One of the things that has been hardest for me over the past several months is feeling as though I am broken because while I am fiercely loyal to my girls and have an intense unconditional love for them, I don’t have an inspirational quote type of feeling towards motherhood in general.

You know the ones, the ones that get people with and without kids fighting about kids and motherhood and what really is the most noble and important job in the universe? Those types of quotes.  (I tried to find one to illustrate my point but I started to gag too hard. Sorry about that.)

I also feel a very strong sense of obligation to teach them right from wrong, proper manners, good citizenship, character, patience, humor, empathy and all those other things that will really matter as the real world begins beating down on them. I do not however feel obligated to entertain them every moment of the day or involve them in absolutely everything I do. I am a better mom when I get away from them regularly. Cody and I are better parents when we consciously take time to get away from them and all their loud demands and moodiness. I may not always like my role as a mom, but damn if I’m not going to try my hardest to put good people out into the world.

Addie has been bringing home year-end test results from her time spent in third grade. The kid is brilliant. I’m crazy proud of her but at the same time I expect nothing less of her, I know what she’s capable of and I know I’ve spent the last nine years parenting her in a way that she can rely on herself to succeed, which is exactly what she’s doing.

I resented my mom for a long time, I wanted a mom to be there when I got home, a mom to bring me my lunch when I forgot it, a mom to bail me out when things got too hard. Now that I’m grown I wouldn’t have wanted to be raised any other way, and if I have to wait 21 years to hear Addie say she’s thankful that I taught her self reliance from the beginning, so be it.

Cody compared what we’re going through right now to a boxing match, we’re both so high off the adrenaline of surviving the past month that we’re unaware of just how hard we’ve both been hit. As the high wears off, the fear and the pain have started to seep in and we both know that the real work is going to have to begin sooner than later. Wounds that have just stopped throbbing are going to have to be yanked apart and reset so they can hopefully heal properly.

Neither of us are really looking forward to it.

One of them almost talks with her hands more than her mouth. Almost.

I hope you think twice when you see the seemingly perfect lives of others, including my own. While what comes through in a photo or phrase may seem idyllic — the person behind the lens may be barely holding on to the pieces of her own heart.

Tomorrow I will be shooting the Indy 500 again. Which means some dumb man is going to make some snide remark about little ‘ol me and my big black camera.

When I was in Vegas a few weeks ago working with Floyd Mayweather’s photographer I was holding his camera as we were waiting for an elevator — an older man looked down at the camera, then looked at me and said “That’s an awfully big lens” in a condescending tone. Something about girls and big camera equipment makes some men terribly uncomfortable. When I shot the Indy 500 last time I was in the elevator, weighed down with two enormous cameras and I was on a high — I had just been in the pits at the Indy 500 capturing some of the most exciting photos I had ever taken.

The old guy across from me with his stupid camera vest and borrowed AP equipment said “That’s some serious camera equipment there baby, you know how to handle it?”

I could have killed him.

I’ve been edged out by male photographers before, ones who believe I’m just some mom there with a fancy camera with lots of buttons my husband bought to keep me happy. In fact, the way some people feel about lawyers is the way I feel towards most AP photographers. Thankfully I have met some very kind ones — but it’s always those few loudmouthed stinkers that foul it up for everyone else.

I’m already going into tomorrow with a prickly towards the sexist attitude some men have towards female photographers, which is why I’m getting it out now.

I have to remind myself that my camera and I have a relationship most people will never have with an inanimate object. It is an extension of me, a detachable part of my body that captures what my heart feels, my brains sees and what my mouth can’t manage to say. Just because photography is an intensely emotional process for me, doesn’t mean the all of the technical knowledge and understanding isn’t there as well.

To all the women out there with big black camera bodies and an intimate knowledge of f/stops and metering — I salute you. May we stick together in the literal and figurative pits of being talented and creative ladies in a traditionally male dominated field.

my camera and me

 

 

 

 

 

I didn’t see that response coming. The confessions, the ‘me too’ and the solidarity. It was humbling, thank you — not only selfishly, but to all of you who left comments of support that other people in similar situations can read and hopefully gain strength from.

This morning I decided to get on a plane and leave for the weekend. Your post may have just saved my marriage. Thank you. I don’t even know what else to say right now. Just thank you.

I left my husband almost 4 years ago. I get that it’s a much less linear process than what you assume it is. There is much back and forth. Ambiguity. Questioning. Uncertainty.

I left just about a year ago. He didn’t want counseling until I was out the door and the I’ll do anything hollow. Hang in there. If it heals, wonderful, but if it doesn’t you had the courage to make a choice and that matters. You are showing the girls, whatever the outcome, that you matter. You are teaching by example.

Dude, you just mirrored my marriage! Thank you for your bravery.

I just want to say that your struggles – your real, heartfelt struggles – make me look forward to marriage.  It makes me look forward to continuing to have a partner worth fighting for.  Anyone who doesn’t understand how you can love someone but not be in love with them – well, I question whether they have ever really been in love.”

Right now? I’m gone. I ran away too and I’m trying to figure out much of what you wrote.

We will be married 20 years in October and lately (well, a lot more than just lately) I wonder what the hell am I doing here?

I’ve always tried to be very careful about what I write about Cody, it’s my duty to respect his privacy and protect the relationship that I have with him. I have never used social media to vent or rag on him, and when things are bad I keep them to myself. I realize I have a strange and unfair advantage with the support system the Internet has given me, and I try to keep that in mind when talking about him — I never want to turn anyone against him or use the trust I have in all of you to my advantage.

The truth is I’m just as much to blame in our most recent downfall as he is — we both acknowledge this and don’t fault the either for mistakes made or use shortcomings as weapons in moments of pain.

Cody is a rare and marvelous man, and I hope when you leave kind words you are indirectly sending him some as well. I’m not an easy person to be married to, I’m damaged and broken in some deep and ugly ways but he takes care of me and puts up with the trials I’ve been given in a way most people wouldn’t. He’s been left picking up the pieces of my heart and mind more than I’d like to admit and he’s never complained about it, he does it because he is hopelessly in love with me.  Most men I’ve come across would have walked away, would have given up — hell, if the roles were reversed I may have been the one to walk away or give up. But then I think back to law school, I don’t know many people who would have stuck around for that.

Clearly we’re committed, but there seem to be times we’re not very good at nurturing that commitment.

Today Cody admitted to a time when he questioned whether he was still in love with me, and as hard as it was to hear those words — it was a relief to know he understands how I’ve felt for the past several months.

“…we were in the car driving from somewhere and I looked over at you and wondered if I was still in love with you and I couldn’t answer my own question. We got home and we did whatever we normally did and the next morning on my way to the gym I realized how bad of a husband I had been, and I realized that my falling out of love with you, if that’s what had happened, had been caused by my own actions. I decided then I would change and I would start treating you the way you deserved to be treated because I knew I loved you and I knew I loved being with you and I wanted to have that closeness with you again. My changes came slowly–too slowly–and 2009 happened. At some point I fell back in love with you and I have stayed in love with you ever since…”

Tulip Time 2014

We’re not dramatic people, we don’t storm around yelling and crying and if you saw us out and about you would probably be led to believe that we get along quite well, because we do. We don’t fight (oh boy, we used to) and we don’t play dirty. We just get complacent then bitter then angry then distant. It’s silly really, but we’re working on it. We’re really good together, and I believe a lot of that is because we simply don’t go together.

I’ve never wanted to give up, I’ve always wanted to grow old with him and have our stories begin and end with each other.

It just seems we have a few more plot twists than most.

Which is cool, boring love stories rarely change the world.

I left Cody.

I left because marriage is a lot harder than it should be and I have spent the last several months mentally checking out from our partnership so as to avoid getting any more hurt by his behavior and actions that seemed so similar to what we experienced back in 2009. I was convinced it was over and had very brave plans in place to move forward with my life in a way I never did because I was married three months after my 19th birthday.

(See also, it’s very hard to secretly research divorce when you’re married to a lawyer who handles divorce because you will want to ask him all sorts of questions but it’s a little strange to ask hypothetical questions that involve the very person you are asking.)

There were a lot of tears and a lot of arguments and some smothering and some controlling and a lot of guilt and some things said in anger and some things said that should have been said a long time ago and some things we both wish we would have never said and as I faced down a future without the man who had been mine for the last 13 years I was terrified but knew if I didn’t cut and run then I would never get the guts and I would always wonder “What if?” and if I’ve learned anything it’s that ‘what ifs’ will eat you alive.

Now chances are you’re probably wondering “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE GIRLS!? OMG YOU HAVE KIDS!?” and I know, because they leave their LEGOs all over the floor and are constantly and loudly reenacting scenes from Frozen. I can assure you that they were at the forefront of our minds and while it’s really none of your business about what we decided to do, just know that we had their best interests at heart and were going to do everything we could to make things easy on them.

That’s the funny thing about this blogging thing, nothing is really any of your business, or anyone’s business but we continue to share anyway because we are all desperate to not feel so alone in our crazy “maybe I’m the only one” feelings. It’s been hard not to talk about this with anyone — mostly because before I imagined any solidarity, I heard all of the judgements. But those who judge aren’t me and they aren’t living my life and they don’t know the whole story and even if I was the most perfect thing in the world — someone is going to hate me.

So I left. I walked away from Cody and boarded a plane and flew away to get space and time and take on a new opportunity and try new things.

I made it a week.

I made it a week before things got real weird and I realized that when things get weird my constant is Cody. He has always been my constant — the only firm, warm thing holding me to the ground when the entire world is swirling around me in a desperate attempt to bring me to my knees. Is our marriage suddenly perfect because I left like I meant it and came back way before I was ready? Nope. Things are still going to be hard and terrible and this probably isn’t the last time things will be rough for us .

I love him, I always have and more importantly I always will.

But I fell out of love with him.

Depending on your level of experience with love you’re either nodding your head or convinced I’m crazy. “How can you love someone but not be in love with them?” Just trust me, you can.

More truth has come out of us over the last several weeks than it has in the past 13 years. It was terrible, I hated every minute of it and dreaded any time spent alone with him because it meant we had to talk about our feeeeelings and there would be crying and I would wake up with emotional hangovers and neither of us would eat and he lost over 20 pounds and nobody really slept so we were really just highly functioning zombies who cried all the time.

But it’s really the best thing we could have done, rip it all down to the ground — every last ugly bit — and begin building it back up together (again.)

Therapy is in our future, together and separate — we really should have gone through with therapy 5 years ago but I think we were both so glad to still be alive after law school that the idea of going through everything again with a therapist was more exhausting and damaging than helpful.

Tulip Time 2014

So, that’s why I haven’t been around. It’s hard to talk flowers and spring and frivolities when you’re stuck in your head and planning an entirely new life without the person you swore your life to over a decade ago. Sorry about that, I hope you understand.

Years ago I heard one of my favorite authors speak about her writing process, and one thing she said that stuck with me was “I like to write about things with a resolution.” At the time it didn’t make sense to me, I was in the midst of law school, infertility and being thousands of miles away from everything I had grown up with.

Had I only stuck to writing about things with resolutions I would have had nothing to write about.

Last week at Disneyland (because you’ve been around long enough to know if I’m not here, I’m at Disneyland) I went on Space Mountain with a friend, and as I described my writer’s block crisis he said “I don’t like to write about things when I don’t know how they’ll end.”

So that’s why I haven’t been here much, for the first time I’m not sure how this part is going to end.

I’ve written a lot of things in my head and it’s all scatterbrained nonsense, better if I keep it to myself than smear the messy stuff all over the place.

I want to write more, I miss it. I miss my camera too. Now that the sun is out with some sense of regularity I feel like I can finally breathe a sigh of relief that I won’t be cold again until November.

I was so tired of being cold.

Addie got bronchitis a couple of weeks ago, that was kind of terrible. Vivi will be three in in two weeks, I will be 32 in one week and I cannot believe it is almost May. 2014 hasn’t been the best, but that it is flying by makes things slightly more bearable.

Baby steps back to writing.

Hope you’re well.

Bless.

The only other time in my life when my body has been this tired and confused were those first few days after bringing home a new baby. I have no concept of time, no memory of eating, I haven’t slept for longer than 3 hours at a time and my head feels all cold and floaty, like I’m just awake enough to remember to keep breathing.

An opportunity came to me through the dozens of various connections I’ve made in this life and that opportunity had me in Madrid, Spain for the last five days. Until last week I had never been to Europe, traveled overseas or been completely immersed in another country. Sure, I’ve made day stops on Caribbean islands and have spent a few wild nights in Canada, but nothing like this.

No filter. Also, never coming back. Sorry, Indiana.

The dozen years I spent learning Spanish in school seemed to just *poof* leave my brain when it came time for lunch on the first day, I must have looked so frazzled the server brought me a giant glass of wine with a look that said “Oh, honey. You look like you NEED this.” (Only in Spanish.)

It’s very isolating to be in a whole new place by yourself, a place where you barely speak the language and around every corner is something you’d never thought you’d see in your lifetime. I know, *EYEROLL* it’s so hard traveling to Europe, Casey. Cry me a really pretty European river lined with little tables and blossoming trees. Gross.

I’m just having one of those moments, I’m so thankful and grateful and happy and pleased with myself that I finally found something I’m really good at.

Now if you’ll excuse me. I need to sleep for a week.

I have no idea how people travel to Europe with kids — I can assure you that if mine had been with me this weekend I would have lost one.

 

 

 

 

Early Saturday morning I was sideswiped on the freeway and sent spinning into the center median of I-70.

Whoever hit me simply drove off, they didn’t even slow down.

After getting a clear look at the damage on my car today there’s no way they could have been unaware of hitting me. (Also, if you’re in Indy, it was a light silver SUV of some sort that hit me, the damage would be on their driver’s side front fender, there would most certainly be dark purple paint from my car.)

It’s amazing how many thoughts go through your head in such an intense moment, I almost wish someone had been in the car with me to marvel at how under control I kept things, not over correcting out of the spin and keeping the car relatively under control. Once I stopped against the wall and knew I wasn’t hurt, I calmly went for my phone, called 911 and reported what had happened. I even used manners and knew enough about my surroundings that officers made it to me in less than 5 minutes after I crashed.

Sadly once the official stuff was taken care of is when I lost it. (Which is to say I called Cody and left him a sobbing and shaky message.) Even the officer that reported to the scene asked several times if I really was okay from all the shaking. It was easy enough, cleaning it all up, getting the report taken care of and continuing on my way. But in the aftermath, the quiet that happened once I was truly safe, that’s when the reality of what had happened sunk in.

It could have been so much worse, whoever hit me could have killed me.

I could have hit another car, or been hit by another car who couldn’t avoid me and if you’ve ever been on I-70 you’ll know how lucky I am there were no semis around me.

I figured I was over thinking things, people get in accidents all the time. It wasn’t until I posted something about it to Facebook that I got several private messages from people who had been on the receiving end of a hit and run, all confirming that it’s something that truly does mess with you on some strange indescribable level. (Translation: Good! I’m not crazy!)

Insurance has been a joke to deal with. I have nothing nice to say about auto insurance right now.

Some people have taken it personally that I didn’t wake them at 4 am to tell them I had been in an accident. I really am physically fine, and it’s not as though anyone could have done anything for me that I didn’t or couldn’t have taken care of myself. The mental stuff will require a bit more, I just hate that I now know what it feels like to be hit, to spin out of control and slam into a wall. I know what it all sounds like, which is one of the reasons I don’t watch the news or violent TV shows — I simply don’t want to know what violence and terror look or sound like.

I sleep much better at night not knowing, thank you very much.

Hope you’re all doing well, the compassion and care you’ve shown me over the last few weeks hasn’t gone unnoticed, I’m incredibly grateful for it, for you. Even if I haven’t been able to adequately respond, I’m so thankful you’re around.

It’s a very strange thing to have really big emotions.

When you’re young they’re looked upon as a flaw or weakness, and it continues that way until you’re grown — unless you learn how to use them.

I’m still trying to figure out how to use mine.

Creativity seems to be the best outlet for them, photography — having my camera in my hand is equal to holding onto something steady and solid. It can say things I can’t and see things I can’t describe.

Writing is the same way. Being able to write has saved me countless times.

I’ve been hesitant to talk about the inevitable breakdown I’m facing for a number of different reasons. It’s not due to anything major (at least I don’t think so) but the safety I’ve felt in my medication and treatment for the last several years is beginning to slip. I’m noticing things are getting harder to deal with. Thought patterns are messier. Emotions are getting bigger, harder to handle. I’ve learned from breakdowns in the past that beauty springs up through them eventually, but the pain in the process — as well as the fear of dealing with the pain when it comes — it’s nearly crippling.

Many of you have been checking up on me, thank you.

I don’t know how this part of my story will end, but I’ll keep telling it until I do.