29 May 2012

Things I'm Afraid to Tell You

Inspired by Tabitha's latest post, as well as Tieka's heartbreaking post about her decision to file for divorce, I thought now is as a good a time as any to come clean with those who read my blog and seem to think that my life is peachy-keen. Because, I hate to burst anyone's bubble, especially my own, but my life is far from perfect. 


My relationship, though on the blog and Twitter seems pretty ideal, is incredibly challenging. Telling friends and family that I met my boyfriend on the Internet is one thing, and I'll admit, it irks me how frequently peoples' eyes glaze over when I begin to answer the question of "how did you two meet?" But beyond how we met, we were long-distance for three months, which was difficult in itself.

And then he did the incredibly selfless thing of picking up his life, and packing it into a single suitcase, to move into my old bedroom in my mother's house. And we didn't transition very well into this new thing of seeing each other every day. I wasn't ready to give up my space, my time, my room, my "long-distance-relationship life". I wasn't in the mood to have to decide what movie we'd watch, what to order on our pizza, or figure out our schedules. Sharing a bed every night was not something I grew used to easily.

And beyond the little things, our relationship has changed immensely over the last two months. In fact, there was a period when I was positive that we were going to break up. Crazy, I know. But I want you all to know that even though things were dark, and that every day presents challenges of varying degrees, this relationship is one of the most rewarding parts of my life. And while we are still figuring things out, I'm grateful for everyday I have with him. For those of you who encouraged me to end it, I did take your suggestions to heart, but I am happy with my decision to stick with him.


My parents have been separated for over a year and a half. The divorce is still being finalized. While I have been working on figuring out how to accept the major event of a 28-year marriage ending, I have come to a place of acceptance. I have relationships with both of my parents which have changed gradually in the last two years. Most days I "get it", I understand why it happened, and I accept that this has happened. We are still working the kinks out of holidays and birthdays, and I'll admit I dread Thanksgiving, even though I love food.

And I worry. I worry almost every day about how things are going to turn out. I think about what will happen to my mom, and where she will end up living. I worry about marriage itself, if it's something worth pursuing at all. I worry about my siblings, and I worry about losing my concept of family. I worry about who will watch the cats, and if everyone is happy in their new homes. But beyond worry, I miss things. I miss my family, I miss living in the same house. I miss dinner together, and cramming into the car, and going on family vacations. I know I took so much of this for granted, but I do think I had a very wonderful upbringing. I'm just in that strange gray area of figuring out what's going to happen next.

I know a lot of my friends and family and friends of family think that I love my job. That I am lucky to be working in such an amazing place. While I am grateful for full-time employment with benefits, and happy that I've had a place to keep my mind off of my relationship and a divorce for 35 hours a week, I'm willing to admit that what I do here at the museum is not my livelihood.

In 2010, I started as a wide-eyed intern in Museum Education - and I fell in love. Between completing rigorous research on the collection and getting students and members excited and engaged with art, I was in heaven and convinced this was the place for me. But the internship was eight weeks long. I was unemployed for a month, then took on a temporary position in Development, which as stated, I thought would have been temporary. Anything to work at an amazing museum, right?

Temporary turned into 14 months of photocopying, filing, mailing, and being a Jill-of-all-trades. I felt myself shrinking into my chair over time. I have a degree, I completed a thesis, I am a colorful engaging person. But I sit in a chair for seven hours, staring at a computer, feeling completely unfulfilled. I had little to no responsibility, few projects, and nothing that I am working towards. Nowhere to grow.

My temp job turned into a full-time position, but I did not choose the job, the job chose me. I seldom get into the galleries. And, I'm ashamed to admit this, but I only interact with the art when I schedule the time to do so. I have not visited any other museums in Chicago in the last year. I rarely go to gallery openings in the city. What brought me into this museum, my passion for art, is no longer a part of my day-to-day, and I miss it. It saddens me to know that I have been working so hard, fighting to prove that I matter more than being a temp, but that nothing has really changed since I was hired.

Living Room

In conclusion
It's been incredibly difficult for me to write all of these things down, and publish them on my blog, but I think it needs to be made known that some days, I do get really sad. That while I tend to post happy, upbeat, exciting things, I'm not goofy and upbeat everyday. In fact, most days I become overwhelmed by that one overriding thought of what I will do next. And I mean really do. What will my next job be? Will I go back to school? Will I move out of my apartment? Will I continue to live in Chicago, or will I go somewhere else? And what about Spencer? What about my family? Where will we all end up?

Though I'm not entirely convinced graduate school is the answer, I do know that feeling this way for this long is unnecessary. I don't have to stay in this job, I don't have to stay in Chicago, hell, I don't even have to stay in the nonprofit arts sector. I can do anything. That's one thing my family and my relationship have taught me. I am capable of anything.

I already feel like a little weight has been lifted from penning this down. If you have any suggestions or want to offer me any advice, I'd love to hear from you. I'm sorry to post about being in a funk, but funks happen. As do ruts. And I am so ready to get out of this one.


  1. oh sandy. i am so sorry to hear all of this. these kind of transitional, weird unknowing phases of life just plain fucking SUCK.

    i don't envy you being an adult and witnessing your parents divorce. i am really thankful my parents divorced when i was pretty young, so i just adapted. as an adult who has experienced relationships of your own, i cant imagine how difficult that is do deal with.

    i've never met spencer and obv know very little about your relationship, but you guys seem like a good pair, i hope it works out if that's what's right for you.

    well, the job front...you know i feel you on that. ;)


    1. Oh my god, if only I had friends like you to tell me the first two years post-grad were weird and transient and depressing and crazy! But I feel like going through this early-twenty-something malaise is part of growing up, and growing up ain't easy. That's for damn sure!

      :) Thanks for sharing in my sentiments, it's nice to know that I have people I can relate to on all sorts of fronts! This week is totally hectic, but maybe in early/mid-June we should try to get together!! I'd love to hear all about the business and ABQ!

  2. holy cow sandy, this was both heart breaking and inspiring, as...tacky as that sounds. I went through the whole parents thing not too long ago, and while I of course can't say I know what your situation is like, I do know it really, really sucks. understanding why it happened doesn't really make it any easier at first, but it does, over time.

    I've been in a long distance relationship myself for what I consider to be a year now, although my partner thinks it's been longer (these internet things get tricky pretty quick, don't they). we're both in still in school, so when we do see each other, it's for a long, two week haul. and I get so cranky. "why are you moving my books? quit reorganizing my itunes! why didn't you TELL me you ate the rest of MY hummus?" having someone around constantly in my space isn't something I've gotten used to yet either, and to be honest, I'm not sure I'll be able to. as you said, relationships are extremely dynamic, as are we. I really hope things work out for the best, although what's best is always up to you, of course.

    and hey, your museum experience is like looking into my past, present, and...well...maybe future? I'm still in the midst of my undergraduate degree here in milwaukee, and I have no clue what I should be planning for. part of me wants to go to grad school, to at least TRY to wedge myself somewhere, but then again, how long do I really want to be dirt poor for? I grew up visiting chicago with my dad, and I'd love to move there, but new york city is also an obvious draw.... gah! what's a girl to do? I love working around and in museums, but I've also done played several roles, and like you said, not all of them are fun.

    um, sorry I poured my heart out! I'm just some girl from twitter!! anyway, I know with certainty that no matter what happens, you'll come out of this a stronger person. good things will happen; you're too cool for them not to!

    1. kara! thanks so much for responding. what a relief to know that we are able to communicate in more than 140 characters!! i love that you and lisa, the gal who commented before you have both worked in museums and sort of get where i am coming from. my museum is huge, which means there are a lot of people playing a lot of roles. sometimes it's hard not to get all karl marx and think about being a cog in a machine around here, even in a non-profit! i think that one of my solutions will be to look for work in the arts in an institution of a smaller scale. yes, there are definitely perks to working in a big place like this, but most days it's hard not to feel like i'm blending into the crowd. we'll see, not sure what i'm doing right now.

      and as for spencer, things are where they need to be right now. we do talk about living together, and while i am totally apprehensive of what that might be like, i won't know unless i try it. my previous relationship was off-and-on for six years, and he lived in kentucky the entire time. we never took the plunge and lived in the same city, which might have been our demise or our saving grace. i will never fully know. spencer moving here was a huge and romantic gesture, but it didn't come without its major challenges. every day is work, but good work. kind of like gardening. we reap what we sow.

      and as for the rents, things are okay now. not great, and not totally normal, but close to normal. my family is colorful and a little stressful at times, but they raised me right.

      kara, i'd like to be in touch with you about all of these things. it seems as though we have a lot in common regarding our relationships, family, and interests. if you'd ever like to email or skype, let me know!!

  3. The great thing about suppressing all this information is that it feels less real. It's really not easy to share beyond everything that's happy in life, but after sharing it can only go up from here because you know you're not alone. You have others who are here to listen and support you in every little thing happening in your life. Relationship and life - they're not meant to be easy and these challenges, well they're a in a pain in the ass, but you experience, learn and grow from it all. It may be a tough road through it all, but you'll always have someone here to listen and talk to.

    Thanks for sharing!! XO

    1. Thanks for such a thoughtful and caring comment. Posts like these remind me that I have friends scattered all over Chicago as well as the blogosphere. Your post reminded me that sometimes, though difficult as it may be, leveling with yourself as well as others is important. I often find myself catching up with old friends who, through my blog, have made assumptions about how happy and put together I am. They seem shocked when I admit that I struggle a lot of the time, and that sometimes getting out of bed in the morning is a huge obstacle for me. But to know that we are all facing our challenges and striving is enough for me to keep on pushing!

      I really admire you, Tabitha! Good luck with everything! You are an amazing and strong woman, and I know you will grow into motherhood with grace.