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”.

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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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I Had An Epiphany Today

There’s something to be said about commuting in a car, it leaves for plenty of time to think. ¬†To decompress and review things in my head. ¬†I certainly don’t do it with everything, but I do find that on occasion, something someone will say or do will get stuck in my head. ¬†It leads me with a need to churn it over a bit and mull on it. ¬†I think it’s because, in the moment, my brain will nod and move along in conversation… but later, it will pop back in my mind and I’ll wonder about that moment – why did I react that way? ¬†Do they really feel that way? ¬†Is that really what they meant? ¬†Perhaps I am simply an over thinker and need to learn to control that side of myself a bit better. Regardless, it is how my brain works.

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Friends and people who learn my story often comment to me about how strong I am. ¬†And while it’s nice to hear, it is in no way a reflection of how I see myself. ¬†I have strength when it comes to my brain. ¬†I’m able to figure out a solution, make a sale, or find a way out of a sticky situation on most occasions. ¬†BUT… when it comes to matters of the heart, and when it comes to matters of¬†sex…. I am a total pansy. ¬†Let me repeat that, because I’ve never admitted that before. ¬†I am a pansy. I wasn’t always like this. ¬†This.. is new. ¬†A new Jen. ¬†One who, now that I see her, I’m not too happy with.

Of course, it doesn’t help that the few times I’ve really opened up and trusted in someone, I’ve ended up highly disappointed and heartbroken over it. ¬†A part of me wants to remind myself that “Hey! That’s life! You win some, ya lose some.” But, because those times have been a bit few and far between – what I usually end up doing is just raising my walls further. ¬†Protect myself from the pain just a little bit more, but of course, the side effect from me doing that is that sometimes, people who’ve been trying to get inside my walls – get hurt. ¬†I shut down and close myself off – and it leaves them hurt. ¬†Which ultimately – is not something I’d ever want to do to those who are close to me.

I’d like to change my goals for the year.

I want to learn to bring those walls down a bit more. ¬†To let someone in. ¬†I suppose… this is my very first step. ¬†Admitting that I can see it, recognize it and want to change it. ¬†I also have to understand that it means letting in some pain. ¬†If I bring down my walls, it’s going to hurt. ¬†I’m scared to hurt. ¬†I’ve felt sadness and hurt and pain for long enough over plenty of things. ¬†The idea of facing pain and sadness scares the shit out of me. ¬†But – I want people to know me. ¬†For people to¬†see me for who I am – and if they don’t like me… it’ll hurt a little. ¬†But this is me. ¬†Who I am on this blog… is me. ¬†And if I ever want to feel like I’m not alone anymore, it means I have to let people in.

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Fall is here

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I know – not a very imaginative title.¬† I may or may not change it.¬† Tonight, I need you Neverland.¬† I love it here.¬† It’s a place that I feel safe to let anything out.¬† Vulnerabilities and all.¬† I like to posture and say that by sharing my vulnerabilities, it gives me strength.¬† It’s a bunch of BS tho.¬† I’m still not very strong.¬† Today especially.

Today, I feel lost.¬† Lost in a sea of my own making to some extent, as my life is my own, and the choices I’ve made over my life were mine.¬† Part of me thinks, well.. Jen, it IS fall.¬† You always get this way leading up to Ben’s birthday.¬† But I don’t think this is just a bit of grief.¬† Not having a job right now is frustrating.¬† I’m antsy and starting to worry over my financial responsibilities.¬† It’s a strange feeling – first time in 12 years I’ve been unemployed.¬† I won’t lie – I’m a little scared.

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Fall is really here.¬† It’s getting colder, more brisk in the mornings.¬† The leaves are changing.¬† It’s one of my favorite times of the year.¬† And yet – it’s also a time of year that typically has me feeling anxious, and even a little down.¬† This is the time of year, that I want to hibernate.¬† Who knows, maybe I was a bear in another life? ūüôā¬† This is the time of year that I’m often hit with a lot of memories from my past.¬† I dreamed of Ben the other night.¬† Grayson asked about him the other day – as we have his picture up on one of the bookshelves in the living room.¬† I don’t cry very much anymore, but there is still a deep ache.¬† The kind of ache in the chest that if you dwelled for too long, the tears would well up behind the eyes, the flood threatening to flow down the cheek.¬† Some wounds are too deep to really heal.

I’ve had some pretty major shakeups with friends and family in the last couple of weeks.¬† That combined with the kids starting school, healing from my injuries and the lack of work… I can’t lie to myself anymore, I’m on the edge of depression.¬† And I know I’ll pull out of it – I always do – but the past couple of weeks have been hard.¬† I’m really proud of me tho.¬† I’m doing it all.¬† I’m managing to figure all of this out, slowly but surely.¬† I have to remind myself that courage doesn’t mean you’re not afraid… it means you’re afraid but still take a step forward.

I have to remind myself that it’s ok to take some time for myself right now.¬† To be quiet and hibernate a little in my home.¬† It’s ok to feel a little lost and scared and lonely.¬† I’m lucky really.¬† I know how good I have it and I know that I’m one tough cookie who’ll find a way to¬† continue to have it good for a long time yet to come.¬† I’ve never been a fan of limbo – and that’s all this is.¬† A strange state where the path that lies ahead of me is a bit hazy and unclear.¬† It’s ok.¬† Although – I won’t lie – it would be nice if someone would join me with a flashlight and a map.¬† ūüôā

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I need to get some of this out

I’ve been hiding from my phone for the past couple of days.¬† Ok, maybe not hiding, but I plug it in and walk away from it.¬† I don’t want to be near it.¬† Families… weddings… I swear, weddings, funerals and babies bring out the crazy in people.¬† And typically – when the crazy comes out – someone gets hurt.

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I guess this time… that person is me.¬† I’m hurt.¬† Reeling actually.¬† I feel as if I’ve been singed and cut by someone I never thought I’d have to fear.

My “bro”.¬† He’s not related to me by blood, but we call each other “brother” and “sister”.¬† We met 13 years ago, he was my neighbor who lived with his then-girlfriend across the hall.¬† I swear, the first time I met him, I knew he was my brother from another mother. LOL.¬† We’ve had a lot of ups and downs over the years, but we were always there for each other.¬† He’s always been there for me.

I knew, as his wedding day approached that our friendship was about to change in a big way.¬† Ideally, I’d gain a cool sister out of the deal.¬† But she has never seemed to have much interest in that, we don’t share a lot of the same ideals, so I get it. Actually – I wish she understood exactly just how much I get it.¬† The Bro’s life is about to change in a pretty serious way.¬† His life now must be with her.¬† Up until recently, I’ve been excited to think about what is in store for their future… moving in together, babies, eventually buying a house, doing all the things that I know he wants to accomplish.¬† And I knew that our friendship would move to the very back… like nosebleed seats.¬† And I’m cool with that – hell – I’ve been pushing him in this direction.¬† I guess I figured we’d get through his wedding day first.¬† I was wrong.¬† And truly, I’m not sure our friendship can recover from this.¬† And if I’m honest, After all that was said, I’m not entirely sure I want it to.

I won’t spill all the details here… but I will say that I wish I could help some people see how much their words can damage.¬† How their tone and the way they approach other people will directly impact how their words are received.¬† I will also say that it takes a very brave and yet rather stupid man to judge another.¬† My bro laid out many of the decisions I’d made over the course of my life … pointing out my mistakes, effectively rubbing my nose in the areas he felt I didn’t measure up.¬† Not just in my past, but even now.¬† But he did all of this, only knowing bits and pieces of the story.¬† He judged me… and it came across with anger, disdain, disappointment and shame. His soon to be wife even joined in the “fun”.¬† She’d verbally attacked me prior to my bro letting me have it.¬† Screamed at me and said I was a horrible “best man”.¬† Ironic she did that when I was putting finishing touches on some bachelor party related stuff earlier that evening.¬† It was a hard hitting 1-2 verbal sucker punch from them as a couple.

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I won’t lie, that first 24 hours after they both let me have it… I was a wreck.¬† I broke down.¬† I bawled and went quiet.¬† I crawled inside my world and licked my wounds.¬† I wasn’t even angry, I was self-reflective.¬† I had to check myself… make sure that what he’d said wasn’t true.¬† I guess because I’ve been actively working on self-improvement, I had to really take a good look and make sure that there weren’t areas of his feedback that I needed to consider.¬† The next day, we spoke again and he apologized and tried to sweep it under the rug.¬† Even tried to deny some of what he’d said the night before.¬† I thanked him for the apology but stated that for me to feel comfortable attending the wedding and the festivities, that I would like an apology from his fiance/soon to be wife.¬†¬†¬† He agreed that I deserved it, but warned that I might not get it from her right away.¬† He laid out various reasons and excuses for why I should just let it go.¬† About 15 minutes after he said he’d talk to her and get back to me, my phone rang.¬† It was her, and I answered it pleasantly, as I didn’t want to start things off on the wrong foot.¬† She immediately started yelling – even yelled an apology.¬† Yea – cuz THAT feels totally sincere.¬† I hung up on her, and texted her that perhaps it would be better to move to text.¬† Honestly, I just didn’t want to be yelled at anymore.¬† We texted a little – but I pretty quickly gave up on that too.¬† So here I sit, no sincere apology and still feeling incredibly upset and uneasy a few days later.

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Yes, I could back down… I could suck it up and be there for him on his wedding day.¬† And likely – I will do this.¬† More for me than him.¬† I don’t want to feel guilty 10 years from now for not showing up.¬† And I’ll go into it knowing there’s the potential for drama, or daggers being thrown at me, there will be the potential for awkward uncomfortable silences, and even worse, a high chance that I will end up feeling used or insulted by the end of all of this.¬† I will suck it up, BUT… I’m done.¬† Or at least I think I am.¬† I’m going to just keep going down my own life’s path… because I’m dying to see what happens in the next chapters of my life.¬† To get thru this, i’m going to keep telling myself that it’s not my circus, and not my monkeys.

I’m a grown woman who’s made a successful, full and happy life for herself.¬† I’m a woman who has good, sweet, smart children who may stumble or struggle in their life in places, but who know without a shadow of a doubt that their momma loves them and would do anything to see that they are safe and well cared for.¬† I don’t deserve to be talked to or treated in that manner.¬† Especially when what is being said isn’t true.¬† At least I had that going for me, I knew, deep down in my heart that nothing they said was true about me… that it was being said out of spite and anger and jealousy.¬† But here’s the thing, even knowing that… it still hurt.¬† It was a different hurt tho.¬† This hurt came from knowing that the someone I trusted over the years is now throwing daggers… they are no longer worthy of my trust.¬† That perhaps I’d misjudged him all along.

So … because of all of this… I’ve been avoiding my phone. I’ve been staying off social media and just kind of hiding in my world.¬† I’ve had some shifts in a few friendships in the last few months… each of them shook me to my core for various reasons.¬† This one is no different.¬† What is interesting to me is that when I promised myself that I’d get healthy, even if that meant cutting toxic situations out of my life… I guess I didn’t realize how many of my relationships had toxic layers woven into them.¬† Maybe living on my own and staying single for a while truly WAS the best thing I could have done for myself.¬† I’m so glad I’ve done it up to this point.¬† I’ll have to watch myself moving forward… I’m putting up my walls with everyone – unintentionally.¬† And I don’t mean to.¬† I am just unsure on who to trust, vs. who will judge me or hurt me.¬† Easier to just put up the walls a bit.

I had an interview today – it went quite well.¬† I felt confident, for the first time in months actually.¬† A genuine confidence, not the kind where you fake it till you hopefully make it.¬† Maybe being shaken to my core this weekend was good for me.¬† Helped remind me who I am.¬† Where I’ve been, and more importantly, where I am headed.

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