from being painfully shy to then being uncomfortable in my own skin. In my early 20s I went on a strict eating plan and started running 5 times a week and I lost a bunch of weight. I looked great. Best I had in my life. But like most things, if you don’t keep consistent with them, the weight crept back on. I then had a bad “injury” in both of my legs that took more than 4 months to diagnose and almost a year to get surgery on. Because of this, I couldn’t exercise. I dove into a dark place and the weight crept back up. I dated a lot while trying to find my “Mr. Right” and every time I didn’t get a second date with someone I assumed it was because I didn’t fit this image that every guy seems to want in a girlfriend. My thighs rub together, my arms are not slim and will never be slim no matter how much weight I lose, I’m tall, and I have large hips and a big butt. I’m not a cute little package that a guy can just swoop up into his arms and carry off into the land of happiness. I set my sights on finding a tall man, because then at least when around him I would feel small, for once in my life. I remember going on a date with a guy who was 6’5 and I absolutely LOVED how tiny I felt walking beside him. It was a shame he had the sense of humour of a rock though. So this has been my life. Dealing with the fact that I am taller than average, but not one of those tall, slim women that often seems to go hand in hand with each other. Tall and society’s idea of plus sized isn’t a great confidence booster.

I then met my now ex-husband. He was nothing I had imagined myself falling for. He’s only 6 feet tall, a more burly barrel chested man. But he made me feel beautiful despite almost being able to look him directly in the eye when standing face to face. He complimented me, loved hugging and cuddling me, loved holding my hand when we walked around, like he was proud to show the world that I was his. Because of this love boost, I had an easier time maintaining my weight and getting to the gym. And for quite awhile I looked the best I had in my entire adult life. But as comfort in the relationship crept in, so did eating and alcohol consumption and weight came back on. But nowhere near what it had before. But I never felt any less attractive because of it as he still seemed to love the way I looked. But then came pregnancy. This is when everything changed. It was the time of my life where I lost complete control of my body because it was no longer mine. You can’t lose weight while pregnant. And even though I ate incredibly well (thanks to awesome healthy cravings) I still packed on a lot of weight. It was during pregnancy that despite my husband loving touching my belly so he could “feel” his son, I started to feel unattractive to him. He stopped complimenting me. He stopped hugging me unless I asked. Then our son was born and I was thrown into the life of the post-baby body. My body went into a direction I had never seen before or even heard was possible (even though I know it is common now) and I would shield myself away from being seen without clothes covering every inch of myself. I felt ashamed of what my body chose to leave me with after having a child. Stretchmarks and a bit of loose skin I could handle. But it isn’t what I got. My husband stopped compliments all together at this stage. I had to seek them out and even then I would get sort of a brush off type of compliment. I no longer felt like the person he was attracted to in our first two years of being together. I was just the vessel that carried his child into the world. Since our separation, in one of our many lengthy text conversations about where we both failed in our marriage, I pointed this out to him. He said that not once was he ever not attracted to me. He said that he always thought I was beautiful. I told him that it is fine that he thought this, but his actions did not connect to that as he stopped actually verbalizing it and showing it. He recognizes now that he failed at that. But it doesn’t make me feel any better as we still are where we are. And he is now already dating another woman who is prettier and has a much, much better body than me. He didn’t waste any time at all.

But now I am stalled out. I am in a position where for the last four years I have felt unattractive even to my own husband who is now with someone else. My self esteem is at its lowest point it has ever been. And this time it is in regards to both my social skills as well as my feelings on my appearance. I am left with the “war wounds” of my pregnancy, a metabolism that has stalled out and I’m going to have to go see a doctor about, a hormone imbalance that causes migraines as well as the inability to lose weight despite best efforts, and a brain that is telling me that I’m not someone that any future man is going to find attractive. Because the man who was supposed to love me forever no matter how I look left me. The one man who appreciated the state of my stomach, my most vulnerable area, because it grew his child in it, is gone. There won’t be another man out there who will appreciate it or be able to look beyond it in the same way he did. And it kills me inside that I sit here and compare myself to the woman he is now dating. How she has the confidence to wear a string bikini, and look good in it, despite having a 5 year old daughter. How she is stylish and bubbly personality and I am not. How she is everything, in at least looks, that I felt he wished I was…despite him not being anywhere near perfect in his own weight and appearance himself. But I sit here and compare and end up in this pit of despair as I look down at my own body which I cannot, for the life of me, learn to love.

Don’t let the high waisted workout tights fool you…they do a great job at flattening and sucking in my large belly.

And in the future I am going to have to dive into the dating world, despite feeling skeptical that any man in the small town we live in will find me attractive. I know that I shouldn’t be worrying about this right now as everything is fresh and new. But it’s really hard to settle down my brain from jumping from two different views. First one being me wanting to really take the time to focus on myself and finding my own happiness, including with fitness and diet as well as mental health. But the second one being wanting to show my ex that I too can meet an attractive man who is everything he isn’t and to shove it in his face. I know the latter one is not remotely healthy whatsoever, and that if history has any say in anything, me just meeting someone right off the bat never happens. It just goes to show how much of a jumble my head is in right now. But what I hate the most about this all is how much power my ex holds over me when it comes to my self esteem and ability to feel attractive. He doesn’t even know how much power he holds because he has taken what little self esteem I had left out the door with him when he left me. And I hate that. And I don’t know how I’m supposed to work through that and take it back from him. It is mine. He shouldn’t have any hold of it. But I’m somehow letting him.

I am doing a couple things for myself. Because I have been able to recognize that I need to take back complete control of my mind and body, I also know that I need to start doing the slow slog to make it happen. The first thing I’m doing is incredibly vain, but I don’t care. I’m getting coolsculpting on the saggy fat that has been left right at the front of my stomach, surrounding my belly button and hanging down. I went for a consultation the other week and she said I have the perfect stomach and skin for it and she says she knows that she can shrink it down nicely. If it is successful then it is going to go a LONG way to my body discomfort and self esteem issues. It isn’t a weight loss thing. It is just reducing the stubborn fat cells that have accumulated there and, as she said, will likely forever stay there in that exact way no matter how much weight I lose down the road. I don’t care if I’m left with some loose skin or even if a little bit of sag is left. As long as it is an improvement to what is there now that is causing me so much embarrassment, then that’s all I care about. The second thing I’m doing is meeting with a woman who is sort of a life coach in a way. But not in the “let me help you achieve your dreams” kind of person. But more so in helping people find their inner power, connect to themselves, learn to find happiness within themselves, that kind of stuff. When I reached out to her I was fully up front and said that I am at the lowest point in my life in regards to my self esteem and self worth and that I want to gain control over that for the first time in my life. She isn’t a counsellor per se. She won’t necessarily talk about my failed marriage. She will help me learn to better connect to myself. I will be talking with her on Monday and I’m hoping she can help me move into a more positive, self love direction.

Time will tell. That is all I can hope for. That time will be on my side and help me through this.

Loneliness

I’m pretty fucking lonely right now. I won’t lie or beat around the bush about it. I’m lonely. Today is the last day of my son being with his dad for five days straight and I have spent the last five days coming home to an empty house (besides the dogs) and no one to talk to. I have been riding the emotional rollercoaster and most of the time crashing into feeling down and near tears with nobody around to give me a hug or offer to just sit with me.

I could really use a hug right now. And I am not a hugger. But all I want right now is a hug.

I spent pretty much the entire weekend on my own. I thought I was ok because I had things to do to keep me occupied. I did reach out to a few people to see about hanging out, but everyone was busy playing happy family and didn’t have time to give up to hang out with me. So I spent the weekend alone. My brother stayed at my house on Monday night, but didn’t arrive until it was almost time for me to head to bed. So we had brief conversation where he was gently trying to ask questions and pry on my current situation. I felt like he was compiling a report to give back to his wife and my parents. So I maybe put on a slight act of feeling better than I actually am. Then yesterday I was hit with one of my migraines and I stayed in the house all day long except around 6:00 when I realized I needed a few groceries so I went and got those then came home and took the dogs for a little 20 minute walk. Alone. I then came home and watched a movie and then went to bed. Alone.

I am not one of those people who has ever been uncomfortable with doing things alone or spending time by myself. I have always enjoyed it and found it a good way to re-set and find a happy place again. But now that I think about that, I only enjoyed it because I knew I had a husband at home. I knew that I would also get my fix of comfort being around the person I loved. It was the balance that I loved. And now that I don’t have that balance I am finding that I am hating being alone.

My husband and I have spent a lot of evenings lately texting and communicating about things. He’s been an open book of emotions and sharing what major realizations he has been making. It helps to hear these things from him, but at the same time it hurts. I know he is lonely too, but at the same time it isn’t the same loneliness that is consuming me. He has many friends in town who he is filling his time with. Just today I saw a little boomerang video show up in my facebook feed by someone we both know who has a child the same age as our son and I know he has been hanging out with them so our son has friends in town. The short video clip is of the child in a big pool, but in the background I see my husband, resting on a floaty, with a large smile on his face. Looking carefree and happy. I know he is struggling too. I know this for a fact. But seeing the smiling face in the background, where he is surrounded by other people who want to spend time with him, hit me hard. I told him that I’m so incredibly lonely and he responded in a way saying that even though he’s surrounded by people all the time, he knows how I feel. I responded back to him saying that he has no clue how I feel. That he can’t possibly know how it feels to spend an entire weekend alone with no one reaching out to hang out, or when he does reach out to them, nobody has time. He has people embracing him and his new situation. Ensuring he is fed. Ensuring he is occupied. Ensuring he doesn’t have to feel alone.

But I am the woman in the failed marriage. The one who has worked hardest to keep everyone else happy and cared for. The one who has tried numerous times to make new friends in the town we live in but am met with bitches who don’t seem remotely interested in gaining a new friend. So I have trucked along and just kept life going, not realizing what kind of a shitty situation doing this was going to land me in when one day my husband decided to leave. I put everyone else’s needs and wants before my own, and now I’m lonely for it. But because I’ve kept this battle of being ok going for so long, everyone likely thinks that I’m doing fine now. “Oh she is tough. She is a fighter. She’s got this.” is what I think people are saying. So it means that nobody really has to check in on me. Nobody needs to say “hey I’ll come out to your town and hang out this weekend.” Yeah I hear from a few people here and there, but it’s just about every day stuff. My two oldest friends haven’t asked once how I’m doing. My fucking parents don’t even ask. I called my mom out on it yesterday by text and her response was that she doesn’t want to make me feel smothered or that they are imposing. I actually didn’t respond to her because there is a drastic difference between smothering someone and just once in awhile picking up the phone and sending a text to see if I’m doing ok. When I do mention to my mom that I’m lonely I get a frowny face emoji message back. That’s it. Or her standard line of “this whole thing makes me feel so sad.” Well how the fuck do you think I feel if it makes you sad mom?? I’m not messaging about being lonely so I can talk about how she is feeling. She tried facetiming me later in the evening and I didn’t answer it because I was in such a dark place. I texted her and said I don’t really feel like talking right now as it had been a bad day. She asked if I want to talk about it….right after I told her I didn’t. I wrote back with “no” and she followed it up saying that she’s here to talk if I need it. But now today she hasn’t bothered to check in on me. Despite my glaringly obvious indication that I am NOT doing ok and for once I would like for her to actually initiate contact with me and not just sit there waiting for me to come forward. I won’t lie. I’m actually quite dumbfounded by my parent’s sudden decision to back off and not “smother” me when leading up to this situation they were very involved or would be upset if we didn’t involve them in some decision that was made. They would facetime just to chat about nothing. They were always there…every day. And now that I’m in this situation they seem to have suddenly decided to back off…at a time when they shouldn’t be…and all because they are fearful of making me feel smothered. [sister…i know you’re reading this so please don’t mention any of this to them….i will find a way to do it myself soon.] My sister is one of the few people who has actually made sure to keep in regular contact, even if it’s just sending me pictures of dogs that visit her at work, or to talk about our workouts. So many people only seem to want to message if I want to bitch about the situation. It’s like they just want the “fun” part of dragging his name through the mud and not the not-so-fun part of picking their mess of a friend up off the floor.

I had the option last night of going to a gathering of a bunch of women in town. Two women started up their own social media company to try to embrace motherhood and help make new moms or even experienced moms feel less alone. Like they have a tribe. They hosted a gathering last night at a cidery in town and one of them messaged me encouraging me to buy a ticket and come along. I could have gone. But I didn’t. Because I didn’t want to walk into a room full of women I don’t know and have to have that awkward conversation, multiple times, about how I am newly separated. It would have forced me to put a fake smile on my face and pretend that I’m embracing this all like a champ. So I didn’t go. I also didn’t go because after finding out that other women in a town facebook group (which I have since left) were reporting basically every post I made to my husband, I have zero trust in any woman in the small town I live in. So I haven’t found a way to tell the organizer of the event the real reason I didn’t go. Because she is a woman who is very happily married and has an incredibly loving and supportive spouse. She won’t get it. She would have told me to still come along and feel the support of other moms. But I couldn’t bring myself to go. I just couldn’t. This weekend I have to go to a family event for the first time officially alone. It will be incredibly difficult for me because numerous people are going to ask where my husband is and I am going to have to tell them that we are separated. I am going to have to have to have the awkward conversation where I will instead want to dig a hole under my feet and bury myself instead of talk about it. I will have to see the sympathetic “I’m so sorry” faces that I’m really starting to dislike seeing. Part of me just wants to lie and say that he is busy and couldn’t make it. But I know that there are enough people who will be there who do know the situation and I won’t be able to go that route. And I can’t hide this forever. At least I will have my son along with me and he will likely keep me occupied by having to chase him around and entertain him. So I may be able to avoid a lot of adult interaction. Or at least I am hoping to.

I don’t know what I’m supposed to do about fixing this loneliness. I’m in no frame of mind to be making any new friends right now because who wants to take on the severely wrecked, newly separated woman? I can’t even reach out through the mom’s facebook group I mentioned above to see what some of the ways to meet new people are in town, because I know for an absolute 100% fact that it will be reported back to my husband. And I know that I shouldn’t care or worry about what he thinks about it, because it is my own life to worry about now. But just the fact that I can’t even feel like I can sneeze in this town without someone watching me and reporting me makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable and untrusting. So I just retreat into myself more.

I don’t know. I just don’t know.

Sharesies

Ok….I survived the first week of our new co-parenting schedule and did it with only minimal tears. So I consider that a success. Truthfully though, I did get to see my son twice during it. Once because my husband was scheduled for a meeting that he wasn’t aware of and there was no way he could change it, so he asked me to help out and pick our son up from daycare and take him to the birthday party that happened after. And last Sunday my husband asked if I wanted to spend a little time with our son because I said I was struggling that day. So I picked him up and we went swimming, ice cream and then a little trip to the dollar store to pick up some new bubbles and a small toy. So it wasn’t as though I didn’t see him for the five days he wasn’t with me. This won’t be normal though. There will be times where during those five days I will only get to see him through video calls. We do have an agreement in place that if one of us is having a tough time when he isn’t with us then we are open to that person to come and spend some time with him. The only stipulation to that is that it is to go out and do something. Not to bring him back to the house that he isn’t staying at. It could get confusing for him to be at the house he isn’t currently staying at and it would cause some challenges convincing him to leave that house in order to go to the other one. Even with me picking him up on that one day this week it caused some confusion and there were some tears from him because he didn’t want to go to the apartment, he wanted to come home with me. But we worked through it as best as possible. With lots of hugs and kisses later, he happily walked into the apartment, holding his dad’s hand and talking about the birthday party.

So I now have him for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday this week. Then he goes to his dad for two days and then back to me for three days then back to his dad for the weekend. Basically our sharing agreement we came to looks like this:

Husband: Monday and Tuesday

Me: Thursday and Friday

Wednesdays are alternating days where one week he has him for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and the following week I have him for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.

Weekends: alternating

It isn’t perfect by any means and some people would look at it and think that it is too much upheaval for a little boy. But we had a very thorough conversation with our counsellor about it before committing to it. She said that right now it is important for our son to get a lot of time with both of us. She said that is still incredibly connected to us and we need to ensure he feels he is getting equal love and time with both of us. She mentioned that this kind of schedule allows him to have a strong bond with both of us as well. She also said that because he is so young and doesn’t understand what is going on, by having shorter timeframes where he is with us means that he won’t go into a deep place of missing the parent he isn’t with and making it difficult for the parent he is with. That it is easier to tell him on a Tuesday that he will see his mommy on Wednesday after daycare instead of telling him that he has to wait all the way until Sunday, if we were doing a one week on one week off agreement. Basically she was saying that at his age his attention span is short for so many things, so having shorter times with each parent will be beneficial to his development. A friend of mine told me that her neighbour has a similar sharing schedule with his ex-wife and he told her that their daughter is thriving way more and is far happier than when they were trying to do swapping weeks. Our counsellor also confirmed that other couples she counsels do similar sharing and it has worked well for the child.

We have both agreed that we will give it a couple months of sticking to it and if we find it isn’t working then we will reassess the plan. We also know that once he starts kindergarten we will likely have to go into a more consistent week on week off schedule. The counsellor said that at that stage it will be easier to do with him as he will be older, his brain will be more developed in a way that understands things and he will be more independent. Basically he won’t be as reliant on being around his parents. Which is hard to believe as that’s only a year from now and he is still so incredibly dependent on me. It’s like he re-fuels himself by sitting on my lap and having a quick cuddle. But the counsellor assured us that moving to that sharing schedule will be harder on us than it will be on him. She said that emotionally we will struggle to not have him around for 7 days, but that because we plan to have him in extra-curricular activities/sports that we can always make an arrangement to swap turns on taking him to those things or if it’s a game, we can both be there for it. There is no reason that we can’t both stand on the sidelines of his soccer game on a weekend and cheer him on even if it isn’t our own weekend with him. That is still a year from now and so much can change in that time, for better or worse, so I don’t really like to think much ahead on it as it just starts to give me anxiety and stress that isn’t necessary right now.

On my weekend of “freedom” (I put parenthsis on that because physically I was free from parenting duties, but emotionally I was definitely not free) I had made myself a list of things I wanted to get done because of not having to work around entertaining an almost four year old. The list was likely overly ambitious, but good to have. I had:

  • mow the lawn – didn’t happen because it rained 90% of the weekend
  • plant my new succulents into planters for my front step – also didn’t happen because of weather
  • buy new bedding for me – it did happen but i have not put it on the bed yet. my heart isn’t ready for that change quite yet
  • set my son’s room up to accommodate the new dresser i ordered – partially happened
  • declutter the giant kitchen island – achieved
  • tackle the laundry war on my dining table – 70% achieved
  • meal prep for the week – achieved
  • carpet clean the giant stain on the stair landing thanks to one dog’s explosive issues one night – not achieved
  • swim laps at least twice – definitely not achieved
  • watch a movie (yes this was on my list) – achieved x 2 as I treated myself to going out to a movie in theatre too! First movie I have seen in in theatre in over 3 years!
  • pedicure with my cousin – achieved
  • drink some wine – achieved

That was the general idea of my mental list I had made. I am pleased with the few things I did accomplish and I am almost more pleased that I allowed myself to use the time to actually just sit and relax without feeling the pressure of having to get things done or the guilt of not playing with my son. Not only that, but I also accomplished something that’s been bothering me for a really long time. In my son’s closet I had bags upon bags of clothing he grew out of. I hauled all the bags downstairs and sorted them all into sizes and then into seasons followed by grouping shirts, shorts, pants, etc together. I then took pictures of everything and posted things for sale on the Facebook buy and sell pages. I put almost everything up for $1 each, which was a little painful when I knew some of the items were only worn once and cost more than $20. But it’s the only way to get rid of things quickly. My Sunday afternoon quickly became all about managing the sales as people were snapping the items up incredibly fast. I was answering messages, bagging and labeling everything and updating the posts to say what had sold. It was a full-time afternoon job because I had so much to get rid of! I really enjoyed doing it as I put Friends on Netflix and wore sweatpants and totally vegged out while doing it.

Going forward I will continue to try to set goals to achieve over the weekends I am child-free. They may range from going for a drink with a friend to ensuring I exercise to tackling the crawl space cupboard which became a shoving all the crap into zone or going through my son’s playroom and getting rid of broken or unused toys. It will help to give me something to focus on that is positive while I am missing my little boy.

But man, was I ever happy to have him back under my roof with me yesterday!