Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Badass Scaredy-Cat

I wrote this thing over on about taking life day by day with absolutely no clue what tomorrow will bring and how appealing I find the whole concept of embracing the unknown. Not only appealing, but it's the only way I've been able to get through each day; not mulling over how all of my pre-divorce goals have crashed and burned over the past couple months, just putting one foot in front of the other and taking it one day at a time.

Still, at least once a day panic climbs my throat and it takes every ounce of willpower I have not to give in to what feels like a thousand voices vocalizing all my inner fears, shouting them back at me inside my head. I say that because in writing about embracing the unknown I can also acknowledge I am scared shitless of what the future may bring and that maybe I write to convince myself of things as much as I attempt to write truths.

I talk to my therapist about how I feel lonely but still resist the notion of dating, even just casually, and am trying to revel in the loneliness because I feel like a strong person needs to be completely comfortable being alone and not seek out others just to avoid loneliness. She asks why I feel the need to conquer life alone, tells me there's nothing wrong with being with others to avoid loneliness, isn't that one of the good things about relationships?

I don't know. I guess I view people who are uncomfortable with being alone as weak. She challenges that notion as well, says I've spent my entire life trying not to feel vulnerable and that it's OK to be vulnerable. So I'm trying to be open but it's all so confusing and difficult. I feel like an alcoholic in AA who's been advised not to date for at least a year after becoming sober. So damaged by my past and my marriage that I should avoid all contact with the opposite sex or else risk relapse into bad habit behaviors I've spent years cultivating. And, quite frankly, the notion of dating seems awful. I've spoken to a few divorced friends who are trying to meet people and resort to spending time on dating websites and the stories they tell... Just... NO. I'd rather die alone than subject myself to that kind of nonsense.

Actually, in writing this I realize I do have a goal. I want to be a calm, confident person who lets most of life's difficulties roll off her back. Someone who doesn't spend time freaking out about the unchangeable or the inevitable, who doesn't get caught up obsessing over bullshit and just enjoys the privilege of being alive. Life is what it is and I just want to appreciate the ride no matter what gets tossed my way. I'm trying. I alternate between feeling like a badass with a new lease on life and a lonely girl who is afraid of what the future might bring...

Reader Comments (11)

Once children are involved, it should never be about ME but what's good for US.

September 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterUtah L

Let me ask you this : is it just the unknown that's freaking you out? Because even if you're in a relationship, the future is still unknown, right? The only difference from being alone is that in a relationship you have someone with whom to share the responsibility of what happens in the future. And look at it this way - by choosing to be alone, you have much more control over your future than you've had in years!

Monica, I know a couple things from reading your blog for quite a while now : you're very intelligent and strong (despite how you may feel at times), and you're a great mom. You'll be fine and the kids will be fine, and I think when the dust settles you'll be more "content" than you've ever been, and that's a great thing...

September 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHanni

Hmmm. I hope you don't mind me analyzing here..I am always interested in personality types, not so much for judging or pigeonholing people but more fore understanding behaviors and appreciating how they can compliment the relationship. I believe there are basic types, each with common traits which manifest both as strength and weakness. I am sure there are many models out there but I am familiar with Tim and Beverly LeHaye's work which identifies four basic types 1. Sanguine- outgoing/ obnoxious. 2. Melancholy- artistic/brooding. 3. Choleric- Organized/Controlling and 4,Phlematic- Content/ Quiet. I think Serge's being free from goals is actually probably part of having a 'phlegmatic', peaceful content personality, a good thing too. As for your being goal oriented, I am also goal/ task oriented, which has been a double edged sword in my life. I found that during stressful times, as a way of coping with anxiety and taking control over the unknown, my task oriented ' get 'er done' side will kick in: Fast forward to dreams/plans and interventions. Focusing on ideas is a quick way to feel better, but as you mentioned, robs you of being able to just enjoy the day and whatever it brings you. The excitement of just doing simple stuff today is fine enough. Simple goals. I only came to realize this after going over ....for the 50th time....all of my big plans with a close friend. He sighed loudly and asked, " Do you EVER have a moment's peace?" it was embarrassing but true. For all of the light bulbs floating around my head, I am far from bathing in the light of simple contentment. Peaceful enjoyment of now. I think the best thing for a task oriented person who wants to enjoy the present moment to do is to breathe. Get outside. Thank God for today, for now. for being in control of everything. Oh, and those dating sites...Bad ju ju.

September 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGranny A

Why focus on dating as the solution to loneliness? How about focusing on building solid friendships with other women? Relationships don't have to be romantic to be fulfilling.

September 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

@Karen - Excellent point! So true! And something I was lacking when I lived way out in the country. I do have friendships with women and am making new ones in my new neighborhood!

September 8, 2014 | Registered CommenterMonica

interesting story about dating websites. a college friend of mine went through a divorce a few years ago and when he was ready to start dating he started using he noticed a woman whose profile appealed to him and she was a yoga teacher. Instead of contacting her through the site, he signed up for her yoga class. (creepy I know but he's harmless, just a little shy.) he ended up meeting a different woman in the class, they started dating and got married last year. I rather liked the way it ended up. also. not to make a broad generalization but I find personally that women who had single moms tend to share a fierce independence that's manifested in some of what you describe--ability to take anything life throws, to be comfortable/confident while alone, to overcome any vulnerability, etc. even as a married person I feel this way. it's tough to rely on people and often I find I take on way too much just to prove to myself I can handle it. as tendencies go, it does kind of suck, but I feel like it's so deeply ingrained in my being, I'll never shake it. unhelpful feedback of the day.:)

September 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJodie

I totally relate to you, even though I am not going through a split. But I have spent several years alone for the sake of not needing anyone. This video really speaks to me. Maybe you, too?

September 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

I second what Karen said. I always wonder why anyone would/should just jump into dating after ending a marriage. Seriously? No time being alone, a relative term when one has kids, but, still. I know you're stronger than that. I've read every word you've published & you have never struck me as the kind of woman who 'needs' to have a man in her life to be complete or whatever. Nonsense. What you need is women friends, real friends. You've got plenty of time for relationships with men if that's what you want but Monica, you & Serge split up about a minute ago. What's the hurry? Be with yourself for a while. I think you might actually like the company. I'm not anti-relationship in any way, shape or form......married 30 years next month. I just hope you take some time before starting a new relationship. Take care of you.

September 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTrish

@Trish - We've been separated for nine months. But yeah, I totally agree with you on the women friends thing and that I'm not ready to date because I want to take a bunch of time to be on my own. Wise words, for sure.

September 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterThe Girl Who...

How I remember the daily anxiety and panic. I used to crave moments of inner peace; just that one moment when all the voices stopped and the heart unclenched. You will be fine; keep up the good work. It's clear you are working on balancing your life with kids, yourself, work and play; keep up the good work. Be sure to add 'lay on the couch' to your 'to do' list. Know that when you get yourself right you're doing what's good for everyone.

Thanks for sharing yourself so honestly in this blog. My favorite reads are when you post here on 'The Girl Who'. I think you're onto something with the whole 'take it as it comes' attitude. You can be strong and independent while at the same time reaching out to others. As you do the things you like to do and your life gets better and better you'll find it fills up with people who really matter.

Next moment of peace and quiet that you have; take the time to tell yourself how amazing and wonderful you are.

September 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJust Jill

Hi Monica, internet friend. I just read Serge's take on his Marriage Coma and it made so much sense. He mentions at the end that you were affected, too--- yet, he specifically mentions that YOU were the one to make the realization and than take the action that got you both out of the haze. I think you should be really proud of that... respect, girl, respect. I don't know either of you aside from reading your blog from Brooklyn Days and then reading Serge's stuff, but just from your pictures- you both look absolutely great (hoping the weight loss wasn't anxiety-based) and both your writings have started to breathe a little bit, too. Plus, you've become a bad-ass cyclist. Anyway, you're doing it. And I really think you've chosen the right path for you and your family. The kids, I'm sure, will be sad about the breakup, but have will have such strong support from the both of you- they'll be great. Aloha---

September 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

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