Goodnight 13

Tonight I hugged my thirteen year old daughter goodnight. Tomorrow she will turn fourteen.

I found myself not wanting to let go of her. I just kept hugging her and hoping the moment wouldn’t ever have to end. I felt my eyes sting and burn trying to hold back tears, as years of memories flooded before me. Ooops…something in my eye there. Darn dust.

Mauldinfest 9-26-03 004 Mommy hugging riley Riley on merry go round Riley on mommys shoulder

We’ve been through so much together. She and I have made it through so many obstacles and she has always been right there by my side. Mostly because she had to (not much choice at those young ages to just pack up and move out). But also because those hard times have drawn us closer.

I have always carried guilt about her having to endure divorce. And not just once, but twice. One divorce from a good man (her dad) and one divorce from a bad man. Carelessness with the best of intentions.

Through the years of being a single mom, and a remarried mom, she and I have had to learn “new normals” again and again. And through it all…she surprises me with her silliness, good nature, and adaptability. She has always been able to roll with the punches.

But she has also bared the scars. Through the 2nd divorce we both learned how damaging broken promises can be. When someone pretends to be something they are not and everything you thought you knew suddenly becomes a huge lie – it breaks something in your soul.

Trust is hard to rebuild in a life that has been shattered by a million lies.

But somehow we managed to pick up the pieces and make something altogether beautiful. Like a mosaic glass work. Old broken pieces put back together in a new arrangement to reflect a whole new state of mind. Stronger than ever.

Over time, I am slowly letting go of guilt (most days) and learning to move beyond by using the past as lessons of what not to do. She will have to make her own choices obviously, but because of our experiences, we have had the opportunity to talk in length about character and the attributes of a good and bad person from first hand examples.

She has had her share of anger and still carries it. But I am hoping over time, the more I let it go, she will follow as well. We have had to learn the hard way that there are some bad apples out there. Being choosey is really important and to not ignore important warning signs, which applies to not just boys/men but girlfriends too.

When I look into her eyes…most times I see a scatterbrained teenager whose frontal brain lobe and rational thinking has been held hostage by a rapid deployment of rewiring and complex triggers that happens during adolescence. The all too typical teenager blank look or maybe even contempt or disgust…or total silliness to the point of irrational annoyance.

But sometimes I get a glimpse of that little chunky monkey she used to be with curly blond hair and a bright tiny toothed innocent grin that I pushed in swings for hours, chased around playgrounds and yards and spent hours upon hours giggling with and snuggling tight.

And then other times…I get a glimpse of the woman she is yet to be. A poised, spectacularly beautiful young woman with all the potential of the world at her fingertips. A young woman that can ride a horse like a graceful dream, has a soft spot for the elderly and some kind of old soul thing going on just beneath the surface.

Somehow these 3 dimensions of this child/teenager/adult are all wrapped into one amazing package that I consider my gift every day – good, bad or indifferent. That’s what life is I guess. A balance of getting through the tough crap and hanging on to those really great moments. And I am just so thankful to have been blessed with a kid like her to hold hands and get through it all together.

I get a few more years of her under my roof. I try not to take that for granted. Tonight is a bittersweet night. Tonight I say goodnight to 13.

 

Riley profile Riley sitting

 

It’s time to admit it…I’m a Name Caller

aww...my lil sugar bear lovie kissy face - muah!  (gag)

aww…my lil sugar bear lovie kissy face – muah! (gag)

Yea. I do it. All the time. I probably call my husband names a few times a day.

Not only that. I call my kids names too! Even my pets!

In fact, I have become so prolific at it that I make new ones up all the time!

And I am not apologetic about it.

Because I am talking about sweet pet names.

Some of you may feel uncomfortable even thinking about it – it’s not your thing. I get it. But it doesn’t have to be sickening sweet names like Punky-doodle or Seinfeld’s favorite – Schmoopy. I am just talking about a “honey” or “sweetie” or something now and then.

Recently I let the busyness of life kind of distract me and take some of my fun-loving side away a little. It happened slowly so I didn’t notice it at first.

Little by little, I stopped calling my husband things like “sweet boy”, “amazing man”, “my hero”. You know…Just little names I called him when we were newly in love when it came naturally.

I kept calling my kids those names – because they are so stinking adorable – and they are KIDS!

I was slightly aware of it, but thought – ah – no big deal. He knows I still love him. We are at the point in our lives where we know who we are, and we do know we love each other. We don’t need all that sickening sweet beginner couple stuff! I mean – we’re adults here.

…Enter stage right…insidious, slow plague…I started taking him for granted!

I started noticing that I felt a little distance between us. Not like – Oh my goodness we are headed for big trouble kind of distance. More like something small is missing, or maybe that small nagging feeling you get when you forget to say thank-you, or something.

But then I got used to that feeling and started ignoring that little tug on my heart to go that tiny extra mile.

Complacency.

Then I complimented him less and less for his little contributions around the house or his common courtesies throughout the day.

More small naggings, but this time it was easier to ignore – like I was becoming inoculated to the complacency…slowly. After all, these were not BIG things. I mean, do I REALLY need to thank him for doing a load of laundry now and then or taking the trash out? These are weekly things that have to be done.

Justification.

What does he want? A certificate? I do stuff all the time around the house and don’t always get a thank you. Put your big boy pants on. C’mon.

Sarcasm.

Wow…What just happened there? Where did THAT come from? What comes next? Bitterness? Resentment? Does it really happen that fast? That easily? Holy Cow!

Here’s the thing. When I DO get those “thank-you’s” now and then…it’s nice. Someone noticed my act of courtesy. Not only did I help make someone’s day a little easier – they took the time to let me know they noticed.

Appreciation.

And it energizes me just enough to make me want to keep up the good work.

Inspiration.

And maybe the biggest thing of all is – I don’t feel like I am being taken for granted!

Kindness…Respect.

It is never too late to correct your path. I realized my deficiency and started intentionally saying those little thank you’s again.

I started intentionally calling him little silly names again. I took and extra 30 seconds to stop, look in his eyes and appreciate him!

And guess what happened?

NO…it didn’t make him a perfect robot obeying my every wish…something even better happened – I appreciated him more! It reminded me of when we were first dating and how thankful I was for all his little considerate gestures.

Gratefulness.

And the best unexpected result was – I fell a little bit more in love! It reminded me just how lucky I am to have this special person in my life!

Adoration.

After all – my big grown man is just a little boy under all that tough exterior – and I am the only one he trusts enough to show me the vulnerable chinks in his armor.

Instead of being annoyed (provided he is not being a captain whiney pants taking advantage of your good graces) – it is a privilege to see that human side of him.

So, yes…he DOES need those extra little kudos from me so he feels like the most special guy in the whole world to me.

And I need to do it to remind myself how lucky I am to have a guy that cares enough to even do those kind little things.

Funny how such a little…TINY even thing can make such a huge impact!

So – yes…I try to call my spouse names. As often as I can.

And…I shouldn’t be surprised, but…He even started calling me his “sweet girl” again.

The quiet and important distractions that keep me sane

 

On these days without my child because I have shared parenting, I look forward to the quiet and important distractions that keep me sane.  Without them I would be a sobbing, devastated mess…dwelling on missed hugs, smiles, spontaneous laughter, and sweet little kisses. 

Really – I know this first hand because I was a sobbing devastated mess for a few years until I learned to turn those quiet distractions into moments of strength and clarity.

I learned that I get to focus on the quiet or sweet silence – something that I don’t get to experience when she is around.  I have learned to embrace this quietness – something that once grieved me now fills me up.  It is a re-energizing moment.  A moment to breathe.    The silence that once screamed of voidness (which is apparently not a word) and loss now comforts me and provides moments of reflection, clarity, balance. 

Honestly – I used to kiss my sweet girl goodbye with a strong happy face mask, close the door and sink to the floor in a fetal position and sob.  Snot dripping, knife-like inflicted pained sobbing.  Though I still do smell pillows and pajamas left behind, it is more of a bittersweet/happy reminder – a promise I will embrace her again soon…not a devastating never ending loss. 

That was not a wise way to live back in those slow internal death days, but I guess I had to get it out…so I could move on to this next level of coping.  A healthier way.

I have some friends who have lost their children at such young innocent ages to pediatric cancers and tragic accidents.  Their tragedies have also helped mold and form my newly found composure – by putting my situation into perspective.  My pity parties have definitely been curbed as I have seen these families deal with the most unimaginable horror, with grace, honesty and beauty.  I realized how ridiculous I was being by dwelling on the negatives rather than the positives. 

But everything has a cycle.  If you are in the beginning of your journey of a new divorce with forced time away from your babies…take heart, but also know that it’s ok to cry, sob and grieve like you’re dying.  Get it out, but don’t stay there.  You can camp out for the night at pity party alley, but you can’t live there.  That’s not for you – or for your kids when you do have them.

Here are some tangible and wonderful distractions to do with your forced silence:

  • First of all – Make a list of places you want to go and things you want to do that you could only really enjoy alone or in adult company.  This is important because you WILL forget.  Depression can set in fast and you need that “Go to list” as something to look forward to.  These ideas usually come to you while your kids are with you (let’s be real for a moment – you know those moments in time when they are driving you crazy and you start thinking things like “OMG – I could SO being doing this or that…”  Those This or That’s are the starting points for your new list of things to do when they are away – so make notes.  On your hand, a gum wrapper or these days – a text to yourself. 
  • If you are having trouble thinking of something to do – take some time to remember who you were before – we sometimes lose ourselves in a relationship, a divorce, or parenthood.  Who were you before?  What did that person love to do?  Remember your hobbies and start making time for them again.
  • Sign up for art classes.  Water color, acrylic, oil, tile mosaics, floral arranging – don’t limit yourself.  JoAnnes, Michaels, and other hobby stores often have free or reasonably priced lessons.  Or look up different techniques on line – some great learning videos on youtube these days.
  • Go to a Lowe’s or Home Depot Do it Yourself Workshop.  (You know… I am women…hear me roar!  I don’t need a man to fix THAT, thank you). Sorry guys – you can attend to.  No shame in not knowing how to assemble a door knob…but maybe now’s the time to learn that new skill. 
  • Sign up to blow glass if that is available near you
  • Call up a friend and make time to reconnect.  Friends are not telepathic and do not keep track of your personal schedule of when you do or don’t have your kids. Swallow your pride and initiate the call. You will both be glad you did.  
  • Find some live music and actually go and listen
  • Pick up a local “things to do” magazine and start circling interesting places and things you want to do or see that you never even knew existed right in your own town.
  • Head to the library for something for…YOU!  Not the kiddie section. In fact – purposely avoid the kid section.  This is your time.  It’s ok to guard it selfishly because let’s face it – you have no choice.  Own it girl (or guy).
  • Organize those 5000 photos you have downloaded on the computer and have never printed out.
  • Go to a coffee house
  • Go Shopping
  • Go Hiking
  • Go Kayaking
  • Go Biking
  • Find a stream or creek…and just listen and breathe it in…as long as you want to.  No shirt tugging and restless whining to hurry to on to the next thing.
  • Take a book or an Ipod to a nature reserve.  Hike, find a peaceful place and read, or listen to the wind in the trees or your favorite music. 
  • Take time to find some new music or artists.  There is more to life than Dora the Explorer and Disney Channel and it’s ok to find it, and embrace it.  Look for Indie Artists. Utilize Pandora, Spotify, etc.  There is a whole world of really great music and artists that never get mainstream radio that you need to hear. 
  • If you have a weekend – take a trip!  By car, by plane.  Go visit a long distant friend. 
  • Bake something.  Again – something grown up that you enjoy.  No mac and cheese or hot dogs here.  Spoil yourself a little.
  • Take a cooking class. 
  • You never had time for the gym before – well guess what doll?  Now you have time!  Do it.
  • Take a spinning class.
  • Eventually and only when you are healed and honestly ready…start contemplating the idea of dating.  But make sure you are not looking for someone to heal your wounds or “complete” you.   That is a dangerous lie and trap.  You don’t need rescued.  Chances are you will only end up in another heart break.  Take this time to really find you.  This is a gift – a rebirth!!  Once you have done your mourning – Embrace it.  Never forget who you are again.  Then promise yourself that you will never lose yourself again.  If you ever do find someone worthy of you – they will have to accept you for the amazing person you are and not want to change you.

When you learn the art of taking these moments to re-build you, to rejuvenate you – you will in turn be a stronger, healthier, better parent.  You have to take time to lick those wounds, but find a balance.  As you get stronger and better adjusted you can take advantage of more and more of these wonderful spirit building quiet and important distractions that will keep you sane.

The unmarried married

So I recently posted pictures of the rings Will and I exchanged as we dedicated ourselves to each other. Everyone HAD to know – did you just exchange rings or did you officially get married?

Folks…what is the difference? Is it more important to vow yourselves before God or a state? Is it more important to make a promise, an oath, a forever statement to your heavenly Father and each other, or to the government so they can tax us differently and put us in a different category?

In my past I have done the official state thing. And somehow I got more caught up in the whole “on paper” thing, name changes, official signatures, etc. that I feel like it detracted from what was really important. The heart.

Another thing that has happened with me before is that the moment all the dog and pony show stuff was over…I was left feeling a little empty. Unfulfilled. Like everything was riding on that one big moment and from there forward it was a downhill ride. Guilty as charged. And THAT is NOT how it should be. And the sad thing is that I hear this a lot from many couples.

I have a good friend whose marriage is still going beautifully strong. On her wedding day one of her friends got up and said something like, “I hope today is the day you love each other the least”. That confused my very immature brain at the time because I was still thinking upside down. I was still thinking immaturely about the goal of every little girl…to grow up, meet a prince and get married, married, married. The end.

Folks…that is dangerous thinking. After doing that twice…I am here to say – I finally get the statement that was made at that wedding all those years ago. It resonated in my brain for a long time. And now I finally get it. And I have shifted my goals as well.

My goal in this marriage is to act like I’m not married at all. To act like we are still kids dating, exploring, respecting and loving each other like it was our last day together. Rushing home from work because 9 hours apart was just a little too much. Considering the other’s feelings above our own. Longing looks – just because. And lots and lots of wrestling around, playing and laughing!!!

I hope today is the day I love that man the least. When I look back at our first dates, when I was falling in love and even back to the moment we first said outloud “I love you” – I realize how much MORE I love him now. So years from now – I hope to look back at today and think…wow – I thought I loved him “then”…look at us NOW!

There are a few of you that have achieved this. I can see it. Others see it. You know who you are too. You can feel it when you are set apart like that. Cheers to you for the inspiration and beauty you have made in the world. And not because it is easy. Not because your life is perfect. Not because every day is roses and chocolate. Because you are real, and you really love each other – no matter what – and more every day. You have made a strong and concious decision.

This weekend I said I do. Not, I did. It’s the purest joy I have ever felt. All because my goal on that day and even today – is that at this moment in time I loved my sweetheart less than I will tomorrow and years to come. And when you see us years from now, kissing in public and laughing out loud like college kids, you’ll think…they act like the most unmarried married couple I have ever seen.

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.

How to Save a Life

Yes. I love the Fray. But besides that…

Listening. Sometimes that’s all it takes to save a life. But sometimes that is just too much to ask. Sometimes there is just too much distraction, or not enough time or not enough interest. We go through our motions in life and miss so many opportunities to make a moment count. Lost in our own worlds, thoughts, and issues…we are completely unaware that the person right in front of us might just need someone to listen.

We get so used to functioning at some mediocre level in life in all our hustle and bustle. Talking about the days events, current issues, future plans. We are so very busy. When “how are you doing” is watered down to really mean – please just say good…I am not really interested in the details – especially if it isn’t an upbeat answer…you can feel like a sleep walking zombie if you are a deep thinker of any kind.

There is a time and place for everything. Yes. A time for being a little crazy, a time for playing air guitar with the kids like a maniac, a time to silly and funny and upbeat, a time to dance on the countertop…and yes…there is a time to dive deep and be real, and sometimes be sad or exhausted. I want to feel safe to be all these things. Not judged.

And sometimes when life has worn me down…I just need someone to listen, or even go out of their way to surprise me with a visit, call or text. My girlfriend did that one day. She just stopped over for coffee (unplanned!) one evening and we sat and talked and dreamed and connected. We sipped our yummy coffee with French vanilla creamer and Bailey’s, and took turns listening. It was an amazing thing she did for me. She showed me that I meant something to her.

Then I think…when have I done that for someone else? As a single working mom I don’t get to do that kind of sporadic thing…but I do make calls. I pour myself out. I carve time out of my busy schedule to be with the people I care about. But I know that I fail sometimes. Wrapped up in my own hectic schedule and world, I miss opportunities to be there for the people I care about too.

I get so upset at myself sometimes for needing anyone…for wanting to count on anyone. Why can’t I just be strong all alone all the time? I end up feeling all needy. I don’t like feeling needy. I would rather feel valuable, or worthwhile. I have found it takes a very special person to make you feel worthwhile instead of needy. I can be my same self with different people…but only my closest friends make me feel valuable, and not like a burden.

I am not sure I ever had someone to just listen before this year. Maybe it’s because I was never a good listener myself until this year. But I still fail at it sometimes. I fail at it most when I don’t feel like I receive the same gift back…and I feel so selfish for admitting that, but I am human and it is true. I feel like life is short – don’t waste my time and I won’t waste yours. But that may not be altogether the best attitude.

Which brings me to the next point – I have also never been this open, honest and vulnerable before. I have lived my life mostly afraid to just be real and honest. For me, a lot of it was because I had so much to hide…so many terrible dark secrets that I didn’t even know how to tell anyone. While I don’t think that certain things should be dwelled on, I do know for a fact that hiding certain things can eat away your soul.

So, a girl like me sometimes just needs someone to listen. I have a lot to tell sometimes. Unfortunately I carry a lot of pain around still. It isn’t right on the surface all the time now thankfully. I don’t carry it like a millstone around my neck. But now and then, I just need someone to listen. And not judge, or cringe, or conveniently exit just because things are a little difficult at the moment. The payoff is big for those that actually stick around. But again…it takes a very special person.

And even then – special people fail sometimes too.

And everyone needs second chances.

Some of you may argue that you can’t save anyone. I agree to a large extent. I can’t ‘save’ anyone else. But I can at least try to listen intentionally – and enhance or enrich someones life. And I hate to admit there were a few key times where just listening actually did save my life – whether I chose to live or whatever it was – someone listening at just the right time did help. God – I am so thankful to be beyond that.

But the thing is this: I can choose to make someone feel worthwhile or a like a burden. I have that kind of power.

So do you.

What are we gonna do with it?

The Lying the Witch and the Wardrobe

Man. Divorce is UGLY. Just when I think I am past the pettiness and I think I have made some ground in forgiveness…I have some insane relapse and lose my mind and become a ridiculous ranting lunatic. I have refrained from spewing any of that ugliness here on this space. I wish I could say the same in my every day personal life.

Unfortunately, like everyone else, I probably appear better on paper than in real life. I am so flawed, and human and I can get really mean sometimes. I recognize it. But in fairness…I do need to be provoked. I don’t just walk around all mean and ready to go off on whoever crosses my path. In fact, I would argue that it takes a lot to get me to the point where I was this morning.

I had a full blown tantrum this morning on my ex. In my mind I had plenty of good reasons – and honestly in a lot of people’s minds I had plenty of good reasons.

But is still doesn’t make it RIGHT. I usually conduct myself towards him with as much tolerance, acceptance and respect as I can possibly muster. But this morning I failed…the pressure cooker of life and circumstances heated up and I blew my top. Thus…the witch.

I know there are two sides to every story, but this is my blog. He can start his own blog and tell his side. I have done a fair job of identifying my own failures in previous blogs (see 10 ways to ensure your spouse cheats at: https://leelander.wordpress.com/2009/12/04/10-ways-to-ensure-your-spouse-will-chea/). I have been honest in owning up to my side of the break down of my marriage. Now it’s time to give a little insight into the hell I experienced and sometimes still do.

I had always been very tolerant and trusting of my husband’s friendship with a certain female colleague at work. I was secure in myself and trusted him. I had no reason to doubt his love for me. I was the girl of his childhood dreams…the one that got away…the golden standard that every girl or woman that followed in my 14 year old footsteps would have to live in the shadow of. I am not bragging…I have letters to prove these thoughts actually came from his own thoughts – fabricated or real.

Anyhoo…we go our separate ways in life, and find ourselves at a crossroads of life and decide that it must be fate and love and the chance we have been waiting for our whole lives. It was such a hallmark moment. So…after all that…when we got married, I was pretty secure in our story and future.

…But there was this one female colleague…

Long story short, I started having some suspicions, but not until AFTER we had our daughter did I actually stumble upon the evidence that proved my worst nightmare. I got hold of his cell phone log and found an overwhelming amount of calls and texts (I’m talking 1000s) at all hours of the day and night – many right from our own home…probably while he was sitting right beside me and his daughter.

It made me re-evaluate so many moments – and realize that the last year of our lives was NOTHING that I thought it was. While I was pregnant and nursing and being a mom…he was out romancing that blasted colleague…who was also married with children by the way.

Later I found evidence of hotel stays with her – here and there, and all those trips out to Denver to visit the headquarters of his work place were really orchestrated just to spend time out there to be with her. He was actually there more than here. I found out that the majority of the meetings he flew out there for – could have easily been done via conference call.

She came to visit the ‘Ohio Branch’ several times. I made her dinner, she held my children. We talked and laughed…but I felt something awkward…what the heck was it? What was I feeling? Why was I feeling so strange? Well…hello. It was because they were trying very hard to act normal and contain themselves…keep their hands off of each other around the nuisance…the wife…me.

For over a year he carried on like this and lied to me countless times – like probably millions (but whose counting?). Lying became second nature to him and I am not sure that even now he is fully dealing with reality. Thus the Lying. Heck…this could have been called the Lying King, because he probably did earn some kind of award or crown for the performance of a lifetime. He had lots of people fooled.

Looking back at these times is absolutely bizarre to me. I still can’t quite get my head around it. But the fact that I can even write this blog without blood boiling out of my eyes is a sign of progress. I really don’t “feel” anything about it anymore. It is just a good story now. It is one that I feel like telling because it is real. I promised myself that I would never blog angry. And I am true to that. So…this is actually a good sign of healing.

However…I am not immune to the anger, self pity and bitterness that can still creep up and attack me at any given moment on my walk to the higher places. Life is a constant battle of integrity and resisting the urge to give into our weaknesses. We all fail at this sometimes. I want to tell my story because even though I am making so much progress…I still fall down sometimes.

If you are out there and have experienced this kind of horrific event – finding out that everything you thought was your life was a lie…I want to say there is hope. You CAN move beyond the every day feelings of rejection, anger, worthlessness, depression and heal. BUT – in all reality…there is no magic wand that ERASES the event. You can move past the open wound and develop the scar that covers over the hole that was there. But that scar will always be there as a reminder.

And I guess I just wanted to say – give yourself a break if and when you do fall down and have a momentary relapse or resurgence of those very real and raw emotions. Hiding them and pretending you don’t feel them is more destructive sometimes than just acknowledging them.
But the other thing is – don’t stay there. Acknowledge the event or the pain…and then put it back where it belongs. In the past.

One day I will honestly completely forgive him and her. I have moments of it now and then. Like a blissful journey to another land where I have risen above the weight and strain of reality. I escape for weeks and months at a time now into that peaceful world of acceptance…like stepping into the magic wardrobe – I find myself in a place that I want to be…and know that I can return to as long as I believe.

I just can’t seem to hang on to it…so I know that I haven’t honestly and truly forgiven them. But I have hopes to one day…and not for them, but for me and my daughters. I am making progress towards that burning lamppost, but it is just going to take more time, more faith, more trust. I desire to be released from that prison of anger. My girls deserve it…and so do I.

So do you.

10 Ways to Ensure Your Spouse Will Cheat

Just a side note to start off with…How did Paul Simon ever get away with naming a song 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, when he really only listed about 7 or 8 ways and just repeated the same ones over and over? That’s just false advertising right there I tell ya!

With Jon Gosselin and now Tiger Woods (among probably tons of others – I just don’t keep up with the media enough) in the news for having affairs I felt it was time to look at the issue with my new found perspective.

I found out my husband was having an affair when our daughter was only a few months old. He had been having the affair for probably a year or more. I spent next 2 years in shock, crying, being angry, blaming him and the other woman, and in general acting as if I am some poor victim of a random crime scene. But here are some ugly and hard truths about how affairs can happen. And you will be surprised to find that the person that had the affair may not be the only one with guilt on their shoulders.

Now – let me be clear that I am NOT condoning affairs. They are highly destructive and cause unnecessary heartache for way too many people. But I have talked to both men and women on both sides of the coin enough to see some patterns that I feel are important enough to address.

If anything – maybe this will serve as a wakeup call to someone that might need a perspective check. So, as promised, here are (drum roll please)…

10 Ways to Ensure Your Spouse Cheats on You:

10. Stop stroking your spouse’s ego.

9. Withhold affection – there is always a legitimate excuse – especially if you are a parent of very young children and or working crazy long hours.

8. Justify or condone close friendships with the opposite sex in the office or elsewhere as just business. (I am not saying to be paranoid…but cautiously aware).

7. Dismiss or ignore bragging about how someone flirted with them. Folks – this is a cry for attention. They are trying to tell you that someone else is noticing them and that they are a great catch. They are testing the waters and letting you know that if you don’t match this attention, maybe someone else will. If you really want to send them into the arms of another right away, maybe even roll your eyes or become irritated when they tell you these things.

6. Be a martyr. Become so involved in parenting or working or anything else that the real you that your spouse fell in love with actually dies somewhere along the road.

5. Don’t go on date nights.

4. Rationalize late nights at the office and increased traveling.

3. Don’t fix yourself up or take care of yourself.

2. Give them a long leash and let them do whatever they want and never question him. This shows that you are really not interested in the details of their life and could care less what they do. (Note – I am not saying to be a control freak or accusatory here).

1. Think and actually believe, “That could NEVER happen to ME”.

Note* Doing these things does not automatically guarantee a spouse will cheat, but by practicing any of the above – especially all at the same time and for prolonged periods of time, can definitely help you be well on your way towards a miserable relationship. How your spouse will actually respond is up to each individual person.

Folks, let’s get real here. There are some rotten apples out there that are just cheaters by nature or whatever, but most people ‘want’ to do the right thing. Most people don’t go into marriage thinking, “Cool! Now I can have an affair!”

I am also not saying to go flog yourself now and spend the rest of your days blaming yourself if your spouse has had an affair. I could have easily named this blog – the top 10 ways to ensure you have a miserable relationship. Because quite honestly – even if you did ALL of these 10 things – it still doesn’t condone your spouse’s cheating (or leaving). Real love is responsible and doesn’t give up.

Because quite honestly – I have had all of those things done to me and I never cheated…however, we all handle hard cirumstances differently. When things get really tough in a relationship – I chose the martyr route, and several other of these listed above just for what I felt was survival at the time. For some people – survival means other things – like reaching out to the arms of a good friend of the opposite sex…

Some people are weaker or stronger than others, and in the end, having an affair is the personal and terrible choice of the individual that did it. I think anyone that is honest about having done it can (or should) admit that it was a terrible choice that had devastating consequences and that if they could take it back, they would.

If you are going through this situation – if you are currently a victim of an affair – let me say – get help if you need it. You can feel so terribly devastated, rejected, alone, terrified, confused, among many other things. You need to address your sadness and reach out to get the support you need to get back on your feet. You do NOT need any additional guilt trips or pain. You need healing, and time to sort things out. You can’t even see this perspective clearly right now. It has taken me 2 years to get here, really.

For everyone else – I am simply saying…maybe it’s time to wake up and realize that love is a two way street. If you want a great relationship, you have to want to give that too. And if you are sitting around looking at all the ways you wish you could change your spouse…you will surely continue living in a miserable place. You never know what just might happen if you start ‘giving’ the very things you ‘want’ most, and or addressing some of your own honest needs instead of acting all helpless and hopeless.

Ironic as heck that I am sitting here writing this, as I am divorced twice and currently single. Aren’t I all high and mighty? To be very clear here – this is not an “advice” blog as much as a “lessons learned along the way from me to me”. If you happen to be reading this and getting anything out of it – great!

I have to say that I am guilty of all of the 10 things listed above at one point or another. I have plenty of excuses and reasons for some of them. My husband traveled extensively and was a bit of a control freak/manipulator. It is hard to muster up certain feelings when you feel so neglected and abandoned yourself…but man – it has to start with someone.

What sucks is when one person is finally ready to reach out and ‘try’, but the other person is not in that same place and then vice versa. That creates a downward spiral that can lead to uncertain disaster. At some point – you have to come together to both want to fix things. You both have to admit – at the same time – you have both failed each other in some places.

I don’t know if I will get to use all my new found knowledge and insight and put it into practice on some very lucky next guy or not. I currently go back and forth as to if I even want to try. I do know that both my previous husbands would have very much appreciated my new perspective. But again it is about timing and it does take two. I recognized most of these things during the counseling sessions of my 2nd separation, but it was honestly too late. He was already gone.

Maybe for some of you, it is not too late. It’s too late for Jon and Kate. Tiger and Elin’s fate is yet to be determined. But when you hear the media flapping on and on about how terrible either of these guys are…remember they are just probably hurting too, in some way, and making really horrible choices trying to fill the void. I am still very sad for the loyal parties – it is a truly devastating place to be and again, I am not condoning the cheating party. I am just saying…there are 2 sides to every story, 10 ways to ensure your spouse cheats on you or leaves you and a million variables in between.

The little twig that could

Just when I think I am making some real progress in getting past last years divorce…I do something stupid and realize just how much I am still holding on to so much anger that I suddenly explode like a volcano erupting, spewing out all kinds of ungraceful comments that just don’t need to be said anymore.   How does he still manage to get me so worked up about stuff?  Why do I give him that kind of satisfaction? 

I mean, here I am thinking I am rising above it all and actually making some progress in the area of forgiveness, and he says or does something that opens up the scar and sends me back to square one, I lose my foothold on forward progress and come crashing down the mountain.  Not just a little stumble, ‘oopsies’ kind of thing.  We are talking like exteme sports kinda crashing – bone crushing, body slamming, lifeless ragdoll falling kind thing.  Yes, the kind that makes you squint, turn your head and say outloud, “Ouch”!  And just to clarify – I am only speaking figuratively…there is no physical abuse going on.  Just a very disappointing back slide of emotions. 

I think it has to do with his lack of repentence and consistent arrogance through this entire thing.  He claimed I was his dream girl of 20 years…his golden standard…the one that got away.   He finally gets me, knocks me up, then pursues another so called ‘dream’ while I am pregnant and having our baby.  It turns out I was just a thing to be conquered and put into a high tower.  He lied to me countless times…BIG, HAIRY lies…And he continues to do so and walk around like he is some great sincere guy.  It is mind boggling to me.     

I have read extensively on what happens to the psyche of people who’s spouses have had affairs.  I had to do this because I honestly thought I was losing my mind and since we spent too much money on a marriage counselor that only raped us financially, shook our hands and said, “Yep…looks like you guys are headed for a divorce.” I had no money left to get some much needed grieving counseling.

I have experienced such extreme lows and fits of rage this past year that it is embarrasing to blog it out, but I am simply doing so because maybe someone else can feel some comfort in maybe knowing that they are not crazy or alone if they have gone through or are going through something similar.  I am thankful to say I have never hurt anyone, my rage was always taken out on inadament objects like a poor unsuspecting cell phone or a plastic laundry detergent bottle or shoes.  They became little missles I would launch in the privacy of my own home when I was all alone.   

I have come so far.  Really.  Even my dad said to me recently that he is so glad to see me in such a better state of mind than last year.  He confessed he was so worried about me that he didn’t quite know what to do.  There was one time in particular that really scared him…I was in the very pit of despair…at the climax of vomitting out all the shock, pain and confusion…I was actually saying the words “I want to die”.  It wasn’t just words I was saying.  It was a deep groaning of my soul, an exhausted waving of the white flag, and death of a love that I didn’t want to accept. 

The ONLY thing that kept me from doing it was my girls.  That plus the fact that I remember distinctly the day that my own mother almost successfully attempted suicide.  She had tried several times with drugs that seemed more like a cry for attention.  But this time was different.  She had slit both ankles and wrists and was bleeding to death in the bathtub.  I was supposed to be the one to find her at the ripe age of 8 I am guessing…my childhood is a blur…exact dates and times escape me.  The only way I can place that age is because my brother and I are 8 years apart and he had just started driving. 

He had some kind of 6th sense going on that day.  He raced home from football practice early and found her in time to save her.  I got off the school bus to find an ambulance at the house, a stretcher carrying a lifeless body with a sheet covering it completely and my brother following behind as white as a ghost.  I really thought she was dead.  Life changed that day.  I have only thanked Mike once for that…because we have only spoke of this event once.  It is a memory too painful and horrifying that we as siblings just don’t approach.  But with all that said as much as I may have felt like wanting to do it…there is no way in hell I would ever do that to anyone I love…especially my own children.   

So I cried more last year – deep, convulsive, body shuttering sobbing – than I thought was possible.  When I wasn’t actively crying, I would passively stare off into space, sitting there lifeless, as my baby – not even one yet – would be trying to get my attention and looking at me as if to say, “umm…what’s up mommy…que pasa”? 

I remember thinking how thankful I was to have my sweet girls…keeping me going, but also forcing me to have to function, and respond to them and put on a happy face.  My ex and his parents told me to never let the children see me cry.  Well…my children saw me cry.  I did try to minmize it, but I wasn’t always successful.  I actually found it to be a chance to talk about emotions and how it is healthy to express yourself and be real, instead of putting on a fake plaster smile – at least with my older daughter.         

All this depression and emotion was a strange reaction to many because we had been fairly unhappy for quite some time.  Many people didn’t really see it as a surprise that he had been having an affair at all.  I, on the other hand had refused to see the truth, as many victims tend to do.  We make excuses, justifying events just because we are simply naive and in a blind state of love.  Also, if you are a loyal kind of soul, cheating is so unfathomable that it is honestly the last thing you would think ANYone would do…especially your own spouse.  You think to yourself – that could never happen to me.  

WAKE UP!! It CAN happen to you.  If you are married, you are at risk.  The break down of a marraige is like tooth decay.  Fortunately everyone is aware that you have to brush your teeth at least twice a day to keep your teeth from rotting out.  Well…marriage requires the same kind of proactive work.  Not just being aware of each others needs, perspective,  feelings, desires, and dreams but…actually loving that other person even when you don’t feel like they deserve it.

When spouses travel a lot, the risk increases exponentially.  My ex was gone 80% of the time and sometimes more.  When a spouse is gone that much, there is not a lot of time for the proactive kind of work that needs to be going on.  There is a lot of desperate action and reaction and starvation of emotions.  In my case…I just starting shutting down and going into a depression-and-isolation mode while he chose a more social, lean-on-a-close-friend kind of route. 

I could go and list all his offenses.  There are so many.  But I would only sound like a bitter and self righteous victim.  I am not blameless.  I ignored my spouses cries for attention.  Wrapped up in my own isolation and depression I couldn’t reach outside of my own selfish needs and give him what he desperately wanted and needed.  He, in his busyness of work and traveling, being pulled in a million directions and feeling overwhelmed couldn’t see beyond his own selfish needs to recognized my needs.  We both had such very different needs. 

He needed his ego stroked.  He needed to know that he was important, the greatest at whatever he was doing.  He needed to know he was the center of my world, a hero, the most important thing.  He needed someone to listen for hours upon hours about how he was the only one in the company that really cared or worked as hard as he did.  He needed physical acts of submission and love that I couldn’t sincerely muster up because I was so starved for so many other kinds of emotional needs that were not being met.  Men…you don’t just show up after being consistently absent from your family’s life and so many important events and get to have the Hollywood sex scene moment.  Wives – especially stay at home wives with younger children are exhausted and neglected and need a little more than a body fresh from the airport to get in the mood. 

At some point along the way, we ended up on very different pages of life.  That is how it happens.  The decay of a marriage.  Just like with teeth…it doesn’t happen over night.  It is a long term neglect that left alone slowly eats away.  Little by little a hug missed here, a hurtful comment there, and before you know it a chasm starts appearing – that left unchecked can become a grand canyon.  You look at your spouse one day and they are miles away from you though you are sitting on the same couch. 

I had always hoped that I would be a lucky statistic that got to talk to folks about how they can repair their marriage – because I had been there and we made it through!  But instead, I am a different statistic.  I just get to give some warning signs and observe where it went wrong.  Because two people really have to want to be a statistic on that survivor side together.  You just can’t do it alone.  Maybe that is why that marriage counselor washed his hands of us the 2nd visit we made to his office.  He was the expert who had seen that look in a cheating spouses eyes a million times.  He could spot a man who had already ’emotionally checked out of the marraige long ago’ when he saw it. 

I think in our case the chance for reparation had already passed.  Like a stage 4 cancer, I guess.  If we had only arrived at the counselor’s office a year ago…maybe there could have been a chance.  Though I was just silly enough to still believe in miracles.  It’s all total speculation at this point.  My ex happens to have a character flaw that put us at a disadvantage – he had already done this once.  I just didn’t really know all the details until my own marriage started crumbling – then people start revealing the ‘other side of the story’.  He had been married once before and had an affair and ended the marriage.

All this to say – I am just not over it all yet, dagonit.  As much as I wish I could stand here victorious and healed and restored…I am still just a work in progress.  I realize that I have not completely forgiven him or her.  I also have some serious struggles with trust.  As much as I would like to say I am beyond it all, I am just not.  I am still so angry.  I keep trying to let it go and move beyond it.  And, yes, I AM making progress, but I have just not arrived to that place of peace yet.  I have had moments of it.  I have more good days than bad now.  But I am still somehow under the influence of anger and unforgiveness. 

My hope this year is to get to the real root of it all.  It may not even be what I think it is.  I have had a rough life.  Not saying that in a poor, pitiful kind of thing…just in comparison to the majority of people I know.  It can take a toll on the soul after awhile.  In the interest of my girls and myself, this year, I hope to dig it up…get to the heart of it and get it behind me.  I couldn’t stop the decay of my marriage…well not in time.  But I can stop the decay of my soul.  I know it is all about perspective, but there is something even deeper that I need to embrace.  Perspective can change too easily depending on what side of the fence you are standing on from day to day. 

No, what I am talking about is deliverance.  The kind of thing that looks and feels like a miracle.  I couldn’t be that miracle of the ‘repaired marriage’ kind.  But I do hope to be a miracle of the ‘divorced single mom’ kind.  I hope to be the kind of person that people can honestly say – wow…now there is a gal that has been there and has it together now…a picture of hope and joy.  If for no one else in the world than for my girls.  I want them to see what total restoration looks like.

Yes, I am still a twig.  A little twig pushing my way through the dirt after a fire (if this is cyptic to you see the ‘about me’ page for clarification).  Still hoping and praying to be a big strong tree someday.  I’m a little twig that needs to dig deeper, stretch my roots deeper into the dirt to find the room and strength to keep reaching my arms up higher towards the sky.  That is the only way I am going to be the strong tree that my girls will need me to be.  The time is now – I know that I have to dig deeper to reach higher.