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Offseason

Look at me. Sailing, seas, sunburned nose.

I’m a sailor now. Full time. To be honest it’s more a combination of sailor, chef, tour guide, housekeeper, and mechanic/electrician/plumber, as CJB and I are the only crew on this boat. Our first season is behind us. We have sixty days off while our boat waits out the worst of hurricane season on the hard (dry dock) in Puerto Rico.

I feel like I simultaneously learned a lot and nothing at all. I had almost no experience on modern boats at all when I took this job, and even less of cooking fancy meals for up to twelve people. Our training was kind of trial by fire, trial by error, and sea trial. CJB and Idid it, though. Barely, but we did it. By the end of July I was able to handle all the myriad duties required of me in a day, and CJB was pretty good about pitching in where necessary.

It was a long hard road to get there.

This has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Not the sailing. That’s actually not all that difficult on a modern boat in the Caribbean. Instead of hauling lines by hand and using the weight of my own body to force sails up, I push a button with my big toe. Rather, I’ve been forced to live the excruciating hell of living, working, and adventuring with a man I love with every piece of me but who does not feel the same way.

This blog is supposed to be about me healing from my past emtional trauma. About nurturing the tiny warrior inside of me. About learning to be whole on my own and not living at the mercy of a man who decides for me how happy I can be. I don’t want to go too into detail about the crushing loneliness and depression I suffered this year, nor about the suicidal ideation I experienced for the first time in my life. I may live in paradise, but I’ve been in a dark hole mentally and emotionally for most of this year.

And it’s not even all CJB’s fault. I’ve tried to date. Dating in the Virgin Islands is truly abysmal. The men are all running from their problems and this is as far as they can run without leaving the country. They cannot show up for me when they can’t deal with their own issues. I had my hopes up several times but in the end they mostly turned out to be garbage. I’m so tired of it. I’m tired of knowing my worth being coupled with others’ total inability to see or value it. I’m tired of being passed over, benched, ghosted, and put back on the shelf like some kind of generic brand snack food: probably fine, but just not what they want. Ugh.

Things with CJB remain the same. We live, work, and adventure together. We spend almost all of our time together. But he is constantly on the lookout for the next girl to put on a hook and he continues to push me away emotionally. He is still the fastest way for me to achieve my next career goal (that of becoming a captain and driving my own boat), and we are under contract together until August of 2021. I don’t know what will happen then. I’m doing everything I can to position myself to be ready to stand on my own two feet by then. Financially this job is a boon and walking away would be tough, but I don’t think I have the fortitude to continue living in a situation that might actually kill me just for money.

But things aren’t all bad. Box Girl is visiting much less frequently. The Caribbean is good for me. I’m able to take up more space there. Be more authentically myself. I’m learning to play the fiddle, giving in to my love of lingerie and buying myself things that make me feel pretty, discovering a love of SCUBA diving. I’m open water certified and hope to get my advanced diving certification when I go back this fall. I’ve become a powerful swimmer, found a beer I truly enjoy, and fallen in love with the beauty of the islands. It is, as Coulson once said about Tahiti, a magical place.

Maine, it turns out, feels less like home. The house I built that I was (still am) so proud of is rented and I have no plans to do more than visit my things in storage there annually. I have been here a week and visited all my favorite haunts. Been to all my favorite places. But it just doesn’t feel much like home anymore. I think maybe we’ve outgrown each other. This trip has felt like … permission. As though I was seeking approval to say goodbye to the life I thought I wanted, and Maine has obliged me. I will only return in the future to see my dog, who remains the best thing to have ever happened to me, and the only soul who truly loves me unconditionally.

This blog post is a bit of a downer, I know. I’m not “living my best life” as much as I was hoping I would be by now. But I’m not giving up. The pheonix doesn’t just rise from the ashes once. If necessary, it will burn that fucker to the ground again to rise up as something altogether different the next time. I will continue to fight to heal, learn, rise, grow, and bloom. It’s time I remembered that.

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Life in Paradise, Part II

CJB were laying in our bunk one night during our first charter.  I was tired and hoping to fall right asleep, but he likes to play on his phone before falling asleep.  I rolled over to ask him to get off facebook, when I discovered he wasn’t scrolling – he was chatting with a girl.  More specifically, a hookup he’d visited when he was last in Florida. While waiting for her replies, he switched to Whatsapp and Facebook messenger to conversations he was having with other girls, too.  Most former hookups.  I watched him tell every girl the same thing – all lies – about how much he truly connected with them and missed them, etc.  As I lay there, keeping my breath shallow and even, heart pounding with adrenaline, I had a very uncomfortable realization: I was begging for the love of a man who is only interested in catching and keeping as many women on the hook as possible.  He isn’t looking for one girl to sail the world with.  He’s just looking for girls.  Period.

All at once I felt supremely stupid and ashamed.  I’d spent months trying to win him back into my bed, trying to show him my worth.  But it isn’t that he doesn’t see it – it’s that he doesn’t want it.  No matter how awesome I am I’m not going to be what he’s looking for.  I’m not someone he can lie to.  Someone he can pick and put down when he feels like it. I don’t provide him with that winning feeling when he scores with a “hot” girl.

How stupid am I?

And the more I looked, the more I realized he was keeping me on the hook, too.  I’d asked him several times if he ever saw us together again and his answer was always, “I don’t know.  I can’t predict the future.” That’s an answer designed to keep me on the hook and trying.  Keep me around so I can make his life better and easier (which I do) without having to give me what I wanted.  Just keep trying, Stupid Girl.  Maybe this with be when he sees what he’s been missing.

Oi.

After that charter CJB and I had the first of several knock down drag outs.  I pushed him to tell me why he wouldn’t resume our physical relationship.  Pushed him to tell me why he said maybe when he really meant no. Dared him to tell me that he’s not keeping me on the hook just like every other girl.  And I told him how it makes me feel for him to accept all my help and hard work and love with no expectation of returning any of it. I told him what a piece of shit he is for not being honest with me.  My false hope was what brought me down here to work with him to begin with.  He needed me to get this job so he encouraged that hope. It wasn’t pretty. I cried and screamed and swore and we both said some pretty nasty shit. He moved to a different cabin on the boat and I’ve slept alone since.

For months we went on like that.  Every time he brought a girl back to the boat to fuck (he loves using the boat, because girls give it up easy once they see this luxury sailing condo that he’s the captain of) it felt like he was throwing his rejection of me in my face.  Look at all these hot girls I’d rather be fucking than you.  He told me I could bring men back to the boat, too, but it was never something I felt comfortable doing.  How could I bring a new guy to the boat when the old guy I was still hung up on was there? No thank you.

But then, finally, a funny thing happened.  Somewhere in all this pain, rejection, and desperate feeling, I started to realize that he was doing me a favor.  Every time he told a girl a lie I was glad it wasn’t me. Every time he got a girl’s number at the gas station or grocery store I was relieved I could see through his smarmy charm. As an honest person I was still horribly troubled by his duplicitous behavior but I stopped seeing it in terms of how it was a rejection of me. I began to see that these things that he does are things he can’t stop himself from doing. He truly doesn’t believe if he is honest he will be able to get girls. He knows on a deep level that he cannot be his authentic self with them, but can’t stop his need to “win.” So he tells lies and plays his games and gives every girl he meets just enough hope that they might be that magical one that she does what I did – she falls over herself to make it easy for him.

And you know what? I am worthy of so much more than that.

I’ve begun to see CJB’s friendzoning of me as a bizarre kind of life preserver.  I felt at the time that he was casting me out, but in reality I think he was saving me. Because I know about all of the lies. I know who and what he is.  I know what he needs, what he wants, what demons drive him … I know his authentic self.  Because I’m not one of those girls, with me he pulls back the curtain. He knew that I am too important to him to lose, so he chose to cut off the bits that would put our relationship at risk. His method was garbage and caused me so much more hurt than was necessary.  But … while I still sometimes feel the sting of knowing what we had is no longer something he wants, I can see now that we wouldn’t have it now even if we were still together.  Because he can’t control his need to keep girls on the hook and wanting him, and if we were together he’d never be able to confine his interest to just me. That has nothing to do with my worth and everything to do with his unworthiness.

Thus I’m slowly beginning to heal from the utter decimation of all of my hopes where CJB is concerned.  I once thought we’d spend the rest of our lives traveling the world together; now I’m trying to figure out what my future looks like without him in it.  For my own sake, I need to let him go and LEAVE. We have a contract for the next year and half here in Paradise.  I need to be ready to quit him cold turkey once that contract ends. If he can’t or won’t meet me where I am, then I need to enforce that boundary and go. He doesn’t get to use me as his girlfriend – traveling partner, masseuse, co-napper, adventure companion, study buddy, and more – if he has no intention of meeting my needs as that girlfriend.  As long as he is the brightest and biggest star in my sky, I’ll never see any of the other stars that are shining.  And I’m looking for a new star to hang my hopes and make my wishes on. I just need enough time alone in the dark to find him.

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Life in Paradise, Part 1

Hello, all. I’m typing to you from the salon/galley of a 52′ luxury sailing catamaran, moored in a quiet harbor off Saint John in the US Virgin Islands.  I live on this boat as first mate and chef with CJB as my captain.  While we are quarantined here we are drawing our salary (not a lot, but it covers my expenses) and maintaining the boat. We chose the gorgeous Hawksnest Bay as our quarantine hidey hole because it has some of the best snorkeling in the Islands and has few or no other boats moored nearby. 

I realize that was a lot of information, without much context for how I arrived here at this table, sipping coffee as the boat rolls gently over the low North swell sneaking into the bay. I hope, since I have copious amounts of time these days, to update my life here.

It’s been a lot more cracks and a lot less phoenix than I was hoping.

So Christmas went exactly as I thought it would. It was a wretched day that really cemented to me how I have no one in my life right now who truly cares about me. It’s been more than a year since I’ve heard from either of my parents, and no friends or dating prospects so much as texted. But the next day I felt better, and by the 28th CJB was back in Maine with me. He came to celebrate New Year’s Eve and go together to our new job as charter boat crew down in the Virgin Islands.  We got the job after delivering a boat here in November.  He promised me I could make sailing my full time job, and he delivered on that promise.  It worked out beautifully as we both lost our jobs last fall and both needed the other to get this job. He needed a chef and I needed a captain.  I’d never cheffed before for that many people (our boat will sleep up to ten guests and two crew), nor made fancier style foods in line with luxury sailing yacht vacations. But we figured it out. 

CJB and I are not together.  When he came back in June I confessed my feelings for him – told him I am in love with him, and that all I want to do in this life is travel through it with him.  He told me he sees me as a friend.  Yup.  He friend zoned me on an Eponine level.  It has been incredibly hard to get over the loss of that side of him.  Not only were we incredibly physically compatible, but he unlocked aspects of me I didn’t know existed. He opened a door and then just … shut it in my face.  I had no warning; he never mentioned it while he was away in Florida last winter.  When I forced the issue and he did tell me, he was home in Maine for the summer and living with me.  I’ve seen him almost every single day since he rejected me. 

A bit about me: I do not fall in and out of love easily. Once I set my mind and heart on someone, it takes an act of God or Mother Nature to change them.  Spending every day with him, seeing all the things he does that make my heart melt … it doesn’t lend itself to me losing my feelings.  So I didn’t. I spent all summer trying to seduce him back to my bed and to convince him to see my worth as a (sexual) partner.  It didn’t happen.  We hung out as friends because that’s what he decided we are, and I just died a little every day. I couldn’t wrap my head around how on Earth he can’t see how perfect we are together.  We are far closer than just friends.  We cuddle while we watch movies.  We nap together like puppies, curled around each other. We cook together, each one of us riffing off the other until we have developed some unique and delicious dishes.  We make each other laugh every day. We are equally astounded by the beauty of this place and the awesome of this job.  He is planning on buying a single engine plane soon and wants to spend our off season flying all over the country.

I was trying and failing to get any kind of emotional distance from him. The physical proximity just makes that impossible. Then I learned a few things that both helped me and gutted me equally with regards to my heart where CJB is concerned. 

2019-11-14 16.55.49But that’s a story for another day. 

 

The Broken Bits

Christmas

I hate today.

This doesn’t feel like Christmas. I have no friends or family with me, or even who have checked on me. I am utterly alone and miserable.

It’s one day a year. I’ll be fine tomorrow. But today sucks. This is the loneliest I’ve felt since the destruction of my marriage. I thought I was doing the right thing by not burying my loneliness in another person. No three week relationships to avoid being on my own. I’m trying to just sit here and feel my feelings. But … God. This is the first year in my life no one has bought me a gift. Hard to know that so few people care about me.

I know that sounds dramatic. It feels dramatic. I just don’t get when I became such a side note in people’s lives.

I don’t like that. Feels like a failure, some how.

Adventure of the Risen · Gluing the Pieces

Color Me Happy

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I’m sipping my coffee this morning and staring at my wall. I’ve taped up a number of Benjamin Moore paint chips and am admiring them in the daylight, trying to decide which to choose to paint these stark, white walls.

I’m ready to take the next step in feathering this nest.  I plan on painting one color at a time, which will mean no one room is done before another.  That’s okay with me.  It’ll take a number of weeks to complete this project by myself, and that’s okay with me, too.  I’m doing this with intention.  I want to take my time, do my best work.  Make my home even more the sanctuary it already is.

I’m known for making quick decisions, for deciding what I want with alacrity.  So I’m pretty sure I know what colors I’m going to pick.  But I am forcing myself to take the week to look at the colors, to imagine how they will work together in the space.

I may post before and after pics here on the blog, but I’m keeping it off the rest of social media.  I want people to come visit my space and see how different it looks.  I want CJB to be impressed with how different it looks painted and finished.  I still have a couch, bookshelf, and tv stand to buy – those will get here before he does.  After that it’s just accents and rugs, some frames to hang art on the walls, and it’ll basically be done.

So today I’ll be filling in the nail holes in my trim with wood filler and dreaming of color. I may start taping off the accent walls, which will be the darkest color and the first color I paint.  Once I’ve done that and some work around the house, I’m going to treat myself to some tanning and vacation planning (I may be going back to Key West before CJB sails back to Maine).

These things I’m doing, they are small.  But they bring me joy.  I’m thrilled I can feel unfettered joy again.  I’ve removed the asterisk over my head that placed conditions on my happiness (happy*, but still broken.  Enjoying herself*, but still doesn’t know how to be alone). I’m finally living my life entirely for ME – and it’s an indescribable feeling.

Adventure of the Risen · Gluing the Pieces

Is this what it feels like?

I’ve turned a corner this year.  Some time after the new year, I finally noticed that I’m not lonely anymore.  That I can enjoy my alone time.  When I returned from Florida and CJB, I decided to learn to play the violin (fiddle, really, although that distinction will come much later). I am just about ready to pull the trigger on picking paint colors for my walls. I have internet, finally, and enjoy a good Netflix movie now and again.  And most importantly, I’ve set myself a ridiculously lofty goal of paying off $20,000 in debt this year, so I have a plan with my paychecks and a need to rebuild my business to grow my income.  I am busy, but it’s a good busy.  I’m not trying to keep my wheels from spinning or keep the demons in my head at bay.

I feel… whole. Complete.  Healed.

It’s been more than two and a half years since I discovered P’s affair and my marriage failed.  It’s been almost a year since B finally admitted he didn’t want to be with me any more.  I have watched the time pass, and as it has I’ve reached that delicious place of apathy.  I’m not mad anymore that P abandoned my friendship.  He did me a favor, because I know he’d only keep disappointing me.  I haven’t spoken with B since I watched his cats for him back in September. I don’t wonder about them, and I don’t feel hurt by them any more.  It happened, I learned a lot, and I’m better for it.  I will NEVER accept that kind of behavior again.  In fact, I dated a guy over the holidays very briefly (about three weeks) and I pulled the plug when he crossed a boundary I wasn’t okay with.  We are friends now, but he’s not partner material.  He failed to meet my newly raised standards.

I’m pretty damn proud of myself.

I still have work to do.  The demons still screech at me from the dark corners of my mind, rattling the bars where I’ve caged them. I still have trust issues stemming from a stubborn doubt about being enough, specifically for CJB. I know I am amazing.  I know I’m the right choice.  But I also know that I can’t make that choice for him, and he may be too damaged to see me for the awesome that I am.  I’m working hard on being okay with that. On being firm that if he doesn’t choose me, he’s actively not choosing me, and that’s not what I want in a partner.  The second I think he’s standing in the way of me finding someone to love me (when I’m ready for that, which I’m not *quite* yet), I’ll know it’s time to let go of the hope that he’ll be mine some day.  In theory, I’ve accepted that.  I have no idea what the reality will be like.  I am so in love with that man.  But what purpose does it serve me if he doesn’t love me back?  None.  And I do want to be loved.

I’m rambling a bit, but I think there’s a point here somewhere.  I think maybe I did it.  I managed, somehow, miraculously, to heal.  To put my past hurts behind me, to take that tiny brunette warrior’s hand, and sail into the sunset together.  It has been so incredibly hard.  It’s taken so damn long.

But girl – I think I fucking did it.

I have no plans to end this blog – after all, healing is rarely neat and never linear – but I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to transition into more stories of the awesome, kick ass life I’m living, and how I’m living for myself for the first time.  Like the violin lessons!  Oh my God do I love playing that thing, even though in three lessons I’ve only learned six notes and two strings.  It’s a lot of Frere Jacques and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, but I’m DOING it.  My parents never let me learn growing up so I decided I’d learn.  This winter I realized there was nothing stopping me and that I super needed a distraction from all my empty hours.  Problem solved! My teacher says I’m doing amazingly well and will be playing better songs in no time.  My ultimate goal is to fiddle to the setting sun on the deck of my ship (yes, MY ship), once we are at anchor for the night.  I want it.  I’m going to do it.  You just wait – y’all will be the first to know about it.

Thank you, all, for your words of encouragement and support these last several months.  You made me feel sane when I was sure I was going crazy, and far less alone that I would otherwise have been.  I hope you’ll stick around for the next phase of my journey!

2019-02-12 19.51.38

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Man and Manatees

Here #CJB and I are, in Orlando at his friend Alex’s bar. This isn’t a technically good photo, but I adore it. It really shows how great we feel when we are together.

I am almost home from my vacation (waiting on a bus to take me back to my car now), and while I’m not in the mood to rehash the whole thing, I feel like after my last post I owe you the short version:

1. I’m totally crazy about this man. Even with his imperfections.

2. We did not have a chance to have our big discussion.

3. Adventures with #CJB are the best, craziest, and most amazing things ever. We snorkled with wild manatees, went accidentally off-roading in his Mini, sailed around Key West, visited Universal Studios, fed key deer and alligators, and walked Miami Beach. Every day was an adventure.

4. I trust him. This is pretty big for me. He basically fed me from his own fork the entire week – catfish, alligator, octopus, escargot, Cuban coladas/empanadas/tamales/etc, champagne, wine … if he said I should try it, I did. And it was all amazing.

5. I miss him like CRAZY already. 104 days until he comes back to Maine.

Gluing the Pieces

Putting it All Out There

 

 

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Ladies and gentlemen, this is CJB.  You’ve seen him on this blog before – he came along last summer to help me transition my life from survival to really living again. He helped steer me onto my life’s new course – to be a schooner captain, as he is.

He also totally stole my heart.

I mentioned before that I was pretty sure I was falling for him.  Well, folks, this girl has fallen.  Stick a fork in me, I’m done.  Since he sailed South last October we have talked almost daily about everything from his boat to his family to life philosophy to hopes and dreams.  In those conversations, we’ve both come to realize that the connection between us is not going away.  It’s deeper than either of us expected, I think.

So in four days and six hours, I’m boarding a plane to fly down to see him.  We will be together for six glorious days.  Somewhere in those six days, we are going to have a talk, he and I, about what to do about this connection.  I’m going to flat out ask him how he feels about me, tell him how I feel about him, and see if we can’t navigate the difficult seas before us.  I’m excited, and petrified, and so dreadfully unsure how it’s all going to go.

But I need to do this. While he’s been gone I’ve grown used to the idea of being in love again.  It took two years for me to accept the concept of loving again after heartbreak, and I still have a prickly set of defenses and issues that spring up to cause problems at times (so does he.  That boy is the POSTER CHILD of emotional wall building).  But this thing between us is worth naming.  Worth exploring.  Worth working on.

Emily Bronte once said, “whatever souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” I feel that way about CJB. We are so similar.  We have a passion for life, not just each other.  We have adventuresome spirits, a deep and abiding love of the ocean, and soft hearts for those we call our family. We never run out of things to talk about, to make each other laugh, or think about, or admire. We understand the pain the other has been through, and how that’s shaped our lives.  F. Scot Fitzgerald once wrote, “I wish I had done everything on earth with you.” Fortunately, we are young enough that we still can.  I want to sail the world with this man.  Explore exotic locales and dance to the music street vendors play in foreign countries.  I want to see every color the ocean has ever been, in every part of the world.  I want to love under the stars, and beneath the hot sun, and at every sunrise and sunset.  I want to sail beside him, and sleep beside him, and work beside him, too.

I have no real idea if he feels the same, or if he ever will.  But in four days and six hours, I’m going to find out.

 

 

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Prepare yourself, CJB.  I’m coming for you.

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Befuddled by Love

I think deep thoughts when in the tub. I wander through my head as though it were an ornamental garden, viewing everything without really engaging with any of it.

Tonight I realized that I can’t remember what it feels like to have someone love me. P stopped loving me ages before the affair, by both his own words and behavior, and B never loved me at all, despite throwing everything I had at him. So it’s been… three years or so (?) since someone told me they loved me, and I believed it.

That seems like a long time for a girl who’s never been single.

I had a dream last night that CJB was trying to tell me he loved me. Whatever, it was a dream, dont judge. The point is, my subconscious couldn’t figure out how to do it. He choked on the words, reiterated the “you’re special” and “you think this kind of connection happens every day” lines I’ve already heard, but the word love didn’t make it out of his mouth.

I literally can’t remember what it sounds like any more. Not even in my dreams.

It’s not that I don’t believe I’m lovable. I’ve fixed that lie. I know I’m worthy of love. But now I’m not so sure a person exists who will ever say it to me.

I want to be loved. More than that, I want to be chosen. To be told I’m the only one for them. That it’s a no-brainer, that nothing could be more certain.

It has just been so long, the image of that is fading, becoming fuzzy and indistinct. I cant even imagine the man I’m falling for saying it, and I’ve already daydreamed every possible permutation of us being together some day.

I’m not sure where to take this knowledge, really. It was just something that occured to me as I soaked in my tub, alone on another Friday night (it’s how I prefer it right now).

It’s been three years since anyone has loved me; long enough that I don’t remember what it feels like.

Hmm.

Gluing the Pieces · The Broken Bits

Best of Intentions

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You know, I never set out to do all of this alone.

The house, I mean. Living here. Trying to decide where to put my wood pile that won’t interfere with the plow guy (who, by the way, took FOREVER to find). Considering what kind of curtains to put up.  Whether I should by a Ryobi drill for $50, or five tools, batteries and a charger for $150. If a bed frame is more or less of a priority than a new couch. What I’m going to do with the dozen as-yet unpacked totes of my stuff.

In all of my planning for this stage of life, I pictured someone beside me on the couch.  A man to cook with and sleep next to and lounge, spoon style, in my giant antique tub. Someone to bounce landscaping ideas off of.

Now that I’m here on my own with every intention of remaining on my own for the foreseeable future, I’m not sure how to spend all my hours. Yes there are house things I could be doing but many just feel so monumental on my own. I’m tired after working ten hours a day. I just want to shower and go to bed. On the weekends it’s a bit better but I have errands to run and cleaning to do and …

… you get my point. It’s harder when it’s 100% your job to do everything. And yet there are all these blank hours that I feel should be spent with someone and I have only my dog.  I’m a little lonely (less so than I was at first), but mostly just kind of disappointed that it all falls to me. I love my house. I love the peace and security that come with it. I just wish I had someone to install my new curtain rods. I bake bread every week but have to eat it all myself – there’s no one to come home and enjoy the aroma. And my tub is entirely too large for just me to be in it.  I could freaking drown, it’s so big.

A friend on instagram told me I should write the story of my journey into my own home.  She thinks it is an inspirational story of one woman picking herself up by the bootstraps and bending life to her will.  But this journey doesn’t always feel like a triumph to me.  Some days it just feels like a chore. It’s an interesting idea, and I’m considering it, but I may have to jump a few loneliness hurdles first.  Learn to enjoy ALL aspects of life on my own before I write about how awesome it is.