I wish I could say that after two weeks of feelings and emotions my marriage is suddenly A-OK and that everyone can just move right along because there’s nothing to see here! Just a little blip on the radar of life! But I can’t say that because everything is not A-OK although we are very good at maintaining a sense of normalcy and pretending everything is good.

IMG_20140603_203645

Well, maybe pretending is a terrible word to use. Because we’re not pretending, we very much love each other and have a great vested interest in the well being of one another. Neither of us want to be done, but sometimes things are so hard for me that giving up seems so much easier.

The truth is that the more intimately you know someone, the more clearly you’ll see their flaws. That’s just the way it is. This is why marriages fail, why children are abandoned, why friendships don’t last. You might think you love someone until you see the way they act when they’re out of money or under pressure or hungry, for goodness’ sake. Love is something different. Love is choosing to serve someone and be with someone in spite of their filthy heart. Love is patient and kind, love is deliberate. Love is hard. Love is pain and sacrifice, it’s seeing the darkness in another person and defying the impulse to jump ship.*

Cody has seen me at my lowest more than I care to admit, and yet he’s still here. He has known me at my worst yet he is also the reason I am capable of a best.

I planted a whole lot of flowers the other day. It’s very gratifying to see my sad, tired garden turned into something that is quite lovely and welcoming. One day of sweat, dirt and more bugs than I could handle and I turned something ugly into something beautiful.

IMG_20140603_203828

But it won’t stay that way for long unless I make the choice to actively care for it. I planted the flowers, it’s my job to take care of them.

If I neglect them, they will whither away and die. Maybe not immediately, but eventually.

I expect to lose some, I never said I was working with two green thumbs here.

It’s going to be a slow process, just like Cody’s and my recovery.

I will probably want to give up at some point because maybe I took on too much.

But day by day everything will grow bigger and stronger, and eventually with proper care and patience there will be great rewards — hopefully in the form of heirloom tomatoes, red peppers and strawberries — but also in the form of love that doesn’t know how to give up.

There are lot of marriages ending on the Internet right now and hopefully that won’t happen here. No, here there will be a whole lot of fighting for marriage, ours in particular — because in the end I believe in it. I have always wanted to grow old with Cody — even when things have been hard.

It looks easy, but it can be (and is) so, so hard.

And I think that says a lot more about the love I have for this man than anything else.

*****

*This quote is credited online to The Great Kamryn, but I’m not so sure the Internet really knows who Kamryn is? She seems to be a myth on UD. Regardless, Lu sent it to me and it’s perfect.

I have always had a love/hate relationship with Victoria’s Secret. Her stuff is lovely, but overpriced and in all honestly, non-functional. Not to mention it’s all packaged and sold to us from the bodies of the most gorgeous and unrealistic teenagers Brazil has to offer. But still, every once in awhile a girl wants something a little frilly and impractical to flounce around in. I learned back in April that Victoria now has something close enough to my size, 32F, which she calls 32DDD and which I call “just small enough to give me a backache and cleavage of champions.”

Out of curiosity I meandered through a local store to see what lace and rhinestone encrusted beauties Victoria had for me. This is what I found:

selection

black and beige

options

not you

Nevermind, Victoria. You clearly didn’t need or want my money anyway.

Somewhat related, here’s a photo of Vivi with one of my big boring bras on her head:

20140524_100824

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.