There was a time where I wouldn’t ever consider dating a man who was shorter than 6 feet tall. Nope. Never. NO WAY. I used to always say, “Who wants to bend over to kiss their boyfriend?” (I was 5 ft 9 inches tall by the age of 15, so the ‘amazon girl’ issues lived inside me for many, many years.) The LAST thing I wanted as a tall, athletic, teen girl is more teasing about my height, size of my arms or stature!

As a young mother, if my child messed up or got in trouble at school, I felt like it reflected on me. Then, as a single mother, I blamed myself for the issues they had in school/with friends and felt like the struggles they were facing were all due to me and my ex getting a divorce.

I used to think that getting a divorce was the worst thing in the world that could happen to me. I remember the day after I kicked my then-husband out of our house, I sat alone in a small desk at back to school night at the local junior high and watched all of the other parents rotate around the school together and wondered why me? I felt as though I was being punished for something and completely sucked at life.

What a complete waste of effing time.

The nice thing about turning 40 is that you no longer give a shit what other people think. Seriously. Been there, done that. You spend your whole life living in a certain role in your family/marriage/employment,  then one day your eyes open and realize why do I care about the ‘perception of me’ more than my own happiness? Then, you walk into the light and stand tall and never look back.

My husband, Brandon, is honest, loyal, supportive, loving, passionate and a wonderful father. Yes, he’s 6 years younger than me and 4 inches shorter than me (20 years ago, I would have walked right on by), and today I could care less about what people think as they see us holding hands.

I am one hell of a mother. I know it. I know it because my kids and I are close. I am teaching them how to love, take the high road, be better. They share their fears, sadness, challenges, love stories, happy times and hugs with me. No matter what they do and how they mess up and where they fall short, I’m there for them. And if they slip, I will help them stand. And if they do slip, it’s ok because people make mistakes.

My divorce is the best thing to have ever happened to me. I stood up for myself. For the first time. All the pain and drama and bullshit crap that gets thrown my way is well worth it. Because I live an authentic life. And I’ve moved on and found happiness.

Stop spending your valuable time and energy worrying about perception. If you’re acting with a true hart and for yourself and your needs and what’s best for you, that’s really all that matters. 

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Good news! After reading my blog, my ex’s wife emailed me with “proof” from the bank that she had scheduled the child support check to be sent to our house and it had never been cashed. She said that she’d have the check re-cut.

Not so good news, in the email she wrote:

Your sense of reality is so far from the truth. I’m so glad that I don’t live in your messed up, negative reality. Life is too short to be that miserable!

(Looks like she’s defending her man. I don’t blame her, really. She loves him. She’s close to him and I’m sure things are going well for them (it’s early in their relationship) so she’s defending her love for him and the great guy she sees.)

The new check arrived yesterday. Good! (Isn’t divorce so much fun?)

I was glad to know my ex wasn’t purposely not paying child support–he never responded to my text or emails about not receiving the check with a pleasant “they were mailed…let me know if they’re not there in a few days and we’ll re-cut you another one.” Had he done so, we could have amicably solved this. But alas…he didn’t respond.

Funny thing about all of this…Brandon called me today and let me know that a neighbor brought over an envelope that was accidentally delivered to their house. What was in it? The original child support (dated 6 days late, but hey, at least it was there).

I never did respond to her rude email. I emailed her today and let her know that I had gotten the new check and that a neighbor delivered the original one. I told her I would shred it.

More venom, accusations, and judgements came back to me via email from her. Slashing words. She said she reads my blog and called me a liar and tells me I’m ‘not letting go’ because I blog (hey, I’m a writer…it’s what I do). I read through her email and kindly wrote an extensive reply back.

Finally, finally, I told her my true feelings–it was a mighty long email. I was not in a bad frame of mind or angry at all as I wrote. I was peaceful, I got a lot off my chest, and I told her the truth about many things. She hasn’t heard my part of the stories, after all. I feel free. She probably won’t believe the things I pointed out, and it’s not my job to sell her on them, but I said them.

I’m not in this to fight–with her or with him. But I’m also not going to tolerate being accused of lying, ruining my children or being their ‘”friend” and not a parent’.

All of the BS about me and my life and my house and my blog just needs to stop. I’m sure then I wouldn’t have much to write about as it pertains trying to escape a controlling person.

And let me remind everyone, this blog is for ME…not for him or for her. As my lawyer told their lawyer: Tell them to just stop reading the blog!

Email blocked!

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My ex has a picture of Medusa set as my caller ID photo on his phone. Still. We’ve been apart 5 years now and that man still cares so much about me he has a picture set up for my caller ID.

How sweet

My 11 year old has told me on a few occasions that it bothers her to see it on his phone. I don’t blame her. That’s her mom. She used his phone last week to place a phone call to me and came home grumbling her dad “still has Medusa as your photo, mom.”

Mature

Is that a behavior an ex should participate in knowing full-well his kids see the pic? No. Do I care about the picture or the names he and his wife call me? Uh, no again. Do I care about how all of this affects my kids? Hell yes, I do. 

Let’s cut to the chase, here. The truth about people like my ex always appears. They can’t hide it forever.

If you’re so angry at the mother of your 4 children that you have Medusa as her caller ID (after 5 years) and you allow your children to know that, you have issues. 

If your 11 year old daughter tells you she wants to be with her step-dad on his birthday, and instead of being supportive, you confront her and tell her “do you know not one of my kids wished me a happy birthday on my birthday,” you must realize that you’re plotting her one father against the other and putting her in the middle. That’s a selfish way to interact with your daughter. 

If you insist in submitting paperwork to the court saying your ex wife is vindictive and obsessed with you because she has an anonymous blog about overcoming a controlling relationship with a narcissist and you want her to stop blogging, well, didn’t you just prove you’re indeed acting like a controlling narcissist?

I say it’s time that people grow up and move on. Perhaps then I won’t have tons and tons of stories to blog about on how to overcome a relationship with a controlling narcissist.

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Unbelievably happy. That’s how I’m feeling lately.   So happy, in fact, that you can’t wipe the smile off my face. Not because everything’s perfect and golden in my life–because it’s not. (Is there ever a perfect life?) I’m happy because everyone in my house is ‘showing up’ and taking accountability for our family. We have issues, the kids have issues, hell, even the dog has issues! Issues doesn’t mean bad. It means there are always things to work on to be better.

My husband is a rock. Strong, steady, and not afraid to discuss problems and tackle them head on. When you blend a family of 10 (with 3 exes in the picture), you’re carrying semi-loads full of baggage into the family. You really can’t avoid it. And when exes, or their spouses, or the kids act up, you add that to the already there new-couple adjustment.

As I’ve mentioned here before, my boys have been hit the hardest from our post-family-breakup. They’ve struggled in school, with friends, with effort levels, a lot. We are at a place where each of them are taking accountability for ‘checking out’ of their lives to try and mask their pain, and we’re talking about it. THAT is an accomplishment.

The bonding that is going on between all of us is amazing to watch. We are building the foundation of our family–it can be exhausting but it feels right. We’ve finished a new home. We’ve planned vacations. We’ve cried over a lost baby. We’ve stuck by the kids through ups and downs and didn’t walk away or send them away like other people do. We’re doing the work. And damn, Gina, it feels good.

I’m a firm believer in starting over and second chances. It takes time to find footing again but it can be done. I never thought I’d find “comfortable” again, but I did…and then some.

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saveIt baffles me how someone cannot see how they are affecting their life (the downs, typically) by choosing to act in a certain way. It seems crazy to me when someone can look you straight in the face and blame you for their issues, their hate for something, their unhappiness and anger inside.

Even more baffling than that is how that individual will try to “punish” you in some way in order to make you see the “error of your ways.”

I’ve seen this type of person in action all over the place–my ex, my children, a co-worker, a manager. Some people don’t live in this personality all of the time and others do.

So how do you help someone see that they aren’t taking accountability for the issues they create?

Accountability: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions

Truth is: I don’t know if you can.

My ex is still trying to take me to court over my publishing of this blog. He blames this blog for the issues he has with his children. He says they read it and he doesn’t have a relationship with our sons because of what I write. That breaks my heart. (incidentally, my blog is blocked on my computers at home, and my children would never be able to find this blog because there is no identity attached to this blog other than my first name–this was done for a reason–I want to protect them!) No matter what my past was with this man, my children don’t need to know about all of the pain I experienced in our marriage (or after our marriage) that was caused by him.

I’m still upset that my children found out the reason he had to leave our home was because he was involved with a neighbor. The boys found a camera with photos of the two of them on dates. My oldest son read my ex’s texts to her over my ex’s shoulder one night when the kids were visiting him. My son called me immediately from the bathroom to explain to me what he saw because he was so hurt. The children found out about their relationship because he was irresponsible.

IF my children have an issue with their father, it is because of his interactions with them…not my interactions with them.

That makes me sad.

(Now that my ex reads my blog, I find myself thinking before I type–I never used to. I used to process and write and pour my heart out onto the keys of my keyboard as a way of healing and helping others. I commit to keep doing that.)

So why am I writing today? I wish my ex could see what he’s doing. As the quote above states, I wish I could tell him to simply stand up. My ex’s love towards our children is conditional. For instance, he’s been fighting with our 16 year old and didn’t even try to contact him or send him a gift or card on his birthday. He wrote on his Facebook wall. That’s all. Our son said it doesn’t bother him, but I know it does–he’s struggling lately. At school. Emotionally. Whatever their issues between them, a father should reach out to his son on his birthday.

If only he could just swallow his pride and love our children unconditionally…

The latest battle I’m facing is that my ex has not paid his child support that was due nearly two weeks ago. He’s never been this late before. I texted him last week to remind him that he is late in paying and asked him to send it home with my daughter that evening. He didn’t. Instead, a few days later, he brought boxes of our boys’ things over to my house and left them on the porch, because the boys don’t want to go stay at his house any more. No explanation…just boxes.

I’m sure he’s blaming me for something and using the child support as leverage. Who really knows. But it’s hurting the children. He’s putting them in the middle. How? That money is used for groceries in our house. It’s been budgeted that way for some time now. And to all of a sudden not pay child support takes (in an indirect way) food out of our children’s mouths.

We are fine, and yes there is still food in the cupboards, and I realize there are parents who don’t see a dime of child support who probably think I’m crazy for voicing an opinion about someone being 2 weeks late in paying. (Sincerely, my heart goes out to those of you who do it on your own. You have my respect and so much more!) But digging his heels in and not being accountable for this is not how he can “get back” at me.

I wish I could tell my ex to just “stand up” and save himself from drowning, but he would never listen to me.

If he would listen to me (and, hey, I guess he’s reading this so I’ll put it out there anyways), I would say:

Your children need you to love them no matter what. No matter if they have long hippie hair. No matter if they don’t make the team. No matter if they aren’t a starter or a straight A student or if they remember to call you after games or not. They need unconditional love and support and sincerity and humility. That is what they need. Sometimes, as a parent, you put your pride aside and love your child–even when their choices are wrong or not up to your standards.

I will never understand how someone cannot see how their actions affect their own life, and perhaps I never will.

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sex after divorce 

Sex is an important part of any marriage. We’ve all heard this before, and many people have varied definitions as to what is “healthy” and what is not when it comes to intimacy and the frequency of having sex.

I grew up in a Utah community, and as you could guess (Mormon culture and all) sex isn’t something that’s discussed openly–at all. On top of that, we’re known for marrying young (approx 19-22 or your over the hill) and young = immature!

Entering a relationship with someone who has narcissistic traits when you’re at such a young age can really affect how you view sex and how you communicate about it (or even IF you communicate about it).

A woman who has been in a relationship with a narcissist is showered with love at first. You’re treated sweetly and groomed for the narcissist’s picking. You, of course, have no idea this is happening at the time. Oblivious to the control mechanisms that spin and crank behind the scenes, you might hear stories about how the narcissist has been cheated on or hurt. Or how he feels he wasn’t loved as a child. You feel it’s your responsibility to “prove” you’re worthiness and loyalty to him. Always. 

When sex enters the picture, this can become a huge problem for you, the victim. For some women, the sex is never really about a mutual connection once the narcissist has entrapped you. For some narcissists, is only about the him and his needs. He doesn’t consider her need to be loved outside of the bedroom or if she has an orgasm or not. He only wants to get his and feel good. His needs come first. For other victims, it can turn into something dark and abusive.

The manipulation starts small. The convincing and prodding begin slyly and soon turn into comments of “If you loved me, you’d try X.” Some women are manipulated in such a way that they hear “You WILL do this for me, or else.” I know of a woman whose narcissistic husband made her give him oral sex once a week before he went to work. This was expected  every week during their entire marriage. Expected. There was no wanting or desire on her part. It was what MUST happen. 

Now that I’m in a healthy relationship that is vulnerable and connected and there is a mutual respect and love for one another, I thank the heavens above every day to have found such a deep connection. For the first time I feel safe. I feel sexy and I feel, for the first time, like a whole woman. A woman who enjoys sex and communicates about it with her husband. 

For those of you who are coming out of a relationship where you were with someone with narcissistic traits, I’d like to share something I came across from one of our local TV stations. Laura Botherson is a family and marriage educator who shares her definition of a healthy sexual relationship as the following:

  1. Mutually Fulfilling. Lovemaking is mutually enjoyable and satisfying for both husband and wife. (This would include regular orgasms for both husband and wife.)
  2. Open Communication. Husband and wife communicate openly and honestly about sex-including their needs and preferences. This ability allows them to reconcile the many differences that will inevitably arise in the sexual relationship.
  3. Satisfactory Frequency. Both husband and wife feel satisfied with the frequency of lovemaking.
  4. Emotional Connection Beyond the Bedroom. In order for the intimate relationship to come full circle there must be good emotional connection outside the bedroom as well.

I always wondered if there was something wrong with me because I didn’t enjoy sex during my first marriage. In fact, I could have cared less if I never had sex again. I would hear over and over that I was the problem. It took me being on my own to see that the problem was that all 4 of these key components were missing in our relationship. It’s that simple. 

Look at these 4 components and ask yourself if your marriage encompasses satisfaction, communication, and connection. If you’ve been in a relationship with a manipulative person, there’s a good chance many of these are missing. 

If you’re trying to begin anew, and you long for a relationship that is caring, deep, respectful and fulfilling, have hope. You can find it. If you’re escaping a dark past, as the woman I mentioned earlier is trying to do, seek help through a counselor. The scars can heal and you can have a close, trustful relationship if you can get help. Have hope!

To see Laura Botherson’s interview, watch it here.

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After surviving a high-conflict divorce, chances are you can still find yourself battling the raging seas from time to time even years after the judge signs the final paperwork. It’s just one of those inevitable things when you’re divorcing someone who manipulates, lies and twists things.

Over the years, I’ve grown accustomed to threats, dirty looks, letters from lawyers and rude texts. But the one thing I haven’t quite escaped as of yet is the triggers in my life that take me back to one of the darkest times in my life.

Yesterday I sat at a stoplight and stared blankly at the car in front of me while running my to-do list through my mind–spacing off into check boxes and schedules as I usually do. Track meet at 3. Soccer at 6:45. Need to call the satellite company and order the Mayweather and Pacquiao fight. You know how it goes.

After I came out of my cloud of to-dos, I noticed, really noticed, the type of car in front of me. It was a navy blue Nissan Murrano loaded up with things in the back, and they were visible through the back window. I could see through the window and I could make out almost everything in the car.

In that moment I was transported to 2010 in an instant…

In the summer of 2010, after I kicked my then-husband out of our home on the west side of town, he immediately moved in with his mother. She had an extra room he could stay in (which meant free–bonus for him and his penny-pinching ways), and she would take over caring for him as I had for the last 19 years. In my mind, it was a no brainier that he would run to her home after he packed up his things and left. Plus, that way he could drive her blue Murrano and not “put the miles on his car.” 

My then-husband would often come by our house for a “visit” to see the kids, hold my hand, and chat with all of us; often times he would profess his love for me and tell me he wanted us to work things out. And then he would be on his way. He would play this yo-yo game for the next 3 months of our lives, dragging out the hurt and pain and running me and my kids up and down the roller coaster until we were all exhausted.

One night in early-fall, he showed up unannounced to our my home for a quick visit. I was just getting the kids settled in for the night, and I asked my then-husband if he wanted to join us for family prayer. He obliged. We all knelt as a family together and prayed for “daddy to try hard to fix some things in his life so he could return to our family” among other heartfelt things. He seemed happy with our little prayer, and he and I walked each of our 4 kids to their bedrooms to tuck the children in. We kissed them lovingly on the foreheads and he said good bye to them. It was a very difficult thing for everyone, because we knew he’d be returning to his mom’s house once he left.

After the kids were in bed, he asked me to give him the insurance bill to pay grabbed some warmer clothes from his closet and said he was taking his pillows to his mother’s house because hers weren’t comfortable. I was fine with that, and after he grabbed everything I walked him to the door. I opened the door and he looked into my eyes and said, “I really do want everything to work out between us, Lori.” (and at that time I believed him) and kissed me goodbye.

I felt happy for his words and kiss and told him to text me when he got to his mother’s house. He said he would.

After I climbed alone into bed, my sweet friend Erin called to check on me. We were chatting away I realized I hadn’t heard a word from my then-husband. It had been almost an hour, and his mother’s home was only 30 minutes away. He should have texted me by now. I immediately went into a panic, because my thoughts went to him and her together.

I couldn’t tell if what I felt was fear, instinct, or complete sickness in the pit of my stomach. I told Erin my intuition was telling me he was with her. She flatly said, “Your intuition is always right. Go drive by her house and see.” I NEVER had driven by her home before, so why would I do it now? (Of course I knew where she lived; our girls played together for years.)

I quickly hung up the nearly-dead cell phone, grabbed my car keys, and ran outside–barefoot and in my pajamas, sans bra. Her home was only 2 blocks from ours mine, and her street was a dead end. I was mortified to be doing a drive-by as a 39-and-a-half year old woman, but it was something I felt I had to do.

My stomach churned and twisted as I entered her street. It was nearly 11:00 at night and my mind raced, thinking I would get caught outside her home. I slowly drove towards her rambler, eyes scanning the curb sides for my then-husband’s white Nissan truck. I passed her home without incident and a huge wave of relief drown all the self-doubt and worry that was in my head. I thought to myself: Whew! Thank you, God, he’s not here.

I continued down her street so I could flip a U-turn and return home to my 4 sleeping kids–and that’s where I saw it–my mother-in-law’s navy blue Nissan Murrano. It was parked 7 or 8 houses down, behind a huge trailer, almost purposely “hidden” so no one would see. Tears burst from my eyes and panic took over. I began to shake and sweat and I was nauseous immediately. What do I do? What could I do? Should I go knock on her door? Should I walk in her house?

I immediately called my friend Erin whose voice calmed me and talked me through my open wounds and pain. Again, my intuition kicked in. I wanted to call my Bishop and neighbor. I knew he was a steady rock in the storm I found myself in those few months, and I knew he would listen and offer wise words.

Sobbing through tears, I dialed his number, apologized for the lateness of my call and asked his wonderful wife if he was home. He picked up the receiver and listened to me spew out the awful story, calmly asking if I was sure if the Nissan was in-fact my husband’s mother’s. I wasn’t sure–I walked barefoot up to the doorway of the car, my body numb with pain. As I peered in I saw the Allstate bill on the dash and his pillow in the front seat. Tears streamed down my face. I walked to the back of the car and saw the turtlenecks and sweaters in the back of the car from our my closet. Yes, it was her car.

As I had expected, my neighbor talked me out of walking to the door (besides, I had no bra on and I clearly wasn’t presentable enough to kick her ass in an appropriate way). He calmly said to me, “Lori, go home to your children. They need you now. There is nothing you can do tonight.”

I wiped my tears away, and with my hands shaking I put the car in drive and drove to our my home to be with my kids.

How can someone outright lie and twist the truth? Normal people cannot. Liars are good at what they do. They persuade people to believing their truth. They spin their webs and cast them far and wide. Cheaters command the art of the lie and they use it often. And they oftentimes keep cheating because they’ve gotten good at it.

That night was one of the hardest I’ve ever had to face. I’ve all but forgotten it and I’ve moved on. Until the day I sat at a stoplight…and it all comes rushing back.

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OwnIt

Trying to please everyone.

Straining to be perfect.

Refusing to ask for help.

These are the cloaks that people wear as they try to avoid living an authentic, vulnerable life. We do whatever we can to cover up, conceal or hide the fact that we have feelings, needs, insecurities–simply because we don’t want to be seen as weak.

“I can’t stand up for what I believe in, because it contradicts what my spouse believes so I’ll just go along with what he says.”

“My marriage is falling apart, I have so much debt I’m afraid I’ll lose everything, but on the outside I’ll keep presenting myself as a perfect father, husband, and neighbor so I don’t get judged or let my wife and kids down.”

“I’m a single mother trying to work two jobs, care for my kids, volunteer for my church and be a caring friend and I’ve never felt so stressed or alone. I’ve got to keep going on my own, because this is who I am.”

The picture above is from one of my favorite authors, Brené Brown. She shared this image on her Facebook feed yesterday, along with a powerful sentence:

I constantly have to remind myself that running takes way more out of me than owning does.

Do you see the important word in Brené’s post?

Owning.

Let me say that again…

Owning.

No, it never feels good to admit to someone that you can’t handle everything that’s being thrown at you. No one gets a warm, fuzzy feeling from failing at a marriage or at a job and the LAST thing they want to do is publish their life-status change when it happens. Don’t ask, don’t tell. Right?!

Wrong.

In each of these examples, it is shame that gets in the way. Shame takes over in your mind, you feel less-than, and rather than own your part in this story, you stuff it down and cloak it and think it may crawl away quietly to the corner. Yeah, has that ever worked out for you? I think not!

My son and I were having a conversation last night about how he literally feels paralyzed sometimes when he feels like he’s fallen behind or missed a day or two of school. “I feel like when I go back, the teacher will be mad at me. I don’t know where I got that from, but that’s how I feel. So it’s easier to avoid it.” he said. I showed him the image above and we talked about what Brené said. I told him, “Think about it; running takes so damn much energy.” He understood and said, “The teachers are always cool, so I don’t know why I feel like that, but for some reason I just feel like they’re gonna hate me.” He’s been hiding and fearful and avoiding for some time and finally came clean about his fears. This was a huge step for him!

Shame gets in the way of growth, love, personal success and pure happiness. It always has and it always will.

If you are in a place where you’re always self-shaming, you can’t allow your heart to open up and feel the love of others. You aren’t capable of loving and giving as much as you could. You are truly robbing yourself and others of the wonder that is the authentic you. The same is true if you’re being hard, self-centered, and distant. You’re hiding your shame inside, and that shame eliminates any chance for you to connect.

Escaping this shame monster may be a difficult thing if you’ve grown used to seeing the shame shadow follow you around your house and to work every day. To make matters worse, you may find that you’re with someone who directly, or indirectly, is critical, manipulative or controlling. Shame sure loves people like that. Those people add an ocean’s worth of fuel to your shame fire, which makes escaping the monster nearly impossible.

You can run form your story, you can ignore it, you can even shove it deep down within you and pretend it isn’t there, but if you do that you’ll never move past it. As Brené said, owning your story and being brave enough to walk through the darkness will allow you to discover the infinite power of the light. (Boy, I love the infinite power part.) Everyone has darkness in their life. Learning to embrace it and be brave is how you manage through it.

Being brave saved me from a lifetime of unhappiness. Owning my story allowed me to move toxic people out of my life and open my heart to a new life where I wasn’t controlled or manipulated. I am brave when I admit that some days I feel week, and that’s okay. I see that owning my story has shown my children that their mother is strong, smart, funny and not perfect. Being brave has enabled me to write about my story and make connections with people from all over the world. Most importantly, being brave has brought me the happiness I had been searching for.

The first step is always the hardest. Don’t make that step about running away. The step should be towards yourself and towards owning your story.

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Boy and girl meet, fall in love, get married, buy a house, have 4 wonderful kids, and build their dream home. Unhappiness is hidden, distance grows, girl catches boy texting other women, they grow apart and divorce. 

Fast forward a few years…

Boy meets more girls, marries one. Girl meets a man, marries him. Girl begins blogging about finding passion, trust, real love, her past, her growth and wonderful new beginnings. 

One day, boy was told about the blog. Boy reads it and gets pissed. 

Shortly after boy discovers blog, girl is served with court papers where boy accuses her of withholding the children from him, making false accusations about him and coercing her children to lie. Boy also accuses girl of lying to ORS, being vindictive and angry and blogging about the boy so her children read it and think poorly of the boy (because, of course, that is why boy has a strained relationship with his kids). 

Sitting in a courtroom across from the person you were married to for half of your life is a different experience each time you walk into the room. The first time, it’s usually your initial finding hearing before the divorce is finalized. If you’re the person who was lied to, cheated on, betrayed, or basically blindsided by the split, you feel somewhat like a deer-in-the-headlights. Your head is spinning and you feel like you’re watching a made-for-TV series on the Lifetime channel. You stare up at a commissioner or judge, and you listen to THEM decide who has custody of the kids. THEY decide if the dollars and cents make sense, THEY decide who drops off and picks up the kids, and THEY decide who stays in the dream house. You sit there and you can’t believe that life as you know it is crumbling around you.

But, as the saying goes, time heals all wounds.

Your next experience in the courtroom may be different. It’s after the divorce. You are stronger. You see the person seated at the other table for what he/she really is. You see the game they play–trying to drag you down and manipulate you. They make efforts to persuade everyone else around them into believing that you are a mean, vengeful person and a liar.

This time, you sit in your crusty leather seat next to your lawyer and you laugh inside. You think to yourself Has it really come to this? Are we really spending money to fight about a BLOG for God’s sake? My hell. Our son could go to college next year with all of the money we are spending on our lawyers.

This time in court, you see the truth. It’s been there all along. The person seated at the other table can’t stand that you’re happy. He’s poured over every blog post about how happy you and the kids are, he’s read details about the hurt that went on in your heart over the many years you were together, and he’s realizing that he messed up. It’s either that, or he’s so God damned pissed off that you left him and have the guts to write about him that all he can see is fire and he’s become vindictive and angry.

There will forever be a wall between boy and girl. It will never change. Ever. There was once a time after the divorce, albeit short, that boy and girl could be cordial to each other…for the sake of the children. But that was before girl found her voice and her strength. And that was before girl met a man and fell in love.

After being accused of so many awful things in court documents, girl wonders why it’s come down to only one thing in the end: the girl’s blog.

The answer? Because girl dared to stand up for herself and dared to share her feelings. Finally.

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I’ve been longing to live near the beach for quite some time now. It’s a feeling inside me I can’t seem to shake. That longing is deeper than ever today and I find my mind drifting off to imagining my life and how it could be so very different if I lived near the ocean. 

My four kids fell in love with the water when they saw the ocean for the first time. It was early November and they didn’t care the water was cold or that they were the only ones crazy enough to be in bathing suits. They all ran full speed ahead into the wind and waves.

That was over 5 years ago. 

I imagine myself in a small, quaint house a few blocks from the sand and sea. Modestly decorated and comfortable. I don’t need much to keep me happy. I see myself chasing the kids across the sand snapping candid photos of their laughter and smiles. Next we grab ice cream in the heat of the afternoon at one of our favorite shops near the beach where the owner greets us by name and we see neighbors grabbing treats for a day-trip to Laguna Beach. 

The bright colors in the surf shops and small boutiques along the shoreline make for stunning backdrops for our photos and the restful atmosphere seems to wash our worries away. 

I imagine that my camera is my lifeline and provides a way for me to make a living being creative and happy. I capture photos of children, couples and families living the same, humble lifestyle as So Cal locals and freeze wonderful memories in time. 

In the evenings Brandon and I lounge on the front porch, holding hands and watching the orange and pink sherbet sunsets swallow up the sun as we laugh and make plans for the weekend. 

Ahhhhh, I can see my new life now…

I lived in beautiful Southern California over 20 years ago for a few years when my family moved there for my Dad’s job. I spent 3 years adjusting then thriving in my early-adult years then moved back to Utah to be with a man–the man I was married to for 17 years. Now that the life I once had with him is over, I’m ready to run back to the place I loved. It was where I felt most at home. The diversity and different cultures add color to the communities, the flowers and greenery on the sides of the road made me smile, and the kicked-back atmosphere made me high. 

Utah has been a wonderful home to me for most of my life. I grew up here and got married and had my children here. But that was the life I was “supposed” to live and that life is over. My kids and I are different now.

Sometimes the urge to run away isn’t always about running away at all. Sometimes it’s about finding yourself and going back home. 

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