A Story of Divorce, Custody and New Life

I’ve been thinking about things a lot recently with the new year coming up and have decided it’s time to talk. I had hinted and implied before that I would someday tell the story of the hell I went through around 3.5 years ago, why I went away and why I avoided getting personal when I came back. You always love my personal posts, to my surprise, so I figure it’s time.

I’m going to tell this in a sort of way that does not publicly shame anyone (except maybe myself) or create monsters out of humans. First and foremost I am a mother to my dream come true, fairytale daughter and I share her with her father who was my high school sweetheart and who is now my ex-husband and with her stepdad who is the other love of my life. She is truly magical and you can only understand if you’ve met her and spent time with her… everyone she meets feels her light and says so. She is really a beautiful and special girl. An old soul. She is of the utmost importance always.

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Around 5 years ago my first marriage started taking a turn for the worst. I remember watching an episode of Intervention that explained why these adult children’s older parents were so bad for each other, why they shouldn’t be together because they enabled each other and it really startled me. How could they enable each other so much that they could never be out of that rut or get healthy together? How sad would it be to be married to your best friend and you realize you’re bad for each other? And you have children already?

We had our issues as everyone does and we shouldn’t have gotten married at such a young age after only dating each other and never living on our own. It’s all true. I think we were naive as most 20-year-olds are. But I thought I had what everyone wanted. I didn’t have to “date” and I didn’t have to be broken-hearted and go through meaningless relationships. I was always with my best friend and even though we fought and had so many problems we were able to ignore a lot of them and just get through together.

Until around four years ago when we didn’t and couldn’t. I didn’t know why but I was severely depressed and couldn’t find the light. I had this beautiful one-year-old baby I was spending my days with and a nice home and I could not get out of it and I felt like it was all my fault. I would pretend, I would make her fancy toddler meals, have tea parties and art class with her, take her to the park, I would sing with her and cuddle her. I still felt a hurt deep in my heart and I felt alone. I felt my husband didn’t love me or even like me. I felt like he never did and I just always pretended he did. And I was sick. Very sick. We tried a few couple’s counseling sessions, therapy, medicine, we tried it all and we would be ok together for a bit but then we would have an explosive falling out.

We couldn’t do that with a baby. We had our baby, the light of our life and we could not exist like we had for so long anymore. So in desperation I checked myself into a hospital (still feeling like everything was my fault and if I could just be better he would be happy with me and I would feel happy) and when I was released the castle shattered. I guess it was too late. It was horrible for everyone. He left with my baby, I lost my mind. I couldn’t get her because it was illegal for me to go to the home he stayed in when the owner did not want me there and the police said it had to be done through court. I had only been apart from her overnight once before this. It all seemed insane and I was so lost. I went to find a custody lawyer and all the depressed moments in therapy and hopelessness in my years of words were recorded in black and white. All of my medicines, any drug I ever used. I was always honest about my inner most flaws in therapy. I was depressed. I thought it was all me. I thought I would never be right again. I lost everything I’d ever loved and fell into a rabbit hole of despair.

Next came a three year divorce and custody battle. Feet were dragged, dates were moved, forms were lost. I was so ready to be done with this and it seemed every step we made we took fifteen steps back. Something else would come up or happen. Another delay. And another. Once the judge decided to leave town so all dates were moved. I’m not kidding, the court system is this flawed. Meanwhile I don’t see my daughter but every other weekend and the hope is getting smaller and smaller that it would change. I was such a trusting person that I never gathered any evidence to prove my innocence or the guilt of another. The only way I can explain it is I believed everything he had ever said and I knew he would never lie to me. I had years of therapy evidence against me about my own hopelessness and despair. The photos I took when I lost my mind after they left, the words I wrote when I felt violated. My tweets, status updates, videos. It’s so easy to blab things online that are inappropriate and think it will never haunt you, DON’T do it. It will never go away and it will always haunt you if ever your integrity is up for question. My phone was stolen and my private conversations with my best friend were used. I had years of evidence of using bandaids to cover the deepest wounds and those two months of nothingness enticed me to fall apart in the public eye. I had nothing to prove what was happening behind closed doors for all those years and so I could only take the weight all onto myself. I had no family. I had no strength, no self-love or confidence. It had been destroyed over a long period of time.

In the following years I got completely sober of alcohol, smoking and depression/anxiety medication. In those three court-riddled years I built a relationship with a man who had always been a trustworthy friend and someone I looked up to. In this relationship horrible pains were also experienced. I’m not sure anyone knows what it’s like to be in a relationship with a married woman who is grieving the loss of her family and a marriage to someone else. I’m sure it’s tough and I’m sure it almost magnifies the atmosphere for attacks from fears, lies and the darkness. We faced obstacles through this choice we made to be together during the divorce and other obstacles for simply living (such as when he got a concussion and severe amnesia you can read about here, my 17-year-old soul mate Hobbes passing, my emergency surgery, etc).

As I got stronger and had more bonding time with my child I found I had an opportunity to build something I had always dreamed of, something better and more beautiful than I knew I could have before. My partner had three young children who took to Colette instantly. They were all like long lost siblings within a year. Colette was a baby and because they loved me and always wanted a complete family and a little sister they felt the universe had also answered their prayers. We became the family we never had. I hear it takes around 3-5 years to fully blend a family. With young children I believe it can be much easier, especially when you have those children every other week together. We made sure we were blended before we talked of marriage.. and that the hurts of the past were healed.. and on October 25, 2015 we got married. My maid of honor was Mary (11, my new daughter), my flower girl was Colette (5, my biological, magical daughter), my best man was William (9, my new son) and my ring bearer was Samson (6, my other new son). Suddenly the right things looked like a puzzle that snapped together perfectly.

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How could we have been so blind all those years? I don’t know. I just think my ex and I deep down knew we were bad for each other but we wanted to stay together because we had only dated each other and the history was enormous. In doing that we only hurt ourselves and each other in different ways. We had planned our whole lives, had a beautiful child, had so many opportunities. We were best friends and we had a lot of good times through those years. His mom was like my mom; I really grew up with him. We just were toxic together. We were changing a lot and having growing pains and wanting different things. I see that now so obviously.. apart we do the things we need to do, we do the right things, we put ourselves last. Together we couldn’t do the right things, we couldn’t find the right path, we could only find paths to destruction and hurt in our own unique ways and our daughter didn’t deserve that. She deserved us to be happy apart rather than sick together.

Today we are, she has two families that love her more than anything in the world who would do anything for her. I don’t know a lot about his life these days but I know Colette loves her mother and father and feels loved by us. I still sometimes feel like I failed by not doing things differently, by not waiting to get married, not waiting to have a child.. however then the child wouldn’t have been her and that would have been it’s own tragedy. I wish things could have been easier for her sake because I know divorce is very hard on children even when they don’t remember it.. but I’m so grateful our mistakes could be turned into beautiful stories after all. My bond with her is so strong and special to me. We have a special connection that no one can touch whether she’s with me or with her dad, she’s the unbroken version of me as a child. I’m so grateful for her health and for this fact most of all.

So there you go. Although I was a little evasive.. you know more about what was going on and why you saw me 1. do a 180 with my health, appearance and heart; and 2. disappear for so long.

back and white girl

Thanks for listening.. I adore you.

My Soul Mate Asked Me to Marry Him

This past weekend on June 13, 2015 (Saturday) the man of my dreams, my soul mate, someone I’ve been through hell and heaven with, and every fantasy I’ve ever had, asked me to marry him. To spend my life with him. To give him the opportunity to love and heal and grow with me forever. I can’t imagine a better gift from God and the universe than he. My Colette and my fiance, I feel so blessed. I’ve been floating on a sort of love I can’t come down from. I feel like my love meter has been raised and I can’t get enough. He’s the only person I’ve known (besides my daughter) that I can’t be angry at for longer than a few seconds. It’s just not worth it to be separate!

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First we packed a picnic and he took me kayaking — we have a two-person kayak and I love going because we always find animals swimming around (otters and beavers!) and we dock and explore the forest a bit (I’ve always adored the forest). We live right near Fall Creek which is lovely, it goes through the woods and you never know what you’ll find. We went further back to drop our boat in than we had before and it started RAINING HARD as soon as we got in the water. Luckily it was right beside a bridge so we rowed under it and maybe 5 minutes later the sun came out so off we went. I’m sure there were rainbows but I could only see the trees canopying over the creek. David said we had reservations that night so we needed to get home to get dressed up. Eeek! It was taking longer than expected to get near home. We had to call an uber car to give us a ride to our van so we could pick up the boat and everything happened so smoothly I was just in a daze.

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We both got ready, took a quick rest and then David drove us downtown where we arrived at a lovely horse drawn carriage. I always wanted to ride one of those around the city. The horse was so cute! We got to pet her and she had painted, pastel, sparkly feet for the Pride Parade that day and had big flowers in her hair. Inside the carriage was a bouquet of roses and a box of chocolates from this tasty chocolate cafe on the circle. The horse took us on a tour around the city, even cute vintage-looking parts I hadn’t seen before. I loved it. It was so wonderful and I’ll never forget it.

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Then we went to sit beside the fountain and share chocolates after the carriage ride was over. David was asking me about my plans for the next 5 years and things that were important for me to accomplish.. I was really loving our date night and feeling so close. He said he had something in his briefcase and he kneeled down on the steps and I just started crying. He told me everything I’ve ever dreamed someone would say to me since I was a young girl watching cheesy 90s teen romance movies hoping things like that really happened. He promised to always love me and always work towards being a better man and doing any healing and work for us to be a better us. He told me so many things I never thought anyone could even verbalize that were just music to my heart. He asked if I would marry him and I said yes while the tears rolled down my cheeks. He then handed me a letter he wrote to me conveying everything he just said in a personal format I could keep. I’ve never felt so loved and cherished in my entire life.

I have known since we met 9 years ago he was very special and I loved being around him. We both felt a connection and knew we should stay in touch even through we were both in different stages in life. Since we started dating 3 years ago I knew he was the one, getting to know him more deeply has felt like remembering someone my heart already knew. I just didn’t imagine everything would happen as it did over all those years but we got through hell together and have arrived at this wonderful place where we can just enjoy life and love. I’m so grateful. I feel so honored that this is the man for me.

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After this he said we STILL weren’t done with our date night so we went on a little evening walk and arrived to Indy’s little treasure St. Elmo Steakhouse (world’s best shrimp cocktail) to have an amazingly rich dinner and more flowers waiting for me there. He said he planned to propose there but thought it would be more special at a public place we can visit and associate that special moment with it. All of the waiters knew of course so they all stopped by to congratulate us. He said he tried to incorporate most of the parts of our lives into this day and hoped it was special.. meanwhile.. I’m still just in shock.

st elmo steakhouse

We walked home hand in hand under the street lights and on sidewalks aglow with rainbow glitter from the pride parade just that morning while every passerby donning rainbow beads (I wanted some!) yelled, “Congratulations” as though they knew what cloud I was floating on. I was carrying so many flowers I’m sure I looked as though I’d won an award or been the lead on a broadway musical. I still float on that pink cloud throughout the days and even when I’m stressed or sad I think of this special day and know that I did succeed in finding my soul mate, completing our family and being filled with joy we’re devoted to spending the rest of our lives together.

We Love Fine’s Bee & Puppycat Contest: Le Puppycat Macaron

Remember when I entered my minimal Bee & Puppycat tshirt design in We Love Fine’s contest? I posted about it on my blog and on our Facebook fanpage a few times and thanks to YOU (everyone who voted) I won! So now they’re selling the Le Puppycat Macaron shirt and I’m so excited~ It’s been a (long) while since I’ve felt compelled to enter in any digital design contests and so happy you enjoyed the tee!

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Wee! I feel so honored! And thankful! And this is of course how I looked when I won. Keep in mind this is after a long day of working from home while 4 kids are on summer break, taking them to the zoo after work and then walking over to the baseball park to eat with David’s coworkers and play in the sunshine. I’m surprised I’m even still awake but it was the first moment I had to myself all day! And how exciting to hear my design won a place in the contest full of amazing designs by other fans! I fell asleep before this was taken. Yes before.

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Buy the tshirt HERE!

How Soon is Now? Surprise! Surgery.

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So a thing happened. Many things happened. Most of all I survived them. Even the one that was out of my hands. The universe must have some more plans for me, what can I say.

Upon doing yoga with a friend (Emma) I must have twisted a unknowingly deformed small intestine in my inner scar tissue from my cesarian. I didn’t feel it. We went to work and eat from the comfort of my dining room. I ate a delicious burger that Mister Educated made for me. Then.. pain. Immense pain. Is this food poisoning? It doesn’t feel that way. I’ll lay down and take a nap. No, no I won’t. I begin breaking out in sweats and chills, losing consciousness. Is this for real? I have a high pain tolerance but this is insanity. Emma? She takes me to the dr. My blood pressure is so low they think the machine is broken. Emma rushes me to the ER. They think I’m lying. I must be some sort of person wanting pain medicine because there is no visible injury. No, please no. No pain medicine. I won’t take it. Just right the wrong in my body.

The nurses, they tell me to put on a mask. They assume I just have a stomach bug. Ebola perhaps. But no. No this is not a virus. This is my body shutting down.

This is probably appendicitis. Your gallbladder is probably acting up. You must have food poisoning. This will clear up tonight. Tomorrow you’ll be fine. Really? Thank you! This will all go away! But it feels so much worse already? *violent retching*

The next morning. The surgeon. This could clear up on it’s own. The tests seem like it’s hopeful. Or we can take a look surgically. WHAT? It hurts.. but I want to go with Mister.. What do you think? It’s up to me? I feel like something could be very wrong. I think you should take a look. I will then.

Stomach sick, in a daze, can’t stop vomiting on the operating table. Everyone is telling me it’s going to be ok. My husband is here and I will see him soon. It will all be ok. Everything is probably just fine. It will just be a small incision for our camera. Breathe in the anesthesia. Relax. Go to sleep…

Yes, we removed a foot of her small intestine. It had died. It was caught in scar tissue. She had a cyst. If we had’t operated she’d have died. She’s very lucky. Yes, here’s your husband. He’s here.

Tears of joy. Then. The pain. A new pain. Three stab wounds? A large cut along my midsection? Staples? It’s ok, you have a man that loves you. No one will even notice in a few years. You would have died if you’d have waited. You were very sick.

I know. I know I should trust my intuition more strongly. Thank you for saving my life, dr. Thank you for being the one surgeon who believed me.

Life is limited, treat it with love.

Getting Lost and Being Found

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I’ve cleaning and organizing our studio because that’s often what I end up doing in times when I’m stuck at home (such as the ridiculous amount of time we’ve been snowed in lately). Our house and all of her cupboards, closets and drawers have slowly been organized and sorted since I’ve moved in but never so much as lately. I can’t get enough of discarding the old, jaded and faded and replenishing with all things good and sometimes new. In this spare time I’ve also found extra moments to spend sorting through packages, boxes and files filled with photos, letters, nostalgia and clippings. Things I had forgotten about and things I had chocked up as gone — casualties in the divorce, move and hard reset of my life.

Wendy & I at Midland Antiques

Wendy & I at Midland Antiques

I’ve realized that in finding these fossils of my past life I’ve also found a part of myself that was neglected to the inner and outer war that has been going on since around age 15. Losing yourself teaches you a lot about the hardships and the long journey you have ahead of you to try to find yourself again. It teaches you about the you you always hoped and planned to be, the yous that you left behind and want to find, the yous that you’d prefer to grow apart from for the extent of your waking hours.

In realizing these things exist you find you have changed, your life has changed and quite possibly you have found the person you know you will be. I believe this happens to each of us a bit with every new year, we reflect. However, in my experience, unless a grand change is made resolutions will be forgotten and old habits will resurface.

I lost myself once and I am still looking for myself. Who I wanted to be as a young girl, the things I wanted to do and see, the life I wanted to live. I’d gotten so closed in, I magnified certain aspects of my goals and forgot about others. For instance, I wanted to get married and have a daughter but I forgot I had wanted the most grand love there ever was. I forgot that I didn’t want to just be content, that I wanted to experience pure love for a beautiful man, to experience a love like we hear about in fairytales only more real and passionate. Someone I didn’t want to change but someone whose love changed my life. I didn’t just want to have a child but I wanted to bring a child into a love-filled family of magical wonder, a magnificent home life and many adventures lined neatly with security and stability. With parents who love one another more than anything else, with siblings that give, teach, take and give some more.

by David Cunningham

by David Cunningham

I saw that I wanted to write. I found many old memoir notes and pages of manga dialogue, articles, fairytales and more. I lost the motivation in trying to do anything other than to fix things that were far too broken and then zoning out completely when they appeared impossibly broken.

I saw that my art was a major focus in my life, other than true love and family, and designing everything I do. I saw my plans for paintings, illustrations and web sketches; designs that never made it off the paper and into illustrator because I lost the ambition and self-esteem needed to go.

Now that I am finding myself in so many ways, I figured there were others that have lost important pieces along their journeys as well. Others that might need a little push to gather those pieces strewn along the ground and trudge on through their own adventure of finding their true, superior self. The self they are, were and wanted to be. What have you lost and found along the way?

Happy New Year.

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