Re-Defining Moments

reflective drop

Sometimes the moments that turn our world upside down…are the very moments that bring shining clarity.

Defining moments. Do you have one? Or several?

It’s hard to believe that my defining moment was over 5 and a half years ago. Time is a weird thing. Because it seems like these really big moments – moments that change everything, like a birth of a child, or a death of a loved one, a cancer diagnosis – are both like yesterday and a life time ago at the same time.

For me, it was the moment I gave up. I surrendered to my demons. Depression had won. I will spare the terrifying details, but I am incredibly lucky to have survived to tell about it.

I choose to write about this now and then for a few reasons. I don’t want to ever forget it, or take my life for granted. And I promised to find a way to make that terrible negative into an incredible positive…though at the time, I had no idea what that even meant or if it were even possible.

At the time it was termed a break down. But since the years have passed, it has turned into my break THROUGH. Break away. Break loose. Break free. Break ANYTHING but, down.

But no one had a way of knowing that. And it’s not a common thing. Most people that go through something like that don’t bounce back. If anything, they become a repeat statistic and a disabled victim of society.

So people steered clear and waited…holding their breath to see what might become of me. Heck. I was one of those people too. I had no idea if I had what it took to rise above and become a fully functioning person again. For months it was like walking on thin ice for sure.

But to their surprise…and even more to mine…I am kicking some break-through ass over here people! I mean can I get a witness? And this is not a bragging moment about how great I am. This is a bragging moment about how THANKFUL I am! I mean this could have easily gone south and be a very dark story – probably on a grave stone.

So what set me apart from the stats? How did I beat the odds of becoming a revolving door into the psyche ward of what I have termed “catch and release”?

In one simple and easy word…Perspective.

It sounds too damn easy, right? So easy, it’s elusive. A trick. Too good to be true.

But here is the thing. Changing your perspective is not as easy as it sounds. It’s the same reason addicts rarely can break their chains. Chemicals carve deep canyons of darkness into our brains that make it almost impossible to climb out of in order to create new paths, and carve new canyons of light.

Changing your perspective is not as easy as just making a quick rash decision or new year resolution. It requires intense, thoughtful, soul searching reflection. It requires active intention…followed by actual actions. And then repetitive, intentional, thoughtful actions. Then follow up to those actions, and so on. It’s actual work!

Actions reaching toward a defined goal. Just as if you were working out. This is like a work out for your brain, emotions and soul. And instead of a goal of getting your body fit and healthy…your goal is to get brain and emotions fit and healthy. Just like working out – you have to be committed and do it even on the days you don’t feel like it! (And physically working out doesn’t hurt either).

And people…NEVER, EVER, discount the possibility or need to take doctor prescribed medication. It is really, really foolish to think you don’t need it. It’s as foolish as a diabetic refusing their meds. And in time, you may or may not even need them…but if a medical professional recommends it…for God’s sake try it. Depression is a chemical imbalance. Take it from me…Depression cannot be beaten on prayers alone.

I equate medication to a catalyst that flings you towards your goal of getting healthy. No matter how hard I had tried to break free of my dark canyon, I couldn’t jump high enough without that damn medication. As much as I may hate to admit it…it was just the kick in the ass I needed.

Each day I took baby steps. I had no idea what to expect. I just knew I had to keep taking one little step at a time. It required getting out of my comfort zone. Letting go of the past. Cutting off destructive people in my life. And most of all…finding the beauty in the every day life that was all around me. Everything that I took for granted before, was now like a child like wonder.

I didn’t know at the time how pivotal that last point was going to be in my life. I had always been a nature nut, but I didn’t know it was going to change me or save my life.

In my quest to go out and find beauty right where I was, I ended up discovering a whole new world I didn’t know really existed – right under my nose…under my feet…all around.

Rebuilding myself was not easy. It honestly was like being reborn. Maybe that is why it all came together the way it did. I had become child like. As if I were breathing, walking and seeing things – all for the first time.

I started going out and looking at frost up close for the first time – with the stubborn curiosity of a child. And what I found was extraordinary! The sheer detail in one tiny flake of frost is incredibly fascinating and humbling. Then I started studying individual snowflakes. And in the spring it was all about the morning dew drops

on ordinary grass and weeds that transformed the yard into sparkling jewels and reflective drops.

And now…I find it everywhere. Beauty in nearly everything. That has spilled over into many other areas of my life. I am more patient, kind, and forgiving – but far, far from perfect, and I don’t get it right every time. My kids and husband will be the first to tell you, I am still have limits and can lose my mind now and then. And there are still people in my life that present ever growth building potential. : )

The goal has never been perfection anyway! And that should never be your goal for anything either! That only sets you up for failure and giving up.

The goal is just baby steps forward, every day, toward some kind of goal. That’s all I still continue to do now. I just update my goals from time to time to keep me reaching and growing. Even when I take a few steps backwards…I am still so much farther forward than I was almost 6 years ago.

Newsflash…that’s all any successful person is doing anyway! Taking baby steps forward and totally winging it! I was reminded of that when I watched Cast Away this weekend. Great movie, and there is a line in there where he says, “I just had to keep breathing, and keep going. One day at a time”.

Look. There is no road map to any of this. But know you are not alone in any of this as well. Nature Nut stuff may not be your thing, and that is ok. But find something. Find your inner nerd child/kid and run with it like your life depended on it.

Life is short. Life is unfair. Life is hard. All obvious clichés. But life is also full of crazy beauty. Find it.

I share a lot of the beauty I find now with others online. Sometimes people are just as amazed as I was at some of these sights. And that spurs me on to keep going and dig even deeper. It’s not just for myself now, but helping others find the beauty right where they are too.

What started out as one day at a time, one photo at a time, has become a real passion. I am not the best photographer by any means. I don’t go out thinking I’m going to get the greatest shot ever. I just have fun. In my mind, I’m just a kid with a camera on a scavenger hunt. Cause that’s just it – I never know what I might find. And 9 times out of 10 the best picture I get any given day is a shot I had not planned on getting.

Look me up on Instagram @findbeautywhereyouare and if you find some amazing beauty right where you are – #it to #findbeautywhereyouare

It’s my little movement and tribute to jumping out of my dark canyon into a new lighter, sillier path. It would be the best compliment ever and be one more baby step toward making that negative into something positive, and towards something much bigger than me.

 

Have yourself a beautiful little rainy gray day

Conservatory 013_edited_edited 2

Kids have the ability to see what most adults have lost somewhere along the way…The ability to see joy – even in the rain.

I used to be the person that would get mad when it rained. Especially when it was a string of rainy days on end where it feels as if the world will always be a gray muddy mess.

I needed the sun! No, I deserved it! And if my expectations weren’t met I’d get all bent out of shape and let it ruin the day. Especially if was a Saturday or Sunday. I would spend so much energy being angry and focusing on what I didn’t get, that it would rob all the beauty that was waiting to be found right in front of me.

A different kind of beauty. The kind of beauty I couldn’t see. I couldn’t adjust my controlled plan on how things were “supposed to be” to allow myself to see what “is”.

My mind couldn’t process joy because it was focused on the injustice of having to work all sunny week and then be paid back with soggy gray weekends. Unfair!!

A whole world of awesomeness was awaiting me…all I needed to do was adjust my perspective. I wasted days and…really years to anger.

Life is different now.

At least in some ways. I am now 6 years removed from a messy divorce. Time has healed (and in some cases still healing) many of those battle scars and trust issues.

I also had to face that fact that I had carried a lot of unaddressed anger from an unconventional childhood with a mom that suffered from severe mental handicaps which had left me a prisoner of fear, anger and confusion in general.

That meant taking time to mourn, deal and move past these things instead of bury them or hide behind some mask. I had to learn to say I am NOT ok, get help, and give myself room to heal. I was letting all these negative factors dictate how I viewed the world.

But in many ways my life is very much same. Many of the same factors are at play. I am still me. Same city. Same job. Same general struggles and constraints (time, finances, health, etc.).

So what IS different? And why?

A few main things:

First, I stopped trying to control everything!!

I surrendered the inclination to have a plan for everything and insisting everything go according to that plan. OMG…do you know how exhausting it was to be responsible for everything? And how much potential fun was sucked out of the room (and my life) by being so rigid?

I had to, sorry, but true…”Let it Go” like Elsa, or “Shake it off” like Taylor.

And guess what – letting go of that control was very freeing! Even spontaneous and fun!

The problem I have now is being TOO spontaneous and lacking a plan for things that really do need some forethought (Maybe I’m making up for lost time).

Secondly, I accepted things as they are.

Me as me (flawed). Others as they are (flawed). Weather for what it is (unpredictable). Life for what it is (hard, unfair…yet wonderful).

No more comparing what “could” be or what “should” be. No more wishing for something different. Just plain and simple accepting what I have right in front of me and making the most of it!

That includes getting to the place of acceptance with even tough breaks like divorce or moms with schizophrenia and a host of other tragic things that can happen in ones life. Accept (on your own time line) and then move on.

And again…guess what? Sweet freedom. No more false expectations to live up to. Acceptance has paved the way towards transparency…vulnerability…realness. I have more genuine friendships and people in my life than ever before because of this.

So when this past spring break week was mixed with freezing temperatures, snow, and rain nearly every single day…It was ultimate test. Had I really changed? Or was I just blowing hot air?

I was beyond thankful and extra pleasantly surprised to find that somehow those lessons have sunk below the skin into the deep corners of my soul that so desperately needed it. Ironically – like a good hearty rain sinking deep into a thirsty garden patch.

I had the whole week off to spend one-on-one time with only my youngest, which I rarely get to do. And while my friends were on sunny fabulous beaches…it didn’t even make me frustrated or jealous that we were bundled in 5 layers and prepared for a monsoon, or snow storm, or a polar vortex, or…

I was genuinely happy for my friends because it was not about comparisons. It was about celebrating what I have right here right now. So all that mattered is that me and lil tid bit had 5 days to spend together however we wanted!

Though we had envisioned going hiking and having picnics at play grounds, we easily changed our plans for indoor things like the Conservatory, bowling and movies. And had a blast doing it.

Shopping for the cutest rain gear from head to toe was also a key strategic move so she could play and dance in the rain (and look extra ridiculously cute doing it)!. I mean what kid doesn’t love splashing in puddles? Well guess what? We did a LOT of that! I gave her free reign. Get to jumpin’ kid!

So – I can’t take all the credit. A little brown eyed girl had a lot to do with my joy. But had I still been in control freak angry mode…I might have not seen or even allowed all those wonderful things to just be.

Last point – These past few years I have made it a quest to seek out beauty right where I am. And let me tell you – when it rains, that is prime time to find some serious beauty right in your own yard. I honestly think that has also helped my perspective.

I get excited when it rains because I know I can head out when it stops and find all kinds of beautiful dew drops.

Just some dew drops on a blad of grass. #findbeautywhereyouare

Just some ordinary dew drops chilling on a blade of grass. #findbeautywhereyouare

Plus the creek will flow extra high and I can hear it if I open a window. And of course, there’s the potential for rainbows and may flowers and maybe faeries and unicorns if you look hard enough.

I guess what I am saying is: Perspective really is everything. Overcoming the past. Replacing anger/bitterness with childlike curiosity. Trading expectations for the serendipity. Basically, exchanging your grumpy pants for some cute galoshes.

I can’t say I have completely mastered this. At any given moment I am still on a sliding scale of humanness. All I can say is that I strive towards it. I surround myself with like minded people that ground me and pull me back to this direction if I start steering off course.

But, I highly recommend buying some rain boots and to throw out your narrow minded, limited script for heaven’s sake and have yourself a beautiful little rainy gray day!!

Conservatory 008

unscripted joy

The Medication Education…and other hard to talk about controversial stuff

ImageOn the Anniversary of the most life changing event of my life I have to say just how incredibly thankful I am.  2 years ago this month, in a long brewing state of increasing depression, I attempted to end my life.
 
While I was mortified about what I had done and incredibly lucky to survive it, I was told by the psychiatrists that after hearing my story, they were surprised it took me that long to actually try it.  Seriously…I was not being funny, because there is nothing funny about it…but yet, that statement actually is a bit amusing.
 
But I don’t take it lightly. In fact I promised myself to remember it, to not let it ever be in vain.  Not to dwell on it, no, but to remember it.  Remember the lessons learned, the warning signs, and to not let it be a secret, however degrading and embarrassing it feels at times. 
 
It has taken 2 years to be able to come completely clean and be open and honest about it in this forum. I have shared it at a few women’s conferences I have had the privilege to speak at, but never blogged about it because of the wide accessibility of it all.  
 
I guess I was afraid of what people would think.  I was ashamed I even did it – what with 2 amazing, beautiful daughters that depend on me. But mostly, I wanted to protect the people I loved the most.  My closest family members don’t even know about it…yet.  I have no idea if they ever read my blogs, but if they do…well…now they know too. 
 
Lastly, it has been incredibly hard to address this because I never wanted to make it seem like it is ok to try what I tried.  I am lucky…I survived.  But it was SO wrong.  That is NEVER an answer.  And up until now, I couldn’t find the words to articulate it in writing. 
 
So let me start off by addressing family members and even close friends.  Not just mine, but any surviving family members of anyone who has attempted or worse, successfully committed suicide. It is not your fault! Nothing you could have done, said, offered could have prevented it.  When a person gets to that final stage of actually going through with it…No one but themselves or supernatural forces can stop them.
 
Ironically, it took me experiencing it and thankfully surviving it, to understand that.  I had lived with years of guilt, confusion, anger and sadness that my own mother attempted it and very nearly succeeded to the point that she was incapacitated for several months after her brutal and intentional try.  I am sure my father and brother also carried that, and may still carry those feelings of burden.
 
But people – it has nothing to do you with you.  It has everything to do with the depressed person’s state of mind, self pity, misconceptions, confusion, and yes…a lot of pain and sadness all heaped up into an insurmountable mountain.  It is about the loss of hope, faith and love– altogether. 
 
It’s about honestly not being able to face life and feeling like death itself is the only justifiable state of being that might provide peace and quiet from the sadness…intense, debilitating kind of sadness.  The kind of sadness that doesn’t let up, but covers like a dark, damp fog and permeates into every fiber and membrane of a depressed persons being for not just days or weeks, but months maybe even years. 
 
The kind of irrational thinking that lies and tells the depressed person that they are better of gone than possibly inflicting the world with their presence any longer. The kind of sadness that tells even a mother or a father that their children would be better off without them than with such a wrecked, broken, useless shell of a human being.      
 
There is no one on earth that can convince anyone of anything different, once they have sunk that far.  The only thing that can save that person is a personal revelation of some kind – either supernatural or by their own power. 
 
So those of you that are walking around with nooses of guilt that you could have prevented it – get over it. It’s not about you.  And it is only robbing you of the joy that every person deserves to grasp for. And anger…is an appropriate feeling, but at some point you have to just get it all out and move on, or face living an emotionally crippled life, which doesn’t do any good for yourself, loved ones and the world in general.
 
That leaves only two other groups to address which I will lump into one…those of you who know someone who is depressed or those of you who are depressed.  There are sometimes warning signs, however, sometimes people are remarkably good at hiding them –even from themselves through acts of denial (that would be me). 
 
See…people knew I was sad, but no one knew what was coming.  Not really even myself.  I didn’t even leave a note.  I just pulled into the garage and waited.  However… (Um…Here’s a BIG red flag!!) I did a trial run a few days before! Before that I did a lot research on how to do it, what would happen, what to expect, etc.
 
Hello…if you are ever at this point…it is time to get help folks! It’s just like if a diabetic went into some kind of shock…this is your body trying to tell you not to ignore your chemically imbalanced brain anymore. 
 
Ok, since I brought up chemical imbalances.  Let’s not ignore the elephant in the room here.  It is quite possible that you may need to seek medical attention and yes…I am going to say it – God forbid…take…medication. 
 
I am a Christian.  But I have to really blunt and honest here…the Christian community is one of the most negligent of all communities when it comes to this.  Not that I am saying that medication is the answer all the time, but encouraging a severely depressed person to merely pray instead of seek medical attention is about as negligent as telling a person in cardiac arrest to pray themselves well.
 
I will let them off the hook and chalk it a matter of ignorance, but it is time to get real here. I have lived it.  I know. I needed medication to get to the point where I could even honestly pray right.  My mind was just too clouded by the time I reached a certain point.  I was not in my rational, right mind. Everything was distorted.  Much like a heart out of rhythm, my brain was out of rhythm, and it took the aid of medication to get it synced up again. There is no shame in that people.
 
We are blessed to have science and medical advances, and medicine is no more the enemy than alcohol or guns are. It’s how they are handled and used that makes them good or bad.    
 
OK…so besides medication…what are some other tangible things that can be done?
 
Do not isolate yourself. Or if you know someone who is depressed…try not to let them isolate themselves.  Again…not that you can save anyone once they reach a certain point…because let’s face it – we all have our own choices to make.  But, if you happen to be aware of yourself or someone else being depressed…intentionally reach out- Both ways.  Both the depressed person and friends of the depressed person.
 
Now this is key…depressed person – it is more important for YOU to reach out.  To try!  To pick up the phone.  But also understand – people are busy!  People are also incredibly self involved and largely unaware of other people’s true feelings.  Especially if they have never experienced depression.  Don’t hold it against them or make it a personal thing if people don’t revolve their schedules around you. 
 
This is hard for a depressed person to grasp, and if they are severely depressed, they will just be pissed at the world and themselves anyway.  But if you are just in a depressed state it is important for you to know not to take things so personal and to keep trying.  It’s possible to get out of a depression just by getting out and doing stuff you love.  With friends or just on your own.
 
Try to pinpoint when you started feeling depressed in the first place…was it around a job change? A move? A life event? Identifying the root cause is huge.  Then you can start addressing that root cause with truth.  A lot of times depression stems from disappointment, loss, or abuse that has gone unaddressed.
 
When big things go unaddressed, they stew and grow bigger under the surface and end up getting blown out of proportion and perspective.  Addressing the root cause can be monumental. 
 
Then – the big one – acceptance.  Some of the life changing events that left unaddressed causing depression may never be able to be undone or changed.  All that is left is acceptance.  Acceptance can conquer anger.  I am living proof.  Acceptance can conquer self pity.  Living proof of this too.  Accept that shit happens.  And it happens to really good people sometimes…for no good reasons sometimes. 
 
Then…the other big one.  Forgiveness.  And when bad things happen to good people and there IS someone to blame…there is forgiveness.  You must learn how to forgive the thing or person that caused the damage…even if that person is you.  Forgiveness is freedom.  It is your get out of jail and live free card. 
 
No one can unlock that door but yourself.  Stop living like some justified vigil ante or self piteous martyr or  embittered victim.   Take Tom Petty’s wise advice.  You don’t have to live like a refugee.  You have the right to be angry, but not to live in anger every day.  Be angry!  Get it out!  Then move on.  Forgiveness does not condone or justify…it releases you from the anger, guilt and bitterness that will choke the life right out of you.
 
So there you have it.  My uncertified, but personal tips for smacking yourself into healing.  And yes…if you pray – certainly do that.  I prayed a lot during those 5 days in the nuthouse.  Oh…the stories I have to tell, but that is for a different time. 
 
Now and then I think how tragic my baby girls lives would have been had I been successful.  I will always be so incredibly thankful to God, the police officers that responded and to the 3 friends that became sisters to me by the unconditional nonjudgemental love they showed me.  I have been given a second chance.  I became a butterfly…hope.  And hope gives more hope when it is out flying around, being seen, not being silent. 

To Blog or Not To Blog…

It seems I have a new reader. My ex. And it seems I owe him an apology for the way I have portrayed him in this blog.

First of all, let me be the first to welcome my new subscriber. Thanks so much for taking the time from your very busy and important life to care enough to read my thoughts. I find it a surprising use of your time. That would have been super handy about 3 years ago.

But I know it is not my thoughts that sends this new reader my way. It is self invested egocentric curiosity, research, and potential ammunition to use against me in some form or fashion.

He indicated that my perception is not the truth. I think he was asking me to remove some of the posts that might have reflected him in a negative light. I think he was also asking me to not continue blogging – at least not about him anymore.

This is the same man that bleeds heart and soul…Freedom of speech. Wow. Kinda interesting. I guess he means only for certain people or topics. But he is definitely off limits. He always was the exception to any rule.

I didn’t budge, so he decided to use the kids as a bargaining chip. Something to the effect that it would be terrible for the girls to read all this someday.

When he didn’t get the response he was hoping for, he threw the Bible card at me and started preaching about forgiveness, Christian behavior, and basically tried to guilt me into feeling like a really bad person for attempting to put into words – my side of the story. That if I were really the Christian that I claim to be that I would forgive, forget, take the high road and move on. He also pointed out that spewing negativity in the world is not attractive nor an attribute of love.

And finally the all encompassing “I’m sorry” tactic. I’m sorry, I can’t change the past, I have made my peace with God, etc. Let bygones by bygones, I sincerely hope you are happy, etc.

Granted – I am paraphrasing here – because yes…my memory sucks…and yes…I was in a bit of shock.

I used to be so naive and gullible. I was a golden retriever of spouses…loyal, trusting, trainable, etc. I used to need acceptance and peace so badly that I fell for any kind of manipulation in the disguised form of an oscar award earning performance, I mean apology – used car salesmen style.

I guess maybe it has to do with the lack of sincerity in the tone? Perhaps being lied to repeatedly for so long just brings about a whole new jaded sense of mistrust to my golden retriever personality.

He asked if spilling my guts in this public forum was helpful or useful. Again…with a hint of disgust at my apparent slander, warped perception and possible defamation of his character and reputation.

I have to say I am flattered, in a strange, twisted way. This is just a little blog pushed off to a small corner of the world that a small handful of readers (thanks) happen to make time to read occasionally. I didn’t realize I would create such a stir.

But in all honesty…this is not about him. As much as he thinks it is. He is not a serotinous woman. He happens to be a small part of the picture within this tapestry of many colors. Also – I have never used his name. Unless you know me or him, he gets to remain anonymous. And most people that know me – still don’t know him because he was just never around enough.

If I were to cave in and remove or censor posts that he is referenced in (I will use his own freedom of speech and case against censorship on him)…then where else does that lead? What is next? If I start removing strings from the tapestry…it kind of all starts to unravel. If you remove paint from a canvas…it is no longer the original work of art that it was.

I don’t want to be that scared little rabbit anymore. Running from my fears. Responding to threats or the discomforts of others to the detriment of my own well being.

At the time of the affair – I reached out to everyone I could think of for help. I didn’t realize that I was grasping at straws. My life became a fun house of mirrors, and dead ends. Everything I thought was stable fell out beneath my feet. Not only did I lose a husband, but I lost his parents, a select group of his friends, not to mention my childhood dreams of a stable home – a solid, steady foundation for raising kids.

I wore 5 amazing individuals completely out with my over analyzing, repeated thoughts, snot nosed sob sessions, and rants. But at some point – you have to get it all out and shut up. They are my heroes. The selfless ones that helped me from losing my mind…well…debatable. But I found I still had more to say. A lot more. I had more to say then people had time to listen. I had more to say then I had time to talk.

So has this been helpful and if so…how? And why on earth would I continue to blog?

This is the first place I have ever been so completely honest and open about all of my thoughts, my experiences and my life – ever. By honest – yes, I do mean my perception of things. That is all I do know for sure – my perspective. I think it was his mom that once told me that perception is reality. In this blog I have not knowingly lied or mislead anyone. I have expressed my limited point of view through my filters, broken heart and shattered dreams.

Never before have I ever felt so liberated. I have lived the majority of my life, as a scared little quiet mouse, being victimized from one event to another, not saying a word to anyone…just taking it. I never wanted to make anyone feel uncomfortable, or I was shielding my loved ones from reality. I carried the dark details and burden of rapes and molestations, among many other events all alone.

And when I did let my guard down and tell a few select people – they used it as leverage to hold over my head as they threatened to tell someone about it. Now I have diffused that bomb. I released the truth – the good, bad and ugly. I don’t have any deep dark secrets anymore.

What my ex failed to mention is that I have also been self deprecating, dreadfully honest about my own flaws, admitted my faults and accepted responsibility for my shortcomings as a spouse (as a parent, a sister, and human in general). I continue to admit my weaknesses as I struggle with all kinds of topics from religion to silly things. That is just who I am.

I also need to say that I made a personal pact to myself and readers that I would never blog angry, or immature, Jerry Springer-like tirades (I save that for those 5 special people), or use this platform as a negative venting session about anyone – especially him. Now that is not to say that I have never used not-so-endearing adjectives to describe him in some cases.

Words like opinionated, dominating, controlling, manipulative, unwavering, relentless, driven, compulsive, obsessive, persuasive, convincing…hmm…I think that about covers it. Any of you folks that know him (because apparently a lot of his fan club reads this blog too) – have I missed anything? Some of these words he has even used to describe himself. I think that knowing your weaknesses can actually be a strength, so hats off to him for that.

So his last comment was a disgusted, “All I can do is ask”. I know that tone. I know what is coming. Retaliation. I suspect legal action or at least threats of it, or perhaps a new blog will be appearing in cyber space to tell his side. Because after all…we all have freedom of speech.

The thing is…I think I have already represented his side. 10 Ways To Ensure your Spouse Will Cheat On You is a good example of my candid honesty and my contribution to the demise of our marriage. I am not perfect. I am not a victim. But yes…I was broken, abandoned, and cheated on (in some capacity) while I was pregnant and nursing our child. And that just sucks…anyway you look at it.

If he does attempt a retaliation blog or tactic, the difference will be that I do this out of a passion to write, out of a freedom of speech, out of a need to let all the years of pain out into the light. Because the truth – yes, my truth – does set me free. I am encouraged to keep writing because I have heard from too many readers that found comfort in knowing that they are not alone or perhaps just knowing someone is even more messed up than them.

In spite of his perception, I honestly have tried to make it as fair as I know how at this stage in my progress. I have attempted to approach hard topics with emotional intelligence, insight, honesty, integrity and whenever possible try to find a positive spin on it. If that is not always possible – then I just try to be as open and candid and throw some ridiculous humor in with whatever hard topic I may be talking about as I can.

I have been blogging for nearly a year. It started as an experiment. I had no real preconceived notions or agenda. I didn’t even know if I could sustain it. All I knew was that I had a desire to write it out. A mission to address my silent demons…to bring monsters of the past out into the open to reflect, examine and analyze all different aspects of emotional and psychological impact. The amazing thing I am finding is that the monsters aren’t quite as big and scary when they are brought out into the light. It kind of minimizes their power or stronghold.

But I also get to show the other side of me. The goofy, nerdy part. The twisted sense of humor that people either really love or hate. I am a Nat Geo, science/nature geek at heart. I am sarcastic sometimes to a fault. I have a bit of a warped imagination and have enjoyed being able to share some of those sillier sides of me as well. For instance when I have been subjected to too many kid shows…I start picturing some fairly disturbing inappropriate content in my head…I’m just saying.

Lastly, and ironically – this blog has helped me march towards forgiveness. No I haven’t reached my goal completely. I have had moments of peace, clarity, hope, and progress towards it. He is asking me to do something magically overnight, that I am learning is an honest to God process. Putting a forgiveness bandaid on my forehead for all to see just to make it presentable is not the kind of superficial healing I am seeking. I am seeking deep down, soul changing, honest forgiveness. And I am moving towards it.

Honestly – I didn’t expect anyone to read this blog, let alone keep coming back. It has turned out to be so much more than an experiment. This is my space. I don’t have a million dollar therapist…I have this blog. This blog and this paddle ball game…That’s all I need. This blog, this paddle ball game and this lamp. And that’s all I need.

And this pillow…

OMG it’s late. Good night all my readers – old and new.

Mowing Season

I mowed my own grass this weekend. Now that doesn’t sound like much of an accomplishment, and on the surface it isn’t. But for me it was a big deal. I got to do a lot of thinking while I just walked and mowed. It marks not only a new season of growing for the grass…but for me too.

2 years ago I was suddenly completely unaware I had grass in my yard. It seems like I forgot I even had a yard. I was in complete shock as I had just discovered that my husband who I had mistaken for the love of my life was having an affair on me with a woman from his work that I had met several times.

The shock and awe of it all consumed me. On top of it all, this was happening while I was pregnant and just had our sweet baby girl. Trying to come to terms with the double life he and she had been leading for years was almost more than I could handle. I shut down.

The house and yard and the many blessings that I had been so thankful for became a strange, unfamiliar place. Everything I thought I knew…was a lie. I unattached myself from it all for a period of time. Partly just to survive. I learned a serious lesson – that it is ok to ask for help, and admit you can’t do life all alone – especially when you are injured.

No one would expect someone to keep up with all the housework, yard work, and children all alone if they had just had triple by pass surgery. But most people were largely unaware of the gaping hole in my heart because no one could physically see it. My dad and wonderful stepmom had mercy on me and came to mow my grass. In between that I paid to have it done.

I simply didn’t have the capacity, wits, or ownership left in me to do it. I had a new born, and a six year old at the time and was suddenly a single mom, in the true since of it. My husband had always traveled extensively and I was alone a lot, but I was now living in a shell of a house, shattered dreams and reliving every moment I had lived the 2 years previously realizing that nothing was what I thought it was.

She had been in this house. She had violated my space. She touched my children. She ate meals that I cooked and or bought for her. He was texting her and giving himself away to her under this roof we shared – sometimes while the children and I were in the same room I found out by looking at the phone logs! This house was no longer our house. The yard was no longer our yard. It was a fallen battle ground. It was a sad reminder of the carnage and loss I had suffered.

HOWEVER…that kind of mentality doesn’t last forever. I have to say – it is important to mourn, and get it all out.

But then MOVE ON.

I have mowed my grass twice already this season. I no longer see this place as a shell, or a battleground of defeat. It is just the opposite. This is now a place of victory. We made it…well…me and the girls. We survived. A bit bruised, a loss of innocence too soon, but stronger and more aware.

I am getting ready to hand the house over to him. I am getting my name off of it and he can pick up the pieces that he scattered all over the place. He was gone for so long – under the convenient disguise of “business travels”. And he has continued to dodge a lot of the reality and responsibility of being a full time parent and home owner. I can only hope that at some point he will grow up.

It’s kind of funny or ironic that just when I am able to start feeling capable of caring for a big place like this on my own, that I am now ready to give it up. I consider it just another sign of healing. A sign of awareness. A renewed since of independence, emotional maturity and glimpses of clarity. And lots of prayer, good friends and support.

I’m ready for whatever lies next. Whether it’s a condo, or an apartment where I don’t have to mow…or whether it is a little place to make our own where we get to bring our own mower and I get to mow to my hearts content.

Look out world…I found my walking and mowing shoes…

It’s mowing season.

vroom, vroom!

My 100th Post!

It’s hard to believe I’ve posted 99 blogs. I hear a Nina parody coming on…99 red nuftblogs…er, maybe not. But that makes this my 100th post!

When I started this experiment last August, I had no real expectations. I only hoped I would have the guts to be real, honest, and not sound angry. I wanted to document my journey from devastation, to a place that I only hoped I would be one day…a place of healing and restoration.

I started blogging for my own selfish reasons. I felt I had something to say, and I needed to get it out. I had kept so many things a dark hidden secret for so long, I just had the urge to bring it out into the light, call it what it is, and talk frankly about the psychology all along the way. I guess I was looking for a release.

I also did it somewhat for my girls who I figure, might one day read this when they are old enough. They are the big reason I try very hard to rise above the pettiness and not verbally trash anyone out…even if they desperately deserve it. I have saved those moments for a select few very close friends whom won’t judge nor disown me when I sink to those depths. But for my girls I wanted to be open, honest, and reflective about life, my pain, my mistakes, all the beauty, and lessons along the way.

But somewhere along the way I realized I was no longer just blogging for me and my girls. I was blogging for 100’s of faithful readers that keep coming back to renter into this window I have opened for people to peer into, look around and feel almost guilty for getting such an intimate look inside, yet still feel like a stranger. It’s a one sided deal unless you comment. But only a small minority actually do.

That started bumming me out at some point, until I reminded myself that my true audience is me. But still, it is amazing how many people I end up talking to that actually read, felt like commenting, but didn’t even know what to say. I love you any way.

So where am I on my timeline from devastation to restoration? Still somewhere in the middle, but leaning well towards the latter. I still have my moments…self pity, doubt, and other silly emotions creep in, but I spend more time living, laughing, learning and loving.

I really appreciate you, readers. Thanks for making this blog experiment more positive than I had ever imagined. Whether you comment or not, I can see your silent partnership in my anonymous stats tracker. Even if I don’t know who you are or what you are thinking back, I know I am not alone, and somehow that is more encouraging than I could have ever known it would be.

So – happy 100th post! Cheers, and I look forward to whatever the future holds. More blogs, web sites, published books, music recorded, possible companies founded, but most importantly, lives touched and encouraged all along the way. One little step at a time.

Love,
Lee

Removing your own internal organs

When you go through a divorce with children the cliche phrase “It feels like my heart is being ripped out”, becomes more than just a dramatic statement. It is about the only way to accurately describe the manifestation of the pain you emotionally feel…but for me – I physically felt it. My heart physically hurt…my whole body hurt.

I even starved myself for awhile and I found out somewhere along the way that it wasn’t just because I was not hungry – but it dawned on me that I actually “liked” the pain of being hungry all the time because it kind of masked the pain in my heart!

In my case it was all so shocking. I had just had our daughter when I found out about the affair my husband had been having for a year and maybe more. Though we had not had the most stellar of marriages, I honestly did not see that coming. He was traveling excessively, I was a pregnant stay at home mom – and these situations can cause some stress on any marriage. We were finally having a baby together for heaven’s sake! For some odd reason I thought we were on the same team!

So when I found out about it and the way I found out about it (phone records and hotel receipts) I was in shock. I even fought to somehow overcome it and keep the marriage together, but he didn’t want that. He had already moved on.

It was completely bizarre to me. After all the professions of his love to me – I was the golden girl that got away. His childhood dream girl that he finally got to be with. The one he had been waiting, hoping and dreaming of his whole life. No…I really didn’t think he would so easily jump on board another train at such a critical time. Blah Blah Blah…

The shock and pain of a marriage dying and crumbling was bad enough…but there were children involved.

So to say my heart felt like it was being ripped out is kind of an understatement. More accurately – it felt like I was being asked to remove my own major internal organs. Reading over all the legal documentation and trying to work out visitation schedules – this is specifically where it felt like I was reading instructions from some foreign piece of paper and trying to slit open my body and figure out which organ is the right one to take out.

First of all – I never wanted the divorce and secondly – now I am being asked – “So which major holidays would you like to willingly give up your child for?” WHAT?!?! And the questions are asked with such coldness and ease – as if this were just the most normal question in the world. While my spouse is across the table acting like this IS the most normal thing in the world. OMG! My heart is racing, I feel like passing out…where is the door, some help…something!”

It felt like I was in some science fiction movie where nothing was making sense. I am being asked to decide or do something that I really shouldn’t be asked to EVER do! And everyone is just staring with normal expressions on their face handing me the pen, asking me to sign so nonchanlantly. I want to scream “I am being asked to sign something that says I willingly agree to NOT be with my lovies on certain days!! What kind of mom does that make me?!?!?! What kind of person does that make me?”

Can you just imagine someone handing you a knife and spinning a wheel with different internal organs to see which one it lands on and then ask you to go ahead and cut yourself open and hand that one over.

Maybe I am being ridiculous, but you moms and dads of the world out there try waking up to an empty house on Easter morning and see if I am really ridiculous. It is just not normal. It feels completely foreign. I am lost. Despite the joy that I am supposed to feel on this day, I feel like I am missing all the best parts of me.

And if any of you want to throw at me – “Just focus on what Easter is really about – Jesus”…Well I would ask you to think before you talk, because the irony of your statement reaches hypocrisy at an alarming rate. Because this holiday is so important to me and because I do love God and Jesus and all that – it makes it even a bit harder because that is also part of what I want to share with my girls who are not waking up in their beds this morning with their sweet little faces and voices and snuggles.

And yes – then there is the “pagan” rituals – like Easter egg hunts and little girls in beautiful spring dresses and bonnets. And though I took my little one to an egg hunt yesterday – I am still hearing the sounds of laughter and joy from other kids right outside my window – the neighbor kids that my girls should be right there mixed in with. It is kind of sad when a childrens laughter is actually a source of sadness.

Despite how much I have worked on buliding “me” back up and working towards restoration…this is the part that will probably never be OK. Not being with my children during important holidays that mean so much to me will probably never be “comfortable”.

I think I have talked a big talk and made it sound like it does get better in time. Maybe it does…I guess even people who have had internal organs actually removed can survive sometimes depending on the criticalness of the organ itself. But that person is never really the same. They are always missing that part of themselves.

I guess if anyone out there that is still married – if you have ever considered divorce as a simple option – or even a not so simple option – I would just encourage you to think about it. Are you ready to do a self inflicted surgery on yourself?

Happy Easter.