My friend Shelley has quoted to me her dad's idea that you "fake it 'til you make it." That has basically been my operating principle for the last 11 months. Faking happiness. Pretending that my life hasn't fallen apart. Making plans for a future I didn't give a damn about. Working my backside off to make a home and a life for my son, to make up to him what his other mommy has done.
For the first few months, the mask cracked on a daily basis as I struggled to pretend. My sadness would seep in, often at moments when I least expected or wanted it. I wasn't always patient with myself.
My life changed. My body changed. My expectations of the future changed. Everywhere I looked I saw change. And I rolled with the punches, getting up each Monday to face another week. Sometimes afraid of what it would bring; sometimes just tired of it. But always trying.
It's better now and time has helped. My mask doesn't crack quite as often. Sometimes an entire day will pass and I won't think of how hard I am trying.
The other night, as I read a book while my boy slumbered next to me, it was a nearly perfect moment and I felt content. It's a different kind of happiness, one tempered by a whole new reality. It's a life less vivid and less exciting but strangely, it feels more safe.