Why My Heart Breaks All Over Again (plus $11 polka dot dress)

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Some days I feel like super woman or at least I pretend I am.  Other days, not so much.  Just when I think I’m making progress and healing, Milan starts to ask questions and my heart breaks all over again.  She’s confused and I simply don’t have the answers.

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The problem I’m facing is that I refuse to be dishonest with her but at the same time I can’t exactly explain to her what’s going on.  It would be slightly different if the situation was straight forward but unfortunately that is not the case.  It’s much more complicated than you can possibly imagine.  How do you tone something of this magnitude down for a three year old?  You can’t.  It’s too much even for a grown adult to process much less than a toddler.  I know she is very intuitive and obviously knows something is going on.  How can she not?  She only sees one parent.

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I wish the situation was different but I can only control my actions.  I pray that she is not affected by all of this but how can she not be?  All I can do is provide her with all the love I possibly have and surround her with people that love and care for her.  Am I able to give her enough love and affection to make up for what is missing in her life?  I don’t know.  I can only hope and pray at this point.  Some days I say to myself, I can do this.  I got this.  Everything will be ok.  Then she looks at me with her big brown eyes and asks why this or why that and when will…then my heart shatters into a million pieces all over again.  How do you even keep it together when this happens?  You simply can’t.

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The hardest part about this journey is the pain I feel for Milan.  My own heartache, I can deal with and heal.  But when this gut wrenching pain, confusion and poison trickles down to your one and only child, it’s devastating to say the least.

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Everyone says she will be fine and that I will be fine.  We both will be fine.  But will we?  To be honest, some days I’m not sure how I will be able to pull this off.  There is one thing I do know for certain.  The love I have for her is bigger than anything and everything in this world.  I will fight for her until my last dying breath and do my best to make sure she has the best possible life.  Thank you for your continued prayers and support. XO

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Dress: Asymmetrical polka dot dress (size small) | Shoes: Sam Edelman sandals (another great option HERE) | Jacket: Jessica Simpson white denim jacket (size XS, another option HERE) | Bag: Time and Tru Leigh tote (avail in 9 colors)

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  1. Can you be fine? Yeah. Will you? That depends on a lot of choices in the future just because that’s human life. We can’t design a perfect outcome. All you can do is try your best to give Milan a foundation of tools she can fall back on whenever challenges arise.

    My parents separated when I was 3. My earliest memories of my father are his temper, so I was relieved there was no more yelling in the house. Before he was out, I’d put on hearing protection headphones, my Fisher Price record player full blast, and have my door closed to hear as little of him screaming as possible. They divorced when I was 5. Then my dad was a dick about visitation to my mom until I was 13. Because of his temper, I chose not to talk to a mediator when I was 14 to stop visitation. At that time in CA, I would have to state my reasons with him there and I was too afraid of how he’d react.

    I was raised in church and that foundation got me to 18 and freedom. I battled depression at 16 because of him and saw a therapist for a couple months. Once I turned 18, I didn’t see my father for a year, and then contact was limited for a long time. I needed to have power over how that relationship went.

    Single mom – on the one hand, she was super capable. On the other, she ended up putting so much on me that at the same time I was a young adult with a social life, she had no close friends. Especially any other single women that understood being alone in your 40s. She eventually became someone I didn’t recognize and did awful things. We haven’t spoken in 20 years.

    My father died in 2010. At the funeral, his coworkers came up to me and said he talked about me a lot. I thought they must mean my half sister. No, he had photos of me in his office and it was me. I never knew how he felt until then. As a grown adult, I see all sides of him. I can chuckle about his funny quirks, appreciate the times he tried to awkwardly connect, be angry about the past emotional abuse, and regret that we ran out of time to remake our relationship all at the same time.

    My mom did a lot of good in my pre-adult years. She wasn’t taken advantage of by mechanics or dealerships. We put together furniture ourselves. We talked about all kinds of issues. She was open about the female body. Took me to 47/50 states. Kept a balaced check book and paid her bills on time and kept me fed, even when I had a raging appetite as a teen. Encouraged reading and music and trying and learning. And she played with me until I was too old for it. It was also important to her that I knew and met good examples of men to counteract my father’s example. And she gave me my first journal at 14 and I’ve written every day since I was 15. Makes a world of difference in sorting out problems and staying sane and knowing myself.

    All that to say, that even if things get hard and life doesn’t go like it ‘should’, if the foundation is there, Milan will be okay. Keep your heart open and you will be, too.

    • Hi Carla,

      I don’t know what to say other than you are amazing for sharing your story with me. I’ve read it over and over and over. It was as if I walked through your life for a split second. I’m honored that you would be so open and it gives me hope. You are right – if the foundation is there, Milan will be ok. I’ll do my very best to make sure we build a solid and strong foundation. I love the journal idea for Milan when she’s older and I actually want to start doing it myself. Sending so much love to you. Thank you again for taking the time to write this. XO

  2. It’s hard now, but you will look back on this when she’s grown up and simply think “I did it!”

    My sister and I were raised by a single mom. All of us are first generation immigrants. We lived in NYC, on a single paycheck from a housekeeping job. My father is now a recovering alcoholic. He never cared for us, and was a tremendously selfish asshole. I have a memory of him bringing home food and instructing my mom, my sister and I that we weren’t allowed to eat it, it was all for him. When I was around 11 years old, my mom has had enough and finally put him out. Even to this day I can’t call him “dad”. I call him by his first name, he doesn’t deserve to be called “dad”. He still thinks my mom wronged him for putting her kids ahead of him and kicking him out. I honestly have not realized until recently (an I’m in my thirties) what a bad-ass, f*ing amazing woman my mom is. There were times we faced food and housing insecurities, but my mom worked her ass off to provide. She worked 7 days a week, cleaning houses to make sure we didn’t go hungry. She got sick, and continues to have health issues , but she still got up, (and still does each day) all the same and went out there with all her might. One of the biggest marks of her resilience and strength is that she never complained, she never asked “Why me?” She just did it, everything she had to do, she faced with courage and calm. She is one of the kindest and loving people I know. Recently one of her sisters made a comment, something to the effect of “I guess your American dream didn’t come true” all because she doesn’t own a car, or a house. I thought about that and all I could tell her was that the way I see it, she is the most successful woman I know. She raised two kids, by herself, in a foreign country, with no education and very little language. That to me tells more of her success than any car or house she could ever own. She is such an amazing mom, that I don’t even wish that the situation with my dad were different for myself. I just wish life were easier for her and that she would always know that what she did was enough. She’s close to retirement now, and as always, she still worries about money. My husband knows that whens he retires, she’s going to have to come live with us because she won’t be able to support herself. I am going to make sure she finally lives like the Queen she is. My mom is my hero and I finally understand fully what that means!

    Why am I sharing this? Because that’s how Milan will see you when she’s older. Teach her the value of being kind, working hard. Don’t feel like you have to give her every toy and experience out there to compensate. Instead, teach her to value the small things and moments in life- because sometimes all you have is a plate full of food and that’s enough. She’s going to be such a strong woman, because she will see you being strong, and she won’t know anything else.

    • What a beautiful tribute! I hope you will show this post to your mother!

    • Hi Anna,

      I’ve read your comment over a dozen times and each time it brings chills down my spine and tears in my eyes. Your mom is an amazing woman and she did a phenomenal job raising you and your sister. I can just tell by your words that you are a wonderful soul. Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your story with me. Sending lots of love to you and your family. XO

  3. You are Milan’s rock, she will look to you to see how you respond. She is too young to have all the details but find an explanation that she will understand and satisfy her curiosity. Share your pain w/ and adult and spare her all your feelings of sadness and uncertainty. I divorced my husband when my kids were 9 months and 2 years old. I had to explain the situation to them. I discussed different types of love and that worked. Every year they asked me the same questions because they were able to understand a little more. i answered the questions w/ a little more detail because they were ready for more. My guess is she is very bright and perceptive as most first borns are. i am an elementary counselor and would be more that happy to talk w/ you any time. I am 68 and have been thru more than my share of life experiences. you are welcome to talk to me any time, i am retired.

    • Hi Andrea,
      Thank you so much for all of this and for sharing your story. I’m going to edit your phone number to protect your identity but will save it for myself. Sending a huge hug for supporting me. XO

  4. From my experience. The end of the marriage does not mean the end of the life. It means a beginning of something different instead.

    Managing your child’s life with only one parent is much easier. There is no second opinion around, and your words are the final. Think about it this way.
    The period of separation is tough, but once you get used to your new situation you will feel better.

    It is sad to see such a nice person as you are in that state. I hope you will get over it soon!

    • Hi Tatiana,

      Thank yo so much and I couldn’t agree more. For awhile it felt like death and some days it still does. I’m just moving forward and focusing on Milan 🙂

  5. I can’t possibly give you any advice because I’ve never been through anything even remotely similar but it’s nice that you’re honest with her. Even if there are things that you find it hard to explain, being honest about it is the best choice. Have you considered talking to a therapist that specializes in children? They might be helpful in giving you advice.

  6. Girl ….. I have been in your shoes! It feels as if the whole world has stopped and nothing will EVER be the same. One is heartbroken, and that pain comes and goes in waves. I was ashamed and embarrassed that my marriage was broken and there was nothing I could do to bring it back. I begged and pleaded, even willing to take him back after infidelity numerous times over the 27 years that I was married. The last go round was the final straw that broke MY back. That was now 4 years ago and although I still think of what my life may have been like, I am forever grateful that I he didn’t ask to come back. My children seem so happy, in fact they tell me all the time that things are so much better now. This will be one of the toughest journeys you will make in your lifetime but YOU can do it! Talk to friends and a counselor (if you haven’t already), they will help tremendously.

    • Hi Tina!
      OMG thank you for sharing this with me and for giving me hope. It is by far the toughest journey but I believe that it’s for the best and one day I will look back and thank my lucky stars. So happy you have a happy ending and your kids are happy. That’s all that matters 🙂

  7. I can’t address your situation, especially since you said it is very complicated, but can you boil down your answers to short sentences? Again, I don’t know your situation, but for example, if the question is “where is Daddy?” can you reply, “Daddy doesn’t live here anymore,” or “Daddy lives far away now,” or the like? If the next question is “why not?” can you simply say “because he likes it better there.” You know your circumstances and your daughter better than anyone else, so I’m not presuming to give advice, just a suggestion. Beyond that, speaking to a professional on how to address her very normal questions would probably be the next best step. My very best to you and Milan.

    • I’m very sorry for what you and Milan are going through. I understand you wanting to be honest with Milan but it is never fair or wise to involve children in adult matters. They don’t have the cognitive ability to understand it. Whenever there is a divorce or a separation, children will wonder if it is their fault and will try to find ways to blame themselves. It’s very important to tell Milan that you and her daddy both love her very much and that won’t chsnge just because they two of you are no longer living in the same house.

      • To say something like “daddy doesn’t live here anymore because he likes it better where he is” is not a psychologically healthy response. In a young mind, that translates to “daddy didn’t want to be with me and he left and he likes where her is better now because I’m not there. I must have made him leave. He must not love me. I must be bad.” Please seek out some local help for yourself so that you have some support and are given some guidance on keeping your precious little Milan psychologically and physically healthy. You are both in my prayers.

        • Sorry, I didn’t intend to give bad advice. What worked for my children was giving them the shortest possible answers (especially at age 3) and plenty of love and understanding, so I thought I would pass that along. Of course, a professional will provide the best advice for Annie and Milan.


          • Hi Marie,

            No need to apologize and it wasn’t bad advice. I really appreciate everything you wrote and shared. XO

        • Thank you, Annie. Now I feel a little better about it. I only meant the best for you and Milan. xoxox

  8. Hello Annie. I have been following your blog for close to 5 years and have fallen in love with your style. As a petite person I find that your choices are impeccable and have saved many pictures of your outfit choices for reference for my own daily style ideas and selections. After following and reading your posts, I now relate to you as a person who could be one of my friends who experiences real-life issues. I have totally fallen in love with your ongoing perseverance, strength and vulnerability. I’m sending you a HUMONGOUS virtual hug. I have never responded to any post before because I value my privacy and do not subscribe to any social media, however your openness and honesty regarding your personal life have prompted me to reach out to you. I am wishing you ALL the blessings, good luck and success you’re due and I want to let you know that you ABSOLUTELY deserve all of it for your tenacity, perseverance, and triple-hard work!!!!

    • Hi Renee,

      First, thank you SO MUCH for following me for so many years! I’m so touched. Second, thank you for my virtual hug, your kind words and taking the time to comment for the first time. Means SO SO FREAKING much to me – you have no idea! XOXO

  9. Hi! I’m not sure on all that’s going on but kind of.
    -May if you can set up weekend visit or visit during the week…phonecalls (w/ other parent)
    -If you two can begin to talk to her in simple language about what is going on it where the other parent is may help.
    -Maybe books (her age) on what is going on that she can relate to…
    -Maybe a pic/or family photo album she can look at…and u can talk to her about where the other parent is.
    -Maybe a family or therapist/ counselor/or play therapy (dolls/puppets) to help?
    Just some thoughts/ideas… that may help with her questioning.

    • * Just for FYI, I do teach/work with this age, so just sending some thoughts/ideas…
      (My suggestions from previous post…)
      Wishing you all the best…💓💓💓


  10. Just take it one day at a time. She will not remember this time and her norm will be you and her. You are stronger than you believe. Prayers

  11. I am speaking from the heart and an experienced life, that all this will be but a memory to her. She will only look to you for comfort, stability and a sense of security. All her questions should be addressed in a positive manner with little information. Don’t promise anything and turn her thoughts away from the situation with your love and compassion.
    I did this for my son till he was 5. I left my drug abusing/violent ex-husband when my son was just 10 mos old. With the clothes on my back and belongings in garbage bags. Believe when I say, you will persevere. He’d ask questions, I would not answer the why or where, just that we are here together and all you need is me. Many years that boy sat by a mailbox because he was promised something that never came. I was there to pick up the pieces and sweep them into the garbage.
    He is 30 now, I met a wonderful loving man when he was 5, and that has been his dad ever since. He’s grateful for him and class him “dad” and does not acknowledge his birth father, because he doesn’t do what a real dad does.
    You will have days where it seems impossible to go on, but trust me, with faith and strength for you and your daughter, you will find it. Keep your chin up, because she is watching. Wrap you arms around her and love. Every single day.
    Prayers for you and your little one. You have a great community keep watch over both of you. 💕

    • Hi Areina,

      My heart was so heavy reading your story. Thank you for sharing this with me and for the amazing advice and words of wisdom. Thank you for the prayers and support too – means so much to Milan and I. <3

  12. Annie, my daughter was 16 months old when her dad and I separated. I said and felt the same things that you have posted. There were many horrifying things going on at that time – none of which I could control. When she started talking, she would ask me questions as well. Many times I had to reply ‘I don’t understand why’ or ‘I don’t know why he would say/do this.’ In reality, I had my version of ‘why’ but it would do no good to try to shape her thoughts about her dad. There would be a day that she would do that on her own and I may not like it but I had to equip her and teach her how to manage difficult situations. I stayed focused on that – the future when she was would need to make decisions for herself without me tainting the waters because of my hurt. While he was in her life when we separated, I did not know if he would stay in it. And if he did not stay in it, I did not know if he would come back. So I basically prayed every day, sometimes during every quiet moment I had to myself. I would pray that He would ‘blind’ my daughter to any act/word/behavior by her dad which would not serve to glorify God. I covered her in prayer always. And I have to tell you that even though it was very bad in the beginning, it got MUCH worse later and then even worse. However, since I did make my hurt, my daughter’s hurt and she knew that I would love her regardless of her decisions (even if I disagreed) and she kne knew how to manage difficult emotions (prayer!), she became a beautiful young woman. She is 23, graduated from college, earns her own way in life, and can love others. Yes she is still figuring out her dad but understands his limitations. The bonus is that she and I are extremely close and I chose to love and trust again. All of that hurt and pain was worth it.

    Keep trusting God and lean into Him. He hears your cries and prayers.

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      Thank you for sharing your story with me. Loved what you wrote, the advice you gave and your strength. Sounds like you did an amazing job raising your daughter. Thank you for the hope and support. Sending lots of love. XO

  13. Hope you are getting help and consulting with family, faith leaders, and/or therapists about all of this! Your followers are behind you, but there’s only so much we can do. After going through something like this myself I wish I had accepted help from the people around me, instead of trying to go it mostly alone.

  14. Annie,
    Sending you and Milan all the love, support, prayers, and well wishes. You both will make it through and be fine!!

  15. Ergänzung zu meinem vorherigen Post:Nach weiterem wilden Pröbeln, sieht es schon etwas besser aus. Habe nun beide varianten im header verlinkt. Das Gästebuch single ist schon mal nicht schlecht (der Platz von der rechten sidebar wird noch nicht gebraucht), doch das mit den zwei sidebars funktioniert noch nicht richtig. Bin also noch immer froh, wenn du mir helfen kannst ??

  16. I’ve fallen behind on my blog reading…so I’m quite late…but as one being in your shoes for the last seven years: kids are more resilient than we give them credit for [people told me but I didn’t see how in the beginning]…the hard/sad/etc. ebbs and flows but it’s part of the journey [which I remind myself of when I want to control every detail or react to something bothering her]. Adversity comes to us all in various forms…I remind myself that a ‘changed home’ is part of hers [in my view a better home because we dispense with the toxicity!]. Age appropriate honesty also comes in waves…mine is approaching a new wave of it :\ and honestly, I’m not all that ready!

    My prayers are with you and Milan! May God bless you richly!

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