Better all the time.

I've felt compelled lately to write more about our process after our partners left. It's been difficult to figure out how to do it in a tactful way, and I wanted to be sure my motives were in order. For the most part, it has been too complicated a subject for me to take the plunge, but in some ways my avoidance of it has kept me from really wanting to write here at all. This event in my life affects so much of my perspective, to leave it out in some ways cheapens this journal for me. It's strange.

Our life, in most ways, is back to normal. In some ways it's better than before. The farm is up and running and doing well (albeit slowed down a bit due to our moving plans), and strangely it's a lot less stressful than it was when we had twice the man power. Jeff has his new job and is loving it. I am back at work, and I'm doing better so far than I have in the previous years- mostly due to my growing experience and also that I'm not struggling with a brain injury anymore, not to mention the needs of so many people under one roof. The kids are awesome, they amaze me daily. I can focus a bit more on them now. We're about to try to sell our house to get out to the land and are immersed in projects. I have this great budding community that I love and that loves me, and I feel it all the time. No shortage of things to be grateful for.

Every day, though, there is this undercurrent of… something. Even Jeff, who is arguably the emotionally practical one in the relationship, says he thinks of them and what happened every single day. My kids talk about them often, sometimes daily, and I don't have great answers for them and it makes me feel helpless. I definitely miss all of them, and that's strange when you know you can't have a relationship. I do finally have some insight about why that is. I realized that when they left, some foundational stuff was broken. We'd all built this really intimate interdependent life together based on a lot of trust and mutual respect. For me, our separation needed to stay intimate and interdependent and full of all the same trust and love that got us to where we were. I was never hung up on a result, but with the absence of a lot of that communication and process, we were left very unsure and hurt and the trust between us had been seriously compromised.

It's taken me a little while, but I'm working to reconcile the happy memories and all that we built together with the reality of the situation and the fact that we no longer have a relationship. For a while there I was fearful of new relationships and felt pretty cynical. In trying to make sense of my initial sadness, I often tried to poke holes in my impression of our journey together, because I felt sure that people who could do what they did surely didn't have the commitment they said they did. Then the cascade of doubt would begin, and I'd feel that the whole thing had been some kind of sham. Then I'd feel foolish all over again, and angry, and it just did me no good. I was afraid I wouldn't heal well from this.

Then I started trying to just welcome my emotions as they are, rather than trying to explain or neutralize them with some kind of equation. This change in process was prompted by reading a book filled with Mr. Rogers quotes (Oh, how I love that man and his work on this earth). Anyway, the emotions would roll in, and like usual I'd immediately start trying to make sense of things, and then I'd stop myself and just think "What am I feeling? Oh, I'm sad. I'm sad because something reminded me of my old friends that I miss. Okay." Then that would be it. I have to say, this made an amazing difference in my perspective in only a few days. Instead of applying any theories or roles to anyone else, I started only thinking about myself and what I was currently feeling, unaltered by my imagination of others or my memories of our past.

Then this question occurred to me- Could it be that we were actually awesome together for over two years and we all truly loved each other like family, and also that the relationship ended in an abrupt and confusing and unfair way? I mean, I can only speak for myself. I loved them very much. We conquered really interesting and difficult problems- from how to manage a house with 10 people to how to run a new business. We juggled needs and personalities, injuries and limitations, parenting and boundaries and a wealth of other things with relative grace. In truth, I'm really proud of what we all did together.

Fine print of the separation aside, in light of what I now believe was very real intimacy between us all, it makes sense that we couldn't alter the relationship so quickly or in a way that spoke to the legitimate needs of everyone. My hope now is that we can forgive each other for essentially the same thing- simply not having the energy or ability to rise over our own struggle to be able to meet the other where they were.

I have learned a lot about myself and my partnership with Jeff, about what we're "made of". I know more about what we need as a couple, more about what we're capable of committing to and enduring together, more about how to prioritize ourselves and our partnership. I know that I care a lot about process, and I'm learning more about what that means to me. I know more about who I am as a mother. I know more about who I am as a friend, and about what I need out of my friendships. No regrets, really, just growing pains.


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