delayed introduction

Hi! I’ve acquired a few new ears around here since Scary Mommy ran my essay a few days ago, so I thought it might be a good time to tell you more about myself if you’re a new visitor here. There’s a bit on my About Me page if you haven’t been there yet. But as with most of us, the full picture is a little larger.

I’m Katie, and I live with my sensitive and curious six-year-old son and his sweet but very spunky three-year-old sister in northern Georgia. Life is never boring with these two, and they are hands down the very best thing that has ever happened to me. Motherhood pulls away the veil like no other experience (for me at least), and they push me to be better and stronger each and every day. They are the center that holds me together on most days. And the mess that makes me come completely unglued sometimes, too. Funny how parenthood works that way. We are never perfect and almost always messy, but they are my saving grace nonetheless.

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I’ve had this little blog for almost 6 years, and it used to be full of musings about how much I loved motherhood and my simple stay-at-home mom life. Truthfully, it really did bring me so much happiness. I cloth diapered and had a passion for natural birth and made my own baby food like one of those moms (haha!) and perfected all kinds of yummy recipes and pretty much found peace in all the little details of my day. I had a husband I loved and a life I loved. We traveled a lot with our kids (Costa Rica! Paris! Aruba!) as a result of my then-husband’s job, and I love to explore. It was a charmed life, and I loved it.

But something was stirring in the world at large and in my own heart. I have a Masters in English and taught literature to loads of high school students before I became a SAHM, and I received an offer to teach at my beloved alma mater, a liberal arts college in northern Georgia, in the summer of 2013. I had a 3-year-old, a 14-month-old and an unsure head, but my heart said TAKE IT in a loud and clear voice, and so I did. I teach written composition courses now, and I love it. Teaching satisfies my calling in a way nothing else can, and literature is a lifeline for me.

My life blew up in November of 2014, and that is the part everyone knows by now. I was the girl who behaved in school, pushed myself for good grades, demanded perfection of myself, and made all the “right” decisions. What happened when it all fell apart is that it left me with new eyes to see that I don’t have to be perfect, and I shed the heavy armor that, in hindsight, I was wearing to survive the final months and years of my former marriage. I now believe that grace is better than guilt. It’s hard to summarize the growth that has happened since then or the ways that I am still growing, but one of the greatest treasures of my life is that I have every step chronicled here. From the moment I shakily typed through tears at 2am to the moments the light began to return for me and even now as I continue to grow and move forward. It’s all here in words and pictures.

I penned “Enough” in July of 2015 for a Sweatpants and Coffee call for submissions entitled “Right Place, Right Time” about the time when someone said just the right thing to you at just the right time. I felt proud that it was chosen and immense relief at having written down the heavy lesson I’d learned.  I unleashed it into the wide world, but I didn’t know just how far it would travel. It has since been re-posted on Role Reboot, Alternet, and Scary Mommy’s Club Mid – all of which have widened the readership of this tiny journal that I’ve held closely for so long.

I’m honored it has resonated with so many people, and I still get chills every single time I receive an email or comment from a reader explaining why she relates to it. I’m forever grateful for what that little essay has done for me, and it’s amazing to watch it make its own way in the world at large and connect me with so many wonderful readers.

That said, I have grown in leaps and bounds since I wrote that 6 months ago, and I hope to continue moving forward and writing, writing, writing as long as I have something to say. That experience was the catalyst that pushed my life in a new direction, but it doesn’t define me. It feels like it defines you for a portion of time, (and those of you who have lived through any kind of unexpected trauma know what I mean) but as you heal, you see that experience in your rearview mirror as a piece that you will always carry with you but only a small picture of what else there is to you. I am currently 14 months out from those early moments, and I see it getting smaller in my rearview. I hope it will continue to get blurrier as my years roll by.

I have written a lot here, but I don’t give much space to the specific horrifying details of my divorce. I allude to clear and basic facts only when they are necessary to understand the context of my own growth. I was married almost ten years; I found email letters between him and a coworker; I begged and competed for a few weeks before a switch flipped inside of me and I heard the clearest voice imaginable telling me to get out and close that door. They got engaged five weeks later, got married seven months after that. The rest is my own story, my own progress. I made a decision as I began a life on my own that I would not grow smaller and more bitter as a result of what happened but that I would grow softer and more fearless. You can’t fake motivation, and I think readers can see in my writing that I have no desire to punish anyone, and I believe that people are complicated beings. As Charles Bukowski says, “Nobody can save you but yourself– and you’re worth saving. It’s a war not easily won but if anything is worth winning– this is it.” 

Though I have written in this space for 6 years, I’m just beginning to reach more to the outside world. My one and only resolution for 2016 was to write more, submit more, reach more. I’m vowing to create more space in my life for writing and just see where it goes and what the universe has in store for me.

I believe in God, and you can see that spirituality weaves itself in my writing often because it is central to how I understand the world around me. I simply believe, with every ounce of me, that there is a greater plan at work. That bad things don’t happen to you as a punishment but they happen for you as an agent of growth. That every single experience I’ve had is there to shape and mold me and prepare me for what is ahead. We can find meaning in even the worst moments of our lives as we put the pieces together in reflection.

I never once prayed for the pain to stop, never once asked God to soothe my heart even in the early, raw moments. My only prayer for about four months was help me, show me. And that happened. I sincerely think that human connection is the most incredible way that God reveals what we need to know and learn, and I’ve watched a handful of invaluable teachers show up for me when I needed guidance. Rob Bell, Pema Chodron, Jen Pastiloff, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Cheryl Strayed have been the main ones for me in this season. I have faith that I find the words I am meant to find in the wide world at exactly the time I am meant to hear them. We learn from each other and find comfort in each other, and now I see so clearly that it is the raft that will carry us when we’d otherwise drown. The way I have survived the past year of my life is through the words of others, my tight circle of girlfriends who are my restoration, and a stubborn practice of gratitude that shapes the way I see the world.

I am not done yet. I don’t have it all figured out. I do the best I can with every day, and sometimes the best I can do is just breathe deeply and vow to try again tomorrow. I think “balance” is a myth in the life of a mom, or at least the traditional way of seeking balance. I think balance means that sometimes I’m less prepared for my class than I’d like to be because my kids needed extra attention the night before. Or my kids get too much screen time one Sunday afternoon because I have books to read and papers to grade. My house is a wreck sometimes often because I spent time preparing a healthy dinner instead. And sometimes I feed my kids cheap pizza or curl up in a blanket and binge on Netflix to hide from the world when I have the house to myself because my sanity is important to me, and it often hangs by a thread. Balance means prioritizing and doing the best you can. My best is good enough.

So that is me in a long-winded summary. I am so honored that new readers are finding me across the crowded internet. If you feel like speaking up, I’d love a little roll call in the comments – whether you are a familiar friend or new.

Where are you from? What brings you here? And do you have a blog link or Instagram handle you’d like to pass along? Community is the very best thing words can offer, and I’d love to know more about you.

 

 

 

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14 thoughts on “delayed introduction

  1. Joanna

    Hi Kaite,
    Bizarre! I was just re-reading your blog. I am a new follower of your musings on life. We have (unfortunately) a lot in common. However, I am 45 and trying to get back into the workforce. I was a high school teacher, but took time off to be a SAHM. Currently battling ageism and regret, as I struggle to raise my boys who I have 80% of the time. I must remember that I am enough 😏Congratulations on your first article reaching the wider world of the Internet.

    1. It’s good to hear from you, Joanna. Good luck on re-entering the workforce. On the outside teaching has changed a lot in recent years, but really it is more and art than a science anyhow, and good teaching is timeless in that way. You will be great.

  2. Good morning Katie,

    My sister shared your Scary Mommy story with me last night. To say it hit a chord would be grossly understated. I wept openly in the company of a man who truly saved my heart. You see, I too am a writer and well past being ‘good’ but here in Canada it is much more difficult to get divorced. I am in the process though as I near the third anniversary of my date of separation and ironically I have become the woman I always wanted to be despite an often long and arduous road.

    I wanted you to know you echoed perfectly what, I am certain, many women have tried. I want you to know I admire your courage and commend you for so eloquently saying what many have felt. I connected with your words and your soul.

    I have often thought and very briefly begun my second book (first remains unpublished but that’s a conversation over wine) – a work of nonfiction about love. You see in the three long years since I was married, I have found love in the most unassuming, sometimes obscure places. I have been in the bathtub you referenced and the company of great friends eating pasta for dinner. 2016 is going to an abundantly beautiful year for us both, that I am certain.

    I wish you great joy and hope you too found someone who saved your heart.

    xo

    Brandi

    1. Three years, Brandi! I can’t imagine. That is hard and such a long process. Love to you from across the internet. Thank you so much for your kind comments.

  3. Lindsey

    I met Katie in my first days of college, as she lived across the hall from me. Katie, I find your writing so refreshing and encouraging to read! Thank you for inspiring me to be by best (whatever that looks like)!

  4. Kristen

    Hi Katie! I commented on one of your Facebook postings the other night but here is a more formal introduction. My name is Kristen. I am also a teacher; middle school history to 150 Title One kids in the Dallas, Texas area. I also love to read and write.

    My story is a bit different from yours in that I am currently happily married to my college sweetheart. We have a two year old daughter and a dogson named Frank. However, I believe that even though our stories may be different, everyone has a “thing” that has at some point rocked their world. Mine was the stillbirth of my son a few years ago. It completely changed my life and everything I knew to be true. And it is also how this reformed type-A lady found that my best is good enough (for most things at least!)

    I must be honest in that while I love to read a good blog, I’m not typically one to comment or interact. However, your writing has really resonated with me because I feel like you write what I think and believe in. And it is wonderful to find that in all of the uncertainty! That, or maybe you’re just my spirit animal. I can’t wait to see how your story unfolds.

    1. Hi, Kristen! Thanks so much for speaking up. I am so, so sorry to hear about your son, and you are right that the experiences that change our perspectives are not always the same, but there are so many parallels and they widen our lives when we let them. I’m happy you found your way here, and I love your “spirit animal” comment. 🙂 I know what you mean, and I love it when we find that common spirit in another person.

  5. Kaye Howard

    Katie: I was introduced to you and your wonderful writings a few days ago when I, quite by accident, came upon “Enough As I Am” via Club Mid. As I began to read of the dramatic changes in your life in November 2014, I felt just a minute part of the pain you began to endure because of circumstances through no fault of your own. I admire your determination in this very difficult time in your life and helping me realize that “perfection” is not possible, that it is okay not to always have a “squeaky clean” house. I would love to go back and be a better mom, but, that is not possible. I love reading about Jude and Norah. My daughter is 33, and my son is 29. My greatest joy now is being with my grandchildren. I do not blog, but I journal, and it IS so helpful when expressing my heart’s feelings. Thank you so much for your writings. I already feel better about myself and less of what other people think of me. In the long run, it doesn’t matter as long as I am being kind and good to others. As your friend told you, it isn’t my imperfections that I should worry about. I intend to purposely enjoy the life God has given me and every day know that the words you wrote are so true. I, too, am “Enough As I Am.” Thank you, Katie, for sharing your life with us.

    1. You are welcome, Kaye. And thank you for reading and commenting. It’s a freeing thing, isn’t it? To realize that you don’t have to constantly measure up to anyone else’s ideas of perfection. It’s always a challenge to quiet those voices though. Your grandchildren are lucky to have you. 🙂

  6. Erica

    I’m not actually sure how I stumbled here, but I’m glad I did. I’ve been looking for a blog to add to the ones that I follow. It’s been harder than I thought to find one where someone is going through similar things as me. Even though being a divorced mom is very common. Even though going through the trauma of infidelity is common. But maybe the way I react and feel and think about it is less so? Or maybe I’m just bad at finding blogs 🙂 I even resorted to attempting to write my own, but I’m too lazy and paranoid about people I know reading it. Plus, I already know my own stuff, I get tired of my own stuff, I want to also read about how others are dealing.

    So, I have not had a chance to read a ton of what you have here yet, but I saw this and thought I’d introduce myself. My name is Erica. I have two little boys who are 7 and 5. I’m 37 and got divorced, wow, three years ago now. I was with my now ex-husband since I was 19. I was a SAHM when I kicked him out after spending 6 grueling months trying to “save the marriage” once I discovered his infidelity. Alas, I was the only one that truly wanted to save the marriage. I did the thing where I decided the whole thing was a wake-up call, that our marriage could be stronger as a result of it (there had to be a purpose, a reason for it, after all), that we could work through it as a team. That we would LEARN FROM THIS. Whereas, he just wanted to save himself and pretend it never happened. Sure, he said he was very sorry, that he loved me and only me, but his actions never matched his words. He thought I would accept that he was going to continue working with her everyday. That I should trust that nothing would ever happen with them again?!? That I should live out a life where he would be completely disrespecting me daily by expecting me to do this. He thought I would never leave him. I don’t know if that speaks to how highly he thought of himself or how little he thought of me. Maybe both. But he was wrong. I filed for divorce, I went back to school for my graduate degree and now have a very good job. There have been some huge ups and downs along the way… too many to go into all at once… and only now am I sort of starting to feel “settled”. Though I’m not sure I want to feel truly “settled” ever again. I feel now that I am always moving toward something, have a goal in mind. Even if they are small steps and my goals are somewhat vague. When I was married, that’s when I was settled. And I was complacent, and took things for granted, and was completely naive and ignorant. I ignored myself and my needs and wants. I am truly glad that this all happened and am so much happier now than when I was with him. I feel better about myself, even after suffering that most humiliating of betrayals, than I ever have before. I really have grown so much in the past few years and I don’t believe I would have without going through this kind of pain. I have shown myself how strong I am. I did LEARN FROM THIS. I have more to learn though and, maybe more importantly, more to experience.

    I look forward to reading more about your experiences, what you have learned from them all, and just general thoughts on life, marriage, friends, family, children, work, etc., etc 🙂

    Nice to meet you!

    1. Hi, Erica! Thank you for commenting. I identify with so much of what you say – the complacency I used to feel all the time, the never feeling quite “settled” now (but loving what that teaches me), etc. I’m so glad you are learning from it. It’s both beautiful and terrifying, right? Thank you for reading and stay in touch. xoxo

  7. Heidi

    Hi Katie
    I read baptism, Buddhism &? on huffpost, I think it came up in my news feed cos I love Pema Chodron. I read your most recent post on the strawberry picking and some of the ones on this page (not as many as I would have liked – it’s school holidays in Australia & my 3, 10 & 12 year old boys have churned through the internet this month so now it is slow). I hope this isn’t a really insensitive question but I wanted to ask if you have ever been able to feel happy for your husband and his new wife, if you have any posts on this please direct me to them. I have this other Buddhist teacher, Ajahn Brahma, & he jokes about if you go home and find that your wife has run off with your best friend can you be happy that they are in love? A year ago I would have simply condemned your husband and his wife, as I think most readers would do, but as you say, people are complicated, & so is life.

    1. HI, Heidi! This is a great question and not insensitive at all. I think I am not there yet on feeling “happy” exactly. But I also think life is a process, and I can say that I feel benign about it now. A year ago, I was still angry and so so incredibly sad and hurt. (Anger always covers up something else, it seems.) Now I am not angry or sad anymore, but I just leave them to their own business, if that makes sense. I don’t really have much of a curiosity or interest in them at all. Those first few months, I could not say that.

      I can now see that people do the best they know how with whatever level of consciousness they are at. He cannot be alone. He said as much to me many, many times in the final days as we split. I am no longer offended by the speed at which he moved forward. But I see that it is where the two of them are on their own journey, so to speak. I am somewhere else.

      I won’t say I’m happy for them. But I am on my own path and not bitter at all. Especially as I see the ways that the world is opening up for me in a light I never expected and the ways that my heart has opened exponentially since this happened. I’m grateful for it now. Which is probably the first step of forgiveness and happiness for them. I’m grateful for what it taught me.

      Thank you for reading and commenting all the way from Australia. It’s good to “meet” you!

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