It Had to Happen This Way

Thank You (Photo credit: thoughtfulbeliever)

Recently I came across an old email from the man I once believed was the love my life…my soulmate. I wasn’t looking for it. I was searching for something else. I thought for a moment about not opening it. Just going on my way. But it had been a while. And I was curious. You know how that goes.

His words were so sweet. My heart softened as I read them. It was from the beginning of our relationship, a time so full of hope and promise. A time when we both believed we would be together forever. A time when we thought we had found that ever-elusive fairytale in our love for one another.

Some would argue (and have) that I should delete those emails so I won’t be reminded of the pain I felt when that relationship suddenly ended. I see their point. No one wants to feel bad. But I look at it differently. Just because the relationship ended doesn’t mean I have to close the door on those feelings. Love isn’t so black and white. And sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly low, it’s nice to be reminded that someone loved me that much. If only for a short time.

It’s been two years today since he broke my heart. I’m not focusing on it, but it’s there…lurking around in the back of my mind. The anniversaries of significant life events are hard to shake. Maybe you’re not supposed to. Daphne Rose Kingma wrote in her book, Coming Apart, “Next to the death of a loved one, the ending of a relationship is the single most emotionally painful experience that any of us ever goes through.” I can attest to that.

Sometimes I’m still angry with him. He handled it so poorly. But in his defense, there was really no way he could have ended things that I would’ve agreed with. I didn’t want it to end. And yet, there are moments now I feel I should thank him. When I lost the thing I thought was most important to me, when I no longer had someone to focus my attention on, I was forced to focus on me.

So much has changed in the last two years. I’ve taken risks and challenged myself in ways I previously hadn’t though possible. I’ve realized I have a calling as a writer. This blog is a direct result of experiencing something so painful I felt my whole world was falling apart. I am also completing a course to become a life coach. A course I had no idea when I signed up how I would pay for. I’m leaving my current job to find more fulfilling work. I’m still scared all the time, but now I don’t let that stop me. Life is short. What you think will last forever can be gone in an instant.

I still feel sadness from time to time. And I often miss having him in my life. It hasn’t been easy, but I know it had to happen this way. Though I would not have chosen this path, I am grateful for where it has led me–and for the person I continue to become.


Suck it Up. Push Through. Don’t Complain.

This is the mantra I’ve lived by most of my life. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing. It has enabled me to accomplish many things I’m proud of. My ex-boyfriend used to tell me “you always come through in the end…that’s your way.” It feels good to know I can be counted on.

The problem lies in taking it too far. In moderation it works. It’s when I take it to the extreme that it becomes harmful. To my health. To my relationships. To my sanity. So the irony of my post about learning to unplug is that I didn’t really learn a damn thing.

Sadly it took several more months of pushing myself, working long hours and finally enduring daily physical pain, headaches, and exhaustion for me to make a change. After a particularly difficult weekend where I literally did not leave my couch, I decided to see a doctor. I had been reading “Tired of Being Tired” by Dr. Jesse Lynn Hanley and I had gotten to the point where I feared if I didn’t do something soon, I would either be bed-ridden or hospitalized. It was that serious. The doctor confirmed I have adrenal fatigue.

It’s not surprising. I’ve been going non-stop for about three years now. And if I’m completely honest with myself, I have not been feeling well for at least the last year. I attributed my lack of motivation and energy to many things, but not to actually being sick. I kept kicking myself for procrastinating, being lazy, sleeping or watching TV instead of doing all the things I say are important to me. And all this just made me feel lousy. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I get my act together?

I think the expectation on women to ‘do it all’ and do it well and with a smile on your face and while looking beautiful is something we all struggle with. We believe we should be able to pull off the impossible and when we fail (and we often do), we berate ourselves for not being enough.

Many days I feel tired. Really tired. Completely unmotivated. I push through the workweek vowing to get to my personal to do list over the weekend. Then the weekend comes and I don’t want to do any of those things. And I feel guilty. I should clean my house. I need to get caught up on my coaching course. I should work harder at finding a new job. Sometimes I force myself. We all know how great that feels. Not.

I have bought into the societal stigma of needing to prove my worth. If I just ‘do’ enough, I’ll be ‘good’ enough. I kept pushing myself to prove something to other people who probably wish they could slow down too. You know what I’m talking about.

But what if I’m already good enough–without doing a damn thing? What if we all are? No matter how hard I work, or how much I get done, there’s no merit badge I’m going to earn that proves I’m enough. As my friends have often told me, the ‘S’ in my name doesn’t stand for SuperWoman. There’s nothing for me to do. So I’m learning to listen to my body. To rest when I need to. And not give in to the voice in my head that says I’m being lazy.

Jeanette Maw nailed it in her blog post, The Art of Not Getting It Done. She said, ‎”When the world wants more from you than you care to deliver, know that overextending yourself doesn’t do anyone any favors.” Breathe that in. Let it sink into your soul. And then…go take a nap!

Mother Nature Knows Best: Learning to Unplug

IMG_0848I wrote this back in January when we had a crazy ice storm that knocked out the power for four long, cold days. I took the time to describe that experience, but for some reason, never posted it. My guess is, the power came back on and just like that, the crazy pace of my life was back. Ironic really, considering what’s happened since this day. But we’ll leave that for another post. While it seems a little strange to talk about an ice storm just as summer has arrived, the underlying message is as pertinent as ever. So dust off your imagination, turn up the air conditioner (if you have it) and pretend it’s the dead of winter. C’mon…work with me here!

January 22, 2012

The last few months have been crazy…insane, really. Working 10, 12 hours or more a day to still feel behind is depressing at best. Being without power for the last four days has not been easy. But it has its upside. There were a number of things I did that I might not otherwise have made the time for given the choice. I did realize how completely dependent we’ve become on our electronics. And how we seem utterly unable to entertain ourselves without them. I know the panic I felt when I couldn’t work…knowing I was expected to. I almost couldn’t enjoy that first day because it felt so stressful. But looking back it feels like the best thing that could’ve happened.

I spent Thursday afternoon just hanging out with Kyle. We played Mouse Trap, which he did not enjoy. We threw the Nerf football around the house. Well, really he mostly threw it at me when I wasn’t looking then laughed at me when I didn’t catch it. That seemed to be entertaining for him at least. I found a mini Frisbee I didn’t know I had and we played with that for a while. We made dinner on the BBQ so we could have something warm to eat. We watched a movie on the remaining battery power of the laptop. Then camped out in the living room in front of the fire.  While it was frustrating trying to entertain a 14 year old with no electricity, all in all, it was some of the nicest time we’ve had together in a while. I couldn’t work and he couldn’t play video games. We had to interact.

Friday we found out my mom had power at her office so we packed up and spent the day there. Kyle got to play his video game and I got some work done. But we were in the same room together at least…and we were warm! I got to visit some with my mom and my uncle, who also happened to be at her office that day. I don’t remember the last time I saw my uncle. And other than the holiday, I haven’t spent that much time with my mom in a long time. I’m ashamed to admit we’re both so busy with work, we don’t make the time for much else.

Saturday Kyle went to his dad’s and I spent more time with my mom as we worked and visited in her office. That night there was more camping out in the living room with Mitch and Celeste. Hot cocoa with peppermint schnapps made by boiling water on the BBQ. S’mores in the fireplace. All things I could do any time, but don’t. Not having power forced me out of my normal routine into something slower, more deliberate, more thoughtful.

As I sit here watching the battery on my laptop slowly die, it occurs to me I’m not sure I want the power back. I mean, of course I miss being warm in my own home and not worrying about keeping the food cold in the fridge. I have become very attached to my modern life. But I am also loving the slowness. The quietness. The stillness. When you can’t do much, it forces you to rethink things. To question what you’re doing and why. And I’ll admit I haven’t done much of that in the last year. I’ve been going so hard and fast, I hadn’t realize I’d lost the ability to slow down and enjoy it. It just hit me that for the first time in a long time, I don’t feel anxious, worried, in a hurry. And even though I’m sitting in front of my fireplace all bundled up, it feels nice. I can think again, enjoy things, breath.

So thank you Mother Nature! For forcing me to do what I wouldn’t do myself. And for reminding me of my true nature. Do I want my heat back? Of course I do. But am I dreading that fast paced life I’m used to living? I am. While I wish I could say I’ve learned my lesson and I’ll never go back to that harried life again, I know that’s not really true. But I hope I can hold onto the feeling the last few days has given me. And remember that the beauty of life is not in the busyness, the running, the doing. It’s in those still, small moments when time seems to stand still. When I can’t do anything else except notice how wonderful it is to just be.

There Might Always Be Days Like This

You’ve heard the phrase before, “time heals all wounds.” I think it’s been said so long and so often by so many we don’t even question it. But is it really true? Does time really heal everything? Or is that just what people tell you when they’re uncomfortable with your pain?

I think what bothers me most about what this statement implies is that there will supposedly come a day when you will never feel that pain again. You’re healed! Hallelujah! And if after said magical period of time you haven’t ‘gotten over it’, well, there must be something wrong with you. But I just don’t think it works that way. No matter how much time has passed or how much work I’ve done, it seems there are still days when the pain comes flooding back. I’ll be doing my thing, minding my own business, and suddenly something sparks a memory. A good memory. And, like an unexpected storm on a sunny afternoon, I find myself in a torrential downpour of emotions.

Often the pain is accompanied by a chorus of thoughts such as, “what’s wrong with you?” And “you should be over this by now.” And for a split second I am tempted to swallow the tears and push on through my day. But I know resisting the pain won’t make it go away. Resisting only tightens its grip. Actually, the opposite is true. It’s when I give in to the sadness, the grief, the sorrow–when I lean into the pain–that it is able to move through me.

If you’re reading this and are concerned I’m wallowing, I’m not. I believe there’s a reason for everything. Even when we can’t see it or understand it. Even when it hurts us. And most days now I can see that dark cloud’s silver lining. Can I recognize the positive things that have happened since that day? Of course! Am I grateful for the many amazing people who’ve come into my life as a result of this new path? Absolutely! Does the pain still bring me to my knees from time to time? It does.

So does time really heal all? I guess it depends on how you define ‘healed’. It is my belief you will never be the same again. That experience will always be a part of the person you are. There are just some things in life that leave you forever changed. But that doesn’t mean you’ll never be happy again. I’ve discovered pain and happiness can coexist. Each weaving in and out of your life creating the tapestry of you. I don’t believe you get over anything…I believe you go through it, and feel it, and talk about it, and little by little you start to feel joy again. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen. In its own time. Really.

Exciting News To Share: Debbie Ford’s Most Personal and Powerful Work Yet!

I know it’s been a while since I posted here. When I started this blog, it was my intention to post something weekly. That has not been the case. I have lots to talk about and I’m hoping you will be patient and stick with me as I work through some recent challenges. In the meantime, I have some news I just couldn’t wait to share!

Debbie Ford and her work have been instrumental in helping me navigate through some pretty significant breakthroughs in my life. Before I started doing Debbie’s work, my emotional baggage ran the gamut; from being paralyzed by fear to playing the victim and blaming others for my circumstances and everything in between. And until I went to her Shadow Process Workshop, I was unable to see how I played a part in everything I thought was wrong with my life. I am forever grateful for her courage to share her shadows so I could look at mine. And I am truly honored to be able to share her latest work with you…

::For decades, New York Times bestselling author Debbie Ford has been helping people break free from the emotional baggage that has held them hostage. With her new book Courage: Overcoming Fear and Igniting Self-Confidence, she offers her most personal, powerful, and potent work to date.—a proven process for overcoming insecurity and fear and unlocking the enormous courage that resides within.

Debbie Ford has excelled in the school of life, overcoming drug addiction, divorce, a heartbreaking betrayal, and a grave cancer diagnosis. How did she find the courage, confidence and strength to become one of the world’s foremost thought leaders? She tells us in this book. And she outlines a powerful process to help you become all you have wanted to be.

COURAGE is a book about transforming fear, unworthiness, insecurity and powerlessness into courage, confidence and emotional freedom. This book outlines a transformational process that will deliver you to a version of yourself and your life that will inspire, excite and exhilarate you. In this book, you will discover how to accept and transform your flaws, your misgivings, your weaknesses, and your fears. You will learn how to be confident, stand in your strength, and feel great about your life.  You will activate the seven guiding principles of courage to become strong, powerful, confident and courageous.

And you will experience a new kind of courage and a new kind of confidence that will propel you into an infinitely beautiful and inspiring future.  I promise you that when you recognize the strength, power, and freedom of the courage that has been present in you all along, you will realize that you have the power to accomplish your heart’s desires.

Wayne Dyer wrote in the Foreword to  Courage “I can assure you that you will find yourself becoming more and more equipped to deal with all of your life’s challenges from a new and stronger position of self-confidence and, yes, courage as well.”

I agree. Read Courage.

CLICK HERE  to purchase your copy. It comes with some wonderful free gifts and a chance to win many incredible prizes—including a one-hour coaching session with Debbie herself!::

If you haven’t read any of Debbie Ford’s books, I can assure you this will be life-changing! It is a privilege to support her work as she has had such an impact on my life. I will be back to my writing soon. But until that time, I encourage you to check out Courage. I know you’ll be glad you did.


p.s. You’ll be particularly inspired by the amazing stories of transformation in this book. This same transformation is available to you as well, but you have to buy the book to be guided through the processs, so get your copy of Courage now!

No More New Year’s Resolutions

I used to make New Years resolutions. Every December 31st I’d contemplate what I needed to change or work on and that would become my resolution for the year. Often those resolutions were things I needed to DO; lose weight, pay off debt, get more organized. Always things I thought were wrong with me.

Though most resolutions fell by the wayside, by mid-February, I’ve actually succeeded from time to time. For the moment, that is. I’ve lost the weight…more than once. Then gained it back. I paid down my credit card last year only to charge it back up on Christmas shopping. I’ve even been organized on occasion. I’ve had a friend or my mom help me go through piles and purge and sort and file. And then it all starts to pile up again. Resolutions always left me feeling like a failure and began to wonder if I was focusing on the wrong things.

Last year I did something different. I set an intention. A theme, if you will. Instead of trying to change something I thought was wrong with myself, I decided to be more allowing and accepting–of myself, of my circumstances, of the events of my life. I wrote these words “2011 Allowing and Accepting” on a heart-shaped stickie note and put it on my computer where I would see it every day. I looked at it from time to time. But at some point the words started to wear off and I actually forgot about it.

Yesterday I was not feeling my usual optimism about the new year. The last year feels like a blur…to be honest, it’s been exhausting! And even though I’ve taken a MAJOR step forward in my life recently, I was feeling down because I didn’t ‘accomplish’ anything in 2011. At least that’s what I was telling myself. And I’ll admit some fear crept in and had me questioning this new challenge I’ve taken on.

As fear whispered in my ear, I began to feel like I ‘should’ be gearing up for the year ahead. I should be DOing something. I started asking myself a flurry of questions. What do I want the next year to look like? What do I want to accomplish? What can I change? And then I remembered that stickie note. Allowing and Accepting. And it occurred to me the question isn’t what, but who. Who do I want to be in 2012 and beyond?

I took a breath, got quiet for a moment, and listened to that still small voice within. “Believing and Becoming”, it said. In that moment, the fear started to subside as the theme for 2012 began to take shape. Believing and Becoming…I let the words roll around in my mind.

Believing…that even when I can’t see it, I am still moving forward. Because you can truly never go back. Believing that everything has a purpose…even when it sucks or it’s hard or it hurts like hell. You can’t side-step the difficult stuff. Believing in myself and my ability to do what’s best for me. No matter what other people think or say. Believing this path is mine and mine alone.

Becoming…isn’t about DOing more or making changes. It’s about quietly, softly letting the things fall away that aren’t truly me. And in doing so, Becoming more of who I am. It’s about Becoming more confident that my quirks and oddities are not things I need to change, but what make me uniquely me. Standing up for the me I am and not believing I should be anyone else. Dropping the masks I’ve worn most of my life and Becoming…me.

Could I stand to lose weight, pay off my debt and get more organized? Of course I could. But those things don’t matter as much as who I am in the process. And what a process it is!

What’s your intention for 2012? Do you have a theme for the year? It’s who you are, not what you accomplish that will make the biggest difference in your life. And the best part is, you get to decide. Who do you want to be?

What If Anxiety Is the Messenger?

I woke up feeling anxious today. Again. This is not something new. Anxiety and I are old friends. And though it’s been away for a while, it seems to have come back for an extended visit. It is not a welcome guest.

I did what I so often do in this situation…I pulled the covers over my head and tried to sleep. It’s an old habit. But ignoring anxiety does not make it go away. Neither does staying busy, eating, watching TV, exercising, shopping…or any number of things I’ve done over the years to try to numb those feelings. Oh sure, any one of those things can distract me from my racing heart or that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach…for the moment. But nothing takes away the anxiety. Believe me…I’ve tried.

I am somewhat of an expert on this subject. I can remember having these feelings as far back as junior high school. I was often anxious, worrisome, fearful. As a child I was afraid of growing up, growing old, dying. As I got older I worried about doing well in school, getting in trouble, making a fool of myself. Even now I fear making a mistake, upsetting someone, not being good enough.

Off and on in my 20s and 30s I took medication to control my anxiety. I believed there was something wrong with me that medication could fix. If I could just stop the anxiety, I would be fine, right? But I began to wonder, what if anxiety isn’t the problem? In the last several years, I have realized anxiety is the symptom of something deeper. And I have recently begun to consider those feelings serve a purpose I haven’t been willing to acknowledge before now.

What would you do if the smoke alarm in your house went off? I’m not talking about when it goes off because you were burning dinner or you lit a fire without opening the damper (not that this has ever happened to me). I mean, if it woke you in the middle of the night from a dead sleep. Would your first reaction be to take the batteries out so it would stop making noise? Would you put a pillow over your head and go back to sleep? Or would you realize it was a warning that something was on fire? At the very least common sense tells you to check it out first, right?

Anxiety, or any other ‘negative’ emotion, is like your own internal alarm system. It’s factory installed to let you know when you’re doing something that’s not in your own best interest. Or when you’re not taking good care of yourself. Or when you’re ignoring that child inside you who just wants your attention. Whether the fear is real, or imagined, or based on a belief you have from your past, it is still trying to tell you something. I have not been a good listener.

Yesterday I woke up in a panic. Heart racing, shortness of breath kind of panic. This week my company was closed and as usual, I had a long list of things I wanted to accomplish during my time off work. But, as so often happens, I have lacked the motivation to do much of anything.

I often feel like being productive and checking things off my list is time well spent. While I get down on myself if I’m relaxing, reflecting…just doing nothing. I know myself well enough to know I need my down time, but by society’s standards, it just doesn’t feel productive. And I continue to buy into that. I have long held the belief that if I could just get it all together, I could relax. If my house is clean and the laundry’s done and I’ve exercised and paid the bills and gone grocery shopping and gotten organized…then I deserve to relax. Then I could actually enjoy it.

But is that really true? Am I ever going to get to the point of crossing everything off my to do list? Unlikely.

Recently there have been two sides to anxiety. One is the fear that if I don’t accomplish everything on my list while I’m off work and have the time, I’ll kick myself later. The other is I have a very demanding job and am exhausted. I don’t want to push myself during my time off the way I have to push myself at work. It’s a double-edged sword and it seems no matter which one I choose, I can’t win. But what if, instead of trying to figure out what to do, I just listened to that anxiety and what it is here to teach me?

If anxiety is the messenger, then maybe the message is to let go of perfectionism. Be okay with being wrong, making mistakes, not getting everything done, being lazy. To slow down. Stop for a moment. Just be.

I have been so busy with work and the holidays, I have gotten away from my daily meditation practice. Those few minutes each day help calm and center me, but it’s the first thing that goes when I feel like my time is limited. Maybe anxiety is reminding me to get back to that. Maybe all there is to do right now is stop fighting these feelings and just settle into them. To be still for fifteen minutes and listen. Just listen.

While I don’t like it, I know there is a purpose for anxiety and that getting rid of it, doesn’t solve the problem. Anxiety is the teacher. And little by little I’m learning the lesson.

I Don’t Care What Other People Think (Or, The Lies I Tell Myself)

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here. For that I apologize. I committed to writing more regularly and then I let life get in the way. I’ve had plenty to write about…I always do. But things have been so busy the last month or two, I haven’t made the time to sit down and make sense of what is going on inside my head and heart. Today the writing has grabbed hold of me. I kept trying to get other things done, but the pull to write was stronger. It’s like a persistent toddler who won’t stop asking until it gets what it wants. Today, writing gets its way.

For most of my life, I have thought of myself as someone who doesn’t particularly care what other people think. And to some extent that’s true. I have my beliefs and ideas and they aren’t always mainstream. I am a west coast, tree-hugging, hippie type who just wants to make the world a better place. But I realized recently I go to great lengths to control how other people feel about me. That bothers me. Because in doing so, I’m not being my authentic self. And I don’t think I saw it so clearly until now.

How often do you hold back because you’re afraid of what someone will think of you? Be honest. If you’re like me, you try to tell yourself you don’t care, but that would be a lie. How do I know? Because recently I caught myself doing that very thing. You’d think at 44, I’d be long past worrying about what people think of me. I can talk myself into believing that’s not really what I’m doing (more lies). But when you get right down to it, I don’t want people to be upset with me.

Let me back up. Last week was my ex-boyfriend’s father’s birthday. I baked him cookies because I thought he would enjoy a treat. I made the time to go to the store, get the ingredients, bake the cookies and package them up. And then I sat with the box all ready to ship, dreading taking it to the post office. I was so anxious about it, I literally felt like I could throw up. I knew once I dropped it off there’d be no turning back. And my fear was my ex-boyfriend would be upset with me for sending something to his dad.

If I’m completely honest, I have thought about sending his dad cards or treats for more than a year…ever since we broke up. I think about it on his dad’s birthday, during the holidays, Father’s Day. I enjoy baking and I know he would enjoy the treats. I’d like him to know I’m thinking of him. And yet, for an entire year I did nothing out fear of how my actions would be perceived. Would my ex think I’m just trying to get in good with his family? Would he be mad I’m still in touch with them? Would I get a nasty email?

Why do I care? That’s a very good question. If I choose to do something that deep down feels right to me, I shouldn’t worry about how other people react to it, right? But I do. And if I take a step back, I can see all the other places in my life where I’m doing this very same thing.  With friends, my family, my job. Not being my full self-expression because someone else might not like it. Now that I’m paying attention, the examples are really starting to pile up.

With it showing up in so many areas of my life, I had to ask myself, what’s this really about? And I can see I’m trying to control the way people feel about me. This is where my strengths of compassion and empathy can turn into weaknesses. Because I don’t want to hurt or upset anyone, I can sometimes care more about what others think, than what I know is true for me. I’m human…and I want people to like me. But I can’t let that need to be liked turn me into someone I’m not.

I realize people aren’t always going to agree with me. And not everyone is going to like me. This is where the courage to be authentic comes in. If my intention, in anything I do, is to be true to myself, I can’t worry about how other people take it. That’s their stuff, not mine. It doesn’t mean I don’t care. I just can’t let it affect my choices. The path to authenticity is not always easy and sometimes it’s very lonely. But becoming more myself has its own rewards. More clarity, more peace, more confidence. And if I stick to it, I’ll find the me I’ve always known I could be.

It Feels Like Family

I am feeling the urge to cook today. Chili, soup, cookies…warm, homey, comfort foods. And while I do enjoy cooking in general, I know what that drive is about. I’m feeling alone, and cooking, even for no one in particular, seems to fill that void. At least for a little while.

I really wish I got the urge to clean and organize when I’m feeling lonely. My house could certainly use it. And it would be better for my waistline too. But it doesn’t work that way. Cooking is something I do for others and it makes me feel good…it’s one of the ways I show love. I know I could just resist the urge to cook. But then I’d have to feel those pangs of loneliness, those thoughts of missing the family I thought I’d have, and today I just don’t want to.

Often what I miss about my last relationship is it gave me something I’d never had before. In the 15 years I’d been married, it rarely felt the way I thought it was going to feel to be married and have children. To have a family of my own. Sitting down to family dinners and enjoying each other’s company. Going on vacations together. Just doing chores or running errands together. Fun. Light. Easy. But that’s not the way it was. Our lives were very separate. He did his thing, and I did mine. And I don’t know I really realized what was missing until I experienced something so different.

In my last relationship, being together felt the way I always imagined being a family would feel. We did things together. Not because we had to. But because we genuinely enjoyed being together. We had family movie night where we all snuggled on the couch to watch a movie together. We did things together like grocery shopping and running errands. We went to the park, bowling, ice skating. When I was married, I did those things too. But not as a family. Either by myself or with my kids. It was a rare occasion for the four of us to do things together. And even though I love doing things with my kids, I think I always felt a little alone.

When I was married to my ex, we didn’t take family vacations. In fact, in the 15 years we were married I can remember taking three ‘vacations’ together. A long weekend in Tahoe for his best friend’s wife’s birthday; a trip to California for his brother’s wedding; and a camping trip with friends at Lake Chelan. Those three trips were orchestrated by someone else. I’ve often thought if any of them had been my idea, we wouldn’t have gone. I rarely got the feeling he enjoyed spending time together…being a family.

One of the first things we did in my last relationship was a road trip to Disneyworld with his two daughters, then 5 and not quite 7. It’s been said you can learn a lot about a person on a road trip. I would agree with that. And though Disneyworld was technically our first date, it was also the first time I realized it was possible to work so well together. Everything just clicked. We each brought our own individual strengths. Taking care of things in our own ways. But in a way that came together to completely…so perfectly…without us ever having talked about it.

A similar thing happened when we got home from Hershey Park after his niece’s wedding. We dropped the girls off with their mom and there was alot to do to get ready for the week ahead. Without anyone telling the other what to do, we just did it. We jumped in and got things done. It was easy. Flawless really. I think it surprised him as much as it did me. Doing chores or projects with my ex-husband was neither flawless nor easy. It was a whole lot of him barking orders, and me and the kids doing the work…his way.

Of course, like anything, that last relationship wasn’t all puppy dogs and roses. I often worried about how my kids would fit into this new family picture. They are older and either don’t need taking care of, or don’t especially want to spend time with parent types or little girls. And they certainly weren’t excited about any sort of ‘father figure’ coming into their lives. I wasn’t expecting that him to step into their lives that way. But I was hoping at some point there would be mutual respect. And, hopefully, friendship. That’s all I could really ask for at this point.

For the last almost 10 years my boys and I have formed our own kind of family. And I have loved that. Your kids are your family. And over the years, we had all gotten used to it just being the three of us. But you can never have the same relationship with your children as you do with a partner. So, even though the relationship only lasted a little over a year, now it feels lonely at times that it’s just me and the boys again. It’s not because my kids aren’t good company…they are. They’re both interesting and funny and I love them to pieces. I would never trade this time we’ve had together. But they can’t, and shouldn’t be expected to, fill that hole in my heart.

I know my youngest son especially thinks we’re fine just the way we are. He’s a teenager afterall. He doesn’t want anything to upset the applecart. And I might have agreed with that two years ago. Before experiencing anything else. Before finding such an amazing love. But now I feel differently. Now I know there could be something more. Something deeper. Funny how you don’t even realize there’s something missing until it lands in your lap!

You Just Need to Find Someone New

Have you ever noticed how much free advice you get when you’re going through something difficult? I can tell you…it’s a lot. Everyone has an opinion about what happened, what kind of person would do that, and how I should handle it from here. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. I’ve certainly given my fair share of advice over the years. So if you’re one of the people who has shared your thoughts on this subject, don’t get your panties in a wad. This is not a personal attack…it’s merely an observation.

There seems to be a common thread in people’s responses as I’ve shared my story of love and loss with those around me. From my ex-husband, to friends and family, to people who’ve read my blog and hardly know me, most people are quick to assure me I’ll find someone else. And that may be true. I don’t have a crystal ball and I’m not ruling out the possibility. I have a lot of love to give and I would certainly like to be in a relationship again someday. But what if finding someone new isn’t the answer? What if feeling lousy is just part of the process of losing someone you love? What if I’m not supposed to figure out how to get over it?

When my boyfriend left, my ex-husband told me I just needed to find a new man. I understand many people deal with a loss such as this by finding someone new. But that’s not my way. And what’s really important to me is I do this my way. When he suggested this, the wound was still pretty raw. And the thought of being with someone else made me want to vomit. I literally had a visceral reaction when I thought about it. Aside from the fact I wasn’t interested in being with someone else, I just didn’t think that would be very good for some guy’s ego. Hey…you seem really cool, but the thought of being with you makes me want to toss my cookies. I can only imagine what kind of reaction I’d get to that!

A few weeks ago my neighbor invited me to go to a blues festival with him and his wife. They are lovely people and I truly appreciate how much they care about me. But I still have my days where I don’t want to be in a crowd of strangers. And I still have my moments when I fall apart. So I’m pretty particular about who I spend my time with. It doesn’t always feel safe to break down in front of just anyone. I politely thanked my neighbor for the invitation and told him I’m just not great company right now. His response was pretty typical of what a lot of people tell me these days. If I don’t get out, I’ll never meet anyone. Apparently that’s the answer. Or not.

Part of becoming me is choosing how I deal with the difficulties of my life. In the past I would listen to other people’s advice and do what they suggested because I believed I was doing it wrong. I didn’t even stop to question it. Now I’m choosing to do things my way more and more. Even if my way doesn’t make sense to other people. Even if it doesn’t always make sense to me. It may not be right for you, but it’s the path I have to follow. Everyone, including me, gives advice based on their own experiences, fears and beliefs. While I know that advice is well meaning, I can’t follow it if it means ignoring my own inner voice.

I have also come to realize I wouldn’t follow some of the well-intentioned advice I’ve given others in the past. Are you guilty of this? I know I am. You tell a friend after a breakup, “he just wasn’t right for you.” Or, “there’s someone better for you out there.” And maybe that’s true, but it does not ease the pain of the loss. It’s amazing what you can explain away…until it happens to you. I may change my mind on this, so don’t quote me. But right now, in this moment, I don’t feel that relationship is replaceable. So many memories, connections over the years, shared dreams and hopes about our life together. I do believe I may find another relationship. I just don’t know that I will have another one like this.

I’ve been told by friends who know, that the pain of a devastating breakup is similar to the pain of the death of a loved one. I don’t know…I can’t make that comparison. But the thing I am grappling with is you would never tell someone whose loved one died, that they just need to find another mother, brother, friend. Those relationships are irreplaceable. When someone dies you encourage that person to talk about their loved one. So why, when a relationship ends, do we discourage people from talking about the person they lost? For me, those memories are still a part of my life, my experience. And I still want to talk about them. I don’t want to censor myself because we’re not together anymore. Or because it makes other people uncomfortable.

The bottom line is this. I don’t need a bandaid. And that’s what someone new would be for me right now. I just need to give myself the space to let the wound heal. In its own way. In its own time. However long that takes. This is where I’m at. And this is how I’m dealing with it. It may not be the right way…but it’s my way.

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries