Kicking the Dysfunction Addiction

If you stand under a bird’s nest, you increase your chances of getting pooped on.

I don’t think this is a real ancient Chinese proverb…but it could be…

This insightful analogy came to me on a walk around the block tonight with my adorable, stubborn, sweet and spicy 2 year old lovie hobbit. We came to a place on the sidewalk with quite a bit of bird droppings. Of course – directly above was the source…a nest. I’ll save you the suspense…we did not get pooped on.

But if we had hesitated – we probably would have gotten it – the chances were definitely high. It made me start thinking about choices…the obvious or not so obvious choices that we make in life.

Specifically – about how it seems like I had been standing under the birds’ nest of life for so many years.

Perhaps I was thinking I was standing under the strong shelter of a tree. But the real truth was that I was just standing there…getting pooped on! Now, the OBVIOUS thing would be to move on – real quick like…and get out from under that nest, right?

I was talking to a lady last night. She had heard about my story. She knew my background of physical and verbal abuse, neglect, sexual trauma, abandonment…etc. What an ugly list. She wanted to talk to me to try to understand her adopted daughter better. Yes – I am like a carnie attraction…I may start charging fees…people might come from miles around to see the incredible freak show bird poop of life survivor…

This young woman is apparently living in dysfunction and continues to make really bad choices…choices that seem so obviously wrong to “normal” folks. Well, unfortunately, if you have suffered enough dysfunction and trauma…you end up feeling comfortable in it, which means…function and healthy life choices are UN comfortable at the very least – and more accurately – completely foreign.

I know. I was drawn to dysfunction for so many years of my life and made some obvious bad choices just because I really didn’t know how to make GOOD choices. Or let me put it this way – it was so foreign and uncomfortable that I didn’t know I was even capable or worthy of good choices! Good choices and happiness were for “Other” people…not ME!

I stayed under that bird’s nest because perhaps I felt like I deserved it, perhaps it felt safe…perhaps I just didn’t realize I was FREE to walk away from it! I had placed some invisible leash around myself chaining myself to that spot. Maybe I stayed there because I thought I was supposed to. Maybe I thought I was being strong, loyal…selfless…a martyr. It was a little of all of that.

What looks so obvious and easy to everyone else, is surprisingly difficult for dysfunction addicts. It is like trying to remove a favorite pee soaked blanket from a toddler…well, perhaps, just MY toddler. She throws a major tantrum clinging to that nasty blanket as I am trying to pry it out of her hands just to wash it.

Dysfunction clings to dysfunction. What is that saying about my toddler? She is 2. When someone is 32 and still clinging to a pee soaked blanket…there is a problem.

If you have not been in a truly dysfunctional home or relationship – it looks really ridiculous when you see a woman in a situation where she is being abused, manipulated, lied to and even possibly beaten – and she chooses to STAY in it! That’s because it IS ridiculous. HOWEVER…you also don’t see the invisible chain of dysfunction around her neck holding her there. Only she has that key, but she usually doesn’t know it.

And if she does know it…she may not be brave enough to make a break for it. It takes real guts and bravery to break out of jail. It takes planning, intention, a goal, action – with the risk of consequences or repercussions.

Too many women never find that key. I am one of the really lucky ones and I know it. Honestly…I feel very much like I had an addiction to dysfunction. I had to wean myself off of it. It was a very real battle. But the first part was acknowledging it. Here are a few key steps that I think I have identified in my own experience:

1. Admit and see the truth. That means you have to let yourself SEE the ridiculousness of your situation and poor choices.

2. Believe. Want better for yourself. After you have honestly surveyed the situation THEN you have to honestly want to be free of it – and believe you are worthy of it. Happiness and freedom are free and there for the taking…this means even for you.

3. Stop being a victim. It’s ok to admit you have been wronged, but at some point you have start claiming responsibility for CONTINUING the cycle of dysfunction and see the need to stop it.

4. Surrender. This requires humility…as in COMPLETE humility. Basically your pride has to die. This is painful…very, very painful. It is like being detoxified and can make you sick at first, but then when you have completely surrendered…what peace there is!

5. ACT! Take hold of freedom. This requires you to be brave and go against all your comfort zones and rules for yourself…and break free from your chain of dysfunction. This may mean many different things to different people. It means you have to move out from under that poopy nest – either literally or figuratively (I am not suggesting rash decisions, moving out of a house or leaving family…I am really talking more in the figurative psychological realm).

6. Listen to your gut instincts in discerning right from wrong and identifying red flags. This is something really new for you so it will be some trial and error, but when you are really honest with yourself – you can start trusting yourself more and more. Make choices that are right and healthy for you…not out of obligation for others or what you “think” someone wants you to do.

7. Be realistic. Take baby steps. Literally one day and one step at a time. You are setting yourself up for failure if you expect overnight results. Serious addictions like this take weeks, months and sometimes even years to successfully overcome.

8. Celebrate little milestones! Recognize your progress.

9. Don’t go it alone. You need support – even if it just a few people you can completely honest with. At first – finding people that can mentor you or show “function/healthy” lifestyles and then eventually finding people in your same situation is what was the most helpful for me.

For me – it was just coming clean with who I am, what I have been through and also pursuing some passions/hobbies of mine like writing and music. I also started making intentionally healthy choices about employment, relationships, activities, etc. Instead of just letting life happen…I started being intentional about asking “Is this healthy? Is this constructive? Is this the right fit for me?” I never knew I even had the right to ask that before!

I also started being really choosy who I spend my time on and with. I had to realize my own worth and value and seek out people that I really enjoyed and respected and viewed as “healthy and functional” and then I pursued those kinds of folks. Not is a stalking, annoying way – I was just open and honest with them. I have the best friends I have EVER had in my life just from being completely vulnerable and finding like minded people. I no longer have time for fakes.

Keep in mind – addictions can take years to really break free from. You may have some setbacks. You have to allow yourself the freedom to make some mistakes, but don’t justify it or continue to make the same mistakes over and over.
For instance…You might wander back to the poopy nest because it is a familiar place, but don’t set up camp there. Eventually you will be able to see just how gross that place was and at some point you will not ever want to return there. It will be like a different life time ago.

That’s when you know you are in a “restored” or rehabilitated state…when you feel like dysfunction is actually foreign. That is victory!

Well. After our conversation, this lady said my comments were insightful. She had never honestly realized that it may be completely foreign to her daughter to make a “functional” healthy choice.

It is sad. It is confusing. It is downright infuriating to an outsider looking in – watching someone imprisoned by their own invisible leashes of dysfunction. But to that prisoner…it is very real, very lonely, very defeating, and seemingly impossible to break free from – that is – if they are even aware anymore.

The real problem with any addiction is that you are usually not even aware anymore of how bad of a state you are in. You have lived with it for so long, made excuses, or just plain given up on trying to be anything other than the product of your situation or circumstances.

I know I am one of the lucky few. That is why I am even writing this. That is the whole point of this blog. I don’t think I knew when I started, but I knew I had something to say. I didn’t want all my years of pain and traumatic events to be in vain anymore.

Who knows where this finds you. All I hope is that if you are standing under a birds nest getting pooped on…perhaps you may consider moving – if even just a little. Yes…that means different things to different people, but one simple truth remains…

~ Confucious say (Ok…not really – just Lee say)… If you stand under a bird’s nest, you increase your chances of getting pooped on.

On a Rock and a High Place

I know all too well what it is like being between a rock and a hard place. But what I am talking about right now is something very different.

Just two years ago I wasn’t even on the radar of rocks and hard places. I was beneath the rock – more like the image of the Wiley Coyote falling off a cliff and a huge boulder speeding behind him only to pulverize him after impact. All the years of pain, oppression, devastation, brokeness and rejection came pounding down.

Instead of killing me physically – despite the fact that I literally did think I was going to die…I somehow survived. But what did die in me, I am finding is the “victim” I used to be. Granted…I may still have some stellar pity parties now and then, but I don’t dwell in it. Something died in me, but it’s like it gave room for some other kind of birth too.

Warning – just a smidgen of “Jesus” talk ahead…

Whether or not you believe in Jesus – He had some awesome analogies that are so applicable to our lives. What I went through reminds me of the verses referring to pruning the dead parts of a tree to give way for abundance of produce for the future. Let’s just say, 2 Years ago…I went through a MAJOR pruning.

It’s safe to say that the pruning was so significant that it threw me into shock for 1.5 years. Just like if you uproot a hydrangea…it usually won’t bloom for a year or two because of the root trauma and shock it went through, but when it does…man – look out.

It’s just wild, really. I have felt this kind of awakening for about 6 months now and the awesome thing is – that it just keeps getting better and better. Because it’s not like I am just trying to get back to the good place I was before…it’s like I am arriving at the awesome place I should have been all along, but just never really knew it existed. And where is this place I am talking about?

It’s this place ON a rock and a high place. Not a high and mighty place…and not an “I’m so freaking wonderful” place – and not even a perfect, “happy” or unrealistic expectation place. This is more like a stable, peaceful place…a content place…a place of grace.

On this journey in the past 6-8 months I have certainly experienced times in the vallies…and no doubt I will again. But even my lows are not as low as before. Those dead and broken pieces were pruned away, so even when I am hit with some terrible weather and bad days – I am stronger, healthier and more equipped than ever to endure it.

It almost makes me nervous to blog something like this – for fear of being tested on it. Let me clarify – I am not asking for more hardships. Honestly, I have had more than my share – as I have been so bold to share along this journey. What I am trying to say is something about perspective.

It hit me tonight because I am getting ready to drive my big girl down to SC to stay with her dad for two weeks. I am going to be very sad and miss her terribly, no doubt. But there is also some joy. I am so happy she has such a great dad that has remained such a big part of her life despite the distance. I am so thankful she knows her dad so well and is so excited about spending some much needed time with him.

Before, I was always selfishly focused on my own sadness…how much I would miss her, how much she would miss me – and granted when she was younger it was harder just because she was a real momma’s girl. But I am able to see things so differently now. I will of course be sad, and might even mope for a little while, but I will not be devastated and cry in the fetal position for hours (yes…I have been all kinds of pathetic, no?). It is no longer about “me”.

That’s it! That’s the part of me that died. The “me” part. This is ironic because I just posted a long blog all about “me” time. There is a huge difference between taking a little time to recharge my batteries, and making life all about me. That is the key thing here.

Since the “all about me” part died – my lows are not as low, but my highs are not as high either – and that’s not a bad thing. What I mean is that even at my highs – it’s not all about me – I can’t take the credit. It is really humbling and wonderful. It takes all the pressure off and allows me to just enjoy the moment while I am there, knowing it won’t last forever. Just like the bad times don’t last forever either.

It’s a great place to be…on a Rock and a High Place. It’s a place of resting and restoration. And if I slip, which I no doubt will…at least I know this place exists and how to get back to it. It’s a beautiful, view. I hope to see you there.

Charmed if you do, charmed if you don’t

“Hey! Is that your chocolate in MY peanut butter? NO – that’s YOUR peanut butter on MY chocolate!…”

Yes, I am dating myself here by admitting that I actually remember when this campaign was popular for the Reeces Peanut Butter Cup. But the messsage was that – duh…you can have both and be pretty darn happy.

I have been on both sides of the fence of the working mommy or stay at home mommy debate. The magic answer? They can both be right. There are pros and cons to both sides. The worst thing you can possibly do is judge some other mommy for not making the same decision you have resolved as “the best” choice. Because you have not walked in her shoes.

Whether you are a stay at home mommy, full or part time career mommy – you can be pretty darn happy. The challenge is maintaing a balance. You know – you don’t want too much peanut butter…or too much chocolate (wait…is that possible?) – you want it just right.

Same thing with being a stay at home or working mom. There is a balance to be found.

First the issue of guilt must be addressed. I would be remiss if I didn’t address the elephant in the room. Hello ladies…I’d like you to meet guilt. Guilt…meet the ladies. Just wanted to get that introduction out of the way, because you two will be getting to know each other quite well now that you are a mom.

Guilt. The whole damned if you do, damned if you don’t dilemma. As a stay at home mom, you can feel dreadfully guilty for not bringing any cash flow into the family finances. This leaves the husband as the sole breadwinner and could potentially stress him completely out. On the other hand, a working mom can be completely guilt stricken over handing over their little lovies for 8-10 hours a day – basically letting someone else become a key factor in the rearing of their child.

Looking at it like this – there is no winning. Later I will come back to this and we will look at this from a completely different angle. Let’s put this in the “parking lot” for later, shall we?

Deeper than guilt – is determining the real answer to this age old question of stay at home vs. working mom. How do you know the right answer? It comes down to your gut feeling…and sometimes circumstances.

If you are a working mom and you are constantly preoccupied, miserable and distracted with the desire to be at home with your baby and you actually have the choice to do so – maybe you are being prompted to try it. You’re biggest challenge is possibly a lifestyle change. For instance, I turned in my BMW and we went down to 1 used car for 2 years.

If on the otherhand you are at home with your babes and you are resentful, miserable and feeling like a complete failure for not automatically being the Mary Poppins Stepford/wife ideal person you thought you would magically turn into just for giving birth, then maybe you are being prompted to seek some type of employment. You’re greatest challenge is finding quality childcare where your babe is happy, yet you still make some net gain after paying them. Also – it can be challenging to find the right “fit” for you in a job place – especially when the market is as lean as it is.

There is no magic eight ball answer, unfortunately. It takes a lot of soul searching and honesty. The answer may not always be what we had expected. I have known some women who spent their entire careers striving for the top rung of the ladder and somewhere along the way or near the top – they walked away from it all to stay at home – shocking themselves and their peers. I have also known women who dreamed of being stay at home moms, equally surprised and shocked to find out they nearly lost their minds trying to do it and found that working was a better choice for them.

And then, there are times in life, where you don’t have a choice. Like me now. I just have to make the most out of being a working mom. I have to figure out how to find balance and peace of mind.

In all my experience in both the stay at home and working mommy worlds…the key to the balance is not at all what I thought it would be. Once you get the guilt thing under control – ironically the other major key factor to achieving balance is…YOU time. Yes…time for YOU. Something I had always felt terribly selfish for before I learned the secret to what all honestly happy moms know – that “you” time is critical to being balanced and, well…SANE!!!

If you are a stay at home mom – the risk is that every moment is spent caring for, teaching and disciplining your child(ren). You can be consumed with housework and children activities in and out of the home. As a working mom the risk is working like a dog, speeding home to do a sprint of homework, dinner, some kid related activity, bathe them, and get them to bed. It’s very easy to lose yourself – on either side of the fence.

Just a little hour here or there or a night out now and then – where you take a little time to recharge your batteries and are not responsible for the life or death of a little hobbit lovie, and don’t have to be aware of thier every little bodily function at any given time.

That is what it takes to make either situation bearable – a little break. Because motherhood is very, very hard. No matter what angle or side of the fence you are on. It took me about 6 or 7 years to really find this out. I am a pathetically slow learner when it comes to life lessons.

When I had my first daughter I had an awesome career in logistics. 10 years of supply chain management and about 4 years of my biological clock ticking away somehow made the decision to walk away from a coveted position with awesome perks (like, say, a BMW, for instance) fairly easy.

I went from design changes to diaper changes nearly overnight. I was finally living my dream. But my husband traveled extensively and was just not around to share in parenting. When he did come home, I would spend all my time with him and us as a family because that was such a limited and rare thing. Then he would be off again. I had no me time. I felt “guilty” for even wanting it. I was also confused as to why I was so depressed when I was finally doing what I had wanted to do all along.

Isolation and depression set in. Over time, I became worn out, bitter and resentful. I didn’t even know why anymore. This routine of life had become my identity. The real me had been snuffed out. I had no real hobbies any more. All the things that made me “me” had been replaced wtih “craft time”, tinker toys and play dates. Adult conversations were minimal, always interrupted, and usually centered around…children. “So…what is Johnny doing now? What milestones is he hitting…etc.”

I cannot stress enough – if you are a stay at home mom – get out – meet other moms – get out of the house and your comfort zone to connect with folks and make friends. Isolation is the worst thing you can do for you and your family. Figure out how to make some time for you. It is not a selfish thing in the long run. Even a jog around the block can do wonders.

On the flip side. As a working mom I remember pulling 90% of the parenting responsibilities, working the same amount of hours as my husband, then coming home, making a full dinner, bathing the baby, putting her to bed, etc., while my husband worked out, or did some things just for him. At this time, I also don’t remember us making time for even a date night. I felt so guilty for working so much that if I was not working, I felt I HAD to be with my baby. So I had no me time…and again felt guilty for even wanting it.

I wouldn’t call this isolation, because I was out in the work force. I was at least feeling utilized, appreciated, recieving some accolades for a job well done and getting to make complete sentences with adults. I just had lost ‘me”. I was buried somewhere deep beneath deadlines, meeting minutes, and baby scheduled events. The thing to stress here is if your spouse takes some “me” time – you should do the same.

As a side note here – I have to say – that given a choice…I would still choose to stay at home. Even though I admit and have learned that it is the hardest job out there – hands down. I still struggle with the fact that other people are raising my child – for the majority of their “awake” moments throughout the week are spent with someone else. This is a hard pill for me to swallow.

But I am forced to admit that I can’t be everything to my child. I have had to step back and see the strength in letting go just a bit and having other positive influences in my child’s life. This has given my child some different perspectives and flexibility. It has given me a chance to observe my child through a different set of lenses. It’s not always a bad thing.

After two divorces and learning the ridiculously hard way…I have no choice but to take time for just “me” sometimes. In a very strange and convaluded way, divorce forced me to take some ME time. I am fortunate to have married good daddies – just not great spouses. Thankfully, they still want to be part of the girls’ lives. So during visitations…all I have is…me (Luckily for me, it is still a 90/10 mix. I personally couldn’t honestly imagine it any other way…no matter how hard or self sacrificing that makes my life – no matter how much I may have ranted to a certain select group of friends…namely Jen).

It’s a bit sad to admit that my first months of being forced into having ME time…I had no clue what to do with myself. In the beginning, I found myself just driving around town…wasting time. I was lost. What do I do without my kids? My little extentions of myself. Not to mention the sadness I was experiencing from the loss of the marraige too. I didn’t know what to do, where to go. I mean…what do I do all alone…with just ME?

Umm…TONS OF THINGS!

It took me a few months, maybe even a year to be fully comfortable with it. I moved from feeling guilty and even depressed to feeling liberated. Then I started reconnecting with “me” – remembering some of my passions and hobbies and actually doing them. I started waking up from a seemingly deep freeze.

Now that it has been 2 years – I am a pro at it. I even find myself getting a bit riled up if my “me” time gets nixed by a change of plans. Because this “me” time has become my little oasis. I can do anything I want at that time…even if it is nothing at all, or just having some quiet time, or a hike. “Me” time doesn’t mean self indulgence or shopping spree time…but sometimes it can be.

I am finding out the key to being a good mom and having happy kids while even having a career…the key is a balance and yes…some “me” time.

No matter what side of the fence you are on – it doesn’t have to be that pessimistic “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” way of looking at things. It is all perspective…and though you may still have moments of slipping into this way of thinking because some days are just harder than others where you feel like an all around failure – the real way of spinning that around is something like…”Charmed if you do, charmed if you dont'”. Honestly – this is how the majority of your days should feel if you are doing a graceful job of this delicate balancing act.

Forgive the cheesy undertone of it. Honestly I can just hear John Ratzenberger saying it in his best used car salesmen voice. Come on – let’s do it together – in your best cheesy voice read the following, “I mean come on…I always say…charmed if you do, charmed if you don’t…I mean for crying out loud…this is your life I am talking about here…am I right, or am I right?”

Ok. you get the point. Perspective. Balance. It’s the libra-nitus in me. I can’t help it. And now I am just rambling for the sake of rambling because I haven’t blogged in so long.

I’ll leave with this last anaolgy that has stuck with me.

There were two lumber jacks. They decided to have a contest to see who could split more wood in a day. They both were on pace for awhile, but a few hours into it, the older lumber jack left for a few minutes. The younger one kept chopping thinking to himself he was going to win by a landslide…especially when the older lumberjack did this a few more times before the end of the day.

At the end of the day they stacked all their wood in individual piles and the older lumberjack won by a significant amount. The younger lumber jack who had not taken a break all day was completely baffled. He asked the older one what his secret was. The older lumber jack answered that while he had stepped away for a few moments he was actually taking time to sharpen his axe.

So ladies – and even some of you self martyring men out there…take some time to sharpen your axe so you can actually be the productive super hero you were designed to be. You’ll be charmed if you do.

Land mines and Granite

I can hardly believe it has been 2 years since the man that I thought was my soul mate walked out. He said it had nothing to do with the woman he had been caught in an affair with. I wonder if that was supposed to make me feel better or worse? But he stuck to his guns and I am finally realizing he did me the biggest favor.

I grieved the loss of the marriage for over a year…I mean deep, snot nosed, pathetic grieving. That first year was shock and survival. This past year was at first a year of anger, but it has given way to acceptance, and more importantly – peace. I am thankful to be at peace…something that I can’t imagine he can honestly feel – but the great thing at this point is that I am done caring how he feels – it simply isn’t my issue anymore.

The hardest part for me was accepting the crashing and trashing of sacred vows. It was supposed to be a unity, under God. I thought it was something pristine, coveted. It was also the foundation of our baby girl. It was very, very hard to understand and accept the answer NO, from God – of all my honest, desperate prayers and pleas to restore the marriage.

But sometimes the answer is no. I never understood that back then. How could God not want to keep intact or restore a “Godly” instiution and covenant? The answer I am seeing now is that the answer was NO before I even forced the I DO out of my mouth. I chose to ignore blatant signs from the very beginning.

There were tell tale signs of his arrogant, selfish, egocentric, extravagant self spending, controlling and opinionated personality right from the beginning, but I chose to overlook it. WHY? I guess I thought that I was being too critical. Also, perhaps I was lonely, not even recovered from my last divorce. I never took the time to grieve that first loss before I did the taboo – and remarried right away. Hello? Stupid girl…what were you thinking?

I was thinking that I had to have a man to complete me, is what I was thinking. I was thinking I needed to be in some kind of relationship to be happy, or normal, or picture perfect…or God only knows what. The point is – I was probably thinking too much and not following my heart or gut instincts. I had never done that before, and I didn’t even know how to do that.

So when the marriage started falling to pieces I simply couldn’t understand why God was not doing the miracle that I knew only He could perform and save this ugly situation and make something glorious out of it. By the way – I still believe that could have happened…but that takes two…or in this case – three, if you want to include the Holy dude himself.

For the first time in my life – I really started understanding the gift of free will. We are all given this freedom to make choices in life. I had the free will to ignore all the red flags and force myself into a terrible and oppressive situation. My husband also had the free will to conquer, and move on. He got to check me off his “to do” list and add me to his trophy case. He got his homecoming queen/childhood dream girl that got away and locked me away in his high tower while he flew around the country and worked hours that only allowed us to even see each other a few days a month/hours a week.

Yes…sometimes the answer is NO before you even start. But you have to listen. Then you have to follow through. Sometimes that requires the risk of being alone, or uncomfortable. But that NO means NO. If you ignore that NO – there are usually consequences. Some of you may be living that right now.

Now don’t ever mistake me of saying that divorce is OK or suggesting that divorce is a good solution. If you are in a rocky marriage – I still believe with all my heart that the best solution is to repair what is broken – as long as no abuse is going on. I would have still been married if I would have had any say in the matter. But again – it does honestly take two. I would have even stayed if it were just a miserable existence. The truth is – he left. He was done. He had already moved on. He had zero interest in fixing it…even the marriage counselor and pastors could see it. He had already checked out and moved on.

I was the only one that didn’t see that at the time. I was the only one that was confused. Many people really didn’t understand why I was even sad or in mourning. They were not emotionally invested. But at 2 years, I am finally able to see what they saw. And I see that the answer was NO before I even said yes.

I’m a very different woman than 2 years ago – or ever. My dad even commented on it. That is saying something. For the first time in my life I am no longer a victim. I have had a lot of really hard life experiences, but I am not longer defined by any of them.

For the first time I realize that I have free will too! I don’t have to make any decisions based on what I think anyone else thinks I should do, or how I might be perceived, or afraid or unsure of how things might turn out. If I follow my heart – my real passions and instincts, pray very hard BEFORE I move forward, and LISTEN to the real answer before I begin – I don’t have to be afraid anymore.

I am applying this to every area of my life now. I have more of a sense of peace than ever – even though my life is possibly more precarious looking than ever before. Now I have not only one, but two precious girls to be responsible for and raise. I know I probably have to be out of this house by summer. That is all I do know…that could look pretty scary and 5 years ago – this sitation would have made me want to seek the help and security of a man…you know – to complete me and take care of us or something bizarre like that.

For the first time in my life, I feel like I have been weaned off my addiction. I think I have been addicted to dysfunctional, abusive relationships. It started early on in life. Dysfunction was my comfort zone. It was all I really knew. I had no idea that I had the power within myself to break that chain at any given moment. I had no idea.

I have been living my life, being blown around in the wind, in any direction life blew me – as if I didn’t have a mind, heart, or passion of my own. And when I did pray – I prayed half hearted, selfish, fearful prayers. Prayers that were self serving or more like rap sheets – asking God to bless the path I was blazing without even asking if it was right. I would also modify myself to fit who I thought I should be based on who I was with. But I’m awake now. I’m aware.

The amazing part is that suddenly all the parts of me that I was afraid to let shine because it might have been viewed as silly or try to cover up because it might be hard to hear about – I am coming clean with. I don’t have to hide my love of music, writing, and all my silly dreams anymore. I can actually try to attain them…just because I can. I am free to do so. On the flip side, I don’t have to hide all the bad things I have gone through and instead use them as tools to possibly help others with. I have broken myself out of my own prison!

I could have done this while still married. Again – folks – I am an advocate of marriage. This is not about being “free” of a partner. I really wish I would have had a strong enough person to stand beside me as I awakened…maybe we could have done it together…how awesome would that have been? But I had to accept the fact that that was just not my story…as much as I hoped it would have been.

My story is a different story. It is so ironic that the one thing I have feared most in my life – I have finally made peace with. Being single. But being single, does not mean being alone, or isolated. I was more alone and isolated when I was married than I ever was now. In fact, I would argue that right now I am more “connected” to people than ever before. That is another intentional decision I had to make along the way. I had to decide to be real, vulnerable and honest about my feelings, fears, past experiences…about who I really am.

The risk was that no one would like who I really am, I guess. But, ironically, what I am finding is that people really dig vulnerability and honesty. At least the people that I dig the most do. I am accused of being too honest sometimes. Is that possible? I think if it is – I don’t want to associate with the people who think that way anymore.

So – here I am. A new born in some ways. Making my way through this crazy maze of land mines and granite. I want to stay on the granite…the rock. I want to be intentional about not stepping on the mines. I might miss now and then moving forward, but I feel like I have some armor on now. I am tougher than before. I want to hear that NO before I try to say yes based on fear or selfish desires. I want to stay on that rock.

I recently feel like I dodged a mine last month by not accepting a job offer. It was a job offer when I had nothing else on the table at the time. But it didn’t “feel” right. It was a low ball salary offer, and worse – the environment was oppressive, stifling and manipulative. At first it was hard to say no – when I didn’t have anything else on the horizon. I mean – here I am a single mom. 5 years ago I would have jumped on that offer just because. I would not have listened to the explosions going off all around telling me – trouble ahead!

But I said no. And a few days afterwards, I felt a clear peace about it. A few weeks after that I got the job offer that I had been waiting for. An offer that can actually pay the bills, AND put me in a thriving, growing environment where I can potentially make an impact by just being me. Those of you who don’t believe in God can call it fate, kharma or just plain wising up. But for me – I call it a God thing.

Whatever you call it – I hope this same awakening for you too. Whether you are married or single, working or stay at home parent, home schooling or public or private schooling…I have done it all – My hope for you is that you are making intentional decisions too – to be you. Because we mess up the whole cosmic intertwining web when you try to be something you are not. You and I are unique…our personalities fit a specific function and we have specific tasks that we were wired to do. Denying those inner wirings is disastrous.

I think it is hilarious that the person I was trying to hide for almost 40 years is so likable to other people. I am not bragging – I am stating my surprise. It genuinely is a crazy paradigm shift for me. I have the best friends I have ever had in my life right now…just because for the first time I am not hiding anything. All my ugly labels…my failures and successes…it’s all out in the open. I am not picking and choosing what I think people want to hear. I think there is a chance that even my family might like me again some day.

Until then – I have to just keep on keeping on. Not for them, or anyone else now. For me. For me and my girls. I am wired a certain way for a reason. I am so excited to see that turns out to be! And for the first time in my life I am not in a rush to get there. I want to keep taking my time, being intentional about seeking out that granite and praying BEFORE I step…after all…there are land mines to avoid out there!

The Science of Love…If/Then =

It seems like the majority of people walking around in this world feel like they are not worthy of or do not deserve love…like an overwhelming majority of people. However, every one of these same people thinks that love does and should apply to everyone else. Yes…for your information…I did take a random sampling, thankyou.

There are many reasons for this. A lot of us, over time have developed a warped sense of love in general. Our past painful experiences, failures, filters…all play into this end idea that somehow deep inside we are just not worthy of love. Bottom line – it is the fear of rejection. But when we look out at a crowd we somehow think that everyone else does deserve love.

I started thinking about this inconsistency…because I am also one of those people mentioned above…AND this topic somehow keeps coming up. So I figured it must be blog worthy.

After being completely frustrated walking away from several conversations about this application of love – I came to the following conclusion. What if love was like science? I mean, we are surrounded by all these physical laws. What if love is the same?

If you are a science geek – or even if you are not, simply consider something for a moment. Scientific laws are really just “theories” that have been consistently proven time and time again. Take gravity for instance. You can prove gravity. If you drop a pencil it is going to fall, is it not? Why would I have any reason to believe that if I drop a pencil that it will not fall?

The laws of science tell me that what applies for you and your pencil, also applies for me and my pencil. It is downright ridiculous for me to think that my pencil will float or fly or do anything except simply fall….just like anyone else’s.

Well, if love was like science and had to act consistently as all other scientific theories…love, like science cannot deny itself. It is greater than our limited understanding. If love applies to someone else, therefore, it has to apply to me or you too – simply by the laws of science and nature.

Yet…how many of us are repelling or trying to repel the natural force of nature by denying ourselves love, happiness and joy? It’s downright exhausting…and painful. Some of us have been doing this so long that we are not even aware. All we know is that we are miserable but can’t remember why. Denying love has just become part of our existence.

For me – there were so many reasons to not believe or even understand the concept of love. Honestly, I am still carrying out my own set of litmus tests and experiments to determine this real “unknown” substance. What does love look like? What does is smell, taste and feel like? Is it flammable? Is it acidic? How does it react when subjected to other substances?

I am finding that I had put my trust in the wrong places from the very beginnings. With a schizophrenic mother and a depressed, alcoholic father, my model of love was pretty warped from the get go. Add into the mix some rapes, molestations, abusive relationships and being stalked along the way to adulthood, then going through 2 divorces – love is not only a fairy tale concept – it is actually scary and a lie. Love is for everyone else, but absolutely not for me.

The surprising thing that I am finding though, is that even people who had good and decent upbringings and lives also doubt their worth and right to be loved, and have a hard time accepting love in their own life. SO…what is up with that?
How can we feel so certain that other people deserve to be loved, and yet deny ourselves of it?

Is it because of the masks we all wear and that whole “grass is greener” concept? Is it that everyone puts on such a great show for appearance that everyone thinks that everyone else has it all together, and therefore – it seems like everyone else is worthy of love from the outside looking in?

I guess it is hard to see what others’ see in us. I judge myself so harshly. I think am alone in the world in my struggles, doubts, fears, insecurities and overwhelming failures. And I do and say really dumb things on an extremely consistent basis. All those things add up and after awhile I am pretty convinced that I’m a big loser.

All that grace and mercy in the world is for everyone else, but not me. But then I cry out…WHY? Why not? Why isn’t love and grace and mercy for ME too?

Then I realize that I am really the only one withholding those things from myself. I am the only one holding all the ugly labels over my own head that are preventing me from reaching out for the truth instead. I am like a stubborn child treading water and getting very tired, yet refusing to just reach out to the life lines hanging right there beside me…all I have to do is grab hold of it.

The problem is…you can’t grab hold of a life line, when your hands are too full with burdens and self imposed labels.

If you think you don’t have a life line, then you are mocking every single person in your life that cares for you. Chances are they are very frustrated as well. How long will they keep circling while you keep refusing to accept their role in your life before they actually do tire and walk away?

And yes – I consider God’s love a life line, but even this does require me to grab hold of it. God will never force anyone to accept him or love him. If anyone has experienced a forceful or intimidating sales pitch of God’s love…I will argue that it was not an accurate representation of God’s love. He loves us so much that he gave us free will…and free will requires deliberate action to either accept or deny it. But…that’s just me. Not everyone wants to entertain that God is real. So back to topic…

Sometimes we make ourselves martyrs by trying to not be a drain on anyone. We think we have to be self sufficient. I have a few martyrs in my life. They absolutely will not acknowledge the life lines all around them and you know what? When I see it – it doesn’t make any sense. It looks ridiculous, and pisses me off. I mean…who do they think they are?
Then I realize…hmm…I wonder who I think I am?

Since I have stopped defying the law of love and stopped denying the life lines all around me I have been making the best friends I have ever had in my life. I started seeing that love was all around me. But it did require one HUGE thing from me. It required me to admit I needed it and wanted it. It required me to take the risk to actually reach out again…with the very real possibility that the life line would fail me.

And it might. Actually – it probably will – especially if a human is on the other side of it…because humans are so flawed and inconsistent. At some point, you have to realize that when a friend lets you down, it is not necessarily because you deserved it or that they even did it intentionally. Life happens…schedules change…miscommunication happens. Don’t be so sensitive that you end up making a bigger issue out of things just because of your past rejections or insecurities. Give people a break! Cause guess what – you’ll need one too sometimes.

See a theme here? If (insert key concept here) is true for someone else, then (insert same key concept here) is also true for me. Therefore (key concept) is true. It is a simple scientific/mathematical sentence. If, then = .

Let’s look at a few key concepts we have just glossed over.

If Love is for someone else, then love must be for me too. Therefore, love is.

If forgiveness is true for someone else, then forgiveness must be true for me too. Therefore, forgive and be forgiven.

If God’s love applies to someone else, then it must also apply to me too. Therefore, apply God’s love.

As with any good scientific law – the reverse logic is also true. Let’s switch the “Someone else” and “me” roles around now.

If observing someone acting like a martyr and denying love is really frustrating to me, then it must also be very frustrating to someone else when they see me being a martyr too. Therefore, stop acting like an ass.

I could go on, but I think you get the concept.

If I am tired of writing this, then someone else must be tired of reading it. Therefore…

Good night.

Disposable People

We live in the land and time of the disposable. Who mends socks these days? Anyone had a pair of shoes repaired lately? How many people have had a maintenance man come out to repair the washer or dryer vs. just trashing the whole unit and buying new? How many are driving cars with over 200,000 miles on it?

You know…I get it. I get that sometimes it makes more economical sense (or cents) to buy new instead of repair the old. But I am still not “OK” with it. It is painful to me to think of couches, washers and dryers heading to the land fill. I know I may sound like I lived through the depression or something, but it bothers me how wasteful we have become.

There is also something else going on. There is this conquer and move on kind of mentality seeping into our society. Maybe it is even entitlement. I am guilty of it, my children are showing signs of it. We have more clothes, toys and food than most of the world population, yet I still go shopping, they still want more stuffed animals or toys.

So. When does this mentality that everything is disposable and that there is something better, cross over and apply to people and animals?

Is there even any direct correlation? Is it just personality type? Or is it a learned behavior? A bit of both?

I remember in the thick of the divorce how I felt exactly like a disposed household appliance dragged out to the curb waiting to be tossed into the landfill. I had been replaced by a newer model. Instead of putting forth the required effort to “fix” things, it was just so much easier for my husband at the time to find every reason why he shouldn’t do that. He in turn found a way to justify his affair and somehow spin it around so that it was all my fault. I “made” him have an affair…I mean even to this day, in his opinion he literally had no other choice!

I became disposable. Our family foundation did too. Every moral promise he made to me and the girls disappeared. While he was jet setting around the country to the side of his new irresistible hopeful partner to be, I was left behind to pick up all the pieces and try to keep the foundation for my girls intact.

During this time I remember him reprimanding me for occasionally crying in front of the girls. I remember him continuing to deny he was having an affair even though all the evidence was clear and out in the open, and his new beloved had even admitted it to me. Yet I was just a nothing at that point and didn’t deserve to be talked to rationally. He had removed all feelings for me in order to move on to the next conquest. Now I was just a stumbling block, trying to hold him back from his glorious new life that he so much “deserved”.

Fortunately I haven’t thought about it in awhile. Those feelings are no longer in the forefront of my mind, but the other day he said something that triggered those feelings again. He was complaining about the cats, which were actually “our” cats that we acquired together along the way. He was always bragging about how he personally saved one’s life and how the other was “his” cat. He even named it.

But now that they are a nuisance and cause some inconvenience in his life…they of course have become “my” cats…as if they have never been his. It’s so much easier that way, isn’t it? To remove and deny any claims or responsibility. It is so Silence-of-the-Lambs-like. If he doesn’t call it by name…if the cat becomes an “it” or object – then it makes it easier to walk away from or even have it put to sleep as he has suggested that I do on several occasions.

Maybe I should be thankful he didn’t consider euthanizing me during the divorce, however, there were times when I probably wished or selfishly fantasized over such a quick ending for myself.

Even if you have not experienced such rejection, it is still easy to feel disposable, overlooked, forgotten at different seasons of life. And they are seasons…life is always changing. But in the thick of those dark moments it is hard to see clearly. When you feel so rejected and abandoned, alone or afraid it is hard to have a sense of any kind of self worth.

At the end of the day you just have to try very hard to:

1) Forgive yourself for being ridiculous and full of flaws
2) Focus on the positive, not the negative. Play fun or crazy music – dance like a fool. I Promise…this WILL force you to lighten up.
3) Believe that even at your worst, you still matter to someone, somewhere…even if just a little…maybe?
4) Shit happens. But even that decays…eventually it becomes fertilizer and makes way for a growth spurt!
5) Realize that other people’s terrible choices are not your responsibility. Let it go.
6) Remember that tomorrow honestly is a new day.
7) Find a good friend and…get real! Be vulnerable.
8) Let yourself have an emotional fit. Cry it all out, but then it’s time to move on.
9) Get over yourself. There is more to life than pity parties.

Well, cheers to you. Thanks for crashing my party here.

You are not disposable. Neither am I…nor our children…nor our animals…nor our hopes, dreams, morals and beliefs. So…even if you feel at times you are sitting around in the landfill, you are not.

And if you still refuse to believe that, remember…one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.