Lessons from my life

I thought I was going to write to Ben this morning. I can’t sleep. I woke up early with my mind a buzz of thoughts. 10 years ago today was the last time I held him. The last time I felt his breath or heard him sigh. The last time. The LAST time. It hurts. It hurts more this year than it has in a very long time. And the past few weeks haven’t exactly helped me work my way thru it all. The promises I made to him keep replaying over in my head. I promised to hand out love like it was candy from my pocket.

I’ve been searching my whole life for something… To feel cared about. To feel loved. Not superficially.. but in that genuine, throw your entire self into it kind of love. The little girl who lives deep within me has been seeking for that feeling to be reciprocated for her whole life. She’s been seeking her place of comfort, her home, since she was 4 years old. She’s just wanted someone to pick her up and put her in their pocket. And that’s not something I admit easily. It feels like a weakness. But it’s not.

And this morning – I had a realization. A big one that left me feeling shook to my core. The only person who will love me that way – is me. Everyone else will have some sort of bias, or agenda… or worse, they will be too afraid and scared to open up and embrace the love that is offered to them… and the little girl will end up feeling hurt, let down, and unsafe.

The thing is – I have the courage to change. I have the courage to get cut down, and to still stand tall. I have the courage to walk in my shoes in a different direction… into the unknown. It’s funny – so many people in my life have commented that I am a force of nature. Stubborn and caring, I rarely back down, rarely lose. If I want something – I go after it and work my ass off to get it. I used to think that my courage came from my absolute faith that love is real, that it’s out there, that if you’re a good girl and you do right by people that it will come. I’m not sure that’s true anymore. I think maybe my best friend is partially right… you have to love yourself. Not because it will then allow love to find you – he’s wrong there – but because maybe it’s the only way you’ll have it at all. Sounds bleak, but I don’t mean it to.

I’ve walked a long road on this road of life. And anyone who walks it with me – whether it’s for a short moment, or for a long while will have to understand that I am not the same girl I used to be. I’ve gotten better over the years. I’ve grown and my perspectives have widened. I’ve learned what grief and loss does to a person. I’ve learned what abusive marriages do to a person. I’ve learned how to love with all of who I am. I’ve learned how to choose myself, my happiness and well-being over the destructive or toxic – no matter how normal they may have seemed to me. Growing up with toxic environments or toxic people shifts your perspectives and makes it hard to know what’s healthy or not. I’ve also learned how to channel so much of my vulnerabilities into a new kind of strength and courage. I know what hides in the dark shadows of life. The monsters that used to hide in my closet or under my bed – are still there. But if you shine brightly and give all you’ve got – the shadows will fall back and the monsters will be forced to stay in their shadows. I may not always have blind faith when it comes to God. He and I have our ups and downs since Ben’s death. But when it comes to my ability to take anything on I have absolute blind faith. When it comes to knowing that the goodness, the care, the love I seek is out there…. I’ve always known that too.

I have no doubt that there will always be people in my life who “love” me. But to them, I’m going to want to say a few things… First off – thank you. Thank you for your spoons of energy, thank you for caring in those moments. Know that I love you too, and truly appreciate the love and care you give back to me. But… If I’m just somebody that you’re gonna leave, or if you’re just some habit that I’ll have to break. If you don’t feel something when you look at me…. just let me down slowly – I’ll be ok.

I’ve got a little girl of my own – I say little – but she’s practically all grown up now. But she looks at me. She thinks I’m this courageous, loving, creative badass. That I’m this amazing strong woman. And yes – for her, I will always be. But what she doesn’t always know – is that the little girl in me is still scared of the monsters in my closet. And now here I am, walking down the road of life trying to show her how to be strong and how to face the monsters from her own closet. Sometimes it feels strange to try and teach my children how to do something that I haven’t yet fully figured out. Talk about the blind leading the blind. ūüôā

It’s interesting to me… how I can feel both scared and broken and still stand tall and feel like I’m unbreakable. It’s such a strange mix. But all of it is truth. I AM a badass. I AM a force of nature. I AM capable of feeling emotions at a depth that rivals some of the best stories from literature. I am also capable of being hurt, even by the best of intentions. I’m capable of being misled. I make mistakes, errors in judgement, I overshare and often over communicate. In my head – it’s better to blurt everything that you’re feeling out and at least allow people to sort through it – than it is to stay quiet and keep it all in. But even that side of me is starting to change as I age. I’m learning that it’s often safer to sit. To ask questions. To listen. But even that fails me at times. Curiosity can kill the cat, after all. And even with all of my listening – I don’t always see the full story.

I don’t always have all the answers. How I wish life had a magic 8 ball at times. Although with my luck – if it did – I’d shake it, and turn it over, only to be told “Reply Hazy – Try again later”.

Coming round to a decision…

I’ve come to a decision about my future. It’s taken me some time. I’ve let things marinate and I’ve given ample opportunity to see change. I’ve worked with my counselor just about every week to better understand my reactions and where I could have done things differently. And after all of it – I’m about ready to file for divorce. I’ve given myself a deadline. I have to have surgery in a few weeks, so I’m giving myself some room there too – to rest, recover and heal. But I’m feeling pretty positive about my decision. I can honestly say I’ve done all I could to make things work from my end. I’ve listened more than I’ve ever listened in my life. And ultimately – I think this may be the reason I’m going through this. The universe has thrown lessons and tests at me throughout my life – and I don’t always understand them in the moment – darn that hindsight being 20/20 … but I think I understand this one.

I needed to learn that you can lead that damn horse to water – but only the horse can make himself drink. I needed to learn to be able to communicate in a better, more productive way. In previous relationships I learned how to have a voice – but often it would come out raging or so filled with emotions that my voice wasn’t clear or crisp. The past year has taught me how to use my voice in a calm, collected, crystal clear fashion. I learned how to set boundaries, how to find an awareness of my own needs and be able to voice them. And – in the end – I learned how to choose myself, my health, my emotional well being, and ultimately, my future happiness- over what would have amounted to death by a thousand paper cuts.

It’s odd – in my work life – things could not be better. I won a manager award on Wednesday. Recognized for being a top leader, transforming a team, and inspiring others to become better leaders. It felt good… but bittersweet in some ways. How can I be getting it so right at work – but so wrong at home?

The kids are happy and healthy… Well-loved and thriving. My puppies are also doing damn well- although my youngest pup still has the energy of a tornado. hehe. That’s what 12 week old puppies do tho, so it’s to be expected! So maybe I’m not getting it wrong at “home” – but I sure do question my ability to get it right when it comes to matters of the heart.

I’m hopeful for 2020. I’m going to continue to focus on embracing my own well being. I’m going to keep the trend of being authentically me. But I am also going to work on re-establishing my tribe. Somehow, in the past year, I’ve let a lot of my friendships falter. Not by doing something bad – just from general neglect and lack of attention. My focus was elsewhere, and I’m feeling the loss. I miss the “family” that I built around me. Not all are blood – in fact, very little are truly family members. My tribe was a group of people who became as close as family to me – and in all truth – I miss them. There are only a very small circle of people I talk to these days – and even out of that circle, only 2 who know what’s really going on with me. It’s kind of a lonely existence when you’re in limbo. And I’ve never been a very patient woman when it comes to my own path. I get frustrated when my dreams aren’t moving along at the pace I think they should. I know – it’s silly.

Well – I should get my butt moving. Time to dive into another day at work. The day beckons… but please know, to all you who read this silly little blog – I appreciate you. I’m thankful that you’re there – reading the things I toss into the void. Have a great day!

Love, getting older, and trust

I’ve spent some time with my grandparents within the past month.¬† Real time.¬† Where we sat and chat and had no time restraints.¬† I’m grateful that I’ve been able to take the time to prioritize my family in that way.¬† I love them with all my heart.

Something that has struck me and left me processing for a bit now, is what I see in their relationship to each other.¬† They are all they have left, of a life that was rich with friends and loved ones.¬† They are now at an age, where they watch who’s left of their friends pass away.¬† Moving on to bigger adventures in the grand circle of life.¬† It’s a sad, lonely, and quite frankly, a depressing time of one’s life it would seem.¬† So of course, the love my grandparents share is magnified that much more.¬† They’ve been through everything together.¬† They hold hands when they get their hair cut.¬† They are constantly talking about each other and thinking about each other when they are apart.

It’s left me thinking about my own future a little bit.¬† For one, I feel this sudden urge to make sure my retirement accounts are healthy – holy moly does that level of care cost a FORTUNE or what?!¬† But beyond that, I can’t help but wonder what my future as an old lady will be like?¬† Will I live in a nice assisted living place like my grandparents?¬† What will I be like when I’m an old lady?¬† Will I be more cantankerous?¬† More kooky?¬† More sweet?¬† ūüôā

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Who will be by my side?

Of course, when you start to look ahead, you can’t help but also look behind.¬† I think about the fact that so much in my life has changed from where I was 10, even 15 years ago.¬† How young and innocent I was.¬† Naive to much of what life could, and would throw my way; but I’ve always handled it all.¬† I’m damn proud of that.¬† And I don’t think I’d trade anything from it.¬† EXCEPT one thing.¬† Well – ok maybe two.¬† One – I’d love to have my body back from my early twenties.¬† Uh… yes Please!?!¬† But two… Somewhere along the lines I’ve lost my ability to trust someone else completely.¬† And I miss that.

I sat today and tried to pinpoint when I lost it.¬† Like it was a coin from my pocket that had somehow slipped out and run about loose.¬† But it wasn’t like that.¬† I think it was more like how a rocky cliffside will slowly erode away from the ocean waves that pound on it.¬† The more people I’ve put faith and trust in over the years who’ve let me down, have made it so that I’m a bit leery to be blindly handing out my trust anymore.¬† And that’s really quite a sad thing.¬† That’s me changing and adapting due to shitty people.¬† It’s perfectly normal of course, life experiences teach you, after all.

I’ve been thinking a lot about¬† weddings and relationships.¬† I think it’s because of something my grandmother brought up. 70+ years together.¬† Just Wow.¬† I was admiring their wedding photo and couldn’t help but think that they both, for sure, upheld their wedding vows.

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I always upheld mine.¬† That I can say without uncertainty.¬† When I think about my own future, it’s dawned on me that I’ve never really thought about what I’d want someone to say to me now.¬† Because of my own experiences – I think I’d want to write them – rather than have someone say them for me.¬† Because the standard I will love, honor, cherish, obey …. insert the rest of the standard bit here… isn’t quite right for me anymore.

Yes, I would hope to be loved, honored, cherished… i’m pretty sure they cut out obey now… so i won’t get into that one… but I think I’d also want a few other guidelines in there.¬† Ones I would hope would be a mutually spoken thing of course.

8 Vow additions for a future husband & wife:

I promise to Respect.
I would hope that my future husband would promise to always respect me and our relationship.

I promise to Trust and never do anything to cause that level of trust to falter.

I promise to always put your needs at the same priority level as my own.¬† If I’m going to be “selfish” it will be for us – not just myself.

I promise to always be stubborn and to never quit trying and putting effort into us and our lives we’re building together.¬† Even when things get tough or tense.

I promise to always communicate and be transparent. You are the one person I am not allowed to hide anything from.  I will always try and make sure that we are communicating in a healthy manner.

I promise to never judge you.  I will always empathize with you, and try and understand from your perspective.

I promise to always prioritize our sex life.  To be affectionate with you.  To touch you and hug you and love you. Because this is something I will also need and crave.

I also promise to adventure with you, to make you laugh, to sing to you, to lift you up and encourage you to spread your wings.  To be your cheerleader when you need it, and a silent gaming partner when you need that too.

 

Hmm… yea, I suppose that covers quite a bit.¬† Makes me wonder how people end their vows these days – and yes, I realize I could go search that.¬† Do they say till death do us part anymore?¬† Or is it till divorce or death do us part?¬† LOL.¬† Ok, ok, I shouldn’t laugh at that – divorce is no laughing matter at all.¬† As obviously, I speak from personal experience there.¬† But do people work loopholes into their vows now?

Can you imagine what some of the worst vows out there could be like?¬† I take you… till death, divorce, sickness, fatness, or a really cute rich guy comes along…

funny-marriage-cartoon

Ugh.¬† I would certainly hope that doesn’t happen.¬† Would seem like a sad state of affairs for the “sanctity of marriage”.

Is it wrong for me to long for this to be a more simple thing?¬† I suppose there is no such thing.¬† All you can do is hope for the best.¬† Hope that the right person will come along and sweep you off your feet.¬† That they’ll be the one to open your eyes to everything that’s good and wonderful in the world.¬† And who knows – maybe they’ll even be a master at making grilled cheese.¬† ūüėČ

Goodnight Neverland.  Much love to you.

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When I’m asked about Marriage…

My brother came to visit this weekend.¬† It was lovely to hang out and not have anything else going on (for once).¬† To get to sit down, chit chat about everything and nothing, watch a flick, eat some good food… it was needed.¬† ūüôā

One of the topics that came up – quite often, actually – was marriage.¬† His in particular, but also the concept in general.¬† Would I ever get married again?¬† I think I’d resigned myself to stop giving advice in regards to marriage about 4-5 years ago.¬† I think it was the moment my second marriage ended that it dawned on me that perhaps I shouldn’t be giving out advice.¬† That maybe marriage wasn’t meant for me¬† ūüėĬ† But that’s ultimately, selling myself short.

My first marriage – I was young.¬† I’d been with the man for 6 years and felt that I was making a sound decision.¬† And – in the scheme of things – had I not married him, I’d not have had my daughter.¬† So – I can’t say it was all bad.¬† And how could I have possibly known that marriage would turn the man into someone else?¬† We were only married for two years – so in general – I don’t typically count it for much.

My second marriage lasted 12 years.¬† I came into my own.¬† Grew up.¬† Really learned what it meant to become a wife… and a mother.¬† I was good at it.¬† All of it.¬† I packed lunches with love notes, I kept a tidy house, always had everyone’s favorite food and beverages stocked on hand… Anything that was asked of me – was handled.¬† I am naturally quite affectionate and always up for anything – be it adventuring somewhere, or snuggles on a couch.¬† I was always loyal and never strayed.¬† Did my best to never do anything that would disrespect myself or my relationship.¬† It was this relationship that taught me the true meaning behind being a partner.¬† What it meant to stay … even when everything tumbled around you.¬† Perhaps I’m an odd duck – I don’t look back at my marriage as a failure at all.¬† I look back and see it as a stepping stone for me becoming who I am today.¬† A strong, independent, caring, giving, funny woman.¬† Someone who always tries to see the good in others or in a situation.¬† And in many ways – I was always her… but time has helped me in many ways.¬† I’m more patient now.¬† I listen better.¬† I speak up more and try and compromise more.¬† I’ve also learned that all of those expectations that I had of myself in my marriage … were both not enough – and too much.¬† You see… I could have never known that we’d have a son.¬† I’d have never been able to see into the future and see how losing that son would break us all.¬† What’s interesting tho… we’re not broken anymore.

My ex and I manage to co-parent pretty well.¬† Of course there are times when we frustrate each other… but don’t we all?¬† That is the joy of being human.¬† We work together as a team to provide for our kids in the best way that we can.¬† And for the most part… I consider myself lucky to have him in my life.¬† I know that my children will never wonder, as I did, why their dad doesn’t want to be in their life.¬† He wants it.¬† He tells them regularly how much he loves them and I’m sure he wishes he had the ability to provide more.¬† I respect him for that.¬† And what’s interesting – he makes a point to let me know just how much he respects me for all that I did.¬† I know his fiance gets uncomfortable when she hears him say how amazing of a wife I was… I wish she understood that him sharing that doesn’t in any way undermine his love and devotion for her.¬† And it’s not him comparing her and I in any way.¬† She’s amazing – and we’re all incredibly grateful that she’s in our lives.

Would I marry again?¬† ¬†Yes.¬† And that’s a resounding YES.¬† But with lots of caveats and me saying “however and but”.¬† When it was brought up this weekend, my response was leaning more towards a NO.¬† It surprised my brother to hear it.¬† He saw me when I was married.¬† He knows what kind of partner I am to someone.¬† My NO wasn’t because I’m scared of it.¬† I would love to find myself in a situation in the future where I had a partner.¬† A true partner.¬† Someone to laugh with and grow old with.¬† To cook for and travel with.¬† Someone who actually understands me (as I’m not convinced either of my ex husbands ever really did).¬† Someone who lets me into the deeper darker regions of their heart – someone who trusts that I would never intentionally hurt them and would lay my life on the line to keep them safe and happy.¬† Ultimately – someone who feels as I do.¬† But the thing is… I’d have to be absolutely sure that they reciprocated those thoughts and feelings with me.¬† I’d have to feel safe again.¬† Safe enough to allow myself to be vulnerable again.¬† It’s possible… and ultimately, I know the right man is out there for me.¬† So who knows… maybe some day.

I think the other thing that doesn’t sit well with me – is what’s the damn rush?¬† LOL.¬† I mean – yea – i’m the girl who likes to know where she stands in a relationship.¬† In fact, I’d say for women like me ,it’s why we ask to put labels on our relationships to begin with – so we understand what’s expected of us.¬† What role are we to play in this relationship?¬† Once we know … we get to what I like to call “the coasting stage”.¬† This stage is bliss.¬† Where you can spend many years happily coasting along with someone.¬† To me – this is the zone to aim for.¬† If things progress from there – cool beans – but if they don’t – i’m ok with that too!¬† Because at that point – you’re happy in the coasting stage so it doesn’t really matter.

I really AM an odd duck.¬† Between my buddy M, my brother, and a few other male friends, I’ve had the privilege of seeing what it’s like to date women.¬† And can I just say – for the record – Women can be NUTS.¬† Seriously … nuts.¬† Yea – men can be crazy too – don’t even GET me started on some of the horrendous dates I’ve been on.¬† But some of the stories I’ve heard – some of the behavior I’ve witness from my fellow ladies… DAMN.¬† And if that’s what men have been dealing with – then I’d wager that dating me would come as a bit of a shock to the system.¬† As I’m VERY different.¬† But then again – they’d probably be more likely to assume I’m just like every other woman out there – and not likely get the chance to show them that I’m not.

So … brother dear… when I don’t give you advice on your new marriage… it’s not because I don’t care, nor is it because I lack advice to actually GIVE.¬† Marriages… hell – relationships are all about growth and learning.¬† These tests you face – are yours, and I’ll cheer you on from the sidelines – but I won’t necessarily share with you.¬† And who knows – maybe someday – i’ll join you in the journey again.¬† I’m pretty damn happy and content where things are right now, and that’s certainly enough for me.

 

Processing… Please hold.

I got into a conversation with someone this morning, they were telling me of a conversation they had with my daughter. ¬†Apparently there were things she didn’t want to talk to me about, simply because she worries that when I am stressed, I may not be able to handle it. ¬†It surprised me to hear. ¬†There is something strange and unsettling to hear that your child thinks you’re weak. ¬†Or at the very least, sees a weakness that perhaps you don’t. ¬†I don’t quite know how to fully process that. ¬†But I know that I will.

It led to me thinking through all that I’ve been through. ¬†My brain immediately went back to Ben. ¬†The night we knew something was wrong and raced him, in the dead of the night, to the hospital. That drive will forever be etched into my brain. ¬†The songs that played quietly on the radio, The ex’s steady calm. ¬†Funny, the man would occasionally drive me crazy with his immaturities and lack of self control, but when everything fell apart… when the hour was dire… and we stood on the edge of a very scary storm… he was someone else. ¬†Someone I respected. ¬†I don’t think I ever told him that. ¬†I don’t think I ever told him how, even now, after all this time… I trust him more than I trust myself. ¬†That deep in my heart, he was my very best friend. ¬†I wish I could help him understand how much I loved him. ¬†I don’t think he ever really knew. ¬†And telling him now would be taken weirdly. ¬†I guess I can’t take back the words I never said. ¬†We both had to take on and face the scariest thing we could have possibly imagined. ¬†A situation where we had no control, we were completely helpless – our heart’s were in the doctor’s hands. ¬†Doctors we trusted, because of an ideal in our heads – that somehow – doctor’s were infallible. ¬†Oh how I regret feeling that way. I’ve never felt so ill-prepared when we learned of their mistakes. ¬†And we were both hurt in the most unimaginable ways by it all. Scarred from the pain in many ways.

I thought back to the many days and nights where I would work and work and work… not because I’m a strange person who doesn’t want to have a life or free time… but because I knew it would put food on the table or give me the ability to get the kids gifts for christmas. ¬†Those were the years when the ex and I would eat ramen or spaghetti o’s so the kids could have balanced meals.¬†These were times when we had so much debt over our heads that we would have to ignore a ringing phone. There was always a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that the world would crash down around us because we couldn’t pay a bill.

I thought back to days when depression and stress rang so loudly inside my head that I couldn’t even see myself within the cloud I was in. ¬†When I would lay in bed and hide from the world, because it seemed smarter than going out and being hurt by it. When a person loses sight of who they are, and it takes them as long as I have to re-find yourself… there tends to be some disconnects. ¬† I’ve changed in big ways since I last saw myself. ¬†So it’s sometimes hard to trust my own intuition. Thankfully, In many ways, those changes were good. ¬†I love myself now, and I know I didn’t before. I’m more laid back about so many things. ¬†Life is going to happen… you can stress about it, or you can try and find a way to enjoy it. ¬†And now, more than ever before, I’m aware of how strong I really am. ¬†I’m sure most people have no idea the amount of fortitude and strength they actually possess.

It’s interesting, the stages you go through in life. ¬†For every stage of stress or hell, there seems to be an opposing, equally joyous time to remember. ¬†I suppose my knowing that is what keeps me going, keeps me strong. ¬†Because, you see… I can’t give up. ¬†I won’t give up. ¬†It won’t happen on my watch! ¬†I want to see what happens at the end of the story – and we’re not there yet. ¬†Not even half way.

I suppose it’s also why I’m upset to hear that my child thinks I cannot handle hearing whatever detail she’s working through. ¬†Please child… I’ve walked through hell – I think I can handle a little teenage highschool¬†drama.

Have a great day Neverland!

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