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

 

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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?