The theme of “Mornings” this month has left me a little torn. I have my “Mom Mornings” which run the way they usually do…a kitty trying to nip at my exposed toes while a little 7 year old tries to snuggle her feet even deeper into my back. A teenager still sleeping and a 12 year old doing whatever it is they do in their rooms behind closed doors. I’m cool, I’ll admit it, but not cool enough for a preeteen.
I also have “Me Mornings”. These are the days I wake up and my kids are over at their dad’s house. I’ve had these mornings ever since getting separated in 2010, and these are as unusual as a purple unicorn with rainbow hooves. At first, these “Me Mornings” were traumatically depressing. I’d managed to never spend any time alone with myself ever since…well…ever. I lived with my family until I went to college, then lived with my roomates for 3 years, then met and married my future ex husband before I turned 21, and then it was husband and kids for the next 16 years.
The reality of being by myself scared me more than my impending divorce, honestly, but I didn’t need a therapist to tell me that wasn’t a good enough reason to stay in a relationship. Whiskey & Coke told me everything I needed to know.
So, I filled my mornings with busy night before’s. Sometimes my night before’s bled into my mornings without a lot of sleep, if any. I filled it full of people and places, and I was never alone.
When I would eventually sleep and wake up, it was with a sense of vertigo. Going from my standard ‘Mom Nights Out’ with coffee and kid talk was replaced, at least for the weekends, with ‘Me Nights Out’ with martinis and talk about anything other than kids. For a former teetotaler with an underdeveloped sense of self, I was in over my head a little bit. Not that I didn’t give it my best shot.
I woke up with an American dude in Canada and a Canadian dude in America. I had mornings with a musician in Denver and an Academy Award nominee in Hollywood. I saw the sun rise with a doctor of philosophy somewhere in Portland and a bartender in Taos. And then one morning I rolled over and a very sensitive and caring professor said, “I don’t know how your ex husband could have ever let you go.” In that moment, I felt more alone than any morning I could have spent actually by myself.
I hurried outside, crying and stumbling along side streets trying to remember where I’d parked my car in the congestion of LA city planning. His words, while nice, hurt so bad I couldn’t breathe. I realized that I could bounce around from morning to morning like a disco ball and it still wouldn’t make the reality of a failed marriage any better. Dammit, tacky Lifetime movies really are right.
So, I regrouped. I created space in these Me Mornings to be all alone. Instead of focusing on other people, I started showing myself a good time. With the same care and interest I gave my kids for their activities, I planned things for me. I kind of got to know myself for the first time ever, and started looking forward to what I’d learn about myself on the next weekend. Whatever I’d do would include my trusty camera (and later, hula hoop!) and I took myself on some of the best dates ever.
I woke up to myself in a sleeper car on a train going from LA to Washington, in a tent on the beach, and in cheap motels all across Route 66. I woke up silently for 10 days at a meditation retreat. I woke up on planes and in rest stops. And when I wasn’t traveling on a beggars budget I woke up still and silent in my bed, instead of searching and anxious.
I woke up to myself.
I woke up.
I am awake now.
Here’s a lovely (ha!) morning self portrait for Erika’s post yesterday. Have you ever taken a morning snapshot of yourself? It’s easiest if you have cool filters and a black and white option like I do with instagram, I’m not going to lie!
Do your mornings have a rhythm, or do they ebb and flow? Have you gone through any shifts or changes that affect the way your mornings run?