We Were Happy

For anybody who doesn’t know, I’m a huge Taylor Swift fan. I’ve loved her and her music since I was 15 years old, and she wasn’t much older. Cory is also a huge fan, and our mutual love for her has been a special part of our relationship.

When we got married, we used multiple songs of hers in our wedding. Cory and the wedding party went down the aisle to “Ours,” and I walked down to “Love Story.” Cory danced with his mom to “Mary’s Song (Oh My My My)” and I danced with my dad to “Never Grow Up.”

We’ve also been to several of her concerts together—Fearless, Speak Now, and Red. They were all fantastic, of course! We even had tickets for 1989, but ended up having to resell them because we had baby Cody at that point and he was insanely high-need so we didn’t feel able to leave him. Then we had Abi and couldn’t afford tickets to Reputation, but when Lover came out we got tickets for that one—which were unfortunately cancelled due to Covid. But the point is, we adore her!

I’ve stayed up until midnight for her album drops numerous times, watched her documentary twice, and her Reputation concert on Netflix many times. I know every lyric to every song she’s ever put out, and I could recognize her voice or one of her songs within seconds of hearing it. About 75% of the time I listen to music, it’s hers. Obsessed is a good word, I would say!

Anyway, that went down a rabbit hole and Taylor Swift wasn’t actually the topic I was planning on writing about today. But it was good opener, at least.

All of that to say, the other day I was listening to Swifty in the car as usual, and “Love Story” came on. Immediately I was taken back to my wedding day, and I felt a lot of happy memories about that time in my life. I remember how excited I was on my wedding day, and how deeply in love I was with Cory.

The next song that came on was a new one, called “We Were Happy.” Some of the lyrics that hit me most with this song are these:

“When it was good, baby, it was good, baby
We showed ’em all up
No one could touch the way we laughed in the dark
Talkin’ ’bout your daddy’s farm we were gonna buy someday
And we were happy
We were happy

Oh, I hate those voices
Tellin’ me I’m not in love anymore
But they don’t give me choices
And that’s what these tears are for
‘Cause we were happy
We were happy”

This song hit me hard, because I can relate so strongly to it. The reality with my marriage to Cory is that nothing is wrong. Nothing went wrong, nothing bad happened to make things change between us. We still love each other, and damnit, we have had an absolutely amazing relationship for as long as we’ve been together. Despite the doubters early in our relationship who told us we were too young to be in love and too young to get married, we have been rock solid for our entire relationship and marriage.

We’ve had fights and struggles, but we’ve never doubted our choice to get married or to be together. We’ve never regretted building this life together. We are soul mates, and I believe that our paths being intertwined was always part of God’s plan.

So my struggle lately has been reconciling those truths with the way that I feel now about us. Now that I’ve found a powerful romantic, emotional, and physical relationship with someone new, it has made it painfully clear to me that I don’t feel the same way towards Cory anymore. I love him and care about him very deeply—and I treasure our friendship, the way we work so well as a team doing life together, and the family we’ve created. But as far as romance and physical affection, I don’t feel the desire or even openness to those aspects of our relationship anymore.

I have learned that soul mates aren’t always romantic, and that romantic love doesn’t always last forever. I used to say that love is a choice. That in marriage especially, love is a choice and that when the feelings of “being in love” fade, which is natural and normal over time, the choice to continue to love the other person becomes the driving force of keeping a marriage together. And keeping our marriage together has been one of the most important things to me, for the past 14 years—even before we got married, I always said that I would never get divorced.

Now I’m not saying that I want to get divorced now. We still are happy—it’s just in a different way. There are a lot of reasons to stay married to Cory, even if our marriage is a platonic one now. We have a family and want to keep it intact—separation from my parents who shared custody of me as a child was incredibly traumatic for me. That’s not to say that other families aren’t better off with the parents being separated or divorced! In many cases, I believe that is the best choice for everyone involved. But in my case, I’m not there and I don’t know if I ever will be. Because we live very harmoniously as a family right now, and everyone seems happiest with the situation as it stands.

But what I am coming to understand is that marriages and relationships in general sometimes aren’t meant to last forever—and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean the marriage or relationship was a failure, especially when there are so many beautiful and happy memories to treasure in the relationship. I think it’s okay to celebrate what was and still accept that it is no longer that way, without seeing it as some kind of tragedy. It’s okay to say “we were happy,” and view that as a positive season in one’s life, even if it’s now over.

In my case, I’m still working through what it means for the romantic side of my marriage to be over. What does it mean for our future together? What are we now, and what does that look like in our day-to-day lives?

I am embracing the non-traditional more and more these days. I am embracing that every relationship can be whatever you make it, regardless of what other people think or what society expects. Cory and I can be married and choose to have absolutely no sexual relationship—and we can still kiss each other goodnight. We can sleep in the same bed when we want to, or not when we don’t. We can tell each other “I love you” and be physically affectionate, even though we aren’t “romantic.” What is being “romantic” really anyway? It’s for us to define (or not), and the way we interact can be however we’re both comfortable.

I’m just fine with all of that, and so far it feels like we are finding our new normal and it’s working out pretty well.

Where the wrench starts to get thrown into the machine is when I have powerful desires to connect my life to my boyfriend, RJ’s, more and more, and it’s not necessarily compatible with the life I’m currently committed to living with Cory. More than anything, I want to live with him, and Cory may not be ready to accept him into our lives on such a full-time basis, at least not yet. Even if Cory was ready, RJ isn’t quite settled on what he wants to do at this point in his life. If I didn’t have a family of my own, I would have so many more options. But of course, my family is my life and they have to come first, before my own desires.

When I think about my future now, there are a lot of unknowns. I know that RJ will be in it, and of course so will Cory and the kids. I just don’t know yet how all of the puzzle pieces will fit together. Half of me is afraid to hope for more with RJ, and the other half of me is afraid to not hope for that. Co-habitation—that’s the dream at this point. Is it a reckless dream? Impossible? I don’t know. But for now, I’ll just keep on dreaming.

Welcome to the Circus

I’ve been wanting to write a post for a while now about what my day-to-day life is like in this current season. Well, actually, since every day is a little different, it’s more like my week-to-week life. And it’s a lot! Let’s just say it’s a good thing I know how to balance and juggle at the same time, because this circus is my life now.

My schedule these days is highly dependent on when I get to see my boyfriend, RJ. And when I’m not with him, I’m just going about my life as usual.

We both juggle family obligations, which for me includes taking care of my three children, one of whom is homeschooled this year and one of whom is a toddler. Cory is an equal co-parent with me when he’s not working, but of course when he’s working it’s my job to maintain the kiddos. He works from home and has a very flexible schedule which allows him to start later in the morning when needed, and this gives me more options for being away from home in the early mornings. I also have pets to take care of, although Cory helps with that too.

RJ has a nesting partner as well who shares parenting duties with him for their kiddo, but typically he’s responsible for school pickup and afternoon supervision, as well as dinner and bedtime most nights. And he has a full-time job which is remote but involves an inconsistent schedule, sometimes working on weekends. Usually he starts his workday early, by 7 AM.

We have a lot of moving parts to work around, but so far we’ve managed to make it work impressively well. What that looks like is, on average, spending the night together every 2-3 nights. I’ll stay at his place usually once or twice per week, and he’ll stay at my place usually twice per week. But the reality is, there’s really not much that’s typical or predictable about our scheduling except that we simply fit in time together as often as we can.

When I go to his place, I either take my baby with me or go by myself and leave all the kids at home with Cory. My main consideration with whether or not to bring Mia with me is about breastfeeding, since I have mostly weaned her at this point but I still want to continue morning and bedtime nursings whenever possible.

Sometimes I go over in time to have dinner with him and his kiddo, and sometimes I arrive after bedtime. Usually I leave early in the morning, around 6:30 or 7, so that he can get started with his workday and I can get home to take care of my kiddos so that Cory can start his workday as well.

There are also weekends when I take my whole family out to his area, since Cory’s parents live very close to him. Then they stay the night at his parents’ house while I stay with RJ, and I shuttle back and forth to help take care of Mia during the days. Cody and Abi are happy to play with Grammy all day long, and she is happy to oblige, so this makes weekends like this much easier for us.

When RJ comes over to my house, he occasionally brings his kiddo with him on the weekends, but most often it’s just him. Usually he comes over after my kiddos are in bed, but on weekends in particular he’s more able to come over earlier in the afternoon. If he has to work the next day and his partner is able to handle school pickup, he can work from my house. I’ve set up a desk for him in my guest room. On other days, he’ll leave super early in the morning—around 5 AM—so that he can get home in time to start his workday and also pickup his kiddo from school later in the day.

A lot of our time together is spent simply being at each other’s homes, with kids and partners often present. We like watching TV and movies, cooking, and eating together. Sometimes we do things with the kids, or play board games. Less often, we’ll go on actual dates, which are always fun! No matter what we’re doing together, we’re happy just to be in each other’s presence.

While I spend a little less than half of my nights with RJ now, I still don’t feel like it’s enough. So often, we get only a few hours of waking time together on any given visit. It’s just the reality of the situation with both of us having full-time jobs (yes, being a stay-at-home mom is a full-time job, and then some!) and also living well over an hour apart. That part really does suck!

Yet even if we had more time together, I somehow doubt that it would be enough for me. What I want more than anything is for him to live with me. I think then I would be as satisfied as possible! Well, I want that almost more than anything. One thing I want more than that is for him to be truly happy and live where and how he really wants to. If that happens to be with me someday, then I would be beyond thrilled. As it stands for the time being, we are still just trying to get all the time together we feasibly can.

My life is a little messy, busy, and chaotic—but it’s also very fulfilling and I would be hard-pressed to think of a better life for me. I have everything I need and more; my husband, my kids, my home, my fur-babies and feather-baby, and now… my love. With him, my life feels complete and whole. If that comes with a little chaos, then so be it.

My Drug of Choice

I have struggled with depression for as long as I can remember. As an adult, I’ve come to accept that cycles of depression are just a part of my life. They come and go, sometimes lasting for just a few days and sometimes lasting for a few months, but never longer than that. They always end, eventually.

In between my depressive episodes, I feel perfectly normal and happy, but when I’m in them, I can often feel like I will never be happy again. Even though I know it’s not true, and that my depression always lifts, it’s hard to remember that when I’m in the middle of it.

I’m in the middle of a depression right now, but it was hard to recognize at first because it seemed to come and go very dramatically from day to day. In fact, there is a very clear pattern to my good and bad days—on the days I get to see my boyfriend, RJ, I feel great. On the days I have to say goodbye, and the days in between seeing him, my mood plummets again.

So at first, I chalked this up to being “crazy in love” and adjusting to the new relationship. But now I’ve recognized that these low feelings aren’t actually caused by my relationship with RJ—they’re the all-too-familiar feelings that I’ve been living with on and off for decades. And that’s when I realized that I’m actually in a depression right now, and RJ is just alleviating my symptoms on the days I get to see him.

Upon further research, this makes perfect sense. There is a theory that depression is caused by lowered levels of certain hormones in the body, specifically serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These three hormones are also produced or increased when you are falling in love or in love with somebody. In addition, oxytocin and endorphins are also produced through activities like cuddling, kissing, and having sex—and these hormones are mood elevators. They make you feel happy!

RJ is, quite literally, my drug. So naturally, I want as much of him as I can get.

Through the last few years, I have learned a lot about myself and the way my mental health operates. I’ve learned that when I get depressed, my mind tries to find a cause, or something to blame for the low feelings. Then, I can solve whatever problem I’ve discovered as the culprit and feel better. Ta-da!

Unfortunately, the reality that I am now coming to accept is that these “problems” I find to blame for my depression are not the true cause. Making changes in my life does give me a mood boost (probably also because of hormones!) which in the past has seemed to support the idea that “fixing” the problem is all I need in order to end the depressive episode.

But now I believe deep down that my depression is caused by something inside of me—not a trauma that I need to heal from or a disorder that needs medication—but just something that is part of the way I operate. Could medication help me? Perhaps. But honestly, even when I’m depressed, I function amazingly well. Depression doesn’t negatively affect my life on a practical level. Does it feel shitty? Absolutely. But medication isn’t something I’m interested in, because I truly don’t believe that I need it. There are other things I can do to cope with these feelings, and even if I do none of them, they always pass in time. Medication comes with side effects and other things that just aren’t appealing to me. I think it’s wonderful that it’s available to people who want or need it, but for me, I’d rather not go down that road.

So anyway. My best coping mechanism at the moment is to stay busy when I’m not with RJ. I focus on my little daily routines (which bring me comfort), as well as taking care of the kids and pets, catching up on chores, and doing things I enjoy such as writing (hello), reading, watching TV, organizing, and having solo dance parties. I treat myself with grace and care, and let myself have “survival” days when I need them—doing the bare minimum and letting go of the rest.

Then I get to enjoy wonderful feelings of utter contentment, overwhelming love and affection, and of course excitement and passion whenever I’m with RJ. As our goodbye approaches, I often feel the sadness creeping back in, and that part always sucks. Sometimes I can fight it off until he’s actually gone, and sometimes it casts a bleak shadow over our last few hours together, but the great part of this is that RJ is so sensitive, understanding, supportive, and caring. He doesn’t get annoyed or frustrated at me for feeling down. He doesn’t think it’s silly or stupid, even when I do. He’s amazing, y’all. He gives me comfort, sometimes tries to distract me, and lets me have a safe place to feel my feelings.

I know that in a few days or weeks, I won’t be struggling with this anymore. I will still miss him when we say goodbye, but I won’t feel so deeply sad, hopeless, or lost when we’re apart. I’ll be back to my “normal” self. I write this knowing it’s true without feeling it’s true—because despite my past experience telling me that this is how it goes, I still can’t see the truth in it right now. I still feel stuck in a dark, black hole that I think I will live in forever. But sometimes, we know things are true even when we don’t feel them. And holy mother of Moses, that’s hard to accept as an empath! Wow, I just realized this.

As an empath, I have a high level of confidence in my intuition and the truth of my feelings and what I sense emotionally in others. That is making it very hard to accept that my feelings aren’t my reality right now. This is a big realization for me… and I think it’s very helpful, too. I can accept that this is true, because now I have an explanation. Okay. Feeling better about that.

On that note, I don’t know how to end this post exactly so I’m just going to say this…

Depression sucks. But it gets better. In the meantime, find whatever joy you can and let that be your drug. I know I found mine, and I’m going to get as much of it as I can.

(Please don’t take this as medical advice. This is just my personal experience. Duh.)