It’s still November! I actually am going to get this second post up “on time!”
After the year we’ve had, to close out with little victories is a big victory, so y’all just go ahead and jump on the congratulations train. I’m drivin’ that mother all over town.
Odds and ends before I jump in, of course.
A few of you have been after me with general fitness/diet/health stuff. I appreciate your faith, especially since I currently hold no active certifications. I’ll also be straight-up and admit that from mid-October until about last week, I consciously stepped away from daily workouts to manage the sale of my house and the move (and the subsequent closing shenanigans and the immediate maintenance issues in the new house and not having laundry machines until exactly Monday- a month after move-in). I used to manage stress better with aggressive fitness, but now it ramps me up so much that I get a little frantic. Sets my anxiety off a little, despite being well-versed in management approaches. I typically handle periods like the one I just closed out with longs runs and yoga, which I did when time allowed; however, over all, the moving activities served as exercise.
I gained about three pounds, all of which came right back off in the first week of regular programming (so, for transparency, went from 147lbs to 150lbs and back), and I credit the minimal damage- aside from lost muscle tone and endurance- to reasonable dietary decisions and intermittent fasting. I’m telling you guys, for all the shit I gave IF early on, it has been effective in my case. I wanna say I outlined how that works in a previous post, but the short of it is that I don’t eat between 6:30pm and about 9:30am most days. Body is still considered in its fasted state with total caloric intake remaining less than fifty calories during that time, so I still allow myself to have my coffee the way I like. My body also gets a little weird on too much dairy and glutenous carby junk, which means we’ve backed that down. Nothing super stringent because I don’t like being told what to do.
To answer specific questions-
No, I don’t ascribe to Whole 30, Paleo, Keto, or anything otherwise ending in -o, although most of the recipes I like well enough, taste-wise and nutritionally, to make fall almost within these categories. I don’t have a problem with these approaches to nutrition. I just don’t care to monitor myself that closely and generally enjoy food too much. If I were going for a specific “look” or had a strenuous event I was training toward, I might consider it. But, again, don’t tell me how to live my life. Because stubborn.
No, I don’t regularly use supplements. A lot of that has to do with the fact that it’s freakin’ expensive, and I have a shit ton of children. It also has to do with the fact that I don’t want my results to be reliant on propping my body up in a way I couldn’t sustain long-term in any given situation. I do have fibro, low blood pressure, occasional low blood sugar, and mild anemia, so there are various vitamin complexes and things that have to be on-board on and off to make sure I’m functioning well enough to maintain the level of activity to which I already ascribe. Things start getting a little weird when I mess with that equilibrium strictly for performance enhancement. I could manage and have managed a much more rigorous training/event life, which involves- at the very least- protein/recovery beverages. That’s just not where I’m at, personally, and given that I am able to meet my primary objective for training (which is to make sure I can survive while ensuring the survival of my children if shit hit the fan) without specific additions…I just skip it.
And, lastly, no, I do not have specific training regimens…usually. Right now, I am working through SEALfit’s Grinder PT 90 Day Female Endurance Training Protocol, which was a beta program I picked up right after they developed it just to provide feedback. I’ve completed it once before as it was intended, and it freakin’ sucked. A good kind of suck, but it was brutal. This time, I’d say I’m staying 80% as intended with the programming, dropping certain rep counts and mileage with substitutions to accommodate physical limitations/injuries. This is the only program I will follow, as I am too much of a fitness gypsy to do any one approach for too long. I like dynamic movements, workouts that are mentally engaging, and the freedom to exercise my knowledge or willingness to learn in different areas of fitness that make my body feel good, so I almost always program myself. Right now, however, I’m a little brain-dead and need to rebuild my base a bit. In lieu of short-changing myself because my brain won’t make the things do, I’m going to allow myself to be somewhat led until I feel confident. Again (to keep from rubbing you competition athletes the wrong way), because my goals are somewhat nebulous, I’m okay with not training specifically toward PRs, etc. When I pick one up, I get tickled just because it’s a bonus to general maintenance and keeping my body fit. If I had a specific goal in mind, I would research or seek out appropriate programming, of course.
Ultimately, do what makes you happy and enriches your life in such a way that you are your best self, best spouse/partner/significant other, best parent, etc. Everybody needs something different from their diet and fitness approach, so my view points aren’t always going to be applicable or effective for someone else. Also, to reiterate, I am, in no way, certified to tell you what to do even if I wanted to tell you what to do (and I don’t). The only thing I will beat you over the head with is the importance of identifying why you do what you do. Speaking from experience, there’s a lot you can mask with your health life that needs to be addressed mentally and emotionally, rather than physically. Find the sweet spot in the venn diagram where it all comes together.
And while I’ve mentioned speaking from experience (and as a lead-in to the rest of this, because you know I need transitions in my writing life), I sometimes read my posts back and think, Geeeeez. I’m an asshole. A big, preachy asshole. Now, most of you have read enough of my stuff to know that I don’t mean to be an asshole. I try real hard to avoid all things asshole-y. But it happens.
Or, at least, sounds like it does.
To hold myself accountable, here’s your reminder that I’m one of those red-button people. If I learn anything, it’s because I got hands-on with whatever it is, and believe me when I say that no lesson is as impactful to me as the one I learn from doing things wrong. Not just a little wrong. Like, suuuuuuuupes wrong. I sometimes wish I were one of those people who is just great with accepting advice and direction, listens carefully to credible accounts and learns. There are resources out there for a reason, y’all. However, it appears my part on this earth is to help create the resources for people who know how to use them appropriately…which I do by figuratively messing with Sasquatch. This hot-mess-ed-ness is what provides the insight for what I write, so if I’m getting in ya bui’ness a little, it’s because that was also previously mah bui’ness.
Read into that however you like, just as long as you understand that nothing I ever say is meant to be self righteous in as much as its meant to be helpful, at my expense.
1200 words later, moving right along.
So, we did a thing.
I feel pretty confident that just about everyone saw that marriage coming. In the last year, Operation Consolidation led to the sale of his house and my house, the non-renewal of his apartment and storage leases, and a whole lot of tying up loose ends of previous lives. We bought the mountain property and put some structures on it. We tag-teamed the Catamount Expeditions event prep. I mean, if working your asses off in joint ventures is not a clear indicator that you’re about to join lives, I really don’t know what is.
We do recognize that eloping is a bit of a shock for multiple reasons. Before I outline more specifically why we decided to get married without much heads up and without an audience, let’s have a little discussion.
A little meeting, if you will.
Why does so much shade get thrown at second marriages?
I understand completely the response to the word “divorce.” We cringe, right? Because divorce is an ugly thing, even when the participants aren’t ugly with each other. Divorce is sad- a signal that all the hope and love that makes weddings pretty is gone. It means feelings have been hurt, hearts have broken, and irreparable damage has been done. Healthy human beings do not look at the suffering and sadness of other human beings and cheerfully discuss it. Mix in all the specific reasons a couple might divorce and the added plight of the children in the middle, and it is a recipe for discomfort all around.
But then there’s also the stigma that follows divorcees. It’s as if we look at people who fail an attempt- not just at marriage, but at anything in our highly competitive society- as less, lacking, or defective. We think, “What is wrong with them that they could not achieve what they set out to achieve?” And I think that thought process is even more unkind when the spectator sitting in judgment has succeeded where the participant in the spectacle has failed. We breed this perfectionism, this fear of failure, and this particularly cruel and unkind entitlement to judgment into our society, then amplified by social media comparisons. What does it say about us as a community when we consider someone who seeks empathy and sympathy at any point in considering another person’s plight as remarkably mature? Why don’t we do that first?
The loss of a marriage is a death, as I have previously discussed. It’s more than just a failed endeavor, a romance that fizzled out. As a Catholic, after divorce, we seek an annulment within our faith- a statement that the previous marriage more than did not progress as God intended, but could not progress. That the promises made to God, the intended sacredness of that bond (or sacrament) could not be actualized, and, therefore, a Catholic marriage could not exist. When I married the father of my children, I meant every word I said when I swore at the altar that I would do everything I could to love my spouse, to be a faithful and devout wife and mother, and to lead my spouse always back to Christ. I didn’t take lightly my consent to a lifelong journey as a helpmate and example of God’s love on earth. I wanted to have a marriage the way marriages should be had, and I tried.
The annulment process generally takes a year, during which time there is a legitimate investigation as to what kept the sacrament from occurring and whether the marriage can be saved. It’s not meant to be judgy the same way Facebook creeping is judgy. It’s meant to figure out what kind of healing needs to take place.
Because even if a marriage can’t be healed, understanding what went awry helps heal the participants so that a successful and loving marriage can follow on better foundations.
Rehashing all the hurts was unpleasant, to say the least, but it wasn’t nearly as unpleasant as realizing that my marriage was miscarried, much like a woman miscarries a pregnancy (which I have also done). Despite all the sincerity and effort and hope, aspects that are necessary to life were missing. That marriage was born at a time wherein it was not viable. It did not have the parts necessary to form properly, and so it didn’t survive. Understanding this helps place the ugly occurrences that happened therein into perspective and moved my pain from anger, disappointment, and resentment to grieving, sorrow, and eventual forgiveness.
The statistics for second marriages aren’t favorable, and I think much of that has to do with divorcees not giving themselves the time to reflect and correct. With a first marriage, there’s so much faith and blind hope that the two people will figure out how marriage works together. They’ll build and struggle and triumph together, learning shared lessons and developing a unique family life over time. When divorce happens, and because humans weren’t generally made to be solitary, it is so easy to walk away and say, “I’m going to find in someone else everything I wanted and didn’t receive from my first marriage. I’m going to find someone who loves me the way I am, and they will be someone I can love the way they are. Now I know what was missing,” and then away that divorcee goes, shopping. Once you get used to living and collaborating with someone in married life, there definitely seems to be an urge to do the same thing, “just with a better person.”
We are all so afraid of being alone.
But. Given the time, the introspection, and the willingness to be humbled, anyone who exits a relationship can find substantial and necessary personal growth beyond the accusatory. Sure, I would be well within my rights to say much of my bad behavior was retaliatory to the many ways the father of my children selfishly shattered my heart, but that takes away the accountability I should have for my own personal integrity. I could say much of the death of our marriage lays at his feet, and that he wounded me grievously both when I was innocent and when I was repentant, but that causes me to be lazy of mind and to shirk the responsibility I had for self-advocacy and self-respect. On and on- it’s like I tell my kids all the time: for every finger you point, there’s three pointing right back at you. We can always be better than we were, and it is our lifelong task to self-correct, rather than to correct others.
When the paperwork granting my annulment arrived, and I filed it behind my divorce decree, I sat with my head in my hands for a long time. On the one hand, my spiritual record was expunged, in a way. It was a confirmation that, despite my best efforts, it was not entirely my fault that my marriage died. It was a relief from the guilt and worry I carried that I didn’t try hard enough, that I did it wrong when I could have done it right. But it also stated, in so many words, the parts of me that were broken and required fixing in order to be the spouse and have the marriage I so wanted. The words of that document made it both like it never happened and also like a directive that I had to walk away from what happened in order to have what God wanted for me.
Both an erasure and an acknowledgment, because that’s how God works.
That is what we should see when a divorcee approaches a second marriage.
Not a failure.
Not someone who has been lacking.
Not someone who is defective.
Not a quitter.
And, for the love of God, not the statistics for remarriage.
After judging the non-success of a person’s first marriage, it feels as though subsequent marriages are already at a disadvantage for no other reason than that they are second. If I had a dollar for every time I heard, following my engagement, “Well, you won’t need to do that, because it’s a second wedding,” or, “That is something you really do the first time around. Since you’ve been there, done that, it really doesn’t make sense this time,” or, “You don’t need to invite as many people as you did the first time. You can go smaller because it’s a second marriage“… Man, if I had a dollar for all those times, it would almost be enough to drink away the hurt those kinds of comments cause, if I were one for drinking. Statements like that belittle what is actually probably the greatest love of all time and manage to say, back-handedly, “We don’t want to get too excited about this because we’re not entirely sure you’ve got it right this time. You already did it wrong once, and we got too invested in that one.”
Do you have any idea how hard it is to believe that marriage is safe after surviving divorce?
Do you know how hard it is to let go of defense mechanisms after being wounded? To stop punishing the person you’re with for the damage caused by the person before them? To forgive and meet with empathy the punishment you receive from your partner as a result of their defense mechanisms that you had no part in developing? To try to support each other through believing in the safety of your relationship when both of you have been shattered for your vulnerabilities so that you can both progress past punishment to love?
Do you understand how humiliating it is to realize the intolerance you have developed for imperfection in other people out of bitterness you carried toward your previous spouse? How well can you stomach discovering your own hypocrisy in the demand that someone else be everything you ever wanted and everything your previous spouse wasn’t, while refusing to tolerate similar comparisons?
Can you fight the inclination to regenerate marriage as you previously knew it a second time- not because you want that same marriage, but because that’s the only way you ever knew marriage to be?
Can you emotionally get past the fact that your partner once loved someone else so much that they promised to be with that person for the rest of their lives? That they once looked at that person and thought, “This is it. This is the one. This is the only person for me,” and tried to build a “forever” with them?
Can you accept that intimacy happened and produced a child or children? Can you love the product of your partner and someone else, understanding that the existence of that human being is the result of closeness you now share? In the case of multiple children, can you manage that the love your partner had for the coparent of their children spanned multiple years and created multiple new lives? That they created a family together of which you were not a part, and with that family came traditions, a history that you’ve now been suddenly inserted into as awkwardly and uncomfortably for you as for them, who did not ask for your presence?
How would you reconcile being an outsider to a family unit already in existence? How would you find your way into a role that is both part of and apart from that family, depending on the circumstance? How well do you tolerate being secondary personnel? To tagging along while also trying to find the right moments of inclusivity?
How flexible is your thinking? Your parenting? As remarriage requires the coordination with previous spouses and multiple sets of children, how well do you understand your place in each relationship? How well can you manage being supportive and of wise counsel while also recognizing when your input is not appropriate? How delicately can you remind your partner when their input is not appropriate?
How bottomless is your heart? How high is your endurance? How patient is your love? How humble is your spirit, because you must now be able to accept all your partner is, was, and brings with them in the same manner that you are asking them to do for you?
Nothing about remarriage is convenient.
It requires a very cognizant choice. See, I love D very much. He’s easy for me to love, even when parts of him are very, very difficult. The two of us together get on quite well, and our partnership and teamwork qualities are honing in nicely. Though we are extremely different people and occasionally passionately disagree, we are like-minded when it comes to the importance of compromise and coordination for the same end-goal: to remain together in peace and unity. We both value each other enough to continually seek each other out until we figure it out.
We don’t quit on each other. We don’t run.
I can’t always understand where he’s coming from, and he can’t always keep up with all the musings my mind goes through in a given time span. We value and enjoy things the other does not (or borderline hates). We remain independent people who like to handle their own business, even as we prefer each other’s company when we’re of a mind to have company and seek each other’s help when we need help. If it were just the two of us, it would be the simplest decision in the history of man because we keep each other straight and honest…and moving forward.
But that litany of questions above is legitimate, and the answers to them are telling. Remarriage in the way remarriage has to be for me and D is not for everyone. Those abilities are not part of everyone’s wheelhouse. Some days, neither one of us is good at one or more of them. Some days, it feels like too much. We can’t just be good together, we have to be good together– he and I and the father of my children and the stepmother of my children and my kids and his kids and the mother of his children… When we said yes to each other, what we really said was, Yes, I choose you, despite and because of all the things that come with you. I understand what this means, and I am throwing in my lot with you. I love you, and that is enough.
Explain to me how that is any less beautiful than a “first marriage.”
Every marriage is an act of faith. Every marriage is a gift that should be celebrated. I think this is just another reason, among many, that I know I’m well and truly Catholic- a marriage, as God intended, is a divine and sacred thing to last a life time. When that happens doesn’t matter nearly as much as that it happened at all, and it’s only gonna happen once. Anything short of something so merciful and selfless is not really a marriage, is it?
So. After realizing just how precious this thing we have is, it felt imperative to us that we have the ability to truly honor it in quiet gratitude. We’ve had a lot to do, getting our ducks in a row to have a life together. As parents (and the blended family topic will get discussed later), we’ve had a lot of loving worry to deal with in trying to ease a lot of kids through the emotional upheaval that comes from a parent marrying someone who is not their other parent. Now that we’re all in the same place, we have even more careful parenting to do to help settle that transition while working out between us, as coparents, and us, as stepparents, how interactions best go. Remember when I said we’ve been working our asses off? We’re still working our asses off. It’s just much more subtle than the time consuming, tedious consolidation labor.
Thus, we obtained our marriage license at the county courthouse nearest our future home, worked with the most local Catholic parish to that area, paid our respects to a loving and kind God (as well as the beautiful landscape that creates our mutual goals), and did the thing.
D cried a little.
I promised him my respect and obedience (which says a lot, y’all).
He promised to hold my hand.
I promised not to eat all the salsa.
And, afterwards, life was sweeter for more reasons than just our several wedding cakes.
In March, once all the dust has settled and given the kids time to contribute as much as they want to contribute to planning a celebration they’re actually ready to celebrate, we’ll have an informal party with friends and family. It’s not that we don’t love you guys- we just loved each other too much to worry about making a spectacle that somehow properly addresses and flies in the face of the views of “second marriages.” We’d rather just hang out anyway.
I’ll bring the salsa.