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. 🙂

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”.

The nuances of Self Love

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line.”

“You have to love yourself before others can love you.”

“To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness.”

You often see these types of quotes around the idea of self love. And this post isn’t me necessarily disagreeing with them… it is me adding to them.

I recently had someone remind me that I have to love myself before others will love me and it sent my mind into a spin. I got frustrated by it. I think it is because often, these phrases make it seem as if self love is a constant state that can be achieved. Like a check in the box of qualities you’ve managed to achieve as you grow. But it’s not.

As a 37 year old woman, I can honestly say I love me. I have more self esteem and self love now than I have had my entire life. I love the woman I have become. I’m proud of my life – in all it’s messy glory – and am truly excited to see and experience what is yet to come.

I love my messy, frizzy curly hair that as a teenager I hated. I love that I’m soft and squishy. I love my strength and endurance to take on anything – even when it seems insurmountable. I love my passion and enthusiasm over what others might see as mundane. I love to dance with my dog in a kitchen while food is cooking, jamming to whatever music is playing, or chase my kids round the hall. I love that I’m a mushy, romantic sap who gets butterflies in her tummy at romantic scenes in “girly” movies and gets a bit teary during the sad parts of cartoons. I love that people don’t know that I’m a singer – and when I finally unleash my full voice, I often get dropped jaws. I love that my mind is a whirl of a million thoughts at a time, and that while I can be forgetful about certain situations – I also have a bit of a photographic memory for other things and can sometimes impress with my intelligence. I love that my imagination journeys into places that unlock a whole array of creative pursuits.

… I could keep going.

BUT….

I still don’t ALWAYS have that love for myself. I don’t ALWAYS remember these things. I make mistakes. Sometimes, I look at myself and in that moment, see that I’m not measuring up to my own expectations. I think I had the idea that in those moments when I’m not “feeling the self-love” it would somehow mean that I don’t have “it” at all. But when I look behind, from where I’ve come – I have it in spades. It’s all in perspective. In theory – the goal is to constantly grow and not deplete the stashes of self love that we keep deep down within.

When I look at it that way – these quotes start to fall apart a little. Because if self love is constantly being added to and grown upon – then there is no end goal – no moment where you can actually say that you can check that little box.

Coming round to a decision…

I’ve come to a decision about my future. It’s taken me some time. I’ve let things marinate and I’ve given ample opportunity to see change. I’ve worked with my counselor just about every week to better understand my reactions and where I could have done things differently. And after all of it – I’m about ready to file for divorce. I’ve given myself a deadline. I have to have surgery in a few weeks, so I’m giving myself some room there too – to rest, recover and heal. But I’m feeling pretty positive about my decision. I can honestly say I’ve done all I could to make things work from my end. I’ve listened more than I’ve ever listened in my life. And ultimately – I think this may be the reason I’m going through this. The universe has thrown lessons and tests at me throughout my life – and I don’t always understand them in the moment – darn that hindsight being 20/20 … but I think I understand this one.

I needed to learn that you can lead that damn horse to water – but only the horse can make himself drink. I needed to learn to be able to communicate in a better, more productive way. In previous relationships I learned how to have a voice – but often it would come out raging or so filled with emotions that my voice wasn’t clear or crisp. The past year has taught me how to use my voice in a calm, collected, crystal clear fashion. I learned how to set boundaries, how to find an awareness of my own needs and be able to voice them. And – in the end – I learned how to choose myself, my health, my emotional well being, and ultimately, my future happiness- over what would have amounted to death by a thousand paper cuts.

It’s odd – in my work life – things could not be better. I won a manager award on Wednesday. Recognized for being a top leader, transforming a team, and inspiring others to become better leaders. It felt good… but bittersweet in some ways. How can I be getting it so right at work – but so wrong at home?

The kids are happy and healthy… Well-loved and thriving. My puppies are also doing damn well- although my youngest pup still has the energy of a tornado. hehe. That’s what 12 week old puppies do tho, so it’s to be expected! So maybe I’m not getting it wrong at “home” – but I sure do question my ability to get it right when it comes to matters of the heart.

I’m hopeful for 2020. I’m going to continue to focus on embracing my own well being. I’m going to keep the trend of being authentically me. But I am also going to work on re-establishing my tribe. Somehow, in the past year, I’ve let a lot of my friendships falter. Not by doing something bad – just from general neglect and lack of attention. My focus was elsewhere, and I’m feeling the loss. I miss the “family” that I built around me. Not all are blood – in fact, very little are truly family members. My tribe was a group of people who became as close as family to me – and in all truth – I miss them. There are only a very small circle of people I talk to these days – and even out of that circle, only 2 who know what’s really going on with me. It’s kind of a lonely existence when you’re in limbo. And I’ve never been a very patient woman when it comes to my own path. I get frustrated when my dreams aren’t moving along at the pace I think they should. I know – it’s silly.

Well – I should get my butt moving. Time to dive into another day at work. The day beckons… but please know, to all you who read this silly little blog – I appreciate you. I’m thankful that you’re there – reading the things I toss into the void. Have a great day!

Love, getting older, and trust

I’ve spent some time with my grandparents within the past month.  Real time.  Where we sat and chat and had no time restraints.  I’m grateful that I’ve been able to take the time to prioritize my family in that way.  I love them with all my heart.

Something that has struck me and left me processing for a bit now, is what I see in their relationship to each other.  They are all they have left, of a life that was rich with friends and loved ones.  They are now at an age, where they watch who’s left of their friends pass away.  Moving on to bigger adventures in the grand circle of life.  It’s a sad, lonely, and quite frankly, a depressing time of one’s life it would seem.  So of course, the love my grandparents share is magnified that much more.  They’ve been through everything together.  They hold hands when they get their hair cut.  They are constantly talking about each other and thinking about each other when they are apart.

It’s left me thinking about my own future a little bit.  For one, I feel this sudden urge to make sure my retirement accounts are healthy – holy moly does that level of care cost a FORTUNE or what?!  But beyond that, I can’t help but wonder what my future as an old lady will be like?  Will I live in a nice assisted living place like my grandparents?  What will I be like when I’m an old lady?  Will I be more cantankerous?  More kooky?  More sweet?  🙂

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Who will be by my side?

Of course, when you start to look ahead, you can’t help but also look behind.  I think about the fact that so much in my life has changed from where I was 10, even 15 years ago.  How young and innocent I was.  Naive to much of what life could, and would throw my way; but I’ve always handled it all.  I’m damn proud of that.  And I don’t think I’d trade anything from it.  EXCEPT one thing.  Well – ok maybe two.  One – I’d love to have my body back from my early twenties.  Uh… yes Please!?!  But two… Somewhere along the lines I’ve lost my ability to trust someone else completely.  And I miss that.

I sat today and tried to pinpoint when I lost it.  Like it was a coin from my pocket that had somehow slipped out and run about loose.  But it wasn’t like that.  I think it was more like how a rocky cliffside will slowly erode away from the ocean waves that pound on it.  The more people I’ve put faith and trust in over the years who’ve let me down, have made it so that I’m a bit leery to be blindly handing out my trust anymore.  And that’s really quite a sad thing.  That’s me changing and adapting due to shitty people.  It’s perfectly normal of course, life experiences teach you, after all.

I’ve been thinking a lot about  weddings and relationships.  I think it’s because of something my grandmother brought up. 70+ years together.  Just Wow.  I was admiring their wedding photo and couldn’t help but think that they both, for sure, upheld their wedding vows.

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I always upheld mine.  That I can say without uncertainty.  When I think about my own future, it’s dawned on me that I’ve never really thought about what I’d want someone to say to me now.  Because of my own experiences – I think I’d want to write them – rather than have someone say them for me.  Because the standard I will love, honor, cherish, obey …. insert the rest of the standard bit here… isn’t quite right for me anymore.

Yes, I would hope to be loved, honored, cherished… i’m pretty sure they cut out obey now… so i won’t get into that one… but I think I’d also want a few other guidelines in there.  Ones I would hope would be a mutually spoken thing of course.

8 Vow additions for a future husband & wife:

I promise to Respect.
I would hope that my future husband would promise to always respect me and our relationship.

I promise to Trust and never do anything to cause that level of trust to falter.

I promise to always put your needs at the same priority level as my own.  If I’m going to be “selfish” it will be for us – not just myself.

I promise to always be stubborn and to never quit trying and putting effort into us and our lives we’re building together.  Even when things get tough or tense.

I promise to always communicate and be transparent. You are the one person I am not allowed to hide anything from.  I will always try and make sure that we are communicating in a healthy manner.

I promise to never judge you.  I will always empathize with you, and try and understand from your perspective.

I promise to always prioritize our sex life.  To be affectionate with you.  To touch you and hug you and love you. Because this is something I will also need and crave.

I also promise to adventure with you, to make you laugh, to sing to you, to lift you up and encourage you to spread your wings.  To be your cheerleader when you need it, and a silent gaming partner when you need that too.

 

Hmm… yea, I suppose that covers quite a bit.  Makes me wonder how people end their vows these days – and yes, I realize I could go search that.  Do they say till death do us part anymore?  Or is it till divorce or death do us part?  LOL.  Ok, ok, I shouldn’t laugh at that – divorce is no laughing matter at all.  As obviously, I speak from personal experience there.  But do people work loopholes into their vows now?

Can you imagine what some of the worst vows out there could be like?  I take you… till death, divorce, sickness, fatness, or a really cute rich guy comes along…

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Ugh.  I would certainly hope that doesn’t happen.  Would seem like a sad state of affairs for the “sanctity of marriage”.

Is it wrong for me to long for this to be a more simple thing?  I suppose there is no such thing.  All you can do is hope for the best.  Hope that the right person will come along and sweep you off your feet.  That they’ll be the one to open your eyes to everything that’s good and wonderful in the world.  And who knows – maybe they’ll even be a master at making grilled cheese.  😉

Goodnight Neverland.  Much love to you.

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When someone shows you who they are, believe them.

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My brother is staying with me for a month.  It’s fun to see him every day.  We didn’t grow up together, and only met when he was 10.  So we’re still getting to know one another.  He’s a punk, but I love him.  My kid brother.  But one of the challenging things I’m learning about having him here, is that it exposes me to some of my family that I’d rather not be exposed to.  Thru him, I get to see and experience what he goes through with my father.  Usually – it doesn’t get to me, but last night, he shared an experience he had this weekend and I just about lost my shit.  I’m still upset.  But I think what upsets me the most, is that, at least for the next month, it will be a “norm” in the house.  It bothers me.

My father is … well… abusive.  Physically sometimes, emotionally others.  And not all the time…. but still.  A spade is a spade.  It takes a lot to write that.  It took me a while to get my brother to even admit it out loud.  Now look – there’s something to be said for getting physical – sometimes a well timed shove can wake someone up – That is not the type of physical altercation that I am talking about here.  There is no excuse that I can logically come up with to make it ok.  I know that man loves his kids… in his own truly messed up way, but he is toxic.  It’s why I’ve put up walls and boundaries – to keep me and the kids safe and worry-free.

So here I sit.  Knowing that over the next month or so, I’ll likely be (at the very least) hearing more stories, learning more things, and overall, likely cementing why I made the choices I’ve made to step away from toxic people in my life.  I try and remember that there are two sides to every story… and somewhere in between lies the truth.  But so far, the stories I hear align with everything I know from my past… and I’m not convinced that leopards change their spots.  When someone shows you who you are, believe them.

It’s sadly, nice to know that I’m not the only one of us kids who struggled with Dad.  But at the same time, I wish with all my heart that I could take that away from him – let him be spared.  I’m protective.  I don’t want to see my family hurt.  I’d do just about anything to keep them all safe and loved.  Ugh.  It’s rough being a sister sometimes.  But I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Much love neverland.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

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