Lessons from my life

I thought I was going to write to Ben this morning. I can’t sleep. I woke up early with my mind a buzz of thoughts. 10 years ago today was the last time I held him. The last time I felt his breath or heard him sigh. The last time. The LAST time. It hurts. It hurts more this year than it has in a very long time. And the past few weeks haven’t exactly helped me work my way thru it all. The promises I made to him keep replaying over in my head. I promised to hand out love like it was candy from my pocket.

I’ve been searching my whole life for something… To feel cared about. To feel loved. Not superficially.. but in that genuine, throw your entire self into it kind of love. The little girl who lives deep within me has been seeking for that feeling to be reciprocated for her whole life. She’s been seeking her place of comfort, her home, since she was 4 years old. She’s just wanted someone to pick her up and put her in their pocket. And that’s not something I admit easily. It feels like a weakness. But it’s not.

And this morning – I had a realization. A big one that left me feeling shook to my core. The only person who will love me that way – is me. Everyone else will have some sort of bias, or agenda… or worse, they will be too afraid and scared to open up and embrace the love that is offered to them… and the little girl will end up feeling hurt, let down, and unsafe.

The thing is – I have the courage to change. I have the courage to get cut down, and to still stand tall. I have the courage to walk in my shoes in a different direction… into the unknown. It’s funny – so many people in my life have commented that I am a force of nature. Stubborn and caring, I rarely back down, rarely lose. If I want something – I go after it and work my ass off to get it. I used to think that my courage came from my absolute faith that love is real, that it’s out there, that if you’re a good girl and you do right by people that it will come. I’m not sure that’s true anymore. I think maybe my best friend is partially right… you have to love yourself. Not because it will then allow love to find you – he’s wrong there – but because maybe it’s the only way you’ll have it at all. Sounds bleak, but I don’t mean it to.

I’ve walked a long road on this road of life. And anyone who walks it with me – whether it’s for a short moment, or for a long while will have to understand that I am not the same girl I used to be. I’ve gotten better over the years. I’ve grown and my perspectives have widened. I’ve learned what grief and loss does to a person. I’ve learned what abusive marriages do to a person. I’ve learned how to love with all of who I am. I’ve learned how to choose myself, my happiness and well-being over the destructive or toxic – no matter how normal they may have seemed to me. Growing up with toxic environments or toxic people shifts your perspectives and makes it hard to know what’s healthy or not. I’ve also learned how to channel so much of my vulnerabilities into a new kind of strength and courage. I know what hides in the dark shadows of life. The monsters that used to hide in my closet or under my bed – are still there. But if you shine brightly and give all you’ve got – the shadows will fall back and the monsters will be forced to stay in their shadows. I may not always have blind faith when it comes to God. He and I have our ups and downs since Ben’s death. But when it comes to my ability to take anything on I have absolute blind faith. When it comes to knowing that the goodness, the care, the love I seek is out there…. I’ve always known that too.

I have no doubt that there will always be people in my life who “love” me. But to them, I’m going to want to say a few things… First off – thank you. Thank you for your spoons of energy, thank you for caring in those moments. Know that I love you too, and truly appreciate the love and care you give back to me. But… If I’m just somebody that you’re gonna leave, or if you’re just some habit that I’ll have to break. If you don’t feel something when you look at me…. just let me down slowly – I’ll be ok.

I’ve got a little girl of my own – I say little – but she’s practically all grown up now. But she looks at me. She thinks I’m this courageous, loving, creative badass. That I’m this amazing strong woman. And yes – for her, I will always be. But what she doesn’t always know – is that the little girl in me is still scared of the monsters in my closet. And now here I am, walking down the road of life trying to show her how to be strong and how to face the monsters from her own closet. Sometimes it feels strange to try and teach my children how to do something that I haven’t yet fully figured out. Talk about the blind leading the blind. ūüôā

It’s interesting to me… how I can feel both scared and broken and still stand tall and feel like I’m unbreakable. It’s such a strange mix. But all of it is truth. I AM a badass. I AM a force of nature. I AM capable of feeling emotions at a depth that rivals some of the best stories from literature. I am also capable of being hurt, even by the best of intentions. I’m capable of being misled. I make mistakes, errors in judgement, I overshare and often over communicate. In my head – it’s better to blurt everything that you’re feeling out and at least allow people to sort through it – than it is to stay quiet and keep it all in. But even that side of me is starting to change as I age. I’m learning that it’s often safer to sit. To ask questions. To listen. But even that fails me at times. Curiosity can kill the cat, after all. And even with all of my listening – I don’t always see the full story.

I don’t always have all the answers. How I wish life had a magic 8 ball at times. Although with my luck – if it did – I’d shake it, and turn it over, only to be told “Reply Hazy – Try again later”.

One person really CAN make a difference

10 years ago, this November, I made a promise to my little baby boy that I would get happy, healthy and spread love like it was candy from my pocket. And for the most part – I’ve upheld my promises. But this year is special. It needs to be special. He would have been 10 years old! So this year, I’m taking the good deed Global. The company I work for is allowing and encouraging me to spread this and utilize the company to do a day of good deeds in honor of Ben…. on a global scale. Every year I pass out blankets for his birthday – and this year – the blanket drive will go beyond the borders of Seattle in a HUGE way. We’re also going to be doing a giant pass it on type of activity – buy a stranger a coffee or get someone’s gas bill… something like that.

I haven’t figured out all of the details yet, but I’m a whirlwind of emotions right now about it. Proud… humbled….honored…. loved…. inspired… one person really CAN make a difference. Stay tuned… once I figure things out in more depth – I’ll be sure to share it here too – that way you all can maybe participate too – in your own ways!

Much love to you Neverland. It’s been to long!

And just like that… everything changed.

 

I’m not even sure if I will be brave enough to post this. But I need to let it out somewhere all the same. I’m so ashamed. So hurt. My whole world has come crashing down in the course of just 36 hours. It started with a message from someone I didn’t know. She was reaching out because I seemed sweet, and she felt I deserved to know the truth.

My husband was cheating on me. And she had proof.

From there, it was a fall down the rabbit hole. And I’m beyond devastated. I rather stupidly thought I’d be capable of going to work today. I think I made it about 15 minutes before I broke down into gut wrenching sobs and just lost it. I’m grateful for the couple of coworkers who were there to offer comfort and consoling as I poured my heart out and recounted the past 18 hours.

So many lies. So much that I didn’t know. Stuff that I don’t fully know how to wrap my head around. And I am truly trying to. And now, this evening, after a day of struggling to even clear my head from the dark clouds that have taken over, he shared that he was frustrated because he’d said he was sorry and he’s done a bunch of what I’d asked for in order for me to feel more comfortable and yet I was still upset. Well excuse ME! Just because I was calm and quiet for the first 5 hours of me learning everything doesn’t mean the storm wasn’t going to come. I have never lied to him. I’ve never been unfaithful or disrespectful. I’ve never done anything to deserve all that has been laid at my feet in the past couple days. I’ve been a good wife. A good person.

I wasn’t angry when I found out…. a few small outbursts in that first hour or so, but overall – I just haven’t been angry. I’ve experienced shock, hurt, shame, disappointment, and now… after learning that he’s frustrated with me, I am now Furious!

Are you kidding me right now?!

He’s seen me suffering all day – came home from work early…crying, talking to my counselor…crying. I went to bed after saying something along the lines of “You cannot tell me that you love me, if you did, this wouldn’t have been going on since the beginning. You don’t love me.” You know what his response was? “Not the whole time!” and then he went silent for a good 5 minutes or so. This upset me and is when he shared his frustration. I had to clarify with him to make sure I hadn’t misunderstood his meaning, to which he confirmed that he had said he was sorry – what more did I want?

And he didn’t even finish doing the things we’d agreed to do to help me feel comfortable. He’s working on it – but his progress is slower than it should be for someone who says they’re going to work on things. I got out of bed after I handed him my wedding ring.

And now I’m sitting on my couch in the dark. Writing this with music playing softly. The dog is snoring in her crate.

There are no more tears. I know what I’m worth… and this is not it.

The end of an emotional weekend

What a weekend I had.¬† My daughter had a friend over for a sleepover, and while I will not divulge details about this girl, I will share that her mom, a dear friend of mine, passed away a couple years ago.¬† It was… absolutely heart breaking then, and shook me to my core.¬† I still think about her every single day. And it’s been a long time since we’ve spent time with that family. So this weekend has certainly left me feeling emotional…¬† And protective over children, in general.

Last night, she asked if we could take a moment and do a group snuggle – because she didn’t get that much at home these days.¬† My heart broke as I snuggled both girls for a while.¬† I stayed up way too late, snuggling and chatting with them.¬† Caught up on how her life had been since we’d last seen each other.¬† And it shook me all over again.¬† I tucked them in and stayed up tossing and turning over it all.¬† This morning, I took them out for breakfast.¬† Waffles with cotton candy on top – because .. that’s why.¬† Just because.

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Because maybe, a little extra sweetness, be it a snuggle, a kind word, a funny story, or even cotton candy on top of a rainbow waffle … with sprinkles…. will somehow put a smile on a kid’s face.¬† And if that happens… maybe she’ll be able to survive this horrendous childhood that she has had.¬† Yea – I know it’s a stretch.¬† But damn it… what else can I possibly do?! She now has a standing invite to come over regularly, as well as halloween and any other time she needs a snuggle… but even I know … It’s not enough.

It’s interesting how small your own problems can become in moments like these.¬† I’ve cried a lot this weekend… cried for her, cried for mother, cried for the unfairness of it all, cried out of gratefulness for my own children… ugh.¬† I’m done crying, and tomorrow, my still partially sick butt has to get up and go to work and get my head in the game.

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It’s funny, this isn’t how I’d imagined my weekend turning out – but I wouldn’t trade it.¬† Maybe I needed a reminder … that my problems and stress are small in comparison to what they could be.¬† That I have it so much better than some, and have given my children a world that is healthy and positive and full of laughter and snuggles and love.¬† I have to remind myself that I cannot hug everyone.¬† I can’t heal everyone.¬† That I have to be content with helping those that I can… and not get hung up on those whom I couldn’t.

Goodnight Neverland.  I wish you all the best.

Much love,

Jen

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Processing… Please hold.

I got into a conversation with someone this morning, they were telling me of a conversation they had with my daughter. ¬†Apparently there were things she didn’t want to talk to me about, simply because she worries that when I am stressed, I may not be able to handle it. ¬†It surprised me to hear. ¬†There is something strange and unsettling to hear that your child thinks you’re weak. ¬†Or at the very least, sees a weakness that perhaps you don’t. ¬†I don’t quite know how to fully process that. ¬†But I know that I will.

It led to me thinking through all that I’ve been through. ¬†My brain immediately went back to Ben. ¬†The night we knew something was wrong and raced him, in the dead of the night, to the hospital. That drive will forever be etched into my brain. ¬†The songs that played quietly on the radio, The ex’s steady calm. ¬†Funny, the man would occasionally drive me crazy with his immaturities and lack of self control, but when everything fell apart… when the hour was dire… and we stood on the edge of a very scary storm… he was someone else. ¬†Someone I respected. ¬†I don’t think I ever told him that. ¬†I don’t think I ever told him how, even now, after all this time… I trust him more than I trust myself. ¬†That deep in my heart, he was my very best friend. ¬†I wish I could help him understand how much I loved him. ¬†I don’t think he ever really knew. ¬†And telling him now would be taken weirdly. ¬†I guess I can’t take back the words I never said. ¬†We both had to take on and face the scariest thing we could have possibly imagined. ¬†A situation where we had no control, we were completely helpless – our heart’s were in the doctor’s hands. ¬†Doctors we trusted, because of an ideal in our heads – that somehow – doctor’s were infallible. ¬†Oh how I regret feeling that way. I’ve never felt so ill-prepared when we learned of their mistakes. ¬†And we were both hurt in the most unimaginable ways by it all. Scarred from the pain in many ways.

I thought back to the many days and nights where I would work and work and work… not because I’m a strange person who doesn’t want to have a life or free time… but because I knew it would put food on the table or give me the ability to get the kids gifts for christmas. ¬†Those were the years when the ex and I would eat ramen or spaghetti o’s so the kids could have balanced meals.¬†These were times when we had so much debt over our heads that we would have to ignore a ringing phone. There was always a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that the world would crash down around us because we couldn’t pay a bill.

I thought back to days when depression and stress rang so loudly inside my head that I couldn’t even see myself within the cloud I was in. ¬†When I would lay in bed and hide from the world, because it seemed smarter than going out and being hurt by it. When a person loses sight of who they are, and it takes them as long as I have to re-find yourself… there tends to be some disconnects. ¬† I’ve changed in big ways since I last saw myself. ¬†So it’s sometimes hard to trust my own intuition. Thankfully, In many ways, those changes were good. ¬†I love myself now, and I know I didn’t before. I’m more laid back about so many things. ¬†Life is going to happen… you can stress about it, or you can try and find a way to enjoy it. ¬†And now, more than ever before, I’m aware of how strong I really am. ¬†I’m sure most people have no idea the amount of fortitude and strength they actually possess.

It’s interesting, the stages you go through in life. ¬†For every stage of stress or hell, there seems to be an opposing, equally joyous time to remember. ¬†I suppose my knowing that is what keeps me going, keeps me strong. ¬†Because, you see… I can’t give up. ¬†I won’t give up. ¬†It won’t happen on my watch! ¬†I want to see what happens at the end of the story – and we’re not there yet. ¬†Not even half way.

I suppose it’s also why I’m upset to hear that my child thinks I cannot handle hearing whatever detail she’s working through. ¬†Please child… I’ve walked through hell – I think I can handle a little teenage highschool¬†drama.

Have a great day Neverland!

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