Thursday, October 27, 2011

How to Survive a Divorce... with Children (part 3)

part 1
part 2

Remember it's not a competition.

This is one of the most difficult parts of divorce. Where once, it was you and your spouse with a common goal, maintaining a household and raising the children, life as you know it is changing. Try to remember to make "raising the children" your common goal STILL.

Maintaining that goal is tough when one of you gave up your career to stay home with children or limited your career in some way during the marriage and your ex-partner is still bringing home (to a home other than yours) a larger salary.

Try to remember that the decisions you made during the marriage were the right ones at the time.

Maybe your spouse is already moving on and married or with someone else.

It is damaging enough to compare yourself to others in society but most especially when in this situation.

You may find yourself in a situation where you're doing most of the parenting. You'll begin to ask questions like, "Why does he or she get to be the FUN parent?"

Remember that your children will pick up on this sense of competition. They can and will use it against you.

No doubt about it, being the disciplinarian is a thankless job. You also have to remember that you're raising a PERSON... another hopefully healthy, functioning member of society. Parenting is a time when you want to focus on your kids. However, as a person going through divorce, you will experience a wide range of feelings about that, as well.

At first, you'll feel guilty as if you've failed or damaged your children in some way. It will feel like torture to be away from them when they're with your ex. You will feel lost, angry, sad.

There may even be other times that you're resentful that you do everything and perhaps your ex doesn't. Then you'll feel guilt for feeling resentful.

There will be a continuing circle of feelings to struggle with, depending on your situation and your relationship with your ex.

ALL PERFECTLY NORMAL FEELINGS.

Now, let's acknowledge those feelings and the fact that you aren't the first person to feel them. Next, let's try not to judge ourselves for having those feelings. Now... what are you going to DO about what's upsetting to you?

Are you going to stay home and stew in them? Are you going to slander your ex in front of your children? Are you going to stay in victim mode or are you going to make a plan to do things differently?

There's nothing like action to give doubt the middle finger.

Try exercise. Try venting. Call up a friend to go to a movie or to be a designated driver for a night out.

If you're really brave, you can write down all of your fears and follow them to their destinations. It's the unknown that's frightening. Stop the unknowns of your fear by turning around and facing them with answers.

Next, figure out how to make the most of your parenting experience AS IT IS NOW. Make a vision board of a new future for yourself. Connect with family or friends you haven't talked to in a while. Find something that makes you laugh.

You might even try an exercise in remembering what was GOOD about your marriage. What drew you to your spouse? In what ways does your ex show love for the children, during the marriage and now? Make a list of things about your spouse that make you smile, even if it's a wistful smile.

Can you keep an open heart to this person, even if they are moving on without you?

If you can see your ex with love, even in spite of the fears, frustrations and doubt, you just may build a beautiful co-parenting relationship that serves you, your ex and YOUR CHILDREN well.

Everyone can sense how others see them. Put your ex in the shoes of an enemy or competitor and they will act like one. Maintain a sense of partnership in the business of raising healthy, happy children, and you just may find a whole new partner to meet you halfway.

How do you handle the sometimes competitive feelings that arise from divorce and parenting?

***

Please note: I am writing this series based on MY experience with my divorce and co-parenting. I chose a great man to marry and divorce. Every situation is different. I still believe, however, that some of the tips here will help single parents/singles anyway.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How to Survive a Divorce... with Children (part 2)

(part 1)

Once you agree (or have it decided for you) to divorce, you will feel a wide range of emotions. You'll actually go a little crazy, or at least I did. Things feel unsure, unsafe... I didn't trust myself or anyone during that time. Some days, the anger would eat me alive. Other days, I was so mentally exhausted that I didn't even eat. Other days, the devastating sadness chained me to my bed, crying and sleeping.

Thankfully, I had yoga.

Yoga was something I did trust. It made my body feel stronger and brought a little sanity and peace to my overactive mind.

This is why, in the process of survival, I definitely recommend exercise.

I have a friend who is going through a divorce right now. Everything is up in the air... including all of the divorce paperwork... but she seems to be relatively okay. Her secret is a new passion for rock climbing.

There's something to be said for conquering a wall when it feels like everything else is out of your control.

When you're focusing on a yoga pose, the next mile of your run or bike, that one spot on the wall where you have to hang on with your fingers, the progressively heavier free weights at the gym, that dance routine, the river or lake you're paddling across, or beating a punching bag to a pulp, you're thinking of something else than regrets, worries or decisions.

In the space of moving your body, the decisions are in the moment. Blood is flowing. Your breath is getting heavier. Your heart is pumping sending all sorts of great oxygen throughout your exhausted body. A goal, a finish line, some end point is actually achievable! It reminds you that you're still alive... even when it feels like divorce will kill you.

Sometimes, you'll wish it would.

But it doesn't and you have to carry on. You have a family that depends on you (dammit!) and you have to hold your shit together.

There were many times I wanted to numb the pain or self-destruct in some way. Of course I felt that way! There was a huge responsibility that I didn't believe I could handle alone. (But I wasn't alone... more on that later.) I had 2 children who depended on me for nearly everything, even when I felt like I could barely take care of myself.

And THANK GOD for that. I have often said that my children save my life over and over again and this is why. Without them, I may have allowed divorce to eat me alive. I knew I wanted better for them. I wanted them to see that I could bounce back from it and inspire them to do the same. I'd heard that children will react the way their parents react and I found it to be true.

Even though I felt weaker than I'd ever felt in some time, I had to practice being strong. I, in effect, "faked it til I made it" by exercising and getting through tiny achievements while my confidence continued to grow.

Exercise helps the brain to release seratonin AND reduces stress in the body. Seratonin is a natural hormone that creates a calm, happy feeling and keeps away depression. Combine exercise with a great diet, even if you are eating smaller meals due to a lack of appetite (I called it the Divorce Diet), and you'll have even more happy hormone in your body!

Bottom line: If you take care of yourself, you'll handle the stress of divorce better and be a better parent to your children.

Can you really beat that?!

What exercise did you do to help survive your divorce?

Monday, October 24, 2011

How to Survive a Divorce... with Children (part 1)

Several weeks ago, a reader asked me how he would be able to survive his impending divorce, especially as a father. To be honest, the question left me speechless. It's not an easy answer. It's not a one time deal. It's more of a process.

I planned to write out my thoughts on the subject from my recollection of separation and divorce 5 years ago. I soon found that I was again speechless. I couldn't possibly relate to who I was then.

Then, my ex husband announced that he was engaged and WHAMMO... a grief relapse. Grief has been known to reappear now and again. After all, grieving is a process too. And I'm apparently still in the process of surviving my own divorce even after all of this time.

Again, I was flooded with fears and memories of when we separated, along with the pain and confusion. I knew this was as good a time as any to write about it. Perhaps as I continue to heal myself, it will help others as well.

***

Vent

Your body's in fight or flight mode. Everything is going to change and the fear of the unknown draws anxiety and panic...and then... anger... and devastating sadness...

After the ex's big announcement last week, I was overcome with unexpected feelings. I wanted to run from them but I've learned that if I face them, if I really take a look at them, without judging them, I'm able to process emotion better and quicker.

I poured out all of my emotions here on the blog, however when I was going through my divorce, I kept a private journal. I didn't always feel safe venting to friends or family. I didn't want anyone to feel caught in the middle. But that's just me. Anyone else going through a divorce may have a therapist, counselor, pastor or priest to talk to.

These fears will come raging out of nowhere. Some of them will be justified and some will make no sense whatsoever. I found that if I try to talk to friends or family about my fears, they try to talk me out of them. They put their own stories and fears on what I have to say. They feel frightened about the words I use. I, because I understand the words are nothing more than words, don't put much stock in my fears. To me, fear is nothing. But when you're feeling it, it feels like EVERYTHING.

Find a safe place. Let it out. Don't judge yourself for your thoughts or fears. Let them be. Try to accept where you are right now. It is absolutely normal to be afraid.

Your past looks differently that you thought. Your future will look different. Your present feels like a blur.

The venting process, like grieving, could be a daily occurrence for while. Soon, you'll learn to adjust. We're all very resilient, believe it or not. The vents will become few and far between as you learn to stay present and begin to trust in a new future. Be patient with where you are along the process. Trust it.

Find a safe place to be post vent as well. You'll need a place to sit in silence away from the exhausting parade of thoughts in your mind. To me, it was a yoga class or in nature. Sometimes, I would go for a long walk in the woods, find a stump in the middle of the forest and wail like a dying animal until I was exhausted. Other times, I would find strength in a yoga class and gently allow silent tears during our final savasana or relaxation pose.

In this space of confusion and being knocked off balance, find a way to nurture yourself. Most importantly, find the part of you that is unchanging and, as much as possible, focus your efforts there.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Getting over it begins with Me

I remember when my father remarried.

My parents had been divorced less than a week. He stopped by the house to pick up my little brother and gave no indication anything was happening. It wasn't until my brother came home from the "SURPRISE! We're getting married!" wedding that my mom found out.

My mom was L.I.V.I.D.

My father had denied for months that he was having an affair with a family friend. Denied. Yet, the ink wasn't even dry on the divorce papers and he was marrying her. Mom went a little crazy after that. Admittedly.

I will at least give my ex credit for telling me first and not springing a wedding on my children. The guy has class, I'll say that much.

When I told my mom about the ex's engagement, she wasn't surprised. Yet she also understands why I would've had an emotional reaction. After all, I was with this man for nearly 20 years of my life. He's the father of my children.

But I've had years to process our marriage, our divorce, new relationships and raising children on my own. It didn't happen over the course of a week like it did for her. Thankfully.

***

I think change makes us all a little crazy. In some cases, change happens in an instant. In others, it may be a week or month or years... either way, we had our minds set on something to go a certain way and it didn't go as planned.

It's almost as though our minds identify with what's going on in our lives, relationships, career, and the external world and then freaks the hell out when the identity shifts. I've written countless posts on this same subject like here and here and here. In all of those cases, I'd defined myself by the story that was playing out in my life in that moment.

What I also noticed is that I turned the catalyst for change into either a hero... or the enemy.

If I didn't welcome the change, of course I'd become fearful and non-trusting of the person who seemingly brought it on. They, in effect, ruined my life by ruining who I believed I was. What I generally realized later was that I needed the change and more than likely, it lead me to something better.

In other words, I was OKAY.

It's up to me to change how I handle all of the naysayers/doubters/catalysts in my life. They're always going to be there. Marianne Williamson refers to some of these things as "Another Fucking Growth Opportunity". I love that term. I definitely believe they are opportunities or "teachers" challenging us to let go of what or who we think we are... to rely on something far more powerful than we ever dreamed we could be.

***

Hey, I may not handle things like most people but then again, maybe that's why you read here. I understand that my perception of my reality isn't absolute truth. It's my story. It's what I believe in this moment. It could change and I'd have to learn to accept it, right?

What's the alternative? Be miserable? Exhaust myself from fighting what IS?

The point I'm trying to make is that it begins with me. Accepting change. Learning to move forward. Forgiving. Seeing things differently. Honoring myself. All of it. This is why I write here. To process the thoughts that lead me to the good stuff. It may look like I take things really hard or I read into things but I just question. I question almost everything!

My ex-husband used to call me "question mark" because of that. Ha! Oh that memory makes me LOL!

I may appear to go a little crazy sometimes but I always get back to what I can control.... Me. My mom did that too and eventually she and my father became best friends again. All the way up until he passed away.

***

Next week I'm beginning a new series on how I handled divorce with children. The series will be from my perspective and with the understanding that if you're reading, you know I'll be challenging you to remember that change happens... and all that you can do is control how you react to it.

Have a great weekend y'all!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Staying True to YOU... even When the World Seemingly Disagrees


Distance = Doubt

A few nights ago, a fellow single mom (that I've met once) invited me over for a cookout. I felt a little uncomfortable because I didn't know anyone at her house except her child, who is a good friend of my daughter. Soon, however, I began chatting with another couple and making myself at home. A little while later, the single mom cornered me in her kitchen.

"The reason I invited you over is because my boyfriend wants to set you up with a friend of his. This guy would be PERFECT for you!!"

I was surprised as she announced this shortly after I'd said something about Gentleman Jack and his sons. Besides the fact that she doesn't even know me. As I began to repeat myself, someone else grabbed her attention.

Later, I was talking to another couple about Jack, and the single mom heard me.

"You have a BOYFRIEND?!" She was surprised. Then she asked me to invite him over so we could all hang out. When I explained that he lived out of town, she then surmised, "Oh, well hell, he's not serious. You REALLY need to meet this other guy! Keep your options open!"

*sigh*

I hate that people assume that being long distance and not having a plan for marriage means that we're not serious about each other. And after 5 weeks apart, I too begin to feel like he's a figment of my imagination.

Then, before the evening was over, she was trying to kiss me and grope my boobs as her boyfriend cheered her on.

Only in MY life, y'all...

***


Surrender vs. Giving up

There have been too many things that I've allowed to take the wind out of my sails lately.

It doesn't make sense to me. It MUST be fear. I'm not handling it like I have in the past. I've disconnected from a source of strength beyond my physical self. I get tired. I want to give up.

I had a mini-revelation when I saw the following quote from Byron Katie:

"Undo your fear today. No one else can."

I'm realizing that all of the fears that come up with the ex's engagement, being away from my man for 5 weeks, trying to build a new career, someone doubting my drive and then all sorts of things that just don't make any sense at all (see above story)... just leave me exhausted. I've not been sleeping well. I don't feel like I can trust anyone. I feel like I'm running around but going nowhere.

To me, giving up means falling victim to fear. Surrender means allowing what IS and having faith that all is happening exactly as it should.

I have to reconnect. I have to surrender.

***


Fear, Faith, Focus

Being away from my Gentleman challenges my faith in all ways. I long for the safety of his arms, especially after an encounter like the one above. I cry myself to sleep at night because I miss his skin next to mine. The thought of being wrapped up in him and how we both sigh from absolute bliss... feels like a physical ache in my body.

But it also reminds me that I must remember that my safety isn't outside of me. The security I seek shouldn't be dependent on his arms or that things in my life go exactly the way I'd like or that people agree with who I am and what I do.

If I live in fear, I will see fearful things. I will notice doubt. I will see nothing but witness that I have every reason to fear. I will fall victim to those who challenge the way I choose to live my life.

If I live in faith, I can take every single thing that looks like fear and turn it around to see love. I can trust in a guiding force to lead me where I am to go, who I am to meet, and what happens next. It may not look like I believe it should look but in faith, I know its perfection.

In fear, I feel defeated.

In faith, I feel inspired.

I've lost focus and that's why things are getting to me. It is time to put things back in perspective.

How do you handle doubt or naysayers in your life?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

When the ex moves on...

I wrote this on Friday evening but chose to publish it today. I'm still processing many things but several of these fears are no longer valid. This is how I felt then, in the hours that followed...


My ex-husband asked if he could have the kids tonight instead of earlier in the week. It's my weekend but I certainly didn't mind having a Friday night to myself.

This afternoon, he left me a voice mail asking me to give him a call. When we spoke, he told me that he was going to pick up the girls from school and... that he thought I should know.... that..... well...

....I knew it was something big since he was stumbling over his words...

He let me know that he "popped the question" to his girlfriend earlier this week and they were sharing the news with the kids tonight. Her kids and our kids. I didn't even flinch. Of course a proposal was the next logical step. I've already written how he was acting strangely though this woman had been in his life for some time. I'd already written how I was trying to make her feel more accepted and comfortable around me.

I told him that I was happy for him. We discussed how he would handle any reactions from our children. I reassured him that they would handle it wonderfully since they'd already shared positive thoughts and feelings about her and their relationship. He told me that he'd told his parents today. They handled it well and are very happy for him. That made me smile too. I know how disappointed they were in our divorce.

Then, just as I was saying goodbye, I felt a heavy lump in my throat. Just as I hung up the phone, tears began to well in my eyes.

What the hell??!?

Why am I upset?! I certainly held no desires to reconcile our marriage. After all, I'm in a wonderful relationship and I'm very happy.

Then again, I had a strange premonition earlier this week that he was buying her a ring. And I wondered how different it would look than mine...

Part of me wonders what lessons he took from our relationship that would make him a better husband for her...

I remember always doubting that he really loved me. Maybe he does REALLY love her...

Then again, she may be a better match for him than I was.

... and I remember when he proposed to me... and we both just knew.

I joined some co-workers for happy hour and then went home to take a long walk. I analyzed my feelings. What else was upsetting me?

My kids... things are going to change for my kids even though they like having her in their lives, now they will have a step-mom... and a new influence.

He was already acting strangely as they grew closer these past few months. How much more of our current relationship will he sacrifice to keep her happy? Will he still work with me for the best interests of our children or will her interests come first?

For every major emotional trauma in their short lives, I have been there for my children. What if they're upset by this news and I'm not there to console them.... to give them security... to allow them a soft place to land? What if they need me tonight??

Gentleman Jack was trying to console ME by phone. He didn't want me to be alone tonight because he knew how I'd feel. My children are in process of building a new family... one that doesn't include me... and the man that I love, who warms my heart with his words and warms my skin with his arms, is 200 miles and a week away.

He pointed out that, when I know that my kids are with my ex... and her... I miss them, longing for them, ready for them to come home. He gently reminds me that I didn't do that before.

He's right. Maybe I'm still fighting with feelings that I'll be replaced by a new, cooler, super mom in a cool house with a pool... who likes to go do spa days and shop and may be able to provide more materially than I will. What do I do when they decide they'd prefer to live there than here?

How am I going to feel as they grow older...when they begin building a life without me?!?

It's 10 o'clock at night, nearly 6 hours since he told me and my head is still reeling. I'm not sure why I'm upset other than a whole manner of reasons. Change. The unknown.

My ex-husband is marrying a woman who, seemingly, doesn't particularly like me. How much will things be different? How much more "control" will I have to give up? Will this change who my children turn out to be?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Relationship Emotions: How to control Your Actions, Reactions or Overreactions

"Are you upset, afraid, angry, lonely, or frustrated about being single, your dating situation, your relationship or marriage? Upset about going through a break up?"

The good news is that I have an expert in my network. Love Coach Rinatta.

The Love Coach has been following my blog for a while and has offered excellent advice when I've struggled through my own relationship.

Love Coach Rinatta has recently teamed with Brain Trainer Holly Stokes to create a program called: Uncovering Your Hidden Power: A Woman's Key to Emotional Freedom. Combining Rinatta's relationship coaching expertise with Holly's neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) mastery, the program is designed to retrain a woman's mind in response to the external stimuli presented in/because of/due to relationships.

If you read any books on men, like the one I read here, the author generally refers to the ancestry of men and their instincts to provide and protect. I've not read any books that refer to the instinctual nature of women to expect a man to provide and protect. Sure, we know it's our nature to nurture but we don't recognize that the difficulty we face in today's society of "independent women who don't need men" means that longing for a relationship or mourning the loss of one is a completely instinctual feeling as well.

Of course we know how to take care of ourselves. Of course we can earn money, establish a home, and raise children on our own but no one ever questions that it's against our natural instinct to do so without a partner. This program starts with that concept and helps the listener to change her thought patterns related to this instinct so that the fear and panic doesn't kick in when the relationship is missing, challenging, not working or stressful.

Once we begin to change our thoughts and therefore sidestep the negative emotions, we find our inner calm and strength so that we're able to function normally and handle challenging situations rationally. The program centers us, helps us to build patience, release anxiety and conditions us to think with clarity so that the outcomes of our relationship decisions are better.

The program was audio, an easy listen, about a half an hour, and the cost is minimal. I actually enjoyed listening to it after a particular heated disagreement with Gentleman Jack. It helped me to understand the anxiety that I felt and calmed me, which is not easy when I get heated!

Another thing I enjoyed about the program is that there was no man bashing at all. I appreciated that it centered on ME and why I might be feeling like I felt. I prefer not to place blame because I understand my emotions are reactions to past experience. My emotions are nothing more than my response to another's perception. I am the only one who can control them.

I love that the program encourages a woman to nourish her natural femininity and also notice when she should bring forth her own masculine side as life demands it. The difference is... the feminine side will be more calm and the masculine side is only temporarily needed. The rest can be left up to the partner in your life, as you learn to enjoy, accept and appreciate what he has to offer.

Also included in the program are a couple of ebooks, one written by each author, for a little extra side work for the reader. An excellent deal for less than $20.

I know that many of you who read are single, in relationships, dating, or divorcing. I know that we struggle with the feelings associated with all of those things. If anything, I would highly recommend this program as a soothing meditation to help remember that YOU ARE OKAY.




Click this link to get the program: Uncovering your Hidden Power: A Woman’s Key to Emotional Freedom


**This program was offered to me to review but I was not paid for my opinion.**

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lessons, Lifeclass, Letting Go and Loving who I am right now

For the past 3 evenings, I have tuned in to Oprah's Lifeclass.

I've had an appreciation for Oprah's seeking to become the "fullest expression of who she is" for a while now. I grew even more interested when she interviewed Eckhart Tolle and presented his book, A New Earth, as part of her book club. I have been a student of Eckhart Tolle since I read his book, The Power of Now, and discovered that he, too, was heavily influenced by A Course in Miracles.

I know I haven't written about my favorite spiritual text (A Course in Miracles) in some time. One of the things I love about that book is that it's spiritual but in a practical way if applied correctly. I think the reason I've not been writing about it is because I've been applying it. Hopefully correctly. Every lesson, to me, is a spiritual lesson. And boy have I had some lessons these past few years!

***

Yesterday, I noticed that Deepak Chopra wrote an article for Huffington Post called, "What To Do When You're Blue." The article offers great advice to help distinguish between temporary sadness and the clinical condition of depression.

Then, in the case of simply "feeling blue", he suggests ways to help overcome this emotion. Yoga, exercise and meditation are all suggested. I agree with the suggestions. They do indeed help. But it's not that easy.

Just as I tell those shocked observers who don't believe I do triathlons, you can do ANYTHING... if you put your mind to it. You can do triathlons and stave off sadness... or forgive, let go of anger, learn to love yourself, change careers...

It's the "putting your mind to it" that's the hard part.

***

I've been enjoying Oprah's Lifeclasses these past few evenings and I look forward to many more. The first class discussed discovering your true self beyond your ego. (Another great ACIM concept she picked up from Eckhart Tolle.)

The second class was about forgiveness and how we let anger hold us back. I picked up this awesome quote from that class:

"Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different. It is not accepting that it was okay that it happened but accepting that it DID happen."


Watch this short clip (and the man who inspired her is Gerald Jampolsky, yet another A Course in Miracles student!) for a transcendent "Aha!" moment:




And last night's lesson was You become what you believe.

Isn't it true?!

I believe in these lessons Oprah is sharing. I believe in the work it takes to discover remember my true self, forgive, and become the fullest expression of who I am. I believe that many of you, who are reading, believe in that too.

It's the committing that's the hard part. "Life gets in the way", we say but in actuality, our ego fights us or long held beliefs can't be questioned or it's just "too hard" or we'd rather be right than happy.

My intention is to commit to opportunities for continued growth. The lessons keep coming at me. I want to be wide open and aware of the beauty, love and joy that is already presenting to me.

Part of that awareness is also accepting who, where, what and how I am right now at this very moment.

Living. Loving. Learning.

I know it works. I simply have to remember to commit to the work. Sometimes the work is nothing more than sitting in stillness. I can make that as easy or difficult as I want. I am learning to trust it. And these Lifeclasses are a wonderful gentle reminder.

What about you?

What goals will you commit to?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I'm not the only one in this relationship...


Last night before bed, I smiled to myself because I've been pretty strong during this 4 going on 5 week stretch between visits with my Gentleman.

I really credit a lot of it to getting my hormones in order and keeping busy. I would have been a mess over the weekend if I didn't have a yoga retreat planned. And, honestly, I think Gentleman Jack would have been a mess if he didn't have a fishing tournament scheduled.

It's good... really, REALLY good... that we both have activities we enjoy when we're apart.

***

Over the weekend, I told a friend that one of the things I love about my man is that he reminds me that I'm not the only one in our relationship. I'm sure that sounds a bit confusing so allow me to explain.

In past relationships, I'll admit it... I was relationship immature. Heck, I think most of us are. I'd also been attracted to/dated/married unavailable men. I realized later that I was also co-dependent, in which I believed I thought about no one but others in my relationships - but noted that I felt resentful that no one thought about me. Ironic, no?

In both of those relationship situations, I thought about myself only.

WHY, I asked myself, are the men I'm with not available to me (emotionally or otherwise) when I need them?

or

WHY, again, are the men I'm with not sacrificing for me like I do for them??


At the time, if you'd asked me, I would have told you that I gave myself selflessly and got nothing in return. That doesn't sound so selfless now, does it?

***

Then along comes my sweet Gentleman Jack.

One weekend a while back, I grew frustrated that we kept missing each other on the phone. I wanted to talk to him but it just wasn't working out. By the time we finally connected, I was pissed and said something like, "nevermind... I know you're too busy to listen to me talk anyway..."

He giggled at me. GIGGLED AT ME! I began to get even more upset when he then said,

"Why do you forget that I want to talk to YOU too? You're not the only one who gets frustrated and misses our conversations."

I was instantly humbled.

***

So I was proud of myself last night, that I'd been keeping busy and not making a big deal out of our long distance and long stretch of time apart.

I was doing fine.

This morning, however, when I neglected to answer Jack's text until nearly an hour later, he was upset. I'd simply put it out of my mind that he may be expecting a morning response from me... as he does most mornings. I just assumed that HE was fine too.

He wasn't.

He was missing me.

And I'd put him out of my mind.

He worries, when we are this far into our time apart, that I will forget about him. I guess I did. I guess I do. I'll admit I grow annoyed with carrying around a phone in case he texts. It's easier for me to stay busy, stay distracted and just know he's there when I need him and that he'll be there when I go visit next weekend.

But it's not all about me, is it?

He wants to stay connected. He wants to communicate - far more than I've ever experienced in previous relationships. He wants to be close, even when we can't be. I want that too but I guess I'm not used to someone expecting that of me.

As I said before, long distance relationships are not for the faint at heart.

They're about communication, a little discomfort, and being there, in whatever way possible, so that BOTH parties feel loved and connected.

He's definitely a wake-up call to what a healthy relationship feels like.

What are your thoughts?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Goals: Am I "Driven"?

Last week at happy hour with work, we were joined by a former employee who is still friends with a co-worker. The former employee, someone I knew next to nothing about other than in passing at work, is also a former Ironman triathlete. We had a wonderful discussion about triathlon until I had to leave to pick up my children.

The next day at the office, I was told that our former employee was as surprised as I was about our mutual love of multi-sport endurance racing. He had no idea that I did triathlons. He actually said that the revelation was unexpected because he didn't realize that I was "driven" enough to pursue such an athletic feat.

I'll admit that I took that statement personally. If there's anything I know about myself, it's that I'm driven.

Yes, I may have a few crises here and there about what goals to pursue and what it takes to get there but when I set my sights, get out of my way.

I started to analyze what this gentleman saw when he saw me. We rarely saw each other, for one thing, because he was always out on projects. Then, when he did see me, I was the front office person. I took care of everyone. I made sure he got paid. I kept the place running smoothly. I suppose he believed this is where I chose to end up... with a lack of aspirations or career goals.

And I mean no offense to anyone else who has a similar job. I know what it takes to keep an office running. It's tantamount to staying home with children as well. It's one of those jobs that gets overlooked because it may not "seem" like much at all. Oh but without us, things would get very, very bad very, very quickly.

This guy missed the memo on what brought me to where I am now, apparently. Nevertheless, I had to look inside to figure out why I took his statement so personally.

I've analyzed this for a while now due to not feeling valued for what I do. I have been stagnant career-wise. After all, I have a great degree and at one point in my career was the sole bread-winner supporting my husband and myself (and paid for a brand new home being built). I am the only one in my family who is a college graduate. I chose to stay home with my children for nearly 4 years of my career, however, and that took some steam out of me. Now, I'm ready to pursue career goals again... choosing to value who I am beyond motherhood.

Then I stopped to look at this stream of thoughts and realized, oh yes, I am still very driven indeed. And I have been... even when I felt like I was stalling.

I CHOSE to put my children first.

I am driven to provide a life for them. A great quality of life. With a mother who is strong, independent, motivated, and driven. I have put my children first personally... choosing to remain close to their father so that they'll grow up under the influence and guidance of both of us. I will not move out of town to be closer to the man that I love but I choose to include him in our lives because he treats me and my children with respect and love. I choose for them to have a model of a relationship built on those qualities as well.

I am driven to have balance. I was offered a spectacular job last week but turned it down because it would mean I'd no longer get to walk my daughters to school in the morning. I know that there is a better fit for me and my life.

I am driven to provide a comfortable standard of living for my daughters, with a good attitude and respect towards money, saving it and spending it.

Now, I am driven to find a job build a new career that is cohesive with my beliefs, who I am now, and that strikes a healthy balance between family and work. I am proud of where I am now and the choices I have made to get here.

Perhaps, to the gentleman passing through the office, who was able to choose from healthy snacks in the break room, who had his expenses paid within days of submitting a report, who enjoyed the amazing Christmas party we have during the holidays, who took for granted the communication flow and respect among our fellow co-workers or the awesome benefits that were coordinated for him, I may not appear to be driven or aspire to much.

But he just doesn't know me that well, now does he?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Long Distance Relationships, Knowing... & Waiting

After reading jobo's post, SinglishMom's post and the comments on Tuesday's post, I felt the need to write something about my long distance relationship.

First of all, let me say this:

Long distance relationships are NOT for the faint at heart.

...but then there's all of this business about "just knowing" when someone is right for you. That "just knowing" feeling was articulated beautifully in both posts I mentioned above.

SinglishMom, however, noted that many she knew married not for love but for a promised lifestyle. They knew their husbands would provide the type of life they imagined for themselves. Those lifestyles could include being a mom who is fortunate enough to stay home with her children. Or as part of a power couple who makes a ton of cash and lives extravagantly.

I think this is important to note. Many people, especially in their 20's and 30's are establishing the ego-ic part of their lives. They are finding out who they are in relation to the world around them. Some are fortunate to find love AND lifestyle. I believe I was one of those. I "just knew" when I met my future/now-ex husband. I also "just knew" when it was time to move on.

That's not to say I don't believe in forever. I've just found that forever is measured in this moment not in some future date.

I also believe, now that I've been divorced and in a few relationships, that "just knowing" can apply to more than one person, depending on where I am at certain times in my life. I knew... with my ex-husband, Soldier and now... with my Gentleman.

It took me a while to know with Gentleman Jack, though. It seemed... he knew long before I did. I was too afraid to trust that intuition anymore. I couldn't understand how I KNEW before but those relationships didn't last (in what my hopelessly romantic brain believed was) forever.

Now... I DO know. And knowing is what helps me to get through 5 weeks of not seeing my man. What also gets me through is that HE knows too. As long as we both know, we both trust that we're where we're supposed to be. We trust our "forever moments". We choose each other again and again, every day.

We also both hold on to the hope that our knowing and forever moments do, indeed, last as long as our hopelessly romantic brains believe forever is supposed to last.

At this time in my life, I choose love over lifestyle. And yet ironically, he fits my lifestyle too.... because we're living separately. I get to have my cake and eat it too.

Just sometimes, I have to wait 5 weeks to lick the icing off.

We both know....it's worth the wait.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Quick Brain Dump Before Bed: One thing leads to another

Just a quick update because I'm soooo tired tonight...

  1. The reason I'm tired is because I'm overwhelmed. I've been networking as part of a career move. I love meeting people but damn, my brain is tired. My body is tired. And my smile is tired. Ya know?

  2. Speaking of tired, I've told myself that I can make it through winter and maintain my triathlon training... even though I don't have a triathlon scheduled. I've slacked off but am still managing at least one run, two nights of biking, one swim and yoga every week. Let's see if I hold up when my body just wants to cuddle and eat comfort foods...

  3. Speaking of cuddling, it has been 2 1/2 weeks since I last saw my Gentleman and it will be another 2 1/2 weeks til we see each other again. So far, we're both hanging in there fine. We have something fun planned later this month. Hopefully, I won't go completely bat shit crazy in the next few weeks.

  4. Speaking of bat shit crazy, I had my hormones checked again after the issues I was having late last year and earlier this year. Apparently, after the light-on-the-estrogen IUD, I am finally hormonally balanced! Woohoo! Now I can have sex with my man and not make a baby! And not scare the crap out of anyone with mood swings either!

  5. Speaking of moods, I'm enjoying feeling more challenged in this career transition in the making. Yes, it's a whole other job in itself to look for a job but I'm excited about the possibilities. Especially thinking about how restless and discontented I was at the beginning of the year. I think the prayers are helping.

  6. Speaking of praying, I had an awesome "God thing" happen yesterday. One of those things that could be coincidence but you know it's not coincidence because you'd, just a second before, asked God for a sign? Yeah. That.

  7. Speaking of God thing, my daughters, both of them, heard a child's voice say, "I love you" at the same time. This while we were all sitting at the kitchen table. And I didn't hear anything. And neither did the dog. Both kids looked at me with wide eyes and asked, "Did you hear that, Mommy?" 'Cept... I didn't and they did. I told them it must've been their guardian angel. Must have been. Right?

  8. Speaking of my daughters, they're both sound asleep in their beds and the dog is bugging me to throw her tennis ball. I like thinking of my girls sharing a guardian angel. It makes me smile. And the dog is making me smile too. Staring at me with only one thing on her mind, "Ball. Ball. Mommy throw the ball. Ball. Ball."

  9. Speaking of one thing on her mind, all I wanna do is sleep.

Night 'all.

Monday, October 3, 2011

It's all about me: Another look at relationship drama

I spent yesterday with my kids, my mom, my nieces and nephew.

It was good to hang out with family... even if we were missing my sister and my brother. My oldest niece is having difficulty getting along with my sister. And my brother... I'm still too angry at him to speak without saying something I might regret later.

Remember the family drama? Yeah, well, I'm still working that out in my mind and my heart.

What I'm doing, I suppose, is taking care to protect myself right now. I don't have the energy or patience to be around either of them. Does that make me selfish? Does that mean, horror of all horrors, it's all about me??

I laugh when I say that because, what I've learned, is everyone lives by that adage. It IS all about ME, isn't it?

It's all about ME when I get upset that someone cuts me off in traffic.

It's all about ME when I do my best to be a good mother to my children.

It's all about her when my sister decides she's going to move in with her lover and take her children with her.

It's all about my brother when I find out that he's been using my house as a brothel when I'm out of town visiting with my Gentleman.

It's all about ME when I decide that I don't want either of them in my life.

It's all about ME when I love, hate, get angry, forgive, take care, ignore, and all manner of anything else I can do for "others" when I'm really doing for myself.

I get it. In fact, part of me HAS to laugh to realize how we're all absolutely doing the exact same thing. My sister is protecting herself and her "happiness". So is my brother. And so am I.

Even when I realized how codependent I've been in my relationships for years, I had to come face to face with the fact that even THAT was all about me. I practically martyred myself so others would want to love me... or want to spend time with me... or want to do those same things for me. That's why I was so pissed when they didn't sacrifice, love me for my sacrifices and do for me the many thousands of things I felt I was doing for them.

Writing a blog is all about me, isn't it? It's all about MY perception of what happens in my life. Reading a blog is the same thing. Because even reading someone else's words, I'm putting MY experience on top of what I'm reading. I'm relating it to me.

When I feel like I'm doing something unselfish and giving with no ulterior motives, it's all about me too. It makes ME feel good.

I can't even call it selfish to say it's all about me.... because I think everyone lives that way. Sure, there seem to be varying degrees of it. My sister is stomping her foot declaring that her happiness matters over anyone else's... and I know she's doing it because she's felt that life "happened" to her instead of being consequences to her own choices. At least she understands that now. And damn, when I think of the brazen selfishness it took for my brother to completely disregard my safety and disrespect my home, I can't imagine treating someone that way.

But I will distance myself from someone who does.

Because it's all about ME, after all.


Aren't we really doing the same thing?